Tiny house(boat) “living begins”… with a rant.

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There’s so much to tell you, so I’m going to data point this blog post, so that in my next post I can begin sharing my new tiny life:

  • We rented out our house (furnished) to the loveliest family ever… the Dad was in the band Menudo (!!!) and the Mom is a face you may recognize from TV.
  • Why’d we do it?  Because we can!  Oh, and we want to buy an industrial building and do a live/work kinda thing.  And, not a loft.  Lofts are for people who can’t imagine what to do with a wide open space and I’ve got a vivid imagination.
  • We packed up the house in approximately 10 day and tossed our life in storage?!  WHAT?  Yes, it’s possible (read: overwhelming) to weed through the crap collected in 15 years of living in a spacious home.  It’s the ‘ol goldfish/fish bowl thing.  I had become a koi fish which LOOKS like a goldfish, but is decidedly NOT… as, it’s MUCH bigger.
  • Learned a lesson:  Change is hard.  Change is good. Change is freeing.  Getting to the actual change part SUCKS.
  • Vow: Never live in a place for more than 5 years.  It’s too easy to get attached to silly things.  Must continuously clear out stuff.
  • Confession: I have too many pairs of scissors.
  • We crammed as much of our un-stored stuff as possible into our little houseboat, the Retro Metro, as that’s going to be home base  this summer (between our many trips out of town, our guesthouse surfing and driving across this great country of ours)… while, until we find a new place.  And by crammed I mean hoardanized (hoard + organize = hoardanize) life’s necessities into >400 sq ft.  What are life’s necessities?  You’d be surprised to learn what it really comes down to.  For me: my night guard, hair conditioner & mousse, outfit accessories, sneakers, paper clips, stapler and a good chef’s knife.
  • Our houseboat became a chapter in the book My Cool Houseboat which has just been published.  As a designer, I know I’ve made it when my design is in a book, and the book is sitting on the coffee table of the place that’s been written about!
  • Sprinkle in a little packing up of my childhood home in DC which my parents lived for 48 years, & stage the goodies I want to bring home to LA.  Yes, I am homeless and I am bringing more crap into my life, er storage facility.  How can I turn down an original Tulip Table?  I grew up with it and love it!
  • Uh, we bought a literal MACK truck to drive said childhood crap across country via the 127 Corridor Sale AKA the World’s Longest Yard Sale… whereupon I will be purchasing more crap (that I don’t need).  I’ve already begun making a list & taking orders (from friends & clients) for pieces of furniture that I might find at the yard sale.
  • Confession:  We’re not going to be MACK truck owners forever (dear God, I hope NOT!), just long enough to drive across country and then sell it shortly thereafter for close to the same amount we bought it for.
  • Vow: Not to buy too much bric-a-brac at the 127 Sale, but focus on the big pieces of furniture that aren’t as easy to find in LA as they may be in the midwest.
  • I’ve practically been living in my shitty car, the Chevy Volt, as I’m driving up to LA from LB virtually everyday (actually, today is the first day I HAVEN’T driven up there. YAY!).  See, I leased the ride (actually 2 of them!  One for me and one for Marty) because were living in LA and mostly driving to clients and jobs in town so my solar panel-y charged car was a cool choice (even though I’ve not been a fan of the car since the actual day I drove it home from the dealership).  Well, now that I’ve been driving this gas guzzling car which sounds like I’m driving a MACK truck, I’m peeved.  Oh, and there aren’t any charging stations nearby where I’m staying except for a person’s PlugShare that I can’t really use on a daily basis as it belongs to a person!  Uh, Long Beach/Belmont Shore, get with the program!
  • Confession: My clients are getting a frazzled Tracy Metro whose world of electronics is working against her.  Is Facebook not working for anybody else, or is it just me?!?  Put that all together and this tiny life led to a not so tiny melt down yesterday that had me sitting on the side of the road next to SciArc (avoiding hideous traffic getting from DTLA to LB), sobbing whilst cleaning off my computer’s overstuffed desktop.

That’s pretty much where I am to date.

 

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By the way, things are looking up!  I’ve spent the day working at a public library.  Not a bad office, huh?  I’ve been sitting still long enough to write this blog post which I’ve been wanting to write for a few weeks now.  Maybe this tiny life won’t be so crazy now that it has started in earnest.

Tweet me @TracyMetro what led to your latest melt down.

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What do hibernating bears & hair clogs have in common?

That would be spring cleaning!

denWith the craziness of the winter that MOST of the country experienced, many homes became little hibernation dens that collected all manner of dust, dirt & debris. The 3Ds!

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Here’s what you can do to clean up the mayhem!  First rid your house of the 3Ds by opening up your windows, sweeping, and wiping down all surfaces. Everybody knows that, but what product should you use?

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Make your very own orange cleaner by placing orange, lemon & grapefruit peels in a large mason jar and covering them with white table vinegar.  Let it sit for a few weeks, shaking everyday.

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Give it the sniff test and once it stops reeking of vinegar, it’s ready to get the job done.  If you want it to smell super yummy, you can always add a few drops of an essential oil like lavender (I actually gave up the oil a few years ago and have come to LOVE the smell of vinegar as a cleaner!).  Next, simply strain and pour it into a spray bottle… then, you’re ready to go to town cleaning counters, floors and windows.

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During the process you may as well make sure your drains are running clean so you don’t find yourself knee deep in sludge caused by the always GROTESQUE hair clog.  drano

Drano Max Gel to the max rescue!   Just pour it down the drain, wait 15 minutes and then run hot water down the drain and poof anything that WAS in there is gone. If you have a major clog, you may need to wait 30 minutes, but seriously ANYTHING is better than pulling that soap-scummed hair from the drain!

color 2If you read my blog, you know that I love doing inexpensive tweaks that have big impact like changing out the pillows on your couch.  I’m always preaching to my clients to embrace COLOR! Color has been proven to positively enhance moods!

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As well, don’t be afraid to change out the faucets & doorknobs with a different finish (satin brass, chrome, nickel).  This is such an easy way to update your home. I’m crushing on the satin brass look that is coming into view, right now!  Schlage has a new series of doorknob styles coming out this Spring that will prove that “finish” completely changes the vibe of a space.

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Swapping out a doorknob or faucet is something that YOU can do.  I know you can.  If you get stuck, tweet me your questions @tracymetro

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In the wise words of Kenny Rogers

FullSizeRender[2]My parents celebrated their 50th anniversary this past weekend and I wanted my entire family (parents, husband, brother, sister-in-law, niece & nephew) to do something together that was more than just a bloody mary infused Disco Brunch.

I knew I wanted to do a treasure or scavenger hunt. What’s the difference? On a treasure hunt your group works as a team while a scavenger hunt is based in competition with other teams.  There’s enough drama going on in my family these days, so I opted for all of us to be on the same team as I didn’t want it to get ugly!

I’ve ALWAYS wanted to put together my very own scavenger hunt where teams are required to solve puzzles, riddles, word scrambles, etc and then act upon said puzzle, riddle or word scramble.  I’ve gone so far as to create a few of the puzzles, but just haven’t created enough games to fill an entire party.  Throwing a hunt has been on my list of 365 parties that I’d like to plan… a party a day for a year, but I just haven’t gotten to it.

Naturally, I thought perhaps this was the moment to throw that fete as I could build my own hunt where each riddle, puzzle or word scramble solved would be related to my parent’s wedding, or their lives together over the last 50 years!  Cute right?FullSizeRender[3]

Well, that idea didn’t last very long as I spent a zillion hours planning an event filled weekend, writing a 44 stanza poem and arranging a surprise arrival!  What to do?  Well, thank heaven’s for Mr. Google (or maybe it’s Ms. Google) because I found a bunch of hunts in Washington, DC (where I’m from).  Why reinvent the wheel?IMG_7397[1]

I settled on Double Key Treasure Hunt and was a bit worried we wouldn’t solve it in the limited time we had allotted.  I can’t tell you too much more or they’ll have to kill me, but suffice it to say, you CAN solve it!  Quite honestly, I couldn’t be more pleased with the fun that was had and the way the hunt was presented.  Turns out I was having so much fun that I forgot to take pix of the adorable sack sent to us that we carried all over the Smithsonian.

FullSizeRenderIn the wise words of one Kenny Rogers, “Know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em.”  Or, as was the case, know when to create.  Know when to outsource!  If you’re looking for a fun way to spend a day or even a weekend while learning a thing or two, check out the link above as Double Key has hunts in a number of cities around the country.  FUN FUN.  hunthunthunt

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(3D) Build it & they will come

I just spent a bit of time at a mall (like a lunatic!) but it really did get me in the holiday mood!  Would you believe that I’ve never had a pix of me and Santa?  This could be my year!

Unfortunately, my boat, the Retro Metro, is out of commission for the annual holiday boat parade due to a leak (never a good thing on a boat, I’m told), so I’ll be spending the holidays in makeover-land and mooching at friend’s parties!  Ugh.

While this time of year isn’t really optimal for a full-on home (or houseboat) makeover, it’s the perfect time for my fluff & fold makeover which consists of quick fixes that have huge holiday impact.  If the boat were in working order, I’d be swapping out the regular shower curtain for a holiday inspired one like this and suddenly the bathroom becomes a holiday hot spot not just the loo!
Also, I did this a few years back… I swapped out the standard straight shower curtain rod and replaced it with Moen‘s curved rod for more elbow room, so you can get really really clean.  I love it because it actually gives me 5″ extra inches in a VERY VERY VERY tiny shower!
While I was at Moen’s site grabbing the above link, I saw the Oxby faucet whose water flows in a spiral!  I wonder if you go south of the equator if it swirls the other direction?  Tweet me the answer!

Given that we’ll be party guests instead of hosts throughout the holidays due to the leak, I need to come up with some super funny and fabulous hostess gifts.  And since I’m such a maker, of course I’ll be handcrafting them.

I’ll be popping out all manner of kookiness from my Dremel 3D Idea Builder!  The name says it all.  It builds your ideas.  What?  YES!  I’ve wanted a 3D printer forever!!!!
Now, I just need to narrow down which ideas I’ll be making… Should I make:
A) X-Mas tree ornament of Marty & I making this face
B) Bobble heads of us looking like this that people can mount on their dashboard
C) A bust of us (with the fabulous Richard Simmons) for our host’s mantle
D) We’re open to your ideas!!!
As I’m typing this blog and Marty is fixing my iPhoto, we’re snacking on this adorable little DIY popcorn bar to go along with our cocktails!
I popped Popsecret‘s Double Butter for the salty, and Cinnamon Roll for the sweet (super tasty glaze on top, by the by!) then I made this cute sign (took me 2 seconds) and put out pretzels, chocolate pearls and nuts for the perfect salty sweet combo.

Yeah, I’d say I’m sliding into the holidays quite nicely! Tweet me how YOU are sliding into the holidays @TracyMetro

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Thanks and Giving

Yup!  The holidays are here, and I can tell you that NYC FEELS like it.  This weather is for the birds, or should I say brrrrrrrrds?

Some of us (actually, scratch that) MOST of us do some sort of traveling over the holidays.  If you’re like me and travel a fair amount throughout the year, you likely feel it’s nice not stay at a hotel during the holidays, but instead shack up with your friends/family.

However, sometimes I DO feel like I’m invading their space.  On the flip side, I do love it when folks visit and stay with us… that way, we can gab in our jammies over coffee, in the morning.  On the final flip side, it’s awfully nice not to be beholden to anybody’s schedule, or feel as if you’re an inconvenience.  Hmm.  That was fairly contradictory, wasn’t it?  So, what’s the happy medium?

Put your friends/family up at a nearby hotel, and insist that they come over in the morning in their PJs!  Best of both worlds!   And, if you can swing it, it’s super classy to foot the bill.  Wyndam Hotel Group has a bazillion (*actual number!) of hotels around the globe, so they likely have one in your backyard.

Funny enough, I’m actually staying at one of their properties in NYC, having a lovely time (minus the cold) and enjoying the free warm chocolate chip cookies!  For that chocolatey GIVING, I’m pretty THANKFUL.

If you put your pals up in a hotel, it’s SO incredibly thoughtful to have a welcome bag when they arrive.  That way, they knew you were expecting and excited for their visit.  What do you fill the bag with?  A list of fun things to do in town, some snacks, hand lotion and lip balm for their winter-chapped lips!  You get the idea.  Also, don’t forget to include some water and fun drinks as traveling tends to dehydrate people.

Just today I tasted a new reduced calorie cola (8oz/60 calories) called Coca-Cola Life which is sweetened with cane sugar and Stevia leaf extract.  I can tell you it was super tasty, and comes in an adorable glass bottle (very iconic styling which, of course, is right up my alley).  GIVE some sweetness to your guests and they’ll be THANKFUL.

So you’re invited to somebody’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, and want to know what to bring?  You’re in one of three camps: food, wine or hostess gift.  Kinda simple, right?  But, how fun is it to make a family recipe and then share the actual recipe with your host?  Food and gift all in one!

If you go to Pompeian.com/labelmaker you can input a favorite family recipe (in my case, my Grandma Gerty’s challah stuffing), include a family photo, print it out and attach it to your very own bottle of Pompeian EVOO.  So basically, it’s a gift, a recipe and a piece of family history all in one.  Aw.  GIVING a family recipe is something for which anybody would be THANKFUL.

Now, if you’re in the vino camp, Frei Brothers Reserve from Sonoma has delish bottles of wine that are sure to go with anything you’re likely to put on your Thanksgiving dinner table.

They have a super drinkable Russian River Valley Chardonnay for your appetizer & cheese moment.  But, I bet you’re actually wondering what kind of wine you should drink with your turkey and sides?

Pinot is the answer!  They also have a tasty Russian River Valley Pinot Noir.  Since most of us are often confused about food/wine pairings throughout the year, here’s a great wine/food pairing resource for ANY time of the year.  I just GAVE some great vintner advice and your dinner table will assuredly be THANKFUL.

There’s much to be THANKFUL for and working with great companies who help me share these ideas with you is at the top of the list.  GIVE their products a try.

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