Less isn’t more; it’s really less. A friend and I were chatting and I commented that less is not more. He applauded stating he was so grateful I stated that truth. What people really mean when they comment that less is more is that the eye can only see so much at one time. In the world of design, we can fool the eye to believing a space is more expansive than it is, draw the eye up or down, all based upon colours, shots of material and decor. Things too busy can become dizzying to look at. In our old Edwardian, we had many sitting rooms and loads of tchotchkes. In our new home, which is a modern, all the stuff had to be paired down significantly or eradicated prior to moving because it was not right for the new place. It wasn’t meshing well with the new us. We wanted a pad all one level so all the pets and family could be all on one floor. Pairing things down meant more space between stuff, giving the eye a rest. Having space make things easier to clean as well. And as you build up your interior with decor pieces, you find the truly great items really stand out when they have some room to say something. Less is more.
I’ll be 59 this year. Creating some space, making things easier to clean and not having to do a bee dance or agility course to get from one room of the house to another, make sense…makes peace.
Then I was laid off suddenly. Here’s the thing with the whole less is more bit….When you feel wealthy, feel at least comfortable, there’s food on the table, good food, and fluffy pillows on your nice sofa, you have a bit of discretionary income for the things, yoga class, pottery, the housekeeper, chef school, that you really want to include into your lifestyle, then it gets easier to spout on about how less is more. When you feel needy, feel like you may not get all that you want, is when the tendency is to fill your surroundings with more stuff.
My knee-jerk reaction to suddenly having my contract terminated was to get re-employed corporately swiftly as possible with an offer my Contractor brought to me the same day I was let go. That work, sadly, didn’t materialize and then I spiraled. I’m not used to marketing myself or being out of a job. I am used to being in the top 10% at whatever company I work for at whatever job I do. I excel at working with people and love to help solve problems. If only I could bet my arse into a new job. I began having nightmares about this job loss and between the overly long hours at a company I worked at for 28 years and this latest that actually forgot to tell me when I was laid off so I continued working at a job I no longer had, I decided perhaps I am done with corporate work. I had just traded in my paid for car so I had a car payment. After a couple of months where I didn’t see a new job on the horizon, I cashed in that car in at the dealership. Not having a car in Dallas is not an easy thing at all.
I’d love to segue into this blog, helping folks detox their daily lives, get them using the amazing organic products and help a few animals each week with my massage therapy practice and call it my new life. I don’t require 10k/mo but 5k would be nice. Building this business has taken a lot of time and expense to get up and going. I went from 10k/mo to my $576.00 pension and whatever I sell. So it is with my new situation that I have begun to think about frugality and how less isn’t more at all, it’s freaking less for pete’s sake! But having less may not necessarily be a bad thing. It’s our nature to assume whatever is happening currently, for better or worse, is the way of it. If you’re up high on life right now, the feeling is that this will never end. This high will always be. Conversely, if you’re doubled over in agony, having a pity party on the epic scale, it, too seems to be far more permanent than it actually is as life’s magic twists and turns leaving tendrils of joy, pain, loss, hope, attainment and finally transcendence.
There can also be too much clutter in our heads, in our thoughts. As we clutter our lives with spent magazines, empty cups and too much of even the very nicest of things, we can overfill our heads where there isn’t space or room to quietly contemplate.
Lives and situations change. Also what we can label good or bad really are just experiences and how we choose to classify them. Things are not always as they appear. It is important to be grateful and see all the blessings around you, even in the face of adversity. Whether you are downsizing on purpose or a decision was made for you, take a look around and see where you can scale back so that
as you build up your interior fortitude, with careful meditation on your next steps, you’ll find the truly great ideas really stand out when they have some room to say something. Less is more.
You need to get off plastic, reuse items better, work from home wherever possible to reduce fossil fuel waste, be kinder, more present and attain enlightenment too. And when I say you I mean me. Seriously this is a global problem. Our lives have been about incorporating as much convenience and single serve things as possible. Folks even look at homes and cars as disposable now and they really aren’t! Save the landfill by buying what you really need with an intention of using gently, passing on later to others in great condition and each of us makes a dent that way.
Sit for a few seconds and breath as you absorb the fact that most of what we do every day, how we live, from how we pad to the kitchen to pour a morning beverage to how we order lunch or shop at the store is all habit. To make things easier our brains do this fantastic auto pilot thingy where we don’t have to think so hard about all the nit noidy things, those daily choices that we make. Remember this is just habits and habits change. Did you always drive, smoke, dance, sing, paint, write or drink tea, coffee or alcohol? Really? Since you were a child? No, you grew into various habits, some good, some bad, that just became a part of you over time. These same things, if you want them to change, are changeable. Just give it 30 days to make new habits, hard at first, then easier. When I first went vegan I was deer in headlights at what to do next, what to prepare for my chef husband and now it is very easy for me to think in vegan terms. My shock and fright is what began this blog, actually, because I wondered how many other folks were scared too, who really wanted change, wanted to help the planet, save animals, save themselves, but didn’t know yet how. I took this amazing course at Hippocrates (links below) and started off on this journey.
As an Implementation Project Manager at Sprint, I had worked from home a couple of decades. I barely got into the car each week and mostly ate at home. We had layoffs and I began working for ATT and had to be in the office for a while starting out. Already concerned about my carbon footprint driving in daily, I watched in horror as my trash bin filled up with plastic and styrofoam. They served vegan fare in the cafeteria downstairs but things were far from carbon neutral getting the items to my desk. When I brought food in, they were in plastic baggies. And those also piled up.
Nothing is ever going to be perfect here and I don’t think, with the fall of man, that this is ever the point of the exercise. I do believe we are all accountable for our intentions and actions and that our path here involves lessons in being less self-directed and gain understanding and compassion. Being imperfect, my tips may not exemplify the very best you can do for the environment or animals but perhaps are baby steps in the right direction so I encourage feedback! I am always learning and incorporating new ideas into my blog. But be kind in your feedback because here is the thing; you can preach about the environment and whom should be doing what till you’re blue. If it isn’t easy enough or doable enough, convenient enough, folks won’t attempt it or stay on point with it. That said, these are ways that I have, so far today, incorporated for better recycling and re-use and reduced plastic in my life. I am trying to be a better vegan too. But primarily, I am trying hard to live kinder and that means knowing my sources. I live in a meat-eating, honey indulging family (dog, cats and husband). This helps keep me compassionate as I look for ways to remove what animal-based products I can off the table and get better sources where I cannot.
With daily trips to work, what I saw in my life as a problem were baggies. Loads of baggies. I had gallon sized baggies for my salads where I would make up a batch to last me a couple of meals. The thing to understand about baggies is even if they were to say they are BPA free, for example, there is no disclosure on the hundreds of chemicals that make up a baggie. All of this leaches into your food. Here are some earth-friendlier ways to detox your lunch bag, refrigerator and life.
Stasher makes reusable baggies which are completely free of toxic chemicals. The bags are made of natural components such as sand and oxygen and can be used for Sous Vida safely. They may be washed by hand or in the dishwasher too!
Another great item I’ve discovered is the beeswax and organic cloth food wrappers. I know, it’s not vegan. But it is environmentally friendly all biodegradable and I am told bees are not harmed. The problem with honey, other than the fact it is a sugar, is that commercially, bees are killed when their honey is culled. But a beekeeper loves his bees and strives to keep the colony healthy and happy. So if you indulge in honey products then you need to be responsible for knowing your source. We have a neighbor who sells zip code honey. They do no harm to bees. Another wrap to consider is this 5 piece beeswax, jojoba and tree resin set for $19.99. I wrap my avocados, vegan pizza slices etc with them. If you choose these wraps, know that they last about a year with proper use and that is a ton of plastic wrap not in our oceans.
Say no to single-use cuttlery. This bamboo cutlery set is something that will work well from camping to working at the office or on the road and even includes a straw. After seeing that video of the poor turtle with a huge staw stuck in his nostril that had to be surgically removed, I stopped using straws at restaurants.
This Tea Spot Urban Tumbler is a hit with our whole family! We are tea drinkers, but you can put any beverage in there. The founder of the company cured her cancer with tea and has written a book, Cancer Hates Tea. What I love about this tumbler is that as it is constructed of borosilicate glass and stainless steel infuser, it is free of toxins such as BPA. Her teas are lovely. I loaded up on tea after learning they sold Lapsang Souchong and this is a lovely green tea sampler. The cork around the bottle helps protect the glass while keeping your hands away from the too hot or cold beverage you’re about to enjoy. The product doesn’t leak, forming a nice seal and I have now given this out as gifts, it’s just that good! Reusing something you love is one of the best ways to minimize your environmental impact. ♥
You’ll control the quality of your food and save money by making and taking your lunch with you to work. Check out this stylish option with the Tabkoe Bento Box, free of BPA materials, while I shun microwaves, this is microwaveable.
Another great glass storage option that goes from fridge to lunch bag are these nice glass meal prep containers which airtight and space saving.
Bulk Food Bags, what about grocery shopping and all those produce bags? These bags go from your fridge to the grocery store for re-loading!
And just check out kinder ways to brush your teeth!
As an affiliate marketer, there are links here to look at and purchase products. These are products I love, use etc. The commission I earn from purchases helps to offset the monthly costs of keeping this blog running and I appreciate the support.
Read and be inspired by this girl. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-16168/i-havent-made-any-trash-in-2-years-heres-what-my-life-is-like.html
One of the worst polluters on the home front is doing laundry. In your typical detergent, there are a plethora of chemicals, from optic whiteners to bleach, carcinogens and hormone disrupters, sulfates, parabens, Butyl Esthers, Phosphates, Zeolites, artificial colors, and fillers. Not only do these chemicals affect our drinking water, create algae blooms which kill off fish but also affect you and your children’s health as they leach into your body through skin contact and breathing in the chemical fragrances.
Links to shop or do a deeper dive are in above in the product names.
Platypus Laundry Liquid – Platypus is made using organic soap nuts on my companies farm coop. It is 100% biodegradable, even the packaging employs 85% less plastic. While we wait for a non-scented version, this one has a very pleasant eucalyptus essential oil added which is not overpowering but makes the washer and the clothes have a nice fresh aroma. This is super concentrated, you only need 2 tablespoons. 1 liter does 40 loads and there is a price break when you buy 3 or more. The soap comes out looking like dark honey or tea but don’t be alarmed, it will not stain your clothes. Free of all the usual bad chemicals and completely organic, 5% of all sales is gifted to establishing community-owned Organic Farm Share projects. Market studies applause this product for being 23% better at cleaning clothes.
Essante Organics Unscented Laundry Liquid – Essante is in a plastic container which is recyclable. Very concentrated, only 2 tiny capfuls are needed so 16 oz will last you through 32 loads with typical soil levels. Non-scented and works well while being safe for our home, our clothes, and fish. This product uses soy and coconut cleansing agents and is also suggested for furniture fabrics, carpets and pet areas.
Sanitizer Spray – The Essante Sanitizer Spray goes from laundry room to locker room, to countertops of your kitchen and even your makeup bag. Non-scented, it harnesses the power of stabilized oxygen and kills 99%-100% of bacteria, fungi, germs, pathogens and viruses. Great for cleaning and disinfecting cuts, abrasions, acne. I have one client who uses the spray, which comes in a purse/travel size, to cure her Tinea Versicolor. She stated nothing but a very expensive prescription knocked it out prior! I personally use it daily as our cats won’t stay off the countertops and it provides me great peace of mind that our counters are sanitary.
Changing your laundry soap is one easy way to detox your home, the air that you breathe, and your clothing while making a huge impact on the environment and mother earth. ♥
This is our original 1963 kitchen. It came with its original Gaffers & Sattler stove top and double wall ovens, which all worked, just leaked gas. My husband is an Executive Chef, so as a surprise, I decided to do a very sensitive remodel.
Mid-Century Modern design and MCM homes are so in demand right now and I can tell you why that is. There is some old solid craftsmanship that you don’t often find in today’s modeling, coupled with the lovely lines that get blurred between the outside and interior of the home. The vibe is like being on vacation as I describe it to people. Sliding doors opening up to atriums or little patio hang out spots with large open entertaining areas that just beg for some Dean Martin and a cocktail. Who doesn’t love a vaulted ceiling or a wall of windows?
Some new owners buy with plans to keep it the original jewel box that it may be while others get into an MCM with a few remodeling plans. And tragically, others get something abysmally contorted that must be undone. I can absolutely assure you that here in the Dallas market, I have seen some ugly re-work. Just because your neighbor has decided that vessel sinks are cool is NOT a reason to go and install one yourself. Decades from now, all of these vessel sinks will be known as the 2010-2020 time-frame and look dated. Your middy is dated and should be. The reasons you fell in love with it is precisely because of the 50’s -70’s vibe. Take too much of that away and there goes your resale.
In one of my shelter magazines, I believe it was This Old House, they used the term ‘remuddle’ when someone went in, most likely with the very best of intentions, and just buggered the whole thing up for the next person of taste.
For some odd reason, one of the tell tales of a flip house here in the DFW market is painting the brick and typically gray. When I see painted brick I immediately look for the cracks from the foundation needing work because back in the day, that is exactly why someone painted their brick. The foundation had settled, there were cracks and the person did not have the money to fix it correctly and disguised it by painting the stone and brickwork. It costs the new person 10-20k to attempt removing all of that paint. Please refrain from painting your brick or stone. These are natural elements that wear and age well that never need much in the way of ongoing maintenance like paint does because paint eventually wears and needs repainting on a regular basis. Why would you want to add more maintenance?
The next two photos are after the remodel of our kitchen.
Contractors generally do not have a clue what they are doing in an MCM home. Unless you are working with one who has basically made it his business to do MCM work, they do not possess the right mindset. They think ‘gut job’ means tear everything out and replace with new Home Depot stuff. My realtor (Ed Murchison, really the best) wisely advised his clients to live in their home a year before they did anything. Let the house speak to you because it will tell you what it needs after a period of living with things as they are. We did not totally follow that advise because I had the vibe down and knew exactly what I wanted in the new kitchen.
Right here I will tell you that there are purists who insist on using only materials that were of the era and those, like me, who feel if they use materials the architect would have considered had they been around in that era, that they are keeping the vibe while bringing the home forward in a sensitive way. This is why I used quartz on the countertops and in the exact colour of the original formica. I also added quartz on the island top above the sliding cabinets too because that was just wood originally and I like plants. The windowsill was also wood and for the same reason, I went with quartz there too. We used all the original plan, shape, etc except that I went with a knife edge on the quartz which to my eye looked fetching and futuristic. People, there isn’t anything wrong with granite except that, unless it is a solid colour, you don’t want it in an MCM home. Granite looks terrific in an upscale traditional home or historic bungalow. For MCM remodels think formica to be truly period appropriate and they come in great vintage patterns and look just smashing! We planned on using the kitchen a lot and were used to stone counters. I do love quartz so we went that route. All original hardware was cleaned up and re-used. We added a shelf and 4 drawers next to the stove top and sink because amazingly there weren’t any prior. The island had 4 drawers which we changed to soft-close. The cabinet faces were constructed of new wood and stained to match the rest of the kitchen which has all its original sliding wood panel doors for the pantry area which covers a major amount of the room. The original double ovens were tiny and remained on 24×7. We installed a much larger double wall oven so we had to have a new cabinet made in the design of the old one. The 3 original Nelson bubble lamps were retained as were the original kitchen window blinds and all moldings and trim.
It is very important to write down and point out what is being kept in a remodel of this kind. I worked with Francesco Costa who, after showing him several pictures and describing what MCM is, totally got it and did his best to honor the mood in everything he did. I have not been this lucky with the last contractor who ripped out my original trim in the master bathroom and now I am searching for similar trim so the bathroom doesn’t scream ‘Home Depot trim available in 2018.’ You really have got to Birddog folks, perhaps in a polite way, but it’s your resale, your money, your home and your way that goes.
I had a neighbor exclaim that he wished he had done a similar remodel for his home but was unclear at the time how to go about that. I recall offering my help when he first moved into the neighborhood but he didn’t really know me or my skills and basically gutted and did his place in his own style. It does look good but it is no longer MCM at all. All of that went to bulk trash, including the bathroom console I tried to salvage to use in my master remodel but sadly the console got torn up too badly when they gutted his master. And here’s the thing, it takes a new mindset of not totally trashing stuff when gutting a room. It takes a bit of attention to detail and extra time. That console was, of course, salvageable if only someone cared enough to have preserved it. The contractor clearly didn’t and completely ruined something no longer available on the market.
The things to be mindful of are colours, trim work, materials, style and vibe. For example, we have a (currently not working) wall mounted tube radio/intercom system. I really want that working again but hell would sure freeze over before I yanked that out. It sets a tone for the home right as you walk in. A neighbor pointed out that he would have removed it and then later regretted doing so and was so glad to see it in my home. One thing that was tossed before I took ownership were all of the original blinds in the home. The kitchen window was the only one left. I chose not to replace them and just leave all the window walls open to the atrium and backyard. Trim work is an easily missed detail. The trim work around doorways has a look to it that Home Depot does not duplicate. If you widen a doorway or gut a room, be mindful to retain the original baseboards, trim work and fixtures if they are in good working condition as well as original door pulls. All of this will help blur the lines on when and what got remodeled rather than scream out ‘new.’
For this style of home, less is truly more. Think open and uncluttered. Think open living areas, sunken living rooms were very popular as well, see-through breezeways, wood trim, ceiling beams, ceiling vaults, large fireplaces that really heat up a room and a flooring surface of hardwoods or terrazzo is most common. I like to see the same flooring encompass the entire home or at least most of it. This adds continuity and allows the eye to visualize a larger open space. Too many flooring changes look choppy and shrink the room size. It can also be a tell that something was recently remodeled. For our master bathroom, the original flooring was harvest gold and old shag over cement. This was removed and replaced with poured in place terrazzo to match the rest of the house. Nobody will ever know, unless they read this, that the floor is not original to the home.
Marmoleum is also a very nice and sound period-appropriate look as well and while folks tend to think of marmoleum as a kitchen or bathroom floor, it can be throughout the house and look amazing. Marmoleum is a natural product that combines ingredients such as linseed that are naturally antimicrobial adding a layer of protection for family members.
Retro Renovation (https://retrorenovation.com/) is a great website to peruse for ideas as well as sources for cool vintage-inspired tile, appliances, flooring, furniture. Don’t be in a hurry to make changes if you are at all unsure what you want. For our dark choppy unattractive master bathroom, I lived with it 3 full years as I saved and planned out what it needed to become open, light and bright.
When we bought our house, the atrium was taking on water. We had the quarry tiles which were not original, removed, the foundation ground even and new tile installed. It took me weeks to locate the right time. Bluestone would have looked lovely as would slate or terrazzo. Now I know a guy but I was afraid of getting terrazzo that did not quite match and as the house wraps around the atrium, this was a big deal to consider. The stone I wanted wasn’t available in the format I wanted. Then while out shopping with Francesco, he took me to this fabulous place where I found the tile that reminds me of a suit James Bond would wear. It was Italian porcelain and all the existing time in the home was Italian. It was a dark slate in colour with a bit of texture to it, great for not slipping after your second martini. I love the seamless look of the new atrium floor!
Lastly, don’t be afraid to take control and get exactly what you want or to hire someone such as myself if you are unclear and need guidance.
I hope that these tips have helped you and would love to hear about your remodeling and home stories as well as any comments you may kindly post below.♥
This is one of my favourite photos of one of my favourite people, Keith, communing with nature and his dog. Just because someone doesn’t have human babies, absolutely does not mean they are not being a father figure or parental role model to someone. My husband often tells me I am not a mother (when I look around for my Mother’s Day gift). I give him a stern look as I point to the dog and kitties. Fathers Day is a great reminder to honor someone who nurtures you, the family and let them know just how much their love is cherished. I love shopping for loved ones and getting something special just for them that will carry memories for years to come.
As this is an MCM page, we will be keeping the gift ideas Mod, so if you are searching for a groovy, hip and stylish fathers day gift with MCM style, and want some help picking something out, you’ve come to the right place. from High to low, here are some great curated items.
This is a handsome chair! What’s great about this, other than the very sleek style, is that it comes in various colour options and it comes completely assembled. Unbox, unwrap and sit, perhaps with a martini.
Another great chair option a bit less expensive, good quality and very roomy.
Give dad a lovely eye candy spot in the style of Eames, to chill and at a very good price!
I have lost count on how many throws I own. I love that they add warmth while providing style to the home that is easy to switch out for different moods and temps. Jonathan Adler is one of my favorite designers, we have a few of his items and love them.
With a hip place to lounge, you need a cocktail table. Check out this from Rivet Meeks, walnut & metal with a cool fabric storage basket.
And this metal and glass side table is just stunning and reasonably priced.
What’s not to love about this classic brass and glass table?
This next table, which can be a plant stand or drink and magazine lounge, is for someone who likes it funky.
This comes in fun colours.
Who doesn’t want to be Batman? I want to be Batman! But I’m a girl so Catwoman works for me too. I just love these cufflinks, sure to get a compliment at the next board meeting.
My dad had a very similar pair, very classy and dresses up anything.
Why get an ordinary tie when you can rock a bowtie? Plus, bowties are very Mid-Century! I started my husband on them, presenting him with a bowtie as a gift when he accepted a new job. 7 years later he is known all over the company for his bowties and yes, people copy him. He likes to believe it was all his idea, but no sir, it wasn’t.
Looking for something simple? What about a cute T-shirt?
Or how about some vinyl? What is old is groovy again! Another thing my husband claims as his, but when I met the man, I had over 3000 record albums. He is very lucky I share. Rather than come home and immediately fill up the house with TV noise (also an option people, there’s the new flatscreen 4k out now!) I love that my man comes home and immediately puts on the vinyl. He won’t even play CDs anymore. It brightens up the house with joy as we wind down from the day. The movie can wait.
It is just amazing to me how cheap flat screen TVs are these days! This one is in the new 4k technology.
What about funky movies?
Or vintage classic?
FOR THE OUTDOORS!
I got 4 of these chairs recently, the quality really cannot be beaten, they will last forever and actually come with a great warranty! You won’t ever need to paint or stain, these chairs are comfortable as they sit or you can add cushions for added style AND they come in a selection of colours!
And lastly, whether you are grilling veggies or something that I won’t discuss here because I’m vegan, this is a lovely grill any dad would be proud of.
I truly hope I have inspired you and made your shopping easier while providing some neat finds. Tresure your dad and Happy Fathers Day!
The little enclave where my MCM home is parked has quite a lot of nature in it. We are close to a creek with coyotes, opossums, racoons, hawks, rodents and loads of bugs.
I love animals and am actually a bit partial to most bugs, provided they are not crawling on me. The ones I prefer are what we call the ‘beneficial’ insects, praying mantis, ladybugs, spiders, fireflies, dragonflies etc. One of my friends abhors frogs, they scare her. Not me, bring in the toads! Lizards, toads, frogs, let nature reign. Most homes share bugs unawares. Spiders, for example, will hide out catching bugs that dare wander in. When I see a spider, I typically catch and release it outside.
Nobody loves fleas, ticks or cockroaches. Well, they mate so apparently someone does, but generally not of the human variety. It can be a challenge to enjoy nature and control it in a safe or safer way. If you live in an area with opossums, (below link to more info on these interesting and adorably ugly critters, rest easy knowing they are killing thousands of ticks and minimizing your families risk of Lyme Disease. http://www.caryinstitute.org/newsroom/opossums-killers-ticks
So what do we do with the creepies that invade our interiors? It is important to be mindful of what products we use because there are more than 85,000 chemicals in our water and approximately 2000 new chemicals created annually.
Many of us have pets that we worry about with outdoor gardens as well as what they may ingest inside the home. To minimize fleas in our
yard, we use CedarCide. It smells yummy or just like Cedar if you aren’t a huge fan (I once locked myself in a newly minted cedar closet for 5 minutes breathing it all in) and is a safer, kinder gentler way to kill the bloodsuckers. But this product also works on lice, kills ticks, mosquitos, mites and ants as well, at all stages of their life cycle. This product is indoor/outdoor, we just use it primarily outside.
IF you have snakes, keep in mind that cedar is toxic to reptiles.
I typically use this product pointed down and spraying onto our
grass/yard, early morning when cool and avoiding bees, butterflies etc.
In our garden and yard we also use beneficial nematodes. Biologic Scanmask with 10 Million Steinernema feltiae (Sf) is an all natural defense against fleas, knats, grubs. You apply easily with a watering can or spray pump.
has makes one
For the patio, and for those local to the DFW area, its made right here, there’s SkeeterScreen personal spray which I also use on my dog, and their patio egg which not only looks cool, but helps spread the unwelcome mat. Just FYI, if you get it next to paint, such as where ours is hanging right at the slider coming into the house, where it touches the house? The oil will eventually peel the paint there. Small price to pay, or just situate it where it will hang freely and not swing into the side of your house like I should have done to begin with rather than complain about it here. They have candles too and the scent is nice. I am not a huge fan of citronella so while I know citronella is effective, I want other herbs and stuff to make a nice smell that doesn’t give me citronella overdose. I am an incense fan from the 70’s dude, so why not on the patio and in the yard? I am never without Amazon Lights incense. Firstly, there’s the cone which also comes with a nice ceramic holder. This is perfect for having a quiet corner conversation or a cup of joe and just wanting to enjoy your patio space for a few moments before heading into work etc. If you are going to be out longer, get the Amazon Lights stick version which last a couple of hours. I love the scent, which includes rosemary and thyme….and who couldn’t use more of that? The sticks last between 2.5 and 3 hours. For a larger space, strategically place a few so the entire patio is within it’s cloaking device.
INSIDE THE HOME BUG CONTROL – We use an ultrasonic plugin. Bodyguard Ultrasonic Pest Repellent is a great way to rid your home of unwanted bugs without toxic chemicals. Each unit works up to 1600 square feet so you can place strategically.
For cockroaches, silverfish and palmetto bugs (what I call giant cockroaches) and ants, we recently used, and with great effectiveness, Harris Diatomaceous Earth. There are hundreds of uses for this product and it comes with a duster. This is an all natural product with no additives or fillers.
Due to environmental concerns, I do not recommend baits in plastic tins and I recommend placing these powders inside sink cabinets in the kitchen, laundry and bathrooms and behind such appliances as the stove and refrigerator. I am a bit paranoid, I want to keep pest control out of reach of the little ones, human and otherwise.
When applied correctly and at regular intervals, coupled with keeping your home environment tidy, you should be well on the way to bug-free home zone. Feel free to comment on how each of these products did at your house!
Welcome Home! Everyone should feel safe and welcome in their house. Your domicile should be your oasis where you can enjoy the beauty and unwind. Whether it’s just you, a couple or a big family, the home environment affects you even when you are not there. Things which need doing or knowing you are returning to a cluttered space or one that doesn’t suit you, has deep psychic effects. People do run the gammut as to what they value. My brother, for example, only truly cared that a place was neat enough to get around, clean enough not to get sick and that the roof didn’t leak. He was the least materialistic individual I ever knew. His sister, however, is very materialistic as well as spiritually minded. I love my creature comforts. Great Architecture is art. And if you’ve read so far, then I make the assumption it is for you too. It matters not whether it is a sprawling manse or a little jewel box, any home can be stunning. We go around once, so we may as well enjoy, right?
After a recent remodel I felt the need to put this together to help others. I have been through numerous handymen, contractors, repairs and remodels, between rental property and our homes and hope that my story and information herein helps you. Feel free to kindly comment and share out because we are all in this together. 🙂
My day job is a project manager and documentation specialist. I have seen various forms of proposals and contracts from contractors and handymen but I have found them to be far from encompassing. There can be a lot of wiggle room about what a word or sentence means and things as simple and obvious as ‘Make the patio level’ left out can mean, as it did with one of my contractors, that its ok to slope a patio where my SPA was to go. And yet this very same individual did an absolutely stunning (and level) atrium patio area for me a year prior! That contract also did not state the obvious, that the patio be level. Does anyone like floors where marbles roll to one side, doors swing closed on their own and chairs and tables katty wampus their way to and frow as you try to sit? Level should be obvious no?
Many times we simply assume that what is obvious will take place or when we are discussing an 80″ half wall between two rooms, and we see verbiage in the contract about that wall, that we are good. But we can be wrong there. So create your own contracts and have anybody you hire sign them. Don’t be afraid to spell every detail out. If you are talking of a half wall, explain in great detail exactly where it is and what will take place. Even though heads are nodding in agreement, once you hand over the cash, an egregious individual, or perhaps someone exceedingly forgetful or cash-strapped, can begin taking advantage of you.
Not everybody who works for themselves does it well. In fact, a lot of folks who work for themselves do so because nobody else would hire them or retain them very long. Reasons can run from being surly and not playing well with others, not take direction well, not being emotionally stable, not being fully transparent in their pricing or scope of work, failing on showing up to work timely to training issues, doing a sub-par job or having a criminal or sexual deviation on their record. Your contractor could be a registered sex offender and yes I have encountered that one personally.
Remodeling is always stressful as much as it is exciting looking forward to the transformation. I try to buoy myself by remaining focused on the happy outcome but still, you are perhaps losing a driveway, lawn, kitchen, bedroom, foyer, a bathroom or even an entire house while the work goes on. Your contractor should be sensitive to this. The stress can be far worse when trying someone new. Even if they are really smashing, there’s the business of building the relationship, learning to understand each other and figuring out if you can work well together or ever work again on another project. This is your home and it is not about giving entitlements to your contractor when it comes down to the respect of your time, your home or the scope of work. You want someone you can have a good working relationship with. Be careful of the goal being to get all the work done by the person giving you the cheapest quote. Interview at least 3 people before deciding. The goal is getting the job done the best and the swiftest by someone that can manage the work well and get along with you, making the experience the least stressful as feasible. Every contractor you hire owes you this.
I am currently in contractor hell. The man has a good crew, nice, personable, work well together but I was promised the crew would work full days, starting at 8:30 am, Monday through Friday. In 3 weeks time, the crew logged less than 38 hours including trips to the dump. The entire project, which is gutting one bathroom, rebuilding the closet, vaulting the ceiling, creating a half wall between the master bath and bedroom and a much simpler new toilet, counter, sink, faucet and wall sconces for the 2nd bath were all targeted to be completed within 4 weeks. He was so snippy, slow and callous, I ended up firing him. Upset when I documented our conversations, blatantly shouting ‘I will NOT be managed’ when I voiced concerns we were way behind because his folks weren’t putting in full work days. This was the first contractor I have ever fired in over 300k worth of remodeling I have done so far! I wear the same tiny rotation of clothes, cannot find a bleeding thing, clothes and other personal items are packed in boxes piled in our den as I wait.,…and wait…while his people worked 2 or 3 hours here, 4 hours there, or just didn’t show up at all. This individual was too busy chasing money, taking my money and working other jobs.
In hindsight, I should have asked for my deposit back and sent them packing on day one. But he came highly recommended by my nextdoor neighbor so I thought well, he’s just wrapping up a job and then I will have his full attention. When he went off the rails 3 times, lied about what was in writing in the contract, then expected me to pay again for what I had already paid for, I knew I had to let him go.
After going off on me (in writing) 3 times the man still had this job. I just needed him to wrap these bathroom projects up and get out of our lives. As a friend put it I was in ‘Salvage Mode’ where I had paid the man, didn’t feel like taking him to court, didn’t want to delay the work, didn’t want to delay the project and add any costs in hiring somebody new, I just bloody well wanted it done and him gone. But when he canceled our work on a Monday because he couldn’t pay the terrazzo guy doing our floor after I had already paid him to pour the terrazzo, then brought him over on a Tuesday, got him started on the work at hand before telling me I needed to pay the floor guy directly, and would not back down on this demand when I reminded him his final payment is due upon completion of all remaining work, and not a minute before, that was it for me. I am a professional and I expect that from the people I hire.
The contractor I hired prior poured a patio for dining, entertaining and to hold a SPA. It was a $2500.00 job. He sloped it so that the entire patio is on a V slope with a hump in the middle, preventing me from putting my spa on it. I asked for a big, level patio, even with the existing concrete path we had, showed him where the SPA would sit and the rest would be entertaining. Because the patio humps up in the middle, folks delivering the SPA and the maker both cautioned me (after providing pictures and measurements) that this would void the warranty and warp the frame of my SPA. Having already scheduled the airlift in place, it now sits tucked under the eaves of the house not working. Ego. Ego and shortsightedness. This same man did the best job ever on our kitchen remodel, our atrium floor, landscaping work, ok roof, brilliant copper gutters and numerous jobs at our old home and rental. His ego prevented him from hearing me or even listening to his own knowledge and common sense. In discussions later, me very upset I couldn’t place my SPA on the patio I paid him for, the contractor actually argued with me that the word ‘level’ wasn’t in our contract and also that because I am a Project Manager in telecommunications, that somehow all of this points the fault finger back in my direction. This is why he didn’t get the bathroom remodels. His solution was to charge me for materials to fix what he did wrong the first time. I said no to that.
Shortsightedness or Job too small – Folks, some people are going to do a lot of remodeling in their life and others won’t. But contractors live and die by word of mouth. There is social media, Nextdoor app, Angie’s List and ways to spread the good news when someone is stellar and share the horror stories as well. Regardless of how small a job may be, it can lead to larger projects. I had a contractor hired when we first moved into our MCM home. I wanted the patio releveled, a new cabinet to house our new double oven and the kitchen countertops done. He ditched the job to take on ‘a larger project to make more money.’ Not only did I never hire him back again, but between the kitchen, patio and a surprise ‘we need a brand new roof’, we ended up topping out around 70k. We ended up doing cabinet refacing in the whole kitchen and this guy was just too shortsighted to see the big picture. So we ended up hiring the same contractor that did our roof, kitchen and patio for our Xeriscaping project the following year. Repeat business is great for the homeowner and the contractor. It is far less stressful when you’ve located someone you can trust and work well with.
The problem with firing a contractor after work has begun is that nobody really wants to take that on. Even if the work was done right, as my 2nd contractor believes the rough in plumbing was for my situation, you are probably going to be out even more money. (I will definitely be!) Because they didn’t get the entire job, they pad their quote to finish it all up. They may think you are a challenge to work with so they add money to compensate. Or they flat think you are now desperate. I was referred by a dear friend to this really nice young man who showed up all happy and fun, clearly knows his business, but in reality, he was just a vulture seeing a way to bilk me for as much as possible. He wanted 20k to finish where the highest quote we received was 12k and the remainder was around 6-8k. Folks, my entire bathroom remodel, beginning to end, and quoted by 3 different contractors at the time, was only 15k start to finish, 2 bathrooms, one a total gut job. This 15k was for labor and materials which included quartz countertops, mirrors, skylight and all other building materials to create new walls and one closet. This chirpy cheerful dude that gleefully sent me a quote for 20k, did so after 8k of the work had already been accomplished. Inarguably the hardest part of the job, had already been completed. There was cutting into the concrete foundation, re-routing and laying new plumbing, (the rough-in plumbing) new rebar and cement to cover and fill up these new trenches where the new pipe was rerouted. Then terrazzo was poured in place, ground and polished. This was the really hard part already done! I have personally floated plaster before and while it is work, it sure beats grinding a floor! 20K was more than the original quote from 3 other contractors start to finish! With my new contractor, I am stuck paying another month and one-half salary which I am nonplussed about. But I need the work done and he is a structural engineer and I feel confident he will do me right. And I can actually see his house from my house. I feel confident I have the right guy for the job.
So, with this latest experience inspiring me, here are some helpful tips for you to avoid my pitfalls and hopefully have a much smoother remodel experience.
First, there is lingo and just having a basic understanding of how construction works. While it’s not necessary, you will do yourself some good to speak the language and appear more knowledgeable and less gullible. Understanding & Negotiating Construction Contracts by Kit Werremeyer (click on the title to take a look at the book) is well written and will help you gain skills.
In addition to this book, here are my hard-won tips:
Of course, you will get references but do a background check before you hire. You want to have a scope of this persons integrity and character.
Record conversations. This may seem a bit paranoid but you would be surprised how much gets lost that you will now have a record of.
Get everything in writing; the time the crew will show up and how many folks are in the crew, what days they will work and how many weeks the job will require.
Have each page of the contract signed by both parties and adjust any wording that at the time may appear obvious but potentially mean something else, spell it out better.
I am very used to working with a contractor that takes just one job at a time and puts his full focus there. If you choose to work for someone who had multiple jobs running, know that you will be paying for this guy to run multiple crews. Also, know that your work may get done slower. Outline and document what the expectations are for the daily/weekly work hours that will be done on your project. I personally will never hire anyone that works multiple jobs and crews again, what a nightmare!
Get some background and the names of the crew members. They will be in your home, you should feel comfortable with them being there.
Get the percentage of time the contractor will be there on site managing his crew in writing. Contractors typically take 15-20% of the job as their income. They are working for you.
The contact should contain contingencies for terminating the contract as well as what the ramifications and deductions may be for breaching the contract terms, such as when the timelines are not met or something agreed to doesn’t take place.
Folks love to tell themselves they work for themselves but they don’t. While you are paying them, you are their employer and they work, the duration of the project, for you. If something they are not doing is not working for you, speak up.
Bad Ethics don’t change. It doesn’t matter who recommended somebody. If they lie about showing up every day at 9 am, what else will they be fabricating that you won’t find out about until later?
Love the Contractor and the crew. This is a package unit, and you need to respect from all parties. You will be dealing with the crew (hopefully) daily but you should also be dealing with the contractor several times a week as well. Nobody should be absentee here or not extend common courtesy.
IF you end up, as I did, having to fire someone, don’t get desperate. Create a list of all the work left to do. Ask neighbors, get out on Nextdoor.com, talk to people and come up with a plan. Start getting new quotes. For me, I explained the rough in plumbing had been done, the floor was installed and asked how much for all the rest, providing them the list. Don’t feel pressured or stuck. Breath. Get the right guy. Great luck!
Happy New Year! What I love about a new year is that it is a marker for leaving anything that no longer serves you as you go into a new year, a new time, new beginnings. If chaos seems to follow you around, check what you may be doing (or not doing) that is encouraging this and allow yourself to change that. Where do your loyalties lie? Do your current relationships serve you or serve to ruin you? Do they cause more joy or upset? Do you feel more or less in balance within them? If you routinely fall into the victim role, feel like you just cannot get it all together, self-sabotage opportunities or you are around or supporting people who are like this, causing you more stress than peace; Leave all this behind in 2017! The mind likes to create stories and habits but BOTH are adaptable, changeable. You cannot change the way anyone around you thinks feels or acts, but you can control yourself and who you allow to remain in your life. Each day you breathe air, you have an opportunity for growth, to remove blinders (we all have them) and go and do better. Some folks are stuck in making things harder than they need to be. They want to blame, argue, delay and create what I call High Queen. My mother used to say ‘This is just how I am’ No, this is just how you programmed yourself. Begin taking ownership, stop deliberately going off the rails emotionally, self-control is underrated. Life is far too short to start pointless arguments, deliberately cause chaos, or be with anyone that behaves this way. IF you are used to living with someone that is High Queen, you may struggle at first embracing the quite. Trust, the brain gets used to all this noise and it can take a bit for quiet to sink in, to feel normal. Counting your blessings rather than stirring up drama is far more healthy. Reward those good to you, rather than complain. See what happens then. Life is short. Stress causes disease. Embrace Joy!
An ordered life brings calm. Our body is our temple and our mind the seat. Whatever your religious beliefs, big bang theory etc, you can look around you at all the beauty of this world and all the atrocious acts too and conclude two things: Firstly – there is good and evil sparring it out here and Secondly – this planet and everything within it and upon it didn’t just happen. There is way too much order, beauty and workmanship in everything and how it fits together, from fish to butterflies, to Jaguars to trees. Nothing had to be this well orchestrated, this beautiful and yet it is.
Part of honoring ourselves, our temple, our seat, is taking care of ourselves by taking care of things around us in such a way that we create calm rather than calamity for both us, our family members and those within our scope. But because being OCD can also bring chaos, there is value in things being imperfect. There is, in fact, perfection in the imperfection, if you will.
Now, as one of my dear friends always says when discussing finding a lover or choosing friends, is that you have got to pick your flavor of crazy, because we all are. And another dear friend used to tell me she was looking for someone who had fewer problems than she had. These two principles can be applied to all areas of life, really. It boils down to respecting of ones self, ones divinity. All of us being devine in nature, when we get in touch with that grace, then we begin to recognize that we no longer need the fluff of drama injected into everything that we touch.
This doesn’t mean that sometimes negative stuff doesn’t simply happen, but rather, it means we are engaged to actively minimize it on a daily basis and we do this out of honor for ourselves and our fellow companions because we deserve it, we deserve peace and life is stressful enough without adding negative drama on the top of it all.
That stated, here are ways that I actively work to reduce chaos and create peace.
Two Things Wrong Theory – For anything in my life, whether it’s a car or house, a usable item like a sofa, electronics etc, I strive for not more than 2 things wrong. In this way, I maintain a 0-2 defect ratio in all things. If I hit a third thing on the car or house, then I know I am out of balance and promptly get at least one thing that’s wrong, fixed. Honestly, I am rather anal about my cars and home so things get fixed quickly. This can be tailored to the individual, perhaps you can adopt five things for example or make other adjustments which suit you. Make it something that is comfortable for you and your lifestyle as well as tailored to what you care most about. For example, you may care more about your home than your car and want 2 or fewer things wrong with your casa but if your car is dirty, you have 3 door dings but it runs, you’re good with that.
Pick your number. For me, nothing in my life has more than two things wrong with it at any given time. In this way, I don’t feel snowed under with to do lists that I feel I’ll never crawl out from under. I minimize the heavy expense of fixing a bunch of things at once too.
Love Your Home& Create Peace In It- Home should be a safe haven, a place where you seek and find comfort, joy and beauty. You can tell a lot about a person and their psyche by their home. Conversely, you can mind your brain and heal your nervous system by keeping things tidy. De-cluttering what is around you orders and calms the brain. Having things around that give you joy bolster you up with every passing glance just as seeing piles of what needs taking care of can weigh you down. Even if your home is temporary, it affects you each time you are there. I’m a big fan of adding even a hint of personality to a temporary space or cubicle and ordering it in such a way that it provides you clear thinking and peace. I highly recommend Sacred Space by Denise Linn, it’s one of my reference books on everything from space clearing to meditation. I also have her Feng Shui For The Soul and keep that as a great reference too.
Expect & Buy Quality – To minimize chaos for myself, I strive for things made well. I don’t mind paying more for this because I generally keep things a long time. My amplifier is over 2 decades old. The amp before it was also over 20 years old. It met its’ demise over a hairball my kitty hawked onto it. It never stood a chance. One entire channel went toast and in the US, there were no matching parts. I didn’t think it would ever sound right with mismatched channel components so I shopped for a replacement. So I buy quality, take very good care of stuff and my expectation is that they take care of me.
Let Go Of Crap Products – My Lexus LS600HL is pictured above. At over 120k MSRP, I thought I had purchased a reliable and solid vehicle and one that would last me decades. But the thing was a Debbie Downer with a failed water pump, brake actuator and upper control arms all at less than 60k miles. On top of this, the ‘luxury’ of it suffered with poor workmanship. The leather wrapping the dashboard came totally unglued in a week’s timespan parked not in a garage as was typical, but in the June sunshine. In that same week, the Bezel surrounding the console mysteriously cracked as well. The thing ate money. Now, I was completely fine paying all that cash up front, but completely pissed off paying months of salary every quarter! I’m in a Jaguar now. I got everything fixed on the misbegotten Lexsucks except the bloody dashboard and sold it to Carmax for 7k higher than the dealership offered to buy it back! In the most respectful way I can say it right now, Lexus? Piss directly off! Never again will I purchase a new Lexus or Toyota product. You will note that I created signs and added letter to the back end around the ‘L’ to spell Awful Lousy and I had fun for a few months discussing the car, parking in prominent places all over town sharing my story. But at the end of the day, the vehicle was not bringing me the peace I bought it for. I had named it Zen and it wasn’t happiness anymore when I never knew when the next break would happen. So, whatever you personally expected or paid for something, let it go if it’s crap. Just get it out of your life. In this situation, karmically, I repaired the car and to the best of my abilities assured (Per Sewell Lexus in Dallas) that nothing else was, at that moment, wrong with the car. I turned it over to Carmax still owing repair bills, with a fresh oil change, ready for the new owner who will hopefully avail themselves of the Carmax extended warranty.
Take Care Of Your Stuff – I try to apply the minimum pressure to things such as buttons and dials, keep it clean, polished, lubed, whatever to keep it humming smoothly. When you buy with care and take pride and care in what you have, it is amazing how long stuff can last. This is why we have appliances from the 60’s still working in kitchens today. Also, the recent shift has clearly been to make crap. I don’t suffer crap very well. So when we expect quality and choose to no longer put up with junk, that is when companies will be incited to create better merchandise.
A Throw-Away Society Is Ruinous To The Entire Planet – When we create throw away items or when we as consumers buy things that we don’t take care of, causing them to wear out faster, we affect the ecosystem of our planet. There’s a girl who writes a blog about how her life has been creating zero trash. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-16168/i-havent-made-any-trash-in-2-years-heres-what-my-life-is-like.html
I am nowhere close to that level of recycling and green, but the post has inspired me to do better since the day I first read it. It has made me far more aware of all the things I purchase, whether it is something which can be reused and if not, what else I might buy or use instead that will not trash the planet.
Downcycle By Giving Away (or selling) What You No Longer Use or Need – Recently, a neighbor put out a box to the sidewalk area (code for take it if you want, it’s free) with a nice note stating it was a Dell Monitor and that it worked very well, they had just upgraded and didn’t need any longer. Well, it just so happened I needed a monitor for my contract job. I didn’t open the box until I got to my cubicle the following Monday. Let me tell you, I was impressed with the care and level of attention paid to re-wrapping all the cables, cords and whatnots. The monitor was clean and looked like new. I wrote a thank you card introducing myself and how much I appreciated that monitor! I love paying it forward and what a thrill it was to actually get something so fabulous.
Expect Quality in Yourself – While I am far from perfect, I do try to eat right, no meat, dairy, lots of raw veggies and I use organic skincare routines and work out. I invest in and take ownership of my own well being. In short, I minimize what can go wrong by being aware of where I am at healthwise and managing my resilience. Some folks eat like they don’t give two f*cks and people, this is going to show up downstream. It is never selfish to take care of you. When you come from a position of strength, you are in the best shape to go help others.
Unhook From Drama – Our mind is a computer that literally programs itself to think in such a way that we tend towards. In other words, if you tend to be happy and positive, your brain will tend to think positively and if you tend to think oh why me, and life sucks, then your brain will condition that way as well. If you want change, the trick is being patient for the next 30 days which create the new habit and way of being. I know people who are continuously in one negative drama after another. They do this simply because this is how they have taught themselves that life is for them. They don’t know and accept for themselves another path, a new way. Believe me there is! Try a daily meditation such as Rolf Gates, Meditations From The Mat or Meditations on Intentions and Being. IF you are stuck in a co-dependent relationship, I will say that Melody Beattie The Language Of Letting Go and Co-Dependent No More, HEALED ME!!! Denise Linn’s books came next into my life and pushed me onwards from there! I had no idea that I was co-creating drama nor did I know what co-dependent behavior was but oh boy was this toxic! And I got out. You can too!
Take love, patience and more calm into each day, each week by breathing before you react and finding small ways to create space and quiet. With time it gets easier as your new habits are formed which will add quality and resilience to your life!
Is it too early to think spring and outdoor furniture? At least in the Dallas Ft Worth area, spring weather (or full-on heat) is never far away. My favourite are the light blue chairs, they are so airy! Below are some links, kindly mention you discovered through mcmhomeanddecor.com.
Grillage (left), designed by François Azambourg, was inspired by origami. The chair is made from perforated metal that is stretched, folded, and creased. Elizabeth Teck (center), by Nathan Yong and made from teak, is an organic, modern approach to the wing chair. Available in armchair, loveseat, and tables. ISO (left), designed by Marie Christine Dorner, is linear and elegant with a comfortably padded seat and back.
The Entrèves collection, designed by Marie Christine Dorner, includes a nightstand and dresser. The dresser features push-catch drawers while the nightstand features open shelves. The design allows for great flexibility in terms of positioning. Multiple pieces can be arranged to create a number of configurations to best fit any space.