Living Room Camp Out

A Guide to Opening Your Own Store

Establishing your own business is one of the most fulfilling and exciting things you can do, even if it is a lot of hard work! If you are at the stage of searching for space to lease for your store, you have already completed the business plan and secured some financial backing. This next step is important as it will determine how many customers will be coming through your door. Heres some things to think about when selecting your store space. 
Location is everything, especially if your brand is not yet widely known. If potential customers cant see or locate your store, they are unlikely to take the time to find it. Find a spot in the shopping mall or a street in your local town that has a lot of footfall going by it. These spaces might have more expensive leases due to their desirable positioning, but if you can afford it then certainly take it to ensure visibility to consumers. 
Like location, the accessibility to your store is incredibly important. If some of your customers require the use of wheelchairs for example, having only steps leading up to your store cuts them off from it and you could lose out on the potential to build a relationship with a loyal customer. Make sure the space you choose has access ramps if it is in a raised position, and a door that is either automatic or is fitted with a disabled access button so youre not alienating anyone.
The interior design of your shop should reflect your business brand and style. It should look clean and crisp, and all displays should be clearly visible. Any shop should have its interior units fitted properly and professionally, but if youre a fashion brand then you might want to opt for more of a luxury fit out to have a high-end feel to your store. The way your store looks will tell customers a lot about the business, therefore having proper shelving and storage units fitted to help keep the place clean and tidy is worth it. 
Having your products displayed properly in store will ensure that your customers are seeing everything you have to offer. Choose lighting that will flatter your products, and check often to make sure they have not been dirtied (people will pick up and put down things in your shop while browsing). Clothing should be placed on racks around the store, you can color coordinate the different items of clothing which can by aesthetically pleasing, or group brands or styles together to make it easier for customers to find something specific. Be playful and creative in your window displays too, as these will catch the eyes of passers-by and tempt them to come into your store. For example, you could recreate a scene from a famous movie or TV show. 
Opening your own store is an exciting venture and hopefully you will see nothing but success from the minute you open your doors. Keeping these few things in mind when starting out could be useful in ensuring that success

Way Back Post – Writing in my 2 year old’s voice


Way Back Post – Writing in my 2 year old’s voice

When I had my daughter my son was going on 23 months. My daughter was colic and slept in 1/2 hour clips, and nursed when she wasn’t sleeping or crying and my son had a speech delay which made him prone to tantrums. Life wasn’t easy but I loved them both and writing has always been a great stress reliever for me.
I started a blog for my son called My Life As A Precocious Toddler and wrote in his voice. I found it both fun and therapeutic. Here is the first post ever written as my 2 year old.
Thursday, June 23, 2005
Parents Suck!
Hey, can we talk? I want to discuss my parents.
Dude I know I need them and everything, my being 2 and all but give me a freakin’ break.
Let’s take today for instance. I ask for a crayon. Mom looks at me and says “what?” I mean hello! How else do you say crayon? I try again all the while pointing to the shelf where she keeps the damn colored yum, yum taste so good sticks of wax.
I see a light bulb go off over her head and she hands me a broken piece of putrid green crayon and tells me to get my paper. I scream and slam my hand on the table.
A damn crayon women! She says, “that is all there is” and then I hear that pink bundle of “pain in the ass” start her opera.
My sister came into our home 2 months ago and nothing is right! Mom takes off to pick up the screeching pink bundle and I grab her legs as she tries to pass me. A crayon! Damn am I invisible?
I take the stupid piece of putrid wax that she handed me and reach for the flash cards she took out of the drawer an hour before. She said get paper and this sure looks like paper to me.
She moves the flashcards out from under my crayon and says, “not on those!” What? She didn’t specify what paper I can use. Paper is paper. Damn her, she is always stopping me from doing something I want to do.
While she sits down to place her plump, dripping, flesh pillow into my sister’s mouth I take the crayon and opps miss the little piece of paper she handed me. Wow, the crayon looks really good mixed with the color of the Ottoman. I keep going. Maybe just maybe, Mom and Dad will love my art work. They rave over every stupid mark I make on paper they are going to love this.
I take my time, putting a lot of thought into the amount of strokes, the direction of my lines and the amount of pressure I apply to my art project. I am totally in the zone and the next thing I know my mom is screaming “No!” God how I hate that word.
Ripping the crayon from my clenched fingers and placing me in time out. Huh? She is so ungrateful. That is the last time I try to impress her. As I sit in my time out I contemplate my next art project. I have been checking out the wall next to the TV, I think it could use a few dashes with a key to give it that subtle texture look.

Family Recounts Are Entertaining and Odd


Family Recounts Are Entertaining and Odd

Last night while talking to my dad he mentioned a few things that I want to write down before I forget them.
Oddly enough, at 41 years old, I still learn new things when an elder starts opening up about family.
Here are some brief bullets from lasy night’s call that I hope to build on over the next few weeks.
I learned today that the reason my father and his brother had 5 years between them was because my grandmother had miscarried a baby girl. Ummm, a possible aunt? That would have been nice.
During Air Raid Drills or power outings my father, grandparents and my uncle would pile into “the bathroom with a candle in the sink to wait it out because it was the safest place to burn a candle”.
My grandfather was an air raid officer. I had no idea.
My dad and his family had the first TV on the block because my grandfather built it. This story I had heard before but I didn’t know that he was able to build it because he went to TV and radio school. TV and radio school? What the hell is that? He was a construction dude when I knew him. He helped build the Brooklyn Bridge what happened to his education?
My uncle was born on V-Day in Brooklyn NY. He was what they called a Victory Baby and everyone at the hospital was very excited so much so that someone stole the placenta. Grandma had a vaginal birth but my uncle was born inside the placenta like a calf or a horse. He had to be cut out of it and it came on with a V shape on top. Sounds like some crazy, old Italian malocchia thing. Malocchia by the way was used often in my house whenever someone was ill or if I wanted to get out of school. “I feel over looked.” Don’t ask because I don’t know where that term came from but “over looked” meant someone gave me the malocchia and it was taken very seriously in my home.
Anyway, I digress…as I was saying, my uncle had to be cut out of the placenta like a fowl. The placenta was wrapped around him in the form of a “V”. Ummm, ok…I am just relaying a story here people, these are not my memories. Anyway, when he came out a nurse exclaimed, “we have a victory baby.”
From two accounts of the story, my dad and today my sister who heard from my Grandmother, things are sketchy here. My dad says that my grandmother wanted to keep the placenta to put into a necklace because supposedly she heard this would keep you safe at sea, as if she was boring an ocean liner in the near future! Anyway, when she asked for it she was told that it disappeared and that perhaps one of the nurses had stolen it.
My sister says, my grandmother told her that a nurse had wanted it for a necklace and when she asked for it, she was informed that it was missing.
Weird, either way I say. No?!
I also learned tonight that my dad was an RH factor baby and that when my uncle was born very ill. He was sickly as a child and very blond with blue eyes. My grandmother and my grandfather both have brown hair and brown eyes. The story is that when my grandfather came home from the war, he asked “whose baby is that?”
I am here to say that my cousin’s born from my uncle look like my grandfather, especially the oldest. He is the spitting image. It is actually a bit distrubing considering my history with my grandfather.

Tantrums Are Going to Be The Death Of Me or Him


Tantrums Are Going to Be The Death Of Me or Him

I have been having some trouble again with tantrums only now they are more violent. More on this later.
What is working right now is just being silly. Asking him if he has lost his ears, “Oh my God, did you lose your ears? You can’t hear me? Let’s find them so you can hear me.”
I pick up the imaginary ear off the floor and whisper his name into it.
Then I say, “I’ve got your ear. Do you want it back?”
He says, “Yes”
I then put my hands on the side of his head and ask if he can hear me now and he says, yes.
I ask if he is ready to listen and calm down and usually the answer is yes.
Oh Lord! I need a drink.
It’s working about 65% of the time.
More on this situation to come when I have had some sleep and time to think.

In My 50s And Learning A New Hobby. Thank You Howard Stern

Soooo I have always wanted to know how to sketch, draw, paint, etc. I took a few months of painting classes in my late 20s and loved it. I am so in awe of people who can just create art. They take a pencil to whatever medium they work with and suddenly something that never existed before lives. My daughter's Instagram page is full of her drawings. I follow a billion artists and like all the photos on Instagram scrolling and hearting everything I love so I decided it was time.

This past Christmas while shopping for my daughter's newest sketchbook I grabbed one for myself. Nothing expensive, just something I could draw into and hopefully watch myself progress along the way.

I finally opened the a week ago after listening to Howard Stern who is an amazing artist who was telling someone that a few years ago he couldn't draw a straight line.  Inspired by those words and the thought that I too could eventually learn to draw well started sketching. I told myself that I would do at least 3 sketches a week.

My first sketch:

My second sketch: They are butt ugly but they are mine 

My 3rd Sketch:

A post shared by Maria (@mariasspaceblog) on

So while they aren't anything special, they are my firsts so I am sharing them here.
Do not wait, learn a new skill, do something you have always wanted to do. There is hopefully still time. It is never too late to go for it!

7 + 2 Layer – Oh hell, everyone else did this


7 + 2 Layer – Oh hell, everyone else did this

— Name: Maria
— Birth date: August 1966
— Birthplace: Queens, NY
— Current Location: Upstate, NY
— Eye Color: Hazel/Brown
— Hair Color: Brown
— Height: 4’11 & 1/4″ Yup, I need to include that damn 1/4 inch
— Righty or Lefty: righty, but ambidextrous on some things
— Zodiac Sign: Leo
— Your heritage: Italian American
— The shoes you wore today: None today
— Your weakness: Now why would I devulge that?
— Your fears: The thing in the closet, under the bed, in the shower, spiders, It would be easier to say what I am not afraid of
— Your perfect pizza: It is all in the sauce. Any topping with excellent sauce
— Goal you’d like to achieve: Getting through the day
— Your most overused phrase on AIM: What the hell is AIM?
— Your first waking thoughts: Damn, it’s morning already?
— Your best physical feature: I don’t think I have one these days. I usually got comments on my eyes or my hair
— Your most cherised memory: The days I meet my babies for the first time
— Pepsi or Coke: Neither. If I was going to drink soda it would be Dr. Pepper
— McDonald’s or Burger King: I like Burger King for burgers and McDonald’s for fries
— Single or group dates: Now that I am married I would love a date with my husband.
— Adidas or Nike: Whatever.
— Lipton Ice Tea or Nestea: Neither, but I do love a cup of tea before bed.
— Chocolate or vanilla: Either
— Cappuccino or coffee: (Java of any kind is fine in my book)
— Smoke: Cough! Choke..gross man. I would never smoke.
— Cuss: With total abandon .
— Sing: Yes and sometimes I even sing in key
— Take a shower everyday: Yes! Do you think I would say no to this even if it was true?
— Do you think you’ve been in love: Absolutely
— Want to go to college: Perhaps!
— Liked high school: Ummm. It was ok
— Want to get married: Been there done that. It has it’s moments.
— Believe in yourself: I better, no one else is going to right?!
— Get motion sickness: Nope
— Think you’re attractive: Not anymore but there was a time when I was pretty OK. I didn’t think it then but when I look back now I see it.
— Think you’re a health freak: Oh God no. I would like to be but not enough to do anything about it.
— Get along with your parent(s): Dad is alive. He’s ok!.
— Like thunderstorms: Love em!.
— Play an instrument: I used to play the clarinet, trumpet and bass guitar (oh so many years ago)
LAYER SIX: In the past month…
— Drank alcohol: No
— Smoked: NOPE!
— Done a drug: I got some good ones during my stay at the hospital after giving birth to my daughter.
— Made Out: LOL…HA HA HA!!
— Gone on a date: LOL HA HA HA
— Gone to the mall?: NOPE.
— Eaten an entire box of Oreos?: No but I did in the past eat a whole box of Entemann’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.
— Eaten sushi: No but I have been craving it.
— Been on stage: Not since I was 10.
— Been dumped: Not in the past 18 years.
— Gone skating: Ice or Roller? Not in the past 12 years
— Made homemade cookies:
— Gone skinny dipping: Not in the past 11 years
— Dyed your hair:
— Stolen Anything: When I was a little kid, I stole an Archie comic, felt guilty and brought it back.
— Played a game that required removal of clothing: If I did I don’t recall – doubt it
— If so, was it mixed company: refer to above.
— Been trashed or extremely intoxicated: YES. Once and never again
— Been caught “doing something”: if you mean “having sex”– yes.
— Been called a tease: Yeah by some drunk when I was bartending.
— Gotten beaten up: No but some chicks wanted to beat me up as a kid and my sister took care of it.
— Shoplifted: Nope, Wait..nope!
— Changed who you were to fit in: I don’t think I ever did this intentionally (perhaps as a child).
— Age you hope to be married: I was 31.
— Numbers and Names of Children: 5 year old (son) 3 year old (girl)
— Describe your Dream Wedding: It was a back yard barbecue, at my grandparents house, at the church where my mom is buried. I didn’t get it though I gave my mother-in-law the wedding she wanted
— How do you want to die: Well seeing as though I don’t have a choice I just hope it is peaceful
— Where you want to go to college: I went to Staten Island Community College and Bloomfied College.
— What do you want to be when you grow up: When I was a child I wanted to be a jockey, a vet, a doctor, a nurse now I just want to be a good, decent person
— What country would you most like to visit: I would like to travel the good ole USA. Thank you very much! I am keeping my dollars here!
— Number of drugs taken illegally: A Big fat Zero.
— Number of people I could trust with my life: Perhaps 3.
— Number of CDs that I own: I used to know this. I would guess about 1,200
— Number of piercings: 2 that I use now
— Number of tattoos: None.
— Number of times my name has appeared in the newspaper?: I don’t think it has. Oh wait…two times..when I was …6 our dog had 12 puppies the paper came over. When I was 12 and my mom passed, the obit had our name.
— Number of scars on my body: Too many to count. The one I am most proud of. The entry to the world for my babies
— Number of things in my past that I regret: I try to never regret anything but I could probably count 3 things that I would like to forget

Product Review Prima Princessa - My Little Ballerina


I was very fortunate to have been able to review, a wonderfully crafted DVD by two amazing moms from my old home state, New Jersey.
This DVD is just what this mom ordered. I took ballet as a child and have been recently trying to plant the dance bug in my 3 year old daughter’s ear. You can only give her so many tutu’s and princess things while asking “do you want to take ballet this year?”
Prima Princessa Presents Swan Lake features a cartoon ballerina who narrates Swan Lake for us. Swan Lake, being performed by the Paris Opera Ballet is beautifully done. In between acts, we are treated to various ballet steps all set to a montage of toys, animals, children and young dancers for the viewer to learn. My daughter particularly loved the segments of little girls running around and laughing in their tutus. This 40 minute DVD has enough to keep the preschool age child all the way up to Grandma’s age interested.
I organized a play date with my girlfriend so that my 3 year old could watch it with a friend (a 9 year old dancer student). The plan was to have the girls watch the movie while we continued our own play date over at the dining room table with coffee and our laptops. We started the tape and were completely sucked in. So much so that we took our respective places next to our daughters and watched the whole movie with them.

While the movie was playing I heard my girlfriend’s daughter tell her mom that she wants to stay in ballet (she had been thinking of dropping it because she doesn’t love her teacher). BTW…I really wish someone had been able to take a picture of the 4 of us lying on the floor, taking up the whole little room, mesmerized by the movie.
I love how the girls watched the movie, laying down listening to every part of it. I had originally thought that they would be dancing the whole time. Afterwards, they put on tutu’s and danced around the room, hallway, kitchen and dining room.
This is a great way to introduce dance to your little one or to reinforce someone’s love for dance.

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