Year of the Horse: Goals

Happy Chinese New Year!  I am so excited about this year.  I don't know why, but 2014 is going to be fantastic.  I decided. And I am happy to welcome the Year of the Horse!

Every year I find a theme for the year and come up with some goals.  I am not a New Year's Resolution kind of person but I love a good theme party, so why not theme my year?

You can read about my other goals and themes here:

Year of the Snake: goals 2013
Year of the Dragon: goals 2012
Year of the Rabbit: goals 2011
Year of the Tiger: goals 2010
1000 mile challenge 2009

And now at a look at the Year of the Snake goals to see how I did.

1. Slow and Steady weight loss.
I am happy to report that I have been able to mostly keep this goal.  The winter holiday was a bit of a food splurge, and I am up a little more than I would like to be, but I am going to keep moving toward this goal and maybe this year, or next year get to my ideal weight.  I am so close!

2. Year of the Vinaigrette.  Make every vinaigrette in the Modern Sauces book.
I did not reach this goal.  T and I made a lot of sauces out of this book but there are still recipes to try in the vinaigrette section.  Even though I didn't reach this goal, I am excited for the recipies I did get to make.

3. Italian.  I will keep learning Italian and will continue to take classes.
This goal was a hard one for me but I have really worked toward it.  I am currently taking Italian 3 and going to Italy this summer.  Last fall and summer I was not enrolled in an Italian class but still met a class mate to practice once a week.  I am going to keep working on this goal so I can speak Italian this summer. Va bene!

4. House to Home. Multiple projects in my mind to make the house our home.
Wow.  I worked hard on this goal too!  We worked on our kitchen over the summer and I just painted the inside of our house.  I have been working on the back patio and the orchid wall.  I think I might have found a balance in our house right now because there are only a few details I am thinking about modifying.  T must be happy about that!  Now if he would just finish the house projects he was working on.....

5. Use it or lose it. Using the things I have, or getting rid of them.
I think this goal goes with the House to Home goal. We live in a small place and I have been very good about finding new homes for things I didn't need.  This is one of those on going goals but I have found that I bring less stuff home, so that helps.  

6. Manage my money.
So I think I did okay on this goal, but I can always do better.  I don't get paid over the summer so I need to save up enough money to survive during that time.  I think I would rather thrive than just survive so I could keep working on this goal.

Now on to the goals for this year.  I think I might borrow a few from last year.
  1. Slow and steady weight loss
  2. Keep learning Italian
  3. Manage my money will now become: Save a specific amount of money for a rainy day.
New goals will be coming soon.  I am trying to think of some that I want to do....

So what about this year?  I have a theme:

Surrounded by Inspiration!

This one is easy.  Inspiration is everywhere.  When I open my eyes to look for it, it surrounds me.  I think my goal is more about the keeping my head up and noticing all the amazing things around me.  And creating things to inspire myself. 

What is up with me?!?!? I feel like I am drinking happy juice!  The truth is that last year was a challenge.  T had knee surgery. Work sucked.  And I felt like I was existing sometimes and not living.  Not this year.  This year I am living.  I am surrounding myself with inspiration.  I am opening my eyes to the beauty around me.  It is just waiting for me to be inspired....


Florence, Italy apartment

This summer the sisters and I are taking a trip to Italy! We try to take an international trip every-other year and this year I am very excited to be going back to Italy. For the past two years I have been taking Italian and I hope to be able to make my way around with my limited vocabulary. My sisters and I have found that when we travel, we like to stay in apartments so we can have a home away from home. We loved the apartment we had in Paris and I have been looking for Italian apartments and villas for our trip.
We are going for just under three weeks and staying in three places. The first is Florence, Italy and I am excited to report we have found our apartment!
The apartment needed to sleep five, my brother-in-law and his wife are joining us. I blogged about their wedding and the trip T and I took to see them in Hong Kong. He asked me last year if we were going any where and then asked if they could join us? Of course! It will be fun to travel with them!
I also wanted an apartment that was close to public transportation and the sights. No car rentals this trip. I was reading a guide book that suggested waytostay.com as a place to find apartments in Florence, Italy. I logged on and found an apartment that looks like it would be perfect for us.
Here is the link: http://www.waytostay.com/florence-apartments/bella-novella-2472/
After a consultation with the sisters, I contacted waytostay.com and booked the apartment! I am always nervous booking apartments abroad and hope this company works out. The apartment requires a deposit and then you pay the rest in cash when you arrive. Fingers crossed that it looks as good in real life!


Inspired: Coffee Table Styling

The view when you open the front door to our home looks something like this on a sunny day.  Not bad, especially because T and I try to keep this area clean.  I love opening the door to a clean living space.  It has a calming effect on me. It makes it nice to "come home".

The orange squares on the coffee table are placemats I found at Zgallery when I was in one of my orange phases.  They lived on the coffee table for about two years and last week I decided it was time for a change.  I wanted to spice up the coffee table a bit, but still keep it functional for those times we had guests over or needed to put our feet up for a movie.   A little internet browsing later, I shopped my house and created my own coffee table styling.  
Looking at this picture I can see I am moving toward a green phase.  Does anyone else have color phases like this in their home? Some art books, flowers, and little treasures have made the coffee table a little more of focal point in our home and I am really liking how the pop of color plays against the black coffee table.
There is also something grown up and elegant about having fresh flowers on the table.  I will probably switch to a plant soon.  But for right now, I am inspired by the coffee table!  


Viewing Vivian Maier

Hello! Staying with my Surrounded by Inspiration theme, I drove to LA twice on Saturday. Once to visit Resource Furniture with the Little Sister and once to see the Vivian Maier photo show with T. Resource Furniture might be addressed in another blog post.... This post is about the Vivian Maier photo show.

Vivian Maier was a nanny-photographer who left behind thousands of negatives, prints, and undeveloped film. A man bought a box of her negatives at an auction and has brought her work to the world. The video below is a trail for the film Finding Vivian.


I heard about her a few years ago and started searching the web for her work and story. She was an incredible photographer and I know because I majored in phootgraphy and had to study history of photography quite a bit! All that aside, she took pictures that captured a moment in time and proved how a picture is worth a thousand words. When I saw that an exhibit was coming to LA, T and I decided to see it!

Our schedules are a little crazy sometimes and the only day that worked for both of us happened to be the day of the official opening. T emailed the gallery and we secured a reservation. We arrived about 40 minutes early (you never know with LA traffic) and got a coffee and tea before heading over to the gallery. There were about four security people at the door and we found our name on one of their many lists and checked in. The event wasn't starting until 8pm so we walked around a bit and ended up finding a fabulous vintage shop! At about 8:05 we headed back to the gallery and were greated with this REALLY LONG line. We headed to the back of the line and enjoyed some of Vivian Maier's photos that were projected on the side of a building while we waited.

We were not in line very long when the security gentleman who had marked our name on the reservation list walked by and told us to follow him and that we didn't need to wait in line! I bet everyone around us were wondering who we were at that point. I felt like a VIP for sure. We entered the exibit and enjoyed looking at all the work on display. Vivian Maier captured the people of an era in a way that touched the soul.

Most of her work is black and white photographs. The majority of her content is scenes from Chicago where she was a nanny for 40 years. All walks of life are represented and each photograph is a snapshot telling a detailed story. She had a great eye and got close to her subjects. As we made our way to the last wall of photographs the gallery had become very crowded. T said the crowd was too much and he was ready to go. We returned to a few of our favorite photos and then left the gallery. Thank goodness we were giving the VIP treatment or we would never had been able to see the show.

On the drive home I thought of the black and white film that I needed to develop. Of photography as a passion, and the inspiration that was Vivian Maier.




Remebering Fall 2013

Happy Winter 2014!  I am currently curled up in a blanket in front of our fireplace.  Never mind that it will probably be in the 70's today... the mornings are chilly!  Ironic because I was just in the mountains where it was actually freezing, and the rest of the United States is having a major cold snap.  In a few hours I will be out working on my garden..... I am a fan of living in Southern California.

The seasonal blog logo change has happened and it is time to look back on Fall 2013.  I like the fall, but for a moment could only remember work related events.  I guess I will have to try to play harder to go with my Work Hard, Play Hard mantra. Soon I remembered some fun fall events, like the Sisters Napa Trip,  and seeing the Zack Brown Band at the Hollywood Bowl.  The sister's and I also saw the Lion King and organized a October Fest with the family where T made beer, I made pickles, the Little Sister made a Bavarian Cake, and the Middle Sister made the most amazing pretzels.  That was a good meal! My Dad was supposed to make sausage, but ended up buying them from a German Deli..... maybe next time.

The photo for this season was taken on a hike with T in the Eastern Sierra.  I think this is Gopher Lake near the Devil's Post-pile.  The yellow you see is the aspen trees just starting to turn.


Surrounded by inspiration

Happy New Year! T and I have just returned from spending time with family in Lake Tahoe and Mammoth and it is good to be home! The new year doesn't usually bring out a rush of goals for me because I usually wait until Chinese New Year (January 31st, Year of the Horse) to figure out what I really want to have my goals be. But this year I came home to the sisters and have been surrounded by inspiration.

What a great way to start a new year, surrounded by inspiration. They got me inspired and I started thinking that maybe that should be my theme of the year. Surrounded by Inspiration. The Middle Sister is making all these smoothies and she inspired me to think about the food I am eating. And the Little Sister, well she went a bit crazy and has all kinds of goals for the year. I think it is because her birthday is so close to the new year.... and I will probably adopt some of her goals, (like trying to use up my stationary and write notes to people) and am excited to see what other goals the sisters come up with for the Year of the Horse.

Being surrounded by inspiration really hit home for me as I am dealing with some negativity at work. It is just a small group of people, but it is the people I have to work with the most. I have been working with them professionally, but find myself protecting myself in strange ways. When I came home and was wrapped in inspiration by my sisters, it became a window letting in the sun on the negativity of work. It has lighted a path for me in an unexpected way.

By surrounding myself with inspiration, I will also become an inspiration. If I stay focussed, I will stay positive. I am lucky to work with other people who continuously inspire me. I am lucky to have friends who inspire me. And I am blessed to have amazing sisters who are my best friends and my inspiration. As this new year starts I challenge myself and you to......

stay inspired.