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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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Trends for 2012

I have seen a lot of talk from many sources about trends in furniture and living spaces. Yes!!!! Living small is the new BIG! (wink wink smiley face)

Here are some things to think about when you are looking to “right-size your life(looking to downsize your home etc) and how manufacturers are listening to the consumer needs.

Living/Dining rooms molded into one room with the kitchen seems to be what you see (obviously) in small spaces. So having the ability to hang out comfortably…eat in style or “chillaxin” (I know it’s really not a word but my nephews and nieces use it a lot) and gather around the “entertainment box” called a TV.
We have a very sleek 40 inch screen TV in our small space. We have it on top of a metal style console that has the ability to store our other equipment (blue ray player, music DVD’s plugs etc) neatly away. Trends for 2012 say that furniture companies are creating better/sleeker consoles to accommodate any size screen TV and different ways to place or hang on the unit itself. Trends state that hanging the TV on the wall will be fading….I find that hard to believe…we will see.
Sectional sofas are always growing and changing. Nowadays, manufactures are giving the consumers multiple options for the casual urban young shopper looking for a comfortable couch. The ability to create and add how many sectionals plus options to add a chaise on either side gives consumers countless ideas to place furniture in any challenging small or large space. Juan and I currently have a cool teak sofa and chair, however having the sectionals to create two small love seats facing one another or a sofa with chair on one side etc…would give me the option to change my space when I am having a party or just have the urge to make a change.

Bringing back a larger coffee table seems to be the style for 2012. If you were a kid growing up in the 60’s or 70’s, you remember the times you were able to take your dinner plate to the big coffee table so you could watch your favorite program…what a treat. Trends for 2012 say they are bringing back the larger more functional coffee table especially since family gatherings are more casual and small space living needs to have multiple eating options. 



Small triangle tables underneath for additional space

Juan and I have a cool mid century modern coffee table (shown above) that has four small additional tables underneath that can pull out and provide additional eating spaces for our guests or for when we want to hang out on the sofa!



Starts off as a coffee table
Resource Furniture (an awesome company) has wonderful options as well. One in particular gives you the ability to eat and work at a lower seating level PLUS bring the table up to you verses you having to lean down. Be sure you check out their website Resource Furniture for additional space saving furniture needs.
 

Now a great work space or additional dining option @Resource Furniture
Another type of trend many are speaking of is storage in or under beds. Not just for the kid’s room…but for the adults too! Juan and I did purchase a sleek bed from IKEA and enjoy having the ability to have four large drawers we can access easily. Many designers seem to be doing away with having so many chest of drawers in a bedroom. Making your bedroom a retreat with a possible writing/office space or a comfy chaise to read a good book are more popular options than trying to add drawers etc. What’s in for 2012 is the ability to store within a platform bed or other solutions that can go into a closet and have a beautiful bedroom retreat!





Well… based on the few articles I read….Juan and I have made many of the same choices in regards to “What’s Trendy” without even knowing it. Except for the sofa…maybe I should take Juan out this weekend for a little bit of furniture shopping. He’ll groan when I tell him. (wink wink smiley face).

Speaking of office space…I wrote a recent blog “How can I have an office in such a small space”, where I blogged about cool, sleeker furniture out there that is capable of making any room an office. There are great options available… from an office that can close up and become a beautiful piece of furniture, or a sleek desk that has the ability to hide in plain sight. Multi-purpose furniture…of course the advancement of technology where you can have wireless throughout your home and a plethora of options to make any room in your house a place to “get things done”!

 

How can I have an office in such a small space?

People often ask how I could possibly office out of my 900 sq ft home (along with Juan) without bumping into one another. Well…I know people that live in 400 square feet and work out of their home. It can be done with a little imagination and creativity.
First off, one can make an office space virtually anywhere in a home. Even if you do not have a dedicated room for an office, you can grab a tiny piece of real estate in your home and make it your company domain! (wink wink smiley face) Especially with technology….computers, tablets and TV’s can be placed anywhere in a room. No more need to get that “cable guy” out to add another line on a wall.



LOFTWall



“Carving” out a space is easy….keeping it clean, organized and clutter free….well that can be a challenge at times especially in small spaces.
Today, we have manufactures that are dedicated to small space living and providing furniture that is multi-function and/or narrow to accommodate apartment style living. Here are some ideas that you should think about when creating your work space at home.
Dividing out your space….
Whether you have a small house, tiny cozy apartment or high rise loft, dividing a space to dedicate as an office is a great way to start. A great company called LOFTWall offers beautifully designed dividers for your home or office. Should you not have a room or four walls to surround you when working….how  about a LOFTWall divider to create your office environment and give you the feeling of a quiet space to accomplish your activities whether you are a stay-at-home OR working professional. For me…that ability to separate home life from work is helpful every time you need to “get to work” yet enjoy the comforts of home!



Murphy Desk Beds



 So you actually have an extra room OR you have some extra space…
For someone like me…I am always concerned about the ability to have overnight guests AND have space to work. However, how can I do both? The good people at Murphy Desk Beds can offer great solutions for your work/guests overnight needs!



Murphy Desk Beds



If you are searching for a twin, queen or king bed you will have numerous options plus a variety of finishes to accomplish those needs. A beautiful yet sturdy office desk by day and comfy cozy bed at night. Again for those wonderful people that have a 450 square foot home by the beach or some cool hip metro area….you can office during the day and have a place to sleep at night! A Murphy Desk Bed is a simple and cost effective solution that will have you set up in no time and ready to accomplish your 2012 goals!
Building furniture dedicated to small space living….
As I mentioned before in past blogs, more and more people are trying to simplify their lives and downsize their space. Juan and I made a decision to “right-size” our lives and find a space that works for us where we are not a slave to our home.
With a small space like we have, it didn’t make sense to bring in the Copenhagen square table that seats 8 people or the “Monster” of an office desk that would take up a room. We found many companies out there dedicated to small space living. IKEA, Crate and Barrel and CB2 are great places to seek out furniture to utilize in your tiny abode. (wink wink smile face)
Example here is from CB2. They have great options for desks that you can create a small working space anywhere in your home. Using furniture that is narrow, simple or even acrylic can give the illusion of more space. (With the acrylic, it is like having invisible furniture lol….I know I’m sorry)



CB2
Even these cool “table options” that can store your laptop easily or set up while watching your favorite TV shows….well there is no excuse now for getting out those emails or projects.



CB2



The great thing about building an office space in your small home is that you are not limited. AND….if yu are lucky to have a gifted carpenter like my Juan….well any design he sees at stores  or online he can copy and create for a lot less $$$$!
UPDATE: Juan and I have managed to clear more “STUFF” and clutter from our second room and have found a beautiful desk at IKEA as a start for our office. I will post the update next week.
If you have created a cool office space in your small space….I would love to see and share!

 

Who Says You Need Four Legs?

Came across an interesting designer….Caroline Gomez. She is a French designer who has created a collection of furniture that seems to be coming right out of the wall.
The group is called Contre and she has a desk or console, a small table or nightstand and a shelf.
Just by simple design, the pieces lean up against the wall and there is no need to attach unless your wall is not a flat surface. The tension of the piece leaning on the flat surface keeps it in place. Yes, by simple design!
She states “why do you need four legs when the piece is going to lean on the wall?
Be sure to check out her website, Caroline Gomez. I think I’ll have Juan look into this…he’s a pretty good carpenter…maybe he could create something similar…(wink wink smiley face)
 

Recycling Your Christmas Tree

Recycling and Going Green with your Christmas tree
I know many of you love to have a real fresh cut tree for your holidays. It’s true…nothing like the smell of a fresh cut tree filling your house during the holiday season.
As the end of the year approaches and your tree has fulfilled its duties of brightening your home and bringing smiles to all that enter…it is time to take down the decorations….what to do with the tree???
Help the earth and do something good and green for you and the earth.
#1 Create your own mulch.  If you have a chipper or access to one….cut up your tree into manageable branches and make your own mulch. The chips can be used around garden plants to protect them from the elements and keep the weeds out. You can use the chips in a compost bin and create beautiful paths throughout your garden!
#2 Find a recycling center. Should you not have a need (or space like me) for mulch…find a recycling center so they can dispose of your tree. Many of the recycling centers will mulch your tree to provide for city parks and neighborhoods. If you are not sure of where to look, try Earth911. They should have a directory of recycling centers nationwide.
It is a great way to “repurpose” your tree instead of throwing out to end in a landfill not providing much use.
How many of you?….
Purchase a fresh cut Christmas tree every year?
Purchase a living tree to be planted later?
Own or recently purchased an artificial tree?
I would love to hear from you on what you use for your Christmas tree.


 

Christmas Is Officially Over!

Whew!!! Yup…that’s me…Monday afternoon after spending all day packing, storing, cleaning and reorganizing Christmas 2011! By the way….were you able to take some time PRIOR to the holidays and get your “Stuff” organized and ready for the Christmas season? Do you recall the posting I did in November “Organization for the Holidays”? If not…you should take a peek.
Now many of you probably think I am horrible for tearing down Christmas so soon. However, I put up Christmas right at Thanksgiving. I have an artificial tree and I do love the Christmas season and want to enjoy it as long as I can. Once Christmas is over…I don’t mind cleaning up and ready for the New Year. Since I do own a business and work full time, I figured it is best to do while I’m at home and by New Year….I can relax and enjoy the festivities.
Sorry….I was talking about organizing your holiday decorations et al…If you didn’t have a chance to get things organized BEFORE Christmas (and read that blog about organizing)…NOW is the time to do it right before you put it all away. Review what you have and take note of what you are not utilizing anymore. Is it something you could give to charity? A Church? Friends or Family? If you find certain pieces you are tired of or not using anymore see if your family or friends would be interested in OR by all means if it is trashed…throw it out.
We tend to want to hang on to things because we paid a lot of money for it or someone special gave it to you. However, if it is out used its usefulness… (Am I just making up words now) by all means donate it to charity and take a right-off.
So here are some tips, tricks or things to think about in organizing your holiday décor.
ü  Take the time and go through your holiday décor. Is there anything that needs to be thrown away, donate, given away etc?
ü  If you have empty tins or containers, are you able to use them for next year’s cookies, treats or other baked goodies. If not, donate, have a garage sale or throw out.
ü  Make sure you are keeping only strings of lights that are working. If not, take the bulbs (if you can use them on other strands) and throw the strand away.
ü  Organize your strings of lights with cardboard. Cut a piece of cardboard in the shape of a rectangle and write with a sharpie pen what the lights you are going to wrap on the cardboard are to be used for next year. Such as, tree, indoor garland wrap, backyard etc. Then you wrap you string of lights so you are not dealing with knots like Clark Griswold.
ü  Organize your ornaments; you can purchase great storage solutions for ornaments at Wal-Mart, Target, IKEA or specialty organization stores. If you have large storage bins and don’t wish to buy more storage dividers…make your own. Get a flat piece of cardboard and cut to fit inside your plastic bin. Get the plastic cups (I like the solo red cup size) and glue to the cardboard in rows. Now you can wrap your ornament and place in the solo cup. What is so great is if your bin can allow 2-3 or more layers…you can add another 2-3 layers of these cups. Saw something similar once on Martha Stewart but I thought the cups were too small they were using. So I went with the bigger solo cup. (wink wink smiley face)
ü  If you have an artificial tree, take care in dismantling and folding the branches back up in place. If you take the time, you will be able to get the tree back in its original box. When I had the 9 ½ foot tree for years (pre-lit too), I always took the time to get the branches folded carefully and each year never had any trouble getting back in the original box.
ü  Go through your holiday décor again and see if there is anything you are not using and please…get rid of it!
ü  Be sure all linens, towels etc are washed and pressed and ready for next year. I typically will store these items with Christmas as my space is limited in the house and right now I have holiday décor in a storage facility. If you are able to store all items at home, be sure you have a place for them that is out of the way. Since you won’t need them for at least another 10 ½ months, might as well keep them out of sight.
ü  Label your boxes and bins. If you have the clear plastic bins, you can tell what items are in it. However, I like to label the outside so I know exactly what is in there and which bins I should pull first to get started.
Bottom line is that you want to make it easier and easier each year when you decorate. Not just for Thanksgiving and Christmas but for all holidays and festivities in your life. I love parties and I love to entertain and when you take the time to get rid of STUFF and organize…getting started putting out the decorations doesn’t seem like such a chore.
Happy Holidays.  

 

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!
 
 
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