Kitchen Chalkboard Wall

Kitchen Chalkboard Wall

Thinking about all the quick fun decorating projects I have done, usually before the Holidays, I found this unpublished blog. The wall is still a lot of fun with the quote, “Creation or Consumption, does that make me a cannibal or a can of bull?”  Not worth photographing, but I will when someone writes or draws something new.

This wall was made a few years ago now. It has held up well except I would have sanded it better to have a smoother writing surface. Sometimes I just want to get it done, and won. Instead of taking the time to do something right, more refined.

Taping off the Wall

Taping off the wall preparing for the chalkboard paint.


Why bother I think sometimes when all the decor I make in this house is on the temporary side. It is a rental in a beautiful So. California neighborhood. But almost treasonous not to own our own home with real estate always, always going through the roof. 

This little rental, mid-century home I have been making little surface renovations on for many years would sell for ¾ of a million while my neighbor’s homes would sell for much more as they have made real renovations of adding on bedrooms, great rooms, vaulted ceilings, new kitchens, and more bathrooms besides many a year ago removed the popcorn ceiling. I made my own peace with ours by buying textured everything white in the bedroom, down to dingle ball sheer curtains.  

We opted out of the no money down housing options of ten or so years ago and with our fast-paced life and joyous neighborhood never found a way to move into a house we could afford. But as all renters say, that may end soon. Nah, we just always think that because our landlord only needs to give us a few months to vacate. If something were to happen to him, and his children have to sell the house. Since he seems happily able to accept our rent every month we should feel free as the free birds we are to flee the coup if the time comes. 

Chalk board paint wall long shot.

Finished chalkboard paint wall.

Meanwhile, we have raised three children here. The hardest part of inevitably leaving this house will be leaving behind a big back yard full of fruit trees, many kinds of gardening experiments from raised beds, cactus, flower, and vegetable gardens to pots with avocado trees and wild blackberries.  

Each project grew out of respect for the bones of our house and the implicit wishes of the landlord not to do anything at all to the house. So we have only painted a few walls black and painted many other varied bright colors all over the house. We have removed wallpaper, pulled up carpet, lived with authentic mid-century windows by covering them with the most contemporary dressings we could combine. 

Our kitchen cupboards have never been painted, all-natural wood, but we replaced the hideous handles at the start of living here. We found multi-colored balls and silver handles to go with the “rustic” wood. Our linoleum floor is about to be our next biggish project because it needs replacing. But honestly, we are afraid of what will happen if we lift the large happy offwhite sheet. Afraid of what we will find underneath or not find a solid floor. 

There are many things that have gone on here to suffice as living breathing artists in residence.

Chalkboard Paint Wall with One Inch Ruler

A wall to make notes and shopping lists.

The chalkboard paint was going over big in the teenager’s room, another blog of black teen cool, so I thought we should have the little wall in the kitchen painted. The little wall should have been demolished years ago, so why not be made into a chalkboard. I would write down my biz orders and photo lists besides quickly right down recipes and quotes to keep my business moving forward. It was easy and cheap. Looks great! Is fun! And can add new decor to the kitchen faster than new curtains and hot pads. 

The edge goes over the corner one inch to make a ruler on the wall. Not yet drawn in.


Handmade Hodgepodge Tile Backsplash

Handmade Hodgepodge Tile Backsplash

One of my friends has a very cute house that she is always fixing up. But with the pandemic, it was hard to justify doing some projects while it was ok to try other projects. Since Home Depot was always open throughout considered an essential business she thought it would be a good time to do something about the old wallpaper behind her counters. Going this way and that over what she should do? Paint, buy boring backsplash, or hang new wallpaper. Well since she is my friend I assumed she saw my backsplash and just discounted making her own. But I suggested she should make one since she is very crafty and she could make it super custom to her house decor. She loved the idea So here goes the story and the how-to of making your own backsplash.


Here is how we did it.

Kay and Heather Making Tile Backsplash

Kay and Heather breaking up tile.


A holiday weekend with family usually means family art days. Either making art or going to museums, galleries, lobbies, sculpture gardens, and private collections. It also means going to movies, seeing photo slide shows, talking about the latest video, podcast, comedian, TV show, and then discussing the periodicals, blogs, and of course it is always better to be reading a good book worth talking about.

This past Thanksgiving weekend lasted until Monday, and it’s Tuesday, and no wonder my little family is tired. It was a lot of fun.

Making art was on the agenda. The best thing was getting my mother off the hook to do collage at her house, to instead, as a stroke of genius, help her by coming up with one of about fifty projects I have /had ready for the willing nieces, kids, sister, brother-in-law, and mother to work on.

We tiled. I had the luan boards already precut to the correct size for new backsplashes in my kitchen and some extras pieces for people to take home, or if willing, make for my bathrooms? 

My mother had some old dishes, and I just ended up using those funky “state” plates sitting in an unused cupboard. Breaking the dishes proved a perfect job for my helpful brother-in-law.

We were all novices, but no slouches to creativity. Everyone went to work like it was a race and everyone finished theirs and helped the others until they were all done. Any crazy suggestions like gluing a serving dish to one were welcomed with the agreement it would work.

It went over well for me because I trust the artistic license of my family, ever tasteful and ingenious. We had a great time. But the pressure is on to do the next step of the grout. Christmas can’t come soon enough!

So you would think maybe people would help then with grout, but no way. I am expected to be so all over the tile project, have it hanging, and beautiful. Because a decorated home is the only reason to entertain or is it entertaining is the only reason to clean? And decorate?


It took a few months but we finally got the tile done and installed in the kitchen! In case you haven’t read about the family tile project, I put my family to work making back-splashes for our kitchen and/or bathroom. Since there were a lot of us, and I didn’t want anything permanent in my house, we built them on luan specially cut to order at Home Depot.  We all thought, maybe, there might be an extra one to give away, but some of the glue we used was not the right kind. I recommend only using tile glue AcrylPro 1 Qt. Ceramic Tile Adhesive, which is really easy to use and a quart will go a long way. You can spread it on first, then add the pieces or glue each one separately. So I single-handed re-glued the biggest piece for over the stove and the other two were fine. Another two pieces just fell apart though.


We cut a 5’ long piece above the sink.

Gluing Down the Tile

Fay making her backsplash. The Tile Party!


All glued down.


Mixing the Grout.


Wipe off with a big sponge.


Since this was my very first time tiling I wasn’t sure how to apply the grout. I ended up using a bag I bought from the Restore for around a dollar. It comes in many forms and colors. Really you just have to experiment. I love how the white grainy one I chose turned out!

Something came over me while I was getting ready to install the tile. I decided to make an easy island in the kitchen, paint one kitchen wall with blackboard paint and paint the counters with counter-top paint.

Routines Evade Me!

Routines Evade Me!

Routines evade me. I love the inventiveness of the moment.

I love my cardboard box my cool Canon eosM50 camera came in! It is the perfect box height for most of my laptop work when I am sitting on a couch.  The high table in my workspace is also not quite high enough for standing with my laptop but I put my “printer raiser” on the table and then the cool box from my camera on top of that. The box is not too heavy, the right amount of black on one side (yay) no distractions from advertising on the other five sides. 

We all know you shouldn’t throw away the box your electronics come in for at least three months or ever? So I had it laying around advertising to the studio world I got a new camera, but now it is with me at all times for being the best computer holder stand. Maybe it’s not the best for my carpal tunnel but I love how it handles. I mean it is flexible on my lap when I am reclining which is how I start out every single day. 

Is it really? 

Routines evade me. Why am I so resistant to routine? I love the inventiveness of the moment.

My husband used to say such and such is always that way on Tuesdays or I can sleep in on Sundays. But I hardly knew the difference between certain days they all seemed a little chaotic. Maybe a little more routine could prevent that feeling?

Hence, I wanted an easy dinner on Fridays and would often wish for pizza. But people like my husband do not see the same type of routines that I do. He would say we always go to bed early on Mondays. 

I would see the first of the month as bill paying day or life check on the finances. I thought of Saturdays as cleaning days but instead usually did it on Thursday or Friday tempting my children with a work-free weekend if they helped out. 

I do have my minimal routines to be sure. I think taking medications teaches that, having a job with regular work hours, having kids, a spouse who wants to go out on dates, see family regularly. 

Old parents, one must call at least once a week, daily chores before the crack of dawn are who I have become. As a young parent breastfeeding was a regular thing but not a routine.

Now I must post something, make something, a tall order although I do it every day. I can not wait to do one or the other. But now I have gotten even better at planning those in advance. I use apps like Tailwind and many others to help in all those endeavors.

On top of those seeming obligations, there is always the thing that comes up, an old friend who calls that takes up valuable time you wouldn’t trade for anything.

Lovemaking evolves into the unexpected for a long time.

The kid who wants to spend the day with you.

The shopping and planning always for the “unexpected” fun get together.

The busy neighbor who drops in to say Hello or drop something off and stays for a while.

The other friend always goes straight to the backyard to tend something in the garden until you come out to greet him. 

The dog we take care of during the week being dropped off or picked up, but we never know exactly when? 

The endless cleaning, researching, reading, fixing, sprucing, and writing is what I do but is it a routine?


Fashion and Climate Change

Fashion and Climate Change

Combatting “Greenwashing” with Transparency

Fashion and Climate change couldn’t be a more timely subject. Click on the letters below to see the presentation I gave for Sustainable Living. Many of the links in this piece are available on the slideshow.

-Slide show for Fashion and Climate Change by Mary Colmar-

The fashion industry was poised before the pandemic to make some changes. Away from producing so much fast fashion product while making less of a carbon footprint. 

But after the impact of the global pandemic happened on the economy, the role of the fashion industry in the destruction of the environment and the economy became a blaring reminder that the fragmented industry has to change as a whole. The industry has to work together, from manufacturing to changing the culture of fashion’s expectations in our society around the world to help in the prevention of global destruction as a key participant.

At the moment large corporations are working together by producing fewer goods, less fast fashion, and regular seasons and even down to two a year following the example of Gucci. 

Another key component is to manufacture closer to where the product is being sold. Trying to lessen the carbon footprint it intends to ship less and to produce more in the country where the goods sell. A goal easier said than done as the western hemisphere has not invested in the technology necessary to make a yarn out of hemp for example and so much more necessary in the manufacturing of goods along with all sectors, excluding Europe. 

There are problems in the Americas in manufacturing, they do not have the technology that can spin a yarn literally from hemp again, which is very popular in the USA and being grown by ex tobacco farmers. The hemp is grown in the US, shipped to Asia as the sophisticated making of the yarn is made into yarn and/or fabric and possibly shipped again and sewn somewhere in the Americas? 

Especially in the USA, it is a big problem because our manufacturing has not invested in middle management, education, or development and we do not pay our middle management workers enough. We are years behind in the technology needed to manufacture and PLM that Asia and Europe are equipped to do. 

The US are also the people most addicted to fast fashion and yes it is an addiction. These consumers need the education to care about sustainable fashion. Fashion that is less disposable and has more desirability, possibly buy something that has a lasting power of five years or more. Hopefully bringing back the ideal clothing concept becoming treasured again. At one time clothing was handed down through generations. It was made with quality and appreciated for craftsmanship. 

A big movement developing is wearing second hand, as a statement, for individuality, and an easy solution to utilize the plentiful pickings. 

Second-hand clothing has become popular, nothing to scoff at, but at a different level by Department Stores like Nordstrom and the inexpensive furniture store Ikea. 

A place to bring your clothes you no longer want or furniture that was crap in the first place. (on a side note Ikea is working on a way to make their cheap furniture recycled.)

The movement to improve manufacturing with less waste and better design is spreading across the globe with all products from food to fashion. There is an interconnectedness for all of us to participate. Not for profit but for humanity or quality of life for everyone. We are all the 1% not financially but in our individuality. We each can offer our knowledge and ingenuity to our clothing, our lifestyle in the way we eat and where we get our food to how we move around on the planet. 

Groups such as Fashion Makes Change (FMC) is the fashion industry’s new solution that delivers women’s empowerment and climate action in tandem. With a mission to build a community between brands, non-profits, consumers, and supporting industries to responsibly drive action on key social and environmental impacts of fashion, the organization acts as a transformational ecosystem. Fashion Makes Change’s powerful coalition supports the diverse women who work within the apparel supply chain, reimagining how collaboration affects change.

“The truth is that the old way of doing things is not solving the problems. Incremental change isn’t good enough. We are moving too slowly,” said Cara Smyth, Chair of Fashion Makes Change. “Education is the great equalizer. In particular, investing in women builds resilient communities. Catalytic ecosystems that foster profound collaboration are powering the next generation of sustainability and are the only sensible path forward. We have a finite number of days before irreversible global warming. Fashion – and the world – are racing against the clock.”

Fashion Makes Change, a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, answers the call by the United Nations Secretary-General to advance progress on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and looks to all sectors of society in the next ten years to mobilize action locally and globally, to generate a movement to meet this decade of action. Fashion Makes Change strives to build communities of changemakers that will help advance progress on key development goals and ultimately efforts designed to create a more equitable and responsible apparel industry. Fashion Makes Change will initially look to targets aligned with SDG 3, Good health and well-being, SDG 4 Quality Education, SDG 5 on Gender Equality, and SDG 8 which addresses Decent Work and Economic Growth.


One of the key organizations that Fashion Makes Change will support is the [email protected] Collaborative, a joint effort of United Nations’ ILO-IFC Better Work, BSR’s HERproject, CARE International, and Gap Inc.’s P.A.C.E program, that works to leverage knowledge, skills, and networks to drive collective action for the benefit of women workers and gender equity in global supply chains.


Brands and retailers throughout the industry are mobilizing to educate women in the global supply chain at scale by 2030. This comes as the industry’s CEOs and their teams work collectively to demonstrate fashion as a powerful force for good in the world. Consumers increasingly want to drive positive impact and are motivated when they have a voice in using their purchasing power to support the actions brands are taking. Individual and collective efforts in the community are required to tackle the systemic challenges facing our society.

The first activation will launch on March 8th, International Women’s Day, with a program that engages consumers to round up or donate via a global network of retail and fashion brands. The proceeds will be dedicated to educating and empowering women in the supply chain via [email protected]

Funds collected will be deployed through Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a nonprofit organization that helps donors create thoughtful, effective philanthropy around the world through research, advisory, management, and project incubation.

This unprecedented collaboration among brands, customers, and non-profits will amplify, scale, and accelerate a global shift towards meaningful change.

The program has support from Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Avery Dennison, PR Consulting, and the Accessories Council.

Second hand, unique, want it to be the first option. Young people are removing some of the stigmas of used clothing as they are often, customized, embellished, and upcycled.

Depop has a customer base of a 23million and 93 percent are under 26. A company that is expanding access to used clothing. One of many. It is a bigger umbrella. Usually unique, no one else will usually have the same item.

Different Forums:

Sustainable Fashion Forum 

State of Fashion- online magazine

More groups:

[email protected]

Another movement is to reuse clothing rather than see it go into the trash or shipped all over the world looking for a home as the rag quality that they are.

There is no silver bullet. As a manufacturer, someone who has had a clothing line for eight years. I found a gem in the clothing that was spilling out of our closets and sold by the pound at GoodWills.

With my background in production as a patternmaker and technical designer, I found many uses and opportunities for ways to scale up these clothes. Other companies that have scaled up doing similar work are:


Atelier and Repair.

Gregory Lauren


One resource for this article is from ‘Fashion Makes Change,’ Change Fashion? The new brand-led community promises solutions for the “equalizing” status of garment workers while tackling the climate crisis with collaboration. By Kaley Roshitsh on November 17, 2020


More Pressing Matters

More Pressing Matters

It has been over a year since I moved out of the living room into the new studio. Although we didn’t get a chance to have a big opening party in the new digs. Honestly too, at first, it was such a mess to move and there was so much to do last Fall that I thought the opening should be at the beginning of the year. 


It’s the best studio for my business and situation, not wanting to overextend myself I have to keep it within reason until we grow beyond the immediate square foot space. Did I mention how close to home it is? Less than one mile alongside streets perfect for riding my bike there (wearing a bicycle vest of course) or I can walk. Someone said to me recently “But you never do?” Wrong. I ride my bike a lot and walk often but as with going anywhere I often have ****loads of stuff to carry, more than I can carry on a bike or in a backpack.


The workspace is on the ground floor with the ability to move rolling racks in and out without any steps which are almost worth its weight in gold alone. There are two rooms, a separate room for photo/video shoots with a big green screen besides all social media planning and posting. I do have the automation setup. First I usually have Fiverr finish the copy on many of the posts, I’ll edit visuals with Canva, and schedule with Tailwind on my Pinterest account. 


This year we staged many zoom calls and conferences there too. We do not keep anything valuable there because we carry our little equipment back and forth. On a side note my son has discovered the joy of the studio making videos there in the evenings. 


But all that was slow going as I had to help my mother while the pandemic was looming. Instead of making masks that everyone was looking at us to make. The tides were turning.


More pressing matters, a pun I love because I always have pressing going on! But in this case, my mother had some urgency to sell her house and put the wheels in motion between x-mas and New Years’! 


I knew she needed my help which would eclipse anything I had going on. My business had been in the slumps before, actually kind of always ebbing and flowing. So I put my excellent daughter’s face on and we got to the business of selling our family home. Not an easy task really, it had been the home of my mother and stepfather for forty plus years and had the memorabilia of ten kids, tons of grandkids, and a few great-grandkids to put in respective boxes. 


My mother is an artist and had a studio in the garage and in a room in the house full of all the shows she had exhibited, priceless artwork, and measurable career documents of noteworthiness that needed cataloging. I was amazed at all the work she has done with documentation just strewn about in two five-foot file drawers and stuffed everywhere else. So with the help of about twenty bankers boxes, I got to work. Putting her artwork photos in one box and friends of the art scene in another, work-related exhibits, commissions, and lectures she has given went in another. 


Fortunately, I live for times like these in the organizational world. With my mom, not my own house I could be slightly more objective and discern the trash from the keep important papers, photos, and writings. I separated other photos with bankers’ boxes at the ready. Our one side of the family broken down into individuals, and the other side of the family broken down into three boxes, one of the framed photos, unframed, and their dad’s memorabilia. 


Of course, I had scores of boxes and sorting stations in the garage where everything would end up and be the last room to clean up. 


In the house, I had a humongous donate pile by the back sliding glass doors for any and all stuff. And I had black trash bags throughout the house for trash. Some black bags in one room for the stuff she absolutely wanted to keep. No one was to move the bags around until they had my directions. Which implies I had help. The kind of help where my mother would want to “clean” up and start moving stuff around or the well-meaning friend who thought they would take the trash out. Even though I had masking tape labels on most bags we did not want to confuse where they were by mixing them up. 


This was about the time Covid hit and the donation centers were not accepting anything. Our pile grew as we gifted neighbors with thoughtful choccies for being there for us, and we called friends to come over to take whatever they wanted, asked the handyman to take any and all, then we finally saw a junk collector drive by and flagged him down to take it all but no we still had a lot to carry to the alley in the hopes somebody would walk by and take boxes of greeting cards, more plastic dishes and plates that never ended. 


The one black bag filled to the brim of plastic stuff spilled over into another black bag. Well, I know my mother and she loves plastic. She once had a “formal” dinner for my in-laws all in the plastic of every kind for all the types of “glasses” needed, serving dishes and plates, napkin ring holders, and homemade plastic flowers made from old Clorox bottles. It was pretty cool and why we didn’t always take pictures of every table she ever set I don’t know. We have a lot of the time, but not that one. My mother cares more about ambiance and decor than how good the food tastes. The plastic was hardly ever the throw-away kind, it was washable. 


That one setting was her response to a dinner she had at my in-laws who have beautiful dishes and glassware. My mother joked she was going to get lead poisoning from the glasses. Who knows what chemical poisoning we get from all the plastics? 


So it was important to sort all the plastic out from a huge pile on the floor. Most of it I just gave away. She may have kept one tray. 


We only had about a month, and I canceled a few of my events before we were going to list the house. While also planning a big event of hers. A ninetieth birthday party and art sale all on one weekend in February. We spent around a thousand dollars to mount all the artwork, buy scones and champagne for two days of an open house, signs, and some platters of sandwiches, and pizzas for the family who were going to be in town. The pizza and champagne were her ideas of the perfect spread. We ended up selling about three thousand worth of work at firesale prices and only had a few leftovers. Plus a nice sampling of friends and family showed up. She gave each kid one of their picks of artwork. Still, she had a lot of work to get rid of because it had nowhere else to go.  


We eventually did get a storage unit for said boxes and artwork. My husband put a lot of his artwork in the unit, and our transient kids put a lot of their stuff in as well. The expense and rationale for a storage unit. Worth the cost? 


We avoided getting a storage unit for so long, most all our lives trying to keep the crap down instead, but getting a unit changed everything for the better and freed up so much space without the regret of losing something important. 


It helped us stage the house easily. We only had some bare essentials and artwork hanging which made the house very chic and huge. We removed everything practically. Only my mother was living there and she knew she was extremely downsizing so we took advantage of the fact and made the house seem functional and modern because nothing was there. 


The garden windows had three vases each instead of seventeen. There were seven paintings on the wall instead of twenty. The pillows were only a few, and you get the idea. No personal photos. Only one set of dishes in the kitchen cabinet. One set of towels. One set of sheets. The closet had only a few clothes instead of bursting at the seams. 


The window treatments were brand new and in neutral gray shades. We kept the dining room table permanently set. All daily clutter we put in one box in a lower kitchen cabinet. That is how my mother had to live through a few weekends in February after her birthday/sale party and few real estate open houses.


It was a success, selling for the asking price on the first day, and not bothering with any other offers. My mother moved to independent living on March 15 with so many restrictions on how we had to move her in. We couldn’t go up to the apartment and help her arrange anything. But they managed to hang all her art and set everything up (without me). Although the pandemic made us nervous the house closed on March 31.