Ten Things Your Class Reunion Will Teach You

Last weekend I went to a class reunion where I knew absolutely no one and no one knew me. I was an outsider looking in. I had no one to impress, no history with anyone in attendance and I knew I would probably never see them again. It was fun.

I met a lot of great people who were really very nice to me. I’d like to think they were nice because of my charm, but it may have been because they thought I was Jackie. Poor Jackie. Someone even called her Amy at breakfast on Sunday!

This week I started thinking about reunions, people and relationships. In no particular order, this is what I know…

Ten Things Your Class Reunion Will Teach You

1. Everyone is insecure about something. Weight, hair loss, appearance, financial status, social status, what they’re wearing, etc. I promise you this – everyone is insecure about something. It’s not even up for discussion.

2. People mask their insecurities in different ways. Some are shy, others  are flashy. There’s the braggers, the talk-down-to-you’ers and the endless story-tellers.  The more unbearable a person is, the more insecure they are. Sometimes it’s worth looking beyond the mask.

3. Everyone has a story. Introduce yourself to someone who is standing alone,  ask a question and listen. You’ll hear all kinds of interesting things and occasionally your life will be better because of it.

4. It really doesn’t matter what insert name here thinks. If by chance you run into a hateful person, please don’t waste a single second of your life thinking about those people. They don’t deserve your energy.

5. Follow your first instinct. If you are getting dressed and have to ask… are my boobs hanging out, are my pants too tight, does this look slutty, is this too casual, is my skirt too short, does this match, do I have on too much perfume/cologne… the answer is probably yes.

6. Labels don’t matter. It’s irrelevant if you were a cheerleader, football player, class president, class clown or juvenile delinquent. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, fat, rich, poor, a doctor or uneducated. Stop with the labels. The beauty of the human race is everyone is uniquely different. Embrace that. Better yet, celebrate it.

7. Don’t take anything personal. How people act or treat you has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Remember, no one can make you miserable unless you allow them to.

8. First impressions lie. The one’s who look rich, often are not. The one’s who don’t, may be. A college ring doesn’t make you smart. Lack of a high school diploma does not translate into loser. Note: This last group includes Richard Branson (Virgin Air), Peter Jennings and Princess Diana

8. Don’t assume to know, because you don’t. Seek the truth, avoid gossip and become a better communicator. You will be humbled by what you will learn.

9. Judge Not. You’ve heard it before: Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes” Judging is ugly. Don’t do it.

10. Be your perfectly imperfect self. Have fun catching up and finding the people who want to know your story as much as you want to know theirs. The one’s who care about getting to know the real you are rare, but they are the one’s who count.

Florida to NYC

Photo courtesy of NYC Tourist

Such a crazy week this one is going to be. It goes something like this… I have a few more days to wrap up work here in Florida, then it’s time to head home to Cincinnati, where I’ll have a day to catch up before I board a plane on Friday for a quick weekend trip to New York City… Yay!

It’s a double bonus trip. I get to see my son Tyler and his girlfriend Jaimie and revisit my old stomping ground – a place that holds a piece of my heart. Look at this photo I took years ago from a tiny little 4 seater plane above Manhattan. Back then you were still allowed to fly around the city…

When I lived there those precious twin towers were standing tall. Oh, how I  love that city. It seems like just yesterday I was dancing at Studio 54, scouring flea markets in the village, having Sunday breakfast at a diner in Chelsea and hitting Broadway to see my favorite Musical, 42nd Street.

I cannot wait to get back. In January, Tyler (my son) played his last down as an Ohio State Buckeye and a month later landed a job in the Big Apple. His girlfriend Jaimie, a buyer in the Fashion Industry, moved there in 2012.  They share the top floor of a brownstone on the upper west side – a block or so from Central Park. To say I miss them is an understatement.

Their apartment, which I’ve only seen via photos and FaceTime is adorable, yet like most city spaces it’s pretty small. I’m looking forward to seeing it and blogging about it when I get back.

While there, I’m thinking we’ll hit broadway, have breakfast at neighborhood diner, and brunch or dinner at JoAnne Trattoria NYC

photo courtesy of  Ida Mae Astute/ABC

Joanne is owned by Lady Gaga’s parents and features a menu by Head Chef Art Smith, a dear friend of GiGi’s. Here’s a photo I found of Art, Lady Gaga and Jesus (hay-soos) at Art’s restaurant Table 52 in Chicago last year…

photo courtesy of nbc5 Chicago 

I’ve been dying to try Art’s food. I am always hearing about how amazing it is from GiGi… you would think she would let me tag along to meet Art and Jesus one of these days, wouldn’t you?

I’m looking forward to visiting F.I.T. (Fashion Institute of Technology) and a couple of my old professors. I envision walking to Central Park (a block from Jamie and Tyler’s apartment), sharing a sundae at Serendipity, cannolis from Little Italy, people watching in Washington Square… oh my. The possibilities are endless. I just can’t wait. Do you have any “must-do'” suggestions for NYC? I hope Tyler and Jaimie are resting up…  xo Amy

Living a Creative Life: Manhole Cover Art

When walking along the street the only reason I look down at a manhole or underground access cover is to make sure the heel of my 4″ stiletto doesn’t get stuck. Considering I rarely wear 4″ heels any more, let’s just say I really don’t pay attention to manholes… until recently.

Meet Jesus (pronounced hay-soos) Salgueiro

Jesus is an amazing artist. If you visit his on-line studio called Susej Arts I think you’ll be in awe. I am. The tag line reads: Art inspired by Love. I love that. I’m listening to his lovely choice of music on his website as I write this post.

GiGi adores Jesus and his other half – Chef Art Smith. She mentioned to me a few years ago when they traveled to Croatia together that he checked out the local manholes and made manhole cover art. I really didn’t understand what it was all about. It’s something he’s done for many years around the world. Here’s a photo of Jesus and GiGi…

A year or so ago, Lisa at Pick Me Yard wrote about Jesus and his Art Studio in Chicago. I was enamored with everything about him, but I still didn’t really understand the how’s and why’s except that it looked really cool.

The other night I was browsing through GiGi’s photos from her recent European vacation with Jesus, Art and his mother…

They went to Rome, Monaco (during the Grand Prix), Portofino, St. Tropez, Cannes (during the film festival), Portoferraio, Nice and more. Art was the Celebrity Guest Chef for the Chaine des Rotisseurs Mediterranean Wine Cruise on a gorgeous 5-masted ship called the Windstar Windsurf for a week…

That’s a photo of Chef Art talking to Host Jonathon Baltuch (on left),  Vice Charge de Missions for the Atlanta Chapter of the Chaine des Rotisseurs. In the middle is Chef Reilly Meehan. Reilly is the winner of the 2011 Young Chef Competitions in both the USA and International and worked with Art on the Cruise.

They went on to a villa in Buggio, Italy (a 1,000  year old stone village with 87 residents) where they were hosted by the gracious and incredible, Helle Duus Alex, founder of SistaEnable (sustainable), a champion for women’s rights…

 

What a memorable trip! I might share more of GiGi’s photos this week.

While looking through the photos, right smack in the middle of gorgeous buildings, lush landscapes and sparkling waters I saw this…

Suddenly, I understood the story behind Jesus’s beautiful manhole cover art. If you think about it, almost every country in the world has manholes. Each of them are unique and most identify the city where they lie.

As Jesus travels he carries his special paper and chalk, searching out manhole covers in each city…

When he finds an interesting cover he pulls out his art supplies and gets to work…

Of course, he quickly becomes the center of attention…

That doesn’t bother him, he’s in creative mode… and he makes art.

Isn’t it amazing? He has them from all around the world… how cool is that?  Some people collect shot glasses, Jesus creates art.

Look at this stack of Manhole Art that Lisa got to see at his studio…

Photo courtesy of PickMeYard

Here are more photos from his creative journey this past month…

Below is Jesus in a very old abandoned church he discovered while exploring the hillsides near Buggio.  His dream is to someday make it into his art studio…

Pretty fabulous, isn’t it? Considering that Jesus is most renowned for his heart and angel paintings, I think the graffiti hearts are a sign that one day… it might just happen.  xo Amy

10 Tips for a Successful Decorating Project

Photo Courtesy of House Beautiful

Ponder this for a few minutes…

I love that quote and it’s so true. Think about it… what makes a house a “home” is what each person uniquely brings to their own space. Every home is different – a reflection of who we are and what we love. Starting a decorating project is often daunting, but it doesn’t have to be – take a breath and enjoy the process. These ten tips will help you create a space you love…
  1. Dream, explore, discoverTake some time to look through magazines, web sites, and newspapers; randomly clipping things that catch your attention. Don’t over think it too much. This will help you find an inspiration picture and ideas you may want to incorporate. Don’t be so sure that you and your spouse, partner or roommate are worlds apart. Designing for the sexes is not always as hard as you think!
  2. Know your space. Whether reading a floor plan or drawing your own floor plan, understand your room. How does it feel? How do you want it to feel? What will you do in this room? You can have beauty and function in every room! 
  3. Develop a plan. Look at your house as a whole and then break down each area. Whether doing a single room or a whole house; this is important. Set a budget and priorities. Inventory the items you own that you will keep, and create a wish list of what you’d like to put in each room.
  4. Get Organized! Keeping your project organized will save you time and energy. Keep everything in one place so you can grab it for shopping, meeting with contractors and finalizing selections. 
  5. Pick a starting point. Whether an inspiration picture, a piece of art, furniture that you love, or a favorite paint color; choose it and go from there. Still overwhelmed? Select the finishes for walls and floors and then work on the focal point or area of the room and spread out from there.
  6. Don’t be afraid – especially of color! Everyone makes mistakes, (even the professionals!) but you’ll never know if you like it if you don’t try it. The biggest fear for many is picking paint and matching colors. When using the age-old “squint test” it’s easy! Click for more about the squint test
  7. Furniture. Arranging furniture shouldn’t overwhelm you. With a floor plan and some “rules-of-thumb” you’ll save your back and discover that arranging furniture is fun! 
  8.  Remember ceiling! We all know we need to think about the floors and walls, but often forgotten is the ceiling. Ceiling details are a great way to add special touches and character to a room.
  9. Lighting. This is key element of every space that is often forgotten. There is day-to-day lighting, task lighting, accent lighting are equally important a room that both functional and beautiful. Lighting can make or break a room.
  10. Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize. Often neglected or eliminated because of budget, accessories are ever so important. They define the personality of the room. Plant ledges, mantles, tabletops, etc.  are key places to create interest and tell the story of your home. Approximately 15-25% of your room budget should go towards accessories – this is not the place to negotiate. 
Happy Decorating! xo Amy

Alzheimer’s, Coconut Oil and The Nun Study

 

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan who passed away from Alzheimer’s on June 5th, 2005. (Picture from the Ronald Reagan Library, courtesy of the National Archives)

Alzheimer’s is a concern. Chances are it’s a concern to you too.  My guess is most likely someone you love or know, has been diagnosed with it. My husband’s grandmother had it. My aunt has it, my friend’s mother has it, my former business partner’s father-in-law had it. I don’t want it.

Did you know that…

  • 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • One in eight older Americans has Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States and the only cause of death among the top 10 in the United States that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed.

Because of this, and specifically the third point above, I wanted to share a few things I’ve discovered regarding the disease. At the moment there isn’t a magic pill that gives me any confidence and honestly, I’m not a lover of pills anyway, but there are two things that give me hope. One is Coconut Oil and the other is the Nun Study.

Coconut Oil: I think I’ve mentioned it before – there’s really no proven studies behind it that I’ve seen, but has great reviews from people and loved ones diagnosed with Alzheimer’s who use it, nutritionally it’s good for you and purportedly it helps with weight loss. Sounds like a win-win to me. I’ve been trying to add it to my diet every day. It can’t hurt right?

I was skimming through a book called Coconut Oil for Health and Beauty by Cynthia and Laura Holzapfel last night and they write that Coconut Oil can prevent heart disease, doesn’t raise Cholesterol, reduces inflammation, reduces acne, heals wounds and promotes beautiful skin.

Coconut Oil itself is a bit odd in that if the temperature in your home is cool it will be in a solid form, but the minute your home warms up, it becomes liquid. I try to keep it in a warm place so I don’t have to melt it. You could just swallow a tablespoon each day, but I’m not sure why you would when you can add it to something else and not have any taste at all of it. It’s okay by mouth, but perfectly non-detectable when mixed with food or juice. By the way, the photo above is of my oldest son Michael on our vacation in Cayman a few years back drinking from a freshly cracked coconut, not really a photo of coconut oil, but isn’t he cute?

Since I have been juicing I don’t take any vitamins at all, but I do now add a Tbsp of Chia Seeds, Flax Seed and Coconut Oil to a smoothie or salad almost every single day. Is it working? I don’t know how you measure it except to say I feel great and my latest blood tests were all 100% normal. That’s good enough for me.

The Nun Study: You’ve heard this advice before… get moving, stay busy, exercise, blah, blah blah. I really do dread the thought of exercising, yet once I do it, I am so happy I did. Let’s take it one step further: Exercise and stay active to avoid memory loss. Now you really have my attention. You really need to watch this short clip on You Tube called the Nun Study – Click for Link

Here’s the Cliff Note Version: Nuns in this study who stayed active by exercising their brains and bodies, ultimately had very little, if any, memory loss.  Many of them had lived well into their 90’s and even 100’s. The key point here is an examination of their brains after their death revealed many of the nuns had full onset Alzheimer’s, yet showed ZERO symptoms of memory loss. Yes, I am going to start getting more exercise. You should too.

Okay, I’ll step off my “I love you, so you should do this too” soapbox now. I plan to answer more design questions this weekend, so send me any you may have. Heck, send me a question about anything… life, kids, football (O-H!)  – I love to answer those too! xo Amy

Chalk Paint Update

I can’t believe the work week is here and almost gone! I am still in the middle of several Chalk Paint projects – don’t you LOVE my checkerboard coffee table pictured above so far? I adore it. You’ll have to wait to see the final photos though, because a) none of my projects are 100% finished and b) I’m in Florida on business with Gigi (my business partner and friend) for the next two weeks. After that, I’ll be home a day and then off to NYC for a fabulous weekend! I already know its going to be fabulous because NYC is always fabulous. Even on a hot summer smelly day, it just is fabulous.

I thought I’d give you a quick update on my ongoing experiments with Milk and Chalk Paint. Have I told you that I am in love with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint as well as her clear and dark wax? I am in love with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. There, I told you again. Seriously, I can’t get enough of it and the funny part is I really don’t like to paint. But, because I love this stuff so much, maybe now I kinda sorta like to paint.

It started innocently. Really, I could blame it on you. I thought to myself… what is this chalk paint and milk paint that I keep reading about? What is the difference between the two products, how are they to work with and why is every going gaga over them? I mean really,  as a blogger and designer isn’t it my responsibility to explore this trend? So of course because I love you, I dove in and quickly formed some pretty solid opinions on the two.

Milk Paint? Major pain in the behind and that’s being nice, but it does have its unique qualities (it gets chippy in random lovely places) and is quite nice if you have the time and patience for the process. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of the above and therefore I am confident I will not be mixing another batch anytime soon… unless I decide to try Miss Mustard Seed’s new line when it comes out and of course I probably will – mostly because I really do like her and the work that she does. Hopefully, it’s like childbirth in that the distance of time (plus the sweetness of that little bundle of  joy) eventually makes you forget the pain.

Chalk Paint? Have I told you how much I love it? It’s sooooo easy. No priming or sanding required, comes pre-mixed in a can, covers really well, dries fast, look gorgeous. Done… signed, sealed and delivered, amen.

Anyway, I’m probably being overly dramatic, but I really started with a simple metal mirror and before I knew it I had painted two outdoor container pots for herbs, a mirror, a coffee table, a dresser for my daughter, an old small cabinet that was my mother-in-laws and a work table in my office. Plus, when I get back I have plans to paint an entire set of furniture for my guest bedroom. I know. I’m slightly obsessed. Maybe possessed. Either way, I have lots of unfinished projects that eventually I will be ready to share, promise! xo Amy

Design Question: Hanging an Oversized Painting above a Sofa

I received a design question the other day from Linda who said…

I have a very big painting 5′ wide x 7′ long that is a foot wider than my sofa . Right now it is centered on the sofa. It is about 6″ below the back of the new sofa… and there’s about a foot above it to the ceiling. If I raise it above the back of the sofa it will almost reach the ceiling. Should I move it up above the sofa which would only leave an inch to the ceiling? or leave it where it is to anchor it to the sofa.. it’s an abstract overall pattern so you don’t really lose any of the painting.

This sounds like an awesome piece of art and it’s difficult to answer without seeing, but here are my thoughts….

  1. I am guessing that you have  8′-0″ ceilings.
  2. The photo is most certainly the focal point of the room, the closer you place it to the ceiling, the higher the ceiling will “feel”, yet too close and it will seem cramped.
  3. I don’t think I would like it right up to the ceiling, but I would like it a tad closer. I am thinking since there is 6″ of overhang on either side of the couch, let’s just raise it 3 more inches so there is only 9″ above, 3″ below and 6″ on either side.
  4. I know three inches doesn’t sound like much, but I think it will make a difference.

The other thing that is equally important is to create balance. Make sure to add some bold pillows on the sofa to complement the painting and add a lamp on one, maybe both sides with a substantial base and shade. Anything too small in scale will look out of proportion. A large coffee table is important as well. Not necessarily “physically heavy”, but large in scale. Glass would work well as long as it has a nice frame – it’s really about the scale to balance the size of the painting. The key is to balance your artwork with items that are proportionate, complimentary (don’t compete) and of course beautiful! I made the above OlioBoard to help create an example.

I hope that helps- let me know how it turns out! xo Amy

P.S. Have a design question? Ask away and I’ll pick one each week to answer!