Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I was looking for pillows for my living room chairs. I found some neat pillows on Etsy, but still needed to find inserts. Decided to look in to a "green" option for pillows. (You thought I had completely given up on that topic, eh? No, still mulling it all over! Not forgotten!)

I came across this fiber called kapok. It is used as stuffing for mattresses, pillows, and, since it is bouyant/water resistant - life jackets! It comes from an amazing tree called the Ceiba, or Kapok tree, which grows in warm places like Central America and Asia. It is a majestic tree, can grow to be so enormous (see picture!) which makes seed pods from which this kapok fiber springs out - sproing! - like milkweed seed! Anyhow, it's a natural happy substance to stuff your pillow with. And I suppose noone will chop down an enormous Kapok tree if it's fuzzy pods are profitable. One spot said it was a good substitute for down stuffing, but then I read that it is much lighter than cotton. Seems to me the nice thing about a feather pillow is it's weight. Anyways, I still haven't even purchased the pillows because I haven't had time yet to shop around. But wanted to share the kapok info with you. In case you are in need of a pillow insert today.

Did I mention that the pillows from Etsy are going to be small monogramed pillows - a "K" and an "M." I will pretend they are Valentine's Day gifts for us. If you guessed that Matt probably will not be all excited about monogramed pillows, you're right! But if you think I am being selfish (by giving a present that I myself want), then you have never tried to give Matt a present. After years of trying to get him something that he will like, and him being consistantly bored and underwhelmed, I've recently started just giving him things that I think he MIGHT like, but that I know I will like. This way, at least someone enjoys the gift!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Master Bathroom Remodel

Here are some "before" pictures...Funny, I can't find my "after" ones right now! You'll have to wait till my next entry! That's okay, 'cause I waited one year to see the final results! ha! We finally completed this project last year and moved from the small upstairs bedroom into the bigger master bedroom (the yellow room you see here).

It's impossible to understand the layout from these pics. On the otherhand, it was hard to understand it in person, too. Very odd. For some reason the closet was on outside wall and vanity/plumbing on the other words, there could have been a window but they chose not to do it that way. The 70s must have been a strange time. People didn't like sunlight as much, and they loved dark scratchy heavy beams of rough cedar. Wish I had a picture of the original stair rail....YIPES! I think they were trying to impart a Medieval Tavern feel.

Friday, January 23, 2009


I started moving around some things to see what I could do in the entryway. Previously, it was just the mirror and a small rug right in front of the door. Do you like the tv in the front hall? ha ha! hopefully not permanent fixture. I would like to install an outlet on the mirror wall - obviously the trailing cord is totally unsafe! This last picture is from a long time ago before we moved in. You can see the old door!
***You might also note: the presence of the animals...whether it be children or animals, there is constantly someone looking to me for something. I think my friend Tina put it well when she said, after coming to visit, "You seem to be surrounded by a lot of neediness." (Tina, I'm paraphrasing, my memory isin't THAT good!)


Monday, January 19, 2009

Chinese New Year


Chinese New Year is almost here - Jan 26th!

So when I get a moment or an excess of caffiene in my system I try to tackle a messy drawer or part of a closet... It's good feng shui to declutter before the New Year and start fresh.

I went through my closet and got rid of an enormous amount of clothing that I don't (can't!) wear. It was sad at the moment, but now when I go to get dressed it's so much simpler. Really all thats left is stuff that actually fits. This may sound over-thinky, but, now when I look at my clothes I feel like I'm being more honest with myself. And I will state the obvious: when you weed out things you can't wear, it's easier to see what you really need. In feng shui terms, you are creating space for new things to come in.

There are several types of feng shui out there. I believe that the Flying Star version, which is the traditional and most ancient type, is probably most effective. However, it's insanely complicated!
It is dependent upon the year your home was built - this gives your house it's Period Number. From there, you need to specifically locate the facing/sitting direction of your home in terms of it's compass directions. Flying Star method divides the home into a 9 part grid (I guess they all do that) and each block has it's own numbers, which have different implications. There is the general chart of our house, the yearly chart, the monthly chart, and, for people with absolutely nothing to do - the daily chart! frightful!
A very common type is called Black Hat feng shui. It ignores compass directions and is based solely on the location of your front door. It is a very recently developed type of f.s. To me, it seems kinda silly. I think if you are considering following this, you would be just as well off to follow just the general principals of f.s. that you read of everywhere (ie, tips like keeping the bathroom door closed, etc.)
Another type is one which holds your home accountable to the compass directions, but does not involve interpreting numbers. The compass directions always have the same meaning, no matter the date of construction or calendar year. Is it called 8 Pillars? Ha! Can't remember right now. At any rate, I keep these ideas in mind in my home, but I don't sweat it. An example would be that the North corner of your home is your "wealth" corner, and you would ideally have water elements here. I think this is a fun type to consider, although I don't believe that painting walls different colors or using symbols having to do with different directions is really very important to the health of your house.
As far as what I actually practice or believe? Ummm, trying to keep the house reasonably clean and comfortable, and hopefully welcoming. I believe that different parts of your home have different types of significance (for example, your entryway is meaningful in terms of how you interact with people and energies outside your home). It makes sense to me that images and belongings in our homes should make us feel happy and reflect who we are. I figure if you can tackle some of the basic obvious rules, simple things like avoiding a cluttered front hall,'re doing well! The bottom line is, your home should make you feel happy. If you walk into your home and are dispirited by stacks of papers and messes everywhere, then, obviously that's not good! I'm all about simplicity. I think most people feel more grounded when they have elements of nature around them, and so sunlight and plants are good ways to energize your home. Simple things like this.

One more thing I feel is important to utilizing feng shui: I think it's important to know your gua/kua number. You can calculate this easily (google kua number calculator). It lets you know your most favorable directions. I think if you can possibly sleep with your head pointing in one of your "good" directions as opposed to one of your worst, it's a big help.

Maybe next entry I will give some simple feng shui tips. There are a million of these out there on the internet, but who knows? Maybe someone glancing at my blog would appreciate seeing some tips? Or book recommendations? (I've read many) Lillian Too's books are fun, but have an amazing amount of mistakes in there. Many many books on introductory f.s. out there.
I think the Chinese New Year is fun to celebrate and a good chance to feel you are starting anew...the regular New Year is too close to xmas and everyone is depleted! ha!

Happy New Year! (year of the OX, by the way!)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Rethinking the Blog

I'm reading Hot, Flat and Crowded. It's frightening me. But, I think we all should be frightened. The environment is being so seriously impacted by our enormous consumption of resources. Of course this isin't exactly "news" to me, but I've been putting off facing my own consumption issues for a while. This is a huge topic that I am going to try to whittle down, and only apply here to how it applies to decorating.

I've avoided buying much "green" for my home, simply because the cost usually seems prohibitive. I'm going to rethink this. Perhaps I should put off buying anything until it is worth the extra cost to buy something that is made from renewable resources.

I recently received this Pottery Barn Teen catalogue. (Barfy! I hope I never encounter a true Pottery Barn teen!) To begin with, I need to get off the mailing list for a bunch of catalogues... again! What a waste! But also, I find it very annoying that PB is telling teens that if they buy crap that says, "I'm Green," that they are somehow doing something good. They would be doing much better to (HELLO) not be buying all this brand new lacquered disposable stuff at all! While I'm not ready to give up all decorating for the truly Simple Living lifestyle yet, I need to think very hard about what I am consuming. Is it worth it? Is it improving the life of my family so much that I should purchase it?

I bet the number one problem with consuming for our homes is this: buying things that are NEW. Ah, hello, antiques! thrift stores! I used to shop much more at garage sales and thrift stores. I LOVE second hand shopping! However, I barely do it anymore just due to limited time to shop. While you can find some amazing treasures in that way, you also need to be prepared to spend some time digging through some, um, un-treasurables. I've always loved antiques, and I have "recycled" lots of furniture that I've inherited from my inlaws. I can't think of when I have thrown away an actual piece of furnishing. (although I have yet to figure out a good way to dispose of a full mattress and boxspring that the dog peed on...grrr! now THAT is wasteful!)

Well, as Ceasar Milan says, "you can't help anyone if you are acting out of fear and guilt." So, I will be careful to approach the environmental issue with optimism about what I might do to help, rather than sheer terror. (ie, i am feeling the urge to give up everything and move myself and my children to live on an organic commune; also, the urge to go to work in the slums of India helping orphans, as I just saw Slumdog Millionaire, too. you can see I tend to be a little melodramatic)

There are already tons of lists out there for everyone to view about how to green up your home. I won't copy them to my blog. I don't think I'll be making a "simplify your life" blog, either, because obviously there are others much more experienced and thoughtful when it comes to doing this. Not sure what I will do. Perhaps give up this blog altogether, as decorating is seeming so selfish and materialistic to me right now. Especially with the terrible unemployment that is happening across the country...

I will return with a middle-ground approach, but am not currently knowing what that would look like.

Hope everyone is well, employed, and having good 2009 so far.

Monday, January 5, 2009

some stuff

the rug i had bound for the master bedroom. im very fond of the color and pattern. as a bonus, it's good feng shui to have squares underfoot.

and yes, it has happened...i have begun to paint the fireplace. i plan on having it completed by 2010. it looks so stark in this picture, but i am convinced that it's gonna look good when all done. much more updated. i will pretend i live in a city loft and i will pretend im chic. i think with a modern lamp or side table in this room, it's gonna look cool. also will switch the mirror eventually, too. that one is too small.

thats all for now! so totally tired...when will sleep happen at my house? sigh!