Never Too Much

There are a lot of messages that, women especially, subconsciously pick up from the world we live in. I don't think there is anyone person who told me these things, but the message I have received is you are too much. You're too smart (boys won't like that), you're too bossy, too weird, too bitchy, too fat, too animated, talk too loud, move too fast, talk too fast, take up too much space and shine too brightly. 

I am typically the person who jumps right in, who sees a problem and wants to solve it, who speaks up when others are silent. Yet, that getting things done attitude can sometimes come across as bossy or bitchy. So, slowly I grew quiet. I stopped stepping in and using my words. I would go to things and hang back. 

Last year I went to a couple of really awesome events at Chicago Ideas Week. We were in a group and tasked with using design thinking to create a prototype of an exhibit. And I hung back. I let other people step up and take the lead and honestly I felt like crap. I felt like I didn't have a voice and I wasn't a part of the process that was unfolding in front of me. 

I hold back in other ways too. I don't take credit or I minimize the hard work it took to do something. Or I make it seem like it was no big deal (when it kind of was). I've been dimming my light and for what purpose? 

Dimming my light doesn't mean that other people shine less. There is plenty of praise and accolades to go around. When leaders don't step up stuff doesn't get done. 

Tuesday night I went to one of my favorite events Idea Potluck at Mac & Cheese Productions. The format of the evening is 8 people talk for 6 minutes about anything they want. It's great fun and I always learn a little something new. Before the program started they mentioned one of the speakers was sick and they were looking for a volunteer to fill in. I sat in the dark with the rest of the audience and my first response was 'I want to to do it' and yet, I sat on my hands and waited for a few moments in case someone else volunteered. 

Thankfully no one else did and I gave a fun and engaging talk (no really I did!) and I loved doing it. I love speaking in public. I'm smart and witty and super passionate about some cool stuff and I love to share my knowledge with people. 

Except, for the space of a few breaths, even though I knew this was something I wanted to do, I didn't raise my hand because...why? I'm not sure if I can answer that. Was it because I had spoken at the event a few years ago and I wanted to give someone else a chance. Was it because I didn't want to draw attention to myself? Was it because I didn't want to shine too brightly?

Was it a bit daunting to come up with a six minute talk on the fly? Yes, but I'm so glad I did it. I also now know that I don't have to wait. If I want to speak, or be the leader and get things done, then I need to speak up. 

Speakers at Idea Potluck

Speakers at Idea Potluck

 

You are not too much. We need all of you with your voice, spirit and actions moving through the world like you own it. Have you found yourself hanging back? Then I suggest you step forward because amazing and magical things can happen. 

 

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Color vs Neutral

Image via Vogue Living

Image via Vogue Living

I love grey. I love neutral spaces. The room above makes my heart sing and it looks and feels inviting because of all of the layers of texture and natural materials. If you look at my Pinterest board you'll see that there are a ton of rooms in varying shades of gray. 

The rooms in my house are painted grey and yet... I keep leaning towards color. Nothing super bright but deep colors. 

Dark Grey counts as a color, right?! 

Image via Design Sponge

Image via Design Sponge

Or how about cream and grey. Mmmm. It's so soothing. 

And yet, then I see something like this room and I want to drench my home in color 

Image via Abigail Ahern

Image via Abigail Ahern

Or how about this deep green with a splash of hot pink and mustard (who knew hot pink could look so good!).

Image via design sponge

Image via design sponge

I'm not sure if I love this next room because of the mix of colors and old comfy furniture, or because it's a library and I really want a library! 

Image via Greyfield Inn

Image via Greyfield Inn

My home office was inspired by this photo. I love the dark grey and that copper pink. Plus since my office is a bit dark painting the grey 3/4's of the way up and the rest pink helped make the room not feel so dark. 

Image via Nordic Design

Image via Nordic Design

I still don't know which direction I'm going to go right now in the dining room. The grounding color is grey but I have a chair in teal, art with blues and greens and some chartreuse in the rug. I either strip out the colors and embrace the grey or go full tilt and let the color come to the foreground. I guess we'll see what happens! 

If you want to inject some color in your life then let me help. Playing with color is one of my favorite things to do! 

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Environmentally Friendly Cleaners

 

I often talk about the importance of sustainable and humane design and I thought it would be helpful to talk about small changes that can be made that can have an impact on you and your home's health. 

Let's talk about dirt shall we. I have always been scent sensitive and the smell of cleaning products is just horrendous. It also does not help that I have asthma and most cleaning products trigger my asthma. 

My first recommendation is to avoid commercial cleaners as much as possible. My grandmother sent me a newspaper clipping many years ago with a recipe for window cleaner. Fill up a spray bottle about 3/4 of the way with water (I reused a spray bottle that I had- just make sure you label it!), add 1/4 cup of vinegar and 3-5 drops of dish soap. I use this as a general purpose cleaner as well for the kitchen and bathroom. 

For counters, stove tops and sinks I use Bon Ami. It's been around for ever and has only five ingredients.

I do like the Method and Mrs. Myers cleaners. I found a great online shop called Grove Collaborative that has some of my favorite cleaners and other household goods. Full disclosure that is a referral link that will give me a credit when you sign up. I just love how easy it was to use their site and get my things delivered. 

Since I am scent sensitive I shy away from commercial candles and room sprays. Some of my favorite candles can be found at Alapash. I also love Tatine Candles.  I recently discovered a delicious spray made locally in Chicago called Element. I use it as a room spray but they also say you can use it as a body spray. 

Do you have any cleaners or homemade cleaner recipes you can recommend? 

P.S. That picture above is from a weekend I spent in Michigan and I feel like I am always wanting to catch that moment of peace while watching the sun set. Sigh. 

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Changes

The photo above is one of the inspiration pictures I've pinned to 'Kandy's Place'. Light bright, airy and filled with art and plants. 

Let's see where I started. Below is the picture of my living room when I first went to look at the apartment. None of the furniture is mine! I was drawn to the apartment because it had amazing light, good bones, a great layout and I liked that the bedroom was down in the basement. 

And moving in! I think I lived with the computer on the coffee table as a tv for awhile. I needed to find a tv stand. 

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Making progress. What amazes me about looking back at these photos is that the bones are there but it is missing heart and soul. 

It's amazing how much a difference curtains and art can make. 

Finally here is the room styled. It just feel so much more warm and inviting. Plants always add life to a room. 

You are probably wondering why I started this blog post with a picture of a dining room and then showed you the progression of my living room. Well, that is because this room is now the dining room. 

First I simply swapped the rooms. 

IMG_5185.JPG

Then I did a bit of Craigslist hunting and I found this awesome CB2 Table and vintage Bertoia chairs. The table I had was just a little too small. The artwork came down and most of it went to my bedroom. 

Then I hung wallpaper, which I 'll share in another post. 

Next I need to find and hang art. I'd like to get different chairs to replace the orange chairs. I love them, but there isn't as much orange in here as I initially envisioned and they stand out in not a good way. 

I'll keep you posted! 

If you are looking to move things around and change things up let me know

 

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How to be a good host

Image via Style Me Pretty

I talked a little bit last week about how to be a good guest and this week I'm turning the tables and talking about how to be a good host. 

I've written before about entertaining and I will admit that the one thing I have learned over the years that have made my events a success was to just chill out. If I'm hosting a dinner party I may cook dinner, but buy appetizers from Trader Joes. Sometimes I ask people to bring things so I don't have to cook. My goal is for people to feel like my house is their house. Here are a few things I do to make that possible. 

  • Don't worry if your house isn't perfect. I think people wait until their house is 'done' to invite people over but really as long as you have a couple of chairs (and I often rely on folding chairs I have tucked in a closet) and some alcohol people aren't going to care that your house isn't done. In fact they probably won't even notice. If your attitude is warm and welcoming then that is all that matters. 
  • Don't try to make it pinterest/instagram worthy. Sometimes I will buy some flowers from Trader Joes but most often I just scatter some tea candles, set the table and call it a day. If you are so stressed from making it look pretty then you kind of aren't fun to hang out with! 
  • Communicate. Let people know in advance if you are a shoes off home. I don't mind shoes, but I admit that if it is rainy or snowy out then you can bet I'll be asking people to take off their shoes. Give clear directions. Especially since I live in the city I let people know what public transportation is nearby and that street parking is available. I even let people know where to look for parking if there isn't something right in front of my house. If your neighborhood requires a parking pass then make sure you let people know they can get one from you. Make it clear how to reach you. Tell them exactly what is on your buzzer and give your phone number. 
  • Let people know what they can bring. In my how to be a good guest post I mention that you should bring something. It makes it so much easier when the host/ess says 'hey all I'll have food but please bring something to drink'. If you are hosting a formal event, then this would be a faux pas but if you are having a cocktail party, informal dinner or some people to hang out then let them know what they can bring. 
  • Make it easy for people to find the basics. I usually set up a drink zone in the kitchen. I'll have a pitcher of water with some glasses, wine glasses and a cork screw and if we are having cocktails an ice bucket and tumblers. 
  • I'm generally hosting people I know, but if you are having guests who may be strangers to each other try to introduce them with a tidbit of who they are and what they may have in common with another person so that can help start a conversation. 
  • Have fun. Once everyone has been fed I tend to turn off hostess mode. Drinks are readily available and by then most people's needs are pretty low key. 

Any other suggestions to make a party a success? 

 

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