General

Cleaned My Dirty Chimney and Had it Repaired Yesterday

I can’t remember whether I’ve ever mentioned this before, but the home I live in is many years old.  Not Renaissance era old, but certainly more than 100 years.  The structure is well-built, mostly brick.  The house has 3 beds and 2 bathrooms that came with it, and it also has an attached garage that I had added onto it a few years ago.  When I first moved in, the property was in great shape, but the house was not.  The paint was coming off the walls, there was holes in the plaster, the wooden floors were scratched up, and the chimney was falling off the side of the house.  Over the first 6 months of living there, I cleaned the entire place out.  I got rid of the junk furniture, plastered the walls, refinished the floors with the help of some local experts, and repainted the walls and ceilings in every room in the house.  It was quite the feat!  The only thing I didn’t touch was the chimney…until yesterday.

I called a local chimney inspection company to check it out around 9:00 AM.  After about 15 minutes, we discovered that the chimney was in serious disrepair.  The brick walls of the chimney completely covered in creosote, which could start a fire and potentially burn my house down.  I wasn’t about to allow that, so I asked if cleaning was the best route to take.  As it turns out, it needed to be fixed prior to doing any sanitizing work because there was also holes in it and the bricks were separating from the house.  I’m surprised my neighbors never complained about it like they do for everything else.  Anyways, this company only did inspections, so I had to look for someone else to clean it.  After about an hour of searching online, I called a family-owned company that offered chimney services in Westchester.  They showed up in 15 minutes and spent the rest of the day repairing my chimney back to its former glory.  As it turns out, many of the chimney sweeps in this area charge crazy fees for repairs.  Luckily, the company we worked with was reasonable.  I’m happy to report that I am now creosote-free and looking forward to having a nice fire when the weather gets cold again.  Big thanks to the contractors that’s fixed everything for me on such short notice.  That was thoughtful and unexpected.

An Ideal Day of Self-Care

It used to be that taking care of yourself is such a strange idea. It also sounds selfish because you are expected to first take care of other people before yourself and almost all of your time must be spent on doing your responsibilities. But lately, we learn more and more how important self-care is and that it matters in our overall well-being. Self-care has a positive impact to our mental health and people are slowly accepting that fact. Despite knowing that, we still seem to fail at self-care. I, for one, is guilty of that. I mean, self-care seems easy, right? But actually, we are either too busy to take the time off from school or work or we are too distracted by the newest series on Netflix or chatting up with our friends on social media (although, to some people binging on a TV show or catching up with friends online can also be forms of self-care). My point is, we do not seem to give much importance on self-care even though we clearly know how important it is. But I will do better! Before jumping right into it, I want to plan out my ideal day of self-care and see what works for me.

My ‘self-care day’ will start by waking up from an eight-hour sleep. I take sleep for granted and I usually don’t have enough of it. Again, the idea is to take better care of yourself – so having enough sleep definitely contributes to that. After waking up, I will stay in bed just for a little while and not immediately get up to sleepwalk towards the bathroom, slightly panicking that I may already be running late. I want to take my time and enjoy being under the sheets, while perhaps reading a few chapters of a good book. Afterwards, when I feel ready to get up (what a sweet idea to just get out of bed only when you’re ‘ready’), I will prepare a simple, healthy breakfast and really sit down to eat it. Taking breakfast while dashing through the door to beat the morning rush hour is a personal tradition I’m willing to break.

Feeling quite fancy, the entirety of the morning can be spent on treating myself to a homemade spa or to a pamper session. Scented candles will be lit and everything. Or you know, if that is a bit of a stretch, just relax and listen to music or do something creative like practicing how to draw or work on some long-lost hobbies like gardening.

By noon, go out and have lunch with good friends that I haven’t seen in a while. Talk about how life has been for us; talk about future plans and supporting each other through everything. Just have a nice and sincere conversation with amazing people. Then, go home and take a refreshing nap. For dinner, be with my family and share some silly jokes around the table. Laughter is actually good for dieting because it can always make you feel full more than how food can and it has less to zero calorie.

As cherry on the top of a perfect, self-caring day, I will take a relaxing warm bath before bed, do my skin care routine (which I don’t bother with on most nights), write in my journal about what transpired throughout the day and about how grateful I am for all of that, and then perhaps meditate to be more mindful of the present and to stop worrying about past mistakes and about the uncertain future.

Self-care should look different to each person because you should listen to the needs of your heart and your soul. Some people go on a hike for self-care; some people dress up and go dancing. It all depends on you. But then it is also important not to overdo it and use it as an escape from your responsibilities, because escaping from something you need to confront will only make things worse for you and it is simply not self-care. That said, too much work or too much pressure to get productive is also not self-care. Find your balance. Good luck to us in taking better care of ourselves!

Journey from Interior Design to Fashion Design

A lot of young people dream of becoming a fashion designer and being among those at the top who get to show their design collection every season at the most prestigious fashion weeks. But fashion design is more than just being creative with textiles and coming up with designs for clothes. It is a highly competitive industry that requires more than just your creative talent. So, do you have what it takes to be a fashion designer?

Creativity and a Strong Sense of Style

Creativity and good taste will go a long way in fashion. To stand out in the fashion industry, you need to be innovative and original in your designs, drawing out inspiration from all forms of artistic discipline. At the same time, you need to be tasteful in combining eclectic ideas into your work. Creating a strong style that is unique to you but also appealing to your market will make you more memorable and successful. However, there is more to fashion design than simply being creative and stylish.

Artistic Abilities and Technical Skills

 A good fashion designer should be able to illustrate their vision into sketches, which shall then be used in the actual construction of the design. How good you are in expressing and communicating your design ideas (mostly on paper) is crucial to the final garment. You should also possess strong artistic abilities and a deep sense of understanding texture, color, and fabrics. Knowing what works with what is valuable. Having skills in sewing techniques is also a plus. The execution of a design is just as important as its conceptualization. All these can be learned through getting into a fashion designing program at school or even through self-study.

A small detail can make or break a design. It is the fashion designer’s responsibility to pay close attention even to the minutest detail. Shall it be in this shade of color or that shade? Shall there be four buttons or only three? Shall we leave it plain or with ruffles? These kinds of questions are what a fashion designer should be asking his/herself.

 

Fashion design is not something done in isolation. Instead, it is a collaborative work among highly skilled people. It is very much a team process where each person contributes to the overall success of the design. A garment passes through a lot of hands from its conception to construction down to the runway. A good fashion designer can work well with other people and is able to effectively communicate his/her vision to the other team members.

Grace Under Pressure

A career in fashion design is one for the tough. You will be constantly exposed to stressful situations such as harsh criticisms, meeting deadlines while still coming up with the most creative designs, cutthroat competition, and perhaps occasional disagreements with your team. The pressure in this industry can be too much but you got to keep your head held high and thrive despite all the difficulties.  I used to work in Portland, Oregon as an interior designer, and I can’t help but notice the similarities between interior design and fashion design. The knowledge and experience I’ve acquired transfers to this career nicely because instead of revamping a person’s kitchen, I redo their clothes and styling. It simply requires the same work ethic and a slightly different perspective.

 

Fashion is an interesting discipline because it combines art and commerce. One shall not exist without the other in fashion. And so, the business side of things is just as important to focus on as a fashion designer. Being business savvy will help you sustain your fashion brand and make it profitable. Marketing is also essential in having an edge against your competition.

Knowledge of the history of fashion is not necessarily a requirement but more of an advantage for you. Previous styles and fashion movements may serve as an inspiration when coming up with your designs. Also, you get to appreciate fashion even more and what it means to society as it continues to be ever-evolving.

Updated with the Current Fashion Trends

Fashion trends come and go and if you do not keep yourself updated with what is going on in your industry, you will be left behind and worse, you may design something that is already three seasons late. What you should be aiming at is setting the trend, not getting behind it.

Top Ways I Manage to Keep My Life Organized

I will like to firstly admit that I tend to be a control freak and am in the process of navigating the concept of “how to let things be.” Though I might talk a lot of patience and the importance of acceptance in this blog post, I would like to admit that I like doing things and activities as per the given schedules and plan. After all, who doesn’t, right?

When I do not feel my life under control, I start feeling overwhelmed & completely stressed out. With my personal experience, I have to know the fact that most of the things in life can be kept under control with a few useful techniques and routine.

In this post, I am sharing some of the ways in which I manage to keep my life well-organized. Here are some:

  • Google Calendar: Google Calendar has been my reliable partner for keeping my routine tasks well organized and managed effectively. I simply tend to list down all my important tasks on an hourly basis in the application, and it keeps me reminded of the same from time to time. As much of my work tends to be digital, it makes ultimate sense to me that I make use of the digital tools that help in planning my life conveniently.

 

  • Cleaning Schedule: I like keeping things around my well-organized and clean. As such, I follow a thorough cleaning routine –starting with my room. I start off with organizing my closet from time to time. Moreover, I always aim at cleaning and organizing other rooms of the house including the kitchen, bedroom, living area, and others as well.

 

  • Meal Planning: Now that I have started cooking for myself, I find that at most days I become stressed as I have to cook right back after work. To top it all, I am not utterly good at trying out new meals every time. Therefore, I have come across an application known as MealBoard that helps me in importing useful recipes that immensely easy to make and delicious to eat. In this application, you can also come across some of the grocery items based on your choice of food items.

 

Giving way into effective everyday planning and meal planning, I have managed to keep my life well-organized –well, most of the times!

The Secret to a Happy Life

One of the biggest questions that we, as a human being, can ask ourselves is “what makes us happy?” What is the secret to happiness in life? Is it money? Is it a successful career? Is it family? The list goes on!

To know about the secret of achieving happiness in life, it is all about thinking about life from a broader perspective. Though life might appear chaotic & clumsy at times, life has its own intent & purpose for each individual on this planet. Everything that is in existence has a motive in life and is moving towards achieving the same. In actual terms, it is the intention that drives all the possible movements in the universe. This can be observed in the planets, stars, all living organisms, plants, and the multiple choices that millions of human beings all over make almost every second. The given intention emerges from the deepest levels from the urge or expectation to “exist”. Everyone & everything in this world is simply trying to demonstrate or express the validation of one’s existence.

The “secret” to happiness is actually about achieving a level of awareness, understanding, and the general state of positive mindfulness that aims at acknowledging the fact that everything is perfect for the given moment including your existence. It is all about trusting life & its various circumstances at every turn of life on your continuous path of creative desires & expectations in life. It is more about embracing your path of life, your previous choices, and the belief in yourself to make stronger choices in the present & the future.

When you wish to truly unravel the secret to happiness, here are some points to consider:

  • Life is What You Make of It: No matter what the circumstance in your life might be, you must always have the understanding that life is what you make of it. The experiences in your life will always be the reflection of how you decide to respond & interpret situations in life. Positive is for positive & negative is for negative. The overall quality of your personal energy & how you perceive it happens to be creating all the given conditions in your life.

 

  • Your Reactions Reveal the Truth: Your inner truth at the deepest levels is what leads to your personal choices & experiences in life. What you usually believe to be true is something that will drive you to create. Life will mostly confront you with several challenges of varying complexities. The choices that you make in such situations are something that will drive the vehicle of your life.

 

You should have an understanding that the universe is here to support you at all times. It is both inside & outside what brings you to different experiences of life and by how you aim at responding to them. However, the universe can support you only as much as you support yourself.