Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Not Easy Being Green

Truffala Trees from Dr. Seuss' The Lorax
Happy Earth Day! If you've spent any time online today, you're sure to notice all of the Earth Day related promotions. Yes, you can get a free cup of coffee or tea today at Starbucks if you bring in a reusable mug.

These sales (25% off Tarte Cosmetics w/ code EARTHDAY2011, 20% off all organic bedding at West Elm, $5 off all green products from Diapers.com) while encouraging purchase of green products, still encourage ACCUMULATION OF STUFF.

Wouldn't the greenest way to celebrate Earth Day be a day of not buying anything. I know, that would be a nightmare for our economy. I'm just sayin'. And I'm not judging. Not at all.

I feel like an evil environmental home wrecker given that we use disposable diapers. They NEVER decompose. Ever. We have our reasons for why we use them. We share a washer and dryer with our neighbors and can't guarantee that the "bad" detergent wouldn't get into cloth diapers. We also pay for the laundry at $1.00 a load and would be spending way more to do cloth diapers. So we use disposable.

I keep thinking about my grandma who reused paper towels. She would use a paper towel and then dry it out on the counter. And use it again. She did this not because the Earth wanted her to, but because it saved money. We still buy paper towels. Why? I don't know. No reason. Because. Habit. We have these reusable rags that work wonderfully for drying dishes, counter tops, hands, picking up spills, etc. Why not just use these?

I googled "Reuse paper towels" and came across a very interesting blog post about a movement against paper towels and the environmental implications about the proposed solution-- Are Reusable "Paper" Towels the Next Eco-Conundrum? 

In the war against paper towels, Inhabitat has teamed up with PeopleTowels to create an alternative reusable hand towel. The idea is that we would carry our own hand towel around with us through life so we'd never have to reach for a paper towel in a public bathroom or anywhere else. Isn't that what hand dryers are for? But I digress. These PeopleTowels would be, essentially like hankies. Or reusable bags.

Now, this blog post actually evaluates the benefits of we humans carrying around our own personal hand towels. And makes a really valid point:

"As I was reading about the campaign, I couldn’t help but wonder if these reusable towels will just be another reusable bag. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against reusable bags, in fact I have them in every color. While they have positive environmental impacts, their numbers are becoming a problem. People are drawn to trends and, even more so, reusable trends.  Such high demand for reusable bags led to an increase in the import of these products. According to United States International Trade Commission, over three billion reusable bags have been imported into the United States since 1999, mainly from China, and chances are a number of underlying environmental attributes in the import and distribution process of these bags have not been accounted for."

It's not easy to get around this is it? I mean, we try to be "good." To treat each other and the Earth well. We use our reusable bags and Sigg bottles. We don't buy bottled water anymore. But now companies are making and importing reusable bags and bottles thus increasing the carbon footprint, and therfore undermining our motivation for buying these things in the first place.

So how much actually makes a difference? 

Okay, this is beginning to get a little depressing. Let's lighten the mood. As this post emphasizes... the important thing is to REDUCE first.... and then REUSE.

We can do that, right? I mean, Bob and I have been reducing for the last two years. Let's be honest, monetary motivation is the best. I mean, we were forced to reduce. And in the process we saw the many benefits. They go beyond the wallet. Way beyond!

As new parents we have every opportunity to go off the deep end in terms of accumulation. BUT... 98% of Malcolm's clothes come from hand-me-downs or thrift stores/ resale shops. I highly recommend always checking your thrift store, resale shop, Freecycle or Craigslist before buying anything for a baby new. There are scores to be had. And isn't this a wonderful way to be green?

I believe so, yes. And there are so many people out there that feel that way. There are people out there really making a difference for the earth.

Bob and I met a remarkable 88-year-old woman at the dog park in Friday Harbor who won San Juan Islands' Citizen of the Year in 2009 for getting Styrofoam banned from the islands. Her name is Doris Estabrooks. She really struck a chord with us because at 88 she made a difference. She is one of those people fighting for the earth and is a wonderful example and role model. Thank you, Doris!

As for me... what do I promise for Earth Day? I promise to stop using paper towels in my home. From this moment forward. And maybe I'll start carrying around my own personal hand towel. I carry around a spit cloth for Malcolm. So, why not?

And lastly, I will keep distinguishing between WANT & NEED in an effort to continue to REDUCE, REDUCE, REDUCE.

What about you?

Happy Earth Day, everyone! I hope you take some time to appreciate the earth today. Even if it's to just notice the smell of the rain and enjoy the pitter pat of the raindrops on the roof (yep, it's raining in Chicago.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A LITTOF Reader's Country Estate For Sale

Ever dream about owning a country estate?

Ever dream about owning a country estate and still being close enough to a large metropolitan area?

Ever dream about owning a country estate and still being close enough to a large metropolitan area and not having to pay a fortune for said property?

Well, have I got the place for you.

But first, a little background...

On March 15th I wrote about Trish- a LITTOF reader who was being subjected to Wells Fargo's intimidation tactics. Remember?

If you need a little refresher, here's the post:
Imagine This Foreclosure Story



Anyway, the property that Trish is trying to save from foreclosure is a country estate that is only 40 miles south of Chicago.

I received an e-mail from her with a link to the property she and her husband have been trying to save and I just had to share it with all of you.

But before I do that, here's the update on Trish's foreclosure story...


First the bad news: her husband was just laid off and she has been in and out of the hospital with a blood clot. (Get better, Trish!) Wells Fargo says they won't do a short sale so Trish has an attorney trying to put together a deed in lieu of foreclosure.


Now the good news: There is a bright spot. Trish teaches piano in her home and the other day one of her student's parents expressed an interest in purchasing her country estate at asking price!

They said they've always wanted to renovate an old barn. (That's always been one of my dreams too. One of my good friends from high school grew up in a renovated barn and it was to die for!) And they loved Trish's house. So... fingers crossed that it all comes together. According to the bank and Trish's attorney, if these people decide to purchase the property, they could close within a month and avoid foreclosure altogether. I'm rooting for that to happen.



And some poignant insight into what it's like to fight foreclosure in Trish's words:

"Spring has sprung here at the farm -- and I think that's what's bringing on the tears. No, not from allergies....but from seeing the beauty that surrounds this place in the spring and summer.  
I just don't understand how or why the emotion changes from day to day.  Usually, I can make a decision and march forward......but this house thing....ugh....one day I can pack like a Vanguard mover, and the next day I'm groveling between bubble wrap and my kleenex box....it's such a merry-go-round! ('cept it ain't very merry...) 
Well, I'm going to be a big girl now and go call WF....and then probably call the foreclosure atty...because that's the grown-up thing to do.
Will keep you posted :-)" 



Just in case any LITTOF readers out there have been harboring barn-renovating/country estate owning/horse farm fantasies of their own, here's the link to Trish's Country Estate in Manhattan, IL: 


And here are just a few seriously juicy details about the property:

One-of-a-kind 4 bdrm, 2 bath farmhouse with sun-filled, all-season, enclosed wrap-around porch. 
Over 5 acres of serenity and privacy, adjacent to riding trails.

Two livestock/hay barns, one huge pole barn and a grain silo.

Conveniently located between I-55 and I-57, near I-80. Manhattan Metra station less than 10 min. away.

Hardwood floors, 9 ft. ceilings, generator, above-ground pool, 2 car garage, full unfinished basement with shower/sink, laundry, separate outside entrance. Massive walk-up attic with high ceilings would make a perfect master bedroom suite. 
Low taxes, great for large family or related-living, hunting, gardening, ATV-ing, horses, alpacas, LOTS of room to roam!
Adjacent to Will County Forest Preserve and Riding Trails. No need to trailer your horse anywhere! Just saddle up and ride some of the most beautiful, well-maintained trails you've ever seen!

Asking price: $259, 000


It breaks my heart that Trish and her husband have to let such a wonderful property go. So hopefully they'll be able to sell it to someone who loves it as much as they have.

Good luck, Trish! We're rooting for you!

Monday, April 18, 2011

How to Spring Clean Your Soul

You know how to spring clean your home. And if you don't, Martha Stewart is happy to tell you. But do you know how to spring clean your soul?
Yes, your soul.


Consider this: If it's so important to dust your light bulbs and switch the direction of your ceiling fan, isn't it even more important to cleanse your soul of all that makes it hard to breathe? I say, yes. Yes it is!


Taking cues from Martha Stewart and Reader's Digest Spring Cleaning tips, here are my top 5 ways to Spring Clean Your Soul:


1. Clean your windows/ view of the world
Martha Stewart recommends that we clean our windows with a rubber-edged squeegee because it is quicker and more effective than cloth or newspaper. Totally valid. In the soul-cleaning business, I recommend that you squeegee your view of life. Whatever is fogging up your view of the world, life, your future... needs to go. Throughout the year, small particles of gunk clog up your "windows" which wind up limiting your view. And if you can't see all that beauty out there in the world every day, how are you going to enjoy it? Say goodbye to the gunk and wipe it away with a swift swipe of the squeegee. And enjoy the new view.


2. Stock your stain fighting kit
Martha suggests that as part of our spring cleaning ritual, we stock our stain fighting kit. Because Martha knows that even if you're Martha Stewart, stains happen. And it's how you respond that matters. Stains are also that much more devastating if not responded to immediately. This is why stocking your stain fighting kit in advance is important. So you're prepared. Life doesn't always go your way. So when a stain has got you down or curled up in the fetal position, what will you pull out of your stain fighting kit?


A walk in the park? Laughing with your baby? A phone call with a good friend who always puts you in a better mood? Baking chocolate chip cookies and then eating them with a loved one and a glass of milk or red wine? A run by the lake? A pedicure? Buying a new shade of lipstick? Rough-housing with your dog? Watching a cheesy movie?


Here's my advice:
1. Know what lifts you out of the doldrums and put that in your "Stain Fighting Kit"
2. Share that with the person closest to you
3. Ask them to remind you of your stain fighting solutions when you're in the midst of fighting a stain and unable to remember them yourself because all you want to do is curl up on the couch and feel sorry for yourself. (happens to the best of us)




3.Update your bed linens/ internal conversations
Martha also recommends that we update our bed linens. Instead of bed linens (or in addition if you're so inclined) I recommend you update your internal conversations. Or... the negative things you regularly tell yourself. Just as sleeping on the same bed sheets for too long can bring down your entire bedroom, repeating the same tired conversations to yourself over and over and over can and will bring down your entire being. Especially when those things you regularly tell yourself are of the negative variety. Such as...
"I'll never have a successful writing career."
"I can't do anything right."
"I'm a disorganized mess."
"I hate my stupid hair."
"I wish I were younger."


Blah! Just writing them makes me want to throw a bucket of cold water over my head with the hopes that it will seep in and wash these thoughts out of my nasty little brain for good.


It's time for new "bed linens" for my soul. Time to re-write that internal script.


Here's my new script:
"I have everything I could ever want or need."
"How can I be of service to others?"
"Everything is perfect the way that it is and the way that it isn't."
"I love life!"
(Feel free to steal.)


4. Make doormats welcoming/ Make YOU welcoming
Reader's Digest suggests that we make our doormats welcoming. So how does that translate to this business of Spring Cleaning Your Soul? Easily. In one word: Smile.


Make YOU Welcoming. Smile at others, smile at no one in particular. Just smile. As Buddy the Elf might say, make smiling your new favorite. And if you don't want to smile because you're afraid you'll look like an idiot, then at the very least stop frowning


Notice your face. What is it's default position? A scowl? A frown? Is it pained? Tired? Longing? Confused? We all have a default expression. Don't believe me? All you have to do is watch the sea of faces in a morning commute. Most of them do not look happy to be going to work. 


And what's the problem with that? What if you're not happy to go to work? Well, then fake it till you make it. 


And why do we always need a reason to be happy, anyway? Just be happy for happy sake. It's amazing what it will do for your soul. And the well-being of those around you! So smile, for goodness sake. Show those pearly whites. Reveal those dimples. Smile from your soul. From deep inside. Smile through your eyes and welcome life with every interaction.


5. Declutter... your brain
We all know the benefits of decluttering our homes, don't we? I'm a big believer in less is more when it comes to stuff in our homes. Especially with everything we've gone through in the last couple of years. It certainly makes moving easier. And breathing. I always sleep better at night after a solid act of decluttering.


Clutter, unfortunately, is a part of life. And it isn't limited to the physical realm. I'm talking about mind clutter. 


It's the noise in our heads. Often it seems like there is so much going on in my mind that it's impossible to find my way to a coherent thought. This has definitely been the case since I've been a mom. Mom brain. Things have gotten really loud up there and I for one could use some decluttering. Some quiet. And some room.


So, how? 


Well, I'm thinking that going on an electronic fast would help. Even if only for a day. I'm going to try that one. I could definitely spend less time on Facebook and more time journaling. 


Speaking of journaling... it's a great way to declutter the mind because you're essentially extracting those thoughts and putting them on paper where they won't take up valuable storage space in your brain. Ever read Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way? Morning pages. 

"Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages-- they are not high art. They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind-- and they are for your eyes only."
When I've done Morning Pages I have found that afterwards, my mind is quieter. It's more peaceful and more open to creative thought. That stream of consciousness writing leaves me focused and clear minded. It's really an amazing exercise that I get value out of every time I do it. It dramatically improves my quality of life. 
Which begs the question: Why the heck don't I do it every day?! Ah... another thought that only leads to me invalidating myself. I think I'll stop it before it spins out of control.
Leo Babuta of Zen Habits also has some really brilliant tips on how to Declutter your mind in his post "15 Can't-Miss Ways to Declutter Your Mind." Leo offers tips like: Get in touch with nature, Do Less and Let Go. Getting in touch with nature really works for me. Especially if I leave my iPhone at home. 
Though we're no longer living on a beautiful island surrounded by nature, there are plenty of opportunities to connect with the natural environment in Chicago. And luckily Malcolm likes his stroller. Because when things get too loud in my head, the best remedy is a long walk outside or run. We're both happier at the end.

So, LITTOF readers... Do you have any other tips on how to Spring Clean Your Soul? If so, please share! (Thank you)





Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The dangerous pursuit of happiness

Bob once said this:

"Our country is dedicated to the 'Pursuit of Happiness.' The problem with that is that if we're constantly pursuing happiness... we're never actually happy. It's always in front of us. We should be dedicated instead to Happiness. Or just being happy."

Wise words, no? (I love that man) I believe that is a HUGE distinction. Pursuing happiness is plain dangerous to one's mental state. And perhaps the explanation to why life can feel like one big treadmill. The carrot in front of us is our happiness. Taunting us:

Ha ha. You'll never catch me! Feel free to pursue me until your legs fall off. But you'll never catch me!
 So what do we do about it?

Well, I have a lot of thoughts on the subject. Many of those I shared in a post titled "How to be happy. Now." I wrote that in the midst of fighting foreclosure. In the face of lots of stress I was committed to happiness. No matter what. In the moment. That's key. Not when we're out of this foreclosure mess, but now.

Get in action
I also believe that being in action helps. Ever notice how when you're super busy doing something that inspires you, you're not sitting around wondering whether or not you're happy? Yeah. I like how that works.

Bob turned me on to this reality show called Shark Tank. On the show, inventors and business people have the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a group of "Sharks" or investors who may or may not choose to become an angel investor. On the surface it doesn't sound very interesting.

It's the people and their stories that make it worth watching. One story in particular really inspired me.

The Mod Mom
Kiersten Hathcock of Mod Mom Furniture describes herself like this:

I'm an ex-marketing exec mom turned freelancer turned web designer turned nanny turned furniture designer and builder. I opted for the straight and narrow career path as you can see. :)

As she said on The Shark Tank, she left her job to stay at home with her kids and then her husband lost his job. So she taught herself carpentry and began a furniture company to support her family.

It all began with a toy box. Apparently they were looking to buy one but couldn't find any they liked, so she decided to learn how to make her own and the business grew from there. She now can't keep up with the demand as she can only physically make three toy boxes herself in one week.
The Noah Owl Box from Mod Mom Furniture

I love this story because it illustrates how resilient people can be. So often it's not until our backs are up against the wall that we really get creative. Opportunity exists even in the most dire times. But it's not going to just fall into your lap. You have to get in action.

Many times I've said to Bob, "I wish I could make furniture." Well, I'm not going to just wake up one morning suddenly able to wield a jigsaw with the grace of a seasoned carpenter. But there's no reason why I can't teach myself like Kiersten did. Sometimes I just really want that overnight thing to really happen. You know? But it won't. It never will.

By the way, I really love that toy box.

How to Steal like an Artist
Have you seen this? It's a blog post by an artist named Austin Kleon that's been making the rounds on Facebook. As Austin describes it, it's a simple list of ten things he wishes he'd heard when he was in college. And it's great. I wish I'd heard these things earlier as well.

But given the fact that I thought I had it all figured out back then I probably wouldn't have really listened anyway. Now that I know that I have no idea what I'm doing, I'm a much better student.

I found the list to be inspirational and a good reminder for the best route to happiness in life.

Here's an excerpt:

5. Side projects and hobbies are important.

Speaking of play — one thing I’ve learned in my brief tenure as an artist: it’s the side projects that blow up.
By side projects I mean the stuff that you thought was just messing around. Stuff that’s just play. That’s actually the good stuff. That’s when the magic happens.

Magic happens when you're not trying to force it to happen. When you're just playing. When you're being self-expressed, living in the moment and trying something with no particular agenda. Experimentation for the sake of experimentation. Losing yourself in the moment.  Not only is that where the magic happens. It's also where the happiness lives.

I highly recommend you read Austin's entire post.
Then come back here and tell me what you thought of it.

So, those are my thoughts on happiness for the day. My greatest reminder is Malcolm. He's happiness personified. Already a little more than 8 months old. Already crawling and pulling himself up to standing. That's all he wants to do all day long. Pull himself up to standing. That and put things in his mouth.

When I'm laughing with Malcolm for absolutely no reason, I am happy. I'm not pursuing happiness. I'm being happy. Automatically. And without thinking about it.


Worth noting: Malcolm has a huge smile on his face right now. Know why? He just pooped.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Foreclosure Fraud: Did the bank lose your paperwork?

This is not a feel good blog post.
This post is very likely to make your blood boil.
To twist your stomach into knots.
At the heart of this post is outrage and disgust.

Here we go...

On Sunday night, 60 Minutes featured an incredible story about the foreclosure crisis that brings this entire disaster to an all new low. 

And it's all about the paperwork.

Remember all that paperwork you signed when you bought your house? Oh, the paperwork. Pages and pages of paperwork. Of course you remember the paperwork!

Well, according to the 60 Minutes story, it's very possible that your bank doesn't remember it. That they might have "lost" it. But not really. They say "lost" but what they mean is that they never actually bothered with it when your loan was bundled and sold. Why? Because all of that paperwork would just slow down profits.

This might seem like a small point. But it's not. Without that paperwork, the bank cannot prove ownership of your mortgage. And if the bank can't prove who owns your mortgage, then they have no legal right to foreclosure.


Here's an excerpt from the 60 Minutes story reported by Scott Pelley that explains:
Scott Pelley explains a bizarre aftershock of the U.S. financial collapse: An epidemic of forged and missing mortgage documents.


It's bizarre but, it turns out, Wall Street cut corners when it created those mortgage-backed investments that triggered the financial collapse. Now that banks want to evict people, they're unwinding these exotic investments to find, that often, the legal documents behind the mortgages aren't there.
Caught in a jam of their own making, some companies appear to be resorting to forgery and phony paperwork to throw people - down on their luck - out of their homes.
So, the banks can't find the mortgage paperwork so they create phony paperwork. Forgeries. Can you imagine? This is real. This actually happened.

You've got to watch the entire segment. It's truly unbelievable.

Bravo to Scott Pelley and 60 Minutes for breaking this story wide open.

But the real props go to Lynn Szymoniak. She is the source for this story and the woman who discovered the forged documents while fighting to save her own home from foreclosure. When Szymoniak was told that the bank had lost her documents only to miraculously find them a year later, she got suspicious. And as a lawyer and fraud specialist focusing on forgeries, she uncovered this conspiracy.

This is truly a mess. No. A disgrace. I think back to when Bob and I were trying to modify our loan and were required to provide the bank with endless streams of paperwork. Over and over again. The banks required that the paperwork be perfect. They would lose it. We'd send it again. They were allowed to make mistakes, we were not.

This brings it all to a whole new level. It's unacceptable. Period.

And the banks shouldn't be allowed to get away with forgery, simply by claiming ignorance.

By the way, banks that participated in creating false documents to replace "lost" paperwork include:

Wells Fargo
Bank of America
HSBC
Deutsche Bank
Citibank
US Bank

They all outsourced their forgery to a company called Docx. Well, not directly. They claim that their mortgage servicing firms are the ones that are responsible for hiring Docx to create the phony documents and that they had no knowledge of any forgeries taking place.

Do you buy that?
That the banks had no idea this was happening? I don't. Not for a second.
And I'm tired of this argument. Of course they knew. And they should take full responsibility.
How many down-on-their-luck homeowners have to pay for this nightmare?

People in foreclosure are already living their nightmares and now this?

How do you know if your mortgage paperwork was "lost"? 
Well, if your mortgage was bundled and sold at the height of the real estate peak, then it's very possible that your paperwork was forged along the way. So, you'll want to request your paperwork from the bank. And then look it over closely. Look at the date of assignment of mortgage. Look at the signature. If it's signed by "Linda Green" then it's been forged.

Who is Linda Green?
I'll let 60 Minutes explain:

One of the strangest signatures belonged to the bank vice president who had signed Szymoniak's newly discovered mortgage documents. The name is Linda Green. But, on thousands of other mortgages, the style of Green's signature changed a lot.


And, even more remarkable, Szymoniak found Green was vice president of 20 banks - all at the same time.


Where did all those documents come from? We went searching for "the" Linda Green and found her in rural Georgia. She told us she has never been a bank vice president.


In 2003, she was a shipping clerk for auto parts when her grandson told her about a job at a company called Docx. The company, that was once housed in Alpharetta, Ga., was a sweatshop for forged mortgage documents.


"They were sitting in a room signing their name as fast as they possibly could to any kind of nonsense document that was put in front of them," Szymoniak said.

I urge any homeowner (whether in foreclosure or not) to request your documents to see if your mortgage might have been a part of this mess. It's best to know now in case, God forbid, you might end up in foreclosure down the road.

And everyone should watch the 60 Minutes segment. Today.



Or you can read the text: Mortgage Paperwork Mess: Next Housing Shock?

What do you think of all of this? Have you been told by your bank that your paperwork has been lost? Any lawyers out there reading this? What say you?

Monday, April 4, 2011

The new logo: red and turquoise love

Why, yes. I did get a makeover. Thank you for noticing. I just felt it was time. My old look began to feel, well, old. And kind of drab. Unpolished. In need of professional assistance. 

how it went down...

I'm reading a new post on Baby By the Sea and am blown away by the blog's new look. I'm immediately struck by blog envy. Check out that logo. I love it. It's fab. Fabuloso. I want a new logo. I want my blog to look that amazing.

So I ask Baby By the Sea’s Jennifer Furber who created her inspiring new logo. The response comes of no surprise. Sara Jensen. Sara Jensen of Friday Harbor. Sara Jensen of Lost Bird FoundOf course Sara is behind Baby By the Sea’s fabuloso new look. 

the back story
Sara and I met last year via Twitter. Out of the blue I received a tweet that went something like this: 
"I think we live on the same island."


And she was right. We did. We began a Twitter friendship. I followed her. She followed me. You know how it goes. But it took us forever to meet for real... which you wouldn't think would be so hard living on a small island with not even one stop light. 

We were both surprised we hadn't crossed paths in real life. Only on Twitter. Until the day I walked into her office and introduced myself. I was 35 weeks pregnant at the time.

We didn't really hang until after Malcolm was born and we went to her husband Thor's birthday party on South Beach. We ate delicious Korean BBQ short ribs (one of my favorite dishes) and hung out on the wind-whipped, beautiful stretch of driftwood blanketed beach that is South Beach on San Juan Island. 

Malcolm happened to be only 13 days old. He spent the entire party sleeping in the Moby wrapped tightly to my body while we whale watched and hung out with other Islander parents of young children. The kids were climbing all over the driftwood like little monkeys and building driftwood forts. I honestly don’t remember much of what was said at that party. I was a little sleep deprived at the time. But… I remember thinking: Sara Jensen is way cool. I’m glad we met.
 
We had only just begun to know each other when Bob and I broke the news that we were leaving the island. Returning to Chicago. The island is small, but it’s full of amazing people. Sara is one of them. So hiring her to create a new look for LITTOF was really a no-brainer.

And I LOVE what she did. The blog looks much happier to me now. 

It was Sara’s idea to use the logo to tell a story. And I think it's brilliant. It actually tells our story. 

Here it is in a grey and red version:

We’ll be making a few more tweaks to the blog to make it look even better. Spiffy-ing things up.

Well? What do you think of LITOF's new look?
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