The Joy of Less – Book Review

by Jamie Sanford on August 19, 2013

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So, I might be a little bit of a hoarder. Just a little.

Actually, I heard Matt Paxton (of Hoarders fame) say on his podcast 5 Decisions Away, that most of us are a level 1-2 hoarder, so that made me feel a lot better. I also have watched many episodes of Clean House, which is like porn for anyone who wants their house to be free of all extraneous things. People who want surfaces that are just clear and ready for activities at a moment’s notice.

I definitely do not have emotional attachment to things like the people that you see on Hoarders (unless you count yin/yang jewelry from the 90s), and I’m also in no way walking through hallways made of trash – but I do have too many things in my closet, I probably have too many shoes that I never wear, etc. I started cruising around on Amazon for help, and I came across a book called The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life, by Francine Jay.

Am I ever going to be a minimalist? Not even a little. However, this book is an amazing boost to helping you start tackling projects. After reading this book, I did the first big project and tackled my own closet. I had a LOT of stuff in there that I didn’t need, but had purchased and not really worn and felt guilty about it. The Joy of Less REALLY helped me to see things for what they are, just things. I can’t get the money back, so I might as well as least free up the space. I took a ton of stuff to consignment about a year ago, all from that closet clean-out. I did try to do it again more recently, but with less luck.

Side note: My closet isn’t a walk-in and I have the worst shoe storage ever. It’s intensely frustrating, and I end up wearing the same shoes all the time because they aren’t available to be displayed in a way that would make it easy to wear them a lot. When I cleaned out the closet and went through shoes, I didn’t part with very much because I like those shoes, and they fit, but I don’t see them and then I don’t wear them. I will have a big fabulous set of shoe shelves one day.

For the most part, I am not following The Joy of Less as a set of hard-and-fast rules, but more a guideline and motivator for starting the process of decluttering my home. If you’re in need of a starting point, this is a good book to check out.

I would love to hear about your decluttering resources in the comments!

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Brian J. Orlowski: The Interview

by Jamie Sanford on June 3, 2012

My third interview for the blog, and the only one left that is ready for primetime. I will have to send out more questions soon to new subjects. Brian J. Orlowski and I worked together in cubicle land for a few years before I moved on to greener pastures in the land of consumer retail. Our time working together included subtle wars with lobbed rubber bands and a dry-erase board covered in random miscellany that came up in conversation. I wish I knew where the photo of that board was now, because it was amazing. I learned that it is quite fun to share time with someone who has wonderful artistic ability.

Not such a good picture of the “Web Task Force” logo designed by Brian.

I had already been exposed to Brian’s cartooning on Drawn of the Dead, but I was really pleasantly surprised when I found out that Brian’s cartoon, Strange Guts, was being published as a collection in book form. Naturally I bought a copy of Strange Guts: American Septic. Which is available on Amazon for $14.99, and well worth every penny.

Since I haven’t had any friends write a book before, Brian was a natural for the interview series. I actually sent his questions first! Here we go.

When did you first start drawing/figuring out you had some talent in this arena?

I was pretty much born drawing. I’ve been fortunate enough that it was something that I never had to work very hard at. I was considered an artistic prodigy at a very early age. And I said “artistic”, not “autistic.” And I’ve spent most of my life attempting to disprove the whole prodigy thing. I won art awards pretty much since kindergarten, so there really wasn’t much discussion as to what I would be doing when I grew up. I’m still waiting for that “growing up” to happen.

How quickly did your drawings take a turn toward the twisted side?

Again, that was pretty early on. I was always funny and warped. My father introduced me to horror movies when I was really young, probably about 8. And by introduced, I mean he pretty much forced me to sit and watch these movies that scared the crap out of me. The first movies I remember watching with him were The Blob (with Steve McQueen), Attack of the Crab Monsters, The Green Slime, and of course all the classic Universal movies, Frankenstein, Dracula, etc. He wouldn’t let me hide my eyes when the scary scenes came up. “C’mon, don’t be a baby,” he would say, half-kidding.

What’s your day job?

I am a graphic artist and web content developer by day, mutant samurai-zombie cartoonist by night. The day job is good; it pays the bills and keeps me interacting with humans, which I guess is good. It can be very stressful though but what day job isn’t?

Here's Brian making nice with my boy Tiny Edward.

Do you do work (other than that for yourself) outside of your day job?

I do a great deal of freelance cartooning for a variety of publications and sites. I also get to do some really cool movie posters, DVD art, CD art and other things. I’m available for anything as long as it pays.

Tweet challenge! Describe your book, Strange Guts, in 140 characters or less.

The Far Side meets The Evil Dead. Ha! 32 characters. I rule. Here’s the 140 character version: Strange Guts: American Septic is the mutant offspring of Walt Disney & Stephen King – Gory, funny, and goofy cartoons for the whole family.

How did you get a book deal?

The publisher found about 10 of my Strange Guts cartoons posted online and fell in love with them. He contacted me and asked if I could create enough for a book. Of course I said yes. I had about 50 done at the time, created throughout an entire decade. So I created another 52 to finish the book.

What’s your favorite website?

For horror news you can’t beat Dread Central or Bloody Disgusting. Those guys are the best. They have some really great reviews/reviewers and up-to-date news. I also dig the JoBlo network of sites like ArrowInTheHead, Geekologie, The Chive, all good stuff. Any other site I consider I have in my favorites can’t be discussed in this family-friendly environment.

What celebrities did you have crushes on in high school?

When I was a kid it was all about Mae West and the first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. No, just kidding. I’m not that old. I was a product of the 80’s. Who didn’t have a crush on Leah Thompson in Back to the Future? Or Kelly LeBrock in Weird Science (nothing was hotter than her!). Catherine Mary Stewart. Janet Jones. Fantastic chippies from back in the day.

What’s next for you? More books?

Yup, a few actually. I have a novel coming out in a few months. NOT horror, big surprise. It’s sort of a parody of The Da Vinci Code. It’s a frenetic, wacky, historical adventure about secret societies, ancient paintings, symbolism, the number 12, and Scientology. In the book I prove there is a connection between aliens and the Bible and the recipe for KFC. It holds no punches in its humor. It spoofs Tom Cruise and John Travolta and paints them as killers for hire.

After that I have a children’s book, entitled Odd Bird. I didn’t write it but did the illustrations for it. It was a fun break from my normal dark work.

And then I have another novel later this year. Can’t reveal much though. But I can say it’s a tween book. And like every other series that has come out, I’m saying it’s the next Harry Potter. Consider that a quote.

How can everyone connect with you online?

My main website is You can see some of my artwork there. Or email me at Twitter is @drawnofthedead. Facebook is or Or hand me food when you pass me in the Hoboken Path station where I panhandle to make a living.

Thanks Brian! Let’s go for drinks soon.

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The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide

by Jamie Sanford on May 17, 2011

The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide is now available after a very long wait by Twilight fans around the world.

As many of you know, I am into Twilight.  Even though after being exposed to some Twilight fan fiction, I think I might like that better.

I picked up Twilight after seeing the trailer for the movie and thinking that Robert Pattinson was hot.  I had previously been a Buffy/Angel watcher and so enjoyed some vampires, so it was a natural progression.  I bought a cheap paperback copy of Twilight and started reading.  About a day later, I was completely sucked into the vortex that so many have fallen into as well.  I was out buying New Moon almost immediately, only to then find out that Eclipse and Breaking Dawn were only in hardcover! Luckily, my husband indulged me and bought me the Twilight box set containing all of the books.  I plowed through the rest quickly, only stopping to occasionally sleep, go to work, and text my friend Christina about how I felt about the major plot points.

Anyway, this Twilight Official Guide was already in the works before the first movie even came out.  However, it got pushed back and pushed back and I guess it is OK.  This book is packed full of information about all of the major characters in the series, it has a plot synopsis, illustrations from the artist who did the Twilight graphic novel, etc.  With another 6 months to wait before Breaking Dawn: Part 1, The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide will keep a fan busy for at least a few days.

The Twilight Saga: The Official Illustrated Guide is available from Amazon for $13.88.

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My Holiday Wishlist: Misty from Handbags & Handguns

by Jamie Sanford on December 8, 2010

Hi, I’m Misty from Handbags and Handguns, but my blog followers know me as hotpantsâ„¢. A little bit about me… I’m a firefighter wife, mom to two and work full-time in mortgage. I love celebrities, vampires and shiny gadgets. But most of all, I love Christmas. I love giving more than receiving, but today it’s all about me. Here’s a few things that I would love to receive this holiday season.

Up first, we have these Bizzybee boots from Nine West. I always keep a pair of boots like these in my closet. This year, it’s time for a new pair. I tend to stick to Nine West boots because I know they fit and last several years.

I already have a Nook, but it’s not in color. I obviously need the newest and coolest eReader out there, right? Right.

I tend to want a new fragrance every year. After smelling Kim Kardashian’s perfume my sister-in-law got for her birthday, I’ve been anxious to add this scent to my collection. It smells so good!

I blame Oprah for wanting the next item. I’ve been lusting after these Tory Burch flannel flats ever since she had them on her ‘favorite things’ show. They’re a little out of my price range, but it doesn’t make me want them any less.

Lastly, we have my favorite dress pants from Victoria’s Secret. VS offers dress pants in various fits for every body type. My personal favorite are their Christie fit pants. I have them in several colors and add 1 or 2 pairs to my wardrobe every year.

Since I’ve been good, hopefully Santa will be good to me.

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My Holiday Wishlist: Kelly Kreth, The Final Chapter

by Jamie Sanford on December 6, 2010

Striped and Fabulous.

Kelly Kreth

(Today’s guest post was contributed by Kelly Kreth. I “met” Kelly online around 10 years ago, and since then she’s made me jewelry, she’s been the subject of one of the best photos I’ve ever taken, and thoroughly kicked my ass in Facebook Scrabble. Check out her blog which explores optimism and pessimism with great humor and frankness. Check out Part 1 of Kelly’s Holiday Wishlist here, and Part 2 is here.)

Kelly Kreth’s Super Fabulous Wish List:

The fact is that the economy sucks, and I’m not really working (if anyone has a writing or marketing communications management job available, please let me know), so there won’t be anything in my stocking this year. There won’t even be any stocking. Bah Humbug!

However, there will be socks…at the very least, on my Holiday Wishlist:

A fellow blogger, Amanda from Noisiest Passenger put these up on her wish list, and I love them. They kind of look like cross between the socks I had in the ‘70s and modern-day Missoni. At you get five pairs of reused yarn socks for $17.50! That is a really good deal. The only issue is that if you order online, I believe they send you whatever colors they have. Amanda recommends going to the actual store so you can pick out the colors you like and can see the sizing firsthand.

While we’re on the subject of feet, if you are less about wool socks and more about glam high heels, YSL Tribute Sandals are so gorgeous. They have the perfect size platform and come in great colors. The only thing I find odd is that the colors Iris and Nude are $760 and the Red sandals are $795. I’m really curious why one color is priced higher than the others. No matter, I’d kill for a pair of the nude ones.

Another blogger recently did an entry about wallets and there was one that seemed to stand out from the rest. This Proenza Schouler beauty, called the PS1 wallet, will run you $165. It comes in a great variety of colors, but my personal favorite is the one in yellow.

Now that we are done talking about feet and leather (some people’s idea of a good night out…) let’s talk a bit about coats. I have found a bunch on ModCloth that I would love to sport around the City. Be sure to check out their whole coat section.

Mini, Lomo-fied.

Kelly's dachshund, Mini.

My favey fave is the Dachshund coat because, well, I have one. Danish designer Nümph has created one of the most unique coats I’ve seen. For $209.99 you’ll have something soft to touch without all of that nasty barking.

Speaking of which, I actually own this but have washed it so many times I need a new one. [They are not supposed to be washed.] Amazon lists it as being out of stock. I got mine at Target but can’t find it there now. It is a popular item you can surely find by Googling “Dachshund Doormat”. It is $19.99.

(Note from Jamie – I found a selection of dachshund doormats, including the one Kelly mentioned, on this site.)

I almost exclusively write with a Sharpie, but I suspect a Sharpie by another name—if that name is Marc Jacobs—is even sweeter. At only $1.50 they make great stocking stuffers.

Last year I set the goal of rereading all 56 original Nancy Drew books. I am almost there—just about 6 to go! While the whole collection would make a great gift for any girl detective aficionado, I’ve had my eyes on Nancy Drew Note Cards (each with the picture of one of her books on the cover), $13.00 for 20. Check out the Sleuth Shop’s website for so many other Nancy Drew-related items, including jewelry, stationary products and even purses. It’s a mystery to me how anyone, young or old, could not love these.

I love sending people postcards, but always ones that are modified in a way that they are more art project than basic quick note. When I saw this mug, masquerading as a post card I flipped. I liked how original it was. It is available at Target for $49.99 in Target’s monthly Red Hot Shop area.

In that same vein of ‘if you like it, put a note on it’, check out these Memo Cannisters ranging in price from $9.99 – 19.99. Nothing says “Merry Christmas” like writing “Merry Christmas”. Chalk not included.

Speaking of the kitchen, Nigella Lawson is one of my biggest celeb crushes. There’s just something so sensual about the way she describes cooking and eats with her hands, thoroughly comfortable with herself. An ex-boyfriend once got me her cookbook, Forever Summer and it is fabulous. One of my favorite things to make in the summer is her Happiness Soup which consists of yellow summer squash, rice, chicken broth and lemon. It’s amazing how something so simple can be so good!

Nigella's Christmas Book.

What better way to end Kelly Kreth’s Holiday WishList 2010 than with Nigella’s whole cookbook collection. Approximately $23.10 each volume. Last year I even got to hear her talk about her holiday one while she was at the Barnes and Noble by my house.

She is also the person who taught me how to make ice cream without an ice cream maker. Thanks to Nigella I’ve made Margarita Ice Cream, White Russian Ice Cream and Sweet Cream Ice Cream all with only a freezer and a Tupperware.

So Happy Cooking, friends, and more so, Happy Holidays.

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