A Very Personal Story

It is with great sadness that I write this post today. In light of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain's recent suicide, I felt compelled to share a very personal story about depression and suicide.

People are always so “shocked” to hear that someone successful, with what seems like the perfect life, would commit suicide. They had it all.

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, each year more than 44,965 individuals die by suicide. On average, that means 123 people each day. Hanging and firearms are the most common means for suicide.  About 90 percent of people who commit suicide have a mental illness at the time of their death. Depression is the top risk factor, but there are various other mental health disorders that can contribute to suicide, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Here is a good article on The Six Reasons People Attempt Suicide.

Dr. Natalie Azar, NBC News Contributor, says this about the subject:

  • Suicide is up 30% since 1999. Depression is the #1 cause and half of the people who have committed suicide were never diagnosed with any type of mental illness.
  • Other things that can contribute to suicide are relationship stress, financial burdens, substance abuse, heath issues and a loss of a job.
  • White men between the ages of 45-65 are of greatest danger.
  •  56% of Americans with mental illness do not receive treatment and may not know they are suffering from mental illness.
  • It is OK to ask someone if they have ever thought of hurting themselves and to listen without judgment.
  • According to experts it is not one defining moment that sends people over the edge, but it is many day-to-day things that attribute to the suicide.

The truth is, we can all benefit from honest conversations about mental health conditions and suicide, because just one conversation can change a life.

I have decided to share my story of mental illness in the hopes of possibly helping someone who may be struggling.  I have suffered from depression for most of my life.  I was not officially diagnosed until my early 20s.  I had to try many different types of antidepressants before I found one that seemed to work for me. Don't be afraid to tell your doctor that your antidepressant is not working. Keep trying until you find one that makes you feel better.  I promise you there is hope.

My mother suffered from depression for most of her life and was never treated for it. It saddens me to know her life could have been so much better had she gotten the help she needed. My youngest brother suffers from Schizophrenia and has most of his life. He finally found the right doctors and has been doing really well for years. Depression can run in families, and certainly does in mine.

I understand Kate Spade was hesitant about getting help as to not harm her “happy” brand.  I certainly understand this as a business owner myself. The fear of losing clients that might find out your secret. It is something that I have hidden most of my life.  Who wants to tell people they suffer from depression?  That sometimes they are sad, very sad. Nobody wants to be around a Debbie downer.  Not until the last few years have I realized that many, many, people suffer from some sort of depression or mental illness.  It's not anything to be ashamed of, ever!  I am no longer hiding behind my illness.

I won't lie to you, there are stretches of time when I still get depressed.  I just went thru one recently.  It can be very scary and lonely, but I know it is temporary and I soldier on. 

For people who have never suffered from depression, it is very hard to understand and relate to. I have heard more than once, “pick yourself up by your bootstraps,” “get over it,” “buck up”.  Little do they know it is sometimes impossible without getting help. Please try and be more sympathetic. No one I know WANTS to be depressed. The struggle is real. 

Luckily, I have never been so low as to want to end my life.  After being diagnosed with breast cancer and receiving the scare of a lifetime, I have found a certain level of peace, even with my depression.  I am grateful for that.

My best friend committed suicide more than twenty years ago after struggling with depression for years. I miss her every day. A few weeks ago, a dear family member took his life. We had no idea he was suffering so deeply. I wish he had talked to just one person.

Oftentimes, people who are depressed or are suffering some sort of mental illness and have not been treated, tend to medicate with alcohol.  If you notice someone drinking more than usual, talk with them.  Be alert and compassionate.

If you or anyone you know needs help, please forward the information below.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides a 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis.  1-800-273-8255.  If you feel uncomfortable talking over the phone you can text “NAMI” to 741741.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides a 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis.  1-800-273-8255.  If you feel uncomfortable talking over the phone you can text “NAMI” to 741741.

Love and Peace to you all.

Mother's Day Gifts That Are Sure To Please

Mom's are our favorite people.  They deserve to be celebrated on Mother's Day.  Why not pamper her with something she will love?  Whether its a scented candle, an elegant wrist watch or an interesting book, I've got you covered.  Take a look at some of my favorite gift ideas.

Friends...if you click to purchase the products I've mentioned in this post, I will make a small commission (at no additional cost to you) which helps me to pay for the costs of keeping my blog running. Thank you!

This dish towel is just too fun! Every mother secretly wants to hear this!

Love this for a busy household filled with lots of little hungry ones. Fill it with some homemade sweets. Practical and pretty!

Who wouldn't love a beautiful watch like this one from Olivia Burton?

I have always loved candles. Especially those that give off just a hint of scent. Diptyque candles are a favorite and the rose scent is amazing!  Don't like rose? No worries; there are many different scents to choose from.

Fashion forward mothers would love a boxed set on the life and style of the great Chanel. A great escape!

For the mom that's always cold, there is nothing better than a large pashmina shawl for cozy warmth on the go.  It's always stylish and comes in every color under the rainbow.

Does your mother complain about not getting enough photos of the grand kids? We suggest surprising her with this digital picture frame from Nixplay.

And there is always the tried and true gift of flowers.  I love the mix of florals in this amazing arrangement from Mayflowers.

Well there you have it...my list of some fabulous gifts that won't break the bank and are sure to please.  How will you celebrate your mother?

Container Gardening 101

Here in Washington, when Cherry Blossom season arrives, you know Spring is right around the corner.  Pretty soon there will be gorgeous flowers  in every color popping up all over town, not to mention nice weather.  Have you ever been to Washington in May? It is divine!

Containers of all shapes and sizes can add brilliant color and texture to your landscape. They can freshen up the front porch, add pizzazz to your patio or add a punch of color to the poolside. The colors, textures and varying heights of flowers, plants, and accessories, (such as obelisks), provide an attractive contrast to the lines and architectural details of your hardscaping and add a focal point to any space. Container gardening is also a great way to garden in small apartments or homes with no yards. Plants in containers can offer great versatility as they can be moved around and the containers themselves can become part of your outdoor décor.

Gardening Tools

As with any job, having the right tools is half the battle.  Here is a nice starter set that even comes with a tote, gloves and a plant mister.  All of which you will need.  Its also on sale too!

Choosing the Right Container

When looking at containers, make sure to take into account the mature size of the plants and their growing habits. Upright growers will need a wide base for balance. Sprawlers will need a pot deep enough to drape over.  All pots should have some type of drainage hole at least 1" wide; smaller holes might clog with soil and prevent the water from draining.

As the plants grow, the root systems will fill the pot and the soil will dry more quickly. It's okay to fill the diameter of the container with plants, but make sure there is plenty of room for the roots to move downward into the soil.

Also, where will the pot be located?  What are the colors surrounding the pots?  Make sure to take your surroundings into consideration when choosing a pot.

Here are a few of my favorite styles:

Choosing the Right Soil

Always fill your containers with a quality commercial potting soil.  Never use soil from your garden as it will harden to a rock when it dries out.  A good potting soil will include some, if not all of these elements: compost, peat moss, perlite, vermiculite, and/or rotted manure.

Some potting mixes come with fertilizer already mixed in. Some don't. Either way, container plant roots can't spread out looking for additional food in the soil nearby, so you will need to replenish soil nutrients regularly. Good choices are a time released fertilizer mixed in when planting or a water-soluble fertilizer every 2-4 weeks.

Pick Healthy Plants

You can grow just about anything in the right container, even trees and shrubs will thrive in a large enough pot.  When choosing plants for your pots, make sure to take the following into consideration:

  1. Quality of Nursery or Garden Center
  2. Foliage
  3. Shape
  4. Insects & Disease
  5. Root System
  6. Stem Damage
  7. Weeds
  8. Buds & Flowers

Sun Exposure

When selecting your plants make sure to read the plant tags before you purchase. Select plants that will be happy with the same amounts of water, sun, heat and food. Some flowers love shade, others need a minimum number of hours of sun a day.  You don't want to mix these in the same pot.  Some favorite annuals for sun include petunias, geraniums, calibrachoa, and verbena.  Shade loving annuals include: begonia, caladium, impatinens, and torenia.  Love fresh herbs? Designate at least one pot for your favorite herbs but make sure  to reserve a sunny spot as most herbs need a minimum of six hours of sunlight a day.   

Pick a Variety

Container gardens look best when the plants are in balance with the container. Try to make sure your tallest plants are not more than twice the height of the container and that the fullness of the plant material is not more than half the width again as wide.  Use at least one-third foliage plants to set off flowering plants to their best advantage.  Here are some great examples of plant and container combinations. I especially love the re-purposing of the bird bath as a home for the assorted succulents. 

Water Frequently

Container plants require frequent watering.  Water whenever the soil surface feels dry to the touch.  During hot, sunny periods you may need to water twice a day.  I love a pretty watering can.  Take a look at these beauties:

Remove Faded Blooms

Annual and perennial flowers will look better and grow faster when their old, faded blooms are removed.  This process is called "deadheading."  With larger flowers, simply remove the dead flower head with your pruning shears or pinch off with your fingers.  For more delicate flowers, such as sweet alyssum, shear back the entire plant by about 1/3 with scissors.

For those of you that need a bit more help, one of my favorite how-to books, Container Gardening, will be sure to inspire with their beautiful photos and step-by-step instructions.

There have been hundreds of studies documenting the benefits of gardening  Read here for the good news.

So what about you - are you inspired to celebrate Spring and add a beautiful container or two to your home or garden?

Greystone Manor - Still a beauty after all these years!

Where do design bloggers learn and network?  At the Design Bloggers Conference, of course! Held in Los Angeles this year, one of the highlights of the conference was a VIP tour of Historic Greystone Mansion, located in beautiful Beverly Hills.  This amazing historical home was a site to see.

The tour was organized by Jaime Rummerfield and Rod Woodson, owners of Woodson & Rummerfield and founders of Save Iconic Architecture.

Forty lucky designers were taken by shuttle to see this grande dame.  Historic Greystone and Gardens was designed by the renowned Southern California architect Gordon B. Kaurmann in 1929. We started out walking the magnificent gardens with the views of LA and then headed indoors.  This glorious Tudor revival estate, consisting of fifty-five rooms within 46,054 square feet, was once owned by the legendary Doheny Family.

Ron and Jaime graciously guided us through the house offering tidbits of information on each room and anecdotes about the previous owners.  We were told that Mr. Doheny was murdered in the home and that many think the house is haunted, as the crime was never solved.

As we entered the formal dining room, the crystal chandelier started swaying back and forth and did not stop the entire time we were in the room...needless to say we were all a bit freaked out!  Check out the video below.

I was amazed at the opulence of the home and all of the beautiful finishes that were selected.  This house had every luxury that you could imagine. The woodwork alone was truly a marvel.  Remember, this house was built almost 90 years ago! I took this video of the foyer/entrance.  Just stunning wouldn't you say?

For you movie buffs...this home has been featured in 70+ films.  One of my favorites was The Big Lebowskie.  The bowling alley photo above has been featured in many a film.  Remember the scene in There Will Be Blood?  Read all about the films here.

I want to finish with a mention of Ron and Jaime's foundation SIA Projects.  SIA is a non-profit foundation championing the fight to preserve significant architecture as art.  SIA Projects nominates and ushers endangered structures through the historical designation process where they would otherwise continue to be unprotected and at risk for extinction.  To learn more about this worthwhile organization, click here. 

If you find yourself in the LA area, make sure to tour Greystone.  You won't be disappointed.