Monday, October 14, 2013

Top Ten Ways to Spend 25 Minutes - Creating a More Centered and Joyful Life.

Over the past year I've been making a conscious effort to take more time to myself. I decided to only do things that truly bring me joy and to only spend time with people that lift me up. I can say, without a doubt that my effort paid off. After eliminating toxic people from my life, and becoming a more centered person, I feel 100 times happier and more peaceful than I did a year ago.  Some changes are easy to make, while others are more difficult and take time. Here are a few things that you can do today that will help you live a more joyful and centered life.

10. Drink tea and catch up with a friend. Either on the phone or in person, it’s always nice to sit down with a cup of tea and a good friend.

9. Go for a walk and admire the fall colors.

8. Take a cat nap. A short nap will energize you. Some experts recommend having a cup of coffee before your nap so the caffeine kicks in just as you are waking up.

7. Stretch or practice yoga. Master a few poses that focus on areas that need attention.

6. Blog hop. Visit a few of your favorite blogs and also discover some new favorites. If you prefer to step away from the computer, find a great book.

5. Write a letter to a family member or friend. Letter writing is a lost art!

4. Have a glass of wine and a piece of dark chocolate. Bonus points if you do this while watching the sunset!

3. Take a warm bubble bath.

2. Create a beautiful flower arrangement. Pick up flowers from the farmers market or your front yard. Add some fall foliage and create something that reflects the season.

1. Light a candle and do nothing. Just be. 

As we approach the holiday season, it is particularly important to remember YOURSELF. It's easy to get caught up in the season and forget about taking time to decompress and center yourself. As a gift to yourself this holiday season, please put aside time to focus on YOU. 

Guest Blogger, Leslie Kramer shares her shed ideas with us . . .

Amazing Alternative Uses For A Boring Old Shed

The garden shed. Not the most exciting part of a home. It doesn't have the sunny, prettiness of a conservatory, or the hi tech joy of your media room. It is, however, a space that can be turned into endless really useful things that you and your family can enjoy. The majority of these humble wooden structures, aside from those that belong to very keen gardeners, end up full of general detritus, and become almost unusable for anything but storage as you have to be a yoga master to curve yourself past the mowers and garden forks to get to any empty space. However, if you clear out your shed or organize these things better to free up a usable area, the shed can become almost anything you want it to be! Think about it – it is a dry, indoor place that is outside the noise and bustle of your home.
Here are some of the things you could turn your shed into:

A Gym

If you have always wanted to get in better shape, but don't like the idea of paying for and going out to a gym, or filling your house with fitness equipment that won't go with your d├ęcor, then why not consider the shed as a mini workout room? You may not have room for a full suite of cardio gear and resistance machines, but a good multi gym, or even some free weights and a yoga mat or Pilates ball can be all you need to get a good workout. You can download lots of apps and instructional videos to help you work out using minimal equipment like this, and use your gym as your personal exercise haven!

An Art Room

Whether you enjoy painting or sculpture yourself, or have kids who love to draw and paint, converting your shed into an art room can be a great way to allow whoever is doing the art work to get some peace and quiet to concentrate, as well as keeping mess and paint fumes out of your home. It can also be a really good place to do other kinds of crafts, because these can often involve lots of tools and bits and pieces that can look messy in your house – so whether you are into jewelry making or carpentry, your shed could be the ideal place to get really into it!

An Office

While it may seem unconventional to use your shed as an office, it actually makes more sense than you might think. Sheds have traditionally been places people go to escape the house and get some peace, so doesn't this sound perfect for a study room or working area? You will need a good power extension cord so you can run your computer out there, assuming you don't have a super fancy shed with its own electricity, but other than that fit a nice desk and office chair and some places for books and files and you have a cozy, peaceful place to work or study.

Leslie Kramer, the author of this article, is a freelance blogger who is currently writing for Over The Top Shelters, dealers of portable garages and shelters. She enjoys engaging in sports, especially hockey and basketball.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Backyard Inspiration

As we begin our backyard remodel, (it's really more of an "overhaul"), I've been gathering images that capture the feel of the backyard we want. 

I love this yard, because the shed is part of the scenery. We have big plans for our shed!

This picture inspires me because it looks so relaxing. Just what a backyard should be!

I love this space. It seems perfect for entertaining and I love the use of the mirror. 

Our side yard is also getting an overhaul and this picture shows how much character can be given to a small space. It's a nap spot, a reading nook and a place to have tea . . . All in one!

Do you have any big home projects going on in your house? Anyone else out there about to tackle a huge backyard project? Do tell!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Winding Down . . .

As Summer comes to a close, I thought I'd share a few of our favorite Instagram pictures from the past few months. 

One of the things that we will miss most about Summer is all of the great concerts at The Mountain Winery. With great food, a great view and always great performers, it's the best venue we've ever been to. 

Lazy afternoons spent outside, eating Mexican food is always something I miss in the dead of Winter.  Luckily, we spent a lot of time doing that this Summer!

A Beach Day is a Good Day! We love spending Happy Hour at the Crow's Nest in Santa Cruz. Great food and views!

Wedding Season! We attended two weddings this Summer and both were beautiful. This pic was taken in San Francisco, just before the bride walked down the isle.

This pic was taken at our 4th Annual Pinata Party. We hosted 40 of our favorite people and had a blast. 

Is there anything better than a mint mojito on a hot Summer day? The answer is, "No. No, there is not."

One of the most exciting moments of the Summer was celebrating my brother's high school graduation. Hard to believe he's all grown up now!

What were some of your favorite Summer moments? 

Not following us on Instagram? Click here.

Friday, July 19, 2013

My 10 Favorite Things About Summer

1. Picnics! I would have a picnic everyday if I could.

2. Leaving the windows open at night and feeling the breeze while I fall asleep. 

3. Summer Concerts. 

4. Eating outside and people watching.

5. Summer cocktails. Margatitas, Mojitos, Sangria . . . the list goes on.

6. Pool Days. We have a pool that we hardly ever use. But when we do, it's a good day!

7. Beach days. 

8. Summer fruits.

9. Naps. Who doesn't like to crank the fan or A/C and take a nap? 

10. The Boardwalk! 

What are your favorite things about Summer? 

Friday, July 12, 2013

My Top 10 Tips for Remodeling

Because we remodel houses for a living and have done a lot of work on our own home, we get a lot of questions about the remodeling process. Sometimes I get emails with questions, sometimes old friends will message me with questions on facebook. I’m more than happy to answer any questions I receive. I love remodeling houses. WE love remodeling houses. It’s our livelihood AND our hobby. It’s what I think about all day long. It’s the reason I can rarely find the time to blog. So, I thought I would share a few of our tips with you.

  1. Have a clear picture of what you want. Use Pinterest to collect ideas or keep a binder of magazine pictures. Do whatever you need to do to get a clear picture of what you want so that you can give your contractor an accurate picture of what he or she will be dealing with.
  2. Pick out all of your materials BEFORE you begin your remodel. When your bathroom has been torn out and the studs are exposed, you should not be out shopping for granite countertops. Pick everything out before you demolish the room. When your bathroom looks like this, it's NOT time to go shopping!

  3. Do not do a major remodel in the dead of Winter. Your contractors will track mud through your house and all of the materials will be wet. Plus, with people going in and out so often, you won’t be able to keep the house warm.
  4. Do not do a major remodel in the middle of the Summer heat. In the past I've sent some of our contractors home because I felt so bad about them working in the terrible heat.
  5. Do not start a remodel if you are expecting guests soon. Dinner guests, overnight guests, weekend guests . . . it doesn't matter. Don’t do it. There will be more dust than you can imagine, your house will be in disarray and you’ll feel frazzled. We were wrapping up a bathroom remodel just days before hosting a party a couple years ago. Something went terribly wrong and a portion of our house ended up without electricity. We had to call our electrician and beg him to come over on short notice to help us out. He did, because we have a fantastic relationship with him, but the whole situation caused more stress than necessary. If your house looks like this, people don't want to come over!

  6. That brings us to a big tip . . . Treat your contractors well. I always offer people in our house drinks, lunch, etc. In fact, they probably get sick of me offering them things. I make sure they are well hydrated, I pick up lunch, I send them home with sweets . . . I treat them the way I would want to be treated. Because of this, they always go the extra mile for us.  
  7. Do not start a major remodel if you are about to have a baby. Of course, this does not apply to the baby room. When you are pregnant, it is not the time to add extra stress to your life. Get all of your remodeling done before you get pregnant, or after you've had your baby and have settled into a routine. No pregnant woman should be breathing in the dust that inevitably covers the house during a remodel. Certainly don’t start a kitchen remodel while pregnant. Why would you want to go without a kitchen while you’re baking a baby in your belly? You’ll want to cook nutritious meals for your growing baby, not rely on fast food. I mean, does this look appetizing? 

  8. Have a clear contract with your contractors.  And seriously consider adding a penalty clause. If you don’t have a penalty clause and you’re working with someone that you've never worked with before, just know that they may be putting the work that needs to be done on your house aside while they work on a job that has a penalty clause.
  9. Have reasonable expectations. Ask you friends about their remodels. Ask them to share their experiences. Know that it doesn't happen overnight. Many of our remodels happened fast. We completely gutted our kitchen and remodeled it from scratch in less than 2 weeks. But, that doesn’t mean that your remodel will be the same. We’ll be remodeling our master bathroom soon and I don’t anticipate it taking longer than a week. But, we have a lot of experience and we've already worked out all of the kinks.

  10. Lock up your pets! Please, please, please think about this ahead of time. Maybe your dog or cat can stay with a friend while you complete your remodel or maybe you can drop your dog off at doggy day care. Remodels mean loud noises and strange people. Both are things that pets do not like. If your cats are indoor only, I can guarantee that they will end up outside at some point during the remodel if they are not locked in a room that has a “DO NOT OPEN THIS DOOR!” sign on the door. (Read about our experience, here). If you have a dog in your backyard, he’ll find his way out an open gate. Trust me. So, just plan ahead for your furry friends. You’ll thank me.

    What are your remodeling tips? 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

If there was no "Before", there could be no "After".

We recently completed a major Property Flip and I'm excited to share all of the Before & After pics with you! To start us off, take a look at the exterior of the house . . . 

Doesn't it look gorgeous now? 

And here is the Living Room . . . 

With recessed lighting, beautiful moulding and gleaming hardwood floors, it's definitely a place that I would like to spend some time!

The Family Room took quite a bit more work . . . and more of a vision. 

After opening the Kitchen to make a Great Room, this house became much more welcoming. The ceilings were raised, beams were added and obviously everything was transformed. Skylights, new lighting and well, uh . . . pretty much new EVERYTHING made this Great Room gorgeous.

Here's another view . . . 

The kitchen definitely needed to be opened up. Before, it seemed like a place to go when being punished. Now, it's completely welcoming. 

The Master Bedroom was completely transformed.

Here's another shot . . . 

We don't have "Before" pictures of the backyard to show you, but I'm happy to share the "After" shots with you. Redwood trees, a Brazilian Hardwood Deck and lush grass make this backyard a paradise. 

Here's a close up of the front porch, now that it's a place to be proud of . . . 

And a few more pics of various rooms and spaces . . . 

So, that's what has been keeping us busy for the past few months. Business is booming and I'm just able to catch my breath! Which room is your favorite? It's tough for me to decide, because at this point, they all feel like my children!