Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Are you a good creative?




Do you consider yourself a creative person?

Creativity is such a fascinating topic. I just read this article that clarifies the creative process by breaking it down into four steps. According to this article, we are all creative beings, but a ‘good creative’ is a person who navigates successfully through four stages and actually completes their project.

I recognized some of my own experiences in his article so today I thought I’d share a few highlights in case you can relate.

Let me use a personal outing of mine to make things clearer.


This past weekend I was craving some inspiration and one of my favorite places to go when I’m in this mood is a fabric store. There’s something about seeing wildly, colorful bolts of fabric every where I look that makes my little heart patter, and the weird thing is, I don’t even sew.

(I know. don’t try to figure me out).

So I headed to La Brea Avenue in the heart of LA to visit an old favorite shop of mine and to check out some of the quirky, Boho-chic shops along the way.

At this point, I just wanted to hop in the car and keep it totally unscripted, stopping whenever I saw something interesting. Although little did I know that-- according to this author--I was in the first stage of creativity.


the Mix

The hubby parked outside of a store called the Mix and these giant, colorful giraffes were calling my name so we went inside. It reminded me of a Cost-Plus on steroids. Think earthy colored textures, rustic woods and gorgeous, pricey textiles that I want to buy after I win the lottery.

Right down the street was the good old Diamond Foam & Fabric.



Twenty five years ago this was a bustling place with a fantastic fabric selection where you would often run into celebrities. I remember waiting to pay for my fabric behind Gloria Allred, the feminist attorney on one of my visits. But after we moved to Northern California I lost touch with this place.

These days I’m not sure about the clientele, but apparently Eva Mendes likes to shop here (although no, I didn’t see her or hunky Ryan, sniff-sniff).



But back to the topic of creativity.

This weekend I didn’t have a specific project in mind. More like a hodge podge of ideas, images and colors that are brewing in my head right now, like a mental Pinterest board.

As some of you know, we’re getting ready to move into a house that needs a lot of work and it’s got my creative juices flowing.

I feel like I’m on the verge of quite a few creative projects. Do you know that stage… before you’ve made any concrete decisions?  When you’re still walking around with ideas swirling in your head, touching fabric swatches and collecting paint colors to swipe on the walls?

Well that’s where I am.



1. Preparation Stage

According to the article this is first stage of creativity.

It’s called the Preparation Stage and it’s an open, curious process when you’re focused on gathering your data. If you’re an artist this is the stage you might visit an art gallery,  or if you’re a business investor you might be researching properties, or if you’re a computer programmer you might play with code.

You get my point.

Apparently it’s a stage that some find tedious, even stressful because at this point there’s lots of unknowns. And choices. If you’re getting ready to remodel your home this would be the time to be collecting all the pictures that you love. No lukewarm reactions allowed, only love. Go with your gut and don’t judge your collections, the goal is to keep an open mind and see what unfolds before you.

This process seems to run over into the next stage.

2. Incubation Stage

The second stage is what most of us would consider the mysterious part of the creative process. The incubation stage is when your conscious and unconscious mind is simmering on an idea. The author calls it percolating, because your idea is not even fully formed yet. Your brain is still making connections, sifting through possible outcomes and trying out new ideas.

For me, this is the decorating stage that shouldn’t be rushed, otherwise you end up with that dreaded feeling of regret afterwards. In my own humble opinion, this is the creative place that should be relished because it helps us define who we are, what we truly want, and what distinguishes our personal taste from the crowd.

The incubation stage is the one where you embrace your individuality and end up with your Eureka moment.



3. Illumination Stage


Every creative person—this means you--- knows the feeling that’s associated with this stage.

It’s that glorious ah-ha moment when those thick, confusing clouds part in the sky and you suddenly have a clear vision in front of you. Welcome to the illumination stage, the moment when you say,

“Yes! That’s it.”

That’s the right shade of paint or the perfect fabric for your couch or the pendant you want for your entry.

Or maybe you figure out your next book plot. Or your next business move.

Only as relieving as this clarity might feel, the ‘good creative’ knows that the work has only just begun.

4. Implementation Stage

Because if your creative vision is to become a reality, good planning and execution is a must. If you’re attempting a remodel this is also the point where you would delegate certain jobs to a professional, depending on your DIY skills and budget.

I found it interesting that according to the author the two areas that people typically struggle with in the creative process involve the first two steps.

Don’t skip these 2 things

Not taking the time to truly know yourself--what interests you and what drives you is one problem.

And the other oversight is not realizing how much our creative process benefits from socializing. From reaching out to other creative people and discussing your thoughts. Hearing feedback. Percolating is good, but being open to ideas also means tapping into people sources too.

This implementation stage is an important one and the author does a much better job explaining it HERE. You really should read it.

In the meantime I’ll share a few pictures from La Brea Avenue that I filed away in my simmering little brain.

How cool are these Mason Jar luminaries?


We stopped at La Boulange 


and had a sandwich and a cold Blue Moon while we were on La Brea.



Of course. Guess what the beer is served in? 

Yep a chilled Mason Jar.




Veryyy rustic lighting


…and here’s all the trendy materials in one shot.

Marble on top for the bakery counters.

Reclaimed wood on the bottom counter.

And concrete on the floor painted with white stencils.


Here’s a close up of the floor.

The café manager says that although it looks great, it’s starting to wear off in some places when scrubbed. Bummer.

And as we left the café I saw this beautiful pair of drapes hanging in the window of Deco Home and snapped a picture.


I’m seeing shades of orange popping up everywhere (note the café seat color) but unfortunately the glare in the window made it impossible to see the entire drapes.

The only photo that came out was this close up.


But it reminded me of another pair of very chic drapes from Jennifer Schoenberger’s home.

I love her warm, sophisticated style and if you’re interested you can see more of her portfolio at J. Schoebnberger Design and visit her blog HERE.

She’s recently moved into a new home and has already stained her wood floors and picked out the gray for her kitchen cabinets, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her selections.




In the meantime, I hope I’ve got you thinking about your own creative process.

I think putting words to our intuitive experiences help us understand the stages we go through on our way to a final project. And I hope this information encourages you to see yourself as a creative resource. A person with ideas that matter.

Remember, you are the expert on yourself, so don’t be afraid of your hunches and your gut reactions. Value them enough to follow through with concrete actions.

I know as a DIYer, it’s easy to admire someone else you see as an ‘expert’ and to second guess your own decisions, but the next time you feel yourself sinking a bit after one of those mental comparisons, stop yourself.

Life is too short and you’re too old to keep underestimating yourself.


So…. tell me.

What project are you working on right now?





Thursday, July 17, 2014

why you should watch Fixer Upper



Whenever I need an injection of happy vibes I click on this show….

Fixer Upper on HGTV.

Do you already know about it?

new show2

Joanna’s kitchen

Because it’s an inspirational little gem and its popularity is quickly sweeping through blogland.

If you want an uber-talented designer’s introduction to this show you have to read this Cote de Texas post by Joni. It’s filled with great photos and her wonderful commentary that makes me sigh and wish I could afford to hire her if she lived in Huntington Beach.

Whatever Joni said?  Ditto. That’s what I think.

But here’s my quirky, non-designer view of why you should watch this show.

When it comes to TV shows it’s the backstory that always intrigues me. The dynamics between the people and the likability of who I’m watching on the screen

(which is why I would rather jump off a bridge than watch any show that has the words

The Housewives of.. blah blah blah…. in the title).

And this explains why I faithfully record Fixer Upper every week…


…it’s because of this cute little couple.

This is Joanna and Chip Gaines, the decorating/renovation team

behind Fixer Upper.

She’s an exotic beauty who loves rustic shiplap on walls and lots of white and he is the laid-back-slightly goofy dude who can do anything she asks.


And together they have this adorable little family that they’re raising on their renovated Waco, Texas ranch with motherless calves and puppies and cats and goats that Chip keeps bringing home to the delight of his four shiny-eyed kids.

Chips likes to rescue animals which makes him Mr. Dream Man in my book.


One of my favorite scenes was when they renovated a home for a veterinarian.

(This is the AFTER shot of the living room Mrs. Vet ended up getting,

don’t you just love that lighting fixture?

I’m telling you.. you gotta tune in to see Joanna’s decorating choices)

Anyway, during the renovations, the veterinarian stopped by their ranch to give the new puppies their shots. And afterwards, the camera followed Chip and Joanna’s little boy as he hugged the chubby puppy to his chest and comforted him in the way only a little boy would,

and honestly,

it was too precious.



Seriously, there’s lots of wonderful DIY inspiration and decorating ideas that I get from this show but I watch it for those genuine moments that you can’t fake

that show a loving Momma and a Daddy who are juggling their kids and their work, and their deadlines and those harried school mornings with an occasional lost (and found) dog.

And I like that they mention this to the audience because it’s refreshingly real and imperfect.

I like that even though Joanna’s renovated homes are beautifully decorated, her own taste is simple and understated and rustic which is aka kid friendly.


I like the way they bring their kids onto their work sites and show them what Mom and Dad are working on..because it such a nice reminder to keep our priorities in order

even in the middle of our most engrossing design project.

Yep, I think that’s the part of the show that has hooked me.


It’s the little old family piece

that comes along with all Joanna and Chip’s creative transformations.

But tell me what you think.

Have you seen this show yet?




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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

…thoughts on soul-mates, apologies and real love



Last Wednesday we spent our anniversary at a funeral. The entire day couldn’t have been more heartbreaking and certainly it was light years away from the starry-eyed excitement of our wedding day twenty six years before, when I wanted everything to be perfect.

But I’ve learned a lot about love and happiness since my wedding day.

And the illusion of perfect.

I’ve learned that in real life tragic things happen that make absolutely no sense. And so you end up burying your twenty-nine year old nephew Nick, on your wedding anniversary huddled next to your husband and your sons on a windy, green hilltop while you mumble the words of Amazing Grace.

I’ve learned that holding hands while you watch a casket slowly lowered into brown dirt can be just as soulful as holding hands after a night spent between 800 thread count sheets in a fancy hotel.

When you’re married long enough, life will wink at you. It will pull the curtain back on all those fluff, romantic movies and show you that an enduring love that has little to do with ‘happily ever after’ and everything to do with accepting flaws and saying I’m sorry and counting your blessings.

Oh, and never underestimate the aphrodisiacal power of a partner who makes you laugh.

“Marry someone with a great sense of humor” I tell my boys when I catch them shaking their heads while I laugh at their Dad. 

It’s probably annoying. But every once in a while I drip out advice about relationships to my sons, just in case they’re listening. Mostly I’m just trying to offer some balance to this strange culture we live in, one that looks increasingly like a breeding ground for narcissists.

Yes,I know. It’s true social media helps us stay connected to more people in our cyber world, but I wonder what it does to the intimacy of our face to face relationships. Especially those deep, loving relationships we hope for our kids.

Do you ever think about this?

Some of it is common sense, but what kind of slow, engrossing conversations can happen when you’re constantly distracted by your IPhone screen?

How do you make someone feel like they’re ‘the apple of your eye’ when your eyes are always multi-tasking?

How do you develop the sturdy sense of self worth that you need to pick a healthy partner when your mood is dependent on something as fleeting as the number of “likes” you get on a given day?


And how do you hear your deepest feelings when you never unplug from your technology?

Look, I have no idea how it is to grow up only knowing this kind of hyper-kinetic communication, but I do know that having an incessant need to pose and share intimate photos of every facet of our lives seems like the opposite of living in the moment…

which is where real joy is.

Especially for young girls, it seems like a road to a dangerous kind of neediness. One that’s too focused on being seen and valued for our shallower parts.


Do I sound old?

You’ll have to forgive me.

But there’s something about wedding anniversaries and funerals that open up our hearts and remind us what’s important in life. 



Last evening Mr. M came home from the gym while I was walking in with groceries.

“Come on, let’s go see the sunset. Put the bags down,” he said. So I grabbed my camera and we rushed out wondering if we could make it in time before the sun went down.

Five minutes later we had  parked our car across from the beach and were already walking toward the sand when we saw this brilliant orange sky (no Photoshop used here).

I was so startled I almost forgot to take this picture.



lifeguards at sunset

last night on the beach


I snapped a few shots but mostly we just stood in the warm mist and stared at the water…

and while listening to the waves crash on the shore I realized that when you forget how many years you’ve been married, it’s not because your love has dulled but because you no longer remember a time when you weren’t together.


Much later I told him about this little bit of trivia.

It was a reunion photo shoot of Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal, the stars of Love Story.

Do you remember this movie?  I was ten years old in December 1969 when Love Story was released and when I first fell in love with straight, flat hair parted down the middle.

(When you’re a little girl with thick, wavy hair, you lust for that look).

Even though the movie remains one of the top 40 grossing films ever, that one line always bugged me. You know which one.




This one.



44 years later;

Ali MacGraw age 75   Ryan O’Neal age 73

Thank you Ali for getting it on record that the famous line of Love Story

“is a crock.”


Maybe because I know I can be a royal pain in the butt, but even when I was a dreamy ten year old girl clutching my copy of Wuthering Heights I knew this wasn’t right. 

What do you think?

Do you believe in soul mates?

I do. But even soul mates have to work hard at love. To listen. To apologize. And listen some more. To discover that kindness is more important than being right. And to know that sometimes, enduring love is no more complicated than the act of falling down and getting back up again.


tell me what you think.



(this post is dedicated to my one and only)


parties I’m joining:


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

our house hunting update….(grab a drink)



Have you ever been out somewhere and bumped into a old friend that you haven’t seen in a while?

You have this electric eye contact and the next thing you know, you’re in the middle of a deep conversation, happily sharing the latest happenings in your life. Then afterwards, you wonder why the heck you lost contact in the first place because this person is someone you really enjoy?

Well that’s how I feel about YOU and this little old blog of mine.

It’s hard to believe it’s been four big, fat weeks since my last post—my longest break ever---so today I thought we should bump into each other. Do a little catching up.



Tell me. How’s your summer going?

Lots of relaxing? Reading? Traveling to cool places? 

I sure hope so.

Our summer has been …well, let’s just say…interesting.

I certainly thought I’d be in our new home by now, slathering white paint everywhere and sharing my photos with you, but isn’t that how life goes?

The good news is that after being here in Huntington Beach since mid-March, we’ve figured out that we want to live in a neighborhood with easy bike access to the ocean.

Well, actually, I was more focused on the house and square footage, but the men in my family all said in various ways, “Hey, if we’re moving all the way to Huntington Beach, we have to be close to the ocean.”

And since the downtown neighborhood with the charming parks, tree lined streets and cool vibe are out of our price range, we are limited in our areas. Plus, living in a tiny condo has reminded us that we want square footage, and did I mention we’d like a fixer upper that doesn’t need too much fixer upping? With a reasonable price tag too?

I know. It sounds like a lot but our wish list hasn’t been the issue.

The main problem is that week after week there haven’t been ANY homes for sale in our chosen neighborhoods. I mean ZERO. The last two homes that have come up, were both too close to a loud, busy street.

That’s really it. Lots of homes everywhere else-- in fact we made an offer in another area that didn’t work out —but nothing for sale in our preferred areas.

It’s downright strange if you ask me.

Although there was This ONE House that came to our attention.


not it, but looks verrry similar


Did I tell you the story about the house with the black Dutch door? 

(If we were together, this is the moment I’d refill your wine glass)

It was a Friday evening and we were meeting our realtor over at this house that wasn’t even on the market yet. Hooray!!!!  It turns out our realtor met a homeowner in one of our favorite neighborhoods who was willing to offer us a private showing; she had decided to sell after her divorce and wanted to avoid the hassles of listing her home on the market.

As we walked up to the house the first thing I noticed was this black Dutch door. The top was swung open and I could see a warm, yellow glow from inside and the first thought I had was, “this is SOOOO cozy!”

And the second thought I had was, “I want a home with a Dutch door!!!!”

The pale, yellow house was in a quiet cul de sac and there were lit candle lanterns on the ground as we approached. The owner was a stylist for a Pottery Barn-like store and she had wonderful taste. Beautiful hard wood on the floors and warm wood cabinets in the kitchen with granite counters.  Not my choice but still lovely.  And even though there were glaring issues that needed to be fixed…like a missing bathroom upstairs ( the three bedrooms shared the master) we were ok with it.



You know how it is when you tour an open house. You immediately think of all the changes you could do to make it yours.

The seller’s best friend was showing us the home and she was outgoing and chatty, telling us about the close-knit neighbors and all their block parties and wine tasting and general friendliness. As Michael sat on the floor petting the seller’s old Lab, she showed us photos of her pretty, blonde daughters who were the same age as my boys. And we found out all about their schools and jobs.

Does it sound perfect? Pretty much. Plus our realtor had assured us that our price was right on.

So… a happy ending right?


Actually our realtor did reassure us about the price. But the seller had evidently had a change of heart because we were WAY off and so was the deal.



But…not forever.

Three weeks later Mr. M got a text message from this homeowner. In the interim we had parted ways with our realtor (we had no written agreement with him) and decided to pursue a home on our own and the short version is, she was willing to negotiate her home with us.

Hooray again. Sort of..because by this time we’re cautious. But we agreed on a price and she proceeded with the termite and home inspections, tentatively setting the closing date to mid July.

However,  in-between a few positive text messages (she preferred texting to phone) we got scant information. Her messages were vague and confusing even though she was a realtor herself.

So even though our boys were loving the fact that this house was walking distance to the ocean…Mr. M and I were getting nervous.

Finally she sent us a reassuring text telling us to expect the contract the next day. But the next day it never came. And at that point, we knew.


The following day when I sent her a text message (this texting was feeling very odd) her response was immediate. She was sorry to have wasted our time but she just couldn’t sell after all. Her son was upset about moving and with the divorce, she felt like it was too much for him.

When I showed Mr. M the phone screen I don’t think we said anything for a whole minute. Were we discouraged? For sure. Confused by the way it played out…definitely.

At this point this deal had stretched over weeks, an infinite amount of time when you’re waiting on a house. And this was also our third failed offer, I felt impatient and discouraged.

But the worst part?  We were back to square one with no new houses on the market.

Only… you won’t believe what happened next.

shauna quote




As a favor to anyone still reading this long, blathering post I’ll cut to the chase.

We are officially in escrow right now on an entirely different house…

and guess what?

It has a charming Dutch door.

I know, isn’t life fascinating?





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