Monday, July 20, 2015

That time I went glamping and stayed in a yurt...

    If you have read any of my other posts, you have probably figured out that I'm not exactly the camping type of person. My idea of "roughing it" is staying at the Hampton Inn, so when my husband told me that during part of our hybrid business trip/vacation I'd be staying in a round tent called a yurt, I was not exactly excited.

    My husband is an executive for an international company and one of their clients is located in Northern California. It is a small resort and cafe called Strawhouse Resorts and it is literally in the middle of nowhere.   We drove up on a highway from the San Francisco area and once we made a turn to the west, we were deep into the mountains on a two lane road, twisting and turning. Good thing I had the smarts to pop an anti-motion sickness pill or it would have gotten very ugly.   We drove and drove (actually it was only about 1.5 hours of mountain driving but I am dramatic at times). We finally pulled up to a riverfront paradise.

     Strawhouse is on the Trinity River in Big Flat California. The population of this town is 35 people, two of whom I now call friends. Their names are Julia and Don and they built and own this lovely little place.  They have an amazing coffee house and restaurant with organic and delicious food. Inside their cafe, they sell wonderful items from local artists. The outside deck of the cafe is alongside the stunning river where eagles fly by and hummingbirds come right up to your nose.  I tried to capture some of the magic by taking photos but they did not do it justice.  It was really one of the most beautiful places, I've ever seen.

The owners Don & Julia (aren't they cute?)
      They have some lovely little cabins that you can stay in but we got lucky enough to stay in the yurt.   It was much larger than I thought it would be. Other than the canvas walls,  it was not like a tent at all. It had wood floors,  the most comfortable bed , a full kitchen, air-conditioning and a gorgeous claw foot bathtub.  It was not "roughing it" at all.  It was fantastic.  

The yurt!!!!
500 count thread sheets is not roughing it, even for me!
      We spent two days without tv, wifi (except inside the cafe) and cell phone coverage.  This was the best business trip ever (no husband blabbing on the cell phone). This also meant that I only stalked checked the sleep away camp website once a day  for proof of life (a/k/a a photo of my youngest child who apparently is intentionally hiding from the camera person, his brother*

     Don and Julia were the warmest, sweetest people that I have ever met and if they had a cell phone tower, I might consider buying the lot next door just to be their neighbors.  If you find yourself in Northern California, you should really stop by this place either for a night or one of their famous wood oven pizzas.   It is well worth the trip.  http://www.strawhouseresorts.com/



*yes, you read that right.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The comfort zone...

Public high schools in Florida have a fine arts credit requirement. When my son was finishing up his freshman year, he was not happy about having to take anything with the word "art" in it.  He begged to take something online so that he could take an extra science class.  Science was what his friends were into. He was so persistent that I actually went into speak to the Principal about allowing him to do this.  Despite that fact that this woman was in charge of 2100 young minds, she really thought about it, looked at his transcript and strongly suggested that he take his fine arts at school and not to take an extra science class. "It will be good for him" and she pretty much took about a huge rubber stamp and marked "Denied" on his request.

   At the time, I did not understand her refusal for more science. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) is being heavily pushed these days. It seems that every boy is rushing towards this type of major in college.  The thought is that STEM is where the jobs are going to be. Even kids who are not "science kids" like mine, were feeling the pressure to head into this direction.

   My son wearily reported for photography the first day of tenth grade.  During the year, he not only learned about the history of photography and studied the masters, he learned about cameras, taking photos and how to develop black and white film in the school's darkroom. Near the end of the year, he decided to take Advanced Placement (AP) Photography during 11th grade. 

   During his junior year ,while taking this college-level photography class, he started running around with his friends on urban photo safaris. They are starting a photography club at their school.  Some of his photos were chosen by his teacher to be shown at art shows around town and entered into contests. 

   In June, as he was heading off to his old summer camp to be a counselor, he asked if he could bring his camera and help the camp photographer out. The camp said to bring it and maybe he could help once in a while during the summer.

  He's been at camp for a little over two weeks and taking photos every day.  Hundreds of his photos have been posted on the camp's website so far. Right now he is a "war" correspondent  (Color War!)  

Color War Breaks out with Plane dropping Team Assignments!



   I guess getting out of one's comfort zone is usually a good thing. This is motivating me to get out of mine but I'm not sure what I'm up for this summer. Any suggestions? I'm thinking about learning about wine or paddle boarding. I'll probably go with the wine.

     Happy Summer!



My boys are teenagers and embarrassed by the mere existence of parents. They HATE when I blog about them but they are gone for the summer and are not supposed to be anywhere near the internet. They will be mad at me when they get back.





Saturday, June 27, 2015

Stuff, Stuff Everywhere….

My sister convinced me to read 

This book is pretty simple and if you have too much stuff in your closets, house or life, I suggest you download or pick up a copy.  The basic premise of the "KONMARI" Method of tidying up is to go through every single piece of "stuff" in your house and only keep what you really love (or need).  

I started with my closet and I have to say, Marie Kondo gave me permission not to feel bad about discarding just about 1/2 of my clothing.  She doesn't tell you to throw or giveaway things that you haven't worn in a year or don't fit. She just says to decide if each thing, whether it be a pair of socks or a super expensive dress, brings you joy. If not, you are free to toss it.   As I was going through each and every single item in my closet, the permission that Kondo gave to let go of things that I was hanging onto because they cost a lot or "in case of" was fantastic. The guilt of my stuff was gone. It was quite liberating.  

If a sweater was itchy, out it went. If a top never looked good on me, out it went. If shoes were designer but hurting my feet, they disappeared too. That outfit that was on sale but was sitting there waiting in case I ever got invited to the Hamptons was also pitched. (If you invite me to your house in the Hamptons, I'll go buy something new!) 

It all felt great.  But what to do with the stuff.  Bags and Bags were donated but some of the stuff was really good. Kondo does not endorse pawning the stuff onto your friends and family unless they really want it

I had three other avenues that I used to make a little bit of dough from the things that were not bringing me happiness.


1. Ebay.  You knew that was coming right????

Here is an example of something that was just clogging up my closet and now is residing in my bank account. Not a big sale at all.  However, it was like found money.




This was a little Burberry Pouch that came with Perfume. It was just sitting there unused with about a million other little toiletry bags. It sold for $34.99!



If you have been holding on to your Crap stuff, you might want to search completed items on Ebay. You might find that some cash might make you happier than a Trapper Keeper Notebook from the 80's
Yes, this authentic, Original Notebook from 8th grade sold for $35 bucks (including free shipping). Sometimes it does pay to be a packrat. Not really.

By the way, with the ebay app for smart phones, you can just take a photo, fill out the form and list away. So much simpler than in the olden days.   Just remember to promptly ship out once your stuff sells!

2. Like Twice  If you're too busy to Ebay your clothes and handbags, you might want to check them out.  They only buy certain brands but they either send you a bag to fill up or you print out a label and just ship out to them. They will either buy your items outright or give you a Target Gift Card or a store credit for everything that they want.   You probably won't make as much as you do on ebay but it is way easier.  I am about to ship them a box of designer jeans that certainly are not bringing me joy sitting in my closet mocking me because they don't fit or look good.  I expect to take in about $10 per pair.  Certainly not anything close to what they cost new but still easy money and better than nothing!

3. After I moved out of the closet, I started in on my china cabinet and I found this company…
 Replacements.com  This company will buy certain pieces of china and crystal.   They don't buy everything but I had a partial set of China that was not "bringing me joy" and I sent them a few photos and they shot me back a quote that was quite nice and did bring me joy.  Now I'm bubble wrapping and packing it up.  This site also sells replacement pieces so if there is a set of dishes or glasses that you love but have lost or broken along they way, they will help you make a full set! 
Here is the china I am shipping to them. 




I'm still Konmari-ing. It make take quite a long time to get rid of everything in my house that is not bringing me joy.  The next stop is the kid's room  That should be lots of fun.  During last summer's annual "clean up their room while they are away" festival  uncovered an uneaten sandwich in a backpack . Seriously. 

If you've tried Konmari, I'd love to hear about it!





Monday, June 1, 2015

I'm famous...

As many of my readers know, I am, among other things, an eBay seller.  I was chosen by eBay to take part in a branding experiment.  They teamed me up with Vistaprint (a longtime favorite of mine) and helped me makeover my eBay "store".  

The gave me a new logo and banner and gave me new business cards and postcards to include with my packages. They gave me suggestions how to freshen up my online store.  Click Here for the story about the results which is featured on ebay.com!




Super exciting. Maybe they can makeover the blog next!!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

American Sniper Giveaway Winners!

Thanks to everyone who entered (and promoted) this giveaway and thanks to Warner Brothers for offering the AMERICAN SNIPER Dvd/Blu Ray to my readers

Warner Brothers sent me a free copy to keep as well as the two to giveaway but I'm giving that one away too because I saw the film in the theater.

If you did not win, it is out today so you can pick up a copy (Trust me, it is GOOD!)

The winners are:
Katrina,
Traveling Bells 
and Kim Ratunen.

I've sent them all emails and once they send me their addresses (via email) I will ship right out. 

By the way, if you did not win, keep stopping by my blog or subscribe to it. I have fallen onto some mysterious "list" and companies often give me stuff to giveaway. When I'm not giving away stuff, I giveaway free advice and opinions! Sometimes I will even make you laugh!


Thanks to everyone who served or who loves someone who serves our country!

Friday, May 15, 2015

WWJD (What would Japolina Do?)

    I cycle on boardwalk on the beach near my house very early every single morning that I can get my butt out of bed.  The weather man has lied twice this week and said that it was not going to rain when it did. Today, I got caught in a sun shower during the last part of my ride. It actually made me very happy even though I was kind of ticked at that darn weatherman.


   
   After my ride, I pulled my car into a gas station to fill up. (By the way, I've had my Prius for about a year and half and have probably filled up only around 40 times. It really gets an average of 50 mpg and is my favorite car that I have ever owned even though it looks like a computer mouse on wheels). Filling up the Prius takes about two minutes because of it's small gas tank but I'm very paranoid when I fill up with gas here in the big city.  Years ago, one of my girlfriends had her purse stolen out of the passenger seat while she was filling up and her baby was in the back in a car seat. This story scarred me for life. Thank g-d the creepy crook only stole her purse and not her baby! Since that time, whenever I fill up, I am on high alert.

    As I was finishing up, a Russian lady approached me. I think she was in her early 60's and had a car at another pump.  She asked me in perfect English, "What do I do to get the gas?" My spidey senses started to tingle. My first instinct would be to help someone in need but I had a weird feeling. I said "You should go ask inside". She would not budge."What did you do to get gas?" and "Can you help me?" were her next two questions. 

     Maybe she really needed help, but she likely had a driver's license as she was driving a car. She spoke perfect English, so why couldn't she just read the instructions on the pump? It just seemed weird. 

   As a women, we are told to go with our gut. Was she going to distract me while her accomplice was going to grab my precious (iPhone) out of my car and make a run for it? Was she going to rob me? Was she going to kidnap me? Or was she just in need of help?

    I know that my sweet husband would have walked over to the pump, explained it to her and probably would have pumped the gas for her but he is a bad-ass. 

   What would you do? I was in a nice part of town but I do live in a big metropolitan area and there is crime on the news all day, every day.  

     I said that I was in a rush and jumped in my car and hightailed it out of there as fast as my Prius could go. I felt guilty for a second but better safe than sorry right? Kind of sad comment on today's society. What would you do?  
   

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Help Wounded Warriors & Win a free copy of American Sniper!

First of all, let me just say that I think that Bradley Cooper was ROBBED of the Oscar this year. His performance in American Sniper was amazing.  Now that my mini-rant is over, let me tell you some exciting news....

I am not one for war movies. I'm more of a romantic comedy girl but I love a good story, especially when it is based on an autobiography and I loved American Sniper. Truly compelling as it really is not a "war story" but a story about an amazing person and hero, Chris Kyle.

Just in time for Memorial Day, the DVD/Blu-Ray combo of AMERICAN SNIPER is coming out on May 19th. Warner Brothers is donating $1 per copy sold to the Wounded Warrior Project but has also asked bloggers like me to help give away copies of the film to Veterans (and non veterans).




First of all, if you are a veteran or would like to tell me about one that you think deserves a copy of this move, leave a comment below.

Second, if you are not a veteran, but still would like to win a copy, leave a comment below.

I'll have two random drawings and will send a copy out to the winner of each.

Please spread the word. Contest entry closes on May 18th at Midnight (EST). Sorry but I can only ship to US Addresses.