Monday, August 31, 2009

Bathroom with a (Re)purpose

Using items in unexpected ways can create a fun, fresh home decor. Here are some ideas for easy updates for your bathroom using items that are likely in your cupboards or closets.

Use the sugar bowl and creamer from gramma's antique silver tea service to hold Q'tips and cotton balls. It instantly dresses up the room.

Anyone can hang towels on a towel rack. Try rolling up spare towels to store in a basket. Or use a vintage ladder to hang the towels.

Stack extra rolls of toilet paper in a glass cylinder-shaped vase, old basket or apple crate.

Repurpose a blanket, quilt or sheet as a sink skirt like the one above. Here are the instructions.

Check your own closets and think out of the box for new, interesting ways to use things that are just taking up space. A quick tweak here or there can make a room feel fresh and updated.

Please share the results!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

How to Throw a Naked Lady Party

If you're like me, you have a little pile of perfectly good items that are too nice to donate but not big enough for a yard sale. Here's a great solution...

Last week I wrote a post about Downsizing Your Wardrobe. Scott Cargle left a comment that "My gf Susan and all her friends regularly throw Naked Lady Parties to swap clothing." So I checked it out and it's a great idea!

A Naked Lady Party is a girls' night out clothing swap that let's you come home with fun new items and cleaned out closets. I like it!

This is how it works:

Naked Lady Party-Ground Rules

1. Keep your invites down to ten or less. Any more and it gets crazy.

2. Choose a space with lots of room to move around as well as a private area for changing clothes. Mirrors help too.

3. Be supportive of everyone. Pay lots of special attention to creating a non-competitive environment. Compliment each other and refrain from negative comments.

4. Swapping clothes makes a girl hungry and thirsty. Champagne & cupcakes, lemonade & veggies, martinis & bruschetta...all help quench desires.

5. Bring an abundant mindset. This is a fun event, not a competition for who gets the most loot. Don't get bitchy if someone else wants the same item as you. Give it up; there's plenty to go around.

Once you've got the basics...

Step One: Sort
Dump everyone's clothing in the middle of a large room. Then sort all the clothing into categories: pants, dresses, shirts, outerwear, sweaters, shoes, and miscellaneous (games, toys, hats, purses).

Step Two: Auction
After you sort everything, have one of the ladies 'auction' off each item, holding it up for everyone to see, describing the size, fabric, brand, and other redeeming qualities. For instance: "This lovely 1960s Housewife MUMU is acid orange and red, a size 8, polyester and cotton, and it's made by Hawaiian Island."

Then each member of the party raises her hand to make a “bid” (which of course is not a cash bid, but a show of interest).

If there is more than one taker, you go into selection mode. Each girl who wants the item tries it on for the group — and after thoughtful comments had been made, if two or more still want the item, a vote is held. The bidders close their eyes and the team votes on which lady should get it show of hands.

Step Three: Trading
Once everyone acquires their loot, allow some time for additional trading or swapping to occur. It's important for everyone to have the opportunity to rethink their goods. If you like the tangerine head scarf that I got, you could offer me the 1970s fake Gucci bag for it. Or maybe you decided that you really don't need those purple satin pants, after all, but a hair crimper would be quite beneficial.

Step Four: Thrift it!
Inevitably, you will have leftovers from your party, i.e., the Clue board game with missing pieces or the dirty shirt in size extra large with a plumbing logo on it that no one wanted. These items should be bagged and sent over to the local thrift store. If you are throwing the party, you should ask one of the participants to take responsibility for doing this.

That's it! Four steps to your own fabulous NLP!

For more info, click here.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weekend Warrior Decorating Ideas

Just because you're downsizing doesn't mean you can't have style. Au contraire, mon ami! has some budget friendly decorating tips...many identical to my Top Ten Feng Shui Tips by Elizabeth Chamberlain video (#1 feng shui video on youtube for the last two years!).

According to Oprah...


To make your home feel more open and inviting, clear out all the extra furniture and household items—clutter is claustrophobic! (Can I hear an 'Amen'!)


Displaying family photos helps make a house feel more like a home.


Take care of small repairs as they come up, instead of waiting until there's a long list of things to fix.


All it takes to give an outdated bathroom a quick facelift is a fresh coat of paint and new hardware. (Use No-VOC paints!)


It's time to set your living room furniture free and move it away from the walls!


Add value to your home by updating old or unappealing features with high-quality, inexpensive materials.


White walls are cold and uninviting, and the starkness can sometimes make every crack and imperfection in the walls stand out.


Unless you can professionally steam clean your carpeting to remove stains, it's best to replace it. Luckily, carpet is an easy and budget-friendly fix.


Fresh flowers can go a long way in adding ambiance to your home, and you don't have to break the bank to get them.


Some simple changes can take an outdated kitchen from ho-hum to wow with a coat of paint and new hardware.

To see the entire post, go to this link...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Find Your Power Position

This video from my webseries shows how to find your Power Position, an essential step in Feng Shui. Here are the main points...

In the bedroom, the Power Position refers to the placement of the bed. You spend approximately 1/3 of your life in bed so it's position is really important! It's where you rest, recharge your personal batteries and share intimate moments. What more important place to create a sense of being in control rather than being vulnerable? The Power Position gives you that sense of control.

When you are in the Power Position, you have the largest view of the room, without being in direct line of the door.

Place the head of your bed on the a solid wall area so that you are fully supported (as opposed to your having your back against a window).

If your bedroom leaves you no options for moving furniture, arrange a mirror so that you can lie in bed and see anyone coming through the door.

Even if you live alone, this is important. It's energy, baby! You want to capture good, healthy energy to carry you through your day. The Power Position is a vital component.

For more Feng Shui tips, visit my website There's oodles of info there!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Evernote: The Super Human Maker

True confessions. Even though I'm a feng shui consultant who preaches clutter-free living, I struggle with stacks of stuff, piles of notes and containers of, yes, clutter. My brain just overflows with ideas and I don't want to forget any of them, so I write notes, clip photos and create files. But it can easily get out of control. Sound familiar?

Evernote to the rescue! What's Evernote? They call it an external brain and that's pretty much right on. It's a application for your computer and phone that let's you save all of the information in your life and organize it so that finding it later is a breeze.

Wanna save just one paragraph from a webpage? Check. Wanna summon up the tasty wine from last month's visit to your fave restaurant? Got it. Wanna remember where you parked your car in the airport lot? Done and done.

If you're downsizing your office, you can save tons of space by uploading items into Evernote and recycling the hardcopy files.

For planning a trip, organizing a wedding or writing a blog, Evernote is super handy. Check it out...and soon you will be an awesomeness machine like the gal in their video!

And it's FREE!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Special Deals from Mozza Pizzeria

Don't you just love finding special restaurants deals? I do.

A favorite place of mine here in LA, Mozza Pizzeria, jumped on the downsizing bandwagon. If you're willing to go a little before or after the rush, these are bangin' deals. Here's the scoop...

$19 for one antipasto & one pizza

Every Monday - Friday - 2pm - 5pm

$30 for one antipasto, one pizza, one dessert & a glass of Bastianich wine

Every Monday – Wednesday - 9:30 pm - midnight

Mozza Pizzeria is not just an ordinary pizza's the brainchild of Nancy Silverton, Joseph Bastianich and Mario Batali (yeah, that Mario Batali). The food is deelish, but it's also a really great atmosphere.

As I've said before, the experience of dining out and sharing meals is so important and Mozza Pizzeria definitely offers that. So being able to enjoy it in a way that's easy on the budget is pure joy!

I'll let their site tell you more...

Pizzeria Mozza is a bustling, urban, burst of flavor and color. Open noon to midnight, seven days a week, Pizzeria Mozza is a perfect atmosphere - whether it be a business lunch or late night snack.

The wine bar provides a vibrant venue for sampling from a selection of 50 Italian wines at $50 and under, but don't forget about the ample offerings of salumi and pizza.

Pizzeria Mozza
641 N. Highland Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90036

What are the great deals in your area? If you're on Facebook, check to see if your favorite local spots have a fan page. It's a great way to know when special deals are offered.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Downsizing Your Wardrobe

Thanks to fast fashion, the average American now discards 68 pounds of clothing a year, wasting energy, water and landfill space. Find out the best ways to dispose of your old clothes without resorting to the trash.

First, there was fast food. Then came fast fashion—clothes so cheap and appealing, they make our wardrobes obese.

With fast fashion, the latest styles are always available because the manufacturing process is so, well, fast. From the time a new look appears on a celeb to the time an affordable version appears at the mall is hardly the blink of an eye.

Keeping up demands that we shop more than ever, leading to seriously overstuffed wardrobes. We can't accommodate the excess so we throw it away—an average of 68 pounds' worth per person annually.

Let's put aside the question of how not to buy so much in the first place and address the predicament we're already in: 68 pounds to discard this year.

Forget the garbage. Textiles already comprise four percent of the nation's solid waste stream, and the absolute amount is growing. Landfill space is expensive and hard to find.

Besides, the clothing can be used again in one form or another. Discarding would be a waste, not just of the material itself, but of the water and energy that went into the manufacturing. No minor thing, that. Fresh water is a dwindling resource and energy use contributes to global warming, the biggest environmental problem of our times.

Instead, let's get the full benefit of these resources by using the fabrics to death. Here's how to play your part:

Resell. If your old clothes are stylish and in top condition, sell them at your neighborhood vintage shop or Buffalo Exchange, a national used clothing chain in more than 10 states. Find out what experiences others have had with different shops on Yelp. You can also resell on eBay.

Swap. Bring your duds to a public "clothes swap" and pick up good stuff from someone else. Most swaps are free or charge just a nominal fee. Find a swap in your area or organize one of your own just for friends.

Donate. Give your cast-offs to a good cause. Some organizations make it exceptionally easy. For instance, the Vietnam Veterans of America does pick-ups in 30 states. Visit the organization's website to look up the phone number (different for each location) or schedule a pick-up online.

The Salvation Army also has a pick-up service, though asks that you consider drop-off to one of its more than 2,300 centers if possible. Call 1-800-SA-TRUCK to schedule the pick-up or find the nearest drop-off location on the group's website.

Coincidentally, Goodwill also has some 2,300 drop-off locations.

Soles4Souls accepts shoes by mail and at drop-off centers around the country.

Dress for Success accepts women's professional attire at affiliate locations around the country and world. To make a donation, find your local affiliate on the Dress for Success website.

When you donate, be sure to find out first what condition the clothing must be in. Assume at a minimum it should be clean.

By the way, you can take a tax deduction for the donation. Generally, you assess the value yourself and the organization provides a receipt confirming that the contribution was made. For guidance on how much donations of clothing and accessories are worth, see the Salvation Army or Goodwill valuation guide.

Hand down. Use the tried-and-true method for getting rid of outgrown children's clothing: hand it down to younger kids.

Make freely available. Sign up with freecycle (for free of course) and list the clothes you're interested in unloading. If someone wants them, they'll let you know.

Recycle. If your clothes are really past their prime, see if there's a textile recycler in your area who will take them. In New York City, where textiles make up nearly six percent of the waste stream, there is a terrific company called Wearable Collections that collects clothing in bins it puts in your apartment building and drop-off booths at many of the city's greenmarkets. Stains are ok, but clothes need to be clean. Once collected, the garments are sorted and those with a second life in them are sent to secondhand markets in Latin America and Eastern Europe. Others are sent to facilities where they become polishing cloths and rags. Clothes that can't even make it as rags go to facilities that turn them into fibers for other products.

Take your pick, but one way or the other, try to keep your old clothes in circulation.


Monday, August 24, 2009

The 7 Sins of Greenwashing

Greenwashing is a term used to describe the unethical practice of companies disingenuously spinning their product or service to make consumers think they are green or greener than they really are.

Sin of the Hidden Trade-off

A claim suggesting that a product is ‘green’ based on a narrow set of attributes without attention to other important environmental issues. Paper, for example, is not necessarily environmentally-preferable just because it comes from a sustainably-harvested forest. Other important environmental issues in the paper-making process, such as greenhouse gas emissions, or chlorine use in bleaching may be equally important.

Sin of No Proof

An environmental claim that cannot be substantiated by easily accessible supporting information or by a reliable third-party certification. Common examples are facial tissues or toilet tissue products that claim various percentages of post-consumer recycled content without providing evidence.

Sin of Vagueness

A claim that is so poorly defined or broad that its real meaning is likely to be misunderstood by the consumer. ‘All-natural’ is an example. Arsenic, uranium, mercury, and formaldehyde are all naturally occurring, and poisonous. ‘All natural’ isn’t necessarily ‘green’.

Sin of Worshiping False Labels

A product that, through either words or images, gives the impression of third-party endorsement where no such endorsement exists; fake labels, in other words.

Sin of Irrelevance

An environmental claim that may be truthful but is unimportant or unhelpful for consumers seeking environmentally preferable products. ‘CFC-free’ is a common example, since it is a frequent claim despite the fact that CFCs are banned by law.

Sin of Lesser of Two Evils

A claim that may be true within the product category, but that risks distracting the consumer from the greater environmental impacts of the category as a whole. Organic cigarettes could be an example of this Sin, as might the fuel-efficient sport-utility vehicle.

Sin of Fibbing

Environmental claims that are simply false. The most common examples were products falsely claiming to be Energy Star certified or registered.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inspire Me, Barbara Barry

You had me at, "hello."

My favorite designer is Barbara Barry. I know I'm not alone...her signature lines for companies like Baker Furniture and McGuire are their most popular.

There's something about her designs that just sings to me. She has a wonderful way of mixing traditional and contemporary, simple and sophisticated.

And she decorated my favorite restaurant here in Los Angeles, A.O.C.

Traditional Home magazine has a great article about her. Check out her home and office. Bliss.

Maybe this is why I like her so much...

20 Ways Barbara Barry Nurtures Her Spirit

Light It is everything! It illuminates a space and lifts my spirit.

Color I love subtle shades of colors because they are soft on the eye and soul.

Form I thrill to the shape of things…from an egg to a spoon to a teacup.

My garden Nature is my biggest inspiration—mesmerizing and elegant. My garden is where I begin each day.

The Beverly Hills Farmers’ Market I live for each Sunday when I jump out of bed and head to the bounty that is unique to California—strawberries, avocados, ginger, flowers galore. It is endless!

Walking I do my best thinking on my walks and always come back inspired.

Yoga and Breathing I start and end my day with a series of simple poses and breath work. It connects me back to my body and makes me feel alive.

Great Sheets It is the most restorative thing to climb into a bed of crisply ironed sheets. I feel like a princess, and I’m grateful for all that I have.

Tea I love tea. The art of preparing it, the beautiful ways to serve it, the healthful benefit of it, and the ritual of stopping to enjoy it.

Solitude It’s probably the most vital thing that restores my spirit. I don’t watch television or listen to much music. I like silence…in fact, I require it.

Drawing A blank piece of paper and a sharpened pencil, and I am a happy girl.

Girlfriends From my sisters to my BFFs . . . listening and sharing heals all.

Blank Slate I love the blank canvas. Whether it is the dining table ready to be set, the dinner to be cooked, or the design ready to be sketched. That feeling of starting is so inspiring!

Space A clean desk and an empty room—pure potential.

My Bulletin Boards I love to put up whatever inspires me on a bulletin board. I see a connectedness in the way all beautiful things seem to relate.

Watercolors I take watercolors with me everywhere I go. It’s my way of capturing the inspired moment.

New Beginnings The minute I get a new project I feel that sense of excitement and play. It’s my favorite moment in a project because it is filled with potential.

Family I was raised by an artist mother. It was/is everything to me—from seeing her exclaim with passion over color and ideas to building a belief in myself that I could do the same.

Home My home is my haven, and it is a testament to my work—fresh and clean and calm.

Beautiful Process, Beautiful Product I believe food cooked with love tastes better, and design made with care and good energy is evident.

Traditional Home Magazine

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Flow of Well-Being

Go with the flow

Being a glass-half-full kind of gal, I sometime have people tell me that I'm too positive. You know, those naysayers that say you have to 'get real' when they really mean that you have to just agree with them? Well, this piece below can help with those types of people.

We're asking you to trust in the Well-being.

In optimism there is magic. In pessimism there is nothing.

In positive expectation there is thrill and success. In pessimism or awareness of what is not wanted, there is nothing.

What you're wanting to do is redefine your relationship with the Stream.

We do not ask you to look at something that is black and call it white.

We do not ask you to see something that is not as you want it to be and pretend that it is.

What we ask you to do is practice moving your gaze. Practice changing your perspective. Practice talking to different people. Practice going to new places. Practice sifting through the data for the things that feel like you want to feel and using those things to cause you to feel a familiar place.

In other words, we want you to feel familiar in your joy. Familiar in your positive expectation, familiar in your knowing that all is well, because this Universe will knock itself out giving you evidence of that Well-being once you find that place.

There is great love here for you.

--- Abraham

I say, Head's much easier and a lot more fun!

When times are tough, you can find great comfort (as well as answers to "Why me?") from the teachings of Abraham-Hick.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Smells like free paint

I'm reposting this information for two reasons...
1). I've just used Refresh paint on a major redesign project I'm doing for a restaurant here in LA. And the paint really works! The men's room was PeeEeww, but now the offensive odor is gone due to the Arm & Hammer baking soda in the paint. Big thumbs up!!! Trust me, if Refresh can handle that men's room, your home is gonna smell fresh-like-a-daisy after you use it.

2). Also wanted to remind you to enter the contest! After all, who doesn't want free paint?! Find the details below.

If you've ever cried out, "This house stinks!' then this one's for you...

Dutch Boy Paint is searching for the ugliest, stinkiest room in America. Maybe it's not in your house, but someone you know & love.

This is cool. They're having a contest to win a Refresh Paint Makeover with lots of prizes. It's called the My House Stinks Contest.

Here's why I like Dutch Boy Paint...
  • It's Green Guard Certified
  • It has the best container in the industry (easy-pour handle/recyclable).
  • It's cost effective.
  • And now it's not just odor-free but odor-eliminating!
  • Oh, and my grandfather was Dutch.

All great reasons to use this paint! Maybe not the last one.

You can win...
Grand Prize 50 gallons of Refresh paint & $5000
2nd Prize 25 gallons of Refresh paint & $2500
3rd Prize 10 gallons of Refresh paint & $1000

Do you have a beautiful, aromatic home, but feel a little snarky? Be one of the 24 people to win 4 gallons each just for rating the ugly, stinky rooms!

Enter to win at the link below.

How did I hear about this contest? Dutch Boy found me on Twitter! How cool is that? Are you on Twitter? Tweet me at upsidegirl88

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Toss the Teflon

Every summer I have the same conversation when visiting loved ones. I won't name name's, but her initials are M.O.M. Here's the conversation:

Me: I'm gonna make breakfast. Do you want eggs?

M.O.M.: Sounds great!

Cupboards, drawers and fridge open and close as I pull out the accouterments.

Me: Oh, my Gawd! You still have this? I thought you threw it away last summer!

M.O.M.: What are you talking about?

Me: The scratched-up Teflon frying pan.

M.O.M.: But it's so easy to use and cleans up fast. I like it.

Me: But it gives you and dad Alzheimer's, one omelet at a time!

M.O.M.: Just put it back and use another one. I'll throw it out later.

Sometimes she tosses in "Oh, phooey."

Hopefully after she reads this article from called "What Teflon is and why you should avoid it," she will finally get into that kitchen and throw out the Teflon pans!

Because 'later' is now. Or is it, now is 'later'. Either way, I love you, M.O.M. xoxo

You know you used it growing up even though your mom’s pans were all beat up and flaking. [Yes!] You know you have used it around your own house, and you know that restaurants use it to cook your food with. You may have even heard it was bad for you. But do you know why and just how bad?

Teflon is the trademarked name for Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). This chemical, which makes things “non-stick” in its use here, should be classified as a “likely carcinogen” (cancer-causing substance) according to some advisers to the EPA.

You would think that that should be enough to get the EPA to ban its use in tons of products, but alas no…they have just decided that the companies using Teflon should make it less likely to break down.

Huh? Yep, in effect, everybody can keep using Teflon as long as they figure out a way to keep it from leeching into everything that it is used in…cookware, clothes, pizza boxes, microwave popcorn bags, etc. And companies have until 2015 to do so. I can’t wait to see what type of chemical they come up with to make it “safer” and what that new chemical will do to us.

See, within two to five minutes on a stove, cookware coated with Teflon can exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases linked to thousands of pet bird deaths and an unknown number of human illnesses each year. Sounds safe, right? From the Environmental Working Group:

“In new tests conducted by a university food safety professor, a generic non-stick frying pan preheated on a conventional, electric stovetop burner reached 736°F in three minutes and 20 seconds, with temperatures still rising when the tests were terminated. A Teflon pan reached 721°F in just five minutes under the same test conditions (See Figure 1), as measured by a commercially available infrared thermometer. DuPont studies show that the Teflon offgases toxic particulates at 446°F.

At 680°F Teflon pans release at least six toxic gases, including two carcinogens, two global pollutants, and MFA, a chemical lethal to humans at low doses. At temperatures that DuPont scientists claim are reached on stovetop drip pans (1000°F), non-stick coatings break down to a chemical warfare agent known as PFIB, and a chemical analog of the WWII nerve gas phosgene.

Well that certainly sounds safe, no? A few years back we switched to stainless steel pots and pans and have not looked back. They might take a little bit longer to clean up, but it is worth it knowing I am not cooking any additional chemicals into my food, never mind releasing more dangerous gases into the air.

If you have pans coated with Teflon, I would really advise you to get rid of them and buy stainless steel or cast iron ones; even the cheap ones from Target or somewhere like that are better than using the ones coated with Teflon.

Multiple studies have shown how toxic this stuff is…would you like a side of polytetrafluoroethylene or perfluorooctanoic acid with your eggs? Did not think so.

A huge problem is recycling the pans...because they're so toxic! Most sites recommend giving them to shelters. I say, "Haven't the folks in the shelter had it hard enough already!"

Seems the only place with a good Teflon recycling program is in Ann Arbor, Michigan. So the next time the Spartans play the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, M.O.M. can bring the pan.

Here's Teflon recycling info from Planet Green.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Four R's-Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Respond

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle...Respond

Some of us need to be reminded from time to time to be green...and some of us are ready to kick it up a notch.

I know we've all heard these eco-lifestyle steps before...but still only 5.6% of plastic bags are recycled. Only 5.6%!!!

So here are some good reminders from

Buy and use only what you need.
Purchase products that use the least amount of unnecessary packaging.

Adopt practices that reduce waste toxicity.

Consider reusable products.

Maintain and repair durable products.
Reuse bags, containers, and other appropriate items.
Borrow, rent, or share items used infrequently.
Sell or donate goods using services such as Freecycle instead of simply throwing them out.

Purchase recyclable products and containers and recycle them.
Select products made from recycled materials.
Practice composting in your household.

Educate others on the "Three R's."
Make your preferences known to merchants, manufacturers, and community leaders.
Create your own new ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

E.P.A.'s Tips on Incorporating the "Three R's" into Your Life:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Shop Til You Drop 2.0

I shop out of necessity, not sport. If I need an outfit for a special occasion and I can't find it in my closet, I'll go shopping. If I'm bored, want to bond with a friend or just plain feel sorry for myself, shopping doesn't even occur to me.

For compulsive shoppers, boredom, bonding and pity parties are just a few of the excuses for hitting the mall.

Perhaps my aversion to 'shopping therapy' stems from witnessing the damage it can do. When you have loved ones who don't have health insurance, but they do have closets bursting with 'amazing deals' that still have tags, shopping for sport becomes a major turn off.

I found a couple of articles on the subject of compulsive shopping that I feel are important reads.

Did you know that one in twenty adults are compulsive shoppers? You'd think that the trend would end with the economic pinch. But no. Here's what the article from CNN says...

Ironically, "when people feel economically insecure, they tend to reassure themselves by shopping," says George Loewenstein, Ph.D., professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. The thinking is: "If I were economically secure, I would go shopping, so if I'm shopping, I must be economically secure."

I know people who are cleared out in this economy, not from Bernie Madoff, but from a compulsive shopping spouse.

One friend was all set to retire at age 65...until he found out his wife had shopped their savings all away while carefully hiding the booty. He now doesn't know when he'll retire. The good news is, she's working full time to pay it back.

Brings a new meaning to "shop til you drop," doesn't it?

One bit of helpful advice from the articles is to always pay with cash:

If paying for goods causes pain in the brain, credit cards are aspirin. Unfortunately, cards also create bigger headaches later on.

"When you pay in cash, you see your wallet getting thinner," says Dan Ariely, Ph.D., professor of behavioral economics at Duke University. But when you use a credit card, the spending is abstract, "and that makes you trigger-happy."

For years, the idea of compulsive shopping has been a punch line, but it's not so funny when you lose your home, your retirement and your relationships because of it.

I wouldn't be surprised if this economy brings a crop of compulsive shopper rehab facilities. Perhaps Carrie Bradshaw can do for shopping abuse what Betty Ford did for substance abuse.

Check out these articles on the subject. Forward this to friends and loved ones.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake

It's amazing what we can come up with when our backs are up against the wall.

Check out the video above to see what Angela Logan did when she was faced with foreclosure after work as an actress became scarce, her agency closed and a contractor took her money without finishing work on her house.

A brainstorming session with a financial counselor helped her realize that the best thing she had going was her apple cake recipe. So bake away she did!

Maybe her story will inspire you to discover your hidden talents.

Sometimes we overlook the best solutions because they seem too easy, simple and obvious.

And sometimes they turn out to be a piece of cake.

Click the link to read an article about Angela on

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Spending on Experiences Rather Than Things

One of the biggest upsides of downsizing is the realization that our most valuable assets are not found on a balance sheet. Relationships with loved ones, maintaining good health, the luxury of time, and memorable experiences are far more valuable than anything parked in our driveways or stuffed in our closets.

I've had a few conversations lately about the hot topic of spending money on experiences rather than things. Studies show that true happiness is found when money is spent on experiential rather than material purchases. Why?

Experiences are relived again and again, taking on symbolic meaning, whereas things are just things. The weekend in San Francisco three summers ago to see The Dave Matthews Band with eleven other friends was amazing and a real bonding experience. Last year's "must have" boots are still just boots. Only now they're last year's.

Experiences increase in value over time, while most things decrease. Our recollections of the experiences improve with time since we forget the boring bits and remember the highlights. Things, not so much. Especially when parts break, the warrantee expires or the newer, shinier things come along.

Spending on experiences usually involves social interaction, which is proven to bring happiness. A thousand dollars spent on a weekend get-away will involve social interaction. A thousand dollars spent on the latest designer handbag won't.

This topic got me thinking about restaurants.

Now, many budget-conscious folks feel that eating at home and taking a sack lunch to work is a no-brainer for cutting expenses. After all, as they say, it's just food! Why spend more if you don't have to?

I beg to differ.

I enjoy dining out. The pleasure it brings me lasts long after the meal ends. Nay, it starts well before the meal during the anticipation stage. From excitement of soaking in the ambiance, to the heady flavors of food, to the special feeling of being well cared-for with fine hospitality, it's all a wonderful experience.

See, I'm not there just for the sustenance. If that's all I wanted, I would stay home and make a sandwich. I'm there for the experience.

Because I have many like-minded friends, we dish about the dishes at our favorite foodie spots for hours on end. Even if a meal out isn't what we hoped for, it still is a good experience to be able to share cautionary tales with friends. The anecdotes allow for a social exchange, whether it's a good meal or not. Why? Because there is nothing worse for a foodie than to listen to people swooning about restaurants and meals they've missed out on. We want to be in the mix, discussing nuances. It brings us great happiness.

So when someone says, "It's just food." I say, "If you can't relax and enjoy the experience, then hit the drive-thru, Amigo."

All this being said, I don't dine out as much as I used to, or certainly as much as I'd like to, but when I do, I enjoy the BehJeezuz out of it!