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Category Archives: lifstyle

El Paso, a wonderful place to explore!~Juan’s Perspective

As I mentioned awhile back, Juan and I relocated back to my hometown. Here is Juan’s perspective on our recent move and why El Paso is a great move for us. Urban Hobo is rapidly growing and can’t think of a better place to build this start-up fun company than here!

Shawn and I recently relocated to El Paso, TX from Phoenix, AZ (my hometown). For Shawn, the decision (and transition) was an easy one. Shawn was born and raised in El Paso and most of her close friends still live here. Since we’ve been married, we’ve visited at least once a year so I’ve had some exposure to the city and, an idea of what to expect.

When we informed every one of our plans, most of our friends and family (not living in El Paso) had the same initial reaction, “Why?” Some were downright scared, “It’s not safe!” “You’ll get shot by the Cartels in Juarez!” If you actually do some research (instead of believing the newspapers and tabloids), you’ll find that El Paso is one of the safest cities in the U.S. After analyzing the data myself, and comparing Phoenix to El Paso, it appears that only by the grace of God did we get out of Phoenix alive without becoming a crime statistic!(ha ha ha) And, El Paso has a VERY strong economy (the overall cost of living is much cheaper than Phoenix). Less crime, stronger economy, lower cost of living and much milder summertime temperatures! All positive reasons to live in El Paso.

Shawn is excited to be back and loves her home town. However, being familiar with the city she takes many things for granted. Conversely me being new to the city and region my perspective on things is slightly different. Furthermore, I’m an avid history buff. I’ve read a lot about the history of the area and have even had a chance to visit a number of historic sites within the region. Many of the sites where historic events took place that helped shape the state, the region and the Country, are within the city limits. Many more are a short car ride away. Besides the historically significant aspects, El Paso has so much more to offer. The culture is evident. Unlike many other Western/Southwestern areas, the culture in El Paso is alive! The Spanish, Mexican, and Southwestern influences are all around you. Not in a phony, tourist or commercial way. The city does not try to hide its heritage, rather it embraces it!

El Paso is a medium-sized city, but with a small town feel. It is also the largest border city in the world. El Paso is also home to Ft. Bliss (the Army’s second largest installation) drawing people from all over the United States. It is this cultural diversity that gives El Paso an energy that I’ve not found or experienced in other cities in the West/Southwest, Northwest or Pacific Islands. Something else I’ve noticed; the residents are much more polite and friendly. El Paso is the kind of city where quality of life is the number one priority.

As I settle in and learn more of my new home, I am finding that El Paso is not just a wonderful place to live; it’s also a wonderful place to explore!

 

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Tools…Juan’s Perspective

One of the things that gives our art work a unique character are the tools we use. These aren’t just any run-of-the-mill hardware store tools. These tools have a history. A soul. Many of them belonged to our parents and grandparents. We don’t simply enjoy using them because of their family history. It goes much deeper than that, because we each grew up using these very same tools. And, each of them has provenance. Each of these tools were used in a professional trade.

Here are a few examples of the tools we currently employ in our tin work. The two dollies were used by my Grandpa Smith in his Radiator/Body Shop in the 1920’s, ‘30’s and ‘40’s. Back when cars were made from actual steel. If you needed to shape a new body part or re-shape a damaged one, you would place the appropriate dolly behind the piece of steel and pound on the other side with a hammer, until the desired shape was achieved. These dollies are made from solid blocks of steel. After they were retired to my Grandfather’s personal workshop, I used them for many “important” projects when I was a kid. I even used them to pound out a few dents in friend’s cars.

One of the ball peen hammers belonged to my Grandpa Swinford. He used it in his carpentry business and I used it when I first learned to hammer nails (it was a lot lighter than a claw hammer and I hit the wood as often as I hit the nail, so it really didn’t matter if it was the right tool or not).

The other ball peen hammer belonged to Shawn’s Mother, Phyllis. She used it in her Art Gallery. Shawn spent a lot of time working in the gallery and used it to hang pictures.

Each of these tools were originally used professionally, for years, in artful endeavors. Over time they developed scars and wear and characters all their own. These very tools were used by our parents and grandparents to teach us skills and pass along a little bit of their knowledge. We are carrying on that tradition by using them in our own artful endeavors. Used together, they shape our tin work and give each piece a unique appearance and a little bit of history all their own.

 

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New Inventory at Urban-Hobo.com

 

Going…Going…GONE!

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Wow! Dia de los Muertos has taken off for Urban Hobos! Juan and I are so excited. We have been able to sell many of our “Folk-Art” Skull friends. The colors are bright the subject (although skeletons) is fun and native to the area we live in.

I do not know why we have taken this road with a Dia de Los Muertos theme, I grew up celebrating this special holiday with many friends since I grew up on the border. I’ve enjoyed sharing with Juan the meaning behind the “Day of the Dead” celebrations.

For my friends and readers that are not familiar… Día de los Muertos is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. Focusing on family gatherings and friends to pray for and remember family members who have died. The celebration takes place on November 1, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day. Some of the traditions connected with the holiday include building altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. They   also leave possessions of the deceased.

I know I know….many of you might think this is slightly gruesome celebrating with skeletons and honoring a day for the dead, however, I love the bright colors and festivities that come from the celebration. When I think how much I miss my Father, I would much rather honor him and think of him with happy and wonderful memories. Remembering all he taught me and the great traditions that are now in me.

However, we do have some more “Dia de los Muertos” on its way along with a series of crosses I am working on and will have ready in the next week. So I will do my best to keep you posted on any new products we have.

Be sure to “LIKE US” on Facebook as well. Would love any and all feedback too!

 

“Don’t make somebody a priority if they only make you an option!”





Thought I’d share a picture of me!

 
Have you seen this saying before? “Don’t make somebody a priority if they only make you an option!”Me???First time this year….and yet…it seems I’ve seen it everywhere. It keeps popping up like it is haunting me, whispering in my ear or maybe smacking me on the backside of my head saying “Hey you… wake up!”

I’m not trying to be philosophical or get real deep here….I just thought it is something we All should think about. Not only from a personal perspective….but in business too.
My “other life” is staffing. Juan and I have been doing this a L-O-N-G time. We love working with clients who are truly interested in finding top talent AND working with people who are looking to better themselves. Often times…we work with companies that say they want help in finding someone for a role and yet we are chasing them down trying to have a business conversation with them.
It happens to me a lot lately in work and in my personal life. I continue to make others a priority, bending over backwards and do not get the same treatment in return.
Now the Catholic side of me (dear Lord…she’s now going religious on me) has always been this. I do things for others NOT to expect anything in return. I never was a believer of “I did something for you, now you owe me and vice versa.” I do thinks because I want to…I love to…I’m happy to.
However….if you feel like your beating your head against the wall, think about my statement I found running rampant on the internet. I do not know who said this first…who thought of this…however, it truly spoke to me and thought I would share.
Have a great weekend!  
 

So…Started the New Year Off Breaking Any of Your Resolutions?

Happy New Year! Juan and I love this time of year…time to release the old and on with the new….wipe the slate clean….start fresh! Hold on…. how many of you started with the best intentions only to have “blown it” already. That’s okay each day is a new day and you can always start fresh, however maybe this time set more achievable goals.

Begin with the end in mind.-How many of you just make a list that states…”I want to be in a new small space” (sorry I am always thinking right-sizing)”I want to be skinny”, “I want to ….blah blah blah. Start with the end in mind. For example; if you want to own a house…think about the cost of a home you will afford as well as the down payment that will be needed and realistic mortgage you can afford. Once you have that amount in mind then you are able to work backwards to the present as to how much you will need to save on a monthly basis to have the down payment on a future home. If you have a wish for a larger home and the down payment is big, you might need to either A) Save more on a monthly basis or B) Make a goal for the first year to save “X” amount and the next year (or less) the rest….We could go on…but I believe you get the picture. Bottom line is that you start with the end result and work backwards. Whatever the goal is start with the end and work backwards. You might reassess and adjust your goals.

Set realistic goals.-Sometimes we get waaayyyy toooo ambitious when it comes to goals. For years that has always been my downfall. I have always battled with weight and I would make a goal to be a size 2 in six weeks. I am not a contestant on The Biggest Loser….so it makes more sense to set realistic goals that can be achieved than to get disappointed with lofty ones.

Start off small.-If you wish to add exercise into your regime, try to start off with small goals and mark dates/time lines to move to the next level. Start off with 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening…OR…taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking your car further and walking more. If you start small it is easier to stick with it. Many tri-athletes had a starting point when they first started training…the same should be for you.

Include time for self or just relax. – In our very busy lives, we tend to keep running until we collapse. Or burn the candle at both ends. Give time to rejuvenate…meditate…or try yoga. The say it’s a great stress release and can lower your blood pressure.

Think about giving back or volunteering as one of your resolutions.- Volunteer!!!What a great way to give back and another great way to lower your blood pressure and de-stress! Volunteering or giving of your time etc., is a great way to feel good about yourself and doing something positive for the community or for someone in need. However, do it for the right reasons

Now…start making your New Year’s resolution(s) with some of these tips in mind. I guarantee better outcome and results. Good Luck!

Cheers to an awesome 2012!

 

A Special Ornament Every Holiday



My Dad

 During the Christmas season…Tons of memories flood my tiny little brain. The main one is always of my father. My Dad LOVED… I mean La La LOVED this time of year! Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole Christmas music was blaring on the stereo and we set out to find the perfect  Christmas tree (which meant HUGE). Oh and it had to be flocked…you know …for the snow effect. Although we did not get a lot of snow in El Paso TX…my Dad loved the flocked trees. I guess it reminded him of the wintery settings he enjoyed through his youth in Rochester NY with his 8 brothers and sisters! (Big Irish Catholic Family)

When I lost my father, I lost my best friend…my support….my hero. He was John Wayne! I was the youngest and only girl and I believe my Dad was wrapped around my little finger. (wink wink smiley face) We did a lot growing up together and yes, I would do all the “boy stuff” like camping, fishing and working in the yard with him.

He was a man of integrity… with God in his heart, strength in his hands and very humble. My family and I were amazed at the countless letters of condolences regarding my father’s passing that year and how much he did for their family. Juan (hubby) could not believe the charitable things he did without telling anyone…without saying a word. He was a good man with a HUGE heart.

I honor Pops each year during the holidays. If you have lost a loved one…or know someone who did…this is a great token to give to a loved one who has lost someone special.

I know you can buy these at any craft store; small picture frames that are made to hang as ornaments. My sister-in-law found several of these and put dad’s picture in it. She made one for me, her husband (my brother) and my other brother. It was a tough year 2007, the three siblings PLUS their spouses each lost a parent that year. No kidding… each one of us. So my beautiful and thoughtful “sis-n-law” created such a beautiful token to honor my Dad each year when I trim the tree. For me…that small little picture frame ornament was THE most precious gift I received that year. No amount of technology, jewelry or clothing could top such a gift. It brought tears to my eyes and I will never forget such a thoughtful and wonderful gift.

So if you’ve lost someone special OR you know someone close who has lost a loved one, I would recommend getting one of these little frame ornaments and creating a special gift.

May this year be the merriest of holidays for you and your family.

 

Regrets-Juan’s Perspective

I ran across this blog post the other day and found it very interesting. It deals with the regrets people have at the end of their lives. It’s interesting, because they are all things that we recognize earlier in our lives.
However, in our quests for success, survival or what not, we push these thoughts to the side until a later time as we count other needs as more immediate or important. As this blog points out, by the time we decide to focus on these issues it’s often too late.
I found the summarization of point #2 especially relevant given all that’s transpired in the economy these past few years.  Hopefully you’ll take something of value away from this article and take some time to reflect on your life, so that you don’t have any regrets.

 

REGRETS OF THE DYING
By Bronnie Ware
For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.
People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.
When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:
1. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.
It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.
2. “I wish I didn’t work so hard.”
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.
By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
3. “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.
It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.
5. “I wish that I had let myself be happier.”This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.
When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.
Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.
Shawn’s comment: In reading the article above…not one time did you ever hear about “STUFF”. Bigger house, cars, status, things…I could go on. It has everything to do with love of family, friends and self. My Mom always said…”Don’t wish your life away by wanting to be older. As you age the years start coming faster and faster and before you know it, you are past your childhood, teenage and young adult years heading to retirement.” Enjoy each and every day! Right size your life!
 

Follow up to…”The Love of Craigslist” SOLD!!!

SOLD!

SOLD!!!A couple of days ago I wrote about putting our mid century modern desk on Craigslist. Well, a beautiful young couple came on Saturday and picked it up.

We are slowly but surely getting our room ready for our new office workspace. I’m excited about adding elements of vintage and new. I really love mixing wood with metal, glass or lacquer. I love the look and I love simple clean lines. (I know…what the heck does that mean?) I love simple lines of a desk and chair. I Love using neutrals and white and adding “pops” of color.

Another goal for this room is getting my Father’s grandfather clock refurbished and running. When my Dad passed away I was devastated. Lost the most precious person in my life…but I have such wonderful memories I can fall back on and that grandfather clock is one. Its beautiful music rang every half hour and it was the first thing I would see upon entering the house….especially when I was a little past curfew! (wink wink smiley face)My Mom had it painted an antique white in the early 1970’s.

My goal is to get the clock cleaned and the mechanics working then refurbish the wood and restore it back to its original beauty. Of course that will be for another post time.

Yes, this is one item I will not give up, donate or give away….it is a treasured piece that reminds me of my youth and I will enjoy for years to come. I’m not always about getting rid of everything, but think about the things you treasure and are most precious to you.
 

Happy 1 Year Anniversary

I can’t believe it…time has gone by so quickly. This time last year we were busy building our IKEA bed and finally moving in to our 900 square feet of happiness!

However, it was a HUGE transition for us which we embraced with all the gusto of school kids at recess (I know… picture it). We were throwing out STUFF, donating STUFF, garage selling STUFF and “craigslisting” STUFF! (I know, not a real word, work with me)

We couldn’t be happier…so much so that we question our thought process of going even smaller. Not that I am wishing to start the whole moving scenario again….just thinking if we could manage a smaller space and I am confident we can.

Things we’ve learned along the way this past year

1. When you think you’ve eliminated enough things, go back again and eliminate more. It’s important to really think about the amount of furniture you are going to have, clothes, dishware etc.

2. Rethink furniture! If you have the large overstuffed sofa with the huge arms, this may not be the best piece to add in your small space. Seek out mid century modern furniture through vintage stores or Craigslist as well as stores/manufactures that specializes in small space living such as IKEA, Resource Furniture, Desk Murphy Beds etc.

3. Eliminate three sets of “whatever”. You do not need three sets of dishes, 8 styles of stemware, 12 packs of utensils or huge multiples of anything. Use the good dishes…keep them… enjoy them. Don’t leave them covered up to use once in awhile…use them NOW. Time flies very quickly and the next thing you know you will be handing them down still unused to the next relative.

4. Go back to step 1. I am sure there are some things you need to go back and get rid of…go ahead do it!

5. Utilize and invest in storage solutions! I highly recommend taking the time and either building or purchasing all kinds of storage solutions for your small space. It is amazing how easy it makes managing the space on a daily basis. I purchased dividers at IKEA for our large drawers that are under the bed. They help keep my “unmentionables” (My Mom’s fluffy way of saying bras and underwear) as well as socks, pantyhose, trouser socks and scarves…easy to have a place for everything and everything in its place. Other storage ideas such as containers for many of your food items such as flour, sugar, brown sugar etc. Place them in beautiful containers on the counter which can free up space in cabinets. I could go on with all the storage ideas; bottom line is that organizing your “STUFF” is essential in a small space living.

6. Multi-purpose furniture. Living in a small space, you do not have the ability to have a craft room, an office space and guest bedroom should relatives/friends come into town. Purchase or create multi-purpose furniture that will assist you in making three rooms in one! Sources like Resource Furniture, Murphy Desk Beds, LOFTwalls etc

7. Keep It Simple! For me, I like it clean and simple at home. I love seeing the beautiful wood of the furniture and simple furniture. I do not like having a ton of “knick-knacks” everywhere, tons of paintings…lots of STUFF everywhere. Remember you have to clean all that stuff often so keep it simple.

8. Always check in with Step 1. If you have spent time in your new small space and find there are things you THOUGHT you were going to use and did not, maybe it’s time to let go.

There seems to be some sort of “pack-rat” in all of us. So many of our parents and grandparents did with so little and now our generation is about accumulating and gaining more and more STUFF in our lives. It’s time to lessen the burden and get back to enjoying life and enjoying a simpler lifestyle.
Happy 1 year anniversary in our 900 square foot home.

P.S. Juan says that a great alternative to a missing spare bedroom…is called a hotel.

 
 
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