Feature Friday: Small Home, Big Living

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We just saw this insanely gorgeous home on Dwell, belonging to an almost family of four. They downsized their belongings and gave their new home a makeover with a mix of high end and affordable finishes. The result is a simplified home that looks like a dream. So inspiring!

Photo by: Matthew Williams

Are you feeling inspired to clean house and downsize on the amount of unnecessary belongings your family owns? I know I am.

Live Like a Tourist

Somewhere inside this woman who feels eternally responsible for getting dinner on the table and clean underwear in everyone’s drawers is a fun and spontaneous person. Really! But for whatever reason, it proves difficult for me to mesh my fun side with my taking-care-of-business side when in the midst of my daily routine. Why? Gee, I don’t know, maybe because the home is my workplace, and it’s filled with things, projects, lists, and people screaming at me (both literally and figuratively) to do this and to do that every waking moment of the day.

As much as I like the idea of being the mom who initiates dance parties in the kitchen and pillow fights at bedtime, I have to admit that most of the time I’m in work mode. (I’m not a total dud, but you get my drift.) In order for me to really relax and get my fun on I actually need to leave the premises and go to a worry free environment. And for me, that translates into living like a tourist.

It started when I became a mother. Anxious to introduce my children to all the wonderful things the world had to offer, and in an effort to create lots of warm and fuzzy family memories, I quite naturally sought out the best of the best activities for families in whatever place we lived. (When I say “the best of the best,” I just mean the best for our family. Obviously, each family will seek out and enjoy different “best” activities.) The wonderful by-product of this was that I created a whole lot of fun for both my family and myself.

The crazy thing is, in every place we’ve ever lived I’ve met longtime residents who have never done the “top ten” list of things to do in town–the things anyone visiting the area would do if they were on vacation. I’ve always been a little surprised by this. One of the first things I do when I move to a new city is find out what the tourist attractions are and start plugging them into the calendar. I understand that some people are just more of the “home body” type, but these same people will often go out of their way to travel to other states and destinations rather than simply taking advantage of what is in their own backyard.

Reynolds family in IowaWhen we lived in Iowa City, we enjoyed Wilson’s Apple Orchard with its big red barn, apple turnovers, hay rides, and over 100 types of pick your own apples. The Amana Colonies and Amish communities were always a hit, as was fossil collecting at the Devonian Fossil Gorge. While Iowa isn’t typically thought of as a tourist destination, we had more than our share of good times hiking, boating around Coralville Lake, hanging out at the Ped Mall near the University of Iowa, and seeing an occasional Broadway show at Hancher Auditorium.  We even had a great time last summer by going to the American Gothic House! You might think you live in an area with very little to do, but I contend that with a little bit of research you’d be surprised.

Sea Caves in CAThen we moved to the Los Angeles area and there really was no end to the out and about activities. Even so, in addition to the predictable trips to the beach and Disneyland, we also found activities that longtime residents had never even heard of. One of my favorites was the day I hiked with my four children up to the Bat mobile cave that was used in the old Batman TV show. (When you walk through the end of the cave it actually opens up to a great view of the Hollywood sign!) It should be noted that this little activity didn’t cost me any more than the gas to get there. Living like a tourist doesn’t necessarily mean spending a lot of money. I am a firm believer that some of the best things (or activities) in life really are free.

Reynolds family in Southern UtahSpeaking of which, now that we live in Utah, we can’t get enough of the national parks and beautiful local hikes! Other than the occasional and inexpensive entrance pass, hiking is just about the cheapest fun you can have as a family. And while not always free, Utah also seems to have a never ending supply of other family friendly activities for every season and holiday of the year. So much so that I find myself spending more time figuring out what not to do rather than what to do. In fact, this weekend is our school district’s fall break, and while many people use this time to go down to Disneyland or who else knows where, we are more than happy to stay right here in town and do a few of the great things that our local area has to offer (like another new and beautiful hike to see the fall colors!) It’s going to take quite some time for me to feel like I’ve seen and done it all. Utah is just another great place to live like a tourist.

My point is, if you’re feeling a little stale these days and not at all like the fun mom you used to be or thought you would be, maybe you just need to get out of your workplace (the home) and start living like a tourist. Get online, Google “things to do in (your town)” and then sit down and make some plans with your family. (Most city websites are a great resource, but GoCityKids and Thingstodo are also very helpful.) It may just be the spark you need to remember how much fun you really are.

QUESTION: What are the “top ten” things to do in your town? Do you know?

CHALLENGE: Find out and go have some fun!

By Allyson Reynolds, Power of Moms

Images provided by the author.

Donny Osmond Home Furnishing Line- New Removable Wall Tiles

August 12, 2014
Splash Magazines / LASplash.com

Description: The new Donny Osmond Wall Tiles are a really exciting part of his new home furnishing line, made by Achim Importing exclusively for Donny Osmond Home. They are easily placed on any wall with no damage to the wall or paint. Perfect for rental apartments, offices, kids rooms, anywhere you want to make an affordable change to any room. The possibilities are endless with these paintable wall tiles. Making a bold statement covering all the walls in your space or creating an eye-catching accent wall. Since there is a tile for every style, these can work in any home, adding immediate interest to your space. William Staubitzer, of Achim Importing, said of the Wall Tiles, “Our wall tiles add character to a room and completely change its feel to a place you want to be. And in doing so, they bring the family together.” Hanging the Donny Osmond Wall Tiles couldn’t be more simple. The back of each tile has 4 pieces of adhesive that require you to peel back the paper and stick to your wall. Peel…and stick! If you need to remove your tiles, carefully pull them away from the wall while using a blow dryer to warm the adhesive. These tiles make quite the statement. You can purchase a set of Donny Osmond Home Wall Tiles at HomeDepot.com and Wayfair.com now! Donny Osmond Home 19.6 in. x 19.6 in. Self-Stick3D White Decorative Wall Tile (10-Pack)

Visit the Website

Price: $51.00 to $69.97

Donny’s Day Job: Always An Osmond? Yes, But…

August 6, 2014
David J. Spatz – Atlantic City Weekly

Donny Osmond is a realist. The pop star and former teen singing idol has no 
intention of being one of those cradle-to-grave entertainers. And that, he says, is why he’s already preparing for life after show business.

Earlier this year, Osmond and his wife Debbie launched Donny Osmond Home, an ever-expanding line of affordable home furnishings and décor items. Which, if you think about it, is really just another form of “show” business.

“We’ve been working on it for four years, and it’s something my wife and I can do together for the rest of our lives,” Osmond said during a recent phone call from Las Vegas, where he and his sister Marie were wrapping up another stint of their six-year residency gig at the Flamingo Hotel before bringing it to the Boardwalk for a two-week run.

“There will be a day when the curtain comes down and I’m not going to perform any more,” he added. “We just celebrated 36 years of marriage. She’s got a wonderful eye for interior decorating, and we just love doing this together.”

Osmond seems to be bringing to the retail world the same well-calculated approach he’s brought to the art of entertaining an audience since he broke into the business in the early 1960s. He mentioned, several times, the importance of protecting the brand — both his own name brand and the one he and his wife are creating for their home products line.

Rolling out Donny Osmond Home last January wasn’t a sprint, he indicated. It’s a marathon, something the couple intends to be in for the long haul. But he acknowledged the brand took off faster than they imagined.

“We’re already in more than 1,000 stores and Home Depot is already carrying some of our stuff,” he said. “The brand message is try to make home and family number one, because your home is so important, especially in my world of show business. I’m out on the road touring and working hard at what I do. But when I come home, I come home to a nice atmosphere that my wife has been able to create.”

One of the Osmonds’ goals was to make the products affordable to the masses without sacrifice quality, he explained. “It’s not extremely high-end stuff, because we want it to be moderately priced, so a lot of people can afford it,” he said. “But it’s not cheap stuff, either, because that stuff breaks down, and over time your reputation follows the breaking point of your product. It’s good quality stuff.”

Osmond, 56, may be looking to the future by creating the home furnishings line, but he’s not giving up his night job any time soon. The Donny & Marie Las Vegas residency gig that began at the Flamingo six years ago as a six-day trial balloon — it was the siblings’ first time working together in about 20 years — keeps getting renewed.

Although some have labeled their variety show a corny piece of throwback entertainment for a Strip audience that feeds on Britney Spears, Elton John and Celine Dion, the Donny & Marie show has been named “show of the year” several times. Two years ago, Donny Osmond actually beat out Dion for “best singer” honors in the Best of Las Vegas awards.

“I’ve been rubbing it in (Dion’s) face ever since,” Osmond laughed.

Donny and Marie Osmond return to Caesars Atlantic City for their third consecutive summer Aug. 8-21. Technically, it’s Marie’s third summer but her brother’s second.

Last year, right before they left Las Vegas for Atlantic City, Donny literally broke his butt — he tore his gluteus maximus — leaping from the stage onto a piano. His sister scrambled at the last minute and replaced her brother with several guest stars, including actor John Schneider.

“See? She had to bring at least three or four people to cover me,” Donny joked. “That just goes to show she just can’t work without me, right?”

The show they’re bringing to the Boardwalk is very different from the last time they performed together at Caesars in 2012. Sure, they’ll each do the hits they were associated with as teenagers; Donny will sing “Puppy Love” and “Go Away Little Girl,” and Marie will perform “Paper Roses.”

But most of the other material will be different. Osmond said it’s important to mix things up for the loyal Donny & Marie fans who show up every time their names are on a marquee.

“We’re getting three-peat and four-peat business. People keep coming back, it’s become their annual pilgrimage to come to the Donny & Marie show in Vegas and Atlantic City,” he said. “So it behooves us to constantly change it because they don’t want to see the same show over and over again. So we have to keep it fresh. Plus it’s good for us. It doesn’t get old, it doesn’t get tired. And the band loves it because there’s new material.”

One thing that doesn’t change is the sibling rivalry element they bring to the stage. That’s not an act; Donny and Marie, 54, are constantly playing a game of can-you-top-this. “It’s that competitive thing that we have. It’s so real, it’s so organic, it’s that Donny and Marie sibling rivalry that we have,” he said. “I rub it into her face every night that I won Dancing With the Stars (in 2009) and she got kicked off (in 2007). I have so much fun with that and the audience eats it up.”

 

Las Vegas Market Cubes

It was such a thrill for us to be able to show off Donny Osmond Home during the Las Vegas Market. It was especially exciting with our new licensees’ product from Robely and Boston Warehouse and the launch of the Donny Osmond Home line with KAS Rugs.

Everything turned out beautifully and seeing the whole line together is amazing. We can’t wait to introduce more product from more of our new partners in the next year.

Our cubes from the Las Vegas Market turned out great so we thought all the Donny Osmond Home fans would enjoy seeing them! CAM00882CAM00883CAM00885CAM00887

Two Simple Ways to Nourish Family Life

Loosli family at KolobOnce upon a time, before my life began to revolve around naps and then homework and now carpools, I studied some fascinating stuff about families while pursuing my Masters degree at Harvard (that diploma on my wall is mostly useful these days for reminding my kids that I actually DO know a thing or two…).

Recently I decided it would be interesting to re-read one of my favorite books from that period of my life. It’s called The Shelter of Each Other and it’s by NYTimes bestselling author Mary Pipher (she also wrote a great book called Reviving Ophelia about raising adolescent girls – it was a big deal back in the 90’s). The Shelter of Each Other offers lots of great insights into how to build a happy family or create a happy family out of an unhappy one. The book was really interesting to me when I first read it. But the book means much more to me now that I’m actually in the midst of trying to build my own family.

In the book, the author shares case studies of families a couple generations ago and modern-day families. It’s  interesting to see some of the things our society seems to have lost (a strong and quite universal sense of what is right and wrong, a strong sense of responsibility, acceptance that hard things are part of life, the slowness and peace of a world with very little technology, etc.) and some of the things we’ve gained (greater openness, more understanding and acceptance, etc.). It’s also interesting to compare the big hard issues main-stream families dealt with long ago (sickness, poverty, deaths of loved ones, hard physical labor, too much responsibility put on children, too few choices) with the big hard issues main-stream families face today (drugs, alcohol, monitoring what kids have access to and how much time they spend in front of screens, lack of tangible work and tangible results, too many choices, etc.)

But the part of the book that struck me the most was this part:

Pipher is meeting with a family in crisis. The mom is depressed and works long hours. The dad seems addicted to the Internet and can’t seem to kick his smoking habit. Their 18-year-old daughter is a perfectionist recovering from anorexia. Their 14-year-old daughter is downright mean to everyone in the family and has problems with drugs and alcohol. Their 10-year-old son is lonely and mercilessly teased at school and wants to play video games constantly.  They don’t feel at all connected with each other and consider themselves a totally dysfunctional family. They have the desire for a strong, happy family. But they don’t really know how to get from where they are to where they want to be. So they’re willing to try just about anything that Pipher suggests.

In thinking about how this family could heal itself, Pipher says, “This family needed more nourishing activities. As adults, people remember three kinds of family events with great pleasure – meals, vacations and time outdoors. I wanted this family to have some memories.”

Based on this need she identified, Pipher said this to the family:

“I”m going to make a couple of radical suggestions here. One is that you turn off the television and computer for at least a couple of nights a week, and two, that the family do something out of doors every week together. Watch a sunset, go for a walk, or take a trip to a wilderness area.”

Turning off TV’s and computers isn’t really a radical suggestion for families these days. In the 15 years since Pipher wrote this book, it seems that our society has started to face the real issues involved in too much screen/technology time and many families have learned the necessity of declaring and protecting “screen-free” time in their lives. Of course, actually implementing what we know is right can be a challenge . . .

On the other hand, the suggestion of spending time outdoors isn’t something our society seems to be thinking as much about. Pipher goes on to explain this further: “I think the natural world has great power to heal and restore families. Children need contact with the natural world. It’s an antidote to advertising and gives them a different perspective on the universe. Looking at the Milky Way makes most of us feel small and yet a part of something vast. Television, with its emphasis on meeting every need, makes people feel self-important and yet unconnected to anything greater than themselves.”

The family in the book took Pipher’s suggestions. They went on walks and hikes (even though some people hated it at first) and found that conversations came naturally and the fresh air and varied scenery just felt good. They played board games, read and actually talked to each other during their no-screen evenings. Over the next few months, while they still had plenty of issues to work through, their relationships were strengthened, they started to enjoy being around each other, and some of their problems seemed to dissipate.

In our family, we work hard to maintain screen-time boundaries for our kids. They can have a little computer time after finishing homework and family work (chores) and they only watch some limited TV on weekends. But I’m realizing my husband and I need to have some screen-free evenings after the kids are in bed to enhance our relationship (after a long day, it’s so easy to get sucked into emails or TV shows). So we’ve decided to keep two evenings a week screen-free from here on out.

As far as outdoor time, we’ve always loved hiking and biking together on weekends and after-dinner walks around the neighborhood were part of our routine for quite a while. But I’ve realized that lately, as we’ve had more extracurricular activities to get to in the evenings, our after-dinner walks have dwindled to nothing. And as our weekends have been filled up with soccer games and home-improvement projects, hiking and biking excursions haven’t happened much.

Last week, after reading Pipher’s advice, we went on a family hike and made it out on a couple quick after-dinner walks. Getting people out the door isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Everyone’s just a little nicer and life feels better when we get some outdoor time – even a quick walk around the block seems to help.

Whether our families are in crisis or not, Pipher’s simple do-able ideas for nourishing our relationships and building memories can be applied with real success.

QUESTION: Do you prioritize screen-free time and outdoor time in your family? What works for you?

CHALLENGE: Follow Pipher’s advice!

By Saren Eyre Loosli, Power of Moms