Catalog Challenge: West Elm.

It's Round 2!

In case you missed my last Catalog Challenge post, Paige from Little Nostalgia and I are having some fun with our favorite furniture catalog companies, using one a month as the inspiration for creating an entire room just from one brand.  Last month we did Pottery Barn, since that was the initial inspiration for the challenge.  To know me is to know that I love PB, and the living room I came up with is a favorite.  One of Paige's favorites, and more her style, is West Elm and we decided to do another living room just to compare our two favorites.  I think West Elm is super fun, but I wouldn't necessarily think of it as a go-to place for me to shop, until...

rug // sofa

Hello, pretty living room!  While there are a lot of pieces of West Elm furniture I love to stare at because of their unique design, I thought I wouldn't be able to find something that is "my style".  I was very pleasantly surprised to find some really classic pieces, but still with the modern edge they do so well.  I definitely gravitated toward the same color scheme- can't beat gray-blues and wood!- and love love love the pieces I found.

The classic leather sofa would look amazing next to a pair of those swing-back chairs, and I have always had a fondness for a mix of wood and metal like on the tables and media cabinet.  The rug, blanket, and lamp bring some subtle color into the mix (I got totally lost in the lighting department- I want all the things.), and the Texas sign ties it all in, while also representing my husband's home state.  Then there are those fun pillows, which we could get for everyone in the family.  Clean, modern, and still classic, plus a touch of fun.  Total cost: $6672

This was a super fun challenge for me and I will definitely be running over here if we need some new decor items, or on the off-chance I ever get to decorate a bigger office space.  Which piece is your favorite?  Are you a fan of West Elm?  And don't forget to go see what Paige picked out for her living room!


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Eight Years.



Eight years ago this evening, I got married!  We had a super small, super informal ceremony- just 33 family members in a small historic restaurant room, where my uncle was the Justice of the Peace.  It was nine degrees that day, so just slightly warmer than it is today, and I know this because my in-laws were up from Florida and my father-in-law couldn't believe it was only nine degrees.  Nine degrees!  I had long underwear pants on under my dress and wore my Danskos to the restaurant because otherwise I would have fallen in the parking lot in my heels.  We had no limo (I drove myself there!), no formal photographer, and no live music.  It was a great party.

Happy anniversary to he who puts up with my shenanigans.



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Thursday Thought: Quiet.

http://www.housemixblog.com/2013/10/09/the-small-pleasures-in-life-hear/

Taken literally, this is true of all things- if you stop making noise, you will hear the natural noise around you.  Think about in the spring or summer if you have your windows open in the early morning or evening after you're in bed: you're quiet because you're sleepy but you can hear the birds chirping and the bugs making noise, the occasional car going by, and airplane flying over, etc.  Quiet brings out other sounds.

Taken into deeper meaning, introverts are always accused of being quiet and not jumping into discussions, which may make it seem like they don't have an opinion to contribute or they are disinterested in the conversation.  In reality, some people are just really good listeners who like to sit back and absorb what's going on around them.  And when you do this, it's amazing what you can learn.  It's very interesting to observe people and listen to what they have to say, and if you stop making noise and just sit and listen and be still and quiet, you just might gain some insight and knowledge.

Are you a noise-maker or a listener?

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In case you missed it: More Thursday Thoughts.

Winter Wonderland.

At the beginning each month, several blogs that I follow offer writing prompts for the month.  I find these posts both helpful and hilarious, depending on what topics they've offered up (sorry, you will not be seeing a love letter to myself any time soon).  One of this month's ideas was to take photos of your neighborhood in winter, which is a neat idea- seeing everyone's winter wonderlands, or alternatively, their warmer, sunshine-y climate.

However, we have so much snow in central Connecticut right now that it wouldn't even be safe for me to try and wander my neighborhood.  We live on a decently busy street with no sidewalks, and the snowbanks on the corners are easily five- or six-feet high.  That makes it dangerous to turn the corner in a car, let alone on foot.  So I decided to try and capture scenes from my house instead, taken from the few feet in front and in back of the house that we can currently access.












The piles around the house and at the end of the driveways are several feet high- the mailbox is almost covered.  We're running out of places to put it.  And while the snow is lovely to look at when it's coming down and fresh on the ground, after a few days, it becomes a dirty, gray mess from being plowed and sanded and salted.  The sight of a clean (yet now narrowed) driveway leaves you feeling accomplished, only to have the plow go by five minutes after you've finished, covering the end in heavy, melted slop.

How are things looking where you are?


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P.S. In case you missed it: this was worse.  And so was this.

Favorite Finds: Birthday Wish List

My birthday is fast approaching at the beginning of March.  We never make a big deal of the occasion, which is fine with me, plus I've put myself on a spending freeze for non-essential items during the month of February don't forget.  Despite that, that doesn't stop me from having a little fun and doing a little window shopping online and making a mental wish list.  If I were allowing myself some frivolities, these things be at the top of my list:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/219750379/shes-building-her-empire-entreprenuer?ref=favs_view_8
KimArt

I love a powerful, inspiring quote, and put it in a hoop and you've got me.  I don't know if I'm building an empire, but it's kind of fun to think about, and maybe something to shoot for.

https://img0.etsystatic.com/050/0/5331725/il_570xN.666777402_4fi8.jpg
Taylor's Eclectic

Hand-painted paper pendant.  How cool is that??  This one is a city-scape, which I think would go fantastically with all those gray sweaters I own, but I love all of the pieces like these that she has in her shop.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/88690872/8x10-wooden-spools-of-thread-watercolor?ref=favs_view_1
east ashley studio

Another beautiful print to hang on the wall- I love these thread spools.  The watercolor makes them look aged and yet modern, like this could have been painted now or 100 years ago.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/177421888/washi-tape-roll-1-measuring-tape-yellow?ref=favs_view_4
hobbies from the heart

Fun washi tape!  I love the ruler print and it would make for super-cute packaging in my shop, which I am always reluctant to buy.

http://www.toms.com/women/grey-light-wool-womens-classics
Gray. Lined. TOMS.  Hello!  I don't own a pair of TOMS (Greta's had four (used) pairs, mind you) but have been told many times just how comfortable and wonderful and amazing they are.  This seems like it would be a pretty pair to start with.

Then there's my tea:


Republic of Tea makes some of my favorite teas, and luckily for me, since I've pretty much switched over to decaf, I still have some fantastic options with them.  Since they're a little pricey for a canister, this is always a treat purchase for me.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Willow-Tree-Figurine-Love-of-Learning-/171668968213?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item27f8449315&autorefresh=true
 ebay

I collect Willow Tree and though I'm a reader and a teacher I haven't managed to get one with a book yet.  I love this one I found on ebay (for cheap!) and that seller has another reader, too.  Add them to my Watch List.

What would you add to your wish list if you weren't spending extra money?  Anyone else collect anything a little different?  And I'm always up for new tea suggestions!


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What Makes a Maker?

https://www.etsy.com/listing/217478045/hoop-art-makers-gonna-make-machine?ref=sc_2&plkey=c453b5e5915c734487713019a19f50b558f530a4%3A217478045&ga_search_query=maker+quote&ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery

As a blogger and a maker I do a lot of searching on Etsy.  It's a great place to find all kinds of unique products and I'm constantly in awe of what the creative community can come up with.

Lately I've noticed an odd trend on Etsy, though:  I was looking for a mug with a certain phrase on it the other day, and while searching for it, noticed a ton of the same photo of the same person holding the same mug, and the phrase was clearly Photoshopped on top of the photo.  The words didn't round off right the shape of the mug- it was clearly a square box on a round canvas.  If you search for prints, you'll see the same thing.  It's a pretty setup, but you can just tell that the wording is just not printed on the paper.  I get it- if you can get away with not actually making something you're not sure will sell, it saves you on materials costs, etc. but it seems like fake making.  Where's the gratification in seeing the finished product, and why not let the customer see what they're actually getting?  These not-really-printed products make Etsy look like a little like Zazzle.

Which then leads to the slippery slope question of what is handmade?  Is it the person who paints the phrase on a mug by hand, or is it the person who takes time to design a phrase with fancy typography and then has the mug printed?  Is it the person who screen-prints their design on a t-shirt, or the one who creates the design and then sends it off to be printed?  Who is more a maker? I don't know if I have an answer for that one.

Do you notice this trend, too, or is it just me?  What's your definition of a maker? 


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Like a Boss.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/208105703/im-not-bossy-i-am-the-boss-coffee-mug?ref=sr_gallery_4&ga_search_query=I%27m+not+bossy&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery

I love this quote.  LOVE. IT.  There is this notion that if you are in charge and tell people what they need to do (especially women, I think) then you are described as bossy.  There is a tremendous difference, though, between being a boss and being bossy.  

By definition, bossy means "fond of giving people orders; domineering".  There is such a negative connotation with the word bossy that borders on rudeness and being overbearing.  Anyone could be bossy from a manager to an intern.  It's a personality characteristic.  Whereas a boss is a person in charge who makes decisions and exercises authority- they get things done.  This can be done with firmness and fairness, making decisions that will benefit the overall organization, and by not putting up with nonsense.  

Indeed, sometimes being a boss means you have to tell people what to do that they may not like or agree with, and then in their mind you are being bossy, but that's a completely subjective opinion.  In order to run a business successfully, a boss is going to have to make decisions and stick with them.  I always hope that I'm seen as a boss and not as bossy.

Do you see a distinction between these two words?  Are you a boss, or are you bossy?  Have you encounted a bossy coworker?


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No-buy February.


One of my goals this year is to get rid of the "stuff" that's been accumulating in our house.  We are not crazy cluttered, or even near Hoarders status by far, but it seems we've gotten a fair amount of stuff that's been shoved in a closet or cabinet or drawer and forgotten about.  And we seem to keep getting more.

When we first moved into our house, we bought nothing that wasn't necessary.  We had just bought the house, Gus was four months old, I was no longer working, and my husband had gotten a new job which came with a big pay cut.  We were renovating the house on our own and we did nothing that we didn't have to do- we didn't get cable, we didn't go out to eat, we didn't do extra shopping.  We just didn't allow for any little extras.  And now that it's several years later and we aren't in such conditions, we've let those rules lax a little.  It's not a bad thing, but over time has brought us some additional "stuff" around the house.

For the month of February I'm planning on doing a spending freeze on all non-necessary items.  No looking at awesome sale clothes for the kids online, no little extras that the kids do not need.  We have plenty of stuff to read and eat and wear, so it's a good time to take on this challenge and see what else we really don't need.  It's going to be cutting those trips to stores that have no immediate purpose, like the grocery store, and also not wandering off in the likes of Walmart and Target.  Hopefully this will save me from buying yet another neutral sweater that I really don't need.

Have you ever taken on a spending freeze?  How did it go?  Any advice you can pass on?  Does anyone else feel like they need to try this?  Anyone else have 1000 neutral-colored sweaters?


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In case you missed it: I Like My Job and lots and lots of wallpaper.