Monday, March 24, 2008

Stylish Little Girls, Frogs and Paris

As they say, something is definitely in the water here in Houston. We have seven friends who are currently expecting and three more who have newborns. With all the baby showers and looking for gifts, I can't help but be seduced by all things related to sweet baby things. Recently I have discovered a decorating blog called The Inspired Room.  Today she has a post about decorating children's rooms and as always she has some really great advice.  

It seems that a child's room tends to have a theme, whatever may be popular at Babies R Us, but with some creativity and inspiration she shows how you can make the room magical and stylish without a theme.  Maybe you like frogs, but that doesn't mean you have to buy a frog lamp, bedspread and all matching accessories.  She says just one frog can make an impact too. 
 

And why not consider decorating so you can transition their room through the years instead of the decor being disposable.  How long will frogs be cool?  (More importantly, won't you be tired of them before the child is old enough to even voice their opinion?)  That is just smart advice, financially and esthetically.  Also, go read what she has to say about how their room develops their sense of style from a young age.  

Speaking of babies, I found another site that you might enjoy.  There are four women who share their experiences with birth and babies in four different countries.  They also give pregnancy fashion advice and products they can't live without.  Go see Babyccino.  Todays post is about Paris and who can resist that?


Friday, March 21, 2008

Pressing Matters


Ironing G's shirts manages to bring a sharp clarity into my mind. Maybe it's the monotony of the task or the visible achievement as each shirt is finished, but today after my Dad called to practice his Spanish with me I started thinking about my new role in life. One of his vocabulary words was "mujer de casa". This means housewife. When I hear this term applied to me, I felt a pang of terror in my stomach and then a shaky smile appeared on my face. Me, a housewife.

I first encountered this title when I did our taxes this year. Since I haven't worked since shortly before the wedding, I am not employed, am I? So when the tax form asked me to fill in my title, I put Housewife. Immediately I imagined myself with a yellow frilly apron and spatula in my hand. Until now, I have had good reason to not be working in my field. I was getting married, then we were buying a house, and then we went to Puerto Rico for two weeks. Busy, busy, busy. But now, being caught up with so many things I am not so busy.

I've been asked by my company to take another project. Although G and I had decided that I would stay home for now, I am still in a dilemma. This prospect isn't tempting because of the job description, digging around in boxes and drafting some agreements, calling some landowners. No, that part I can do without. But, the title, yes that is the part that tempts me. Isn't my spiffy, professional title with matching income better than housewife?

The thing is that the answer isn't just simply about money, it's also about time. We have time and time is precious. I love being able to be available when G is off for a week, or being able to travel to visit our families with no scheduling issues. Even with all the positives of me staying home, I still find myself unfulfilled and sometimes lonely. Most people I know live too far away or they are working, which is why going back to work appeals to me so much. Work gives you an instant contact with people and the possibility to build new friendships. I love to feel the energy you get from being around other people. I love to laugh and I miss that.

Obviously my dream is to be able to BE The Closet Therapist and have that be my job. I'm not very patient though so it isn't happening as fast as I would like it to go. So, what to do, is on my mind all the time now. I've never been very good at decisions. I like to weigh all my options and then make the best possible one with no chance for regret later. I am a perfectionist at heart! I don't like to waste my time, and in the end my life.

Which brings me to what this is really about, the purpose of my life is what we spend our days doing because the days add up to the years. I know about myself that I am an active sort of person. I've always been an entrepreneur at heart. For pete's sake, when I was in college I stocked a trout pond and started a fishing business for the summer. I cleaned all the fish. I dug up worms for the kids. During one semester they were building a Wal-Mart and I sold cookies and coffee to the construction workers. They loved it when I came around, but the foreman offered money if I would just stop coming around. I didn't take it.

So, you can see that being active needs to be also a creative pursuit for me. I am a hard worker and love to be around people in a way that I can help them in some way. Being in an office all day sort of kills my spirit, you know? After all it isn't just socializing and laughing, but the money is good, no doubt.

The answer is somewhere in the middle, I know. Today I ironed G's handkerchiefs just so I could keep ironing. Although pressing matters, there are still more pressing matters to ponder. I'm still absent of an answer, hoping that the answer will come to me in a divine email or sign. Maybe I should just do what my stepfather always said, "Just do something, even if it's wrong." He could be on to something there.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Fragrant Rewards

Sometime in the last two years, G and I thought it would be a good idea to get a Saks Fifth Avenue Mastercard. We reasoned how nice it would be to have our spending dollars transformed into nifty gift cards from uber luxurious Saks. Since we were so new to Houston and had no idea that we couldn't actually afford anything at Saks, we fell for it. (We were at the outlet when we signed up for it.)

This past weekend we used our once per year gift card reward. We had already been online to anticipate what we might be able to afford. The normal go-to things for him like cuff links, french cuff shirts or cool socks were accompanied by inflated prices, designer brands and snooty salespeople. We've browsed the goods before and let's just say that if we think Banana Republic tends to be a little pricey, all we can do is gasp and bug out our eyes at these price tags. For me, the go-to department is always cosmetics and perfume so it wasn't sad for me at all that this is the arena where we could spend our reward.

The cosmetics department is always crawling with rich ladies holding their LV bags, the makeup artists checking out to see if you are worthy of a makeover offer and perfume wielding over-made-up women smiling at you until you refuse their scent. I read once that designers keep creating new perfumes because it is the only way that most people can afford a designer label. If you can't have a Chanel bag, at least you can wear Chanel perfume. It's affordable luxury for the common man/woman. I feel a little bit insulted by this marketing scheme, but it doesn't mean that I haven't totally fallen for it. I adore perfume!! And if I connect with the marketing of a brand, I really want to like their perfume even if I don't. And a pretty bottle is so hard to resist.

However, I have gotten quite persnickety about my perfume choices in the last few years. I really can't stand something that has any sort of artificial, chemical smell to it. Some give me an instant headache as if it shoots straight into my brain. I really have abandoned all of the mainstream brands and prefer to wander about smelling L'Artisan Perfumeur, Miller Harris or Jo Malone. I once was enamored with Bond No. 9 and G bought me a bottle of Chinatown, but I really think this perfume is overpriced and overrated. When we were in Paris I found Caron's Fleur de Rocaille, which is beautiful. I also couldn't resist visiting Fragonard's store there and choosing Eau de Melodie which since has smashed on the tile floor, but we still smell the floral fragrance when we use the dustpan that cleaned it up.

Choosing a new perfume is a sacred selection process to me. I have sprayed and sprayed so many and have a mental wish list going in my head at all times. Now that I had a free perfume pass at Saks, I knew I had to choose something off this mental wish list. I had been dreaming about the Jo Malone line for a long time and I saw this lovely gift set at Saks. The reason I had never bought Jo Malone before is because they always try to sell you on layering the fragrances. Already it's hard for me to splurge on one bottle, but now I feel I'm neglecting the potential if I don't buy a couple. No, that wasn't going to work for me. Too complicated. But when I saw this Jo Malone gift set I knew it was my chance to really test out her fragrances and do it right with all the layering fun.





I have not been disappointed. It is so much fun trying a new combination every day and each night. I always put perfume on before I go to bed so I can have sweet dreams. My favorites are the Orange Blossom mixed with Blue Agava and Cacao. Every time I spray it, G says mmmm that smells good. This is exactly the reaction I want! A perfume compliment is my favorite kind!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Color Blind

It's a overcast afternoon here in Houston and I'd been browsing through some old books when I came across my ancient Color Me Beautiful. Curiously I looked over my long ago decided season and also Autumn. I've always wondered if I was Autumn or Summer, but I concluded a while back that I am definitely Summer. Now, I'm not so sure. Could I have been stocking my wardrobe in all the wrong colors? Has my fascination with all things pink taken over my ability to see myself clearly? As I gazed at the list of Autumn's Do's and Don'ts, it clearly states "No Pink". Hmmmm. Yes, it could be that my love of pink had blinded me because a life without pink is entirely not possible. I looked down at the pink sweater I was wearing and went to put my makeup on. She says Autumns wear cinammon lipstick, not pink, so I put on one of my free gift with purchases and well, it kind of looked good on me. I was still wearing the pink sweater and it certainly clashed with that. I changed it out for a green and bronzey color sweater and hello, I'm alive. Here's and old picture of the sweater.



I'd just assumed since I have a pinky complexion and ashy colored hair that I fit into the description of Summer, but apparently I was wrong. I went back into my closet and gazed at all the pinks, blues with occasional caramel colors that will work as an Autumn. It's really a shame that I just bought this lovely pink sweater from Anthropologie. Now that I'm looking at it through new eyes, my proper hazel ones instead of my rose colored glasses, I can see that the other sweater is more flattering to my skin tone. Perhaps I can pair it with something brown to be more in line with the Autumn range. Here is my new sweater.



I really wish that someone, maybe Carole Jackson, the original author, would come out with a new version of this old standard. It's terribly outdated and I would like some new color role models and illustrations. Actually I found that she does have a website that is fairly updated and apparently I have the same coloring as Angeline Jolie and Julia Roberts. Well, that is a nice consolation if I do eventually have to give up pink. However, someone needs to tell Angelina that Autumn also says "No Black".

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Independent Spirit with French Flair

Maybe it's the American in me, maybe it's the entrepreneur in me but I love a good "leave your corporate job and start a successful business using your passions and hidden talents" story. I have enjoyed perusing the website and blog by Claudia Strasser of The Paris Apartment for awhile now, but after listening to a Podcast that tells her story about how Claudia did just that, I left even more impressed. I am drawn to anything with Paris or France in the name being a devoted Francoholic, but I also just love her glamourous, old Hollywood, starlet sort of style. I have some pink chairs that she would give high marks on in the feminine and fabulous department. Here they are.



What I didn't know about her was how she followed her instincts to open up her own boutique in New York called The Paris Apartment. She traveled all around the world growing up and learned how to have an eye for design, but she didn't have any formal training in interior design. Yet, here she is working in the capacity of a designer and very successful too. I feel that too many people are led to believe that you must have a degree to do anything, and use that as a stumbling block to pursuing a passion. I love the "why not?" approach that many entrepreneurs put into action.

If you want to hear the story on Podcast, it's Hip Tranquil Chick Podcast number 115. I don't know how to embed it into the blog. If you know how, please tell me. I just don't speak geek.

Here is the website: http://hiptranquilchick.com/podcastblog.html

I believe when we are drawn to something so fiercely that it is some dream inside of us that wants to come out. I have had a passion for cleaning out closets and clutter in general for as long as I can remember. I have an obsession for all stories and books related to this subject. They say that when you are doing something that you don't notice how time flies that this is what you are born to do. This is how I feel about helping people clean things out.

What inspires me so much about Claudia is that she went with her gut and started her business. I have to hold on to her courage and others like her for me to even think about doing such a thing. The truth is that I'm scared out of my mind to start a business. I FEAR. Yes, I fear that who would want me to do something that is really so easy. Isn't it true that when we are passionate and good at something that we think it is easy?

When I hear a story like this of someone who went beyond all the excuses they could muster and put their fear and their self on the line, for a moment it manages to quell any excuses that I may have. They do come tumbling back full force as fear usually does. I think that action is the only thing that makes fear go away, and faith. In fact, faith is the opposite of fear.

My main excuse is that I think it is easier for people to want to buy something than to pay for a service. I think that people wouldn't want to pay me for what a friend can do for them for free. Why does someone need me to tell them to let go of something when there is really no harm in having it anyway. The endless stream of excuses for why I wouldn't start a business doing this is like a ticker tape going at the back of my mind always. See how amazed I am that someone who probably isn't neurotic as me anyway, manages to push through self-doubt and find their way to the other side where the sun is shining and the grass must be greener.

What is the post about anyway--Paris, decorating, pink chairs, starting a business, fear, overcoming fear and inspiration. What is on the other side of self-doubt? I think the answer is clarity. When you manage to overcome you are awarded with clarity because you have been through it and know it. There is no longer any reason to fear, for even failure isn't that daunting after you've already been through it.

This interview didn't go as in depth as my own self probing has, but you will hear that she has made some decisions for herself that weren't always easy. I think that she is an inspiration because she knows herself and is doing what is best for her no matter what others think of her decisions.

It is still my dream to help people clean out their closets and clean out their minds and I certainly feel that I embody my Closet Therapist title. Maybe one day I'll finally break through and you'll be reading inspiring stories about how I did it. Until then, enjoy Claudia's website and her interview with Hip Tranquil Chick.

Carolina's Fifth Birthday

We have been busy celebrating someone's much anticipated birthday around here!  Carolina has been longing for five since her classmates ...