2014-23-october-holiday-shoppingHow do you feel when you see people walking aimlessly through the mall once Thanksgiving is over, trying to pick out presents for people when they have no clue what they like or need? Those gifts often end up as useless dust collectors after the magical season is over.

This year, I decided to think of holiday giving in a new way and give to others (and myself) in a more thoughtful way. For me, this means staying away from the crowded shopping malls, instead, give my business to local merchants or make things at home. Yes, I love making things with my hands. It brings me great joy to share things I’ve made. I also make sure not to forget people and animals who need a helping hand. They deserve to feel good too.

Here are a few of my favorite things I love to do and to give during the holiday season:

IMG_92961-530x353Cranberry Crackle Tart
I made this delicious tart because I wanted to take cranberries (so good for you) further than just making the traditional cranberries we eat at Thanksgiving. I was so pleased with the flavor, sweetness combined with a touch of tartness, and the festive look of the white meringue. I brought  these beautiful tarts to several gatherings. You’ll love keeping this recipe as a go-to favorite because it requires minimal ingredients. Everyone will think it came from a French pastry shop! Get your recipe here.

IMG_3529Lemon Water Kit
I’ve gotten into the habit of drinking warm lemon water every morning instead of coffee. Lemon turns your water into an alkaline state and drinking it is good for cleansing your digestive system. I feel so much better when I start the day out with a large cup of hot water with ½ lemon and a few drops of natural honey. I decided to put a kit together to give as a gift. A clear, glass handled cup, lemon squeezer and half a dozen lemons go into this gift set.

725de815-49d4-4202-b243-8fbeb9e7d8a9How to Rock a Selfie Photo Shoot by Vivien McMaster
Do you notice when it comes to picture-taking time, most people get self-conscious and say, “Oh no, please leave me out. I don’t like to have my picture taken?” And we find ourselves in this situation more with the accessibility of iPhones which are snapping photos all around us, everywhere we go. Most of us are self-conscious because we keep telling ourselves we’re not attractive enough to be in photos. When I found this on-line Selfie class given by Vivien McMaster, I decided to take it. Yes, this class is about self-portrait photography but it’s so much more. Vivien will teach you by helping to identify special gifts you have to offer to the world. I am planning to give this class as a gift to my special friend who is filled with beauty inside-out but feels self-conscious about her photo image. I can hardly wait to see her blossom! Click here to learn more.

IMG_3536Holiday Gift Tags, So Simple to Make!
It just takes a little imagination and a desire to make these sophisticated tags. I enjoy making my own tags because they it add a personal touch to the gifts I give to others. Not only are they fun to make, it makes me feel good that I’m not spending money buying commercially made tags.
All it takes is a few simple punches, baker’s twine and a roll of washi tape. I cut my tags 2 1/2” x 8” and fold them in half. While I’m at it, I make some a tad bit larger and use them as note cards. They make nice thank you cards. All you want to say is just a short note of appreciation right? Once I get going on these tags, I can’t stop. I make many groupings of tags designed for different seasons.

IMG_3533How to Behave so Your Dog Behaves    by: Dr. Sophia Yin
“I learned that every pet needs a human who can lead. Not like a boss, but like a partner in a dance—someone who gives clear signals, rewards desirable behavior as it occurs, removes rewards for inappropriate behavior immediately, and sticks to the plan consistently until the new, good behavior is a habit.”   -Sophia Yin”

I can guarantee that this is the best animal training book I have ever found. If you don’t believe me, ask my dog Max. Dr. Yin’s training method is so simple and sensible, just follow it and you will see a remarkable difference in your relationship with your dog in only two weeks! Just close your eyes and imagine you and Fido dancing like a pair of pro dancers. It is a great feeling when this kind of bond can be established between you and Fido. Thank you Dr. Sophia Yin! Look for this fantastic book at your local bookstore or Dr. Sophia Yin’s website. (Sadly, Dr. Sophia Yin passed away two months ago. A huge loss to the veterinary community and to us who love our pets. I am deeply saddened but thankful that she gave us so much while she was alive and will continue to do so for the years to come.)

IMG_1023-530x353Home-Made Organic Cinnamon-Maple Granola
I’m addicted to eating things I make in my own kitchen. Why? One simple reason… because I know exactly what’s in them. I fell in love with granolas when I found this recipe on Garden for the House. Kevin Lee Jacobs does a superb job with giving clear directions on his hand selected recipes. I love many of his recipes and love trying them out. Once you make this to-die-for recipe, put the granola into glass canning jars and tie the neck with a colorful ribbon … and don’t forget to add your hand-made tag to make your gift look like a million dollars.

PasadoDogGive a Helping Hand
Who said you have to be wealthy to donate? Did you know that 80% of the active philanthropists in this world are middle and low income folks?

Every person who steps up to organize a give back to our society event is part of a powerful movement in social giving.

It doesn’t have to be in a grand way, just do what you can. Let me give you a little idea. Why not hold a small gathering of friends and family during this joyous season? Let them know ahead of time you want them to help you raise money for a cause which you are passionate about. Make it a fun and special evening and share the reason why you want to help animals, children or an underserved population. You will be surprised at how people will open up their wallets to help your cause. Remember, no gift is too small and it’s an incredible feeling to know you are making a difference in creating a better world. You can check out the Holiday with a Heart event we gave at my hair salon, Studio 904 to raise money for Pasado’s Safe Haven, Precious Life Animal Sanctuary and Ginger’s Pet Rescue.

Please let me know if you try any of these things. I’d love to hear your ideas too!

Do you want to create a beautiful and whimsical environment for the holidays?

IMG_1830Who’d ever think that transforming plain brown paper bags into ornaments can be an affordable way to differentiate your business from others?

If you are a client of my hair salon, Studio 904, you’ve seen the unique ways in how I keep the facility fresh and pleasing to the eye by changing things up every season.

I put hours of time into making hand-made decorations for my salon because I believe seeing something fresh and new on a regular basis is stimulating and puts customers in a good mood. If it’s pleasing to our customers, just think how happy it makes our staff to come to a beautiful work environment daily.

IMG_1831Many businesses make the mistake of becoming stagnated with lack of change in their environment and service offerings, a sure way for a slow death of your business.

So I say, “Change it Up!” Look around your business and come up with ways to refresh and invigorate your environment.

 

IMG_2866I made these Owl Angels (more like Urban Angels) this year for the holidays. I love how these cute critters came out. They are not rustic looking like the owls I’ve seen. The white body and the glittered net wings give them a fresh and sophisticated look. So I wanted to share with you how I made them.

Oh, they are so cute. Nothing is more satisfying to me than looking at their cuteness every day.
Without a fail, these owls put a big smile on my face and helps me to have a happy day.

IMG_2867How to make “Owl Angels” from paper bags.

 Cut bags into 6” x 8” pieces
Paint one side of each cut pieces with white gesso (it takes two pieces to make one owl)
Draw a simple shape of an owl on one of the pieces (this becomes the front of the owl)
Draw eyes, decorate the body using a black Sharpie marker
Sew the outline with a machine (leave an opening at the bottom)
Stuff with small amount of cotton (this will puff the owls up)
Sew and close the bottom opening (optional: insert feet made of black felt before sewing up the opening)
Cut out small wings (I used paper and ribbon netting)

Good luck with your decorations! I’d love to hear your ideas on affordable decorating ideas for the holidays which is right around the corner.

18546050-school-dog-with-books-and-a-pencilSitting at the dog training center with my dog, Max, I obediently followed our instructor as she taught us how to make our dogs sit, stay, and lay down. After a few sessions, I realized that the instructor was not really teaching my dog rather she was training me to develop my leadership skills. She belted out commands to us humans, saying, “Stand tall like you have confidence, don’t be wishy washy with your leash handling and make direct eye contact!”

When we did a good job with our dogs, she would say, “What are you waiting for? Give your dog a treat!”

Max  is looking so sweet in his selfie photo.

Max is looking so sweet in his selfie photo.

I often got frustrated because Max was not obeying my commands. I said to Max with an angry expression on my face, “What’s wrong with you? I told you to come to me.” The instructor came over and said, “How do you expect him to understand what you mean? Look at your body language, you’re bent over, not standing straight. Your facial expression doesn’t show that you genuinely want him to succeed. If I was your dog, I wouldn’t want to obey you either.” 

I felt put-down by the boot camp-style feedback but swallowed my pride and continued with training. Before long, I became engrossed in the skills I was learning and continued on to the Intermediate and Advanced classes. In-fact, I got so hooked on what I was learning, I kept going back for more.

 

Max gained self-esteem through training.

Max gained self-esteem through training.

I started to practice what I learned in dog training classes at work. I began to feel more confident as a leader and noticed improvements in the people on my team. As my communication to others became more clear, there was less confusion with the directions I delivered. Things got done right and people were happy!

Here are some tips I learned in my classes. I know you’ll agree that these handling skills can be transferred to humans to help us become better leaders.

 Dog Training 101

1. Be clear and specific – Your voice should be clear so your dog can understand. Don’t mumble.
2. Be consistent – It will confuse the dog when you don’t use the same words. If “okay” is your release word for your dog, don’t say “come it’s okay” the next time.
3. Keep it simple – Use only one command at a time. Say “sit down” instead of “come here and sit down.”
4. Gain loyalty by being fair – Dogs notice if you are not fair. Be compassionate and truthful. No physical violence, instead show them respect.
5. Be confident – When giving dogs a command, show confidence in your body language, voice tone and facial expression.
6. Give feedback – if you don’t get the appropriate response, correct them immediately. Be patient and keep teaching until you get the response you’re looking for
7. Praise all the time – When you get the correct response, praise them immediately…. yes, every time!
8. Positive ending – Finish your training session with the correct behavior. Never end on a negative note. Say, “Yhea, good job!” and give them ample treats and pet their head.

Fact: When dogs go through obedience training, their self-esteem is higher.

Now, go see how these dog training methods can fit into your human interactions. I guarantee, that your relationships with your co-workers, friends and family members will improve just like mine did!

Have you experienced a set back which had a dramatic effect on your life? I mean it just knocked you off your feet in a split second? You may have asked yourself, why me? I’m sure you have because that is the human tendency.

This is me after my accident

This is me after my accident

Here’s my story of a devastating accident I had a few months ago and what I did to get out of the funk. I hope me sharing this will help you to deal with your set backs. I took my dog Max for a leisurely walk one evening. I saw a man, a little girl and their dog walking towards us. I quickly placed Max in a sit position, waiting for them to pass by. I saw that their dog was excited, jumping, pulling and running in circles. I called out to them, “Keep your dog in tact!”. Before I could finish my sentence, the dog broke leash and came running toward us.

This is the dog who came running, causing me to fall.

This is the dog who came running, causing me to fall.

I started to run with Max to get away from the scene. The dog kept coming after us, he ran circles around my legs, causing me to fall right on my face. Can you believe? The man and his little girl walked away, leaving me badly hurt on the ground. A neighbor man came out and saw me. He immediately called 911 and I was taken to emergency.

It’s been three months now and I’m still not back at work. It’s been a painful process plus I have an expensive dental restoration process to go through which will cost me more money than I’ve imagined. It can be a devastating accident like what happened to me or something else which can happen in a split second as you live your life. No matter what the reason, recovering from an unexpected event can take you through all kinds of ups and downs. This is how I handled it to maintain a healthy attitude and you can do it too.

  • I accepted what happened to me and decided I should be grateful it was not worse than it was. This is where I began counting my blessings. I’m sure you will be able to come up with tons of things you are grateful for.
  • I decided that I would not blame myself or the other party who caused this accident. What good will blaming do? It is what it is, so just deal with it.
  • I made good use of the downtime. I signed up for an on-line writing course and improved my writing skills. Do you have something you’ve been wanting to learn but never had the time? This is the time to do it.
  • I did an hour or two of art projects daily. You can do something creative – try new recipes, organize your drawers etc. Everything is art, that’s how I see it.
  • I enjoyed spending time with family and friends. It’s catch-up time so connect with people. They understand you are going through a tough time and will be happy to spend time with you.
  • An incident like this can help you to have mental relaxation time so you can prepare yourself to get back in the game better than how you left it. What do you think?

People often ask me, “You have such a full schedule. How do you relieve the stress in your life?” My answer is simple. You must force yourself to build in a structured stress relieving activity within the week. It must be something you love doing. It doesn’t have to be a vacation in the sun…just plan a short mini-vacation daily or weekly.
People are dealing with multiple pressures in their lives. Many don’t even realize that they are under stress. I know. I was one of these people. Working to keep my Studio 904 salons going became my priority.  I felt like there was no time for me to do anything else other than work and taking care of my family.
I am sure many of you know what I am talking about. You might be feeling lost and depressed. The best advice I can give is to find a hobby you feel passionate about and force yourself to engage in it weekly or even daily.

Here’s a short story of how the sport of Agility relieved my stress.

The salon is buzzing. Customers filled every chair. The clock on the wall said it’s 2:45 PM. I started to get nervous… I’m scheduled to leave work at 3:00 in order to make it to the 4:30 Agility training class. I can’t leave…so many problems need my attention. I mumble to myself, why did I commit to doing this? I get my self under pressure to leave the salon every week to take my dog Max to his agility training.

I managed to run out of the salon at 3:05. I drove home to pick up my dog Max and his training treat. I hit the freeway going south. I should have known, the traffic was backed up and the cars were crawling to get passed the bottle neck to the Maple Valley Highway.

091507_0916Whew… we arrive at the Maple Valley Agility Center at exactly 4:30. Max began to bark, sensing that it’s time to go in to exercise his skills in running, jumping and weaving through the trial equipment.

Max and I walked into the old wooden make-shift building with the saw dust floor. We quietly took our place and began watching Lucy, the Australian Border Collie. Lucy strutted to the start line, her piercing eyes focusing on the obstacles which lay in front. The minute her handler said go, Lucy was off like a bullett …. knocking down all the jump poles, leaving the place in shambles. We all laughed and clapped and told Lucy what a great player she is.

Max coming out of the tunnel

Max coming out of the tunnel

Next up was Ralph, the senior chocolate brown lab. Ralph was laid back . His owner constantly encouraged him by saying, “Good boy, come on Ralph”. All of us on the bench chimed in, “Come on Ralph, little faster!” Ralph performed everything in his own methodical way and finally got through the course. We all jumped up and clapped saying, “Good job Ralph!”.

Max came flying down from the A-Frame!

Max came flying down from the A-Frame!

Finally our turn. Max and I ran up to the start line. I whispered in his ear. ” Sit Max…wait…good boy.” I gave him a yummy piece of his favorite beef liver. He lapped it up and looked at me intently. “Ok, let’s go Max!” Living up to his Jack Russell, high energy mentality, he ran the course…stopping at nothing….

constantly looking for my ques directing him to the next obstacle. By the time we finished, we heard the whole class room clapping shouting, “Wow, Max what a run!”. Max sensed that he did good. I threw a double dose of beef levers on the ground to let him know I was pleased.

When class ended, my mind was crystal clear. I didn’t remember anything of the stress I was experiencing earlier in the day. I thought this is what it’s all about. Getting down with these smart fun-loving dogs and play like we did when we were kids!

IMG_0013Recently, Shelley Rotando, CEO of Northwest Harvest came in to my salon, Studio 904 to get her hair colored and cut. I asked her how things at Northwest Harvest was going.

“Kay, summer is a tough time for us. Nearly half of Washington’s school-age children go hungry during the summer due to lack of school meal programs. This means one of every five children in our state go hungry,” She said.

I was surprised to hear such an alarming number.

It’s difficult to imagine anyone could be hungry. Most of us can go to our refrigerator or to a nearby restaurant and satisfy our growling stomachs at a moment’s notice. Wouldn’t you agree?

IMG_2405As a small business owner with a vision to “improve lives of our citizens”, I felt compelled to share this information with our customers and ask for their help.  I wanted to involve our 800 clients who pass through our door in one given month to donate a small amount of money towards this cause. I’m a believer that a small amount of money collected from many people can raise a large sum of money. The best part of this giving philosophy is that it hurts no one. It truly creates a win-win for all involved.

Here is what Studio 904’s “Feed Our Kids” fundraising program asked our clients to do:

  1. Purchase a $5. Raffle ticket to enter drawing of baskets filled with products and $50. Gift cards from Studio 904.
  2. Attend a “Flower Power” class where I will teach how to make beautiful flowers, like the ones I made to decorate our salon. Suggested donation to attend is $30. (Why not use our talent to raise more money?)
  3. Simply write a check to NW Harvest for a tax deductible expense.

Our team and customers are supporting our fundraiser with enthusiasm. It brings me joy to watch all the happy faces as I watch our donation box grow with money to feed our children!
I’d love to hear what you’ve done to raise money for your favorite cause.

 

 

Spring HairAs warmer spring weather kicks in, we kick-start our spring attire into lighter colors and fabrics.
This is your first day, wearing your new spring attire….now, take a look at your face and hair in the mirror. I am sure you’ve had this feeling as I have.

 You say to yourself, “Oh my gosh, my hair and make-up still looks like winter!”  My dark and rich winter hair color matched perfectly with wool sweaters and darker clothing, but now it looks dark and heavy, doesn’t match my clothes!”

All of a sudden, your whole image from head to toe is not connecting.  “What’s wrong?” you ask yourself.

At my salon Studio 904,  we hear this question from our guest clients at the onset of spring and fall.

Here are some things to consider in updating your hair for the new season

1. If you have an over-all hair color, think about lifting your base shade a notch.
2. If your hair is foiled, try increasing the amount of your foil weaves.
3. You can also brighten up your highlighted color by lifting them a shade lighter.
4. How about a new haircut/style, more textured and layered to give your hair an open and textured      feel?  (This will eliminate the heavy, solid feeling in your hair).
5. Try shortening your hair a bit. Please don’t go for a drastic change all at once,
You may be sorry.
6. Learn to style your hair using your fingers instead of heavy reliance on brushes and iron curlers. Of course you can always use the brush as a finishing touch to your style.

These tips I am offering are starting questions to ask when you are going through the consultation process with your salon’s stylist. In the end,  let your stylist give you suggestions on what direction would be the best. Keep in mind, everyone’s hair texture, base color and facial features are unique to that person. Be a partner in making decisions, after all it’s your hair image… you are the one who will be living with it 24 hour a day.

Work together with your stylist to determine the best direction for your seasonal image!

Do you have your own tips to share? I’d love to hear them!

paper heartsOwning a salon business for thirty six years, I’ve spent tons of time studying the customer’s point of view. How to get out of my space of how a business should be to how would I feel walking into a business and what would make me feel good about being inside of a business? One thing I learned through my own experiences and talking to many of our customers is “We want to feel uplifted and inspired and most of all, leave the establishment feeling happy!”

This is the reason why I spend hours decorating my salon to keep up with seasonal changes. I started to use holidays and seasons as a bench-mark to create new decorative scenery in the salon, using colorful papers and various crafting techniques. I noticed our clients really loved what I did and it made my staff and me feel so good to work in this energy-filled environment.

What I know for sure… our minds are filled with problems and challenges life throws our way. It is often difficult to see the positive aspects of our everyday living.

I want my salon to be a place where people can visit and enjoy the positive energy of colorful decorations, personal pampering and our community service programs. It makes it all worthwhile when I see them leaving looking great with smiles on their faces! Take a look at our Valentine decorations.

 

 

 

Now that all the busy days of the holiday season are over, I’ve been thinking a lot about what will I learn and do this year.

Nelson Mandella saidOne phrase keeps going through my mind: “If you do nothing new, you will get the same results. My goal this year is not to set lofty goals which I probably will not be able to accomplish, given my super busy schedule, but to set realistic goals for myself. I used the format from SMART Goals to get my mind thinking. I always find this process helpful to clarify my new year’s direction.You might want to do the same.

 

New Years by Karen Hopting Art

 

S-Your goal must be specific

M – Mesurable

A – Achievable

R – Reachable

T – Time based

I love this art by Karen Hoepting (the pup looks an awful lot like my Max), but does this seem achievable? Good luck setting your goals for 2014! We feel a lot better about ourselves even if we only aspire towards improving our lives a little bit.

A cute girl

One of my goals is to be more thoughtful. I’ve decided to send two hand-made cards per week to people who I think might need a little encouragement….to delight them and help create a “happy day.”

Take a look. This is a collage I created on a 3″x3″ mini-canvas. I took a photo of the canvas and created multiple images in Pages (Mac). I printed them and found More cutie girlsthat the colors were not as vivid as in the original art work. I touched up each of the images by outlining the shapes with my Micron pen and brightened up the colors using acrylic paint plus Copic markers. I love the end result. I already sent these lovely cuties to four deserving people in my life!

Doll in front of the clouds

 

 

This set of Cloud painting was given to me by a dear Artist friend, Linda Davidson. She surprised me on Christmas Day with this wonderful gift several years ago which I’ve been admiring since. It’s nice to be on the receiving end of someone’s thoughtful gesture. I photographed my favorite doll sitting in front of the clouds. I gaze at this cute little scene every day….really makes me happy!

 

 

During this season where everyone is rushing to the malls, trying to figure out things to buy for the people on their Christmas list, I decided to stay at home and make little things which I can give to people who are special to me. I don’t know about you, but I love receiving hand-made gifts. These gifts represents thought and time the giver has invested to please you. I want to share some little gifts I made.mini photo frame ornaments

I used pieces of left over scraps from my paper collection and made these adorable mini-photo frame tree ornaments. The receiver can insert their favorite photos and give them as gifts or hang them on their own tree.

 

 

 

Snoopy tagsI used my favorite Snoopy stamps to make these holiday tags. I like them because they can be used for men, women or children.

 

 

 

angels

 

These angels were so much fun to make. I used brown grocery bags, cut them up, painted them with several layers of acrylic paint. Then I drew my own chubby faces and placed them on the body. Aren’t they sweet?

 

 

Bird ornaments

 

I made these bird ornaments in the same way. I drew designs on their bodies with liquid pearls.

 

 

 

 

washi paper cardThese cards were so simple to make but came out very elegant. I used pearlized card stock and envelopes and faced the cards with Japanese washi paper.

 

 

 

 

paper dollsI wanted to make chain paper dolls, just like I did when I was little. It was so much fun to see to see if I can still do it. What do you think?

 

 

 

 

Gift Basket PosterI used the paper dolls to add to the poster I made for my salon, Studio 904.  We are making holiday baskets for the girls who need a helping hand during this season. It would be fun to see their faces light up when they receive these baskets filled with socks, gloves, hand lotion, note cards (hand made) and a gift certificate from Studio 904 for a haircut and a style!

LOVE TO SEE WHAT YOU COME UP WITH!