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12.13.2018

MY TOP 5 WAYS TO EFFECTIVELY MANAGE TIME AND SET PRIORITIES


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Since relocating two years ago, for some reason, I have fallen far behind on keeping up with everything and I can’t seem to find enough time in the day anymore to accomplish everything that needs to be done. It’s as if time has been cut shorter than usual. Feeling overwhelmed has a way of draining all motivation and can become wearisome. And it’s not that I’m not good at time management, it’s that there’s just not enough time TO manage. Who else feels the same way?

In this day and age, it’s getting harder and harder to meet the daily demands of life, even for people without children or even a pet like myself. With increased responsibilities at work, at home, rising expenses and longer working hours, one can’t help but feel rushed even in your own leisure time! And obviously, when we constantly try to do more than time may allow, we inevitably can become stressed and frustrated which can cause anxiety. I’m certainly one of those people who can’t even sleep if I don’t get everything completed that I had planned out on my daily to-do list. But really, what is gained by getting stuck in a vicious cycle of being frustrated with oneself - feeling either guilty or anxious over things we can’t control or unforeseen situations that we didn’t plan for. When I find myself in a tizzy over lack of time, what I do is take a few steps back and reevaluate what is consuming my precious hours in the day/week and make the necessary adjustments.

In some respects, managing time is like balancing a financial budget. If you try to squeeze too many things (which I tend to do) into the limited hours you have available, you are not living within your means timewise. Such a lifestyle inevitably leads to frustration, stress, and weariness. Time is like money, once it’s wasted, you won’t have it when you need it. So, learning to set priorities is key. The benefit: properly budgeting one’s time means time left over to do the things you enjoy.

Here’s how I go about doing that lately:

1. Prepare a list of things that are important, urgent or both. I determine the more important things in my life and assign sufficient time to these. Checking Instagram, Facebook and catching the start of a TV program may not be important. Think: strengthening my relationship with God, volunteering more time in my community as a lifestyle coach and mentor, meditating more, getting proper rest, reading and having “me time” and so on… 

2. Cut out time wasters. I cull out anything that consumes time and yields poor returns. Each person knows what that is for them.

3. Alone time. Lately, more than ever given my new environment setting meaningful alone time for me is imperative. That involves a variety of things. It is my solitude time to quiet my mind by either drawing up a good bubble bath surrounded by lit candles, doing some constructive meditation, stretching, reading, listening to favorite old records, flipping through favorite magazines, scrapbooking, cooking, entertaining friends, making cards – basically doing the things that help recharge my own batteries.
One cannot deny that alone time is a necessary tonic in today’s rapid-fire world. Tweet this: “Alone time is fuel for life.”

4. Digital detox. In the last few months, I’ve assessed my use of technology – determining its impact on my life by asking myself some of the following questions: 

Do I lose my inner peace (aka have FOMO) for not being on social media and when I do, does it bring me happiness or frustration and discontent with myself and my life? 

Ten years from now will what I’m so consumed with on social media now will really matter or make a difference in my life?

Is my use of electronic devices causing me to neglect the things that bring me joy, like spending time with my husband, friends and/or doing the things that matter most to me? See No. 1 and 3. 

It’s all about learning to set reasonable limits for how long I’ll be on and then stick to that limit. That’s why I’ve reduced my posting times to only twice a week when my schedule allows it, as my days/weeks/months are never the same.

Have you ever tried to go without using your electronic devices and internet access? How long did you last? I do when I’m on vacation or having a stressful week.

5. Keep a written schedule. Helps me to see what I need to accomplish because having a plan gives a clear picture of what’s important and where I need to be strict with myself (like saying “No” to things that I just can’t do) and at the same, where I can be flexible.

After all, how we spend our time is how we spend days and ultimately, our lives.

What has worked for you? Please share in the comment box below, as I'm all ears for more suggestions.

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12.04.2018

BREAKFAST ROOM RENOVATION BEFORE AND AFTER

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Looking back at the renovating projects we’ve tackled thus far, designing our kitchen was my favorite part of transforming this house - especially the breakfast area and pantry corner. We had several goals for the project, but at the top of the list was to transform this dated area into a bright, airy, functional and clutter-free spot where we could enjoy breakfast in the morning. That meant a few elements had to go, like the shutters on the windows (that kept the room really dark), all the impractical wire shelves inside the pantry closet, and the flimsy sliding doors. With just those minor changes, that area of the kitchen immediately felt more open. It was as if we put a defibrillator on its heart and got it beating again. Ha!







After a fresh coat of paint on the walls (Farrow & Ball ‘All White’), we had the French doors installed on the pantry and painted them in contrasting grey color (Sherwin Williams ‘Let it Rain’ to be exact) similar to the grey on the kitchen island. I hung some leftover brick wallpaper inside the pantry to keep everything from skewing too cold or stark. Additionally, replacing the white plantation shutters to grasscloth roller shades in a natural tone inject a well-balanced touch of texture and warmth. Such simple details but yet, they took this room from feeling dark, drab, and neglected into a bright and homey spot to start our day in.




When it comes to art, I much prefer an eclectic collage of framed photos of our favorite memories from our travels and/or old vintage calendars to movie posters. Not only is such a display more meaningful, but it makes the greatest impact to an interior. In this little corner of the kitchen, the goal was to add color by incorporating a unique arrangement of collected photos that mean something to us - ranging from a photo of one of my Pina Colada drinks (one of the most requested of my cocktails with a favorite fun caption), and other snapshots of our Alaska vacation to a favorite Lillet poster. I just love how minor details such as these add warmth and make a house feel more like home.


It was wonderful to watch this part of the house blossom. As this room’s decor came together and reflected more of our personality, it helped us to feel more relaxed being in the house and gives us a calm respite after a long tiresome day.
One thing I get asked often is: how do I keep a clean house and/or clutter-free pantry and kitchen drawers.I’ve answered/written about it many times before and here it is again. My biggest decorating advice is to cut the clutter and just live with what you absolutely love – meaning use those special nice items, instead of saving them for only “special occasions”. Life is too short to not enjoy the special things because you, my dear, are special and should treat yourself as such on a daily.
Now, I’m almost ready to debut the before and after of the dining room makeover once I replace the head chairs for the table.
Happy renovating!

10.18.2018

FALL FAVORITE MUSIC


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Pants (old) | Plaid shirt (similar + love this one)| Watch

Temperatures here in the desert have slowly been dropping and I am so excited! Even though we escaped the majority of it, this past summer was one of the hottest and it dragged on to what felt like forever. I love the quote that says, “Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.” I couldn’t agree more as I honestly was over summer pretty much a month into it. True, the desert trees might lack the pretty warm golden foliage that we’re used to back home in New York, but the cooler crisp air is just what I needed to jolt my mood and put me into full-on autumn mode. To make things even better, I’ve created a fall favorites music list that hopefully will enhance your autumn season. Wouldn't you agree that each season brings its own kind of feel for a certain type of music? I love creating playlists that evoke a certain mood that makes feel the season. Most of the time those songs create warm and fuzzy memories that will have you reminiscing for years to come. Here are some of my “fall favorite music” compilations to spice up your fall season and make it better than summer.

By the way, I’m still looking to add more autumnal tunes on the list, so if you have some fall favorite music of your own that I don’t have on my list, please share them in the comment section below so I can add them.

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8.10.2018

OUR KITCHEN REMODEL: BEFORE + AFTER


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Although this project has been completed since October 2017, the day has finally come to reveal my latest kitchen project yet. Ah, the feeling that comes up from uttering the words ‘the kitchen renovation is finally done!’, still evokes sheer joy even after these many months. If I were to regale you with the level of stress and hard work that went into assuring this project got completed dealing with dubious contractors and the lack of professionalism that exists today, I’d either quickly lose your attention or scare away some of you who might be thinking of tackling your own kitchen renovation. For the sake of not reliving this nightmarish time, I’d rather stick to the pretty aspect of things, like the before and after pictures. Let’s just say, it was a very long road to finally get here.



When we decided to purchase this house, we knew right away there were many things we would be changing so it could reflect our style vibe - and the one area I couldn’t wait to tackle and remodel was the kitchen. I knew I wanted to have a clean, open, bright and airy space. But, it was about much more than that. For me, I wanted the kitchen to be efficient, uncluttered, orderly, and practical, yet a stylish and inviting room to cook and entertain in. As soon as the cabinets were torn off the walls, we painted the room the same bright white color as the rest of the house, reconfigured the oven wall appliances to allow for better flow from the refrigerator to the cooktop and the sink and added white subway tiles along with white cabinetry with soft-closing drawers and doors. 
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For contrast, I opted for a grey cabinet in the island modified with side shelving for more additional storage for the essentials: wines, cookbooks, and displays. I also chose to go with a large commercial grade stainless steel sink instead of my dream white farm sink I really wanted, as I know my OCD tendencies would be heightened trying to keep stains out of a white sink. We ditched the unventilated microwave above the stovetop and had a stainless steel hood range installed venting out and opted for quartz countertops (which I explained why here), specifically the one with gorgeous gray and white veining that looks like Carrera marble. Since the countertops I picked ended up looking similar to the rectangular tiles already on the floor and as they were in decent shape, we decided to keep them and had them re-grouted with a darker grey grout which amplified the brightness of the kitchen. 

But perhaps even more important for me in every design project are the finishing details - so in this kitchen project, it was crucial to get the right muted gold-tone finishes from pendant lighting and faucet to cabinet hardware. Finding just the right style, color and quality hardware that both the hubby and I loved, took a while. We ended up having to special order the ones we have now at a cost of waiting six long weeks to get them, thus prolonging this renovation project even more. But, the piece-de-resistance for me (and I fought for this one) was having a spice drawer underneath my cooktop. There was a lot of back-and-forth with the countertop installers as to whether or not my design for the kitchen drawer underneath the cooktop would work. They thought that the cooktop was too deep and that it would prevent the draw from being functional after the cooktop was dropped in, even though I had already measured every square inch and knew it would fit. These guys were still skeptical and unsure. However, being the type of gal that does not take a “no” for an answer when it comes to executing my design plans, I had to help them figure out what they had to do for things to work out as planned and of course, my mission was accomplished beautifully, to their surprise. Always love when that happens.
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This space has become one of our favorite rooms in the house. We love how open and bright it is – the storage, practicality, and efficiency are incredible. We have poured our heart, soul, and sanity into this kitchen renovation. Despite all the stress, I’m glad my ability to be ‘like a bulldog on a bone’ to get things done, rewarded us with an efficiently stylish kitchen that now brings us joy every day we step into it. 

Next up: our breakfast and pantry area.

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1.15.2018

PLAID TO LET GO


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Like every year, 2017 was filled with let downs and major disappointments along with a good handful of sweet morsels. With every year being so unpredictable, I feel it’s best to approach it in a mentally less emotional, shallowly high, blissful bubble of expectation of ‘this year is going to be the best year yet!’ way. Especially given how emotionally drained both 2016 and 2017 left me. There’s nothing worse than holding high expectations that something would work out your way, and then things don’t turn out as expected. So, in order to be less disappointed with whatever 2018 brings, I’ve decided to approach this new year the way I used to when I was in my teens and twenties. Curious? Here it is:

Have no dawg on expectations! Why? Well, because if you have no expectations, you have no reason to be disappointed. Some might be quick to say, “how cynical!” Yet, having expectations that are flawed because they are based on a distorted interpretation of reality not only will confine you, but limit your potential because it restricts what you will do at any one moment in time. Letting go of them - makes us just go with the flow of life, which allows for more spontaneity, creativity, and opens the mind to new possibilities, perspectives, and opportunities. Now, it’s not to say I won’t have small reachable goals along the way, but you can potentially be pleasantly surprised where life leads you unexpectedly when you don’t set everything in stone. 


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1.08.2018

I HEAR YOU


Everyone has a story-I will listen to your story-Readers Voice Series-Speak Up
The implication of these three simple little words “I hear you,” is one of the most important and valued phrases to me. They imply a deeper meaning beyond the simple act of hearing. It’s the ultimate sentence as it refers to true understanding coupled with empathy. It’s a way to reassure someone they’re being listened to, that their feelings matter, and their voice is heard. That’s why I value the meaning of this phrase so much, especially living in an age where selfishness is highly promoted, robbing us of the ability to develop proper empathy. As a result, we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.
Not being heard or someone talking right over you while you’re speaking is one of those things/pet peeves that make me the saddest and angry. I often think, how many lives could possibly be saved, if only we could give someone a little bit of our time by hearing them out. Especially, in this social media crazed world where reality is overly distorted, causing some to feel miserable about their own accomplishments or perceived ‘lack thereof.’
Personally, knowing what it feels like for someone to utter those three-sweet-little-rare-words, “I hear you,” has always made me conscientious in creating a friendly environment for those in my life who need the emotional support to be able to open up and express themselves in conversation. That one conversation could be a turning point in someone’s life. For this reason, one of my resolutions this year is to finally create that exploratory space I’ve been wanting to do for a couple of years now. I’m one that’s all about inclusion, not exclusion, and knowing that everyone has a story that needs to be heard, I want to let everyone of you my dear readers know I will listen to your story.
This new Readers Voice series is meant to allow others the opportunity to share their stories and be heard, especially those who might feel left out, or invisible in the world. So, don’t be shy about writing in with your story. It could be humorous, heartbreaking, a decorating question, tips on anything, or someone you admire and want to thank and see them featured. 

Simply email me at bybeckabellastyleinspirations@gmail.com, and I’ll pick one story to feature each week.


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1.03.2018

TV NOOK TURNED INTO HOME BAR BEFORE and AFTER


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It’s about time I filled you in on one of my decorating projects that is now completed. It's really the only area of the house that I could finally pull together because I’m not waiting on items that are on back-order ‘til February like with the other rooms. The moment I saw this TV alcove next to the fireplace in this room of the house which the previous homeowner used as a TV room, I knew it would be better suited as a dining room since it's right off the kitchen and leads straight into the backyard. That's why upgrading this nook's wall into a bar area made all the more sense, especially when there's already another large living room space - perfect for TV watching and reading. I can't wait to reveal the whole package when it's all done!