What it’s Like to Live On the Financial Edge

Here’s a fantastic simulator by Urban Ministries of Durham.  You have to figure out how to live off your last $1,000 and also deal with all of the things life throws your way.  It really makes you think about what it’s like to live so close to the edge of financial instability:


Click here to play.

The first time I played, I made it 5 days. FIVE DAYS.  Here’s hoping you can survive through the month!

What really resonated with me were the delays.  Payment-wise, you have to choose what you’re delaying in order to have money at the end of the month.  And really, long-term, you’re still going to have to deal with those problems later down the road.

Savings is huge, but everyone runs into tough times.  This game makes you realize just how close to the edge anyone can be, and how quickly it gets overwhelming.  Very eye-opening!

Hot Air Balloons

When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

When I was in high school (flashback!), I had the opportunity to listen to an excellent speaker regarding the things we take on in life.  It went something like this:

As you’re walking along on your life path, you carry a metaphorical backpack with you.  Using a volunteer from the class and an actual backpack to demonstrate, the speaker stood in front of us with a pile of bricks.  As you walk along on your path, you add things to your pack.  You might be worried about a test (she adds a brick to the backpack), stressed about money (adds a brick to the backpack), angry with a friend or relative (adds a brick), you might be tired from lack of sleep (adds a brick).  She continued adding bricks until the backpack could barely close. Then she stopped and looked at us.

“At some point, you can’t carry it all.  Your pack is too full.”

That’s exactly how I feel when I get overwhelmed.  We often put things in our pack that we really can let go of if we choose to do so.  It’s difficult to let go, but it’s also difficult to recognize that we are adding more than we will be able to maintain at some point.  Beyond that, if we keep adding, we’re bound to explode.  Letting go is freeing.  It allows you not to waste so much effort and energy on something fruitless or out of your control.  Instead, it gives you back some of that much needed energy.  It frees you to focus on moving forward, instead of being weighed down.

Think about the bricks that you’re carrying with you now.  How full is your pack?  Are you weighing yourself down so much that you’re teetering on the edge of collapse?  Which bricks can you let go of?  Which ones aren’t worth their weight?

One solution that’s helped me is to make a list of my outlets.  What do you do that helps when you’re stressed?  What are your hobbies?  Reading, writing, crafts, hiking, etc…it’s up to you.  I made a list of mine, and from that list I have a solution every time I think I can’t handle it all.  A solution to help get me back to center.

White Subway Black Grout

5 Different Ways to Install Bathroom Subway Tile

I’m working on a master bath project right now and researching different affordable tile options that will still reinforce a classic traditional design while staying appropriate for a hundred-year-old home.  Subway tile is (and has been) a really affordable classic option, and installing it in a new way can keep things interesting.  Here are a few different ideas I came up with for switching things up.

  1. Change up the size.Large Subway Tile


Subway tile is most common in 3×6 format, but you can easily find smaller and larger versions to change the proportion and look.

2. Grout and contrasting floor tile. White Subway Tile Dark Grout


There’s been a surge of white-tile-dark-grout with design blogs over the past couple years, and it’s still sticking.  Pairing it with a medium-to-dark floor tile is a nice balance of masculine and feminine.

3. Pattern. Patterned Subway Tile 2


Subway tile can be laid in many formats, not only the standard brick lay.  Try laying it vertical, soldiered, or mixing patterns.

4. Texture with beveled tile. Beveled Subway Tile


Beveled tile has a polished upscale look and really enhances the subway look.  Keep the tile pattern simple and allow the bevel texture to be the showpiece.

5. Mix colors. Silver Subway Tile


Last but not least, white isn’t the only option.  Try one or two colors.  You can mix or create a pattern using contrasting colors or color-block sections or color wash the entire wall depending on the look you want.

Influence: Art Deco

I thought I’d write a little about different periods in time and the influences they have on us today.  Since I’ve seen a common connection with the Art Deco period and interiors, furnishings and accessories, I thought I’d start there.  Enjoy!


Art Deco was really a period reflecting a façade of money.  Occuring in the 1930s and continuing through the second World War, Art Deco was really based around a period of economic hardship.  This is where the ingenuity came in, and craftsmen started making decorative pieces from less expensive materials, mainly out of necessity.  Aluminum was used instead of steel, but stainless steel was also common, inlaid wood was a special detail added to pieces of furniture, chrome gave the look of an expensive metal and bakelite melded inexpensive materials and created colorful effects.


Since Art Deco is an applied decoration period, pattern is extremely prominent. Money was tight and the economy was hurting due to the wars.  Purchasing a new piece of furniture would have been quite an investment for a family, but adding to existing pieces was embraced.

(images: end table, chair, mirror, desk, tray)

Relevance Today

You may not have noticed it, but Art Deco influence has snuck into our trends lately.  You’ve seen sunburst mirrors in catalogs (and taking over Pinterest with DIY options), mirrored furniture (I like the desk above, but I’ve seen dressers and end tables also), accessories, and chevron patterns applied to fabric and upholstery.

It’s interesting to think of the comparison of our current economic times to that of the Art Deco period.  Maybe that’s why Art Deco influence is so commonplace today.

Rachel May

(Images: header, materials: aluminum, wood, chrome, bakelite, pattern: zebra, sunburst, chevron)

3 Types of Lighting

I’d really like to use this blog as an educational tool to help others with design questions and issues.  One element that I believe is underutilized in decorating and design is lighting, so lets jump in, shall we?

There are three types of lighting: general, task and ambient.

General Lighting: This encompasses the entire room.  It’s usually the fixture that’s installed in the middle of the ceiling of your room, but it doesn’t have to be.  General lighting washes the entire room in light, but nothing specifically….because it’s just general.  Think ceiling lighting.

Task Lighting: This is the lighting that you use at your desk or for reading, usually for a specific task.  Think table lamps and floor lamps.

Ambient Lighting: Ambient lighting sets a mood for your space.  It could be candles (ooh la la!) or a sconce or a light on a dimmer.  Restaurants specifically have terrific ambient lighting.

I put together a few mood boards showing the different types of lighting in different style schemes.  Hopefully this will give you an idea of just how different each lighting source can be.  As a bonus, not a single one of these lighting options is over $250.  Sources are below the mood boards.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

In my personal opinion, I believe the most successfully designed spaces use at least two of the three lighting types, or all three.  You have to have general lighting as a standard, but having another level, like task lighting if there are specific activities to provide lighting for or ambient lighting for a certain mood, can really make a room feel more put together.

I hope you enjoyed this post-hopefully it was educational AND interesting? That was the goal.  Happy weekend to you!

Rachel May