Monday, June 27, 2011

At Peace?

Part of me has been feeling oddly at peace lately.  I can't figure it out.  I don't know why.  I tried explaining it to John today and he actually understood what I was trying to say.

I feel like my soul has made peace with something, though my head hasn't quite caught up yet.  And I don't know what it's made peace with.  I just have this odd sense of it all being okay, of being content, of things making sense.  I've even had less road rage!

John says that I should definitely listen to my soul; it's probably right.  Our brains just mess it all up with too much thinking.

But what have I made peace with?  Have I accepted my lot in life?  Am I content with my place in the world?  Will I be okay by myself, without getting married and having children?  I don't know.  I do know that my life isn't perfect (who's is?), there is a lot going on right now - crazy at work, Kristen's wedding coming up, searching for a new Fundraising VP at Junior League, and I've been really lonely lately.  So how has my soul made peace with all this going on?

It's a confusing feeling.  I'll let you know if I can unify my soul and my head sometime soon.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What I'm Reading

This is the latest of Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels.  I recently re-read all of them so that I could be up-to-date when this one came out.  I was honestly a little disappointed.  It seemed short and though it was still funny, it wasn't as funny as usual. 

For those who aren't familiar with these books, Stephanie Plum is a bond enforcement agent in New Jersey.  She's really not that good at it.  Lula is her usual sidekick and the two of them get into some of the most ridiculous situations.  She has a crazy grandma who loves going to showings at the funeral home.  She's in love with two men - Joe Morelli and Ranger.  They are both awesome.  She is constantly blowing up her cars and people are constantly breaking into her apartment.  It all makes for fun, light-hearted, fast reading.

Stephanie and Lula usually have some seriously hilarious hijinks and dialogue, and it just wasn't the same this time.  While I appreciated Stephanie's scenes with Ranger, her scenes with Morelli were a bit lacking.  The book jacket teased us that Stephanie was finally going to make a choice between Ranger and Morelli, but of course she didn't.  I always read through these pretty quickly, but this one I got through in one night.  And a work night at that.  I'm wondering if it was rushed to publication to try to satisfy the eager readers? 

The 18th in the series comes out in a few months, so hopefully that one will be better.  Don't get me wrong, I still totally recommend this series to people.  It is laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes ridiculous, but always entertaining. 

Sunday, June 12, 2011

4 Things I Love This Week

Although this week has been incredibly busy at work - two nights of working late, working last Saturday, a presentation, my boss going out of town, etc. - there were some really great parts of the week, too.

1.  Potager, where we went for dinner on Wednesday night.  Yum YUM YUMMY!!!  We went after our successful presentation to celebrate.  For those who don't know this restaurant, it is in Capitol Hill at 11th & Ogden - just three blocks from where I used to live!  Their menu changes monthly, based on what the freshest ingredients they can get are.  They grow a lot of their own herbs and veggies.  My boss knows the owner, Teri, and the baker, Jane.  We started with a bottle of fabulous California Pinot Noir, the Risotto Fritters and the Sugar Snap Peas - wonderful fresh yummy.  I had the Proscuitto Wrapped Pork Loin - omigod so good.  It has a chopped salad like topping of asparagus, potatoes, currants, almonds and capers and though I don't really like asparagus, the bits were so small that I could eat most of it and actually really enjoyed it.  For dessert we had a Rhubarb Crisp with salted caramel ice cream and Lemon Pound Cake with Rhubarb ice cream.  I've never had Rhubarb before because I always thought it had the texture of celery.  Boy was I wrong!  The tart flavor that it has was a wonderful complement to the sweetness in a crisp.  I'm a convert!

2.  Shoes  These are the shoes I got for Kristen and Stacy's wedding.  My dress is mostly pink, so I wanted pink shoes.  I wasn't finding exactly what I wanted in the stores, so I ordered these from Boden, where I got my dress.  They recently came in and I love them!  The wedding is outdoors in the grass so heels weren't an option.  I also didn't want flats, so wedges it is.  Most of the wedges out there right now are really high, which I usually love, but since I'm going to be wearing these for hours and standing in them the majority of the time, I wanted something a little lower.  These fit the bill.  They are actually really comfortable and pretty!

3.  The Secret Circle  is a new TV show on the CW, well actually, it's scheduled to start in the fall.  It is based on the books of the same name by L.J. Smith, which I read back when they first came out in 1992 (!).  I loved these books, and the TV show loosely follows the same general premise.  Cassie Blake is a high school girl who doesn't know that she is really a powerful witch.  She moves to a new town where her family is from and finds the rest of her witch circle and her powers manifest.  But there are some differences, too.  In the books, the town in set in the north east, near Salem and where most of the witch stories of early US took place.  In the show, they are in the north west.  In the TV show Cassie moves to this town because her mom dies, but not in the books.  In the TV show the circle is complete at six members, in the books it's thirteen.  I assume they couldn't have a cast that big for a brand new show.  I think I'm going to miss those characters because they provided a lot of fun and growth for Cassie in the books.  I really like the actress that plays Cassie - Britt Robertson.  She was on another CW show I loved that got cancelled - Life Unexpected.  Hopefully they do as good a job with this show as they've done with Vampire Diaries, based on another set of books by L.J. Smith.

4.  Emmylou Harris - Hard Bargain

I absolutely love this new album from Emmylou Harris.  Her voice is absolutely beautiful and soothing and soulful.  My absolute favorite song is Lonely Girl, it touches my heart, but the entire album is great.  I highly recommend it.  Here are the lyrics to Lonely Girl:

It seems to me lately
The days are growing shorter
The years are going faster
And time is flying by I wake up in the morning
And before I even notice
The sun is going down
And I'm left to wonder why

I'm a lonely girl in a lonely world
I never thought my life would be like this
To have no one to hold my hand
And feel once more a sweet caress

I'd give it my best effort
Love is always worth it
But even if I try
I might still end up alone
It may not be in me
To take what love could give me
Some of us are better off
To make it on our own

As a lonely girl in a lonely world
And though my life has been so blessed
I have no one to hold my hand
And feel once more a sweet caress

I've had my share of lovers
And cared for many others
I always thought there'd be
Another one to come along
But if love can't find me again
I'll put it all behind me then
I'll just go and learn to sing
Another sad love song

About a lonely girl in a lonely world
She never dreamed her life would be like this
To have no one to hold her hand
And feel once more a sweet caress

Check these things out, you won't be disappointed!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Life & Times of an Interior Designer

It's been quite a while since I posted anything, and I apologize for that.  I've been really busy and stressed at work which translates into not wanting to anything when I get home except veg out.  I've been reading a lot, which has been nice, but it means I tune out the real world.  I've barely done anything for Junior League in weeks, I haven't seen my friends very much, even my People magazines have gone unread!  I've finally gotten some motivation back and now I have inspiration to blog about!

A little while ago my boss said something about how he never understood how interior designers wouldn't charge for their services.  I told him that I understood it.  For some reason it's really difficult to convince people that there is value in our services.  Let me explain a little bit about the myriad of ways designers charge their clients.

Some designers only charge their clients a mark-up on their purchases.  This can be any percentage, but mostly it seems that if this is the only profit for a designer, they charge their clients the retail price.  The profit is the difference between what the designer pays (wholesale or net) and the retail price. 

Some designers charge only an hourly rate for their work.  They might pass on the exact cost of the goods sold to their clients and not make a profit on them at all.

Some designers charge a set fee for the project.  If it's a small project or a quick project, this may be a good way to go because the price of things aren't likely to change in a short time frame and if the project isn't too big, it's not likely un-planned-for costs will arise.  

Some designers charge a combination of these rates.

At my current job, we charge our clients hourly and we charge them a mark-up on the cost of goods.  Our (my) hourly rate changes depending on what type of job I'm doing.  If it's administrative, we charge the client less than if it's design.  We charge different mark-ups on the goods depending on what it is and what our discount is.  If a sub-contractor goes through us for payment, we mark that up the least.  If we get a crappy discount from retail, we charge retail.  If the item is a fixed part of the home and the client is unlikey to take it when they move, we mark it up less.  For example the carpet, tile, fixed light fixtures, plumbing fixtures,etc.  If the item will go with the client, we mark it up a little more.  For example the furniture, rugs, drapes.  It is honestly quite complicated, but it works for us.

I think the best designers can charge for their services like this.  My boss has been doing this for a long time and has a great reputation.  He charges a lot for his time.  He charges a lot for my time.  If I were to go off on my own, I wouldn't charge as much for my time as he does for me.  I haven't earned it quite yet.

Some people think it's okay to juice a designers mind.  Asking their opinion without paying for it.  Asking for a designer's discount on something to be passed on to them.  Our style, our taste, our thoughts ARE our expertise!  That is our livelihood, how we make a living!  People pay for our opinions, our designs!  I don't ask a stock broker to give me advice without expecting to pay for his services.  I don't expect a graphic designer to design my business cards without paying them for their expertise.  I wish people would realize that it's not okay to do this with designers either.

There have been times in the past when I gave my "services" freely.  When I selected furnishings for my sister or my parents.  But hello!  They're my immediate family!  And I offered.  Once I also selected and ordered furnishings for one of my oldest friends.  I didn't charge for my time or make a profit on the furniture.  But I won't do that again.  The problems that arose from that situation have ruined the friendship.  And it made me realize the importance of charging clients.  If I had made a profit on the furniture they purchased, there would have been a "cushion" with which to fix some of the problems.

Any who, those are my thoughts on how interior designers charge for their services.  I hope this enlightens some readers.