Welcome to Zen Shmen!

What does this strange name mean?  Am I mocking the ancient and revered art of Zen?  

Quite the opposite, actually.  You see, I love all things serene, white, simple and minimalist in design.  No fussy details, no frou-frou finishes.  And that's how I'd love to live in my home, in quiet and peaceful serenity.

Now, here's a snapshot of my real life:

With a giddy 3 year-old and a food-throwing 1 year-old in our midst, a full-time job, a restaurant-owner husband (can I get a what-what for all the Restaurant Widows out there?!) oh, and let's not forget the giant yellow lab whose penchant for flipping garbage cans does not go unnoticed (and who is gassing me out with a really bad fart as I write these words)...  My life consists of washing ketchup from my neck, sorting little teeny, tiny socks that multiply like the many dust-bunnies we live with (aka Silent Roomies), and loud musical toys that unexpectedly squawk out their final sounds as their batteries die in the night.

My life is a chaotic, untidy, colorful mess full of half-finished art and renovation projects and love and giggles and dance parties and naked streaking after bathtime (not me!  Only those under 3 feet tall) and truth be told, I wouldn't want it any other way.

And hence, Zen Shmen.

I can always daydream about my elusive white & serene mom-cave...  Mmmm yes....  Note to self: I should get on that. (Note 2: That's a link to the Pinterest board where I hoard ideas for calm and very simple spaces -- though I'm pretty sure hoarding goes against minimalism. Baby steps.)

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So.  Here we are.  What's this blog all about?

DIY projects.  Home renovations.  Crafty projects.  Creative solutions inside and outside the home. Kid-friendly design ideas. (And dog-friendly too!)  Gearing up for upcoming babies.  Makeovers.  Yes, all of that... And more!  (Wow, that really makes me sound like an old-timey used-car salesman.)  But really, there is more.  

I really must have been a Zen Buddhist monk in a past life because I get such a sense of happiness and fulfillment from tidying up cluttered surroundings. This leads me to do lots of decluttering, organizing, purging, and creating order and efficiency in general. You'll find lots of before-and-afters and decluttering stories since most of my friends have enlisted my help in these areas that I love so, and yet make many people want to barf.  

Also, Home Staging (a much-loved hobby) plus all kinds of other interesting things, like talking about my obsession with Pinterest and finding people who are as obsessed with it as I am.
( = Instant Friends.)

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The Lay of the Land

To see a library of our past projects, click here.

To see the first house we majorly transformed, click here.  There, you will also find the links relating to that complete home makeover.

To see the second house we updated, click here. Posts on that project are slowly trickling in!

To see ideas for Babies and Kids, click here.

To get mind-blasted by a motherlode of inspiration and project ideas, check out the Idea Factory.

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Some Backstory

I come from a movie marketing background, where my job was very exciting and demanding and at the epicentre of my life, and our home was a place I stopped in for a few hours to catch some Z's.

I had always intended to move to LA to follow my movie career dreams, but the fates had other plans for me when they put a cute Asian boy in my hip-hop dance class.  A few dates later I just couldn't get rid of him ;-) and he is my everything now.  We got married in November 2007 on a bitchin' cold day that made me blaspheme through my teeth during the outdoor photo session.  Nevertheless, the happiest day of my life.

We both worked like crazy and had nondescript condo to come home to.  It was nice enough, but it wasn't where we wanted to raise our future family.

We bought our Forever Home in 2008 and, without any renovating budget or knowledge to speak of, spent a few years teaching ourselves how to make a whole bunch of really awesome updates.  Some things we learned before doing, and some we learned by doing!  This is also called The School of Oopsie Daisie.  

That's what made me want to I start this blog, in late 2011, to document our projects and share the cool stuff we did.

One toddler and new pregnancy later, life threw us a curveball and made it so that house would not be our Forever Home any longer.  We had made a mess of our finances and needed to bail ourselves out by selling our beloved house.

You'll be happy to know that we turned the ship around the moment we read our first Dave Ramsey book, which gave us the tools and know-how to get our financial life not only in order, but thriving -- not to mention improve our marriage by leaps and bounds.  I realized there was so much basic information I never learned in school or at home, and so where are you supposed to learn this stuff?  

In the short term, we now live in a little house that we are updating to increase its resale value.  It turns out, inadvertently, that we kind of love buying fixer uppers and turning okay houses into great ones.  But our #1 rule now is, Stay Out of Debt.  If we can't pay cash, we don't do it.  

I invite you to follow along as many new projects are revealed in the coming months.  Just bear with me if summer projects come out in the winter, or Christmas posts come out during a July heatwave - between the full-time job, side contracts, being a mom, daily life, catching up on Jimmy Fallon skits and trying not to binge on Netflix, I blog when I can.

You can find me on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, G+ and Instagram. Please come join me!

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Q & A

So in this section, I wanted to address some basic questions that I often get asked -- about the blog, and decor stuff in general.  I'm not a very formal person (perhaps the casual earlier mention of my dog's massively stinky farts were an indication?) and I wanted it to feel like I was talking to my best friend.

So, I talked to my best friend.

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Some posts may contain affiliate links.  ZenShmen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

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Ask Me Anything!

I love to come up with creative solutions. Your design dilemmas and home decor snafus may become a future blog post!  Drop me a note at zenshmenblog at gmail dot com and let's get creative!

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