The Kitchen Remodel: The Cost Revealed!




BEFORE:  how the kitchen looked before the dining room was included in its space.

A few days ago, I showed you this attractive kitchen/living room/dining room/family room makeover in a west Houston house.  As expected – so many of you loved it and there were a lot of questions asked in the comments section.   The homeowner was gracious enough to answer all those questions – including the most personal one of all – how much did it all cost?   Care to guess?   Below is a quick recap of the remodeling:



image AFTER:  The kitchen which now includes the former dining room.



image BEFORE:   The view from the family room looking into the kitchen and breakfast room.



image AFTER:    The family room is now open to the kitchen and breakfast room since the door was removed, along with the pass through.



image BEFORE:   Not only was the kitchen remodeled, but the wall between the family room and living room came tumbling down, the media center was also removed, and all the dated parquet flooring was replaced.



image AFTER:  The living room became the formal dining room, while the family room is now open to the newly repurposed dining room.  All the flooring was replaced with hand scraped hardwoods.  The windows received new wood Plantation shutters.  Care to guess the cost of this all?




AFTER:   The homeowner took much inspiration from Sally Wheat’s kitchen.  Here – you can see the open cabinets which she first saw in Sally’s kitchen.   Additionally, the pendants over the bar were another element she borrowed from Sally’s kitchen.





Sally Wheat’s kitchen – the homeowner’s original inspiration for her own dream kitchen.  She told me that she studied every element in Sally’s kitchen for months before she began her own remodeling!


The homeowner acted as her own designer and by doing so – she saved much money by not having to pay for professional advice.  While this is usually not recommended for most people, the homeowner felt she was up to the task.    She hired the contractor “Superior Exterior” (#281-536-7605) who came in with a very reasonable bid.    But exactly WHY was this job so reasonable?    There are several important reasons why costs were kept down.    Most important – all plumbing was kept in the same place.    Any time you start to move pipes around, costs can skyrocket!     The windows all remained in place also – another huge cost savings.   New windows can be so expensive.  Trust me on that.   I replaced one small metal window with a charming wood casement – but all that charm cost me plenty!    I didn’t have the nerve to tell my husband how much it cost until after the window was installed.  




My Kitchen Remodel:   This small casement window cost me more than my new refrigerator and dishwasher combined!   Now that it is all paid for, it was worth it, but truth be told, I almost fainted when the Pella rep casually told me how much it was going to cost me.    This was one expense I didn’t tell Ben about until it was all over with and installed – I knew he would say “no, we don’t need a new window” – but we did.   Without this one element, I don’t think my small kitchen would look nearly as cute!  I love cranking its doors open on mild days, I feel like I’m in the Cotswold's!!  




The homeowner has gorgeous inset cabinets – which are usually an upgrade.   This was another detail she saw in Sally Wheat’s kitchen that she coveted.   While inset cabinets might be too expensive for some remodeling jobs, the contractor had the cabinets built on-site, thereby saving the homeowner a bundle on what custom cabinets built off-site would have cost.    And they are beautiful!   I love the feet on the bottom of the cabinets – a nice extra touch that makes them look truly vintage.    Saving on the cabinets and windows and plumbing allowed the homeowner to splurge in some places – her sink, for instance.   It’s a Shaw’s Original Fireclay sink.   These beauties don’t come cheap, but they are gorgeous and are worth every single penny.   




DURING:    The living room turned dining room is opened up to the family room once the wall is cut.

One other major place where the homeowner saved money was the wall between the living room and family room.    Apparently, this wall is a load-bearing one – taking it down completely would have really raised construction costs.  Most likely a steel beam would have had to be placed in the opening to keep the second floor from falling through.  Instead the contractor cut a 13’ wide opening – almost like a large doorway.   I actually prefer this to removing the wall completely.   It leaves a definition between the two rooms, allowing for different paint colors in the two rooms, if preferred.  



By including the former dining room into the kitchen, it allowed for the homeowner to have enough room for a large built-in computer desk on one side, and extra storage on the other.  The regular sized refrigerator was built with cabinets on top and around it, making it seem at first glance like a more expensive built in version.





Ready to guess at the price?


The final cost of the remodeling was $48, 900 !!!     Truthfully, I was shocked at this price, expecting it to be much more!    Don’t forget – all the different flooring was replaced with gorgeous hand scraped hardwoods by Anderson, all new cabinets were built and granite was installed, along with a subway tile backsplash.     The homeowner wants you to know that this figure is for the remodeling and does not include the cost of the appliances, hardware, and light fixtures – she paid for that herself which probably adds another $3,000 to the final cost.   Remember, she saved money on her refrigerator by buying a standard size and building the cabinets around it – making it look like a much more expensive built-in model.   The hardware came from Restoration Hardware, but I’ve seen bin pulls on Ebay for much less. 


Some questions below were asked of the homeowner – she graciously answers for us:

1.   The cabinets are painted Sherwin Williams’ Divine White.

2.   The counter tops are:   Arizona Tile - black honed granite.    They look more charcoal gray than black and resemble soapstone, which was just the look she was going for.     She further tells us:      “Make sure the contractor professionally seals the granite several times, one seal is not enough.  It works great.  I do not worry about spills.  I clean them with a granite cleaner, not a glass cleaner.”

3.   The Farm sink:     “Yes!   Extend the countertop over the sink, cleaning is easier, no grout to mess with.”

4.   Downdraft:    “Yes, I have a downdraft on the stove.   It works great for me and this is where I saved money.    I personally like the look better.”

5.   The questions about placing the ovens next to the refrigerator:     The homeowner says:  “The reader brings up a good point about it not being energy efficient.  I would have to agree, but it did not cross my mind at the time.”  

Note: I, too, have my ovens next to my refrigerator and when we did this – we placed extra insulation between the two.   In almost 17 years of living here, it has never been an issue at all.    I was worried about this at first, but truly, I have never had the refrigerator not cold enough!

I hope we have answered all your questions about the cost and remodeling.   If you have any other questions – I’m sure the homeowner will be more than willing to answer them!




Something’s Gotta Give Living Room

NOTE:   Don’t forget to listen to the new Skirted Roundtable conversation with Beth Rubino.  She is the Set Decorator who designed the Something’s Gotta Give house and the It’s Complicated house for film maker Nancy Meyers.   I think the interview is a fascinating look at the famous SGG beach house AND Hollywood in general.   To listen, go HERE.



Coming next week will be a fabulous Cote de Texas giveaway – my best ever!   You are going to LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!!!!!!!  I want one myself!!!!

Someone's Gotta Get Her!


Beth Rubino, the Set Decorator for Something's Gotta Give and It's Complicated.

And we got her!!! The Academy Award nominated, Set Decorator extraordinaire Beth Rubino sat down at the Skirted Roundtable to talk about - you got it - Something's Gotta Give, the popular Nancy Meyers film which starred the beautiful Southampton beach house as much as any of its Hollywood actors! But, the surprise was on us.

The Living Room From from Something's Gotta Give

It turned out that Beth Rubino is far too a fascinating and intelligent a woman to be pigeonholed by just one movie, despite the fact that we want her to be. Beth is full of stories about the movie industry and what her job as Set Decorator entails. We get Beth to discuss the famous beach house with its even more famous blue and white rug - which she tells us all about.

The Dining Room from Something's Gotta Give.

And we got Beth to tell us the secret of exactly where the inspiration for the house came from - especially the much beloved dining room with its wall of white ironstone.

We discuss fellow blogger - Annechovie aka the artist Anne Harwell. Harwell's famous chair painting was in the movie "It's Complicated," Nancy Meyer's latest blockbuster!

Anne's chair painting can be seen behind Meryl Streep in the infamous pot-smoking bathroom scene. Congrats Anne!!!!

The Concourse Level of the Twin Towers designed by Beth Rubino for the movie World Trade Center.

But life as a Set Decorator is not all beautiful Southampton beach houses. In Oliver Stone's "World Trade Center," Beth was challenged to recreate the concourse level of the Twin Towers. Beth describes for us what happened the day the invited first responders came to visit the set.

Please join Linda, Megan and me as we talk Hollywood and the most famous movie house ever with the woman who designed it, down to the last glass in the kitchen! You do NOT want to miss this one!!!

To listen go to The Skirted Roundtable blog HERE.

A Great Houston Redo



image Sally Wheat’s Kitchen


In the past year or so since I first showed Sally Wheat’s house, I’ve received many emails about her kitchen.  While everyone seems to love her house – it’s the one story on my blog people talk most about – it’s her kitchen that really strikes a chord with so many readers.  And for good reason – it’s  beautiful – and at the same time, it’s attainable.  While unquestionably luxurious, it’s not huge or over the top.  It’s size is moderate and the appliances, save for the refrigerator, are all affordable.    Because its size is more typical and there isn’t an antique limestone hood for a focal point, the kitchen appeals to a wide range of readers.    Those with dated kitchens in need of an updating look at Sally’s kitchen and think:   I could have something like that.   I know I did. 




Sally’s Kitchen:  the inspiration behind my own small kitchen remodeling.



 image My Kitchen – After it’s renovation.


After I first went to Sally’s house, seeing her kitchen prodded me to finally give my own kitchen the remodeling it desperately needed.   While I couldn’t afford the beautiful Sub-Zero refrigerator she had, I could afford a new stainless one.   And while I couldn’t buy new cabinets, I could paint mine gray, like Sally’s.   The major elements I chose to copy were the casement windows, the farm sink, and the polished nickel faucet.   I had already replaced my hardware, but to do it over again, I would probably have chosen the bin pulls like Sally.   Of course, the biggest expense was replacing the tile countertops.  Although Sally also has white marble, I would have used it regardless of whether Sally had used black granite.  The marble was without a doubt the most important element in my renovation and the one thing I wanted above all else. 




My center island holds my cooktop, just like Sally’s does.


Another aspect of our kitchens Sally and I both share are center islands where our cooktops are located.  If Sally’s kitchen had a fabulous limestone hood and a chef’s range – it would be focal point, and something that would be out of the price range of most who wanted to copy her look.   But it is exactly the lack of such luxury that makes so many people look at her kitchen and realize they could have something very similar.





Case in point.   This is quite a stunning kitchen with a gorgeous stone hood.   The contrast between the black and white painted cabinets and the white marble and wood countertops keeps it all so interesting.  But, copy this kitchen?   No.  There would be nothing you could do to a “regular” kitchen to make it look anything like this, not with a range hood like this that is such a bold focal point.





Another case in point:   A beautiful kitchen like this is just a dream for 99.99% of the world.  Even if you wanted to copy this kitchen, it would be virtually impossible to do so unless you had the basic elements:  a gloriously tall, pitched ceiling with beams.  Everything about this room is custom – the antique stone floor, the stone hood, the windows, the cabinetry.    Even the island is a unique antique.   I think when searching for inspiration it’s best to be realistic.   Find something that you could honestly make your own, rather than reaching for something that will never look as good!




By contrast, Sally Wheat’s wonderful kitchen IS attainable:  the size, the style, the painted cabinets, the stainless appliances.   While some things in this space may be out of the reach of budget conscious remodelers, it is still full of wonderful elements that most could copy.  So, it was no shock when I got an email from a reader in west Houston who had done just that.   She had recently completed a remodeling of her house – the living room, dining room, kitchen and family room had all been taken down to the studs.   She told me that her new kitchen was modeled after, of course, Sally Wheat’s!   When I looked at her pictures of her kitchen, I could immediately see the elements she took from Sally to use in her own kitchen.   The homeowner said she used the blog for much of her inspiration.   She intently studied Sally’s kitchen, noting which things she loved and which she wanted changed.   And though she says the two kitchens don’t look that much alike, Sally’s kitchen was an enormous influence on her.     But, it must be noted that the redo was also this homeowner’s vision.   And what a vision!    What a remodel!    Enjoy!




BEFORE:   the house has a typical floor plan for Houston.   At the entry, the living room, then dining room is located to the left.  The family room is straight ahead and looks out to the backyard.   The kitchen connects to the dining room and family room.   Here you can see the yellow dining room with its large window connected to the kitchen through the door.  The family room is on the left, where the bar is.  The breakfast room is shown, right off the kitchen.  The homeowner could have chosen to do a simple remodeling:  freshly painted cabinets, new countertops, new appliances – and maybe new floors.  Many people with kitchens like this do just that – and no more.  But this homeowner had bigger ideas.   She wanted to turn her unused living room into a dining room.   The freed up dining room space would become part of the kitchen.   The wall between the family room and living room/dining room would be taken down.   The entire public area of the house would be open and airy, each room easily accessible from the next.   To do this, the walls would have to be taken down to the studs.   





DURING:   The kitchen was totally removed.  The wall between the kitchen and dining room was also removed so that the kitchen would be one large space.   You can see where the old terracotta floor in the kitchen was – the dining room’s foundation is slightly higher.   It’s so fascinating to look inside the walls at all the pipes and wires!  And look how old the wood looks, it’s probably so hard and rigid after being encased inside the sheetrock for so many years. 






AFTER:   The stunning kitchen is revealed!    Isn’t this gorgeous?   It’s even more amazing when you realize the homeowner is neither a designer nor an architect – she did this all on her own vision!!!   The small kitchen is now long – the former dining room has been added to the square ootage.   What was once a small U-shaped kitchen, is now a long galley styled space.  The footed cabinetry borrows its look from Sally’s kitchen – in both kitchens the Shaker doors are inset.  While the inset doors are more expensive, just adding “feet” to cabinets is a wonderful way to simulate this vintage look when remodeling.   Both this homeowner and Sally used bin pulls for  hardware – the homeowner purchased hers from Restoration Hardware.   Both used white subway tile and dark hardwood floors.   A major difference though is this:  Sally’s cabinets are gray and her countertops are white marble.   This homeowner chose white cabinets and honed black granite countertops.    Both are wonderful and highly personal choices – none is either right or wrong.   The pendant lights are similar to Sally’s, but not quite the same:  Sally bought hers at Brown, the homeowner bought hers at Lighting Headquarters on EBay.   The cabinets are painted Sherwin Williams’ Divine White.





BEFORE:   The U-shaped kitchen, with the dining room on the left and the breakfast room on the right.






DURING:   Looking from the family room, over the counter, into the kitchen.  The farm sink has been installed.   This sink was one important element that the homeowner wanted to repeat from Sally’s kitchen. 






AFTER:     The same view looking from the family room into the kitchen.  Here you can see an important element that the homeowner borrowed from Sally Wheat:  the open overhead cabinets.  This feature is quite prominent in Sally’s kitchen, as it is here.   Just beautiful!  I love the honed black granite – it doesn’t look like granite – it looks more like soapstone.   Do you also see the influence of  the Something’s Gotta Give kitchen?





image BEFORE:   The dining room  - looking through the living room into the entry.   The living room will become the dining room.  The dining room will become the kitchen.





image DURING:   The door between the dining room and the living room is closed off with cabinets and a desk.     The dining room window remains in the same spot.   Where there was once a small pass through bar – there is now a much more open space between the kitchen and the family room. 





AFTER:     Where the dining room once was becomes a work area for the homeowner with the addition of a built in desk.  I love the leather bench instead of a chair – and I love the cowhide rug!   Sally also uses cowhides in her home.  The homeowner added pricey looking wooden shutters.   The floors are Anderson, hand scraped hardwoods.  And of course, all the appliances are stainless.   Notice the refrigerator – a trick I used too.  Instead of an expensive built in Sub Zero, the cabinets are built out around the refrigerator, where at first glance, it looks like a built in one. 






BEFORE:   The family room, looking into the kitchen and breakfast room.   This entire wall between the kitchen and family room will be removed.   The wall between the family room and living room, where the sofa is now, will also be removed.





AFTER:    Here is how it looks from the family room into the kitchen.  Gone is the doorway and the pass through.  Instead there is a large counter and the two rooms flow into each other.  So beautiful!    The breakfast room gets the wooden shutters too.  






BEFORE:   A view from the kitchen into the family room.  The wall where the sofa is will be removed to open up the living room/dining room to the family room.





DURING:   The same view with the wall between the family room and living room/dining room removed.   The wall between the family room and the kitchen has also been removed.   Suddenly – the small rooms are all open to each and seem much bigger.




AFTER:   the view from the family room into the new dining room, which used to be living room – and all closed off.  Instead, now the two rooms flow into each other.  The once rarely used living room becomes an open dining room which gets much more use and visibility.   The former dining room is long gone – it now part of the kitchen.  



 image BEFORE:  The family room before the wall between the two rooms was removed.  Here you can see the old flooring, the 60’s parquet that is found in every house in West Houston!   The dated shelving unit was also replaced.  






DURING:   The family room is now open to what was once the living room, but will now be the dining room. 




AFTER:     The view from the kitchen to the family room.    The shelving unit was replaced with an attractive console.   So much more prettier!!




image A closer look at the subway tiles which were installed in a herringbone pattern above the cooktop.   There is so much storage space!  





The homeowner’s new kitchen:  notice the brackets placed under the bar; in Sally’s house the similar looking brackets are placed under the overhead cabinets instead.    Here, the homeowner copied the bracket elements, but chose to use them in a different way – something to remember.  Elements can be utilized differently but still give the same visual effect!   Notice, also, the similarity in the overhead cabinets to Sally’s (see below.)




 Another look at the inspiration kitchen – notice Sally’s inset cabinets  – how similar they look to the homeowner’s and how important an element they are!     Also, the farm sink is another important element she chose, as are the white subway tiles.   Notice the brackets underneath Sally’s cabinets, the homeowner chose to copy these – but used them instead under her bar counter, thereby getting the same effect.   Notice too – how similar the lighting pendants are – another important decorative item in both kitchens.  



image My kitchen remodel:    I used exactly the same trick as the homeowner to make my refrigerator look like a built in Sub Zero does.   By adding cabinets above that are the same depth as the refrigerator, the unit looks cleaner lined and more custom.  My refrigerator was so inexpensive, yet I think it looks rather great!  Asked how and why I chose my particular appliances, I was drawn to the handles.  If I liked the handle, I chose that appliance over the next one with the same price. 





And finally – one last look at the beautiful new kitchen!   Job very well done!  I just love this remodel – it is so well thought out by someone who is not a designer or an architect.  Not sure they could have done a better job.    Many thanks to the homeowner for sharing her new remodel!    Congratulations, use it in good health and much happiness!!!!!



Remember – Be sure to share your remodel with us!  We love them!!

Guess Who’s Famous?




If you are anywhere near my age and you look up and see these three guys in front of you at the grocery store check-out line, you might get a little thrill!  If you are younger, you’d probably say, “who are those three fossils?”   For those who don’t know, that’s the Beaver, his brother Wally and the neighborhood bully Eddie.  Whoa – are we really THAT old??????    OK, maybe these three are a bad example of getting excited about seeing someone famous.




You have to admit they were a lot cuter back then.




Understand that I’m married.  I’m not going to get excited over running into, let’s say, Brad Pitt, at the corner diner. 

‘Yeah, sure.   Who am I kidding?





Truth be told, this is a man I would actually be thrilled to see in the grocery line:  John Saladino, interior designer.   Now, a casual run-in with this man would get my elevate my blood pressure.  It takes all kinds.  I’d love nothing more than to bump into him and finagle a visit to his famous Villa di Lemma.




image But the question of today is  - would you get excited to see THIS man at the take-out line?  Like I said, it takes all kinds.


This past New Years Eve, since Ben and I don’t like to go out that night, he decided to pick up  a “fancy” dinner to celebrate the new decade.   His choice for “fancy?”   A quail dinner at the Goode Company Taqueria.   Don’t ask.    New Years Eve was an uneventful night for us.   Elisabeth was going to a party and then sleeping over there, so it was just the two of us.   Ben didn’t even stay up for the big midnight kiss.  But I digress.   After Ben left to go pick up his fancy quail dinner  (I ordered the chili cheeseburger) I promptly dozed off into one of those deep naps where when you wake up you don’t know what day it is, much less what your name is.    So, when the delivery boy comes home all excited – it took me a while to grasp what he was saying:  “Someone recognized me!   Me!!!   Someone at Goodes recognized me!!!”

OK, slow down big boy, “tell me the story again” I say as I’m wiping the drool off my face and computer keyboard.  I’ll admit he’s cute when he gets all excited about something.  He gets real talkative and animated – not his usual m.o.  



imageMr. Excitement – his usual expression.


“I”m telling you someone recognized me!  I was getting ready to pay and this woman comes up to me and says ‘Excuse me, but are you Mr. Slipper Socks Man?’

Surely this is a joke.   Mr. Slipper Socks Man?   Recognized?   You’ve got to be kidding me.   No.  Really?  Someone recognized you from the blog?  

“Yes!!!!  And we talked for a long time too – she was with her husband and sons, she was really nice.”  Oy.  Now I’m worried about what he actually said to this perfect stranger in the Goodes take-out line.  Certainly he couldn’t have talked about my blog, he doesn’t READ it!!!    Well, it’s alright - he is quickly approaching his sixth decade and he deserves a small thrill.  I know what it’s like to be recognized – and it is exciting!!  Houston can be a small town and I’ve been spotted a few times myself.   Recently I made a mad dash into a linen shop wearing my pajamas (they’re actually sweats,)  no make up, and I had my desperately-need-to-be-replaced glasses on.   I can only imagine how frightful my hair looked.  I was slightly aggravated when I couldn’t find what I needed and was a little curt with the very young and quite beautiful clerk.   After ten minutes of putting up with me being somewhat surly, she quietly says  “I like your blog.”   Whaaaaaaat???    Effusive apologies about  my poor manners gush out from me like a geyser as a much nicer and gentler shopper suddenly invades my body.   Yes, I tell Ben,  I do know how it feels to be recognized.    He was so excited about his New Years Eve rendezvous that it was infectious.   I was thrilled for him!  He’s a star!  Mr. Slipper Socks Man!!!   I’d created a character for him to revel in and he was practically walking on air over it all.  

I’m feeling just a little bit proud too at this point.  Awww.   How cute is it?!   My Mr. Slipper Socks Man.   And then it starts to nag at me, I wonder, how DID someone know who he was?    I haven’t put his picture on the blog but maybe three or four times at most.   Still, you would need to have a real eagle eye to pick someone out like that in a take-out line, on New Years Eve, at a Taqueria no less.   And then, it hits me.  Of course!   I look down.   And I see them.  





Yep, you got it!  He actually WORE his slipper socks out on New Years Eve!  Classy.  I know.  And I don’t need a million comments to tell me how classless we truly are – I totally agree. 

“Are you serious?  How COULD you?  You wore slipper socks out  on New Years Eve?!  Have you no shame????    No wonder she knew who you were.  She didn’t recognize YOU, she recognized those goofy looking SHOES!”    Dufus.   I take back everything I said about it being cute.  I’ve created a character all right!    Next he’ll be wearing zip-up sweaters and welcoming everybody to his little neighborhood. 



  Xmas09 015

If you DO happen to see someone dressed like this in your grocery store, just ignore him, ok?  Don't encourage him.  He’s had enough stardom to last a lifetime and I’m throwing out those stupid slipper sock shoes  the minute he takes them off, if he ever does.





Here’s to prove to everyone that he really was a cutie when we married (and truthfully, he still is!!!!)   That’s Ben before he was a slipper socks man, with our first dog Reggie, in the first house we owned – almost 19 years ago.   The decor was blatantly copied from a Dan Carithers room I had seen in Southern Accents.  To read about this room, go HERE.


And how was YOUR New Years Eve?




On to another topic.   I was so excited to come home tonight to an unexpected package from Ballard Designs!  They really do a cute gift wrap in green with a brown ribbon and a fleur de lis card.    My secret admirer is none other than the famous commenter and RMS alum Linda from Arizona.  You may know her by her aliases:  Linda in AZ and Belle’s Mom.    I’m not sure what I did to deserve such a kind gesture – but the card says it reminded her of me.





She sent a set of these adorable zebra files – and the cutest thing is they are khaki green inside.  I really needed these – so a huge Thank You Linda!  So Much!  Poor Linda has been down with a broken back, so if you see her commenting, send a get well wish her way!! 




And, there’s nothing I love more than holiday cards, they truly are the highlight of the season for me.  This Christmas I got so many cards  from readers and other design bloggers, I was thrilled!!  I tried to thank everyone who sent a card – but it’s possible I missed a few.  If you are one whom I didn’t acknowledge, please accept my sincere apology and thank you!  I love all different kinds of cards, the ones with pictures of children and pets and the more serious ones with a religious sentiment inside.   I also love the typed year end recaps, where all the highs and lows are reduced to one piece of paper.    Ben and I never sent out holiday cards with Elisabeth all dressed in her season finery, which is something I now truly regret since she is too old to pose!     Hopefully she’ll do it with her own family one day and I’ll look forward to seeing my grandchildren all dressed up in smocked dresses and suspender shorts!   





Finally, don’t forget to listen to this week’s Skirted Roundtable HERE with House Beautiful editor Stephen Drucker.   So far, all the reviews have been mostly very positive – so don’t miss out, especially if you are a fan of the magazine.  We have a special surprise coming next week – I’ll just say two words:   It’s Complicated!!!!