pen rainbow

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Saturday Finances—ThredUP Online Thrift

This could be fun!  Online reuse & recycling for women's & kids' clothing

Clothing reuse.  Textile recycling.

pass on the aloha

First things first...DOT

  • Defect-free  For regular sale items, clothing should be in excellent condition without stains, holes, pilling or obvious signs of wear.  
  • Grungy clothing goes to the "basement," which are items with flaws that are sold at the biggest discounts. (Good deal on scarves!)    
  • On trend  Clothing should be in style and on trend.
  • Top brands  Check out their list of desirable brands here

How it works

For the seller:  The amount you're paid depends on the original price, brand & type of each item.  

Use the payout estimator to see how much others have earned for the same or similar item.  A pair of Lucky Brand jeans, for instance, pays out $5.75.  Levi's (Made & Crafted) pay out $6.13.  

Items listed under $60 receive a payout as soon as the items are processed by thredUP. Items listed over $60 receive a payout when they are sold.  

Consignment items are listed for 84 days.  They can be reclaimed 7 days after they are first listed, up until 14 days after their listing window ends.  

What happens to unaccepted items?
Typically, less than 40% of the clothing that is sent in gets accepted.  Unaccepted items are passed on to third-party sellers or textile recyclers and repurposed into new products like rugs & stuffing.  The proceeds from unaccepted items are applied to thredUp's shipping & labor costs. 

Sellers can apply their payouts toward...
  • store credit at thredUP
  • donate to a cause
  • or transfer cash to PayPal 

It's fun to check on the pay-outs for different brands and types of clothing.  They even take kids' clothing, which is nice for getting rid of those special outfits that were worn only a couple of times.  

They also have a maternity section, which is really great for passing along those cute shorts, pants, dresses & tops that are still in good shape.  

For the shopper:  It's like shopping at a quality thrift store.  The dress sizes range from 00 to Size 16, and you can choose by category, brand, color & price.  

Shoes range from size 4 -12 and prices range from under $10 for flipflops & sneakers to $45-ish for top designers.  

I saw a killer pair of Franco Sarto sage green heels for $29.    

The selection is good, and the prices are thrift store reasonable.


• create • positive • change •

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday Photo Gallery—Spark More Utilitarian

Branches from my yard_still life in the Utilitarian style


Be Still_Month4 Spark2_online photography class by Kim Klassen

Red Wing vase & branches from my yard_Photo taken on my deck
Topaz Clarity_Portrait I & III_PSCC levels & curves adjustment to bring up highlights
RadLab stylets_EZ Burn_Divine Light_Rusty Cage_Derelique_Iron Mouse_adjustments to reduce glow
increase saturation_enlarge vignette_PSCC curves adjustment to bring up background highlights 

• create • learn • spark • joy •

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wednesday—Prom Night 1974

I post this every year_April 27, 1974

Prom Night

Photo op at my house > Elk's Club > The Rathskeller in Vegas

Pictures at my house ala My Big Fat Greek Wedding...every relative was there

We got stopped in the Dodge Dart by the BC police for speeding on K street

My ginormous corsage fell onto the 
dance floor at the Elk's Club

Customary at the Rathskeller to discard peanut shells on the floor

The ruffle on my dressed ripped when Steve stepped on it coming out of the restaurant

Several times, we were asked if we had just gotten married (6 years later, we did)

• a • night • to • remember •

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tuesday's Cupboard—Turkey & Swiss Sliders with Mushroom-Garlic Aioli

Little burgers packed with fresh flavor!  Adapted from Weight Watchers Magazine May/June 2016

Turkey & Swiss Sliders
with Mushroom-Garlic Aioli

prep: 25 minutes
cook: 12 minutes
serves: 4

Freshly sliced Roma toms & crispy Spring greens
are the perfect adds to these tasty sliders

slider ingredients
  • 1 c. sliced cremini mushrooms ( I use 1 pkg. of pre-sliced creminis)
  • 3 chopped green onions
  • 1 T. Best Foods mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

  • 1.25 lbs. lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil PAM spray

the toppings
  • 2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 3 chopped green onions
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard

  • 8 tsp. Best Foods mayo
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic (I use jarred in water)
  • 4 thin-sliced pieces of Swiss cheese
  • 4 slider buns or English muffins
  • handful of mixed greens
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced

make it!
  1. Pulse or chop first 5 ingredients until finely chopped; mix in salt & pepper
  2. Fold mixture into ground turkey
  3. Shape into four 3-1/2" patties; set aside
  4. Coat medium nonstick skillet with nonstick olive oil PAM
  5. Sauté chopped mushrooms, green onions, rosemary, salt & pepper until softened, 5-6 minutes; add Worcestershire sauce & Dijon mustard; remove from heat & set aside
  6. Leave the pan for frying the sliders
  7. Make aioli:  mix mayo & chopped garlic in a small bowl; chill until ready to us
  8. Cook the turkey patties in the nonstick pan seasoned with flavors from the mushroom-onion mixture, about 6 minutes per side
  9. Assemble the sliders:  Spread 2 tsps. aioli on one side of the slider bun; add the mushroom-onion mixture; add greens & a slice of tomato; put a turkey burger on the tomato; add a slice of Swiss cheese on top of the burger; top with slider bun 
  10. Voilà!

Fresh rosemary & sliced creminis

Sauté veggies until tender

Sliders ready for the pan


Monday, April 25, 2016

Monday—The Art of Thank You Letters

"I still feel 'seen' when someone affixes a stamp to an envelope and mails me their thoughts."  ~Erica Gerard Di Bona, The Art of Thank You Blog

thank you

A thank you letter from my gramma Pearle

The Art of the Thank You

Start with A Greeting

"Dear or Dearest..."
"To my favorite..."

Express Gratitude

"Thank you so much for the (whatever)."
"You were so thoughtful to remember my birthday."
"It was good to hear from you."
"Your package made my day!"

Show Appreciation

"I can't wait to use my Starbuck's gift card the next time I travel."
"Having you at the reunion meant a lot to everyone who was there."
"The artwork looks beautiful hanging in our living room."
"I will always treasure the family photos."
"We used the money to replace the clock that was broken in the earthquake."

Follow Up

"Be sure to let me know if you get the job!"
"I will keep you posted on our move."
"Good luck with your classes this year"."
"Let me know if you talk to your cousin next month."
"Send pix of the new baby when he/she arrives!"
"Let's get together & catch up this summer."

Wrap It Up with a Summary

"Call me anytime.  I love hearing from you."
"I'm looking forward to seeing you again."
"I wish you the best and think of you often."
"Let's have coffee the next time I'm in town!"


To a loved one:  
"Love, Much love, Hugs & Kisses, All my love, Your BFF,"

To a friend:  
"Cheers, Thanks again, Warmly, See you soon, Many thanks, Yours always"

To a colleague:
"Sincerely, Gratefully yours, Respectfully yours, Best regards, Yours truly"


  • Use nice stationary & envelopes
  • Hand-write (more personal) or type (more formal) 
  • Emails will do in a pinch, but a handwritten note for a wedding or a baby gift expresses warmth, especially if it's a handmade gift.
  • Be sincere
  • It's never too late to send a thank-you note.  Having said that, it's appropriate to send thank-yous within a week.  Otherwise, the person who wrote or sent the gift will never know if it arrived.  
  • A verbal thank-you works if life intrudes (e.g. a funeral, chronic illness, moving, destructive event, etc.), but no acknowledgement is insulting.  

Click HERE for free thank-you letter templates from wikiHow

 stay • in • touch •

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday—Gazebo & Fence Update

On March 8, 2016, our neighbor's giant oak tree came down during a thunderstorm & crushed our fence and our gazebo


The new gazebo & fence without a handrail or electric lights

Our project

We will rebuild the handrail ourselves.  The contractor was never clear about why he did not want to rebuild the handrail, and this is as much as he was willing to do, based on our budget.

We will sand & refinish the deck this summer.

I will spray the outdoor chairs & table to match the bronze finish on the lanterns.

We will get by with programmable candles & lanterns, for now.  We'll think about installing low-voltage electric later this summer.

Outdoor programmable candle & lantern from Pottery Barn

Indoor-outdoor reversible rug from Pottery Barn

Meyer Lemon dishes from Williams~Sonoma

• in • the • works •

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Saturday Finances—9 Sensible Ways to Avoid Inheritance Conflicts

Making things easier for your heirs

How to Avoid Inheritance Conflicts

From the Fidelity Viewpoints article, "Head Off Squabbles Among Your Heirs," 
by Eleanor Laise, Kiplinger_30 Nov 15

Do your heirs a favor and discuss 

Let's Face It

We're all going to go to that big 5-star hotel in the sky.  It's an uncomfortable subject for most people.  The adult children don't want to come off as money-grubbers, and parents don't love the idea of sharing their financial details with the kids and their spouses.

But, whether we like it or not, each one of us is going to die, and chances are, our children, their children, or some other legally deserving family member will inherit our stuff.  Unless we make arrangements to donate the estate, it will go to the legal heirs.  

Let's Start There

Think about what is fair to those who will outlive us.  Do not assume that family members will behave.  Grief does funny things to people, and relatives either tend to get greedy or they end up guessing and trying to make everyone happy.

Blended families are especially prone to disputes.  Every individual may have an equally legitimate point of view.  It can get complicated with half-sibs and step-sibs, especially when there are overlapping histories separated by decades.  That is why it is vitally important to sort it out in a Trust or a Will.  Even then, there can be disputes, but at least the disputes can be filtered through the terms of the estate.  

Begin the Dialogue

Poor communication is the primary cause of inheritance conflicts.  This is a problem that can be avoided from the start.  

1.  Include potential heirs in the process as you create your estate plan.  

I was brought in as a successor trustee after my dad had completed his trust.  I was not included in the decision-making process.  He set up the trust himself.  Our discussions had to do with the logistics of my role as successor trustee.  

My dad knew 3 things about me:  

1.) That I was not affiliated with a religion, a spouse, or any other connection that might interfere with my ability to carry out his last wishes;

2.) I understood his intentions and would faithfully stick to his directives;  

3.)  That I would be fair, thoughtful and efficient. 

I met with him on and off for a year to establish myself as the legal successor when it came to first contact information, i.e. the name of his trust attorney, his bank branch, the funeral home where he had a pre-need (prepaid) cremation contract, and the names of trusted friends.

Together, we went over the contents of his safe deposit box.  Among other things, it contained his most important papers (e.g. property deeds, vehicle titles, stock certificates, original birth certificates, etc.) and the passwords to all of his online accounts.  I was signed onto the box as a co-owner and given a duplicate key.  He introduced me to the manager of the bank who explained the procedure for accessing the box.    

My dad showed me how to activate and deactivate the alarm at his house.  He showed me where the dog meds and the dog food were located.  He gave me a set of keys to his house and to his vehicles.  He gave me a copy of his VA insurance policy.  He showed me where his files were located.    

When he unexpectedly passed away 3 years later, I knew where and how to begin.     

2.  Choose One Successor 

First, decide who has the skills and the time to close every aspect of your estate.  

If you have a Will, a probate judge will appoint an executor (preferably the person you name in your Will) to settle the estate.  The court oversees its administration and gives final approval.  

If you have a trust, the designated successor has the full authority to administer the estate without the burden of probate.  The successor is responsible for managing and distributing the trust assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries in accordance with the terms of the trust.  The successor prepares a detailed report of trust administration, and it is signed by the beneficiaries before the estate is officially closed.

If you want to avoid conflict, make one person the executor or the successor and let it be known that he or she will be the one to act on your behalf.  It complicates things unnecessarily if more than one person has to sign every legal document.  

If there are open rivalries among the adult children, name a trusted non-beneficiary friend or an estate attorney to administer the estate.  

If there is any doubt about your successor's willingness or ability to administer the estate, include a back-up plan and name your estate attorney to represent your successor if he or she is unwilling or unable to step up to the responsibilities when the time comes.  We did this because our daughter lives in Denmark, which would make it difficult for her to administer our estate in the U.S.

One of the financial advisors at my local bank told me that it took 2 years for one of their clients to arrange a time when both of the co-successor trustees could meet at the bank to sign important trust documents.  

Successor trustees sign a contract with the estate attorney to close a trust usually within one year after the original trustee passes away.  I worked on my dad's trust every day for 360 consecutive days and closed it on time.  Even a week's delay would have required me to file an extension, and who knows what additional time and expense that would have cost the estate.  

3.  Meaningful Stuff 

Talk to individuals about inheriting meaningful items.  It is wonderful to pass these things on before you die because you can share the memories and present the gift(s) personally.  This avoids any question of who gets what after you're gone (especially valuable items, like jewelry).  You make the decision, and your successor trustee is not left with the burden of deciding who gets what. 

4.  No-Contest Clause

It may not hold up in every state, but a no-contest clause is a good way to drive home the point that any heir who challenges any provision of the estate gets nothing at all.  It's a good idea to leave a disinherited heir something in order to discourage him/her from losing it all by challenging the estate.

5.  Size of the Estate

Give your heirs a sense of how much they will inherit.  Finding out that there is much more to an estate than originally anticipated can trigger immediate jealousy and resentment among siblings (and their spouses), depending on how the assets are distributed.  It can trigger a feeding frenzy.  

Let the heirs know if the estate will not be distributed equally among them and give them clear reasons why.  Each individual may not want or need to inherit an equal share.  Be fair and respectful of the personal sacrifices made on your behalf, and don't distribute equally without thoughtful consideration for what it will mean to the recipients. 

6.  When Equal Is Not Fair

Equal is not always the fair way to go, for a variety of reasons.  

  • Disinheritance
  • An outstanding personal loan
  • A long-term provision of care (one or more of the children have provided care, while others have been out of the picture)
  • A refusal to inherit
  • Unwanted property
  • Financial need  
  • Vacation properties (shared ownership and what to do with a property can lead to conflicts)
These are all good reasons to leave unequal shares.  If you decide to leave unequal shares, include a separate explanation in a letter to the successor and request that copies be distributed to the beneficiaries.   

Your attorney can and should advise you when it comes to leaving property to multiple heirs.  Do what makes sense and be realistic about how the property can be managed by multiple heirs.  A better alternative might be to put the property into a limited liability company and then leave interests in the LLC to the heirs.  An heir who wants to sell can simply sell his/her shares to the other heirs.  The operating agreement can be drawn up by the attorney.  

Bottom line, don't leave bitterness as your legacy.  It is better to leave a final message of kindness and understanding when it comes to your significant lifetime relationships.  This has the power to heal lifetime conflicts or keep them going for generations.

7.  Donating to Charity    

Talk to heirs about your goals, particularly if you are leaving part or all of your estate to charity.  Disputes can be avoided if people have an explanation before the time comes.  Let them know why a cause is important to you.

8.  Financial Power of Attorney

Rather than adding a responsible heir as a joint owner to bank accounts, consider granting him or her a financial power of attorney.  This enables him or her to help manage your banking if you need help, but it keeps the account under the umbrella of the estate rather than making it a jointly-owned asset that automatically gets passed to the co-owner if you should die.

If one child automatically takes ownership of a bank account (rather than the estate), it can create resentment among the other heirs.  When it is an asset of the estate, it is easier to distribute among the beneficiaries.

9.  Blended Families

3 things you can do to avoid conflict:

  • Get a pre-nup before the marriage; 
  • Set up a marital trust, which can help provide for the new spouse after your death, while also ensuring that the children from a previous marriage receive their rightful inheritance;
  • Update the beneficiaries on retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, annuities and insurance policies.  Named beneficiaries automatically take control of these types of assets, outside of the authority of the Trust or the Will.  Leaving an ex-spouse or a deceased spouse as a named beneficiary turns ownership of that asset over to them!  Old info trumps the terms of a Trust or a Will, so make sure that your beneficiaries are updated.  It's easy to do online!

• live • well • die • well •

Friday, April 22, 2016

Friday Photo Gallery—Utilitarian

Photos of everyday stuff

Month4_Week1_online photography class 
Be Still by Kim Klassen


Our old tools_Photo by tjn
Nik Collection_Color Efex Pro4_Portrait_Classic Soft Focus_adjustments to bring back detail
RadLab_Divine Light2_adjusted to reduce glare
Photoshop Creative Cloud (PSCC)_custom spot sharpening
iPhoto_increase definition & sharpness

My dishes hutch_Photo by tjn
Topaz Clarity_Portrait III_Skin Smooth & Brighten1_adjusted to reduce glare
PSCC_custom spot sharpening to bring out definition of door, fabric & heart
PSCC_custom tint gradient to add haze_clone to remove shadow in bottom right corner_burn & dodge
to remove halos from cloning

Button jar_Photo by tjn
Topaz Clarity_Portrait II_saturation adjustment
RadLab_POS Lens_enlarged vignette
PSCC_levels adjustment_curves adjustment to bring up highlights

See more of this cool still life style here

• learn • develop • thrive •


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Good4U Good 4The Home—Kitchen Composting

Love this handy little kitchen compost pail with compostable bags!

Oxo Good Grips Composter 

Just the right size for the kitchen counter  7.4" x 7.9" x 7.3"

Biobag 3-Gal Compostable Food Scrap Bags

Keeps your mini-compost bin clean & earth-friendly

• happy • earth • month •

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tuesday's Cupboard—Lima Bean Dip

Substitute any kind of canned bean for this recipe_I like to use lima beans, which is what the original recipe calls for.  

Inspired by an original recipe by Weight Watchers Online 2015

Middle Eastern Bean Dip

Easy lima bean dip

serves 6
prep time:  15 minutes

  • 4 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 T. lemon zest (the zest from 1 lemon)
  • 3 T. lemon juice (the juice from 1 lemon)
  • 1 T. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 15-oz. cans lima beans, rinsed & drained
  • 2 tsp. chopped garlic in water (jarred) or 2 fresh cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 c. freshly chopped oregano
  • 1/2 c. freshly chopped Italian flat parsley
  • paprika

Fresh lemon zest & ground cumin add delectable Middle Eastern
flavors to this dip.  Add a little bottled lemon juice if the dip is too thick.

make it!
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender.  If you use a hand blender (like I do), hand mash the ingredients first to soften the mixture.
  2. Add lemon juice if the mixture is too stiff.
  3. Top with paprika & freshly ground black pepper.

I love this recipe with flavorful lima beans!

Serving suggestions
  • In a pita or a sandwich thin with sliced fresh cucumbers & fresh greens
  • On toasted English muffins topped with sliced Roma tomatoes & cracked black pepper
  • With any crunchy cracker or toasted baguette rounds

• spark • joy • in the • kitchen •