How to Transform Grocery Bags into Beautiful Decorations

Do you want to create a beautiful and whimsical environment for the holidays?


Who’d ever think that transforming plain brown paper bags into ornaments can be an affordable way to differentiate your business from others?

If you are a client of my hair salon, Studio 904, you’ve seen the unique ways in how I keep the facility fresh and pleasing to the eye by changing things up every season.

I put hours of time into making hand-made decorations for my salon because I believe seeing something fresh and new on a regular basis is stimulating and puts customers in a good mood. If it’s pleasing to our customers, just think how happy it makes our staff to come to a beautiful work environment daily.


Many businesses make the mistake of becoming stagnated with lack of change in their environment and service offerings, a sure way for a slow death of your business.

So I say, “Change it Up!” Look around your business and come up with ways to refresh and invigorate your environment.



I made these Owl Angels (more like Urban Angels) this year for the holidays. I love how these cute critters came out. They are not rustic looking like the owls I’ve seen. The white body and the glittered net wings give them a fresh and sophisticated look. So I wanted to share with you how I made them.

Oh, they are so cute. Nothing is more satisfying to me than looking at their cuteness every day.
Without a fail, these owls put a big smile on my face and helps me to have a happy day.


How to make “Owl Angels” from paper bags.

 Cut bags into 6” x 8” pieces
Paint one side of each cut pieces with white gesso (it takes two pieces to make one owl)
Draw a simple shape of an owl on one of the pieces (this becomes the front of the owl)
Draw eyes, decorate the body using a black Sharpie marker
Sew the outline with a machine (leave an opening at the bottom)
Stuff with small amount of cotton (this will puff the owls up)
Sew and close the bottom opening (optional: insert feet made of black felt before sewing up the opening)
Cut out small wings (I used paper and ribbon netting)

Good luck with your decorations! I’d love to hear your ideas on affordable decorating ideas for the holidays which is right around the corner.

Why Dog Training will Help You to Improve Leadership Skills


Sitting at the dog training center with my dog, Max, I obediently followed our instructor as she taught us how to make our dogs sit, stay, and lay down. After a few sessions, I realized that the instructor was not really teaching my dog rather she was training me to develop my leadership skills. She belted out commands to us humans, saying, “Stand tall like you have confidence, don’t be wishy washy with your leash handling and make direct eye contact!”

When we did a good job with our dogs, she would say, “What are you waiting for? Give your dog a treat!”

Max  is looking so sweet in his selfie photo.
Max is looking so sweet in his selfie photo.

I often got frustrated because Max was not obeying my commands. I said to Max with an angry expression on my face, “What’s wrong with you? I told you to come to me.” The instructor came over and said, “How do you expect him to understand what you mean? Look at your body language, you’re bent over, not standing straight. Your facial expression doesn’t show that you genuinely want him to succeed. If I was your dog, I wouldn’t want to obey you either.” 

I felt put-down by the boot camp-style feedback but swallowed my pride and continued with training. Before long, I became engrossed in the skills I was learning and continued on to the Intermediate and Advanced classes. In-fact, I got so hooked on what I was learning, I kept going back for more.


Max gained self-esteem through training.
Max gained self-esteem through training.

I started to practice what I learned in dog training classes at work. I began to feel more confident as a leader and noticed improvements in the people on my team. As my communication to others became more clear, there was less confusion with the directions I delivered. Things got done right and people were happy!

Here are some tips I learned in my classes. I know you’ll agree that these handling skills can be transferred to humans to help us become better leaders.

 Dog Training 101

1. Be clear and specific – Your voice should be clear so your dog can understand. Don’t mumble.
2. Be consistent – It will confuse the dog when you don’t use the same words. If “okay” is your release word for your dog, don’t say “come it’s okay” the next time.
3. Keep it simple – Use only one command at a time. Say “sit down” instead of “come here and sit down.”
4. Gain loyalty by being fair – Dogs notice if you are not fair. Be compassionate and truthful. No physical violence, instead show them respect.
5. Be confident – When giving dogs a command, show confidence in your body language, voice tone and facial expression.
6. Give feedback – if you don’t get the appropriate response, correct them immediately. Be patient and keep teaching until you get the response you’re looking for
7. Praise all the time – When you get the correct response, praise them immediately…. yes, every time!
8. Positive ending – Finish your training session with the correct behavior. Never end on a negative note. Say, “Yhea, good job!” and give them ample treats and pet their head.

Fact: When dogs go through obedience training, their self-esteem is higher.

Now, go see how these dog training methods can fit into your human interactions. I guarantee, that your relationships with your co-workers, friends and family members will improve just like mine did!

Steps to Take After a Setback in Your Life

Have you experienced a set back which had a dramatic effect on your life? I mean it just knocked you off your feet in a split second? You may have asked yourself, why me? I’m sure you have because that is the human tendency.

This is me after my accident
This is me after my accident

Here’s my story of a devastating accident I had a few months ago and what I did to get out of the funk. I hope me sharing this will help you to deal with your set backs. I took my dog Max for a leisurely walk one evening. I saw a man, a little girl and their dog walking towards us. I quickly placed Max in a sit position, waiting for them to pass by. I saw that their dog was excited, jumping, pulling and running in circles. I called out to them, “Keep your dog in tact!”. Before I could finish my sentence, the dog broke leash and came running toward us.

This is the dog who came running, causing me to fall.
This is the dog who came running, causing me to fall.

I started to run with Max to get away from the scene. The dog kept coming after us, he ran circles around my legs, causing me to fall right on my face. Can you believe? The man and his little girl walked away, leaving me badly hurt on the ground. A neighbor man came out and saw me. He immediately called 911 and I was taken to emergency.

It’s been three months now and I’m still not back at work. It’s been a painful process plus I have an expensive dental restoration process to go through which will cost me more money than I’ve imagined. It can be a devastating accident like what happened to me or something else which can happen in a split second as you live your life. No matter what the reason, recovering from an unexpected event can take you through all kinds of ups and downs. This is how I handled it to maintain a healthy attitude and you can do it too.

  • I accepted what happened to me and decided I should be grateful it was not worse than it was. This is where I began counting my blessings. I’m sure you will be able to come up with tons of things you are grateful for.
  • I decided that I would not blame myself or the other party who caused this accident. What good will blaming do? It is what it is, so just deal with it.
  • I made good use of the downtime. I signed up for an on-line writing course and improved my writing skills. Do you have something you’ve been wanting to learn but never had the time? This is the time to do it.
  • I did an hour or two of art projects daily. You can do something creative – try new recipes, organize your drawers etc. Everything is art, that’s how I see it.
  • I enjoyed spending time with family and friends. It’s catch-up time so connect with people. They understand you are going through a tough time and will be happy to spend time with you.
  • An incident like this can help you to have mental relaxation time so you can prepare yourself to get back in the game better than how you left it. What do you think?

Stress, Don’t Just Talk About it…Do Something About It

People often ask me, “You have such a full schedule. How do you relieve the stress in your life?” My answer is simple. You must force yourself to build in a structured stress relieving activity within the week. It must be something you love doing. It doesn’t have to be a vacation in the sun…just plan a short mini-vacation daily or weekly.
People are dealing with multiple pressures in their lives. Many don’t even realize that they are under stress. I know. I was one of these people. Working to keep my Studio 904 salons going became my priority.  I felt like there was no time for me to do anything else other than work and taking care of my family.
I am sure many of you know what I am talking about. You might be feeling lost and depressed. The best advice I can give is to find a hobby you feel passionate about and force yourself to engage in it weekly or even daily.

Here’s a short story of how the sport of Agility relieved my stress.

The salon is buzzing. Customers filled every chair. The clock on the wall said it’s 2:45 PM. I started to get nervous… I’m scheduled to leave work at 3:00 in order to make it to the 4:30 Agility training class. I can’t leave…so many problems need my attention. I mumble to myself, why did I commit to doing this? I get my self under pressure to leave the salon every week to take my dog Max to his agility training.

I managed to run out of the salon at 3:05. I drove home to pick up my dog Max and his training treat. I hit the freeway going south. I should have known, the traffic was backed up and the cars were crawling to get passed the bottle neck to the Maple Valley Highway.


Whew… we arrive at the Maple Valley Agility Center at exactly 4:30. Max began to bark, sensing that it’s time to go in to exercise his skills in running, jumping and weaving through the trial equipment.

Max and I walked into the old wooden make-shift building with the saw dust floor. We quietly took our place and began watching Lucy, the Australian Border Collie. Lucy strutted to the start line, her piercing eyes focusing on the obstacles which lay in front. The minute her handler said go, Lucy was off like a bullett …. knocking down all the jump poles, leaving the place in shambles. We all laughed and clapped and told Lucy what a great player she is.

Max coming out of the tunnel
Max coming out of the tunnel

Next up was Ralph, the senior chocolate brown lab. Ralph was laid back . His owner constantly encouraged him by saying, “Good boy, come on Ralph”. All of us on the bench chimed in, “Come on Ralph, little faster!” Ralph performed everything in his own methodical way and finally got through the course. We all jumped up and clapped saying, “Good job Ralph!”.

Max came flying down from the A-Frame!
Max came flying down from the A-Frame!

Finally our turn. Max and I ran up to the start line. I whispered in his ear. ” Sit Max…wait…good boy.” I gave him a yummy piece of his favorite beef liver. He lapped it up and looked at me intently. “Ok, let’s go Max!” Living up to his Jack Russell, high energy mentality, he ran the course…stopping at nothing….

constantly looking for my ques directing him to the next obstacle. By the time we finished, we heard the whole class room clapping shouting, “Wow, Max what a run!”. Max sensed that he did good. I threw a double dose of beef levers on the ground to let him know I was pleased.

When class ended, my mind was crystal clear. I didn’t remember anything of the stress I was experiencing earlier in the day. I thought this is what it’s all about. Getting down with these smart fun-loving dogs and play like we did when we were kids!

The Power of Five Dollars


Recently, Shelley Rotando, CEO of Northwest Harvest came in to my salon, Studio 904 to get her hair colored and cut. I asked her how things at Northwest Harvest was going.

“Kay, summer is a tough time for us. Nearly half of Washington’s school-age children go hungry during the summer due to lack of school meal programs. This means one of every five children in our state go hungry,” She said.

I was surprised to hear such an alarming number.

It’s difficult to imagine anyone could be hungry. Most of us can go to our refrigerator or to a nearby restaurant and satisfy our growling stomachs at a moment’s notice. Wouldn’t you agree?


As a small business owner with a vision to “improve lives of our citizens”, I felt compelled to share this information with our customers and ask for their help.  I wanted to involve our 800 clients who pass through our door in one given month to donate a small amount of money towards this cause. I’m a believer that a small amount of money collected from many people can raise a large sum of money. The best part of this giving philosophy is that it hurts no one. It truly creates a win-win for all involved.

Here is what Studio 904’s “Feed Our Kids” fundraising program asked our clients to do:

  1. Purchase a $5. Raffle ticket to enter drawing of baskets filled with products and $50. Gift cards from Studio 904.
  2. Attend a “Flower Power” class where I will teach how to make beautiful flowers, like the ones I made to decorate our salon. Suggested donation to attend is $30. (Why not use our talent to raise more money?)
  3. Simply write a check to NW Harvest for a tax deductible expense.

Our team and customers are supporting our fundraiser with enthusiasm. It brings me joy to watch all the happy faces as I watch our donation box grow with money to feed our children!
I’d love to hear what you’ve done to raise money for your favorite cause.


Celebrating Valentines!

paper hearts

Owning a salon business for thirty six years, I’ve spent tons of time studying the customer’s point of view. How to get out of my space of how a business should be to how would I feel walking into a business and what would make me feel good about being inside of a business? One thing I learned through my own experiences and talking to many of our customers is “We want to feel uplifted and inspired and most of all, leave the establishment feeling happy!”

This is the reason why I spend hours decorating my salon to keep up with seasonal changes. I started to use holidays and seasons as a bench-mark to create new decorative scenery in the salon, using colorful papers and various crafting techniques. I noticed our clients really loved what I did and it made my staff and me feel so good to work in this energy-filled environment.

What I know for sure… our minds are filled with problems and challenges life throws our way. It is often difficult to see the positive aspects of our everyday living.

I want my salon to be a place where people can visit and enjoy the positive energy of colorful decorations, personal pampering and our community service programs. It makes it all worthwhile when I see them leaving looking great with smiles on their faces! Take a look at our Valentine decorations.




Entering 2014 with Renewed Energy!

Now that all the busy days of the holiday season are over, I’ve been thinking a lot about what will I learn and do this year.

Nelson Mandella said

One phrase keeps going through my mind: “If you do nothing new, you will get the same results. My goal this year is not to set lofty goals which I probably will not be able to accomplish, given my super busy schedule, but to set realistic goals for myself. I used the format from SMART Goals to get my mind thinking. I always find this process helpful to clarify my new year’s direction.You might want to do the same.


New Years by Karen Hopting Art


S-Your goal must be specific

M – Mesurable

A – Achievable

R – Reachable

T – Time based

I love this art by Karen Hoepting (the pup looks an awful lot like my Max), but does this seem achievable? Good luck setting your goals for 2014! We feel a lot better about ourselves even if we only aspire towards improving our lives a little bit.

A cute girl

One of my goals is to be more thoughtful. I’ve decided to send two hand-made cards per week to people who I think might need a little encouragement….to delight them and help create a “happy day.”

Take a look. This is a collage I created on a 3″x3″ mini-canvas. I took a photo of the canvas and created multiple images in Pages (Mac). I printed them and found

More cutie girls

that the colors were not as vivid as in the original art work. I touched up each of the images by outlining the shapes with my Micron pen and brightened up the colors using acrylic paint plus Copic markers. I love the end result. I already sent these lovely cuties to four deserving people in my life!

Doll in front of the clouds



This set of Cloud painting was given to me by a dear Artist friend, Linda Davidson. She surprised me on Christmas Day with this wonderful gift several years ago which I’ve been admiring since. It’s nice to be on the receiving end of someone’s thoughtful gesture. I photographed my favorite doll sitting in front of the clouds. I gaze at this cute little scene every day….really makes me happy!



Little Things Made by Hand

During this season where everyone is rushing to the malls, trying to figure out things to buy for the people on their Christmas list, I decided to stay at home and make little things which I can give to people who are special to me. I don’t know about you, but I love receiving hand-made gifts. These gifts represents thought and time the giver has invested to please you. I want to share some little gifts I made.

mini photo frame ornaments

I used pieces of left over scraps from my paper collection and made these adorable mini-photo frame tree ornaments. The receiver can insert their favorite photos and give them as gifts or hang them on their own tree.




Snoopy tags

I used my favorite Snoopy stamps to make these holiday tags. I like them because they can be used for men, women or children.






These angels were so much fun to make. I used brown grocery bags, cut them up, painted them with several layers of acrylic paint. Then I drew my own chubby faces and placed them on the body. Aren’t they sweet?



Bird ornaments


I made these bird ornaments in the same way. I drew designs on their bodies with liquid pearls.





washi paper card

These cards were so simple to make but came out very elegant. I used pearlized card stock and envelopes and faced the cards with Japanese washi paper.





paper dolls

I wanted to make chain paper dolls, just like I did when I was little. It was so much fun to see to see if I can still do it. What do you think?





Gift Basket Poster

I used the paper dolls to add to the poster I made for my salon, Studio 904.  We are making holiday baskets for the girls who need a helping hand during this season. It would be fun to see their faces light up when they receive these baskets filled with socks, gloves, hand lotion, note cards (hand made) and a gift certificate from Studio 904 for a haircut and a style!