Take a Deep Breath

Charity’s lung arrived!  View an update to her blog about her progress at fivesisters.

Thank you all who have been praying for her and for all the warm wishes!

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Close to Perfect

My friend Charity is doing well.  Still waiting for a lung re-transplant and working on getting stronger.  Please continue to pray for her, her family, and the doctors that they will find a set of lungs as close to perfect as her.

If you’re looking for an inspiring story check out my previous post about Charity.

Thank you.  She means a lot to me and countless others.

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Books are for Looks


Go ahead, judge a book by it’s cover!


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Charity Sunshine Tilleman-Dick

I want to share a story about a wonderful friend of mine and  one of the most inspirational people I have ever met.  Charity is one of the kind of person that when you meet them you are inspired to live your dreams and dream bigger.  She is powerful not just because of her amazing talent or because of the dreams that she has realized but because she is fearless, no matter the trials she has faced.

Charity Sunshine Tillemann Dick is an American-born soprano. She has performed across the United States, Europe, and Asia. Some venues include The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC; Severance Hall in Cleveland, Ohio; Il Giardino Di Boboli in Florence, Italy; The National Symphony Hall in Budapest, Hungary; The Tel Aviv Opera House in Israel; and the American Embassy in Beijing, China.

After receiving a diagnosis of idiopathic Pulmonary Hypertension in 2004, Charity served as the national spokesperson for the Pulmonary Hypertension Association. In December 2005, her testimony about Pulmonary Hypertension for the Committee on Energy and Commerce was entered into the permanent record.

In September 2009, Charity received a double lung transplant at the Cleveland Clinic. Just eight months later, she performed before the doctors, nurses, and support staff at the Clinic and was also the opening speaker at TEDMED 2010 in San Diego, CA.

Here is her story.  Unfortunately her body is rejecting the lung transplant and she is back in the hospital awaiting another set of lungs.  Normally I wouldn’t ask for people to pray but I am scared; the current situation is grim.  She has already inspired thousands and I know that she could do so much more if her story included her survival.  I believe in the power of prayer and know that it works no matter what religion or lack of religion people believe.  When you send  warm wishes to someone it works and I am asking that you might take sometime to send some her way. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for lifting up my friend.

To get updates on her progress and to send your warm wishes please visit a blog  fivesisters that she writes with her sisters.  I will be sure to add more info as it comes and hope that her amazing story doesn’t end here but continues with a miracle recovery and a long life of dreams realized.

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Find me on pinterest

Check out my pin boards and other visual interests.  See pictures without having to fight the urge to read witty comments.

If you aren’t familiar with pinterest check it out today.  It’s a great way to share ideas, get inspired, and organize your inspiration while getting feedback from others.  It’s awesome. Find me at https://pinterest.com/secretword/

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Forget about going Paperless, at least when you Decorate.

Paper isn’t just what hip hop stars chase after and  more than a pile of mail on your counter.  It’s something we are so used to seeing and work on reducing that we forget that there are ways to enjoy it.

Rice paper has been used for centuries in Chinese design.

And is an elegant lighting solution.

 Paper can be used for creative decorating solutions.

You can even customize wall paper.

 Fine artists even use paper for installations.

And don’t forget about making paper chains, so easy 5 year olds do it all the time.


Paper is so easy to source and so lightweight that you can hang it from almost everything.

 Here’s a room I am working on in my house using some old children’s encyclopedias.

If you do this make sure that you really saturate the paper with lots of water before you attach to the wall.  Soaking the paper will make sure that each sheet stretches and shrinks equally.  I was able to wallpaper this room for less than $20 (books and paste).

Another way that I used paper to decorate was to cut several different sized circles and stitch them together down the center.  After stitched I folded the pieces making the garland 3D.  I used old sewing manuals for this.

 Snow flake garland is also easy to make, just stitch across the tops (not the center) of the flakes

leaving enough space for each to hang.

Here is a cute idea for Valentine’s Day.  You don’t need a sewing machine, just a some scissors, stapler, and string.

Cut it, fold it, paste it, stitch it, enjoy it!

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How to Give Your Space an Accent: Texture

Texture is the icing on the cake when it comes to interiors.  Nothing warms up a space like texture.

There are two main components that I forcus on when it comes to texture: Pattern  and Surface.

Pattern is simply the element such as lines, stripes, and organic shapes that draw the eye in.

Pattern can be organic like the branches on the back wall or the zebra stripes.  They can also be geometric like the texture created by the wall of shelving.

 Pattern can be added to a room as wallpaper, pillows, throws, rugs…

When adding in a bold pattern (such as the stripes on the wall pictured above) be sure to add a place for visual rest (such as the white sofa).

It’s good to add a pattern to a hallway; this will hide all the scuffs better than a solid wall.

And if you are great with a measuring tape and level you can hang similar sized images to create a grid pattern on a focal wall.

Even with a minimal amount of pattern a room can be transformed.  Imagine how stark this room would be without the stripes.

When you use pattern it is good to use bold patterns in small amounts so they don’t over power the room.  If you do go big and bold be sure to have something that is also solid and neutral so that your eye can rest when needed.

Surface Texture:

Surface is defined by the tactile experience, what something feels like or what it is made of.

It can also be created unintentionally with items such as large stacks of video, books, mail… that’s why it is so important to eliminate clutter.

In this room the texture and color of the rug give this room a fire element.  The wooden table complements the rug and feeds that fire.  The solid white sofa and apulstered chair offset the deep texture of the rug and pave the way for the printed accent pillows.  The wire basket on the floor provides an elegant solution for the new papers and magazines and the books on the shelves are also organized by size and color making the stock of them appear organized.  The lower shelves hold the random books where they are less likely to be noticed as clutter.

 This antique shop is merchandised where the differnt textures complement each other.  The cold cast iron figure featured on the chest to the right complements the warm wood of the chest it self.  The floral arrangement on the marble accent table (back left side of room) complent much in the same way where the cold marble is softened and warmed up by the petals of the flowers.

The huge paintings in this room work because the texture of the paintings is balanced with lots of solids and the repitition of wood elements.  If you look closely you can see that there is lots of variation in the repeated themes.   Each time an element was repeated it was done using a different surface texture.  For instance, the color yellow is used 3 times: the pillows are woven cotton, the chair is velvet, and the curtains are raw silk.

Some of my favorite textures include:

leather, I love it!  It ages beautifully and if made well can last a really long time.

Fur: Fur is more versatile than you might think.  You can buy rugs, throws, and pillows made of fur and it comes in almost every color and nap imagineable.

Stone is another one of my favorites that is also extreemely versitile.  Stone can be used for flooring, for a wall surface, furniture, and accessories.  There are many different kinds of natural stone to choose from as well as many synthetic versions made from recycled glass.

One of the most collected materials in the world is glass.  It can be used in the same way that stone can only glass can be transparent.

Ceramics are also used like stone and is usually a cheaper alternative.

Wood is also  a terrific material to use when you want to make a space feel a little richer.  Wood floors and furniture are among the most popular uses of this material.

And you can’t forget textiles.  With today’s technology the variety is almost limitless.   One of the easiest and most impactful changes that you can make to a room is to change the textiles used.



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Bottled up for the Holidays

If you like to give small gifts here’s an idea on how to make it even more special.

No, It’s not a gift basket and I won’t say what I bought my friends and family this Christmas but I will say that it is small. This year I felt it was important to do something little and when it came time to decide on wrapping I felt stumped. 

I searched the internet for ideas on DIY wrapping ideas and came across some neat  things to try.

Wrap gift in a gift, like wrap a book in a T-shirt or fabric, etc… It doesn’t work with the gifts I bought/made but it is still a cute idea.

Or you can wrap a box in a box in a box in a…                                                                                                                       

Making something little bigger defeated my purpose since I am going small because I don’t want to bulk up my baggage when I fly home this season.  I’ll be the first to admit that opening a present is sometimes the best part so prolonging the anticipation is fun.

And if you can’t figure out what to wrap that special gift in you can always send your loved ones on a scavenger hunt to find their treasure.  Personally I like this one, but you have to give good clues and not exhaust the seeker. 

With all that in mind I still wasn’t sure how to wrap these precious mementos and then it dawned on me.  I should bottle them. 

Bottles come in all sizes and can be purchased cheap.  This 2 oz bottle cost less than $.80 and can hold a treat and a written message.

Bottles can be filled with colored sand, confetti, or lined with something to conceal its precious cargo.

You can even make the tiniest gesture more special by placing it a bottle.

Although a bad example, Angelina Jolie and ex-Billy Bob used to wear vials of each others blood to show the world that they were always with each other.  I didn’t take my concept to this level but there’s nothing crazy about keeping your child’s baby teeth or a lock of hair behind glass

And If you are shipping out your gift and you don’t want it to break you can use a tin instead.  This one holds 4 oz and would be perfect to conceal a necklace, bracelet, or earrings. 


And when it comes time to put all the gifts under the tree consider putting them in a basket that can be passed around for people to find their tokens of love. 

Each of the bottles shown on this post were purchased for less than a dollar and hopefully will be used after the holidays to house their trinkets.  I shopped around and found the best deal at an US based company called  Specialty Bottle .  If you like this idea I suggest you check them our and place your order within the month so you have time to play around with your ideas.  I will share my complete basket when I receive my order and hope you will share your ideas too.

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Bedroom Feng Shui and Home Grown Crystals

Three weeks of decision making, a new headboard, one twisted ankle, and a whole lot of Feng later I am so pleased with the transformation that is being made.  The energy en la cama (bedroom) is so good I can’t believe it’s the same room.



I love how easy it has been to make the minor updates!  Here’s a look at what’s new and a few ideas I have to keep the chi flowing.

This silk screen was hand painted and hangs in the education corner.  While it’s not recommended to have a water feature in the bedroom the element of water is good for education so I am counting on the color blue to do the trick.


This silk screen is on the corner to help put you in the 1%; the financial trigram.  It really has nothing to do with the traditional Feng Shui ideals so I should probably consider replacing it with either something useful. Right now it is just adding balance to the room but hasn’t done anything to balance my check book.

This painting I did in college.  It was one of my favorites and I am glad I held onto it.  It hangs in the cash money corner of the room and I hope the round eucalyptus leaves help bring some bling my way.

I painted this lovely couple to hang in my romantic corner.  It is said that when you are dating you should keep your eyes wide open and when you are married keep them half shut; this paintig helps me follow that wise advice.

I also pulled this patio chair inside for the winter. It a nice combo of Ying and Yang energies with the hard wood and the soft woven.  The mohair serape is a happy find and  adds to the fire in the corner.  I didn’t think that we had room for a chair in here, but after getting a bigger bed and moving some things around it was easy to add one more piece of furniture to the room.  They all just needed to be in the right place and serve a purpose. 

Speaking of purpose,

 crystals come up a lot in Feng Shui and are good when placed in the Southwest, West, and Northeast parts of your house and in those areas of specific rooms.  You can use man-made crystals or natural ones.  My feeling is that natural is probably better and man-made sounds terrific only if you make yourself.

One super easy man-made crystal is salt. 

Salt crystals can be made by dissolving a bunch of salt in hot water and letting the water evaporate leaving larger crystals.

You need to tie a string to a pencil or something and suspend the end of that string in the salt water to start a seed crystal and everything will form off that initial starting point.

Salt also has some wonderful benefits that should be explored.

Salt gives off negative ions which have been known to help the body heal, help with mental clarity, and help improve the quality of air.

The bricks in this room are carved from salt and have a healing effect.  People who suffer from asthma find comfort in a room like this.

This is a brick carved from Himalayan salt and was used to make the walls in the room pictured above.  I spent some time in a salt room in a resort in Vegas and it was lovely. In many practices of energy healing salt is used to purify and to absorb/neutralize bad energy.

When you buy crystals you should surround them with salt to “clean” them.

In Feng Shui you can salt a room by sprinkling a line of Salt around the perimeter and after a week you can vacuum it up and all the stagnant energy will be gone. Don’t do this until you have organized and gotten rid of clutter.

I intend to grow my own salt crystals  as a symbolic metamorphosis of the energy in each intended area and plan to experiment with salt as a sculptural material.  I’ll be sure to add my progress as it comes up!

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