Fireplace Romance

home with a fireplaceSome close friends have just moved into a beautiful, classic Victorian townhouse and I’ve dutifully been round to admire the place.

I have to say it is absolutely stunning and I’m more than a little bit jealous.

It’s not just the lovely appearance on the outside either, the rooms are perfectly proportioned with high ceilings and lots of natural daylight, and the place is crammed with original features.

I am guessing that our friends will be spending lots of time at reclamation yards over the coming months kitting out their pride and joy with lovingly restored treasures.

And I can’t even imagine how much they paid. Just look at the listings for some Oak Forest homes for sale in the same neighborhood, these homes aren’t cheap!

One of my favorite things about properties from this era is that the bedrooms have fireplaces.

There is something so cozy and romantic about peaking over the duvet at a roaring fire from the depths of double beds whilst outside the world is cold and snowy!

Choosing a fireplace for your bedroom is only really advisable in a period property otherwise it might look slightly odd. Any room without a chimney breast in fact may well look strange with a fire in it – particularly on the first floor.

To pick the best fireplace for your bedroom then start by working out what is most appropriate for your house. Different styles of fire will work better with certain types of chimney so make sure you consult an expert.

If you are trying to retain the integrity of the property as well then go for a fireplace which matches the style prevalent in the period which the house was built in and get an original model if at all possible.

Make sure you position furniture carefully too – that gorgeous new wooden bed frame from Bensons For Beds will not look great with an unsightly scorch mark down the side of it!

A fireplace can make a bedroom perfect so choose wisely and enjoy the results for years to come.

How do you find the best spa?

finding a good spaOne of my favorite things to do if and when I ever get some free time is to spend a day at a spa being totally pampered by other people.

Even if I can’t afford the time to take a whole day, even a few hours can completely turn around my entire week.

And you don’t need to have a special occasion to go either.

There’s nothing like getting a great massage, a nice deep cleansing facial and your nails done all while wearing a nice comfy thick robe and drinking cool teas.

And I’ve been lucky enough to go to quite a few different spas.

And I can tell you that the quality of each can sometimes be extreme.

So how do you know if a spa’s good?

Obviously the best source is just ask your friends where they go. Although many times am pretty surprised how many of my friends actually don’t even go to a spa.

I guess they think it’s really expensive. But it’s not as expensive as you would think.

And trust me, the cost is well worth the experience.

So if you don’t happen have any friends that go to spas and give you a good recommendation, the next best thing is going to be to use the Internet to find one.

Let’s say for example am looking for spas in Leesburg VA.

All I would do is open up Google and Google spas in Leesburg Virginia.

Now you’re probably going to get quite a few listings depending on how big the city is where you live.

So that’s the first step. The next step is to see if there are any reviews of each of the spas around your area.

Take a look at the reviews and see what people are saying. Try to understand that the real reviews as well. There’s nothing like seeing a place that has 10 great reviews and going there and having the worst time of your life. That has happened to me once. So I’m serious about that.

After you find a few that look good, give them a call and see what their prices are like.

See what kind of services they offer them what’s included and what costs extra.

Sometimes spas will list fees that are like massage $65 an hour, but when you get there and asked for something like a Swedish massage, you find out the Swedish one is $100 an hour.

So be very specific when you’re asking questions.

Another way to look at different spas is to do just that. Take a look at them.

Drive by and see what they look like.

Not being superficial or anything, but if I drive by a spot it looks like an old broken down wood shack, I doubt very much that they are going to be anything I’d like to do business with.

A nice spot should look nice as well. Well cared for and clean. If not the chances are your experiences going to be equal to the way the place looks.

And don’t think you have to go to the most expensive looking place either. Just something that’s halfway decent, clean and they seem to have friendly staff can be one of the best days at the spot you ever had.

Hope this doesn’t seem like too much to do. In the end it’s really worth it. After all, your sanity may be on the line.

Shooting My Ashes into Space?

space-funeralAfter my last article on buying the starved for your baby I thought it would be cool to stay in this whole space themed thing and write about a website I just happened to find.

Since the last article was about the beginning of life, this article is going to be about the end-of-life.

What I’m talking about here is the idea of having your ashes shot out into space after you perish.

Now that might seem a little weird and I guess it is to appoint.

But how cool would that be? To have your ashes literally shot out into space and the float around for all of eternity?

In the Japanese tradition most people choose to have their bodies cremated anyway. The only part that’s actually different is that instead of putting the ashes in an urn and putting it in a small burial space , you would just give your ashes to the company and they will put them on a rocket and send them out to space.

From there your ashes would be  jettisoned into the atmosphere. Although I don’t think you call it an atmosphere since there is no atmosphere, but I have no idea what the word would be.

And you don’t even have to give them all the ashes. You can just choose to give them a little or all of them. It’s totally up to you.

Although this is one of many cool funeral memorial ideas I’ve seen, I don’t know if I would actually do this.

In the Japanese edition the ideas you have a kind of family crypt. This is where not only you but your ancestors come to pay their respects and remember you.

And that brings me to another point, if you shoot all your ashes up into the sky then how’d does somebody actually pay their respects?

I guess this could come as to ways. Either the idea that every time they look up at the sky it’s kind of given you or respect. Or on the negative side, there really is no way.

Not only that, our traditional tomb sweeping day would be pretty difficult when there’s no tomb.

If you don’t know what tomb sweeping day is, it’s an Asian holiday where you’re living family members go to your ancestral resting places and literally sweep the tomb.

You clean the tunes up, plant flowers and burn incense.

You remember your ancestors and pray.

It’s actually a pretty cool holiday. And one that I try to keep alive even though I’m living in America with my family. I just think there’s some traditions that you should try to keep the matter where you’re from or where you live.

So if I did have my ashes shot out into space on a rocket, I think I would only give them a little bit. I would still want some to be placed in an urn so that my future family can at least remember me from time to time.

Getting a Star certificate for My Baby

So it finally arrived today!my star certificate

My baby’s star certificate. After today, our son officially owns one of the stars in the galaxy.

Now I know you’re probably wondering what this is all about?

All the walls in our house have either pictures of our family, paintings or some kind of certifications or certificate of achievement.

And they really make the house feel homey and “ours”.

It was my husband’s idea to think about how we could decorate the walls of our son’s room with something that he isn’t going to grow out of in a few years.

So rather than pictures of pink pandas and Winnie the Pooh, we wanted to begin decorating with something that would last for years and years to come.

And that’s when my husband said something about wouldn’t it be cool if we could give him some sort of certificate for something.

Honestly I thought it was a dumb idea!

But he started searching the web for the word certificates and found the website about how to buy a star, get it named after you and get a certificate of ownership.

After he showed me a picture of what the certificates are supposed to look like, I started to get enthusiastic about the idea as well.

I like the whole idea of a star named after our son. It’s just such a positive image.

And I also like the idea of him waking up to that image every single day for as long as he lives in our home. And it’s not like it costs that much. So we went with it.

And today we got our star ownership certificate in the mail.

I have to admit, it looks pretty cool. It really does look official.

We are going to go out later on today to a frame shop to get it professionally framed.

We don’t mind spending a little money to make this a really special gift for our son.

And like I said, this is something that’s going to hopefully hang on his wall for very long time to come.

Who knows? Maybe it will inspire him to become an astronomer. Or even an astronaut.

The futures coming pretty quick. Maybe by the time he’s my age there really will be spaceships shooting around the galaxies. You really just don’t know.

And maybe just a simple little gift could really be what inspires our son to literally reach for the stars.

Just that thought makes me feel warm inside.

What about you? What is hanging off in your child’s walls? And do those images inspire them at all?

It really is something the think about.

Let me know, just leave a comment below. I’d really like to know.

America’s Women Are Homeless

homless-womanI was just browsing the Internet and I came across this quote. It states how America has the largest number of homeless women and children in all the industrialized world.

“These are interrelated, of course. Seventy million women and the children who depend on them are living in or on the brink of poverty in America. Among industrialized nations, the U.S. has the largest number of homeless women and children.” – you can check out the article here.

I think that’s just insane. You would think with all our technological advances and all the money that is floating around in America, we wouldn’t be keeping our women and children homeless.

But it brings me to a bigger point. I think one of the biggest problems is simply the breakdown of the family in America.

Think about it, how many families actually sit down and eat dinner together at a dinner table? How many families go out on outings together once the kids are passed puberty?

And worse, how many children still take care of their parents when their parents are old and retired?

There just doesn’t seem to be anything about close knit families anymore. Everybody scrambling to do their own thing. That includes the kids as well as the parents. And with less time because parents have to work, or they’re just selfish and party, or for whatever other reason, it just seems that families are spending less and less time together.

panhandler-womanI do remember growing up when it came down to dinner time, everybody was at the table helping get the silverware put out the plates and all of that.

Often times today when I call my children to dinner, they just wanted grab a plate of food and run back to whatever they were doing. Whether it be watching TV, playing on the Internet, or playing some stupid game on the iPhone.

And when I do actually make them sit down around the table and turn everything off, I’m finding it harder and harder to get them to talk about their day as they grow older. Their answers are becoming shorter, less revealing, and typically just cookie-cutter types of answers. Like they’re just saying what I want to hear.

I’m trying to respect my children’s privacy, but I really want them to understand the importance of family. I mean if you don’t have family, what do you have? Even if you’re rich, money really can’t buy love. Especially the level of a family. That’s me is the most priceless object in the world.

I’d be interested to know what you guys think about this. Does your family sit down around the dinner table like you see in the old Waltons episodes? Or is it more the hectic scenario I just wrote about above?

I’d love to know.

A Rich Life With Less Stuff

garage-saleWe decided to have a garage sale this weekend. It’s that time a year, spring cleaning and get in all the old stuff out of the house and usually, into the garage.

But this year we realized the garage is so darn full, there is nowhere to put anything new. Hence the garage sale this weekend.

Going through all the stuff that we’ve accumulated in the last 20 years really made me realize the weight of it all. This may sound a little strange, but I’m serious. I feel weight of all the stuff on my shoulders. And I’m really looking forward to getting rid of all of it come this weekend.

I think it’s good to make me feel a lot lighter. Knowing that I’m not responsible for all this stuff. And not being faced with all the wasted money, time and any other kind of waste things I could come up with.

I mean some of this stuff is just really junk. Why ever bought it I have no idea. We literally have things still in boxes with their price tags on it.

I was thinking about just given them as Christmas gifts to someone else. But lately have been trying to do more crafts and do-it-yourself sort of things for Christmas gifts for all my relations. They seem to like it. Or they’re just polite liars, who knows?

But seriously, and that they can apply about the whole minimalist movement that’s going on. I like it. And I’ve kind of vowed to myself that I’m going to start taking up a lot of their battle cries.

I mean how much stuff do I really need? Were not rich, but were deathly not poor. Any amount of money that we spend on all this junk could be put into investments, the house, paying off our mortgage and car loans. Freeing ourselves from a lot of stress as well as just feeling so much lighter and better.

I watched a video that I’ll post here. It really made me think what life would be like with no responsibilities whatsoever other than my actual family. I mean things like mortgages, car loans, car pulls and all the other dumb little things that seem to accumulate once you get married and have kids.

What if I could just live on an island and enjoy the beach every morning, homeschool my children and give them a life that most people only dream about.

In the funniest part of the whole situation is, it’s far cheaper to live that way. They be not here in America, but most other places in the world you can get by with far far less than what we spend even not living on the beach.

I also ran across a blog, but I can’t find it now. It is about a family who did exactly that. They both work online and do some sort of online businesses. And they don’t even make that much. Just a few thousand dollars a month. But looking at the pictures of our life, I must say that right now I would gladly trade places.

Well not to drone on about all this, just made me think about how much stuff do I really need to have a happy life? It really does seem like not all that much. Especially after watching these videos. And reading that blog. Just one more thing to think about I guess.

Here’s another video that I thought was good. And I think it’s fitting to end this post with. Just give it a thought, it may change your life.

Anyone reading this living the minimalist’s life?

Time For A New Dress?

You would think after having a garage sale and even posting about the whole minimal lists movement and how it made me think a lot, the new-dresslast thing I would want is to buy something new.

But… I just did anyway.

I love browsing the Internet for all kinds of different things. I also do a lot of shopping on the Internet. I love sites like Amazon or eBay. You can get some pretty awesome deals. And it’s all shipped right to your home.

But I also love to do a lot of close shopping. You save an awful lot of money by doing your shopping online rather than going to a retail place like some shop in the mall. I mean it just makes sense. That shop at a mall has to have employees, pay rent, and tons of other overhead that I couldn’t even imagine having.

But when you have a website you cut so many costs of course you can sell products cheaper.

Anyway, to get back on track, I just wanted to share a picture of the new dress I just bought. I forgot how I stumbled on some fashion site, but I saw the dress and fell in love with it.

And it just so happens that I have a few extra dollars from the garage sale last week. Isn’t it nice when all things in the galaxy align? It was only $96 with shipping. And I really like the unique design of it. Some excited to get it. I just hope it fits the way I’m hoping it’s going to fit.

It’s Jim’s parents 40th wedding anniversary in a few weeks. And it’s usually it a really nice affair in their local country club. Yeah, they have country club memberships. Something we do get to enjoy when we occasionally go there for the weekend. But were not quite there to get our own yet. Someday though!

The site does have some pretty risky things, but I’m feeling a bit old for some of those. But who knows, maybe the hubby would still be interested? Besides, not something I’d be wearing to an anniversary.

Let me know what you think? Anyone else know these guys?

The ceremony of Coming of Age Day

The ceremony of Coming-of-Age Day. (Seijin-no-hi, ????)

japanese coming out dayThe Japanese Coming of Age Ceremony (Seijin shiki or Seijin no hi) is a Japanese annual event, which takes place on the second Monday of January (it used to be celebrated always on January 15 until the year 1999), on January 15 th is a national holiday.

On this day, men and women who have had their twentieth birthdays during the year are proclaimed to become adults and they are eligible to vote, to smoke and drink, if they wish.

Along with the bestowal of many new rights, they also must bear the responsibilities of adults.

As styles of ceremonies are different from region to region, it is common for 20-year-olds dressed in formal outfits including many young women usually wear brightly colored, gorgeous kimono called “furisode”(swinging sleeves) and the young men don new suits to attend the celebrations held in their hometown and visit shrines.

Today, Many young men wear western style suits, but if you`re lucky, you might see one in a formal black kimono with five mon (family crests), hakama, and haori (samarai style).

20_1Local governments usually have a ceremony known as a seijin shiki (adult ceremony) to honor the “new adults”. Here in Houston it’s held at Treebeads event space Houston.

The ceremony is generally held in the morning and all of the young adults maintaining residency in the area are invited to attend.

Government officials give speeches, and small presents are handed out to the new adults.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the government gives the new adults a money gift.

After the ceremony, the young adults often gather in groups and go to parties or go out drinking.

Young women not used to wearing the slippers known as zori can often be seen limping as the afternoon wears on and evening approaches.

Later in the evening, it is not unusual to see wobbly young adults staggering in the trains, heading happily home after a day of celebration

Japanese Couple’s cups or meoto chawan

Japanese Couple’s cups or meoto chawan

meioto-yu cupsThe married-couple teacups are called meoto-chawan (夫婦茶碗) or meoto-yunomi (夫婦湯呑み), This is the meoto means “husband and wife or married couple” in Japanese , traditional set of teacups (yunomi) for couples.

The cups in this set are matching with the exception that the cup for the husband is slightly larger while the wife’s cup is smaller.

Sometimes they’re given to couples as a gift for newlyweds.



Size of cup:

Husband’s cup:  height ca 8.5 cm, diameter 6.5cm
Wife’s cup: height ca 8 cm, diameter 6 cm


meoto-chawan (夫婦茶碗)








•    meoto-chawan (夫婦茶碗)

meoto-yunomi (夫婦湯呑み)

•    meoto-yunomi (夫婦湯呑み)

meoto-hashi (夫婦箸)





•    meoto-hashi (夫婦箸)