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.

Who Inspires You? Share & Win $1,000 Each

***This post is sponsored by Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen.  All opinions are 100% mine.*** #inspiregoodness 

“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.”  –Dalai Lamaadoption

It’s easy to get caught up in the daily hustle and bustle and not necessarily recognize the goodness in our lives. While writing this post, I thought about how amazing it is that we ALL have the power to inspire goodness. So, why don’t we take this privilege to speak into people’s lives and inspire goodness. A smile, a kind word, a gentle touch… goodness is all about how we treat other people.

Let’s appreciate the fact that we have a heart, soul and mind and use it towards kindness, integrity, honesty, and generosity. All it takes is the right attitude.

Recently, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen reached out and asked if I was interested to be part of their #InspireGoodness campaign and share a story about the person who inspires me. I jumped right in, because we need to be reminded (daily) of how much goodness people have to offer. When you think about it, there’s goodness in every facet of our lives: it’s in our families, our jobs, our friendships and our hobbies. It’s even in the foods we eat!

Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen

Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen

cheddar's scratch kitchen

I find goodness and comfort in sharing a delicious meal with my children. On my daughter’s recent visit to Nashville, we stopped at Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen where we enjoyed yummy food, great company and lots of laughter. This was our first time at Cheddar’s, and we loved it.  Did you know Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen has been serving up scratch-made goodness since 1979?

cheddar's scratch kitchen

Aside from my children, who not only inspire me daily for their true dedication in everything they do, their generous hearts, their ability to reach out to people and really “see” them, as well as their love for family, friends, and pets –  my sister, Melanie, comes to my mind.

She has inspired me my entire life. Her gentle soul, her generosity and kindness have touched many lives.

Three years ago, in a orphanage in Nepal,  Melanie and her husband adopted a little girl they later named , Nina. After several miscarriages, failed IVF treatments and unsuccessful surrogates, the couple decided to adopt. After years of waiting and numerous trips to some of the poorest countries in the world, they had found Nina.


Nina is their light… their princess.  But they are also the only parents Nina has ever known. They are her world. Today, Nina is a happy, healthy girl who loves the color pink. Not only does Nina live in a beautiful home, travels all over the world, and has an abundance of cute clothes; for the first time in her life, she is experiencing stability, safety, and lots of love. #InspireGoodness

A few months after Nina was adopted, a powerful earthquake devastated Nepal. The orphanage Nina used to live in was severely damaged. I truly believe God sent my sister and her husband to “rescue” Nina before anything could harm her. Also, my sister and Nina both share the same birthday. They have so much fun celebrating together.

Although at times, life was hard on my sister, she never gave up. She never looked for the easy way out; she wanted it done the right way, no matter what. Nina has been blessed with a wonderful family, with parents who love her more than life itself.




Who inspires you? Share your story and win $1,000 each!

From now through August 20, 2017, you can help inspire goodness by joining the conversation. Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen is encouraging people to use the form on their site to share stories about someone they think inspires goodness – each website submission enters both the nominator and nominee for a chance to win $1,000!

 Here’s how it works:

  1. Nominate someone by telling a story about how they inspire goodness
  2. Continue spreading the goodness using #inspiregoodness, and sharing stories on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Is Buying “Refurbished” Working Out For You?


Last year, I was in the market for a camera. The one I had an eye on was the Nikon D3200 , but I couldn’t find a new one for less than $600, which was out of my price range. I did a ton of online research where I came across offers for secondhand cameras for around $400. Not a bad deal but I worried the camera would break within a couple of weeks, leaving me out of $400 and nothing to show for it.

I turned to Amazon and searched for a certified refurbished camera. I found the exact model I wanted for just $249. The camera was in like-new condition but with a much lower price.

What does “refurbished” mean?

Basically, it’s the same idea as buying a certified pre-owned car.  My Toyota Prius was just that when we bought it. With “refurbished” you get an item that’s been previously sold or used, then returned to the manufacturer for any number of reasons. Maybe it’s an iPhone about which a buyer had second thoughts and returned it to Apple. Or someone returned a product because the packaging was damaged, or because of minor blemishes that only affect the product’s looks.

In some cases, refurbished products have been returned because of malfunctions. When you buy a refurbished item, there’s no way of knowing what was wrong with when it was returned. It shouldn’t matter, though, since all problems with a returned item are fixed before resale. The companies can’t sell these goods as new anymore, so they re-test them at the factory to make sure they are in tip-top shape. The product is then repackaged “like new” and sold often at deeply discounted prices.

When buying refurbished products, it’s important to do some research – both on the product itself and on the seller. Here are things I look for and check whenever I buy a refurbished item:

  • Prices. Before I order a refurbished item, I check how much my savings will be.  If the difference between new and refurbished is only a few dollars, the refurbished item isn’t really a bargain.
  • Reviews. I read lots of reviews. I even watch YouTube reviews and tutorials on any particular item.
  • What’s Included. I always check the listing carefully to make sure the item comes with all the extras. For example, my camera came with a strap, battery, charger, and lens.
  • Warranty. Though most refurbished items come with a warranty, some are covered for only 30 to 90 days – and some don’t include warranty coverage unless you pay for it extra.

Also, when you see a great deal on a refurbished item, don’t wait too long. Products tend to run out of stock quickly, and once they restock, prices may go up.

Here are some of the items I’ve bought  refurbished and I still love.

Nikon D3200 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX NIKKOR Zoom Lens (Certified Refurbished)

Nikon camera: I bought it nearly one year ago on Amazon. Price: $249. The same certified refurbished camera now sells for $419. Very happy with the purchase. Great entry-level DSLR. Prior to this camera, I used my iPhone 4 to take all my blog pictures.


iPhone 5: I purchased the phone five months ago for $149.  (New iPhone 5 starts at $216). Works and looks like new. I’m sure by now the iPhone 5 is considered middle-aged, but it suits me just fine. I’m not someone who runs to the store the second a new iPhone gets released. I usually wait a few years.




Ninja blender: This blender was an awesome Christmas present my daughters surprised me with. ( New starts at $80). I use it daily. Best blender I’ve ever had. Farouk CHI Original Ionic Ceramic 1-inch Flat Iron (Refurbished)CHI original flat iron: I bought the CHI about four years ago on I paid around $50 , plus received 10% off for signing up for their news letter. (New CHI starts at $90). Best flat iron I’ve ever used.


These are just some of the more recent refurbished items I have purchased. I don’t recall ever having issues with refurbished products.

Have you ever bought refurbished products? If so, how is it working out for you? Share your experience!


**Post contains affiliate links.**