Monday, March 31, 2014

the secret to a great kitchen remodel: Nate’s advice


There’s so much to share right now I honestly don’t know where to begin. But since it’s been awhile since I did a design post I thought I’d talk about kitchen remodels today because-- as most of you know-- we’ve been on a house hunting adventure lately.

And unfortunately I’m seeing lots of awful looking kitchens and bathrooms in some of these older homes.

I’m pretty clear about what I’d like in our kitchen remodel, but it’s always fun to hear what kind of materials others are selecting.


most popular kitchen-Houzz 2013

According to this Houzz Survey this was the most popular kitchen added to Ideabooks by readers in 2013.

Do you like it?

Apparently this is what folks seem to like in their kitchens these days:

  • 75 percent of readers prefer having soft, neutral colors in the kitchen.
  • 65 percent of readers prefer stainless steel appliances
  • and half will select a tile backsplash for their next remodel.

If you could remodel your kitchen right now, do you know your taste?

What would you do differently?



Here’s a few kitchen photos I selected for various reasons…but one unifying theme of these photos is that I like a kitchen that feels warm and comfortable enough to be the hub of the house. Not too formal, but classic. And not too perfect either.


I love white, lots of natural light and big farm sinks.

And these windows would be on my dream list.


After years of having tile floors I’m ready for some warm looking wood,

the wider the plank the better.


And even though I loved the ease and beauty of granite in my former white kitchen…I’m ready for something different.

You can get a tour of my old kitchen HERE.


These days I’m keeping an open mind about other materials… like maybe wood on the counter or island…





Although I still can’t let go of marble countertops despite all the warnings I’ve heard about stains.


What is your experience with marble?

The other day I stumbled on this short video of Nate Berkus talking about his recommendations for a timeless kitchen remodel.

Are you curious about his opinion?


Here it is:

Nate Berkus reveals the secret to a great kitchen.




And if you’re still in the mood for more kitchen inspiration

grab a cup of coffee or tea and click away:

White Cottage Kitchen Ideas

Great Ideas for the Kitchen Island

9 Steps to a Kitchen Remodel

Cindy’s Ikea Kitchen Remodel




As always.. I’d love to hear your views.




I’m linking this post with these friends:



Wednesday, March 26, 2014

prioritizing the things that matter…





Accept No One’s Definition

Of Your Life;

Define Yourself.


-dale partridge



(IPhone pics)

The other evening we had cocktails in this beautiful home on the water.


Afterwards, the hosts treated us to a slow, peaceful tour in their boat which was docked outside their home, and as we made our way to the restaurant the driver graciously pointed out the various landmarks to us. 


But I was quickly lost, unable to get my bearings in the water. And it occurred to me how common this feeling of being lost and disoriented is these days. In fact, it’s a daily occurrence for me.

The other day Mr. M even joked, “Les, whatever way you think you should turn, just go the opposite way.”  And honestly, it’s actually worked a few times. The thing is, I don’t remember being so bad about directions but heck, I just left a city that I was born and raised in which means that I was rarely challenged.

But drifting along in this boat and taking in the beauty of our surroundings reminded me once again of the value of leaving our comfort zone.

Getting lost daily is making me open my eyes. Feel more present and alert. Sort of the way you would if you were sight-seeing on vacation.

And plopping ourselves in the middle of a new city has rekindled this old, hazy feeling from years ago. A sensation of starting over, of having exhilarating possibilities suddenly opened up on the horizon and of a sepia colored memory of myself as a twenty-something girl living in Los Angeles, determined to carve out a career for herself.

defining yourself

The truth is… I loved my work. I once wrote that when I was a grad student working in the Eating Disorder Unit and in the throes of my own personal therapy it felt like being on the top of a soaring cliff with the winds pummeling me from behind. It was a time in my life that was both exhilarating and terrifying but honestly, everyone should feel so alive.

But then motherhood happened. And from the moment I held my baby in my arms, I was transformed. I put my career on the back burner and it’s a decision I have no regrets about. Not one speck.

And I wish the same for you because if there’s one thing being a therapist taught me, it’s that we’re all doing the best we can with who we are at the moment. And hopefully we know ourselves well enough to keep prioritizing the things that will matter in the end. 

Although I’ve learned that knowing ourselves and living a purposeful life doesn’t just magically happen.

I think it’s crucial-especially for women--that we carve out quiet time to reconnect with the person we are, when we’re not being Mom and Wife and Daughter and Sister and Grand-daughter and  Co-worker and Committee Chair and Field Trip Driver and all the other emotionally, entangled roles that rotate our world.

Because it’s scary how easy it is to be swallowed up by our care-taking, to become so Other-Focused that we lose touch with our deeper selves, our feelings and our own personal dreams, and those things that inspire us and make us feel alive and energized. And depending on what stage of life we’re currently in-whether our kids are young or our parents are elderly--it can be natural to feel depleted. Even confused about the things that replenish us.


Here’s a true story.

I was once standing at the door of my son’s little preschool house talking to several mothers. This was a parent participation preschool which means that even though it was led by a teacher, it was the parents who put on their green aprons to work their weekly shifts at the school; unfortunately, these required participation hours caused a silent wedge between some of the mothers who worked outside the home and the mothers who stayed home (and worked).

I had just finished passing out Halloween invitations to this group of Moms when this particular woman who worked full-time at a stressful job, looked at the home-made invitation in her hand and remarked,

“Oh my god. Who has time for this?”

And I just smiled and silently thought, “Not me. But I make the time, because boy I love creating fun, artistic things out of paper.” 

It was also worth noting that this same mother always had her nails done. And whenever I would see her beautiful, French-manicured hands and hear about her crazy schedule, I would think the same thing she thought about my invitations. “Who has time to sit and get their nails done?”

Isn’t that funny?

So you see? We are always finding ways to do what we want. And even when we feel harried and other-focused, we can still learn about our passions if we observe what we are drawn to, what kinds of things we make time for in our busy lives. 

Because our priorities tell us what is important to us.



Are you finding time to do what is important to you?

Because I just saw this wonderful 30 day challenge that I’m starting. If you’re wanting to jump-start an old goal or dream of yours… you might find it motivating. Because it’s never too late to change the direction of your life.

Never. Ever.

Click here to hear more:


Matt Cutts on Ted Talks
Try Something New for 30 Days



As always, I thank you for being here.

And I would love to know what you think.

Can you relate to this post?





I’m linking up here:








Wednesday, March 19, 2014

how a single spoon taught me about life…(and thoughts on being a stripper)


Ever since we drove out of town and headed toward our new place in Southern California, life has been…well… interesting. I won’t bother to explain how we never met up with Patrick in San Luis Obispo despite our planned stop-over, because that sudden change-in-plans was only the first of many along the way.

But in the process I’m proud to say that I’ve become an existential stripper. A shedder of all kinds of things, but mostly rigid paradigms. A goofy Sandra Bullock character hanging clumsily on a dance pole as I toss out one Lovely Expectation after another to an amused universe.


“Ok.. what else? !” Sandra yells to the air. “You want this one too? Why not?”

To perfectly honest it’s all just life.  A confusing mix-up that lead to a missing dryer. Patrick in another city. Silverware that’s still sitting in some mislabeled box.

You know how it goes sometimes.


Although I do have to admit that the one Ouchy loss has been the complete absence of any internet and TV service since we’ve been down here. Apparently, while we were plowing through our final moving details we neglected to do the proper homework on the best internet-television providers for this area. And when we finally figured it out we got an installation date that was days away.

Which has made a profound difference in how I’ve been experiencing all this newness.

Can you remember the last time you went seven days without easy access to the outside world?

Seven days…

With no bustling news reports streaming in the background, no convenient blog feeds on my laptop. No spontaneous emails to my friends and family. In fact I can’t remember the last time I stared at a black, dead computer screen for so long.

(Is it sacrilegious to thank God for my laptop that I can take to the closest Starbucks?)

Because honestly, even my trusted IPhone is having glitches receiving emails and FB right now.

The point of all this is not to complain but to tell you how uncharacteristically quiet this transition has been for me. Whether I like it or not, all my busyness in the form of unpacking, cleaning,  shopping, organizing, and getting chronically lost while driving, has taken place in an atmosphere of steady silence. Which feels completely foreign to me.

Not having access to some basic items (imagine life without TV and the internet) has helped me realize just how cozy my previous life was in my 3,400 square foot home with all my collected stuff. And it makes me wonder, “When did I get so comfortable with having so much?”

It’s a good question to reflect on.

Because even if it’s temporary, I’m learning that there’s value in having to give things up. Losing all the luxurious space of our old home is an adjustment. Keeping most of our belongings in boxes is awkward. Having to endure this unexpected disconnection from social media with all the warm chatter of news and blog feeds and Pinterest has been difficult.

But you what? It’s humbling, you lose things and you gain things.

And these kinds of bumpy inconveniences have been good for my soul; they’ve given me back a sense of joy for the smallest pleasures. Having to hang wet clothes over boxes so they’ll dry, made me downright giddy when we finally plugged in our dryer. (And feel empathy for those who don’t own appliances) Being lost on new streets is frustrating, but it’s also an invitation to keep moving through the world in a powerful, interesting way.

Tomorrow the internet will be back in our lives. (Hooray!!!)  But not before I take a moment to acknowledge the unforgettable clarity I’ve had during these early days in our new city.

Maybe you can relate to my ten random thoughts:

033beachsign copy

a sample of my farewell party décor, lovingly created by Mary & Kirsten


1.  Gratitude has the power to cancel out sadness.

I didn’t know that before relocating. But it’s hard to feel weepy and clingy to people and familiar places when you’re operating from a general state of feeling damn lucky.

Someone asked me if I was going to be sad at our farewell party and I honestly worried that I might. But then I walked into Mary’s front door and gazed at all the touching decorations and saw the meticulous planning that went into our beach themed party and I was speechless. I simply felt too overwhelmed by the amazing generosity of my friends to be sad.

2. If you really have to, two people can function an entire week with only two plastic forks, one plastic knife and a real spoon. 

Every day we re-wash the same utensils (I keep planning on finding the silverware) and everyday I’ve been surprised that we get by just fine. It’s funny because we think we need so much to live, but there’s a profound difference between what we need and what we want.

And when life is going along smoothly it’s easy to get these confused.


3. I don’t need a big yard after all.

Maybe it has something to do with our sudden proximity to the ocean… but my old vision of a ‘nice home’ (big, inside and out) is changing dramatically by the day.




4. Moving into a smaller home will mean parting with a lot more stuff..

For an antique lover-and-thrift store-bargain-hunter like myself, this has been hard to think about. How do you choose which special “find” goes?  But recently, when Oprah decided to have a garage sale to get rid of some of her most beautiful belongings, I was inspired by her viewpoint. 

I mean if Oprah can do it, I can do it.


5. When searching for Open Houses on the real estate market you really should read the dates of the Open House very carefully.

True story. Saturday we drove up to a house on the husband’s list and parked outside. The door was closed, but no big deal. I knocked lightly and entered and Jim followed. We noticed the real estate spec sheets for the house on the entry table but the house looked dark and not to my taste. I moved to the window to see the view while Mr. Moss gazed over the room, looking uncomfortable. “Where’s everyone at?” He whispered. We kept walking toward the patio when I suddenly spotted some Barbie dolls lying all over the couch and a man outside doing yard work. And we froze. Without a word, we turned and rushed out so fast that Mr.Moss dropped the home’s spec sheet in the hallway. And once we were in our car we never laughed so hard. Especially after he read that the actual Open House was for the following day.


6. All my fancy-schmancy china. 

Do you know that I never once used the beautiful Royal Doulton china that I got for my wedding?

I had this epiphany while packing it away again.  Pu-leeze. If you have something in your closet or attic or where-ever you save things for a ‘special occasion,’ find a way to enjoy it right away. Life’s too damn short to save the good china.


7.  Right now I’m reading… THIS book by a recovered anorexic because I recognized one of my old patients in her words.



8. I just downloaded… this new IPhone app that will allow me to get creative with my IPhone pictures.You might like it.


If you ever feel shy about owning your success, ask yourself: What would Meryl do? <br />Source: Mashable


9. I stumbled on… the official tumblr blog of and immediately became a follower. It’s a blog filled with powerful messages for women…

like this Meryl Streep one: don’t be shy about owning your success.


10. Bummer. I stepped on my favorite glasses today and now I might have to get these.

very chic don’t you think?

Well that’s all for now, the internet will be back in our lives tomorrow and I can’t wait to connect with you all again! I have the most incredible followers in the whole word and I feel so blessed each time you visit here.

Stay curious my friends,

















Friday, March 7, 2014

grateful moments


Today it begins.


The movers are here for the first load. And they’ll return on Saturday to finish.


Meanwhile I’m still filling up boxes and going through all the usual motions involved with moving cities. Nothing looks the same, every room is in disarray…and we keep losing the scissors. But we’re down to living just one moment at a time.

“Where’s the tape?”

“Are we keeping this?”

“Does this box go to the condo or to storage?”

“We need to eat!”

And in-between all the busy, robotic activity and increasingly long lists there are these amazing moments that keep happening, and while I don’t always have my camera…

I’m taking pictures with my heart.


Stripping away the layers of one’s neatly constructed life is a fascinating process in which you suddenly become acutely aware of what matters.

Do you want to view life with a clearer lens?

Pare down all your material possessions and let go of excess stuff and something happens to your inner world. Gazing over the empty rooms in your home is a transformative experience that I’m still learning about every day.

Simple, little moments suddenly take center stage and become refreshing reminders about finding joy in the ordinary….

Having coffee with girlfriends and meeting a new puppy…

Neighbors who come over and get emotional when they say goodbye.

Mary and Kirsten and Tracey who are busy planning a special farewell party for us…



Friends who surprise me with dinner out of the blue. And remind me that you can have a precious conversation when you’re standing in middle of chaos wearing an old sweatshirt and tights.


Bottles of wine. Tasting delicious from a Styrofoam cup when you’re talking about kids and life in a barren kitchen..


And how grateful I am for my parents. Who have become fixtures in our house, laughing with me. Helping me wrap furniture, fill up our boxes, and make decisions when I’m too tired to think.

I could keep going on with my gratitude list but power will be going off shortly and this computer will be packed away. After our farewell party on Saturday night we will return home to sleep in an empty house and greet the housekeepers in the morning. We head out of town on Sunday stopping to stay in San Luis Obispo to meet up with Patrick, before arriving at our rental in Huntington Beach.

We decided to find a house once we were down there.

If you’re still reading this, I thank you with all my heart for sticking with me through my erratic blog schedule. I’ll keep you posted on life in our new city…

in the meantime here’s a few moments of inspiration….


Daily inspiring quote




beautiful beach cottages





on the topic of Worry and Fear: Four Questions for You




You think you know the future, life, yourself, and responsibility. But you don’t.

Thoughts are not the future, they are not life, and they are not you.

You may find value in examining Byron’s four questions regarding your (worry or fearful) thought:

1. Is it true?

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

3. How do you react when you believe that thought?

4. Who would you be without that thought?

With regard to starting a new life, you could believe the thought that you are afraid of it. Or you could take the statement “I am afraid of life” and turn it around to “I am excited for life.”

It may sound simple but Byron’s approach is very useful. Your current suffering is entirely thought-based and by shifting things around, you can change that. You will find a lot of value through exploring her works.

In the end, nothing can be taken from or added to you. Whether it’s a new outward life or the challenge of responsibility,

our preferences deceive us into thinking and feeling that our wholeness and happiness are in jeopardy.

Peace, on the other hand, is not seeking nor avoiding change

but simply Being… the whole way through.

Come back to yourself HERE AND NOW  instead of trying to know yourself through future possibilities and current judgmental fears.





13 things Mentally Strong People Avoid











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