Category Archives: Tips & Reviews

Minimal Canvas, Photo & Art Arrangement

**I was provided a free canvas to facilitate this post. Opinions are 100% mine.**

I love clean, minimal spaces, but not completely bare walls. A simple, small wall gallery is  perfect for my home. It adds enough interest without feeling cluttered.

simple canvas wall gallery

small wall gallery

I went ahead and hung a mix of canvas, DIY art and photo frames. A home design “expert” will probably say that this is “the wrong way” to hang a wall gallery. Is there really a wrong way to display a wall gallery in ones own private home? I don’t think so. I could place art and photos on the ceiling if I wanted. My home is not an art gallery or museum  and I don’t wish to see a law about hanging art.

My goal is to display art and photos where they seem to fit best in the space.

canvas wall gallery

This canvas, for example, shows happy memories. It’s a selfie we took during our last Christmas in Chicago. Everything I love is in this photo. It puts  a smile on my face every single time.

When Canvas On The Cheap reached out and asked if I wanted to review their product I was really excited to get my first photo on canvas.  Anything on canvas always seemed expensive. So I was really surprised when I learned that Canvas On The Cheap products start as low as $7.75. It’s so easy to create your own canvas. Just upload an image and choose a size. That’s it. Mine is 16 x 20 and it only costs $17.60.

canvas wall gallery

The canvas was my large piece so I added three smaller frames. When my daughter Christy was in high school, she drew this. I love it. It’s a simple pencil sketch that makes me want to dig out my pencil case and draw.

simple canvas wall gallery

canvas wall gallery

The small framed art is from Goodwill and adds just the right amount of color. The beach photo (also from Goodwill) reminds me of all the times the kids and I visited the beach when we still lived in Los Angeles.

wall gallery

My small wall gallery is setting the mood, making a statement, and showing happy memories. Personal taste I suppose.

3 Years Later – DIY Hardwood Floor Refinish

Three years ago, I decided to refinish our hardwood floors. Myself. It was a ton of work but I don’t regret it one bit. You can read about it  in my original post.

Over the years, I’ve received many emails and comments asking me how the floors are holding up, whether I would do it again, if I’m happy with my decision to skip staining them etc.

So I decided to answer some of the most popular questions I get.

small entryway

How much did it cost to refinish the floors?

I refinished around 650 square feet of flooring. I spent less than $300. My biggest cost were the drum sander rental and sanding belts from Home Depot (around $130 total). That said, DIYing it saved me $2,000+.

Do you regret skipping the stain?

Not at all. Our house measures only 1,050 square feet. I wanted floors that bring light and openness to our small home, which these floors do. I also love our floor’s different color tones.

Hardwood Floor Refinish DIY

small entryway

Are you happy with the satin polyurethane finish? How are the floors holding up?

I love the satin finish because I don’t care much for super shiny floors. I wanted mine to look natural but still have protection. The satin finish gives the floor a sheen without the high gloss. Although I have kids and dogs, the floor barely has any scratches and they don’t bother me at all. The floors are 48 years old and have that lived-in look that I really love. Minor imperfections just add to the character of these floors.

Did you really do ALL the work yourself?

Yep. From beginning to end. As soon as my kids left for Florida, I dove right into the work. Moving all the furniture from the bedrooms into the garage and kitchen was the hardest part. I couldn’t have done it without  furniture sliders.  Would highly recommend them. Refinishing hardwood floors entails lost of dust, a sore back and bruised knees.

I want to do this. Do you have any tips?

The most important tip: Keep moving and go slow with the drum sander! Do a lot of research beforehand and don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t.

Hardwood Floor Refinish DIY

Would you do it again?

Absolutely! However, I would prefer refinishing the floors of a vacant house (no more pushing furniture). When you put so much physical work into your house, you can’t help but feel proud. You get very attached to it because you know how much sweat (and even blood) it took to make this house your home.

Why We Shouldn’t “Clear The Road” For Our Kids

kids graduation

It’s not easy to say this, but part of a parent’s job is to help our kids not need us.

This became very clear to me, last week, when my daughter Christy moved to New York City.  To many, the Big Apple is a scary, fast-pace place. Christy, however, thrives in this city. New York energizes her, she says.

At 21, Christy , a recent college graduate, was able to secure a much sought-after position in New York.  She found an apartment through Craigslist, rented a car, subleased her old apartment in Tennessee, paid her bills, packed up her stuff and drove 13 hours to her new home in Brooklyn. She figured out every single detail on her own. After all, she’s an adult, and that’s what adults do.

To say that I’m proud of her and her sister, is a huge understatement. Their focus, hard work, attitude and resilience, is what I admire most.

My children were never the children who got what they want, when they want it. Each success was earned with hard work and commitment. Their work ethic is everything. Their dedication, admirable. They stick to their goals and achieve their dreams.

Parents often try so hard to create magical memories for their children to keep them happy.  In the meantime, they remove obstacles and often fail to teach qualities like character, perseverance, patience, and determination. Basically, everything that they’ll need to be happy, successful adults.

As teens, my daughters had several friends who grew up in “a bubble”. Although we lived in an extremely safe neighborhood, their friends were afraid to walk down their own street without a parent. Moms supervised their homework assignments all the way through senior year. Every teacher-student disagreement was settled by a parent. Needless to say, those kids were a hot mess in college.

I don’t believe in over-parenting. Growing up, my mom fed and clothed us and occasionally asked if we had done our homework. We knew our “job” was to work hard and do well in school. At the tender age of 12, I found a job washing dishes at a restaurant.  By 14, I was a cashier at a big box store where I remained until I graduated high school. After high school, I moved from a small town in Germany to NYC to work as an Au Pair. I was able to stand on my own two feet. This was before cell phones and internet.

I look around and wonder what happened to independent young people? These days, parents still hover as their children attend college. Here’s what I see;  a bunch of  academically overqualified teens who are under-equipped to deal with the day-to-day issues of life. Many are afraid of their own shadow.

kids graduation

Some college kids don’t even pick their own classes. Their parents do it.  It’s real and I’ve seen it. The University of Utah has built a “cry closet” for students who feel overwhelmed with finals.

Isn’t college supposed to be a place to prepare students for adulthood? Sure, even adults get overwhelmed sometimes. We cry. But we do not expect places to be built for us so we can have a public breakdown. Furthermore, employers don’t offer “cry closets”. You deal with “stuff” or you get fired. This will really give you something to cry about.

Parents of college students need to step back and let the young adults handle their own college experience. While parents might think they are acting in their kids’ best interests, they are, in fact, denying them the opportunity to look after themselves.

Let your kids deal with the broken heater in their dorm. Have them pay rent and balance their check books. Encourage them to get a job. And please, let them pick their own classes.

Pushing yourself to overcome challenge is a source of pride for most people. This is not about being perfect. When my kids achieve a goal, I congratulate them. When they fail I give them encouragement on what they did well and let them know that I believe in them. I also encourage them to try harder.

In my opinion, allowing your kids to deal with “life” is true love and true love thinks beyond instant gratification and short-lived happiness. True love values character and commitment over quick fixes.

Studies have found that when parents take over their children’s lives, the children feel more self-conscious and worried. To those kids the world must seem like a very scary place.

graduation

The truth is your kids are longing to live so let them. If you micromanage your kids they will try  to prove to you they can do it “their way”. If your teenager feels you cannot handle the truth about their life, they will hide it from you. My kids are not afraid to tell me when they mess up. They know I believe in them and I know they will try harder next time.

Trust me, you will be a lot more influential in your teen’s decision making if you cultivate an open relationship.

When we “clear the road” for our children, we make their life too easy.  We don’t allow them to build necessary life skills they’ll so desperately need to handle the “real world”.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share them in the comment section below.