May 9th, 2013
Growing up, gifts were purchased, and came with pretty paper and bows. No one ever thinks of, or saw what their parents do as a gift. It’s time and life that adds perspective and poignancy.
Even though I lost my mother at a young age, I see it every day, when I look at her wedding ring, on my left hand. No matter what my parents’ own personal problems were, they raised three children who somehow each knew to pick exactly the right mate, and go on to have loving relationships, and productive lives.
What My Mother Gave Me: Thirty-One Women on the Gifts That Mattered Most is a collection of personal essays, reflecting on the gifts of wisdom, courage and strength they received from their mothers. I am 1/31st into it, had to stop and write this: Buy This Book
“How They Do it in France” by Elissa Schappell is a funny and warm portrait of her mother whose choice of substance over style she saw manifest itself in baked goods. Other titles include The Plant Whisperer, The Gift Twice Given, The Unicorn Princess, and Never Too Late.
If you’re looking for a special way to thank mom, or the mom-like people in your life, buy her this book. If you’re looking for a really special way to thank her, buy this book, read a chapter or two for inspiration, then write your own story.
May 5th, 2013
Words matter, and the right one is priceless. Have written about ’Staging’ (vs ‘preparing’- several times, in fact), but today let’s re-think ‘de-personalize’.
‘What do you know about Home Staging?’ is how I start out my Home Staging classes.
‘De-personalize’ usually come up right away. Asking what that means, the answers come less quickly, are usually self-deprecating (‘No one else will appreciate my fine taste in ___’) or quietly sad (‘No one cares about, or wants to see my family’).
There is nothing constructive or positive about it. It’s sweeping and un-specific, finding fault without offering a solution, and sounds judgemental and arbitrary to the homeowner. YET I know removing personalization is a truth to getting a house noticed and sold. Well, at least a partial truth.
Very personal personalization in a property for sale is never a good idea-it distracts buyers, and can provide buyers with way TMI regarding the sellers and their circumstances, information that could be used against them. BUT-less really is less, and a flat, pale space void of warmth or character isn’t received well, either.
People sell for all sorts of reasons, but in buying-and yes, even in downsizing-there is always the desire for a better place, and hope for happiness. The secret to successful Staging in Westchester County is to attract, touch, and engage buyers in very real ways, in ways they do not expect. The Refreshed Home champions RE-PERSONALIZING a space, here are some ways how:
Clever looks for and demonstrates value:
- Has the patio/deck looking good now, and keeps it in shape til the first snow: Patio furniture scrubbed and out, grill ready to go, even buying a fire pit to extend living space.
- A desk in the corner of the family room-away from the TV< but near so a parent can multi-task.
- Dresses up the garage or basement by cleaning and painting the cement floor
Aspirational points to all the things that could be, in this new house:
- Kitchen accouterments that support visions of cooking adventures and healthy eating: specialty/vintage cookbooks, herb plants, colorful legumes in glass canisters
- Good books add soul and character; who doesn’t want to be smarter, or yearn for more time to read?
- Color-ordered closets with matching hangers: almost magical, a sophisticated, unexpected luxury
Whimsical adds delight. It makes people pause, smile, and feel good.
- A live goldfish
- A puzzle, or poker game in progress
- Really cool-colorful, sexy or fun- toss pillows
Knowing who the buyer will be is the Realtor’s job; knowing how to attract buyers (and other agents!) is mine. Some sellers have a pool of suitable items, but many don’t; accessory shopping, and accessory rental have consistently been the fastest-growing segments of The Refreshed Home’s business. NEXT: Accessories and Home Staging: Creative is the New Sizzle
February 24th, 2013
Inspired by AR pal Roger Mucci’s Oscar-themed contest, I am on a roll, melding what I do, the various Spring Markets, and Oscar Fever via some famous quotes.
‘What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate’ does not have such a great context in the movie, but by itself can be a helpful and important observation in business.
Potential clients are often surprised to hear me sayI am in the problem-solving business. OK< sure, I work with a lot of pretty things, but pretty only goes so far. Understanding what is on someone elses’ mind goes a lot farther.
Channeling Steve Jobs, ‘good design is not about how something looks, it’s how it works’. TRH believes a good look endures when it’s solidly rooted in diagnosing, then solving a problem; clear and solid communications is what supports that.
People learn-and communicate-in different ways, usually combinations of talking, listening, watching, thinking and doing. Being aware of, and working within another’s style is a vital component of good communication.
When working with/presenting to a group that means mixing it up, or sometimes repeating the message, but in different styles- so you can forge a solid connection, and build on it. In my Home Staging Workshops, to help de-mystify the process and engage everyone- I utilize a white board to list participants’ questions, an open Q&A format, a slide show and a long table to showcase some of the things I use to prepare a property for sale.
True communication is a two-way street. Strother Martin, as the prison warden, was obvioulsy not interested in communicating’. But then again, he wasn’t putting together something wonderful, lightening a clients’ heart, or making their life easier, either.
February 2nd, 2013
Analogies help us understand something unfamiliar, by comparing it with something close to us. In this series, we parallel TRH-style of Interior Decorating and Home Staging with some very familiar things. TODAY: Your favorite pair of black jeans.
There is no pretense: Jeans, and TRH are always been about getting things done, comfortably.
A good fit is important to start. And both fit even better as time goes on.
Black jeans (and The Refreshed Home) flatter. They make the most of what you have.
Both are adaptable, and work well in many situations.
Your favorite black jeans and this Westchester County Decorator and Home Stager elevate the look, but keep it feeling real and accessible.
Neither are particularly high-maintenance.
You can depend on them both to make you look good.
Working with The Refreshed Home and wearing your favorite black jeans both give you confidence and comfort.
They are literally close to you. Being hugged is not entirely out of the question!
NEXT: Why The Refreshed Home is Like a Good Personal Trainer
January 23rd, 2013
In 2008, I understood, respected, and embraced agents who also prepared their own listings for sale. Ditto 2009-2011.
2012, it started getting old, and now, here, in 2013, I suggest that *most* agents who do their own Staging are diminishing both our jobs.
Agents who have kindly, graciously chosen to extend themselves in an extraordinary way to sellers who really don’t have a lot of other choices are similarly respected, as are agents who are pleased with how their systems work. My suggestions are meant for agents looking for a better way in this new market.
It has nothing to do with territory, taste, or ego. SURE> indirectly it’s about money (when the topic is real estate, everything is about money at some point), but more to the point, it’s about updating a business model.
To support this premise, it’s important to first discuss what Staging is, what it entails, so wrote about some of The Refreshed Home’s latest projects: YES! New Toilets, CO2 Detectors and Clever Signage: All Part of Staging.
YES>it’s wonderful for an agent to be comfortable having ‘the talk’ with a seller… and a quick perusal of any MLS site will demonstrate there is no shortage of properties could be bettered….so isn’t any effort better than no effort?
Perhaps- short term, and for that seller and agent. But big-picture, and for the most part, in 2013, I suggest agents’ getting involved in the minutae of getting their sellers’ property ready for sale is counter-productive to their business, and diminishes both our jobs.
Research has proven 55% of a messages’ impact comes from non-verbal communication, what we do says more than what we say. Jumping in, you may think you’re being productive…saving them money…showing you care. In shaky 2008-12 that was a message with real value. But in 2013…?
IMO it helps reinforce most every misconception about our jobs (FUN! EASY! MAKING HOUSES PRETTY!) , most every bad behavior sellers show, and any casual attitude they have about their own responsibility preparing and maintaining their house for sale.
- You may very well have that kind of talent, but do you really have that kind of free time? Do a full job once, you’ll see how demanding and interactive it is. And what other-more productive activities/opportunities are missed, because you are discussing paint colors and lighting fixtures?
- Do you not know, or work with any good Home Stagers? Your sellers know a little about this mysterious entity called Home Staging, but they expect you to know more.
- Don’t have anyone you know/like near you? Talk to me about Remote Consults
- When there’s a hole in the roof do you throw on some overalls, and climb up with a roll of tar paper and a nail gun? Do you think your sellers expect this? or might be more impressed if you did? NO, (and hopefully no, and no!). Here it’s enough you spot a problem, address it with seller, and discuss in terms of how it’ll affect saleability-why not approach Home Staging in the same way?
- Just because we can make something look easy, it does not make it so. You and I have both worked years to be good in our chosen fields. Just rolling it into the deal diminishes both our jobs. It tells sellers it’s an easy giveaway, the RE equivalent of Ginzu steak knives. No one will appreciate the gravity of the task-or the value of getting it done if you don’t ‘tell’ them> by showing it needs to be handled by a trusted professional.
Again-if what you have works, that’s great. But if you’ve read this far, chances are it doesn’t. Time is not a renewable resource. Talk to this Westchester County Home Stager today, let me show you how quickly and easily make your clients happier and have better looking listings, while you ease into a more satisfying, more productive MO.
August 21st, 2012
Regular readers know I am a big baseball fan, but I had never heard of MLB umpire Jim Joyce before summer of 2010…then in an unlikely confluence of events, he burst into probably all our consciousnesses.
Doug and I had attended a high school lacrosse game that evening. It was a spirited rivalry, but some fans did not know how to behave…we found ourselves in the middle of an entire section of angry, rowdy, potty-mouth ADULT fans.
Seeing the look on the younger kids faces while they absorbed the verbal spewage from these faux-grownups was such a sad moment.
Flipped on the news before going to bed, only to find out this Jim Joyce made an admitted wrong call on the last play of the game, costing the pitcher a perfect game.
But in baseball there are no do-overs, and the pitcher accepted his tearful apology. I was moved to tears at this unbelievable juxtaposition, and wrote passionately about how I hoped these same kids would talk about, and remember this wonderful, gracious role model the next morning.
Jim Joyce and the pitcher, Armando Galarraga went on to become friendly, even writing a book together, called Nobody’s Perfect.
Then, last year the major league players themselves voted Jim Joyce the best umpire in all of Major League Baseball. Forgiveness and redemption is a very powerful thing to witness, so yes, I cried, and wrote more, on how the MLB players got that call right.
Now news comes that Jim Joyce saved a life with CPR. Really.
Last night, Joyce saw an employee of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Jayne Powers having a seizure in the tunnel near their dressing room, about an hour and a half before game time. Even after the defibrillator failed to get her heart going, Joyce kept CPR going until the paramedics arrived, using the Bee Gee’s classic Stayin’ Alive to keep to the necessary rhythm.
Jayne is recovering in a local hospital, in stable condition. And Joyce? He’s probably back behind home plate again tonight, calling balls and strikes.
For a regular guy like Jim Joyce-the story keeps getting better. Good for him, and even better for Jayne Power; but lucky, lucky us-who get to watch, learn and be inspired.
August 11th, 2012
In the 80s and 90s, there was little talk of how someone “felt” when they were buying things and doing stuff to their house.
Everything was about the visual. People spoke, and thought in singular, visionary words: stunning, gorgeous, elegant.
Then feelings entered the picture again….tentitively, at first. Words like warm, inviting and cozy were big, as were simple and peaceful.
Life changed for most of us in 2001, and our homes became our base. They were our refuge, our buffer. They kept gritty reality at a distance, while we yearned for the imposible, to be safe and sane in a scary and uncertain world.
The past decade has had so many of us in holding patterns. Busy doing and coping, keeping up and maintaining. But still waiting.
Even during those wild 80s and rebounding 90s, my client base rarely included people whose focus was procuring. People drawn to to work with me were people choosing to be happy. Planning to be happy, expecting to be happy. It’s what this Westchester County Decorator has always loved best of this business. And it’s b-a-a-a-a-c-k!
Happiness is a choice. But it’s not as easy as it might sound. It’s a choice to accept, let go, and move past who and what held you. It’s daring to want better, and doing something to go after it. It’s actually pretty brave.
Everyday I see Westchester County homeowners who are choosing to be happy. I see their confidence in paint charts, their dreams that look like a floor plan, and their hope that shines in the way of finally cleaned out basements and pared-down closets. I love it!! Better, couldn’t be happier for them!
August 4th, 2012
Death Wish Coffee. Are you kidding me?
Seriously-have you heard about this stuff yet?
Touted as The World’s Strongest Coffee, it comes from a mysterious bean that contains 200% more caffeine than the regular Arabica beans.
NOT CHEAP ($20.00/lb) but it is Kosher, Organic, Fair-Trade, and even bird friendly (??).
Disclaimers abound on their website-Warning! Not for sissies!
Cooler heads offer warm online testimonials-one would assume they were given when the Death Wish effect had plateaued, and they were feeling a nicer mellow?
I don’t know…sure, who doesn’t have days where we could use a little extra kick?
And clever name…like any other product that has ever dared Mr./Ms. Consumer to take them on, they will probably get a lot of mileage out of the novelty.
Well thought-out, they evey have their own line of merchandise…besides coffee and coffee cups, there are t-shirts, and …come on…bumper stickers?
Just what I want to see on the Interstate or Parkway-drivers who are even more jazzed, and couldn’t be prouder.
July 30th, 2012
Over the weekend the NYT ran a great feature, Ruthless Came the Stager. Two clients fw. me the link, wanted to be sure I saw it.
Thought the article was good: accurate and fair, sharing insight to the range of things Stager can come up against.
FAR more telling were the comments…what a hornet’s nest! The passion, the indignation, the NERVE!!
Yeah, whatever….where are some of these readers coming from?? I mean, it’s not like it’s pending legislation or anything…
Staging is like any other personal service. Lots of different approaches, lots of different people out there to help. You can choose it, or not. GET OVER IT!
Scanning through quickly, it seems the people whose panties were the most knotted up had no actual experience with this whatsoever…just opinions.
Guess what>>>>LA-LA-LA-I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!
Which actually hits a nerve in this Westchester County Stager that has been raw for some time now…I am so done with the whiners and the naysayers…the crankies who whine and gnash their teeth, or wring their hands and cry big alligator tears about the state of the market, yet will dismiss doing anything on their own-or learning anything new- out of hand.
Confused, fearful, curious, skeptical? Let’s talk. Desperate, fed-up, in pain? Yes, I’m talking to you, call me. Take 15 minutes and find out what preparing your property can be about, and how it works.
Don’t let the whiners get you down. SERIOUSLY!
July 28th, 2012
The right word clarifies and elevates the message, as well as the speaker. Good speakers know the right words engage, and bond their audience to them, as well as their message. I have chosen SHEPHERD as this edition’s Word of the Week (click here to read others).
Have been contemplating this word for a while. It’s a powerful word, with many parallels to the relationships in the home-buying and home-selling process. SHEPHERD is both a noun and a verb, and I like both these applications.
As a noun, the original shepherds were focused, vital and duty-driven. Humbly, they did the tough and unglamourous stuff. Tedious and constant at best; difficult and dangerous at worst.
They were responsible, going face to face with whatever came along. Protecting those who could not protect themselves, they found the lost, while guiding the group, getting them safely to their destination.
As a verb, SHEPHERDING is a noble, yet under-appreciated skill. There is movement…transition, or passage. There is vision, compassion, and a sureness of knowing what is right involved in shepherding; faith, trust, calm and comfort replace fear, agitation and misgivings in the hearts of those being shepherded.
And if that weren’t enough, underneath it all is a kind heart, possessing a deep affection for those they are entrusted with. Anyone else good with that?
July 11th, 2012
Melky Cabrera was awarded the MVP trophy at the conclusion of last night’s Major League Baseball All-Star game. Safe to say it’s the current high point of of his professional life, perhaps even his personal one.
Drafted by the Yankees at 17, he played his way up through the farm system, debuting as a NY Yankee three and a half seasons later in July 2005.
Young, shy and with little fluency of the language, Melky communicated through his actions. He was a passionate and joyous player…I believe video tape would prove it was during his tenure in outfield, the multi-player victory jump-bump was born.
A talented fielder, and fan favorite, but his hitting was inconsistent. 2009 was one of his stronger years, where he helped the Yankees win their 28th World Series, but less than a month later was traded to play in Atlanta for 2010.
Atlanta released him at the end of a mediocre season, Kansas City picked him up for the 2011 season, but he was not the same Melky. Rejection and failure had changed him, and he made some decisions in the off-season. He changed his lifestyle and his diet, he lost weight. He worked out a lot, and practiced even more. 2011 saw him setting many career highs. That increased his value, but apparently not enough, for he was traded to San Francisco over the winter.
But he continued his efforts, perhaps even doubling-down, and 2012 has been his best year ever. He is at the top of the entire league in hitting, and is loved and adored by SF fans. They dress and up as “Melk-Men” at games, flooded the ballot box, getting him a starting position in the mid-season classic…. and now he is the MVP of this years’ game.
Rejection and failure are the pits. It hurts, it’s embarrassing, even humiliating. And even if we care very deeply about what is at stake, it can shame us into retreat; withdrawing totally, or start a simmering pot of anger or resentment. Or it can make us better.
“Accepting” Rejection and failure does not mean being content about it.
And it doesn’t have to be a final destination, either.
Instead I suggest by honestly acknowledging our situation or results, and how we feel about them, we define our own ‘bottom’.
We need to know where we are, just as much as where we want to be, if we want to have any hope of creating a successful course for getting there.
We all have our own stories of inspiration, people who’ve battled through dark times, to triumph. I am a sucker for the quiet successes. While not particularly sportive myself, the personal power an individual has to make a difference in sports has always intrigued and inspired me, paralleling the potential I feel have to make a difference in both my life, and my business.
I have been an unabashed Melky fan from the begining. His original Yankee #28 replica tshirt is on top of my tshirt pile, and sheer luck of the draw, I got him in the AR Fantasy baseball league draft. Last night I could not be happier for his success, or more inspired to pursue new ones for myself. Congrats, Melky- HAPPY to YOU!
July 4th, 2012
Welcome back to FAQs, an on-going series that answers the questions I hear most, in 400 words or less.
This questions comes up whenever a seller does not like, or does not want to do what I recommend to help get their house sold.
It is probably the quickest and easiest to answer.
Buyers DON’T use their imagination because largely they CAN’T use their imagination.
Visualizing spacial potential, carrying colors in your head, being able to project change onto a static space is like being able to ice skate, do math, or having freckles: it is a gift, something you are born with.
Like any of the above, it doesn’t make you an inherently better person, it just is-or isn’t.
Studies vary, but it’s estimated that less than 5% of the population can imagine spacial change. About HALF the number of left-handers (10% of the population), those in this world born with blue eyes, or men who are colorblind (both 7 to 8%). Or about the same number of people born with extra ribs (I know, WEIRD-right??)
Real Estate is all about numbers, and buyers have a lot to think about. They also have a lot of choices.
Bottom line if you are putting off making your house look its best, believing that buyers should be able to use their imagination, statistically you are putting 95% of the population off in the first pass through. Before you subtract those that are cranky or stressed by the home-buying process, who are not serious buyers, or financially unable to buy your house.
SO-SERIOUSLY-tell me again, why don’t you want to paint?
Photo courtesy of Flicka
June 29th, 2012
There are so many effective words out there to choose from, but like our favorite jeans, out of habit, we can just keep reaching for the same ones over and over again.
Word of the Week series is not about overly scholarly, out of reach, or unfamiliar words; it’s about re-discovering words we all know, just may have forgotten about. Words with character, words with presence, words that add nuance. Words that can make us more effective communicators. Words that may become our new favorite words. This word of the week is COMPELLING.
I love this word!! Officially an adjective, because it is all about inspiring strong action I nominate it for verb status as well. it’s defined as “… evoking interest, attention, or admiration in a powerfully irresistible way…not being able to be refuted…inspiring conviction. NOT ABLE TO BE RESISTED”. REALLY! How cool is it to be the one who has a COMPELLING point of view, or presents a COMPELLING option?
COMPELLING is THOUGHTFUL. It creates an intellectual discussion. What I really like about this word is that it’s about ATTRACTION…not persuasion, not coercion, and not hype. It brings others in. It is FORCEFUL, but NOT STRESSFUL.
COMPELLING affirms DUE DILLIGENCE has been performed. It intimates you are drawn to a certain action or conclusion by careful deliberations. Perhaps even against your emotional will? In fearful or uncertain times, that is a mightly powerful sentiment.
May you be COMPELLED to use wonderful words this coming week!!
June 17th, 2012
Have a love/hate relationship with this question…it’s the question most everyone wants to ask first. Many do-why not, it’s important and valid- but in my experience few really listen to the answer.
We like to believe our questions are simple…because then we can get easy and immediate answers, right?
But Staging is a service, not a fixed commodity, and the short answer is : IT DEPENDS
Think of a typical doctor visit. When you arrive, your vitals are taken. Then the doctor comes in and asks how you are, and gets more info. The doctor needs to understand the circumstances before taking action, same thing with Home Staging. More needs to be known, and discussed before coming up with a plan-or a price-pain…so the seller’s mindset, the property’s condition and the market circumstances need to be known. To come up with a price, we need to first agree on scope of work, the strategy, and then the execution.
It’s a bit of an educational process, so there is some negotiation: together, tasks are prioritized, then who can do what is established. THEN we can get to the big question.
While I can’t know what it will cost to stage YOUR property, here are some ways projects with The Refreshed Home start:
For the thrify, the cautious, the distant, the extremely time-challenged or the very handy: Remote staging You send me pictures or video, and by appointment, via phone or Skype we create a plan and a strategy for your space-discussing any issue, in as much detail as you’d like, for $75.00 an hour.
For those looking for a plan, anticipating an extended or group project, or needing a reality check-I offer interactive walk-throughs: I show up and we get right to it-moving, packing or walking, talking, and creating your plan-with all the specifics and referrals you’d like. $180.00 for two hours, with you taking notes if you’d like; $275.00 for two hours plus my detailed email report after.
For vacant properties, the agents representing them, off-site owners, landlords, or property management firms: A brief phone conversation, then if we are on the same page, an similarly brief on-site visit is scheduled, and a proposal is created, FREE.
Some find taking paper hits in the tens of thousands (via price reductions) easier than reaching into their pocket and parting with cash; others don’t have a choice, and I get that. But if you have choices, are ready to move on with your life, but perhaps still uncertain-just keep reading.
June 15th, 2012
Word of the Week: INDECISION
Came across this picture this week, and after the initial giggles-yes, the cold ocean waves of the Cape are always are on my mind this time of year-I really looked at this photo.
WOW, what an amazing illustration of an internal process .
Approaching the edge of something new, or a big decision, we are unsure. We retreat…dance around it…maybe do a one-eighty. Maybe a few times. We’ll observe, re-group, and re-approach.
Defined as inconclusive, hesitant, or lacking resolution, indecision doesn’t feel good. It’s psychic energy hitting a wall. Effort without movement or resolution. Unlike thoughtful consideration, or a quiet pondering-indecision is less about the decision, and more about the fear and uncertainty surrounding it.
Like a paralyzing fog, it rolls in and holds you captive, occupying your brain, making you feel miserable and stuck. Indecision is probably the #1 factor behind procrastination.
A truism in sales is that an objection is just a question that has not been answered yet. I would extend that, and suggest that in many cases, indecision is fear that has not been addressed. All that “HOME” represents, all the choices out there, and the current market have created a perfect storm of sorts for many homeowners. Helping clients sort things out, and see their choices clearly so they can get on with their lives is rewarding, and productive for both of us.
Acknowledging you are in it is the first step to getting out of it. After that, an activity to distract or shake up the mindset-like working out, or seeing a movie can help. Sleeping on it works for some. Looking for, and at the fear helps others.
Despite The Refreshed Home’s creative nature, I am a fairly analytical thinker. Asking clients ‘what is the worst that could happen?’ and have them either either write down, or verbalizing the scenarios deflates a lot of the what-ifs, while adding perspective.
As I get older, I am more and more aware of how fleeting , and precious time is. Time spent going round and round in that hamster wheel of indecision is time forever lost. Recalling a quote I read once by German artist, playwright, politician and philosopher at large Johann von Goethe is what nudges me out, every time:
“Then indecision brings its own delays.
And days are lost lamenting o’er lost days.
Are you in earnest?
Seize this very moment.
What you can do, or dream you can-begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it”
June 13th, 2012
Regular readers will know that I have been unapologetically, though cautiously optimistic about the housing market since the fall. From where I stood, had been seeing-hearing-FEELING!-a swing back towards reality with buyers, sellers and agents.
Not a wide, or particularly scientific sampling, to be sure, but RE is uber-local, and this was my experience: There was more acceptance-seasoned with some resignation, to be sure-but that many were making, or had made the powerful decision that it was time to move on, and choose being happy in whatever way they could.
Recently I found myself doubting my perception. Not from any market report or set of sales figures. Nothing to do with the overseas economies, our local markets or the upcoming elections. No, it was the announcement that Burger King is offering a Bacon Sundae as part of their summer menu.
I’m sorry, this is just so wrong, on so many levels.
It has only a little to do with overall calorie and nutritional content…the vanilla soft serve topped with fudge, caramel and bacon crumbles comes in at 510 calories and 61 grams of sugar (yes, including the bacon strip garnish!); there are plenty of other heavy-hitting desserts out there.
Instead I find this devil-may-care attraction to something WE ALL KNOW will come back to haunt us oddly reminiscent of when the bubble was building.
The housing market cannot afford any guilty pleasures right now. If this becomes anything more than a quickie novelty, I’m concerned the craving for this short-term cheap thrill will show the fondness for living in la-la land has not really left us. I know it’s just ice cream, but I’m just sayin’….
June 1st, 2012
Unusual words thrill me, but words that sound like what they mean have a special place in my heart. This Word of the Week comes courtesy of former Governor Ed Rendell, and his new book, A Nation of Wusses.
In the book, his point is that America’s leaders (politicians) have lost the guts to stand up for who they are-not acknowledging what they know to be true, because it will ruffle some feathers.
He says being wusses keeps us from getting things done. It keeps us from doing good things, the right things, BIG things. (click here to see entire interview)
“WUSS” is a word that Rendell has a fondness for. In a TV interview, he explained….he had called the Philadelphia Eagles “wussses” when asked for comment about their cancelling a football game when there was a forecast of 11 inches of snow. His response was that this is what football was, you didn’t cancel if because of bad weather, that it was ‘further evidence of the wussification of America.’
Word of the Week is not (overtly) political, but the application is universal. Don’t we all know someone who tries too hard to be all things to all people? Who bends over backward to avoid the elephant in the room? Who sugarcoats because they can’t bear the unvarnished version?
Easier, softer ways may buy you time, or get you “A” job, but ultimately they do not get you the best results. As a Home Stager, I choose a kind way to pursuade a client why they need to take pack away the wall-to-wall photos of little Bobby and Susie (both, now in their 30s)… but if I ignore or dance around it, it’s just more pain, and one more conversation to have in a few months when the house is still unsold.
WUSS is a bold word, but not rash or reckless. It’s not a flattering word, and certainly not an accolade; more of a nudge or a goad, but perhaps a rallying cry. WUSS is used by confident people, who have a vison of greatness for the future, at a time when they believe it can happen…how cool is that??
May 27th, 2012
It happens to us all…we’re busy, short on time, and like shopping on December 24th, we grab the first thing that makes sense and lets us get going.
But wonderful words are all around us. Words that add dimension and clarity. Words that elevate the conversation, and make for better communications. I love the power of a good word, and that was the inspiration for this series.
Word of the Week has been a regular feature for some time, but fans (and DONNA-you know who you are!) will know there have been several weeks without one. Part of it was issues with IT (and TIME), but for the most part, these last few weeks I have been living today’s word: TRANSFORM.
I love this word, and it’s derivative, transformative.
It is a verb with chops: “To make, or undergo a thorough or dramatic change in the form, appearance, or character”.
It’s CHANGE, but TRANSFORM focuses on the subject-the personal experience-rather than the predicate-the change, or event of change- itself.
TRANSFORM is uber-personal, and can be both an internal process, as well as an exterior manifestation.
It sounds magical-and thanks to Hollywood, it’s pretty much seen as a positive force in most demographics…evil Decepticons excluded, of course.
TRANSFORM is a PROCESS. Helpful to remember, as ”during” doesn’t often feel magical-in fact, it can feel downright crappy. During troubled, stressful or difficult times, it’s a great word, a really helpful reminder, to TRUST your instincts, and to be CONFIDENT in your pursuits.
TRANSFORM I think is best evaluated, most understood and appreciated-in hindsight.
To me, TRANSFORM is about HOPE and PROMISE going in, PATIENCE during, and GRATITUDE on the other side. And FOR TODAY, am so glad to be on this other side! Have a great week everyone, and (DONNA!)-see you next week with a new Word of the Week!
The Refreshed Home is all about making a space work better for the people who use it. Together we make good plans and wise decisions, so you can get on with your life. If your space, your stuff, or your mindset is holding you back, read on-or, better yet, call me and we’ll talk.
The Refreshed Home
Because Experience Matters, and Kindness Counts
May 23rd, 2012
Whether or not you believe in astrology, it’s always fun to check and see what the stars are SUPPOSED to hold for you. ..so each month we take a fun look at what makes each of our boats float, home decor-wise. This month, we wish a Happy Birthday to GEMINI!!
Gemini (5/21-6/20) is represented by twins, and it’s one of the few signs where the style of getting things done is just as important-maybe even more so-then what you are actually doing. You see, very little about a typical Gemini is predictable, or even-paced.
Beyond flexible, they are the original multi-taskers; with them, most everything tends to move, and change at warp-speed. Geminis act-speak-think quickly, and are impatient with those who cannot keep up. They also dislike routine and structure.
Many would argue all this speed, duality and volitility is not always a bad thing. Professional Gemini athletes like tennis powers Venus Williams, Steffi Graf and Lindsey Davenport would testify to that, and be joined by basketball greats Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony, Olympic skater Apolo Ohno, and beloved QBs Joes Nameth and Montanna. Anderson Cooper-of TV’s aptly named 360 (Degrees), and famed fool-the-eye artist M.C. Escher would probably agree, as would multi-facted actor Johnny Depp, and comedian/actor/impressionist Mike Myers.
‘Bird-like’ is a description more than a few astrologers use to describe this sign. Intesnse, and in the moment, but easily distracted, and just as quickly, gone, on to the next big thing. And therein lies the real challenge.
They make decisions quickly-which, of course they attribute to their confident nature. But sometimes the results are not what they anticipated. BUT WAIT-here’s the hard part-they are so quick-witted and articulate, they have either changed their minds-or the rationale of what is important-that those trying to keep up can be back at square one.
So-needless to say, room for change and flexibility should be built into any Gemini’s decor…perhaps neutral fabrics, and keeping the paint fan deck handy, as well as a painter on retainer could be the answer?
With all this hustle and bustle, Geminis do not tend to take the time to rest and re-charge. To soothe their nerve endings, and rejuvenate their mojo, think soft colors and fabrics. Not pastel or sherbert tones, but warmed, nuanced versions…a spiced burgandy, or barn red instead of a clear red; a gray-ed sage instead of an emerald or evergreen.
Mix, and layer patterns in small and inexpensive ways-pillows, or use a bowl of woven, painted or hand-blown glass balls as a centerpiece. A great gift for a Gemini would be one of those tabletop mind-bender puzzles-like 3 story tic tac toe, or something to take apart and re-assemble.
Books, and writing is big for Geminis, as well. Not personal correspondence as much as poetry or prose-so make sure a desk, good lighting, and some bookshelves are part of the plan.
SO-best words of advice: If you are a Gemini, have patience for the mere mortals who live with you, or are trying to help you. If you are a co-decision maker with a Gemini, it’d probably be best if you did your own research or reconnaissaince missions first. No guarantees, but being prepared is your best shot at keeping up.
May 20th, 2012
Within the American Legion, each state has a position known as Department Commander.
It’s elected position with a term of one year, where the Commander tours every post in the state to meet the members and other dignitaries. They also speak at different functions to raise awareness of, and promote programs that support the health and welfare of both veterans, and those actively serving: homeless vets, the VA budget, their medical facilities, and pending legislation.
It’s a lot of work, but quite the honor to be voted into this position, and towards the end of the Commander’s term of service, they are lauded at a Homecoming Dinner, given by their home post. Home post members, as well as Legion dignitaries, politicians, friends and family all attend, and it is a big deal. Last year, Doug and I were invited guests of New York State’s retiring Commander, Jim Triola.
Now-my dad served in the Coast Guard, but my contemporaries were too young for Viet Nam, and too old for subsequent engagements. While I’m certainly grateful to all those who now serve, or have served, I have neither experience of the sacrifices, or any familiarity with the traditions, so wasn’t sure what to expect.
The hall was HUGE, and filled. The dias was long, directly opposite the entrance. Immediately I noticed a small table in front of, and slightly to the left of the dias. It contained a single place setting, a lone candlestick, a single bud vase, with one perfect red rose in it, all set on a simple white tablecloth.
I thought it was the guest of honor’s spot…perhaps this evening would be like a ‘celebrity roast’ that you see on TV?
The cocktail hour was in full swing, and we met a number of Jim’s friends. Then, when the group was called to order, and the evening’s program started, no one sat at that table. Within moments, we found out why.
For nearly 30 years now, every official Legion meeting is to have the empty chair and table for one set up, as a physical symbol of the thousands of American POWs/MIAs still unaccounted for from all the wars and conflicts involving the United States. It’s a powerful image on its own, but here is the preamble that starts each meeting.
We call your attention to this small table, which occupies a place of dignity and honor near the head table.
It is set for one, symbolizing the fact that members of our armed forces are missing from our ranks. They are referred to as POWs and MIAs. We call them comrades. They are unable to be with their loved ones and families tonight, so we join together to pay our humble tribute to them, and bear witness to their continued absence.
This table, set for one, is small, symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner, alone against his or her suppressors. The tablecloth is white, symbolic of the purity of their intentions to respond to their country’s call to arms.
The single red rose in the vase signifies the blood they may have shed in sacrifice to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America. This rose also reminds us of the family and friends of our missing comrades who keep the faith, while awaiting their return.
The yellow ribbon on the vase represents the yellow ribbons worn on the lapels of the thousands who demand, with unyielding determination, a proper accounting of our comrades who are not among us tonight.
A slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate. The salt sprinkled on the plate reminds us of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait.
The glass is inverted. They cannot toast with us this night. The chair is empty. They are not here.
The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home, away from their captors, to the open arms of a grateful nation.
Let us pray to the supreme commander that all our comrades will soon be back within our ranks. Let us remember and never forget their sacrifices. May God forever watch over them and protect them and their families.
If you did not know this story, you are not alone-please pass it on.
And for the holiday weekend, in between all the other stuff, find a parade, take the kids, cheer and clap loudly. (White Plains parade starts at 10am on Main Street, marching up North Broadway, towards 287)
Look for veterans selling the red paper poppies. Buy a bunch, wear yours proudly, and give the rest to friends. Made by disabled vets, they remind us of the past sacrifices of our veterans, with all proceeds going to supporting veterans and their families.
Thank any you meet, and then, in a quiet moment, say a prayer of gratitude.