My Co-Worker

I spend a lot of time at my desk.  
More than I probably should, but less than most bloggers.

I regularly have a co-worker with me.  Her name is Chrissy and she is cute as can be.  And believe me, it's a good thing she's cute because I woulda fired her looooong ago were it not for the fact that she's adorable.

Here's my desk ~

And here's a look at my co-worker's work space ~

Sleeping on the job Chrissy?

Let's have another look ~

{Please notice my red stapler and just know it's a nod to Office Space}

And below.



Gym Surprise

I hurt my back a couple of weeks ago and that means I've been unable to go to the gym.  That's hard isn't it?  You know how you've got gym friends who you only see for one hour during class three times per week?  You start to miss your gym friends when you've been absent.  Anyhoo ~ I was excited to go back to class today and catch up with my old gym cronies. 

So, here's the back story....The gym I belong to is associated with the hospital in town.  It's big, new, clean, lots of equipment, great class schedule, just fabulous.  Buuuut {there's always a but} because our gym is on the same 'campus' as the hospital, which neighbors a bazillion doctor's offices, parking can be a problem.  A BIG problem.  Such a problem that I have turned around and headed home because parking was unavailable {or maybe that was a good excuse to 'skip it'}.

Today when I happily returned to the gym to get back to class and my buddies I was shocked to see a VALET at the entrance to the gym.  It's come to this, my gym now offers complimentary valet service during peak times.  I'm unsure how I feel about this....happy about the convenience? Confused by the paradox of a valet at a gym? Or curious about how much lower my monthly fee would be if the gym wasn't paying for a valet?



What We Do...

I realized I've never explained Bella Casa. 

About a million years ago {2004}, I decided I wanted to start a home staging business here in the Valley.  I  marched myself down to the City offices, applied for a business license, registered my fictitious business name and VOILA, I had a business.  Except, I never did anything beyond that.  Which meant I didn't really have a business so much as a business license.  Turns out, you actually have to do work in order to get paid ~ the license isn't enough.

Then in 2005 a co-worker of my husbands suggested me to a professional colleague of hers who was looking for someone in Napa to manage a home.  It was going to be very part time which was perfect for me since I still had little kiddos and they were where I really wanted to focus my attention.  I interviewed and got the job in March of 2005.  I was an Independent Contractor working as the host for a home in the Valley that was used by a destination club {are you familiar with these clubs? I explain them as a hybrid between a country club and a time share.  You pay an initiation fee and annual dues which then gives the chance to stay at the homes around the world owned by the club. The homes are valued between $3 million and $7 million}.  In order to be a legitimate independent contractor, I needed to establish a business....Well guess what?!  I had already done that the year before!!  And the name, Bella Casa, Italian for Beautiful House, {I know, Spanish too, but our family has Italian roots so in our case, this is Italian} was perfect!

So ~ as it turned out, this was NOT a part time job.  It was a very full. time. job. and soon it took over our family.  My hubs left his job in the high end hotel industry after nearly 20 years and we took care of these homes together.  What started out as one home quickly grew into four destination club homes and multiple homes owned privately.  The time commitment required by the destination club homes began to take a toll on our family.  The hubs and I were both very busy which meant we didn't have much time for our kids {or each other} and when we did have time together, I was often tired, cranky and short tempered.  Bad combination.  Real, real, bad.

Then, in 2009, the hubs and I talked and talked and decided we would discontinue our relationship with the destination club homes and focus our attention on our private clients.  Although it was scary, it was a great decision ~ I now spend a lot of time with our kids {happy time} and can focus again on our family.  Our private clients are fabulous people and the hubs focusses his attention on the business.  I still 'work' but without much of the stress I previously had and ultimately our own house runs more smoothly and our kids are better humans.  And let's face it, raising kids up to be good humans is the most important job I've got.  I need them to take care of me when I'm old and yelling and screaming at them all the time is not a good means to that end.

We manage our clients vacation homes as if they were our own.  We ready them for arrivals, close the homes after departures, maintain vehicles, grocery shop, plan parties, manage projects {big and small} and generally keep everything in prefect running order so that when our home owners are here, their time is relaxed and easy.  It's a bit more complicated than it sounds most of the time and it's incredibly busy ~ particularly during the high season ~ but it's rewarding and ever changing which keeps it exciting.

We like to think of ourselves as professionals in hospitality and home keeping which is why I started this blog.  I love reading blogs and often refer to things we do as being 'blog worthy' when the hubs and I are working on things.  Of course our clients trust is of the utmost importance and keeping their privacy ensures that trust, so you won't see their names here. But hopefully you'll read things that are helpful, funny or somehow inspiring.

So there it is ~ the cliff notes version of our business.... Although Bella Casa has been good to our family and provides a comfortable life, I dream of other things.  Often.  Maybe I'll get brave enough to share those dreams here in the future.


PS ~ I linked up to http://debbie-debbiedoos.blogspot.com/


Every Dog Gone Year!

Every year I do it. 

I don't want to. 

I try to resist, but I end up doing it anyway.
I buy these...

Cadbury Mini Egss.  They're delightful candy coated balls of sin.  It's like an M&M, but bigger, and better chocolate.  

I even love the colors ~ they're subtle and muted.  Cadbury wouldn't use garish colors like those obnoxious M&M's.  
I mean Puh-Leeese.

This year I resisted for a while, then last week I couldn't hold out any more.  
I put one bag in my cart while I was at Target and walked away.  
And then I turned around, headed back to the Easter candy aisle and threw in another bag. 
 I mean one bag wouldn't last very long and I justified the second bag by telling myself I needed it to fill up an apothecary jar.  
It's for decoration!

Uh, well ~ as you can plainly see.  They didn't end up in that jar, rather in an open bowl.  
For easy access.

Then I placed that open bowl on the mantel which I walk by at least 5 million times a day.  You can imagine just how many Mini Cadbury Eggs I've eaten in the last week.  
I'm not proud, just honest.

Now go buy some and see how delish they are!
{Big Fanny misery loves Big Fanny company}



Easter Table Goodies

I shopped and shopped and was lucky enough to find some Easter decor still available.  And most of the goodies were on sale!  Here is a small sampling of what I found

I mentioned before that we are hosting Easter dinner here and we'll have 13 people so the center piece will have to change so the table can accommodate more.

The bunny was from Pottery Barn ~ on sale!

I bought the runner from the Alameda Flea Market several months ago 
It's a vintage grain sack from someplace in Europe

The antique egg holder was a gift from my hubs a while ago

PS ~ the brown eggs are from our chickens.  Those ladies work hard and believe me, they squawk and squawk every time they lay just to be sure you know how hard they're working!

I don't have napkin rings that would work so I used gingham ribbon.  It's simple and sweet and I think it's springy

Look at that guy!  He's so cute ~

Candles on a dinner table are a must and I added a little ribbon to tie them in with the rest of the table

I also found some items for the kids table and I'll share look at that later.



Easter Table Stuff

I have been waaaay behind this year.  I haven't even cracked open our Easter decorations boxes, and Easter is less than a week away.  To top it all off, I am hosting Easter dinner at our house.  

I love hosting holiday dinners.  It's not a problem at all ~ my family is all very helpful with getting ready for guests {hubs is always on top of things and a fantastic entertainer.  the kids complain a smidge but ultimately help out} and my extended family is always ready to bring whatever food and beverage items are needed so it's never a burden.  But I really like for things to be festive and right now....they're not!  

I've decided to center the theme around daffodils.  They're plentiful right now, inexpensive, cheerful and BRIGHT.  All things perfect for Easter.  Now I just need to pull the rest of the details together.... I'm hoping I can find something similar to this

And maybe use gray place mats.  Or just a simple white table cloth.  
We may  be eating outside and white can be so bright, maybe I'll find something in a cream tone to ease the reflection a little bit.  

UGH!  See ~ I'm off my game.  
Headed out to shop and find some inspiration...I'll share what I find.




I've been MIA for a bit.  My mother broke her ankle and had to have urgent surgery on Saturday.  Then I hurt my back and was laid up all day Sunday {I've never hurt my back before and it was really horrible}, and then I was lucky enough to have dear old friend and dear new friend visit early this week.  I've been a busy bee ~ but not busy blogging :-)

You probably have already heard ~ and even perused ~ TRADHome online magazine.  If not, you're missing out.  It's fabulous!

Online magazines are great for so many reasons.  They don't waste paper, they are usually bigger than printed magazines which means they can delve deeper into a story, and they can feature video.  Oh, and they're FREE!

One of my favorite bloggers is featured in the magazine, Erika with Urban Grace Interiors.  {I found her blog through her twin sister, Darby's blog which you should also check out if you haven't.}  Even though I don't know Erika, I was excited to see a designer I recognized and her work is just stunning.

Give yourself 30 minutes, go to TRADHome and drool over all the beauty.



A Vintage Bench {Partial} Make-Over

I mentioned a few posts ago that I was trying to find the courage to work on a furniture project.  Well ~ I found the motivation today!

The brief back story ~

I decided our guest room need a small bench.  Some place other than the bed for guests to sit and tie their shoes or maybe rest a suitcase and handbag.  The room is teeny tiny.  I have a small chair in the corner now and even though, by typical standards, it's a small chair it still feels too big for the room.  So a little bench would work perfectly.  On the hunt I went...

The first Sunday of every month is an antique flea market in Alameda {in the Bay Area} and the hubs and I love to get up early and stroll through all the stuff.  While we were there in February I found a cute little bench.  The seller said he was having a Super Bowl blow so that he didn't have to pack up anything and could just leave the market quickly and still see the game.  So, for $20 I bought a little bench.  

{Side note -- I know it may not be the lowest price any of you have seen for a bench at a flea but he was asking $45 so I felt good about $20}

Here he it is ~ pre makeover

Pastel tapestry.  It felt a little gramma to me.

But the detail on the legs is pretty ~ not too ornate.

After we brought it home the hubs and I shopped for some fabric and about 2 months later {today} I started the work.

Turns out, it wasn't too difficult.

I just removed a screw from each corner and the top came apart from the base.  Simple!

Then I unstapled the old fabric and threw it away.

I added new batting to fluff it up a bit and make it soft.

Then stapled the new fabric in place and trimmed the excess.

And Voila!  It's was done!

{Chrissy Dog is giving it a full inspection.  She's a helper}

I say this is a {Partial} make-over because I didn't paint the wood.  
Although, that might be in the future for this little baby.

AND ~ After looking at these pictures, I decided I really like the subtlety of the reverse side of the fabric so maybe I'll take it apart and flip the fabric???

I'll post pictures after I place it in the guest room.



Alameda Flea Market

Alright people.  
If you haven't been to a flea market you are missing OUT!  
I don't mean the weekly flea market where you can buy a churro, tied died tee and a confederate flag.  I mean an antique and vintage goods flea market.  
It's a whole other flea market world. 
Literally hours of fun if you like to peruse other people's stuff 
in hopes of finding something fabulous that you just can't live without, 
and then haggling with the seller to try and pay the price you feel comfortable with.  
{I still need to work on this last part}

Aaanyway ~ the first Sunday of every month just such a flea is held in the town of Alameda, on a mostly abandoned naval air station.  
It's across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco and only about 40 minutes from my house {without traffic :-)}.  
It opens at 6:30a 
{yes. AM.  You have to get there early if you want first dibs on all the best junk!} 
and costs $15 to get in.  
I've been several times and most recently took my friend Holly for her first trip.

I woke up at 5:20a on Sunday morning.  
Dressed myself in clothes I laid out the night before, slapped on a smidge of make-up {so as not to scare others} and headed out the door to pick up Holl.  
This is how the sky looked just before the sun came up.

I pulled over to take this picture.  
I know it robbed us of vital junk hunting time, but it was pretty and I thought it was worth the loss of a couple minutes.

Holly jumped in the car, we stopped for coffee and then headed South to Alameda.
{Quick digression ~ I80 says it runs East to West, so I guess technically we headed West.  But to me, it feels like South. So there}

We parked, paid and walked in.  I had to give Holly a primer on flea marketing.  
Here is my advice ~ it's simple, but helpful if you've never been:

**Remember where you parked your car by remembering the row letter.  
In our case it was row 'J'

**Follow a pattern through the market so you can see everything without 
skipping rows and having to double back.

**Keep track of items you would like to return to by noting the row letter and stall number.  This is especially important if you have purchased 
something that you will be returning to pick up later.

This particular flea market letters the rows starting with 'A' 
and I've personally wondered as far as row 'FF' 
but I think it extends further than that, particularly in good weather.  
Each lettered row has three sections.  
It's a BIG momma.

Here we are walking through the parking lot.  
The view from this market is of the City's skyline.  
We have a spectacularly beautiful City. 
I for sure have left my heart in San Francisco several times.

Here's Holly, coffee in hand!

This is when I schooled Holly on how true veteran junkers 
handle their business at a big flea market....
The bring a cart with them.  
Or at least a big bag.  
We had none of this.
Clearly, not professionals.

I love how some booths are merchandised beautifully ~

And then others are not...

I imagine there were clothes under the garbage bags, but I didn't dig around to confirm.

We came across a booth that sold nothing but glasses ~

And we had some fun...

Look!  It's Tootsie!! {Although I hope I look a bit less like a man ; )}

Sally Jesse Rafael

Then we found these babies.  
I guessed they were vintage because of the Playboy bunny on the arm & I've never heard of Playboy sunglasses.  
They were super cute on Holly but when she asked how much, 
the seller confirmed my suspicion that they were in fact vintage 
{from the '80's.  That's vintage now...awesome} 
and told her because of that, he wants $95 for them.  
95 Smackers?!?  
Too much...thank you! 

We moved on to clothes ~

I started singing "Come and knock on our door...  We've been waiting for you"
And I'll likely be Mrs. Roper for Halloween this year 
because I'm totally in love with the mu mu 

We found some burlap bags ~

Holly would have had to have her purse alter if she'd bought this cutie. 
It was clearly made for taller people

We found things that were nostalgic ~

{Does Andy seem to be getting fresh here?}

{It's a rotary!}

Things that were beautiful ~

We saw things that were sweet ~

{I loved how this couple looked like they stepped out of 1950}

{And how this little cutie was trying out the vintage trike.}  

We found {and smelled} food.  Lots and lots of F.O.O.D!

{This was a very extensive and diverse menu, kabobs, gyros, teriyaki, fish...
always scary to me}

{Look at how happy she is to be getting her Creme Brulee}

And finally, I found something to buy ~

This chair is my next project.  Let's see how long it takes me to complete it!

Find a Flea Market near your house, 
grab a friend or willing Husband and make a day of it. 
 You will be happy you did.