Friday, April 26, 2013

Paula Rebsom, "If we lived here"

Paula Rebson built this inspiring replica of the house she grew up in the badlands of North Dakota. There is one difference, the new house is just one wall, and the tenants have wings. The concept and web site is called, "If we lived here" project. After losing her family's barn and farmhouse, she collected scraps from the farm and recreated what her house used to look like. She placed 20 bird houses within the nailed planks that spell out the message, "If  we lived here, I'd be home by now". Her artistic vision was to help the displaced birds who lost their houses, just like she did.  She is an artist who lives in Portland, so that makes her my future neighbor. See her other installations here.
art sculpture of one wall of a house that holds 20 bird houses.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pareto's closet with a little help from Nordstoms.

Economist Vilfredo Pareto came up with a theory called the "Pareto Principle". The concept is based on the thought that 20 percent of something is responsible for 80 percent of the results.

An article in the Wall street Journal a few days ago titled, "A closet filled with regrets" profiled the reasons we buy and accumulate garments in our closet. Like Pareto, their conclusion was people only wear 20% of their wardrobe.

The three categories people fell into were 1). The emotional shopper who buys to relieve stress. 2). The aspirational shopper who buys articles to make a statement, and 3). The sale shopper who can not pass up a great deal.

A few posts ago I mentioned using Nordstrom's personal shopper. She showed me a few articles that indeed were functional and economical without the exhausting hunt. Nordstom is a unique boutique where the clothes are current, the prices can be economical and the service is unmatchable.

We recently purchased a tailored outfit at Nordstoms. A week before the event, participants were informed that the dress code was downgraded to casual wear.

I called Nordstom's with our predicament. At first they were hesitant because the outfit was tailored and then told us to come in and they would work with us. When we arrived three beautiful options were laying on a table. The stylist had already looked up sizes and an immediate exchange was made.

That was the day I left the clearance racks.

I now fit into category 4). The satisfied Nordstrom customer who buys little, but loves all 20%.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Wiggle room

We used to say one of the reasons we could not leave this house is because we had dogs.

But now that they have passed and we have donated their dog beds,

their collapsable cabin kennels,

the various medical supplies to combat ingesting duct tape, carpet and swiss colony samplers,

the grooming equipment including the "furminator",

even more dog bed beds,

the super premium dog biscuits,

pet food that costed more than a steak dinner for two,

dog sled mittens for sub-zero day walks,

retractable leashes and multiple sets of gentle leaders,

and a trail of pavers that lowered the 8 inch front steps to 3 inches.

All that remains is their hair...

...and now that is even disappearing.

Somethings what you choose to bring along with you falls through.

The memories tho, will last a lifetime and fit into any size house.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

An opportunity to upsize.

On a cold dark and snowy Minnesota morning, we left on a plane with our belongings. This artwork created by Bujnowski was a perfect image to set the mood. Traveling is a good reminder of selecting what is most important. One check-in bag quickly grew to two. Immediately the highly scrutinized selections changed into impulse items to fill the bag. This process reminded me of how our family transformed from a one car garage to two. How much we owned and acquired directly correlated with the space we had to fill it with. Up to this point, all I have been doing is eliminating stuff. These two bags may convince me to start with the essentials and cautiously upsize.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The time has come.

Today is April 15th, tax day. 

For me, this marks years of holding on to documents for a company my husband and I started called Magnetic Moments.

After over seven years, the IRS allows a company to destroy the documents and financials. 

This is my opprtunity to toss the relics of an idea come to life.

The first prototype was light weight and came with velcro. Everything went fine until the board began to warp, pulling the velcro off and falling to the ground.

Here is the last remaining fossil, soon to hit the landfill.

Next came a wooden frame version.

I remember the day they arrived. 

Here is the truck unable to turn into our driveway, leaving the heavy boxes in the alley.

Each magnet was carefully thought out and then brilliantly illustrated by Paul Jenson.

Thinking my idea was unique, I brought it into the retail store only to find out that a similar magnetic calendar by Melissa & Doug had just been introduced. 

Their version didn't include a pop out circle to put the person's photo behind and write the name on the cake.

Here is my favorite magnet. That is me, the witch in the middle.

We forged ahead and even won an award for Best Children's and Most Educational calendar.

We were thrilled as it was displayed and sold at the Mall of America.

Labor was cheap and the novelty of helping mom lasted for a few weeks.

It was amazing now a Honda could fit all those large cardboard boxes for mailing.

Then the big mistake came. The calendars were so heavy to produce and ship, I decided to branch out to chore charts. They were clever, colorful and lightweight.

Except one minor detail. When the board was bent, a razor sharp metal piece was exposed. Not so child-friendly anymore.  We tried different glues and sewing options. 

With no luck of salvaging them, we resolved to using a few to finish our basement.

My kids even devised a temporary skate ramp.

The worst part is that we had to pay to get rid of them.

The best part is that twelve years later, I came upon one in a thrift shop. Someone thought they were useful enough to pass along to the next generation.

I will save one pristine wooden calendar for each of my kids and a few magnets, all the rest has now been rolled out for Thursday's garbage pick up or shredded.

It is a good feeling to let go of heavy things, physically and mentally.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Just when I have called each and every unwanted piece of junk mail and catalog on the phone, some genius comes up with an easy app to do it quickly. It's called paperkarma.  All you have to do is take a shot of the mail and it notifies the company for you to take you off the mailing list. Then it keeps track on the progress when the task is complete.

paperkarma gets rid of junk mail

Friday, April 5, 2013

Happy meal

We call my brother "boy", so when I acquired this happy meal toy, I kept it for him.

His birthday came and went and I had forgotten to attach it to his gift, so I just left it at my mom's so he would get a little chuckle.

 Look what happened next .

Immediately Pinnochio was christened "Pepe" as a nickname.
The toy was then hid it in my mothers small apartment for me to find.
The rule is simple, once you find Pepe, you send the person a photo and hide it again making sure his head is showing.

Pepe in the plant:

With a couple of us siblings visiting each week the news had spread quickly about this silly hunt and everyone started looking.

Pepe in the curtains:

The nephews and nieces are now looking.

Pepe in the butter:

Even the home health care aid is joining in and had to sweep around Pepe for days until he was found.

Pepe in the corner:

My mom who is the only one consistent in that apartment, has enjoyed giving out hints. 

Getting rid of this simple toy has made a lot of people happy.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Locus Architecture and the little sustainable house on the prairie

Locus Architecture and the little sustainable house on the prairie
REI held a talk tonight called, "Off the grid on a budget: the home the land built. It was a lovely story of  Michael Larsen and Linda Nelson who had left Minneapolis to live off the land with a house designed by Locus Architecture. With no well, no boiler, no furnace, no grid electricity or a flush toilet, this couple made every effort  to live extremely simple. Check out The Star Tribune's article.

Sustainable house with solar panels in winter

Michael describes how the dark days of winter can fluctuate their solar energy supply. When the sun comes out, it is "waffle time", since that appliance drains so much power.

The metal roof collects all their water. The first 50 gallons are set off to the land and the rest is collected in a 54,000 gallon cement tank under the ground. Read more about this whole project on Micheal's blog.

Much thought went into the design from setting the house down a few feet to provide a ground level perspective, to the rooftop yoga room.

"The Home the Land Built is rising to engage me more fully. Some think I'm crazy. Chopping wood. Igniting prairie fires. Hauling buckets of poop. What could be more connecting?" - Homeowner Michael Larsen

This the little sustainable house on the prairie opened my eyes to choices other than a traditional house.