Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Wormhole Called Facebook

The last 24 hours of my life have been interesting to say the least. I turned 41 (ouch) years old yesterday but for the record, I'm skipping it and shall remain 40 for one more year. Not only did I mark another milestone but it was intensified by joining this little social networking site, WWW.FACEBOOK.COM. My friend Trish was on me to join and I did so reluctantly yesterday thinking I would register and in a few days get some hits from people I haven't seen or heard from in twenty plus years. It was as if a floodgate were opened. It feels like a class reunion on line. The recent photos of people jog your memory back to the black and white yearbook photos and it's a chilling reminder of how time is so damn fleeting. I must admit, most of them look pretty good. I have spent hours on it and if I'm not careful, I'll start neglecting my domestic and professional duties. What makes me feel even older is that the whole social networking site thing is so last millennium but here we are patting ourselves on the back for being so tech savvy and clever. I'm slowly turning into a middle aged housewife. God help me...

I apologize for not blogging over the holiday but just couldn't find the motivation let alone the time. I trust everyone had a wonderful holiday, filled with family, gifts and cherished time together.

I'm ready to give 2008 a firm ass kicking into the history books and move swiftly into 2009. We all need to buck up and get down to business. Stop worrying so much...wipe the slate clean, focus on the future and roll up your sleeves. We really need to turn around our economic habits and our frame of mind. Hopefully, Mr. Obama will be able to pull this out of his ass and get us back on our feet. Those of you that know me personally are aware of my feelings about our future president so just know I'm being very kind here. C'mon Barry!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Maybe some loaded eggnog would do the trick?

I am still struggling to get in the spirit of the season. My home is decorated, the containers at school are finished and we watched Elf last night. If that doesn't kick start my yule-tide emotions, I'm not sure what will. Maybe It's a Wonderful Life while making gingerbread men with my children. I'm pretty sure some of it has to do with this monstrous economic meltdown that's being shoved down our throats with every newspaper and network cranking it out like it's Armageddon. Maybe we should boycott the news till the New Year. Let's just act like everything is hunky-freakin-dory and enjoy the hell out of our Christmas, blissfully ignorant to Rome burning around us. Sounds highly dysfunctional but I'm on board.

Here's my other issue this year, my twins are ten years old and they know the jig is up with Santa. Heartbreaking and eye opening at the same time. I'm trying to reason with them with the historical account of the actual St. Nicholas, a real person who has been immortalized as a Saint. He did exist and still does in our hearts. They're having a hard time wrapping their heads around this one. More lies and far flung stories out of Mom's mouth. "Who eats the cookies on Christmas Eve?!" my daughter demanded to know. "He does", I tell her. "You mean Dad, right?" she smirks. How can I tell her no when she knows she's right? Parenthood is a bitch sometimes.

Help me out here...let me know your Christmas Cheer solutions and I'm sure some of you out there have wonderful Santa-coming-of-age stories to share. Let me know. In the mean time, I'm going to buck up and try my damnedest to be jolly, even if I have to fake it for my kids.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

You're a mean one...Mr.Grinch

After having my hands gouged by needles and tiny branches and encrusted in sap, after leaving a half a million needles all over my floor and rugs, after securing the beast in my vintage tree stand, complete with rusty metal screws and after spending another twenty minutes trying to keep in straight up in the stand...I love my real live Christmas tree. As much as I love to complain, it was worth every bloody and sticky finger. Talk to me after I string the lights later, that may be another story.

The best part of bringing home the tree is unpacking all the ornaments and reliving all the memories as you unwrap them. My jack-o-lantern from Evanston, the Mardi Gras mask from New Orleans, the Horoscope globe from Lincoln Park and my Alice in Wonderland paper dolls from Marshall Fields. (That's Macy's on State Street for all of you who are not Chicagoans). I actually cherish the imprinted gift boxes as much as the ornaments themselves. Remember the green paper tote bags, "three o'clock, time to shop!" I sound like a sentimental grandma...but those were the glory days. I digress.....I hope you all enjoy unwrapping your memories this Christmas. Having really unique and special ornaments makes it more of an event when it's time to trim the tree. You're not just strategically placing Target-$9.99-a-box-for-a-dozen-red-balls on your tree, you're reveling in each piece, like it's a piece of you on the tree for all to see. A biography of your family. My kids have a story to tell about each one. Which is the favorite, where it came from or who bought it for us as a gift. Another holiday tradition that happened without being contrived, those are the best and longest lasting. Hopefully, my kids will do the same with their children someday.

Maybe the spirit is starting to move me...a little.

Monday, December 1, 2008

All the Realtors in the house...

A quiet shout-out to all you real estate professionals out there. I know the market is brutal now and has been for some time but there is light at the end of this tunnel. I do believe we have hit the bottom. It is a tough road back. Buyers are still calling the shots but with a little help, you can give your clients a little more leverage. In this market, as always, your listing needs to stand out...way out! Please advise your clients that a few hundred dollars can get it sold. I have consulted and staged many scary, out dated, cluttered and overly personalized homes and every one of them sold within weeks of a staging after being on the market for months and sometimes almost a year! It doesn't need to be drastic (Ala Designed To Sell) just substantial cleaning, organizing, arranging and packing up will have sweeping changes.

If you have a listing that needs help but you would like to keep your relationship intact with your client, call me. I'll be the bad guy. Until the house gets an offer finally, then I get to be the good guy! I've worked with many Realtors and am happy to share referrals with you.In the mean time, hang in there, it's only going to get better from here on out.

As for everyone else, if your home needs a good once-over-twice (you know who you are) let's get together and see what we can do to make your home more comfortable, organized, livable and stylish...your style, not mine. That is what makes a good house and a wonderful home.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Burnt Turkey and Chinese food...

I want to hear from you, your fondest memory of Thanksgiving. Funny or otherwise, I'd be really interested to hear them all. Post your comments below! (That is for all my newbie family members who haven't mastered this site yet...love ya!)

One big blur

It is now Sunday morning and for the first time since Wednesday, I feel a sense of normalcy seep back into my routine. My sister and her children spent Thanksgiving with us for the first time. It was relaxing, laid back and almost down right lazy. The cleaning frenzy took place Wednesday, the cooking marathon Thursday and the lounging began Thursday night and finally came to a conclusion last night. We thouroughly enjoyed ourselves, lots of DVDs, board games, stringing popcorn and cranberries and the fleece blankie project kept everyone entertained. My daughter is now an addict, we already made a return trip to Joanns yesterday. She now wants to make them for everyone she knows for the holidays.

We really don't entertain for a crowd very often. My definition of a crowd would be 10 people or so. We do host Greek Easter and that has almost turned into an outdoor festival. In a few years, I'm afraid Elburn will make us get a permit for it. (More on Greekster as Spring approaches). But I would like to take a minute to applaud all the brave souls who take on the task of cooking for more than a dozen people. My hat is off to you, I don't know how you do it. I was proud of myself for making my pumpkin crisp the day before, doing a little prepwork and thinking smugly to myself, this is not so bad, I've got it all under control. Yeah...with two hours to go till the turkey was done, my sister and I are yucking it up in the kitchen, marveling at our timing and wondering what the big deal is to this holiday feast. My husband came in and asked if we had the potatoes done, (sweet and mashed), the green beans and any other casseroles we had, needed to be ready to go. We looked at each other and knew the answer we had was not what he was expecting. No, we didn't have any of that even started. No water boiling, no veggies chopped, no potatoes peeled...we were screwed. In my head, I could hear our dad laughing at us and the jabs would be flying if he were here. "You two couldn't find your way out of a wet paper sack let alone this kitchen!" But he would've been proud. A frenzy of chopping, boiling, measuring and mixing ensued and waged on for another two hours. My sister jokingly compared the pressure to that of Food Network Challenge! We recruited my nieces for dish duty and they obliged with the enthusiasm of a teamster who missed his coffee break. When we were out of the weeds, the dinner went out on time, everything was hot and nothing was burnt or raw. A miracle for me. All in all, a successful Thanksgiving.

The following 48 hours were all a blur. Never in my life have I been so lazy. Never have I watched so many movies or spent so much time with my ass firmly planted on the couch. My life starts every day at five a.m. and I rarely get to sit till bedtime, somewhere around nine, then I collapse on the couch. This past weekend was the complete opposite. My sister swears it's good for me and it's something I never do...all true but I'm happy to get back into my routine and off the couch. I also plan on fasting today. The heaviness of the holiday food stuffs is all too much for me. I'm craving a big green salad and a tall glass of ice water with a lemon. It feels like I'm a kid two days after Halloween, the thought of candy is sickening. That's how I'm feeling about carbs in general right now.

I hope everyone had a stress free (yeah, right) and memorable Thanksgiving. All eyes are on the prize of Christmas now. That is a topic for my next entry, too big to squeeze in here.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Good, Bad and the Ugly of Thanksgiving

Out of all the holidays, Thanksgiving ranks right up there with Arbor Day in terms of excitement and anticipation. It brings with it the dark cloud of holiday shopping, an extraordinary amount of extra calories (which continues on until the first week of January) and an enormous meal that I am completely unqualified to prepare. One Thanksgiving, my dear friend Trish and I never took out the bag of unrecognizable organs from inside the bird...oooops. The culinary arts are not my talent, I leave that up to my husband the chef. There are some positive things to say about the day...

I love the fact that it's meant to be a day of reflection and remembrance and holding closer those people, places and things that we love. I remember as a child and teenager the pressure of stating to all those seated at the dinner table what I was thankful for that year. It was gut wrenching and I remember thinking how ridiculous it all was. As a grownup, I still think it's a little silly but the sentiment is still sweet.

Remember to be thankful for what you have or who you have, especially in these stressful times.

I'm going to enjoy a laid back couple of days with my sister and her family, we're really looking forward to it. For the record, she's not that great of a cook either (great baker, though). We'll have to rely on my husband Paul for guidance. Enjoy your day.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Wish List

If you could have three items, regardless of cost, what would you wish for? Let's keep it materialistic and selfish just for fun! Please...no "world peace" or "perfect health for my children". Too boring and sappy. Just for a minute think like Oprah, (no goody goody charities or projects) her money. She could buy pretty much anything she wanted. A diamond encrusted dog leash for her beloved cocker- spaniel or a mini cooper for her personal assistant to do errands. Fantasize for a minute...what would it be? Leave your wish list in comments and we'll share with other readers.

My list would be a dangerously huge diamond encrusted ring from Tiffany's...a big ass 2009 Chevy Suburban (white, please) with every option known to man...and this black leather Michael Kors bag I spied at Von Maur that was more than my monthly mortgage payment. It was exquisite! Let me know what you want!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Christmas In Kaneville

On Saturday, December 6th, from 9am to 1pm, I will be participating in the Christmas Walk in Kaneville, Illinois. If you're in the area, come to the community center and say hello. The town of Kaneville is about 4 miles east of Elburn (straight out Main Street) and the town is so small they don't even have a stoplight. But they have thier post office, day care, community center, village hall and bank all in the same building which is across the street from the purple grocery store and down the street from a working blacksmith shop. Very quaint to say the least. But the town is filled with lots of nice residents who love their way of life. Everybody knows everybody and they all know each others business! My kind of place. Hope to see you there...

Brave New World

I guess this was inevitable. Technology rules most of our lives and if you can't embrace it, you're doomed for failure. This is my first entry in my blog. I thought I was doing well with just an email account but lately my 4o year old friends have jumped on the facebook bandwagon, welcome to the new millenium guys, 5 years later. We can't help it. I refuse to even entertain the idea of cretaing a page on facebook so I thought this would be a much more mature paltform.

My name is Lisa Papadopoulos and I will attempt, over the next few months, to post the ins and outs of everyday life in our village of Elburn, Illinois. Here's my deal...

I'm 40 years old, married my high school crush (a very sizeable crush), am the proud mom of ten year old twins (a boy and girl) Alex and Winnie, my husband Paul is a partner with Sweet Baby Rays BBQ, I am a one woman show with my own interior design business, Zoe Interiors (hence the name, Duh) and I have a million opinions on a billion subjects. Let the comiserating begin...

I really would like to focus a lot of this on quality of life, broken down into a few different catergories...

* Home (Interior Design, Decorating, Style Trends, Organization, Advice and Opinions)

* Family and Friends (Everyone loves a good bitch session)

* Politics (hang on!) I love to debate and discuss so bring it on

I'm sure there will be all sorts of subjects that come up and I'd love to take them all on, so bring it. First and foremost, this is a site about our homes...how they make us feel, our connection to them, how to improve them, thus bettering our quality of life. Our homes are a sanctuary and in this really insane and dangerous world, we need a base to feel safe, raise our children and take a breath. Our environment here should be comfortable, bring us happiness (if that means a new throw pillow on the sofa, so be it), and be a place to grow. You don't need a big budget (who the hell has one nowadays anyway?) but just some thought and planning. This is where I come in.

I have always had a passion for interior design. When I was a kid, 9 or 10 years old, I would rearrange my bedroom furniture at least twice a year. I made a chandelier out of alluminum foil, ping pong balls and dental floss. Spectacular! I would scour the curbs on garbage day looking for discarded treasures to spray paint and call my own. My mother finally put her foot down when I rearranged her very fussy and extremely formal victorian furniture collection in the living room. I gouged the hell out of the hardwood floors moving some 500 pound Eastlake dining hutch, complete with carrera marble top (which weighed at least 100 pounds). Oops, sorry Mom, but your arrangement was all wrong. Her focal point was nonexistent and the seating was not intimate. Any twelve year old with her head on straight could see that.

Thus began my passion for the home. If I had a more analytical and mechanical mind, I would have been an architect. But I couldn't even wrap my mind around a mechanical 3D drawing of a hand tool in drafting class in high school. It actually hurt mentally, like always trying to look around the corner while someone keeps moving the wall further away. Interior design is much more forgiving and fluid. It must make sense though, you can't float a chair in the corner of a room without an accent table to accompany it. It makes no sense. Where will you put your book or drink? But the fun part is deciding on the shape, color, texture, pattern and profile of the very sensibly placed chair. That's why design is wonderful, the first decision is logical and must be practical. The next step is where all the fun is. Perfect harmony.

I would love questions, suggestions, problems and opinions about anything to do with your home. Aesthetically or emotionally. It is such an amazing chunk of our lives that I think so many people just overlook just because they have never taken the time to actually think about the impact of their surroundings on their lives or they are simply overwhelmed and underexposed to the fantastic universe of design. There is a piece for every taste and budget, I promise. It's very satisfying to help people navigate through it all. The most rewarding feeling for me as a designer is when the project is complete and they either can't stop smiling or start crying (tears of joy). It sounds like sentimental BS but it's amazing to change someones life for the better.

That's why I do what I do. I'd love to help you, too. Let me know what you think, questions, comments, threats, whatever. I'll try to keep up here...keep me busy.