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Category Archives: living simple

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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In the Garden My Soul is Sunshine

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In the Garden My Soul is Sunshine

I’ve been wanting to write a small tribute to someone who has always been an angel here on earth…alas…

A dear friend of mine passed peacefully in her home from Cancer. This is such a tough thing for me to write…as tears begin to form and cloud my vision. However, I know she would not want me to be sad, or anyone to be sad for that matter! It’s just so hard to fathom that this beautiful, blue-eyed, blonde and loving gal is no longer here, and yet… she’s all around me.

So now I am going to celebrate her life as I know she would want it to be a P-A-R-T-Y!  If I could write all the wonderful things about Kim, it would be longer than War & Peace because she was really that cool….that wonderful….and a whole lot of fun.

Kimby EOE (as I liked to call her) was a beautiful blue-eyed blonde from the San Diego area. I designated “Kimby (short for Kimberly) and added “EOE” which stands for “Expert on Everything”. She truly was, no sarcasm….seriously.

She had a wealth of knowledge on a lot of great things and a lot of little things. If there was an unusual plant, she would more than likely know the name. If she heard a certain bird sing their song, she would likely know the name of that bird. Truly talented in the wealth of knowledge…okay…she may not have known EVERYTHING…but she had more knowledge on a subject than just a quick definition.

My dear friend Kim was so vibrant and full of life with a song on her tongue and Christ in her heart, she just made you smile and giggle to see her dance around the kitchen while cleaning or enjoying the morning sunshine in her garden watering the dust away and refreshing her shrubs and flowers.

I learned so much from Kim…so much that many of the things I do today are due to her traditions, kindness and pure enjoyment of life. So what I wanted to do was take a moment and lists some of the wonderful things I’ve learned and taken with me in my life;

  •  Sticky Ghosts (a really cool craft)
  • Start your day early with a cup of coffee…sit outside and enjoy your start of the day
  • You can never have too much Christmas “Crappola” this word was not used negatively (wink wink smiley face). It’s Christmas….decorate every single room in your home!
  • As a matter of fact, you should decorate boisterously for any and all holidays. That’s what storage units are for…to store your holiday “overage” (okay this may not be a word)
  • A homemade or handmade gift is better than any store-bought item
  • Everyday is barbecue day
  • You always have room for one more to join for dinner
  • Anytime is a great time to have a party with family and friends
  • Having game night with family and friends is better than any night out on the town.
  • You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to decorate a room, just be smart, savvy, a little paint and a creative eye for design
  • It’s not old…it’s vintage
  • A staircase in your home is not only for going upstairs but stadium seating to watch the girls dance recitals, plays, vocals or good commentary
  • You can never have too much pink!
  • Country music is so cool… Christian music is awesome!
  • Always do what you can for others in need
  • Even if you hate doing laundry….enjoy that time
  • Don’t ever wish your life away
  • Starbucks is good any time!
  • Four walls and a ton of square footage does not make a house a home
  • Always look for the good in people, sometimes it’s hiding under a lot of junk
  • Live life to its fullest
  • Always keep God/Christ in your heart

Kim has touched so many lives…she volunteered her time for her girls, she cooked many meals for families who were in need due to illness or death. She pulled her wallet out when she may not have enough cash to give to someone in need. She ALWAYS found time to give and to help anyone.

I was always happy and laughing…having a great time when I was with Kim. No matter what we were doing…it was fun. She enjoyed life, she was a happy and beautiful person that I will never ever forget. I am so blessed to have been a part of her life.

She did so much for her family, friends and even strangers in such a short time here on earth. I love you Kimby EOE always and forever.

 

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What I’ve Learned by “Right-Sizing” My life

As I mentioned in my last blog…(Change is Coming) I wrote about this new chapter Juan and I will be entering in the coming weeks. I will be “spilling the beans” soon…I promise!
In the meantime, I wanted to share with you what I have learned over the last year and a half about living smaller, simpler and of course “right-sizing” our lives.
It started when Juan and I were thinking about moving into yet a larger home with only two dachshunds and a 31 year old parrot. Why did we need all that space? What were we trying to do? THEN…the economy took a turn for the worse which affected our business (Staffing).
I read two quotes that really hit me by Henry David Thoreau…. “Only have things of beauty or usefulness in your life”. Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”And this oneSell your clothes and your keep thoughts”. You always have your memories, but items get packed away and you only enjoy the memory.
This is what started this journey and has now taken new turns. Now, a quick view of what we’ve learned and when you see parts that are highlighted, they will take you to the blog I am referring to.
We’ve learned that bigger isn’t always better and some of our happiest times were when Juan and I were first married, living in a small apartment. Since we did not have the challenge of cleaning and maintaining a large space, we had time to do fun things with each other.
I learned that you spend your life accumulating stuff to only do what???Pack it away! Take out and dust off your beautiful dinnerware/china…use the sterling enjoy these pieces; don’t hide them in a box to only use a few occasions.
We’ve learned that a garage sale can turn two people that were so worried about getting rid of stuff into two greedy, commissioned driven sales hounds. We’ve learned that bigger isn’t always better and all the wants” in the world will not make you a better person nor change your social status.
We learned that when moving into a small space, it’s hard to go to many of the furniture stores and find sleek, fun furniture to fit in tiny rooms. (Of course today more stores are embracing small space living) Seek out and find vintage or retro stores that sell mid century modern furniture. Great pieces that fit in the small spaces you are trying to furnish and decorate. However, we did learn that in a small space you have to live a lot closer to everyone and IKEA is also a great place to find loft style stuff!
We’ve learned that 900 square feet is a huge piece of living space for so many others. We’ve learned that Facebook has been an awesome way to reach out to old school friends and have the opportunity to stay in touch and learn about their lives/families….and in my case get back in touch with a dear friend who has found paradise in a small beautiful beach cottage on the coast.
We’ve learned that if you spend the extra time, and in some cases, a little extra cash, you can find great organizational bins, boxes, dividers etc to make living in a small space easier.
(This is more about me than Juan) I’ve learned that no matter how much technology you have or love to work with….sometimes going Old School is the best way to enjoy an evening of bar-b-que and the love of a soul mate.
I was amazed…as well as Juan at how so many people in the world have started thinking the way we do. AND….at a much earlier start in life. We’ve learned that there are so many people dedicating themselves to talk about green products, clean technologies and social responsibility and live a sustainable life.
We’ve learned to incorporate some of our treasured items that we stored away into storage organizers. And to look at a room at what you plan to use it 90% of the time…not 10%…and amazed that there are so many wonderful products out there that can transform one room into three rooms.
Juan and I have learned that riding our bicycles to close destinations verses driving your car make a much more enjoyable adventure. That you enjoy the scenery much more pedaling by than driving. That by bicycling to may of our destinations is a great mental break as well as exercise and save on the gas.
For me…one of the neatest (I know …I just wrote the word and thought neatest? Okay Brady Bunch)….yes, I said one of the neatest things this whole experience has done has brought me and Juan into a new direction and adventure. A beginning of a new business…doing something I have always been passionate about and enjoy doing 24/7.
Whether it’s bicycling, building this new start up adventure and getting the opportunity to meet people face to face across the southwest, Juan and I will continue to enjoy a simpler lifestyle, promote “right-size” living and promote “Mom and Pop” business across the Southwest.
The journey continues…..

 

Change is Coming….

Well…a new chapter in my life will be here in the coming weeks. Juan and I are so excited about this new adventure and what new things we will discover together. I know I have posted a lot of info about “Urban Hobo (website coming REAL soon!) and it has taken me in a new direction in regards to my blogging.

I will be moving to a new blog within the week and hope you will “follow” me over to the new site. Although I am still a big believer of living simpler and “right-sizing” my life….I also wish to blog about local “Mom & Pop” haunts and great things to do locally and on a nationwide basis.

Of course I will be discussing my latest edible art creations and where Juan and I might be in the Southwest where you can visit with us and partake in some of our home baked goodies and eclectic art!

I wanted to take this time to express some of the things Juan and I have learned over the last 1 ½ years regarding… “putting what’s important in perspective“. I’ve learned that it isn’t the quantity of “Stuff” you have accumulated over the years….It’s the quantity and quality of friendships you have built. It’s not about the “status” level you’ve climbed but about the time and ability you give to others in need. It’s not about wearing a huge banner saying “Look at me and what I am doing” but about being there for others and doing whatever you can without recognition. It’s about truly finding what really matters in your life…the love of a spouse and the love and time you spend with your family and close friends. For me…“right-sizing” (I know my favorite word of the day) my life has helped me enjoy the simpler things in life and enjoy my family and friends more.

I hope that some, or even one, of my blogs have helped you in some way. I have received many emails about changes you’ve made and how much happier you are. I am so glad to always hear from you and hope to receive more input in my new blog.

Next….What I’ve learned by right-sizing My Life

 

“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!  
 

Top Hits for December

And the winner is…….

Wow… it seems like yesterday I was getting ready to put up the tree and plan for the holidays…

Now, all that is left is some sparkle left on the floor that my vacuum refuses to pick up and all the shelves and spots in my home where Christmas lived seem blank….(sigh)

Well, I have listed the top blogs for December and in case you might’ve missed one….here they are.

Urban Hobo Cookies-A Couple of Friends Helping Me Out!

Can your table do this???

Regrets; Juan’s Perspective

Urban-Hobos-Patron Your Local Neighborhood Haunts!

Recycling Your Christmas Tree

Juan and I are always interested in anything and everything you have to say! If you have a suggestion or have a home, furniture, art, food, organizational tricks/ideas….you’d like to share, we would love to hear about and post!

Here’s to a hearty, happy, healthy and prosperous 2012!

 
 
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