Sunday, July 8, 2012

Friday, February 24, 2012

Happy Friday and a Happy Tune for You

Happy Friday Everyone!!

Here's a Piano Cover of a fun tune I'm working on. No name yet - any ideas?

 Song 14 Catchy C by Karen Olivia

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Thrifting and Making Over Furniture

     As many of you know, I love thrifting and finding old pieces of furniture to redo.  I also love ogling before and after photos to see how other people have imagined new life into old pieces.  If any of you have not been over to Rashon Carraway's blog called Mr. Goodwill Hunting - it's a must for DIY ideas and really cool projects that he's done.  I'm showcasing some of my favorite pieces that he's redone in this post.  Rashon was invited to do a segment on Nate's design show.  This bright sideboard really "wowed" me.  I can just see what this sideboard originally looked like - who would have thunk to paint it such a bright color.  But the way Rashon mixes it in with the other pieces - it totally works!

           This proves that you can paint a piece of wood furniture anything you want - the trick is mixing it in with everything else in the room.  Rashon mixed it with more neutral elements and accents in a similar color family - Orange.

I have a secret love affair with plaid.  I just thought it was so fun how Rashon accessorized this wing chair.  Without the accessories, it would look like a sensible wing chair with a modern black look.  With the plaid and the suspenders - it really changes things up and makes the chair pop.  The suspenders are just fun!

I've seen this kind of dresser at flea markets or garage sales countless times.

It's astounding that with only some new hardware the
 handles and some paint, that it could look so high end?

This is one of my favorite transformations from Rashon's blog.

And it's because of the color he chose to paint this desk.  The color is an Amazing shade of green.  It reminds me of the shades used for the Marie Antoinette movie.  It can be paired with so many other colors as well because of it's soft palette.

I'm not very imaginative when it comes to
remaking lamps other than some spray paint. 

 So when I saw what Rashon did with this lamp, I just stared and stared at this photo. 
Isn't it awesome?  Notice the contrasting ribbon and that he sprayedthe top piece of
the lamp to match the base as well.  What an eye for color.

Here's Rashon himself in a dapper velvet jacket. 
I have a soft spot for velvet jackets as well.  Hope
you got some inspiration from Rashon's projects. 
Definitely check his blog out.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Just for Fun - Washing Instructions

Saw this and had to chuckle.

Sad but true...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Fabulous Asian Themed Pillows

       So I have to admit that I have a bit of a pillow addiction.  I keep a collection of different pillows I rotate in and out.  It's the cheapest and easiest way to change up a room a bit without spending a fortune.  I discovered these wonderful pillows on a cute site called Wanderloot.  Frankly, I'm bit jealous of what the site owner, Julie.  She travels all over and finds great stuff in limited quantities to offer.  Anyways, check out the pillows which I'm really in love with.  They'll be sure to give some color and character to any room.  I'm nabbing a couple of these myself.

 Love this rendition of a Geisha girl.

Sometimes, the back side of a person or object 
can be more alluring.  A bit of mystery never hurts.

Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil...  
It's a popular saying and pops up a lot in 
the Nikko region of Japan.

Two sweet Chinese girls in Cheongsam dresses.

 Judging from the head dress, here's a Qing dynasty 
manchu noble woman from the last dynasty in China.
 A Shanghai Girl - I particularly love the style of Cheongsams 
or Chinese dresses from the 1930's in Shanghai.  
 Photos from Wanderloot

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

An Inspired Turquoise Glass Kitchen

     Now That's how you can use glass tiles!  I am totally obsessed with glass tiles (I think they're the greatest invention.)  It goes perfectly together with my love of color.  This kitchen combines traditional and classy elements (cabinetry and marble) with a modern sense of color.  Just can't argue with the brilliant tile that's carried all the way to the ceiling, topped off with crown molding.  Designed by Bridget McCullin of New Jersey. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year - A New Project - A New Me

As many of you noticed, I took a hiatus from blogging for about half a year.  2011 was a year where I experienced internal conflict about many things.  I didn’t have any tragedy happen, in fact I have a lot to be thankful for in my life.  But there were a lot of things in my life I wasn’t happy or content with.  Over the years, I’d gone into this auto-pilot mode of jumping from obsession to obsession outside of work and then having a career meltdown every 3-4 years (where I would panic, stress out, and frantically search for other careers – resulting in practicality winning out, stomping the panic out, and carrying on.)

I had another meltdown this year that resulted in a month of no sleep (believe when I say I love to sleep,) during which Steve Jobs passed away.  I watched the commencement speech for Stamford in 2005 and the last few minutes of the speech really got me thinking.  Over the years, I’ve read a lot of self help books (what can I say?  I like to think I’m working on improving myself.)  I am a total nerd, self-professed neurotic (but a highly functioning one), and a bookworm.  The two things people notice when they come to my home is my taste in furniture and the number of books I have.  It took me forever, but I finally broke down and bought a Kindle - only because it got ridiculous when packing to travel (12 hardback books takes up about half the space in a carry-on suitcase,) so I bought a Kindle for travel.  At home, I still like my physical books thank you very much – I have a theory about the difference between physical and digital books, and because I disagree at times with how the publishing industry is trying to sell books digitally.  I digress – back to the meltdown at hand.  Probably because I hadn’t slept in 3 weeks and was desperate to sleep regularly again, I really took Steve Job’s advice to heart.  He felt that the most important thing was to pursue and work on things he felt passionate about – and he felt that everyone should accept no less in order to be true to ones’ self.  The last two years, I had started reading all the books I could get my hands on about careers and finding one’s passion.  Jobs was adamant about not listening to naysayers or even what conventional wisdom has ingrained into us when it comes to finding the things we are passionate about.  I realized at that point, that my problem in finding the things I’m passionate about was coming from myself.  I had tried to look for something I was passionate about with a leash on myself.  I had unconsciously limited myself with, How am I going to make a living with what I love when it seems like it’s just a hobby? mindset.

For the first time, I could finally throw all of that out the window.   And I threw out my leash with a vengeance.  We all have to make a living.  Not all of us have the propensity to live a starving artist’s life, others have duties and responsibilities.  But there was no reason why I couldn’t use time outside of my day job to start exploring.  And start I did!  My day job is very logical and rational – which one side of me is, but the creative side of me has been starved for too long.  It’s why I sometimes feel like I have a Dr. Jekyll and Hyde personality.  The logical and creative side of me have been split out when they really should be combined – neglecting one side has also left me feeling imbalanced.

So this year, I’m making a serious commitment to tackle the things about myself I’m not happy with.  These things aren’t going to fix themselves.  Getting started is hard enough, even harder is changing habits.

 Resolutions for the Year 2012

1.)  Clean House and Storage
I really let myself go here when I was in auto pilot mode.  It doesn’t help that I’m a total pack-rat by nature.  While I’ll never be the minimalist type, I can vastly improve on getting rid of the excess of things I have in the condo I live in – and the storage unit (yes it’s that out of hand.)

 2.)  Play and Discover Passions with Abandon – Be True to Thyself

I have a really open type of personality where I see possibility in almost everything.  If you ask someone who knows me, they’re most certainly liable to say “Oh, Karen loves Everything.”  While this isn’t technically true, I can definitely see how it would seem so.  My answer is to try things out without giving thought to whether it’s practical or not – once I try things out, I’ll know whether I like it or not.  It may not be the most efficient way to figure out what I really enjoy, but it’s a sure way.  I’m going to figure out my passions this year – even if I hurt for it (I already have bruises from fencing, more on that later.)

3.)  Write, Write, Write

The thought of writing was born out of my love of reading, books, and stories.  I love a good story in any form – books, movies, song lyrics – you name it.  I thought about writing for a year and a half before I did anything about it (sad, but true – I am THAT good at procrastinating.)  Because I have such an open personality, I tend to start a lot of things – but not finish them.  It’s one thing that really bothers me about myself.  I reasoned that I needed a healthy dose of discipline, so I signed up for writing classes which meant I would have deadlines to turn in assignments – and feedback.  I have taken 4 writing classes so far in different genres, and have really enjoyed them (well, some more than others because I’m terrible at some genres.)  I still procrastinate.  I really need to get into the habit of writing at least 5 days a week plus work towards completing two writing projects I have decided on.  A novel and a collection of humor essays.   

4.)  Try my hand at Writing Songs – Incorporate Music back into my Life

Many people don’t know this about me, but I’m a serial musician.  I literally collect and dabble in playing instruments.  When I was young, I took years of classical piano and violin lessons.  I’ve recently pulled many of my instruments out of storage and started playing again – and bought new instruments.  Like the Ukulele, a bass guitar, and a five string electric violin – a weird combo I know.  A more recent discovery about myself is that I completed the melody / accompaniment of two songs.  I never thought of myself as someone who was creative enough to write songs – but I had such a good time completing the two melodies for the songs that I really want to give song writing a try.  Whether or not the songs are good is an entirely different story, but I’m having fun.    

5.)  Start a V-Log

I’ve been thinking about starting a V-Log and would like to start one this year.  I’m in the process of swapping my camera for one that can also do video and took a 1 day digital film making course to learn basics – it was fun.  I have no designs or inkling to become a director, maybe only for my own V-log ^_^

6.)  Create and Lead a Japan Tour with a Fun Group of People

I’ve always loved travel.  It’s one of the few passions I have that hasn’t changed since I was young.  I go somewhere far every year – I go a little nuts if I don’t.  I think I got the bug from my mom, who – while being a very traditional and loving mom – is one of the most adventurous people I know.  While I have no plans of becoming a full time tour guide, I love sharing things I’m passionate about with another passion of mine - people.  I lived for almost two years in Tokyo and traveled all around Japan.  I think Japan is a fascinating country – one that can be a little daunting for westerners to visit because of the language and cultural barrier.  I would really love to put together an introductory tour of Tokyo and the surrounding area for those who want to travel somewhere new, do something different, and be able to do it with a fun group where one doesn’t need to worry about all the details on their own.  Like traveling with a group of friends and looking after each other.    

7.)  Lose those last few pounds.          

I know this is cliché, but you know how they say those last few pounds are the hardest to lose… They’re not getting lost on their own, so I’m putting it down on my list.  I’ve already consulted my personal diet guru (my brother - because he's tried just about every diet under the sun,) and I think his advice is sound.  His take is that there are no short cuts and the hardest thing is not losing the pounds, but rather keeping them off – which means if you’re on a diet you can’t sustain long term, don’t bother.  I’ve started calorie counting – and dieting is really hard for someone who loves food :(  The hardest thing for me is portion control.  More on this later.

8.)  Family & Friends (Old and New)
I think quality of life boils down to striving for a healthy life.  This includes maintaining healthy relationships, because after all, the people in our lives are who enriches our lives by providing color and meaning.  I’d like to make it a goal to spend quality time with people in my life and to make new friends, who I can learn from and broaden my horizons.  

In Conclusion, I wanted to thank all of you who have been following my blog.  I received some really nice emails about missing my blog during my break.  Thank you for your patience with me.  I wanted to say that you will be seeing posts from me – not only about design, but also about other things.  I thought about maintaining different blogs, but it would be too much for me (already have a problem with focus hahaha.)  So I hope you will forgive me for expanding the theme of this blog from design to something more encompassing.  The design element will stay, but you may see book reviews, gift ideas, the latest activity I’m trying out, and etc.

Most of all, I’d love to hear from all of you.  What are you up to?  What are your thoughts?  Your resolutions?  Anything!

Happy New Year Everyone!