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

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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!

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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! 

Book Review…Me before You by Jojo Moyes

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As I sit down to write this I’ve literally just finished reading Me before You by Jojo Moyes and had to get my thoughts onto paper while they were fresh in my mind.  Okay, this book is not going to win a Pulitzer, it’s no Daring Greatly or Boys in the Boat, but I loved it!  I suspect I was ready for this kind of book because I laughed, I cried (more than I thought I would), but mostly I enjoyed the beautiful love story that shone through.  I think that’s all I can say without giving everything away!  It’s just a lovely book with good character development, and some interesting moral issues for discussion at our book club next week.  I like Moyes style of writing.  It got 4 1/2 stars on Amazon….and the movie is in pre-production.  The perfect weekend read on the beach here in 90 degree SoCal…and for all of you thawing out on the East coast!  Happy Friday the 13th!

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

Let’s go to Laguna Beach

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I have coffee every few weeks with some girlfriends…we used to call it Therapy Thursdays, but now it occurs any day of the week.  Anyway, this past Friday Mimi gave us some restaurant suggestions in Laguna Beach.  In the three years I’ve lived down in Newport I think I’ve been to Laguna maybe two or three times….and it’s literally a 10 mile drive down a beautiful stretch of Pacific Coast Hwy.  Laguna Beach is sometimes compared to the French Riviera, with it’s beautiful coastline and cliffs, but it’s also known as an artist’s village, with multiple art galleries, as well as the annual Pageant of the Masters and Festival of Arts….you should go at least once.  I knew it was going to be a gorgeous Southern California weekend, so why not try out one her restaurant recommendations right away!

One of her suggestions was a place called The Deck, literally a deck overlooking the ocean and sand.  I texted a few friends and threw out the invitation at rowing practice on Saturday morning.  It was a beautiful morning on the water…like glass…so the afternoon would be equally as stunning.  We were meeting at 4:30, but I decided to go down around 2 to do some shopping and just walk around.  Here’s my day in pictures….

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 Went to this cute little place called Cottage Furnishings to pick up some beachy knick-knacks for my impending move back to my home

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I parked back in one of the neighborhoods, so took the free
shuttle into town to walk around.

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 Looking up Forest Avenue..one of the main streets with many
dining, shopping and art gallery options

IMAG3871Main beach was crowded….the happening place to be!
…then headed back to the restaurant to meet everyone

IMAG3875There was an hour wait for a table, but this cozy lounge
made the wait-time a pleasure…what a view..and just more time to socialize

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this is the fireplace in the cozy lounge

IMAG3877First round!

IMAG3886Second & subsequent rounds….lots of water in cute green mason jars

IMAG3893Can’t beat this view…that’s Catalina in the distance

IMAG3888Yummy menu options

IMAG3872secret alleys that lead to the beach

Here are some pics of the quaint houses as I walked back to my car.

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Just another beautiful day in Southern California…so grateful & lucky to live here!
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 You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails! 

Motivational Mondays…help others!

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I have two for this week….relating to my stress post and helping others.

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others…Mahatma Gandhi

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The purpose of life is to serve, and show compassion and the will to help others…Albert Schweitzer

…..or just the golden rule…Do Unto Others as you would have them do unto you.

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

Stress….a friend??

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My friend, Mimi, sent me a link to a TED talk called “How to make stress your friend” by Kelly McGonigal.  I would highly recommend you click on that link and listen to her…but I’ll give a synopsis here.  Kelly McGonigal PhD is a health psychologist, graduate of Stanford University, as well as a lecturer there.  She’s got the creds!

So, the basic gist of the article is that stress can be good for you in many ways….but the most important is the way you react to stress.  She references some studies that asked the participants, “Do you believe that stress is harmful to your health”….and then they looked at the death rates of those participants.  Those who answered yes to that question died at a higher rate than those that answered no…even for those that had little stress in their lives. So, basically if you change the way you feel about stress you can change your body’s response to that stress.  Everyone has those times when you’re sweating, heart pounding, breathing faster.  For those that thought it was bad, their blood vessels constricted…not good…but, for those that thought stress wasn’t harmful their blood vessels stayed relaxed….their bodies were dealing with the stress.  Think of those performers, Barbra Streisand/Meryl Streep, who have said they are terrified right before they go on stage and perform…but it makes them better performers.  I’d assume they learn to accept the challenge of that stress and as they walk onto the stage they relax.

Ms. McGonigal goes on to explain how stress makes us more social.  For those that seek help from friends and family in times of stress their oxytocin levels go up…and oxytocin is an anti-inflammatory, directly related to your heart response….more oxytocin, more calm, better bodily response.  She also explains how caring for others…reaching out to help your friend’s and family in their times of stress….can also benefit you.

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In a nutshell it’s the way you react to stress that can make you a stronger person and also cement those close relationships that we all need in our lives.  Meditation, Zumba and daily affirmations help too!

I wish you all a stress-free weekend…but if you experience stress, I hope you’ll be able to deal with it in a productive way for your body and your life.

TEDtalks are awesome!  You can learn so much from so many of them, but beware, you’ll get sucked in, so give yourself a time limit in front of that computer screen!

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

Feng Shui…changing orientation to change your view

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My last home…cute cottage on Balboa Peninsula

I’ve always had fun decorating whatever home I’m in…whether my first studio apartment in San Francisco or our larger 2800 sf home.  When I first started out it was fun to get recycled, re-purposed and castaways-on-the-side-of-the-road furniture.  We’d strip, paint, sand, change knobs on whatever was thrown our way.  It was a challenge that was very rewarding that I still really enjoy today.  When we were fortunate enough to buy new furniture for a larger home, it was fun to put different colors and designs together to make the house a home.

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Another view of my previous home…Quinn loved her perch
photo credit: Angela Cartwright

I live, once-again, in a tiny studio with lots of light and windows.  When I first moved in, my sister, brother-in-law and I placed all the furniture where we thought it would work for the short time I’d be here.  I only had a small love-seat to sit on, so my bed became my sofa…and I just swiveled the TV to accommodate whatever area of the room I was watching.

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the original layout

I’ve pretty much loved every place I’ve lived and have been successful in making it feel like a home, but this place just didn’t feel right.  Even my sister said, “This is the first time you don’t seem excited about your place.”  It’s been weird, because I LOVE Balboa Island, my little place has an amazing amount of light, the MOST adorable kitchen ever, and a feeling of community, with all the activity going on outside my window.  ….but I’d come home and it just didn’t feel as welcoming as I’ve always felt.  I’m not a complainer so it really bugged me that I didn’t LOVE where I was living.  …and then I came home from my recent trip to NYC!

I walked in and due to numerous calamities with the remodel in the downstairs store I had to spend a few nights at my sister’s beautiful home a few blocks away…not a hardship!  Anyway, I decided one day that I just needed to rotate my bed so I didn’t see the bottom of it when I walked in every day.  I have no idea why that mattered, but I thought, what the hell just move it and see how it looks.  I rotated the bed, moved some side tables and voilà!!  An amazing thing happened!  I now really like sitting in bed and watching TV or sitting on my little love-seat and reading.  I’m sure there’s a Feng Shui expert out there that would tell me that the room has better energy now???…and I’m sure they’d have a reason, but I have no idea.  Even my cat likes it better and sleeps at the bottom of the bed (she used to sleep on the loveseat…go figure!)  I’m just glad that it feels more like home and I’ll enjoy the next 4 months that I have here in this magical place called Balboa Island.

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the new layout…feels more like home…cozier!

So if you have a space that doesn’t feel quite right…re-arrange the furniture, it may make all the difference!

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