7.28.2016

Renewed Focus

via instagram (@letterfolkco)

Ever feel like choosing to do one thing could change your life? Better yet. Do you ever feel like choosing to specifically do that one thing that you have ignored for so long will change your life? That is where I am exactly at this very moment. Well, not at this exact moment, because if I was answering that truthfully I’d have to say that at this very moment I am sitting in an oversized booth by myself in a coffee shop at 9:00pm on a Thursday drinking champagne (and writing this post). And before I go any further, please know that I’m not that asshole who decides to take up an entire booth even though they are sitting alone, thus preventing larger groups from having a place to sit. It is a coffee shop at 9:00pm on a Thursday. Everyone is going to be just fine. Did I mention I am drinking champagne in a coffee shop? Anyways, I digress.

So, back to the reason for this post.

The one thing that I have been ignoring for years has been this deep burning desire to write a book about my dating life. Part of me was convincing myself that I would fail if I attempted it, but I knew that was a lie. The other part was telling me that I needed to focus on writing for my business’s blog first, and then I could write my book. No matter what excuse I gave myself, though, the underlying problem was that, for some reason, I was denying myself what I knew would bring me both joy and success. Ironically, that sounds nothing like burning desire.  

When I started asking myself why this was happening, the main reason was that I was putting pressure on “The Solution Girl” to write for her business, even though “Lauren” wanted to write personally. So, I found myself having to choose between the two and I ended up choosing neither. Anytime I wrote a blog post for my business, which was either about organization or design, I became super bitter. Yes, both of those things bring me joy, but I felt that I was giving up writing about something closer to my heart as a result. Something had to give.

Then one day over breakfast (further proving that breakfast is, in fact, the most important meal of the day), it came to me. The Solution Girl does not have to be separate from Lauren. I have no desire to build an empire like Martha Stewart or franchise it off to others wanting to do the same thing in other cities, so if I make my business more personal, there is absolutely zero long-term harm. I am The Solution Girl, dammit, and if you want me then you are going to get all of me.

So, from here on out, you are going to get blog posts all the time – some still about organization and design; others about why I am apprehensive to date anyone who posts three or more pictures of them holding a fish on their Tinder profile. Yes. Not all of my blog posts are going to interest you; and that is something I have decided does not bother me. If I happen to lose some followers or client business as a result, then I am not going to judge it. I have a feeling, though, that I’ll also gain some followers and new business by being authentic and true to myself.

If you do find that you are grouped into the latter of the two, the ones who follow along as I take this journey, let me go ahead and thank you in advance. I have nothing but gratitude for folks who can appreciate the hilarity of my dating life. I mean, there is only so many dick pics a girl can receive before she feels compelled to share her stories with the world. You are welcome, in advance. Especially for that one story....well, I’m going to save that for another post.  

11.20.2015

Friday Finds: Knoll Pollock Chair


For the past two years I've been slowly doing design renovations on my home. Everything from plantation shutters to paint colors to ceiling fixtures to home furnishings. I started my business without any startup help from others and have no significant other in which to split the bills, so the process is taking longer than I would prefer. Patience is a virtue, though, and I've got plenty. 

With that being said, I've managed to find some pretty outrageous deals on some pretty outrageous vintage finds. One of my proudest is a first release Knoll Pollock chair that was mine for the mere price of $150. Of course I had to drive 5 hours to St. Louis in order to make that happen, but it was worth it. Being that the first edition did not come with wheels and sat a good two inches shorter than standard desk chairs, I had to get my father to help me alter it slightly at the base so it could actually be functional for me. I'm sure all of you are gasping at that last statement, but that's ok with me. It will never not be my chair and this short homegirl was tired of sitting on pillows just to check her email. Plus, I think it is a much greater travesty to see DIY bloggers slapping chalk paint on top of beautiful mid century wood furniture. Even Annie Sloan herself is probably shaking her head in disappointment.  But I digress.

Knoll was a genius, and his Pollock chair is and always will be one of my absolute favorites. That should come as no surprise, since 50 years after its release it is still an international best seller. If you google "Pollock Chair", you'll usually come up with more than enough images of it in office spaces. However, I like seeing it in unexpected places. Think dining rooms, breakfast nooks, or even an unexpected twist to a living room. The possibilities are endless.

My Knoll - first on right

Knoll
CoteMaison
HelloSukio via CocoKelley
Knoll
Pinterest

11.18.2015

Wednesday's Girl: Rug Pad Problems


So let me start off by saying that I love myself a good old rug. Not old as in the Pottery Barn rug you bought back in 2000 that has found a new home in your husband's man cave, because you don't care what happens to it at this point. We are talking hand woven Persian rugs that are probably older than Keith Richards looks. So really old. While I don't want to turn this into a whole post about my love affair with the antique beauties (I'll save that for another time), I do want to discuss the best way to keep them and your floors looking better than Keith Richards looks. So not horrible.

Now you might be tempted to disregard this blog post due to lack of excitement and inspiring pictures, but if you do not currently use rug pads (or use the cheap ones found in the household section of Walmart) then any excitement you might get from another blog post will be trumped by the terror that results when you see your hardwoods after a rug has been down without any protection (or the wrong sort of protection). Don't believe me? Let's test it out.

If you currently have had a rug in your home that has been down for at least a few months with a cheap pad or no pad at all, then go and look under it. I'll wait right here until you get back.

So what did you find? My guesses are dirt and dust at the very least, but discolored wood and markings at the worse. None of which are ideal and all of which are completely preventable if you invest in a quality rug pad.

So here is the low down if you like something more factual than visual (or don't own a rug or pad at all yet and want to weigh your options before getting either).

  • Most of the low quality rug pads are chemically rich and toxic breeding (VOC emissions)
  • Majority of low quality pads cannot breath under a rug, which result in odor & bacteria
  • Lack of breathing causes low quality pads to adhere to the floor resulting in damage
  • Without gripping a rug pad, allergy causing dirt and dust can easily gather under your rug
  • Low quality rug pads come with no warranty against damage to floors or life of the pad
No Rug Pad - dirt, food, dust and dulling floor after only 6 months
Now that I listed the problems with low quality pads, how about I share with you the benefits of investing in quality pads. I mean, obviously I was going to provide a solution for the problem I was presenting. Here it goes.
  • Quality pads are heat pressed, which ensures they contain no glues or adhesives 
  • Being made with natural rubber or felt, they are eco-friendly with no VOC emissions
  • Using high quality materials means no order or bacteria 
  • Using a quality rug pad ensures that dirt and dust stay off the floor
  • Buying a quality rug pad comes with a 20 year warranty
  • Quality rug pads are cut to order, which is important for antique rugs in unusual sizes
Premium Lock Rug Pag 
If at this point you still don't want to spend a little extra for a healthy home with floors that you won't have to one day repair, then whatever. I'm not going to judge. I'll just be hanging out on my super cushiony rug pad waiting for the day you ask me how to fix your hardwoods. I've got a solution for that woe, too. 

This post was sponsored by Rug Pad USA, though all opinions are my own. Actually, in my opinion they are the go-to for rug pads. Each rug pad is hand cut in the good U S of A; all orders ship fast and free; and they are offering my readers 15% off their next order. Simply use PR15OFF at checkout. No expiration date, because they are that awesome. 

Top Image via Design Crisis | All other images via The Solution Girl

11.17.2015

Finding A Voice 2.0



Last week I started things off with a post titled "Finding my Voice". It seemed to be fairly decent for the girl who hadn't written anything in months, but for some reason it just wasn't resonating with me. It had nothing to do with my voice not being actually found, mind you. It was more about feeling like I wasn't truly reaching the core of what had been bugging me for months. It was as if that post only scratched the surface. That I was only sharing up until a point where it felt comfortable. Not much about it felt truly authentic, which is pretty ironic considering it was suppose to be about finding my voice yet I wasn't saying what I wanted to say. With that being said (haha..like what I did there), I decided to give myself a redo. Here it goes. 

When I first started my business it was branded to provide organization and event planning services to those in the Middle Tennessee area, and that is pretty much what I did. Until I didn't anymore. It wasn't that I wanted to throw in the towel on everything - in fact, it was quite the opposite. Instead I decided to leave behind the event planning, which I had done for 10 years, and take on other requests that were coming my way. My clients started asking me to housesit, check on their pets, buy their groceries, return their impulse buys, help prepare a holiday feast, and the list goes on and on. Then came the surge of clients from other states requesting my services, which still has me in awe and feeling beyond grateful for this life I get to live. In the end, everything that has been coming my way not only provides me with a way to pay my bills (pretty necessary), but it gives me the opportunity to have days that are always different than the last. While some people are shocked I can enjoy not having a set schedule, embracing it all with ease has been second nature to me. I have always been the person who adapted quickly and took on any task that presented itself. I mean, I didn't get the nickname "The Solution Girl" for nothing. After all my hard work it seemed like finally my passions had finally intersected with the paycheck. 

It wasn't until a client of mine voiced her thoughts on the matter and told me that I was doing too many things and needed to narrow my focus. This floored me, because the last thing I would expect to hear from someone whose life I am organizing and whose to-do list I am handling is that I need focus. How was I to be a true "Solution Girl", if I only could be of help in a narrowed scope? Furthermore, would having a narrowly focused business really be something I wanted?

The contemplation didn't stop there, though. From that moment forward, I saw myself as lacking. In being able to provide solutions to many problems, was I actually somehow providing less than my counterparts that provide one particular service? If I wanted to write a post about a dish I cooked, did I have to turn into a food blogger? If I started doing interior design for clients, would I have to stop helping them with the organization? Would it even be possible to reach the masses if I didn't follow the "rules" setup by our society, whether that be in "real life" or social media?

It wasn't until a friend encouraged me to watch a TED talk on "multipotentialites" that I was able to answer those questions. Actually, it helped me to stop questioning myself and embrace how I was wired.

   

For those of you who haven't seen the talk (video above for those interested), the speaker basically explains that our culture is constantly telling us that we need to pick what we want to do and focus solely on it. That you need to have a job and stick with it. That you need to find something to focus on and put your all into it. However, she goes on to explain that not everyone is wired to thrive only focusing on one thing. That the people that society deems "without focus" are the same people who bring breath of knowledge to a project, because they have so much experience with a wide range of topics. It was like she was talking about me and what was weighing heavy on my heart, and heavy on my brand.

The moment the video ended, I could physically feel myself go from heavy to light.  Not only did it make me feel as though I am not alone in my way of thinking, but it encouraged me to stop finding a voice for my business that fits someone else's framework. To be honest, I'm not sure one focus is always ideal.

You know how many times I have come in after an interior designer redid a room and shake my head because the dresser they picked, though very pretty, has zero usefulness in holding actual clothing? More than you'd guess. Or what about that time I had to go in and re-organize an entire kitchen after a client inadvertently hired a crew of housekeepers to unpack them post move. Yeah, life gets ironically messy when the cleaning products are placed in closer proximity than the silverware. Sometimes the solution is as simple as knowing that just because someone can unpack a box doesn't mean they can find the proper home for the stuff in said box.

What I am able to provide my clients is truly special. With me you get someone who can help you pick out an amazing dresser that looks pretty yet has lots of purpose, and after I coordinate the delivery of said dresser I'll organize the clothing that goes in it. Hell, I will even goes as far as to find a coupon for that pretty dresser which will save you money so you can make it rain while admiring how awesome everything looks all folded and color coordinated. When I'm done with all that, I might go home, cook myself a dairy free meal (multipotentialites are not immune to milk allergies), take a few pictures of what I just cooked, and post the recipe and pictures to my blog. Then maybe I'll even post a picture to Instagram of my feet on one of my vintage Persian rugs that I bought for a steal on eBay, because sometimes I like to be super original and take never before seen pictures of my shoes on stuff. 

So basically you can plan on my voice encompassing any number of things, all of which I think you might find super useful in making life a bit easier. If not useful, then pretty. If not pretty, then maybe it will, at the very least, make you hungry. If not hungry then you don't like food as much as me, so maybe you'll just get the urge to buy a really old rug. Regardless, let's all just give thanks that my mom taught me how to speak at an appropriate volume, because my voice has a lot to say and is ready to be heard.

6.12.2015

OITNB: Cocktail + Drinking Game


For the past month I have been counting down the days until my mini vacation (three more days) and the release of Season 3 f Orange is the New Black.  Both of these things give me extreme pleasure, so when I was approached to come up with a cocktail and drinking game for Orange is the New Black, just like I did for another Netflix Original last year, I definitely did not pass up the opportunity.

Now coming up with a drink that embodies a particular show is not always an easy task.  Sure, Cosmos go hand in hand with Sex and the City and an Old Fashioned for House of Cards is a no brainer.  But what do you do for a show set in a women's prison?

You make hooch.

Well, actually you don't make hooch, because ketchup, old bread and fermenting everything yourself?  Yeah...ain't nobody got time for that (nor would you want time for that).  That's when I started thinking about something fermented, but still drinkable.  I was aiming for something that looked like the Kool-Aid version Poussey crafts in the show.  The all of a sudden all that thinking lead to a whole lot of drinking, and I ended up with a healthy fermented mixer mixed into my alcohol.  That's right, folks; Gin & Koombucha.  It is basically what would happen if Hooch involved a trip to a fancy liquor store and your local Whole Foods.  Not exactly something you get in prison, but also not involving moldy bread.    



The "If Piper Made Hooch" Hooch
Ingredients
Cubed Ice - use a funky ice cube tray (guns or perhaps some boobs, since that is fitting)
Gin (I used G'Vin Gin)
Ginger Kombucha (I used G.T.'s Trilogy)
Simple Syrup to taste
Club Soda (go for lower sodium, always)
Lemon Slice

Fill high ball glass with ice.  Pour in 1 part gin and 1 part kombucha (whatever ratio you like and based on the size of your glass).  Be sure to not fill the last 1/4 of the glass, so you can add the last of the ingredients.  Now, add a dash of simple syrup to taste (the less you pour the more tart your drink).  Stir well.  Finish by adding a splash of club soda.  Garnish with a slice of lemon (or perhaps an orange if you want to keep with a theme).

Now for the fun part....

Take a Drink...
  • Whenever Piper goes to someone for advice
  • Whenever someone gives Piper unsolicited advice
  • If you see eyebrows that drive you bonkers (over or under plucked)
  • If you see teeth that drive you bonkers (meth, anyone?)
  • Whenever someone mentions Rosie
  • Whenever someone goes to Sophia for a makeover (drink again if she sets them straight)
  • There is some sort of beef over whose cooking in the kitchen 
  • Red mentions something about Russia or being Russian
  • Anyone has a visible hickey  
  • Piper yells to, goes after or tries to find Alex
  • Crazy Eyes utters the word "Dandelion" 
  • Bennett's fake leg gets a cameo 
  • Taystee dances (whether to music or not)
  • Someone gets sent to the SHU
  • Someone says "Pornstache" 
  • Piper has a case of #WhiteGirlProblems
  • Whenever someone is hooking up in the church
  • Pennsatucky talks about Jesus
  • Pennsatucky says something that makes you say "was she dropped as a child?"
 Raise your glass to cheers...
  • whenever someone in the show is drinking hooch
Finish your drink...
  • whenever there is a prison fight
  • if there is a sex scene where no one flashes any boob (yeah, right)
Polish off the bottle of gin (with or without the Kombucha)...
  • if you watched season three, in its entirety, in one day 


Many thanks to the fine folks over at G'Vin Gin for sponsoring this post, and providing me with a gin I actually enjoy.  All opinions are my own (we all know I have plenty of those).