Design Remix

Can someone explain to me the allure of appearing on a show like Design Remix? The premise of the show is to redesign a room in your house with furniture you already have in the room ďplus surprises from other parts of the house.Ē I donít get it. Was Candice Olsen busy? Why would you want to use your own furniture? You picked it! And you applied for a design show! Iím going to guess that what you picked most likely sucks, or at the very least doesnít work well in the room because, I repeat, you applied to appear on a design show. I thought the whole point of essentially admitting on national television that you have no style was the promise of a newly furnished room. You give them permission to humiliate you, and they give you free stuff. Seems like a fair trade, no?

By the way, I should talk. I shouldnít be too rough on HGTV. The showís concept inspired The Mister and I to remix our own living room in hopes of reclaiming some adult space from the boys and their toys. Two years ago, we moved from a newly built tract home to a mid-century ranch. We had all sorts of renovation plans that we quickly put on hold after I decided to quit my job and stay at home with Mikey.

One of those plans included a new fireplace and furniture for the living room. Our old furniture looked lovely in our previous home, but in our older, more compartmentalized ranch house the furniture is the wrong scale, color, and style. The fireplace? Well, itís a bit imposing. We put the mantel in right after we moved in so we would have somewhere to hang stockings for Santa, thinking it would be a temporary fix. We placed the furniture in the room and left it, hoping to replace everything soon. It never happened, and before we knew it the entire living room and entry way was overrun by toys.

Toys, Toys, Toys

Who’s house is this, again?

A total redesign is currently out of the question so, right before Christmas, The Mister and I set about moving some furniture. We redid this room for $0. Like an episode of Design Remix, we used everything we already owned.

We started off by repositioning our ginormous sectional. We tried every conceivable configuration and finally settled on this one. Itís still too big for the room (itís pretty much all you see when you come in the front door) but I think it turned out ok. I donít love the heavy piece of carved wood above the television unit, but it serves a purpose. Thatís a little ďsurpriseĒ from the garage I dusted off to hide a 2.5 inch hole in the wall we couldnít avoid if we wanted to watch TV in this room. Something lighter would look better (maybe even a plant) but it didnít fit with my $0 budget.

It's All Wrong!

Before the Remix.

After--Remix

After the Remix. Better, no?

Of course we also moved every single toy into the den. The den is now a mess, but you can’t see it when you first walk in the house, and with everything in such a small room it is fairly easy to clean everything up on a momentís notice.

From the front door

No toys!

After--No More Toys!

Better. Much better.

Toys

We have children. They require toys. I prefer laughter over a clean house. Usually.

The Culprit

The culprit.

We moved the large mirror to the dining room. I want to redo this room, too, only with money. For starters, I would love to find a round table, replace the light fixture, and put down a rug. Iíve also thought of papering the wall behind the mirror or painting it a different color. Weíll see. For now, Iím just happy I can walk into my house without being blinded by a sea of toys.

Yawn.

Hello, I’m beige. How may I bore you today?

Dining Room.

Yawn.

Have any of you remixed a room? Iíd love to see before and afters, so link away in the comments if youíre up to sharing!

Favorite Moment

COLUMBUS

Joaquin Miller

BEHIND him lay the gray Azores,
Behind the gates of Hercules;
Before him not the ghost of shores,
Before him only shoreless seas.
The good mate said, “Now must we pray,
For lo! The very stars are gone.
Brave Admiral, speak, what shall I say?”
“Why, say, Sail on! Sail on! and on!”

“My men grow mutinous day by day;
My men grow ghastly wan and weak.”
The stout mate thought of home; a spray
Of salt wave washed his swarthy cheek.
“What shall I say, Brave Admiral, say,
If sight naught but seas at dawn?”
“Why you shall say at break of day,
Sail on! Sail on! Sail on! and on!

They sailed and sailed, as winds might blow
Until at last the blanched mate said:
“Why, now not even God would know
Should all my men and I fall dead.
These very winds forge their way,
For God from these dread seas is gone.
Now speak, Brave Admiral, speak and say”–
He said, “Sail on! Sail on! and on!”

They sailed. They sailed. Then spoke the mate:
“This mad seas shows his teeth to-night.
He curls his lip. He lies in wait,
With lifted teeth as if to bite!
Brave Admiral say but one good word:
What shall we do when hope is gone?”
The words leapt like a leaping sword,
“Sail on! Sail on! Sail on! and on!”

Then pale and worn, he kept his deck,
And peered through darkness. Ah that night
Of all dark nights! And then a speck–
A light! A light! A light! A light!
It grew, a starlit flag unfurled!
It grew to be Time’s burst of dawn.
He gained a world; He gave that world
It’s grandest lesson: “On! sail on!”

Do you wish, like I do, to be the Brave Admiral? I try but, more often than not, I find myself in the anxious shoes of the mate. Like most creative people, I imagine, insecurities are my most prized possession. They compel me to perfection, and yet keep me from reaching my full potential. They often find me with both feet planted firmly on the deck of a boat sailing a calm sea.

You must admit, this is far more comforting in its predictability. There is no risk in setting sail where there is always a shore in sight. Once things get a little choppy, you can always abandon ship and head towards land. But, even I, in my stalwart mate-ness know that it is the seemingly insurmountable journey that is always worth traveling. Those rough waves why, they shape us! The salt burns our skin and leaves scars we rightfully wear like badges of courage. Our hands are left calloused, and so it may be with our hearts, as well.

There are countless people on journeys they would rather abandon. I am on one now. I open the shop soon, and the thought of a fruitless voyage terrifies me. As I was going over the back end of the website with Nicole last night, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of panic. Why didn’t I leave well enough alone? I should have kept my dreams just that: dreams. Now that they are fast becoming a reality, I wonder who would ever buy my greetings cards when there are thousands, upon thousands, of wonderfully talented designers out there? When you read as many shopping blogs as I do, and read about so many talented people on a daily basis, the sea is vast and unnerving, indeed. But I sail on, and I hope you will join me, whether you are

Looking to get out of a job you hate or

Dreading a return to a job you can no longer avoid or

Realizing that your life isn’t at all like you thought it would be or

Missing a loved one very much.

I don’t want to be on this ship, and I doubt you do, either. In the end, we’ll be better for it. But until then, why don’t we keep each other company? We’ll take turns being the Admiral.

My favorite moment this week? When a group of friends and I were Admirals to a mate in the middle of a tempest and helped her sail on! sail on! and on!

Wrapped and Ready!

Cathe & Feterie Make Me Look Good

The Poem Company is one of those businesses people don’t initially understand. Quite honestly, I even have trouble explaining it without rambling and using wild hand gestures like an American in Europe. The premise is pretty simple: I will write out in verse whatever you want to announce, whether it’s a new marriage, new baby, or new house. I do the same for invitations. I don’t, however, design around what I write. I would much rather write something and forward it on to your designer because I don’t have the skills or tools to design anything on my own.

This is where the lovely Cathe from Feterie comes in. I have worked with her on several projects and I am always thrilled with the balance between her clean, modern aesthetic and my casual, somewhat sweet writing style.

(Ms. Cathe, peeking from behind some of her designs)

My favorite project so far is a birth announcement Cathe asked me write for a well travelled couple expecting their first child, a boy. The mother decorated the nursery with a “By Sea, By Air, By Land” nursery theme and wanted it to carry over to the announcement. This couple could not have picked a better suited theme for the nursery; they travel extensively and at every opportunity! They regularly spend time in Europe, Hawaii, Lake Tahoe, and Las Vegas, to name a few the their common hot spots. I knew immediately the direction I wanted to take, and the poem basically says that being at home with their new baby is the best vacation, by far. I sent it off to Ms. Cathe, and she designed this little beauty:


Isn’t it fabulous? I adore the colors, naturally, but the Hawaiian Islands cartography kills me. So fantastic, and not your traditional baby announcement– which is a good thing.

Cathe has a lot more in store this year. Her new shop, Feterie, is set to open this month and I am on pins and needles waiting to see what’s behind those closed doors. I read her blog regularly, so I know to expect personalized wall art, coordinated wedding invitations and websites, and her always impeccable designs. But I can’t help but wonder, what other bespoken lovelies does she have up her sleeve?

Favorite Moment

What’s the deal with crafters and cats? There sure is a whole lotta feline lovin’ going on in the craft community. I will never forget my first email exchange with someone very well known in the craft community. The email was peppered with things like

^_^ and

^_~ and

>_< and

^–^

At first I didn’t know what was going on. Was this some sort of craft code I wasn’t privy to? Typographical errors? Nope. This, my friends, is cat speak. Whereby you, an internet business owner, turn into a feline and communicate accordingly. It took me reading tens of different emails and 50+ posts on various craft forums to crack the code. In other words, 7 minutes.

As best as I can tell, here are what these heiroglyphics are supposed to mean (although those of you with cats are welcome to chime in and tell me differently).

^_^ Happy Cat. This is similar to ūüôā or ūüôā but with ears and whiskers (or is that a pair of closed eyes?). This person just handed down an awesome tip, had a tutorial published, or just received the warm and fuzzies from an unexpected compliment.

ex. If you have short runs and want to avoid offset printing costs, look for a printer with an HP Indigo digital press. ^_^

^_~ Frisky Cat. This is similar to ūüėČ or ;-). I can’t decide if that’s a winking eye or an ear flicking on the right. Regardless, I think the overall spirit of the emoticon is reserved for teasing, pointing out the obvious, and humorous sarcasm.

ex. I could give you my HP Indigo printing source, but I’d have to kill you. ^_~

>_< Angry Cat. You’re treading on thin kitty litter. This is similar to >:( or >:-( and I think the idea is a hissing, pissed off cat with their ears splayed or pulled down tight. You know how cats do that thing where they put their ears back? Right before they spit and bite the crap out of you with those razor sharp teeth? Yeah, that. That’s what this is.

ex. One time time a web designer (who shall remain nameless) copied my entire site design and tried to sell it on ebay as a template. She claimed it was a coincidence, even though it had my code. >_<

^–^ Sleepy Cat. I guess this is similar to something like -.- or *o* and I think this person, or kitty, is asleep from exhaustion or boredom.

ex. Where is her favorite moment? Is there a point to this post? ^–^

My point is that the craft community love cats and I love dogs. I’m still trying to come up with dog speak, but haven’t been successful. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike cats, I just love dogs. I especially love my dogs, Buddy and Buster. My original Favorite Moment post for today centered around my beloved beagles and the overwhelming feeling of love and loyalty they exude on a daily basis. In fact, this picture inspired the post.

Buddy & Buster

The little guys were exhausted after an unsuccessful photo-shoot with Mikey in front of the fire. As a reward, I let them snuggle in my chair for a winter’s nap in front of the fire. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the cuteness. Two hours later I was still typing away on the superiority of dogs when The Mister came home. Buster had long since jumped off the chair and went to sleep in our bedroom. The Mister wasn’t in the bedroom 10 minutes before he came out asking Mikey if he fed Buster something. I stopped in mid-type and mentioned that some yogurt had gone missing during snack time.

The Mister: “Well, something is wrong with Buster.”
Jules: “Is he OK?”
The Mister: “No. Not at all. I could only get him to respond to me by mentioning cookies.”
Jules: “What are you talking about?” Denial, denial, denial.

OK, I think, he has an upset tummy. No big deal. I called Buster to me. He stumbled over, eyes closed. I called his name again. He turned his head towards my voice, eyes closed. He tried to lay down, but I kept calling his name so, ever the good boy, he tried to stand at attention. He couldn’t open his eyes, so he just hung his head waiting for me to tell him what to do.

The Mister and I looked at each other and I told him to get Buster to the hospital; he was already grabbing his keys. Mikey ate dinner while I sat at the table and fretted, waiting for The Mister to call.

The Mister finally called, and the tests came back fairly clear. The x-rays showed some gas, but what most likely happened is Buster inhaled some soot, ash, and creosote during our ill fated fire place photo-shoot. He received an eye rinse at the hospital and came home with some steroids and eye lotion. Poor baby. He’s still not 100%, but he is home safe, sound, and soon to be snuggled in my lap once I’m done with this post.

So, my favorite moment this week was the call from The Mister that Buster was battered but not beaten. That, and the pitter-patter of my Buster’s feet climbing up the steps home and heading straight into the kitchen for some roasted turkey and vegetables. He couldn’t really open his eyes enough to see, but he could still smell. ^_^

Oh, Buster!
My Buster, begging for turkey he can’t see and still wearing his hospital tag.

Breakfast of Champions

One of my New Yearís resolutions is to recapture my health, and I am pleased to say I have taken this commitment to heart. I am three days into my 11th, 12th, and 13th resolutions. Iíve abstained from sugar and processed, refined food, havenít had to take any of my prescription stomach medications or antacids, and havenít had one sip of diet coke. Iíve even had breakfast, which I am sure you are not surprised to hear I usually skip. I hate breakfast. Not the concept, per se, but the traditional food offerings. Eggs are revolting. Danishes and other pastries are equally disgusting. Donít even get me started on cereal. And you know what? I donít even like pancakes! You can see why it is pretty easy for me to grab a diet coke and go.

But, Iím trying to be better and set a good example for the boys. To that end, and since I donít see me liking breakfast foods anytime soon, I decided to rework the idea of breakfast. Those of you out there who are diehard breakfast fans (Hi, The Mister!) will not appreciate the following recipe, but maybe it will make a tasty, light lunch or mid afternoon snack.

Letís make a little Tomato Crostini, shall we?

The ingredients are simple and healthy, and the recipe (if you want to call it that) is perfect for those of you with little time on your hands.

*I apologize for the poor picture quality. There is a film on my lens I haven’t been able to remove. It would help if I knew what it was and how it got there!

Really good breakfast


  • 2 Slices whole grain bread
  • 1-2 Fresh tomatoes, more or less depending on size. I used a mix of grape and small in low acid varieties for my stomach
  • Pecorino Romano (Like parmesean, but made from sheep’s milk. Again, this is for my stomach. Parmesean works just fine.)
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees if you’re in and out of the kitchen (like I am) or 400-425 degrees if you’re short on time and can catch the bread before it burns.

Start off with a good, dense bread. Take two slices and place it on a lined cookie sheet. You need a sturdy bread that can support the water content of the tomatoes once they release their juices. Sourdough works well here, but I canít eat yeast or gluten breads without feeling like my esophagus is engulfed in flames. Instead, I stick with whole grain, yeast and gluten free breads like Whole Grain Spelt or Spelt White by Pacific Bakery.

Drizzle the bread with olive oil. If you like a crispier bread, place it in the oven while you slice the tomatoes.

Slice the tomatoes thinly, about 1/4″ and remove bread from the oven if you decided to pret-toast. Arrange tomato slices on top of the bread. Spread them out and try not to pile them too much into the center. It looks prettier piled, but it’s easier to eat when evenly distributed.

Drizzle the tomatoes and bread with more olive oil.

Grate cheese on top and sprinkle with sea salt.

Place in the preheated oven and bake until the tomatoes are very soft (they’ll wrinkle a bit) and the cheese is melted. This should take anywhere from 10-20 minutes at 375 degrees (which is why I use this temperature–I can go back to my room and get ready) or 5-10 minutes at 425 degrees.

Take out of the oven, cut into triangles, and enjoy!

I know it seems rather silly to be so excited about my progess since, oh, Sunday. Perhaps I should have held off on this post until I had a more respectable number of days under my belt. I don’t think so, and here is why. I believe part of the reason resolutions fall by the wayside is that we expect perfection and don’t often take the time to ackowledge and applaud even the small steps we take towards achieving our goals. The journey is just as important as the destination. Because of this, I think Iím going to another resolution to my list:

21. Celebrate the small successes.

YUM!

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