Welcome Thy Neighbor Sunday, Aug 7 2016 

Air Plant Terrariums and Vases Monday, Dec 1 2014 

I stumbled on light bulb terrariums on one of my internet searches and I decided to make some. As it turns out it takes a bit more work to remove the innards of a light bulb than I wanted to do, and after removing the innards the entrance hole is still quite small. I found a nice alternative — glass ornaments.

air plant terrarium / bayareaassistant.com

Supply List:

Tillandsia’s (air plants)

Glass ornaments (tops removed) and other suitable containers

Sand and/or perlite

Rubber bumpers (sold at hardware stores)

Small figures and ornaments such as: rocks, shells, twigs, moss



Cardboard or a funnel

Supplies / bayareaassistant.com

How to make the terrariums:

First, water your Tillandsia and let it dry. Now take your container, and if it is round add the bumpers to where you want the bottom to be. This will keep your container stabilized. Then fill the container about a third of the way up with sand or perlite using a funnel or a flexible piece of cardboard. Add your Tillandsia and figures. Use your tweezers and chopsticks to position the plant and the figures. It’s that easy. Now go be creative!

light bulb terrarium / bayareaassistant.com

Here is where to find information on caring for air plants 

terrarium vase / bayareaassistant.com


DIY Ornaments Sunday, Nov 30 2014 

DIY Ornaments / Bayareaassistant.com
Here is an easy, fun craft that you can do with your kids — Snow Ornaments with miniature figures. They will look great on your Christmas tree or lined up on your mantle, and they make great gifts.

Here is what you need to make these cute little ornaments: Supplies / bayareaassistant.com

Clear glass ornaments (available at craft stores)

Perlite (available at garden stores)

Small animals or figures (available at toy stores and/or craft stores)

Rubber bumpers (available at hardware stores)

Tweezers and/or chopsticks

Small soft brush on a wire (available at most drugstores in the cleaning isle)

Funnel or cardboard


bayareaassistant.comTake the ornament and add 4 bumpers to the bottom of the glass so the ornament will stand upright.

bayareaassistant.comNext, remove the top of the ornament and add the Perlite about 1/3 of the way up the ornament. Use a funnel or some cardboard to pour the Perlite in the ornament.

making the horse ornament / bayareaassistant.comNow place your desired figure or small animal in the ornament. Once you get the figure in, use the tweezers or the chopsticks to position your figure. Once the figure is positioned, slightly tap the ornament to make sure the figure is stable. Once the figure is stable use your brush on the wire to clean off the dust from the inside of the ornament. If the figure falls over just reposition it.

German Shepherd Ornament / bayareaassistant.comPlace the top back on the ornament. Once the top is back on, you can add a ribbon to the top if you desire.

It’s Rough Out There Thursday, Apr 10 2014 

Cottage I manage a duplex in Berkeley for my family and see first hand how hard renting in the San Francisco Bay Area has become – for many it is harder than finding a good job. The Open Houses are packed with people, sometimes up to 50 applicants for one apartment (I hear in San Francisco the numbers are much higher), and the number of emails and inquiries are triple that.   After selecting the renter, I always send the other applicants an email to let them know they didn’t get the apartment. This past rental, several prospective tenants wanted to know if there was anything they could have done to improve their chances, and with some it was just a numbers game, but for others there were things they could have done that may have improved their chances.   Here are my tips:   It’s in the Details This is similar to finding and applying for a job. Read the rental Ad and follow any instructions listed in the Ad (how to contact, application/showing process, etc.) Pay attention to the details of the rental such as: vacancy, items included (parking, utilities, laundry), lease or month-to-month, pets allowed. Remember this is a very competitive process and the way you communicate with the landlord/rental agency may be considered in the end.  If the Ad is fairly descriptive and the rental process is outlined you should save your questions for the showing. Is it a Match? After reviewing the listing, make sure it works for your needs. If you need a place for six months, don’t waste time with a place that wants a one year lease, if you need a garage don’t waste time with a place that only has street parking, if you have a pet and the place does not take pets don’t waste time on it, etc. Also, check out the neighborhood of the apartment, either by using maps online or by going in person, but don’t bother the current occupants of the unit, you don’t want to be seen as pushy.   Be Flexible If the listing provides information on a public showing try to make it to the listed showing. Most landlords are overwhelmed with responses and they don’t need to and don’t have time to have several showings for an apartment.   Be Prepared Bring with you a current credit report that includes your credit score. Provide an explanation if your score is low. Bring proof of income (pay stubs, letter from current employer, etc.). If you don’t have a job but have plenty of funds, bring proof (bank statements, etc.). Bring the information you will need to fill out the application or bring an application that you have pre-filled out. The information you may need is: current and past employers, current and past residences, personal references, credit report, proof of income, and bring a pen. If you can, you might want to bring letters from current or past landlords or neighbors attesting to the type of tenant you are, this is especially useful if you are a dog owner.   Pets If you have a pet and pets are allowed, bring a pet resume (include a picture of the pet if you are not bringing the pet to the Open House) and references. Landords will want to know the pet is not going to be a problem. The San Francisco SPCA provides information for tenants on how to put together a  Pet Resume.   At the Showing When going to the showing make sure you park on the street and are considerate of the neighbors, you don’t want to be seen as pushy or entitled. Once there, take your time and really look at the place. I don’t suggest asking for an application or turning over your personal documents until you have spent some time looking at the unit and have asked some questions about the place. You want to clearly communicate your interest in the unit, so tell the landlord a little about yourself and the people/pets that would be living at the unit, and how it is the right place for you (be brief, especially if there are others waiting to speak to the landlord). Mention anything that might enhance the property for example, you like to garden and take pride in where you live.   It seems like a lot of work, but if you put a packet together you will be able to use it for multiple places, and it may make the difference in getting the place you want. Most landlords want hassle-free, low maintenance tenants, and the more you can convey that to the landlord, the more likely you will be chosen. Good luck in your search!

Art Care Sunday, Jan 19 2014 

How I fell in love with TRX Monday, Jan 28 2013 

I had never been one to join a gym or take fitness classes. In fact, I was the kid in school that hated P.E.  I always preferred to get my exercise in the ‘real world,’ by being active: hiking, gardening, biking, etc.  I got away with this for a very long time and I appeared to be ‘fit.’ I should mention that I am blessed with a fast metabolism so weight loss has never been an issue.

However, about two years ago I noticed I wasn’t as strong as I’d been in the past, and I was getting minor injuries from doing normal tasks. I kept getting back pain from gardening or from lifting boxes during organizing projects. I also had Tennis Elbow from throwing the ball for my dog. I decided it was time to do something about this loss of strength.

I knew I wanted a fitness class as opposed to joining a gym and working out on equipment. I wanted to be taught how to properly do the exercises and I wanted the class atmosphere for motivation. I also knew I didn’t want a ‘Boot Camp’ style class. Boot Camp classes remind me too much of High School Phys Ed, plus I didn’t want someone pushing me to do movements beyond my capability. My goal was to build strength and flexibility without injury. I’ve never been a fan of Yoga, but Pilates seemed interesting.

It turned out that most Pilates classes on equipment, which was what I was looking for, wanted you to first have some private lessons if you were new to Pilates. I signed up for three Pilates classes with a Pilates trainer to see if Pilates was right for me. It may have been my instructor, but I found Pilates to be boring. There was so much concentration on breathing (which I know is important) and the progression of the workout felt very slow moving — an hour workout felt like an hour, or longer. I learned that Pilates was not right for me (at least not from that instructor). And, I learned the importance of breathing, posture and connecting with my body.

Photo by Patrik Sklenar

Photo by Patrik Sklenar

I was still determined to find some type of fitness class that would work for me — that’s when I stumbled upon TRX (Total Body Resistance Exercise). TRX, as seen in the picture (courtesy of The Fuse Fitness, Kensington, CA), is a suspension training tool that uses your body weight as resistance against gravity.

I liked the fact that all levels of experience and all body types could do TRX. The straps adjust, and you adjust your body to change the difficulty of each move. There are so many different moves/exercises you can do with TRX. You can get strength training, flexibility and aerobics all out of one class (dependent on the instructor).

I have to admit it was intimidating going to my first TRX class. It was the first time I had been to any type of fitness class as an adult. After feeling a little stupid and uncoordinated, I began to get how the TRX straps worked. I’m glad I listened to my body and pushed myself to go. I also learned that not all instructors are the same and some may push students more than others. It is important you know your body, your limitations and remember your reasons for taking the class. I did and it saved me from injuries.

I found TRX classes to be fun and to go by really fast – an hour class can seem like only a few minutes. And for me, the best part is that I see improvement relatively quickly and without doing a million reps of the same thing (which would be boring). For instance, the first time I did a Side Plank I could not do it without using my free arm for support. Then after about a month, even though the classes I had been in had not incorporated a Side Plank as one of the exercises, I was able to do the Side Plank without support, and I was even able to hold a weight with my free hand. The fact that all the exercises work your core means you can improve on a specific movement without doing that movement a gazillion times.

I have been taking TRX classes for almost a year now and I am not bored yet. I am more fit now than I ever was, and I’m having fun keeping fit. So me, the non-gym/fitness person, now looks forward to fitness (TRX) class.

Nuts! Thursday, Nov 29 2012 

Give the gift of nuts.

IMG_0717Here is an easy recipe for spiced nuts:

2 Cups Raw Unsalted Nuts (Walnuts, Pecans, etc)

3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter

1/2 Tablespoon Water

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

1/4 Teaspoon Ginger

Heat the nuts in a cast iron skillet until they are toasted. Remove the nuts and wipe out the skillet. Add the butter, sugar, water and spices to the skillet. Stir the ingredients until the sugar and butter are melted. Add the nuts back and stir until well coated. Spread the nuts on parchment paper and let cool. Once the nuts are cool package in pretty, airtight containers. This is an easy homemade gift that anyone can do. You can change the spice mixture to make different flavored nuts — this is just a starting point. Enjoy!

That’s a Wrap Monday, Oct 15 2012 



Here are fun items for making unique and interesting gift packages. Click on the links to find online sources for the various products.


Decorative Tape 







Not your Mom’s Masking Tape













More Twine






Kraft Paper







Gift Packaging: Cello Bags, Pillow Boxes, Gift Boxes






Printable Labels

What Your Contractor Really Means via Houzz.Com Sunday, Oct 14 2012 

The Welcome Mat Sunday, Nov 13 2011 

As friends and family come to town to stay with you, having a few simple things prepared in advance can help make their stay relaxed and less harried for you.

  1. If you have the luxury of a guest room or cottage prepare it in advance by giving it a good cleaning.
  2. Provide blankets and clean linens for your guest.
  3. If you have a guest room, check the light bulbs to make sure they work.
  4. Provide some hangers or hooks for their clothes.
  5. Provide soap, shampoo, conditioner & toothpaste. If you have a guest bathroom, towels and bathroom essentials can be set out for your guest in the bathroom. If you don’t have a separate guest bathroom you can prepare a basket with the necessary items and give your guest a spot to hang their towels.
  6. If you don’t have a room for your guest make some space where they can keep their belongings and provide them with clean linens, blankets and a basket of bathroom essentials.
  7. Provide a night-light so your guest can find their way in the dark.
  8. Provide some reading material and or a television or radio.
  9. Bottled water and some fresh flowers add a nice touch.
  10. Provide information on the area: tourist guide, local paper, etc.
  11. Show your guest your home and where the kitchen essentials are.

The more your guests have a spot of their own, the more they will feel at home and the less likely they will feel like they are in the way.

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