Living Room Makeover

Have you ever lived with the same furniture and decor for so long, you just need a change? I had the same living room sofa, throw pillows and area rug for 15 years, and was so tired of looking at the same color scheme and the same items, that I was itching to switch it up. Another compelling reason to redecorate was the fact that the living room I have had for the past 3-1/2 years is much smaller than two previous living rooms I had before, so the dark color story which I had selected made my living area feel very dark and cavelike, to the point where it just depressed me. It was also painfully obvious to me that when I moved into my current space three years ago, I had thrown the living room furniture into the space without any regard for design, flow or mood. At no point did I take any pride in that particular space. It took three years of me avoiding that one room in my house, only because the colors were too drab, before I became aware of how much it was affecting my mood.

Living room before
Living room after

Since I could not afford to replace the espresso leather sectional I have had since 2004, I decided to purchase a light colored rug, light colored blankets, and light colored pillows. By June of this year, I began searching for and purchasing new items for the space. I also sold the 8 foot tall artificial palm which was wedged in one corner of the room, and I got rid of the second ottoman which took up much needed space. When I chose the textiles for the living room makeover, I made sure to select soft, cozy fabrics, so that when people sat on the sofa, they would feel snug and comfortable.

What do you think of the redo?

Corner before
Corner after
Entertainment unit before
Entertainment unit after
Entertainment unit form above
Living room from above

Beautiful wool lotus rug is the centerpiece of the living room redo

How the Pandemic Made Wine O’Clock Acceptable

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Shortly after COVID-19 caused a global lockdown in early 2020, many of us began to regard having a cocktail before 5 pm as acceptable. Conventional rules about how most people used to live were thrown out the window when we were suddenly trapped inside our homes, bored, stressed out, and uncertain about our futures. I don’t doubt for a second that many people turned to booze as a coping mechanism, to quell concerns over the mysterious virus which froze the world in trepidation, and to soothe anxiety over job security and financial wellness. Perhaps some individuals also turned to libations to manage the aggravation which resulted from the constant close proximity to family members from whom they used to be able to escape when they were able to leave the house for work. I suspect boredom has triggered a fair amount of drinking as well.

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During full lockdown, alcohol merchants made it easy for people stuck at home craving a glass of cabernet sauvignon to order online or through apps and have ethanol elixirs delivered to their residences. Even now, with restrictions largely lifted, restaurants and other food-centered businesses have come up with cheeky suggestions on how alcohol can calm spirits ravaged by the chaotic and confusing events which COVID-19 created. It’s surprising to me how so many people who never drank on a regular basis admitted to drinking on a daily basis during full lockdown, because it smoothed the rough edges of a tumultuous and frightening time in history.

Denny’s Senior Menu

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Though I have often joked about the 55+ senior menu at Denny’s, but now that I am about to turn 55, I am tempted to visit the famous chain diner so that I can finally order from it. I’m not big on diner fare, and there is a part of me that just doesn’t want to admit that I am really that old, but it might be fun to post some silly images on social media to chronicle my passage into the 55+ zone. I also recently found out that, in addition to having access to the old timers’ menu, I will also be able to flash my AARP membership card (which I have had since the age of 50) to receive a 15% discount off the bill. Not bad for an old geezer, right?

Never Again, Overstock!

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I will never order a single item from Overstock after the experience I had in May of this year. I happened to see a rug on Overstock which was exactly what I was looking for to serve as the centerpiece for my living room makeover, so I ordered it on Sunday, May 16th, shortly after midnight. About seven hours later, I noticed that I had ordered one size larger than what I needed, so I hopped onto Overstock’s online chat to cancel that order. The representative told me the order had shipped and could not be canceled, which I didn’t believe for a second. I asked what the situation was with return shipping, and was told I would be responsible for it. When I expressed my displeasure over that information, the representative suggested that I join Club O which would entitle me to free returns. I figured I had no other choice, so I paid $19.95 for Club O, and then placed an order for the proper size rug which I needed.

I then received emails from Overstock on May 20th stating that both orders were ready to ship, with an estimated arrival date of May 24th. How could that be if the first order I had placed had supposedly shipped on May 16th? Though I didn’t believe that the orders would ship on May 20th, I anticipated their arrival on May 24th. May 24th came and went, with no rugs in sight. I then got two text messages on May 25th (NINE DAYS after I placed both orders) informing me that the rugs had shipped on that date from northern California (I am in southern California). Honestly, why send emails and texts with estimated shipping and arrival dates which are completely inaccurate?

Both rugs arrived on May 27th, propped up against my garage door. I immediately called Overstock to initiate a return on the larger rug, and was told that I would have to pay $208 in return shipping. I mentioned that I had Club O, and the response from the representative was that with Club O, members only get store credit, no credits back to their original form of payment. The only way I could receive a refund back to my original payment method was by paying return shipping. By this time I was livid, and asked to speak to a supervisor, only to have the call cut off, so I had to call again. The best the second representative could do was to cover $101 in return shipping, so I begrudgingly agreed to the offer, knowing that $107 would be deducted from my refund. I also insisted on having my Club O membership canceled and the membership fee credited back to my account, with which the representative happily obliged.

The rug I was returning was picked up by UPS on May 28th, and Overstock received it on June 4th. On June 10th, I started wondering when I would receive my refund, and was prepared to call them, when I noticed that I had a new voicemail on my phone. What was strange was that the voicemail message was left by the first representative with whom I had spoken on May 27th, and she stated that her supervisor was willing to make a one time exception and cover the full cost of return shipping. I have no idea why my phone didn’t alert me for 15 days, but that’s a whole other issue. I called Overstock on May 11th and was able to arrange for Overstock to make an adjustment on the return request to cover the full return shipping cost.

I was told to wait 3-5 business days to receive a refund from receipt of the returned rug, which means that I should have received a refund by June 11th. I FINALLY received a refund on June 22nd, but it was only for the rug, and not for the 5 year protection plan. I had to contact Overstock yet again to inquire about the missing portion of the refund. By June 23, I received a refund for the protection plan. Sorry Overstock, but no customer should ever have to endure what I did just to get my money back.

Thank goodness I love the rug I kept, because I would be especially irate if the smaller rug hadn’t worked out. In addition, with the exception of the rude online chat agent I spoke with on May 16th, the representatives I spoke with on the phone were all so professional and friendly that they made the whole miserable experience more tolerable. Nevertheless, I will do everything in my power to avoid Overstock, which is a shame since I have purchased some wonderful items from the site over the past 20 years. If you happen to see something on Overstock you happen to love, do some price comparisons and research, because you might be able to find a similar deal on Amazon or some other site which won’t try to gouge you with outrageous return shipping charges. And forget about Club O, it’s a complete ripoff.

Budget-Friendly and Creative Ways to Make Space in a Cramped Home

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I hope you all enjoy this informative and creative article written by Karen Weeks of Elderwellness.net which has some excellent storage ideas to keep your home organized and beautiful.

If you feel suffocated in your own home because there is just so much stuff everywhere, there’s no need to go out and buy a bigger house. Make the most of what you have already by cleaning out what you don’t need and using creative storage ideas to organize what you keep. This may be a bit of a time investment, but there’s no need to drain your savings. Not only will the tips below help you organize a cramped home, but they’ll help you do it on a budget. What’s more, these tips are much more affordable than purchasing a bigger home and all that entails!

Never Pay Full Price

In the rare case you do need to make a little investment to create the storage plan of your dreams, commit to never paying full price for anything. What’s more, there’s no need to spend hours sifting through the paper looking for discounts. Major retailers frequently offer online coupons and cash back. So if you couple a coupon code with an additional offer, you won’t break the bank while you’re organizing and beautifying your space. 

Add Function and Style with Floating Shelves

Turn all those books, knick-knacks, and houseplants you can’t let go of into creative decor with the help of floating shelves. Stack long ones on top of each other to create your very own built-in bookshelves. Or, stagger different sizes and shapes to create a unique look of your own. However you do it, it’s a great way to make use of vertical space in your home. You can save money on all different styles of floating shelves at stores like Bed, Bath & Beyond that regularly offer promotions and additional savings on your purchase. While you’re there, you can stock up on other organization staples like hampers, baskets, and shower caddies. 

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle 

You would be amazed at how many awesome ways you can turn what others would consider trash into creative storage solutions. A great example is the cereal box. Your neighbors might flatten them out and throw them in the bin, but to a creative visionary like yourself, an old cereal box can become drawer dividers or a handy mail station. Or, think about T-shirts. We all have extra Tees from this and that event. Instead of throwing them out, why not repurpose the fabric and turn them into cleaning rags that reduce your reliance on paper towels. 

Pack Up Unseasonal Clothes

Your grandmother had the right idea when she took a day each season to change out her wardrobe. There’s not much point in having all your sweaters and heavy coats cluttering your closet in the summer. Use vacuum bags to store your clothes, keeping them fresh and safe from bugs, dust, and moisture. However, there’s no need to invest in expensive store-bought versions; you can make your own vacuum bags for clothing with plastic garbage liners.

Embrace Multi-Function Furniture 

If you have a little room in your budget after saving so much with the above tips, add a breath of fresh air to your home decor with a piece of multi-functional furniture that looks good while providing storage. Look for ottomans, coffee tables, full-length mirrors, and even chairs that have additional storage. Fill your new furniture with chargers, knick-knacks, slippers, or anything else you have just lying around for a less cluttered look. 

Clean-up time

Once you’ve organized from top to bottom, now’s the perfect time to commit to a thorough cleaning as well. From ceiling fan blades to the baseboards, you can make your home a healthy, organized haven. Look into savings for cleaning supplies at major retailers like Target so you can stock your arsenal or take it to the next level and make your own cleaners. 

Think of the money you’ll save

All of this may sound like it’s going to cost you a lot of money, but in the end, getting your smaller house organized and decluttered is much easier — and cheaper — than finding a new home. Not only will you save money by not purchasing a bigger abode, but you’ll also save on the actual move itself. Hiring reliable professionals to handle your move costs money, which you’ll still have in the bank at the end of the day if you stay put and declutter.


A well-organized home is a happy and healthy home. You can achieve this dream for less when you embrace money-saving philosophies like “never pay full price” and “reduce, reuse, recycle.” You can also add function and style by using floating shelves and multi-function furniture. With a little extra elbow grease and some patience, your home will be tidier and more organized in no time.

My Longest Trailing Plants

I thought it might be fun to cover the trailing plants in my collection which have been the most rewarding in terms of growth. They all exhibit the longest trailing vines among my collection of close to 150 plants.

This Scindapsus pictus was purchased in January 2021, and this image was shot on January 23rd, 2021.
In three months, the Scindapsus pictus I mentioned in the previous image has grown significantly, which you can see here (this image was taken on April 25th, 2021).

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This is another Scindapsus pictus which was bought at the same time the one in the first image was acquired. The longest stem on this one measures 63 inches from the edge of the pot to the tip, and is seen running along the ceiling hooks along with another trailing vine. You can see that there are three other vines which are colliding with the Pachira (which is also growing like mad) which is underneath it. I can’t keep up with the growth on this one!

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I got this Senecio radicans in June of 2020. Here it is pictured with the vines just starting to extend beyond the bottom of the pot.
The longest vine on the Senecio radicans from above measures 46 inches in this image, which was taken on April 25th, 2021.

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Finally, this is a shot of my longest Hoya linearis, taken on April 25th, 2021. The longest strand measures at 33 inches.

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I am so impressed by and proud of my beautiful trailing plants!

Work Logs During COVID

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Copyright : Dmitrii Shironosov 

Ever since the pandemic began, many of us have become accustomed to working from home. For some, the shift to a home office environment may have enhanced productivity, while for those who struggle with self-motivation, a home work environment may have served as nothing but a challenge. Suddenly, work environments became riddled with completely new potential distractions, such as pets, children, package deliveries, and household chores. We have had to take more responsibility over our accountability and work ethic, while also working at a pace which doesn’t burn us out. I have a hunch that while some people have slacked off while working from home, more have probably worked harder while trapped at home than they ordinarily would while in a traditional work environment. I know that I have stayed up incredibly late at night to perform asynchronous telemedicine visits from home, something I would never be willing to do if I was working in a traditional clinic or medical office.

One thing I hadn’t given much thought to, despite the fact that my telemedicine productivity is monitored online, is that some employers have required employees to fill out work logs which itemize every single task an employee performs while on the clock. Given the fact that home distractions are quite different from work distractions, I wonder how much reported work activities have conflicted with what someone actually did during a work shift. On the other side of the coin, should quick bathroom breaks and trips to the kitchen for a snack be reported as scheduled breaks?

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Copyright : lightfieldstudios

Work/life balance is critically important for us all. We aren’t slaves, nor should we be treated as such. I truly believe that if an employee performs all required tasks for a given day, then the employer has no right to monitor every single second of that employee’s time, whether it is spent in the office/shop or at a home office. Another consideration is that while some would consider the presence of a pet in the home work environment to be a distraction, having a beloved pet around would reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and enhance mood. I know that when I have one of my cats sitting on my lap while I am working on the computer, I am much more at ease. As a matter of fact, I have my rescue cat Shima sitting on my lap while I write this blog post, and I honestly feel that she enhances the flow of ideas and gives me so much love and comfort, thus enhancing my work.

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Copyright : lacheev

There are a multitude of benefits I can come up with for working from home:

  • No need to battle traffic or spend extra time sitting in a car or other mode of transportation as a means of traveling to and from a work site
  • Ability to perform relaxation breathing, rant, etc. while working especially long or frustrating hours without getting berated for it
  • You can work in your skivvies if you so choose

I’m curious to know who prefers working from home, and who is actually looking forward to returning to their regular work environment.

Who Names Their Plants?

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Copyright : Olga Ionina

On more than one occasion, friends have asked me if my plants have been christened with names.  For the most part, I have not gone to the trouble to name all of my plants, mainly because I personally feel that it is unnecessary and silly for me to do so.  I’m not knocking anyone who chooses to name all their plants, but the desire is, for the most part, absent in me.

So how do I discern between the close to 150 indoor plants which surround me at home?  I tend to use certain descriptors when I scribble my plant watering notes each week (yes, I keep track of which plants get watered in a given week), and those descriptors are pretty straight forward.  Usually, I will use the species name as a label, and if I have numerous specimens, I will write down the location of the plant. For example, I have two Hoya shepherdii, both of which are suspended over the two sinks in my master bath, so I refer to the one as “L shepherdii” and the other as “R shepherdii”.  I realize these labels aren’t exciting, but they are effective in helping me to keep track of my plants when I am watering them. 

However, there are three plants with bona fide names which I bestowed upon them, one of which was named the day I received it, one which was christened with a name about a month after it joined the plant brood, and one which earned its name after it exhibited an astonishing rate of growth.  While two of the names are quite fitting for the characteristics the two plant babies possess, one name is reflective of the species of the plant, and quite honestly reveals how lazy I was about using a lengthy German name when I could truncate it and use a fun name.

Sid:  Sid is a Ferocactus emoryi, “Emory’s barrel cactus”

My dear friend Blanche was at my house when I received Sid in the mail as a freebie which arrived along with a much-coveted monkey cactus I had ordered. As soon as I saw this spiky cactus, a name just popped into my head, and I exclaimed to Blanche, “For some reason, I really feel like this little guy needs a name!”, to which Blanche responded with, “I do too, and I’m thinking of a name too! If you say the same name I’m thinking of, I’ll freak!” The name which had popped into my head was Sid Vicious, so I revealed this to Blanche, who immediately squealed and said, “That’s the EXACT name I thought of too!” Later that day, I ordered a Sex Pistols mug to house the Emory’s barrel cactus.

Fred: Monstera adansonii ‘Friedrichsthalii’

This Monstera adansonii Friedrichsthalii very quickly became “Fred” after I needed to find a way to distinguish it from my other Monstera adansonii.

Rapunzel: Senecio radicans “String of Bananas”

This Senecio radicans was quite short when I bought it in June of last year, and it struggled for about two months before I changed its hang spot to an area right near a bathroom window, and essentially let it dry out completely between waterings. From that point, this plant just took off, and got so incredibly lacy and long that I decided it deserved the name Rapunzel. The longest tendril on this plant was measured on April 23rd at 46 inches from the edge of the pot to the end, which is three inches longer than it was a month prior. This radicans has aptly earned its descriptive and accurate name.

For comparison, the plant pictured above is another Senecio radicans which I purchased in January of this year. Both the radicans which I purchased in January and Rapunzel were at the level which you see marked in yellow when I brought them into my home. I look forward to seeing Rapunzel’s sister grow as long as Rapunzel.

Since plant people are increasingly more committed to their plants, often considering them to be pets or family members, it’s no surprise that more people are naming their houseplants. I like Nicoletta Richardson’s idea of naming plants after travel destinations from her bucket list, but for me, and if I had the energy to put into naming ALL of my plants, I could definitely see myself becoming a copycat and doing the very same thing. But I’d rather stick with the assigned scientific nomenclature because it appeals strongly to my scientific nerdiness, as well as to my propensity for properly classifying and labeling things.