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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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"Now This Is Some Amazing Furniture!"

Have you ever played with one of those wooden puzzles? You know the ones that might be shaped like a cube or box and there are intricate wooden pieces that you have to figure how they connect to create the original shape? What was so cool about them were the beautiful colored woods so smooth and the challenges of figuring out where they go!

Take that same amazing talent of a puzzle and create furniture! What do you get??? Claudio Sibille! Claudio is a Uruguayan industrial designer who graduated from IUB (Instituto Universitario Bios) in 2009. He is known and recognized for creating beautiful and unique furniture for small spaces. (From his website)
It is amazing to see this simple “sideboard” looking piece of furniture and watch how it transforms into a desk, two chairs and a file cabinet.

I love the attention to detail where the backs of the chairs has the same pull handles so when placed back into the cabinet it lines up as if there are multiple drawers.

His expertise is furniture and more specifically how to create furniture that is fully functional in limited spaces.
Claudio has been recognized and selected in furniture design contests and you can see why he will be someone we will see more and more of in the future.

Be sure you check out his website….awesome pieces and other neat furniture ideas.

 

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!
 

Myth # 1… My place is too small to entertain!

Tis the season to entertain. You live in a small space (right size living) and you feel you do not have the ability to invite family, friends or colleagues to enjoy some great food…a little wine and fun.

So not true! If you are organized and have your small space in order… It’s easy, manageable and can be stress free.

I will be preparing Thanksgiving for Juan and I as well as my mom and her friend. I’m not worried and it’s not about stressing myself out…it’s my holiday too and I want to enjoy.

When you walk in the main area… It’s a long narrow rectangle space.  So… not a lot of counter space to place covered dishes or hot plates, etc. I have seating inside and outside, however outside is not quite ready. Simple yet not formal seating…narrow area to sit and hang out….no problemo!

I try to create intimate areas for people to hang out and enjoy without creating a huge roadblock of the narrow walkway through the house. The patio is a great place to have cold beverages on ice as well as glasses etc and place to have people enjoy and hang out.

In the living area is a great place to have horsderves and another area to have people mingle and enjoying while you are doing the finishing touches in dinner. What is so great in being in a small space, you stay connected to everyone.

So back to Thanksgiving dinner…

Me… I’m always thinking out of the box! Tradition dining with different thought process about how we go about doing it.

Thinking about Thanksgiving Day and trying to prepare a hot and delicious meal for all to enjoy is all about timing. Cook the stuffing and prepare the turkey. Then you have to boil potatoes…gotta have some greens. The rolls…where are the rolls to bake?…pumpkin pie from scratch??? Oh and then the homemade gravy…and all needs to be ready and hot all at once without drying out or burning what is already cooked. I’m tired just thinking about it.

Now the way I do this will probably not be an option or desire for you, but I find this way easier on me and then I can enjoy like everyone else.

I started thinking about the meal and the best part of Thanksgiving for me is leftovers. So I took this idea and worked it to my advantage. Why not prepare dinner a day early? (I know you think I’m nuts about now)
I’m typically home on Wednesday and by then I’ve been to the store and hopefully got everything I need.  (Juan can always make a run if I forgot something). There’s no stress as I start cooking the stuffing and prepare the turkey. I enjoy some wine as I boil some potatoes and decide to get all my dishes and dinnerware ready for tomorrow. I continue preparing additional dishes if needed and get the table ready for a party.

Basically I prepare pretty much all of the dinner or the majority of it so that on Thanksgiving Day I’ll be ready, happy and stress free to enjoy my meal with my family. By doing this, I do not have the extra dishes around where I don’t have room…I’m able to heat in my ceramic ware and place on the kitchen granite countertops.

I’m able to reheat the turkey and stuffing…heat and add additional cream to mashed garlic potatoes, prepare the rolls and everything will be hot and ready at ONCE!

You probably think I’m crazy or weird but for me…I’m able to enjoy Thanksgiving morning with a bike ride some coffee and Juan. Enjoy a relaxing rest of morning adding final touches to my table. Have my meal heating while guests arrive and have everything hot and ready at once when everyone gathers around the table for grace.

I enjoy entertaining and I enjoy having people over to my small space…this works for me and I truly enjoy cooking and baking. I’m forever trying to do things easier and better each time…you might think of something different, if so…you should share and I would be happy to post!

Right size living has made me and Juan much better at eliminating the clutter or STUFF…keeping organized and in their place and enjoying a simpler lifestyle.

So why not cook ahead of time and enjoy the “meal/leftovers” on Thanksgiving Day.

 

Organization for the Holidays

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas….. Maybe not quite as much here in Phoenix AZ…but I am sure in other parts of the country.
I know you are also saying…”Why the heck is Shawn talking about Christmas when we haven’t even eaten the turkey and “camped out on the couch enjoying the football games.”
Well…the reason I am starting now is since October you have been getting into your attic/garage/basement/shed/storage unit pulling out the holiday decorations. This is the time as you go through each holiday event (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years etc) look and see if you can better organize your decorations.
Sometimes the hardest part is taking the time to go through everything and see what you wish to keep, throw away or pass down to others…getting it organized. THEN…the next thing to think about is storage solutions.
As I have preached on several occasions, the key to small space living is great organization. Heck! The key to sanity with holiday décor regardless of size of home IS organization.
Let’s start off with ornaments. I remember growing up; my parents had the ornaments in their original packs. (Okay 1960’s) Although it kept the glass ornaments secure, you had a bunch of these small cartons you had to stack up in storage or in a box; however they were never quite the right shape to put in the bins etc. Or…you had all the ornaments in one giant box where they clanged on one another or wrapped in tissue and you never seemed to have enough room to put all your ornaments in one box.
So look for storage solutions at Target, Wal-Mart, IKEA or specialty container stores where you might find more specific needs at a slightly higher price. I’ve included a couple of ornament storage solutions that make it easy to organize and protect your precious ornaments year after year.
Strings of lights are always a challenge. One thing I decided to do was pre-lit Christmas tree. That way I do not have to spend the time weaving in strings of lights before I get to the fun part of decorating. So many trees are easily assembled with the pre-lit lights…no headaches in connecting etc. If you are investing in an artificial tree, be sure you get one that you are going to enjoy for years to come. Artificial trees are great as they can hold your heavier ornaments and be displayed a lot longer than a real tree. If you like the smell of a Christmas tree, try purchasing greenery at a nursery. You can decorate your mantels or other areas with the greenery and adding ornaments as well as having that great Christmas tree smell.
For outdoor lighting, be sure you have them neat and bundled. You do not wish to be spending your next year of decorating trying to eliminate the big “KNOT” in your string of lights like Clark Griswold had in “Christmas Vacation”. There are plastic boards you can wrap your lights around, a reel style that you can wind your lights on and easily spin off when needed, OR….a cheaper way is to get heavy duty cardboard, cut in a large rectangle shape and wrap a string of lights around. Only string one per cardboard, that way you can determine how many you will be using each year etc.
Bottom line you want to make decorating for the holidays easy.  There is nothing worse than dreading the thought of decorating. If you do not have your items easily accessible…try to find a spot in the garage or in a shed where you can get to your boxes easily.
For me….decorating for the holidays is such a joy. I LOVE the Christmas season. And if you take the time to organize your decorations, clear out what you do not want or use and have it easily accessible, you’ll be more apt to put them up each year! 
 HAPPY ORGANIZING HOLIDAY SEASON!
 

A Sideboard That Becomes So Much More!

Are you familiar with the game tetris? I used to play that game all the time. Thank God my iPhone has “an app for that”.  A puzzle where you have to connect different shaped “bricks” to create one consecutive line that will disappear if done correctly. If you don’t, the bricks stack up and you lose.
Well there is a wonderful “out of the box” thinker/artist…well I am sure he is much more than an artist, named Pedro who resides in Lisboa, Portugal who created this beautiful sideboard.
A great solution for a very small space such as a studio apartment or tiny loft. Another way to have “three solutions in one!”
Yes…the inspiration came from the tetris game. Checkout the photos and do you see the “cut-out” design? Very much like the bricks from the game? Yet, it is a wonderful space-saving piece of furniture for storage… THEN it can become a place to eat as two blocks pull out to become benches and a long slender “brick” becomes the table.
Think of the functionality. You can dine, work, store and enjoy this beautiful piece of art…yes, it is art…very clever yet functional (yes, function is my word of the day).
T@tris furniture Satisfying the most hidden sins“-Pedro Machado. More info on Pedro Machado…check out his gallery. Or you can email him directly, pedro@atipic.pt.
 

How about 450 square feet?

The great people at *fair companies have found another gem in small space living. As I call it….”right-size” living. Could you live in 450 square feet? I think if you have what you love and need, great organization and the right furniture…OR…customizing your furniture to work in the space…any small space is possible.

Here is a great video … a little long (a little over 9minutes) about a school teacher who purchased a tiny space in Manhattan. See how this space was transformed AND the “morphing cabinet”!

If you haven’t…you need to check out *faircompanies. Or you can go on YouTube, like me, and check out their videos. Juan and I have spent an evening just going through all the videos about beautiful people around the world enjoying a more meaningful and simpler lifestyle. Very inspirational stuff!

 

 
 
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