Two Artists Create An Amazing Home

 IMAG4017Ann makes these whimsical, fun lamps from vintage toys, lunchboxes and tin cans

My brother, Tim, is an art director, as well as an acclaimed illustrator and author of over 18 children’s books (download his new e-book The Last Talking Pig.)  His wife, Ann, has been a floral designer for over 30 years…and together they are the most creative duo you’ll ever meet!  Every time we go to their home for Easter it’s a new experience…a feast for the eyes. There are always new little vignettes to see, furniture moved around and different color palettes than the last time we were there.  This year I decided to take a bunch of pictures to share with all of you!  Enjoy!

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Look up as you enter their home and you are greeted to a ceiling fresco that Tim painted (he also painted a fun version of the Sistine Chapel in his bedroom growing up.)

IMAG4008Also in the entry-way is this mirror, framed with a broken china mosaic that Ann did
…not to mention the clever tin can & porcelain doll!

IMAG4005 IMAG4003Look to your left and be inspired by all the little vignettes
(like the one below) in the living room.

IMAG4004Vintage pocket watches in a vintage silver box.

IMAG4009The dining room with built in corner china cabinets

IMAG4010Humpty Dumpty really did have a great fall!
(this is from the dining room table centerpiece arrangement of teacups and vases)

IMAG4012The kitchen sitting area…with many more vignettes (see below) to enjoy!

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The Pez collection with another fun lamp.

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A large book atop a small metal trash can is the perfect little side
table for this vintage phone.

IMAG4024…more kitchen cuteness!

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Gotta love this vintage stove!

IMAG4016The den/library.

IMAG4019Who wouldn’t want to be a guest in this inviting Shabby Chic style bedroom?

IMAG4020…more fun tin can projects coming together.

IMAG4021The charming master bedroom.

IMAG4022…with this vintage dresser, whose top has been transformed
with another of Ann’s mosaic masterpieces.

IMAG4042Love the bead-board and vintage mirror in the bathroom.

IMAG4037They converted the garage into Tim’s studio.  The bookcase is hinged on the right and on wheels…roll it out and there’s a little speakeasy in the back that their two boys created.
(Oh, yeah, their two boys are ridiculously creative too!)
That’s a bunch of my brother’s books on the shelves.

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Artwork (mostly Tim’s), vintage furniture, a wooden rocking horse and an electric fireplace create the ambiance in the studio.

Let’s Go Outside!

from mareThe table set for thirty…with an arbor at the end (great photo by Mariellen)

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Ann’s garden and greenhouse.

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Drinks are served…the iron chandelier is suspended on a wire over the table.
(another great photo by Mariellen!)

mare3They built the brick around the antique oven and bbq and hung some old windows from the tree above with chains.  The oven works as a storage and serving area.
They built, and painted the puppet theater on the left when the boys were little…and now all the little young cousins get to enjoy it again. (pic by Mariellen)

IMAG4031A vintage tablecloth is the backdrop for the scrumptious dessert table. 

Okay…I’m exhausted just looking at all the creative projects they’ve done….and will continue to do.  It’s always exciting to anticipate what it’ll look like next time we’re there!  I hope some of their ideas have inspired you!

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You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails! 

Motivational Mondays…Believe

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I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles….Audrey Hepburn (that’s two quotes from her that I’ve posted!)
Get more at BrainyQuote.com

Believe in yourself….the possibilities are endless!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails! 

Prague and Budapest

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Prague Castle all lit up

It’s been about five years since I’ve been to Prague and Budapest (for my 25th wedding anniversary), but I know that things move somewhat slowly there and it looks much the same now as it did back then, so thought I’d share some pics of these beautiful, historical cities.  (camera phones are so much better now…these aren’t the greatest, but you get the idea!)…

PRAGUE

Prague is one of the few cities that wasn’t bombed during WWII and it truly feels like they took little pieces of Disneyland and set them down on the banks of the Vltava River.  Enjoy this pictorial journey…

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The view from the apartment I rented on VRBO
(I’d highly recommend renting..I’ve done it all over the world.)

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Pivovarsky Klub…they boast “the largest beer menu in the country”
We had nettles beer, which was green and very interesting.

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The Prague Astronomical Clock…The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still working.
Little figures come out every hour called “The Walk of the Apostles.”

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Prague’s musical history is legendary! Mozart called it home for awhile and
Vivaldi and Beethoven both performed in Prague.

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I wish I had a better picture to capture the magnificence of the Basilica of St. George and the amazing concert we saw there, featuring Pachelbel’s Canon in D and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.  The acoustics were amazing and intimate! (Darla you have to go to this if you can!…click here for ticket website)

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 Cute little spiral staircase in a park below Prague Castle.

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“The Dancing House” was designed by Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunic
with some collaboration from Frank Gehry.

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Stopped by a local rowing club to buy a t-shirt…they didn’t have any,
but I got to see these two master’s women rowing…one was in the Olympics back in the day according to the director of the club.

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Just a beautiful, serene scene.CIMG7114

Visiting the The John Lennon Wall was of particular importance to us.
Our daughter had just been in Prague a few months before us with her college Jewish studies class and had written her name and taken a picture of her “graffiti.”  We found the exact spot, but it had been painted over.  It was just cool to be at the same place
she was just a few months prior to our visit!CIMG7113

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BUDAPEST

 We planned our trip to Budapest to visit my then husband’s paternal ancestral homeland.  We visited the apartment where his grandma and father lived before coming to America to escape the Nazi invasion.  I loved seeing and feeling the history…and having some sense of connection…to this beautiful city.CIMG7199The iconic Chain Bridge…this was the view from our hotel room.

CIMG7215Walk to the hilly Buda side, take a walk through Gellert Hill and then saunter over to Castle hill with beautiful views of the flat Pest side and the Parliament Building.

shoes on the danubeShoes on the Danube…a very moving memorial of bronze shoes honoring the
Jews that were killed here.  They were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away.
It was an astonishing, haunting site.

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The House of Terror museum is located on Adrassy Ut and commemorates the occupation of Hungary by fascist and communist regimes, as well as memorializing it’s victims.

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Take the hour train ride from Budapest to Szentendre and have some wood fired pizza at beocafe…yummy and cute little place!!

CIMG7241Colorful door in Szentendre


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hidden cobble-stoned streets in Szentendre
CIMG7179I loved this sign for an architectural firm in Budapest….so creative!

We took the train from Prague to Budapest, but I’ve heard from friends that the barge cruise down the Danube is pretty spectacular.  The history is rich and the architecture just stunning!  European vacations never disappoint!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails! 

Motivational Mondays…Best Day Ever!

best day ever…okay, it might be a slight exaggeration, but I have this magnet on my fridge and it’s hard not to smile and start your day out right!!
HAPPY MONDAY!!!…HAVE A GREAT WEEK!!

Teamwork

teamwork2A shameless plug and shout out to my awesome teammates as we travel to San Diego’s Mission Bay for the San Diego Crew Classic Regatta… “the largest regatta in the world held for primarily eight-oared rowing shells.”  It is an awesome two days of competition for high school junior programs, collegiate teams, masters’ clubs, and even an exhibition this year between the US National and Canadian rowing teams.  My team is racing three eights this year…Saturday at 11:48 and 3:24 and, the race I’m coxing, on Sunday at 2:32.  My team has worked so hard this year and has taken their fitness and finesse to a whole new level.  I think it’s going to be an awesome weekend for all of our boats!!  The race starts in the shadow of the Sea World Bayside Skyride , continues past the screaming crowds at the beer tent and jumbotron and ends at the 2000 meter mark of Crown Point Park.  It’s an exhilarating weekend of teamwork, adrenaline, sweat, cheering, and celebrating!

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 …and my team has intelligence and has put in the hard work! 

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Equipment charged, check…oar toe ring, check…pedicure in team colors with oars, check…

We are soooo ready…let’s do this ladies!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails! 

Flea Market Finds

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I’ve always loved going to garage sales, flea markets and second-hand\antique stores.  The thrill of the hunt is so much fun and there’s nothing like finding that perfect something for your home, or your kid’s, or your wardrobe!  When my kids were little a lot of their clothes and toys came from garage sales….and that’s also where I started my vintage tablecloth collection.  We didn’t have an abundance of money at the time and I loved weekend mornings spent scavenging through other people’s cast-offs.  When we moved back to California (from Illinois) I continued my weekly hunts in people’s driveways, as well as the added bonus of going to Old Towne in the city of Orange, with their numerous antique stores. At some point we had enough money to purchase new furniture, etc… and I kind of fell out of the habit of going to garage sales….not the mention the fact that most weekends entailed hockey, lacrosse, baseball, dance or some other kid-related activity.

A group of my neighbors, Kelly, Carre & Jan (plus or minus a couple more), go to garage sales every weekend and come home with treasures. I’ve gone with them a couple of times, but haven’t got the bug again…until recently!  I’m moving back to my home in the old ‘hood this July and I am in need of lots of furniture.  What with the downsizing from 2800 to 400, then up to 1000 and now back down to 200 square feet, I really don’t have much furniture to fill up my larger home.  I do have the most important piece…my dining room & kitchen tables…with all the memories they evoke, and a love-seat that was my parent’s and has been in our family since the 60’s, but, except for a few side tables, that’s about it.  So, the girls are out a couple of weekends ago and they see a couch for $50…FIFTY DOLLARS!!  They take a pic, text it to me and say “what do you think?”  I called Jan, she said it’s comfortable, very similar to a couch I used to have in that same home, I could store it in her garage and they’d deliver it.  I said, “great, go for it!”  I went later that day to visit my new couch and it’s perfect!  The seven or so pillows alone that line the back would be more than $50.  So, now I have the second-hand furniture bug again!  I’ve already acquired 6 dining room chairs from another neighbor, Peggy, an old chest that was in my house originally, as well as a table we used to play mahjongg on that Jan’s been keeping in her garage.  I am constantly on Pinterest and Houzz looking for decorating ideas….beachy meets Paris bistro is my theme…and have a bunch of decorating magazines stacked up next to my bed that keep me up late re-imagining my old/new surroundings.

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Okay…terrible pictures, but it’s side-ways in a garage..you get the idea!

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One of the magazines I love is called Flea Market Style (this is a link to a bhg video…couldn’t find any mention of “flea market style” magazine on the web…weird!) and has soooo many fun ideas for recycling/up-cycling things you find at flea markets, garage sales, etc..  They have listings of great flea markets all over the country and I see one that looks really cute called Matilda’s Mouse.  It takes place once a month and it’s about an hour & a half drive away.  I sign up for their email list and soon find out there’s one coming up!  So, on a recent Friday, Jan & I hop in the car and head down to Valley Center.  It was such a cool layout…some things outside, some inside an old barn…. and I had so much fun taking pictures of their little vignettes set up everywhere.  I’m not sure it was worth a 3 hour round-trip, but it was a fun, different way to spend the afternoon….and I got another tablecloth, a vintage rower tin toy (pic above) and a couple of vintage plates, one with an image of Blarney Castle (Taylor, you can have one too if you like them.)  Here are some of those fun pics…

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adorable displays

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creative vignettes

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cute little chicks greeted us at the door

I have rowing practice every Saturday morning, but I’m going to try and join them once a month in April, May, June and July  (sorry team!), in hopes of finding more treasures for my home.  Until then, I’ll look for their pictures and texts on Saturday morning asking about things they’ve found that would be “PERFECT” for my home.  It’s nice having personal shoppers!

You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails! 

Motivational Mondays….Past and Future Optimism

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I record Ellen and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon…both of them, so funny and engaging….and I usually just fast forward through the commercials, but today I stopped at one. Have you seen the Prudential commercial where the people placed magnets to signify the significant events that happened in their life in the last 5 years…yellow for good..blue for bad..and then what they project would happen in the next 5 years?  It’s pretty interesting! The past 5 years showed a pretty even mix of good & bad, but the future was almost all yellow.  Of course this is an investment company’s commercial so their message was that it’s good to be optimistic about the future, but make sure you’re realistic and prepared financially.  Okay, we’d all probably agree that this is sound advice….but I just kind of loved how HOPE-ful and optimistic people were about their future!  A commercial made me smile and think…go figure!
 You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!

Weekend Movies…Finding Vivan Maier and Ida

finding vivian maier

A few months ago, knowing how much I love photography,…especially black and white…my friend Kelly asked me if I wanted to go see a new documentary called Finding Vivian Maier?  Of course I said, “Yes!”  So, we traveled down to La Jolla to check it out.  It’s a fascinating story of a nanny who, over her lifetime, took over 100,000 photographs and basically just tucked them away…until they were found after her death (isn’t that always the way it happens!)  At a 2007 auction in Chicago a young man buys some of these photographs and, after realizing what he has, contacts the other buyers from that same auction and assembles an incredible body of her work.  He takes the viewer on his journey of discovery through interviews from people she knew and the photographs themselves. It was a 2015 Oscar nominee for best documentary.

Ida movie

Okay, so maybe you’re not into documentaries?  Ida is the 2015 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film and I loved it!  It is the story of a novitiate nun about to take her vows when she finds out a long held family secret.  The story itself is interesting and keeps your attention, but the cinematography is fascinating…not quite black and white, but more a mellow gray that I really enjoyed watching.  I would say the most captivating element of the film though was the director’s use of silence.  There were so many moments where nothing is spoken, but so much is said!

grand budapest american sniper

Those are my DVD/streaming picks for the weekend.  ….and if those kind of artsy films don’t interest you, Bradley Cooper is amazing in American Sniper and Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel , are both ‘must sees!’

Have a great weekend!
You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails! 

Loneliness, Big Cities and a Sense of Belonging

lonelinessYou know that Kelly Clarkson song  What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger?  There’s a line in the song  “doesn’t mean I’m lonely when I’m alone” & that has rung true for me and my living arrangements the past three years.  That’s probably one of the number one questions I get asked, “Are you lonely?” (yes, sometimes, but mostly no…solitude and loneliness are completely different)  I come from a family with four siblings and was with my ex-husband for 33 years…so I love to be around, and live with, people and had only lived alone for a brief time before I got married.  It got me thinking about loneliness and how people get their sense of belonging.  I don’t have to leave my little sanctuary to hear dogs barking, kids squealing, people conversing….and classical music…which all makes me feel part of a bigger community, even though I live alone.  I’m thinking maybe that’s why I like cities…whether NYC, SF or little Balboa Island.  The weird thing to me is that one of the reasons people give for not liking big cities is that they’re too impersonal, without a sense of community, but studies have proven the contrary….hence the myth of urban loneliness. So what makes people feel like they are part of something…and less lonely?

Belonging , feeling part of something, is so important in our social lives and when trying new experiences in order not to feel isolated and lonely.  A study at the University of Chicago concluded that “extreme loneliness can increase an older person’s chances of premature death by 14 percent.” So…how to avoid it?  Prof. John Cacioppo, who lead the study and is one of the nation’s leading experts on loneliness, said “older people can avoid the consequences of loneliness by staying in touch with former co-workers, taking part in family traditions and sharing good times with family and friends—all of which gives older adults a chance to connect with others about whom they care and who care about them.”  …this can be said of any age group…stay connected!

my new friends

I don’t know any of these people, but we bonded over our excitement and
love of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade back in 2010!

A friend of mine moved to California from Europe years ago and we had a discussion about the feeling of loneliness she had when moving from a city to suburbia when she first arrived.  She overcame that feeling by joining social circles, sports and clubs.  I happen to have lived (and will be moving back) to the most amazing suburban neighborhood in Orange County and never felt isolated, but I can totally see how one could feel a sense of loss when moving from a city to a more rural or suburban place.  At the time, 3 years ago, when I was feeling especially vulnerable, I think I moved from that great neighborhood down to Balboa Island because I wanted, and needed, to literally be living in a smaller cocoon-like home with close proximity to a bunch of people, whom I could hear talking right outside my window…it felt less lonely and it gave me the feeling of belonging.  In some suburban locales people drive into their garages, close the door and never wave at a neighbor or talk over the picket fence.   When you’re in a city environment there is always something going on around you.  All you have to do is walk out your door to be around people.  Just being part of a group of people feels less lonely and more engaging, whether you are interacting with them or just sitting on a park bench people watching.  People watching is one of my favorite things to do whether at home or when I’m traveling….trying to fabricate a person’s story just by watching their interaction with whomever they’re with or how they react to that place in time….or just enjoying the clothes and personalities that pass you by.  I guess, then, that loneliness relates more to how you interact with your environment, whether city or suburban, and whether you make the effort to get out and create your own sense of belonging?  I am HOPE-ful that I’ll live with someone again someday and enjoy the companionship and everything that goes along with it….but until then, sure, I may be lonely at times, but mostly I’ll be an active participant in making myself feel less so.

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Aaaahhh…the city life!

So, how do you combat loneliness?  Wickihow has some suggestions and the steps to take to get you there.  Having a sense of inclusion is up to the individual to make it happen…and in the process become less lonely.

 You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails! 

Motivational Mondays….a St. Patrick’s Day version

st pats danceDance as if no one were watching.
Sing as if no one was listening.
Live every day as if it were your last…Irish Proverb

Before you all go out and buy corned beef and cabbage, you should know that the Irish do not actually eat that very much…and especially not on St. Patrick’s Day.  They’re more apt to have shepherd’s pie or lamb stew and Irish soda bread…and of course a pint of Guinness!  Here’s a little history I found on the subject….(excerpt from this article on Salon.com)

“My grandmother was perplexed that Americans associate corned beef with being Irish. In Ireland, most people ate pig. Lots of bacon, lots of sausage (lots of trichinosis).

…Corned beef was made popular in New York bars at lunchtime. The bars offered a ‘free lunch’ to the Irish construction workers who were building NYC in the early part of the 20th century. But there’s no such thing as a free lunch. You had to buy a couple of beers or shots of whiskey to get that free lunch. And that’s how corned beef became known as an ‘Irish’ food. My grandmother hated the stuff and wouldn’t allow it in her home. I myself first tasted corned beef when I was in my thirties at some non-Irish-American person’s ‘St. Paddy’s Day’ party.”

Dismayed, I sent that letter to a friend from Dublin. “Every word of that post is pure gospel,” she wrote back. “We NEVER eat corned beef and cabbage. We mock Americans and their bizarre love of that ‘meat’.” 

So, there you have it!  Eat bacon, it’s much better than corned beef any day!
Happy St. Patrick’s Day
You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!