Tuesday, September 1, 2015

5 Steps to Get Organized for Fall: Your Way

The Fall is like a fresh start, isn't it? It's like the New Year for me--full of beginnings and promise. It is certainly a season of change.

There's lots of advice out there about making up snack stations for school kids, ideas for lunches, there's projects for making communication centers and all sorts of things--but our needs are all different, depending on where we are in life.

What will change for you? (Or has it already?) What do you need to do to get ready for that change? What do you need to do to make that change happen more easily?

1. Mind Dump

Take five minutes (set a timer if you're feeling particularly overwhelmed) and do a mind dump--or a mind map. This may be all you need to do.

But, if you feel like you may be forgetting a few things, check out a few sites, like the great practical September Checklist from Simplify 101. Here's Aby's Back to School Checklist. There's more: If you want to make sure you get your lawn and garden ready, there's a checklist from This Old House, a fall home maintenance checklist from Bob Vila, and if cleaning the house helps you prepare, there's the Fall Cleaning Checklist from Organized Home. If you really want to see checklists of every kind imaginable, just type "fall checklist" into pinterest!

Get everything swimming in your head down on paper (or typed into the screen--however you do it). You want it all out of your head and in front of you so you can see it all and assess it.

2. Prioritize

The next step is to prioritize. Once you've got all the tasks listed, ask yourself, given all that's to happen between now and Christmas (I know!) what's essential? What will make the most difference to our lives? What will have the most effect?

However, some things, like whether I hang a fall wreath on my front door won't change my life a whit--but it is fun. Don't forget to include a few of those.

I'm going to work through four examples from my list:

1) Call for Furnace Cleaning.
2) Buy a new winter coat.
3) Research frugal make-ahead meals.
4) Aerate the front lawn.

How much of a difference will these things make to my life?
1) Huge. Well, not making the call, of course, but having a clean furnace and ducts will make a world of difference to our comfort this winter--and our natural gas bills!
2) Again, huge.
3) Well, here, I'm not so sure. Having a few meals pre-prepared and ready to go on nights when I am tired would be great. But it is a lot of effort to put into the whole endeavour up front and I'm not sure I can't just continue the way I have: making two meals on one night when I know there's a heavy week coming up.
4) This will make no practical difference to my life at all. But a nice front lawn would be a pleasant thing to have.

3. Rank the Ease

Here's the thing. If something is dead easy and will make a big difference--it's going to take precedence over something that is difficult to do and won't make all that much difference to how your life goes, day to day. In fact, if something is on your list that's difficult to do and won't make much difference to your life--does it really need to stay on your list? Can you let it go?

How easy are they to do?
1) Call for Furnace Cleaning. Dead easy.
2) Buy a new winter coat. Relatively difficult and relatively urgent given how few warm plus sized coats exist.
3) Research frugal make-ahead meals. Somewhat difficult,
4) Aerate the front lawn. Very difficult. I'd have to rent an aerator and figure out how to use it--then do it!

Once I have these two measures: effect and ease, I can plot them on a graph. (I know, I'm such a geek. This handy tool comes from Jackie Hernandez and her book, Project Home.)

On the left vertical axis is the Effectiveness scale. If something will make no difference to my life at all, that is, if it won't have any effect on my life at all, it is a zero. Something that will contribute significantly to my life is a five.

On the horizontal axis, plot how easy the project will be. Lots of effort--that is, not at all easy is ranked at zero, easy-peasy is a five. Anything between 0-2.5 you probably could let go of, and anything 5 and above are "must do's" Anything falling in between 2.5 and 5 are "might do's"

1) Call for Furnace cleaning: Effect: 5 + Ease: 5 =10. Must do.
2) Buy a new winter coat: Effect: 5 + Ease: 2 =7. Must do.
3) Research frugal make-ahead meals: Effect: 2.5 + Ease: 2 =4.5. Might Do.
4) Aerate the front lawn: Effect: 0 + Ease: 0 =0. Don't do.

4. Estimate Time

This may seem counter-intuitive, but the busier you are, the more important is this step. This way, when you have a free ten minutes, you can find something on your list--and get it done, just like that. If you have to look at your list and try and figure it out--well, your ten minutes will have been lost. So, do it and you'll be able to make the most of your time.

How long will they take?
1) Call for Furnace cleaning: 15 minutes at most. (I need to look up the number.)
2) Buy a new winter coat:1/2 hour if I am really lucky to 4-5 hours. Since I hate shopping for long periods, at least 2 maybe 3 trips to the mall.
3) Research frugal make-ahead meals: several hours.
4) Aerate the front lawn: most of the day.

5. Schedule your tasks.

Now, actually, there is one thing I can do before I schedule them--I can delegate! I just needed to slip that one in!

Do some tasks need to be done by a certain time? Keep that in mind.

Since I don't keep a day-timer or a planner of that kind, what I did was make a list.

1) Call for Furnace cleaning: I should call by the end of the first week in September so someone can come by the middle of October at the very latest!
2) Buy a new winter coat: As soon as possible.
3) Research frugal make-ahead meals: If I decide to do it, there's several ways to approach the research phase. I can spread it over several evenings, or I can just research one or two meals to do while I make up the menu plan each week, or I can blitz out and plan out a whole freezer meal prep day extravaganza.
4) Aerate the front lawn: Not going to happen. (But you knew that already.)

It looks like this in my Bullet Journal:

This might seem like a lot of planning and prioritizing--but the process brings tremendous clarity. That's vital in a season of change such as this.


1. Mind dump a big list. The bigger the better.
2. Rank each task according to the difference it will make to your life. Remember to include fun things.
3. Decide the effort it will take. Is it worth your time?
4. Estimate how much time it might take
5. Schedule a time to do it. Is it time sensitive?

I may not do this process all the time: but it was quite helpful for me this time.

Monday, August 31, 2015

From the Weekend: A Whole Lot of Plannin' Goin' On

This was supposed to have been a picture from my trip to Vancouver.
But it was cancelled.

A couple of days spent planning at my desk is more my speed right now, anyway.

And what I need.

Friday, August 28, 2015

How I Decluttered my Gall Bladder

1. Be diagnosed with gall stones and an inflamed gallbladder.
2. Ignore the good doctor's advice to have it removed--for two years.
3. Wake up one day, eat a piece of pie and feel nauseous.
4. Wake up for the next four or five days thinking you have a bad case of acid reflux.
5. Go to a medicentre on Friday where they diagnose the pain as definitely NOT acid reflux.
6. Go to the hospital where a test for my pancreatic enzymes is off the charts. My pancreas is essentially digesting itself because it is blocked. There are two main causes for this: alcohol and, you guessed it, gallstones.
7. Stay in the hospital for a week where they perform two procedures--one on Tuesday morning to take out two gallstones stuck in the duct the gall bladder and the pancreas share and, one Thursday evening to take out the pesky gall bladder. Learn patience, humility and how to sleep amid a million interruptions and sounds and people coming and going. (One nurse remarked, "a hospital really isn't a good place for sleep." There was even heavy construction!) Learn how to live without any wifi whatsoever.

I received excellent care and everyone was so helpful and kind. Amazing, really.
But I'm glad that's over.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Inspired by Dressers: All Dressed Up

I have been thinking about dressers--a lot.

This is why:

It's an IKEA MALM from a way way back.

Pretty drab.

I'm not sure what to do exactly--go all colourful and bright? Or should I make a quieter statement--so I don't upstage my gorgeous blue doors?

doors: Hague Blue (by Farrow and Ball) mixed in to a Sherwin Williams paint. 

I have been admiring colourful dressers for years.

Here's one in coral:

source: Coral Gables 2010-40 by Benjamin Moore

Jenny Komenda is such a master of colour.

source  Billiards Table by Behr

I love green, too. 

source Hunter Green oil based paint by Rustoleum.

Here's another beauty in green:

source: Precious Emerald by Behr

No doubt about it, a brightly painted piece can make a huge impact in a room. 

Lately, I've been more and more drawn to wood. Wood makes a statement too, albeit, a quieter one. Ahem, except for maybe this next piece.

Absolutely gorgeous. This also belonged to Jenny Komenda. I would put this into my hallway in a heartbeat. 

This next isn't quite the diva. I like its playfulness:

 And this two tone look.

I am absolutely bowled over by that lamp

The reverse effect is stunning, too:

Perhaps this is the humblest of the bunch. Still. Just lovely.

source. top, special walnut.

Do you have a preference? Diva-like or quiet? Painted or wood? How do you like your dressers? 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Styling the Mantel

Justina would have me style a console--but I wanted to play with my mantel instead.

It has one function only--to be a dramatic focal point for the living room.

The painting is a thrift store score. I found it while shopping with my Mom--a rare thing. It fit this old frame I had perfectly.

It fills the space nicely.

Tall + dramatic draw the eye. These pussy willows have been on the mantle since the Spring--and though they really do say "Spring" more than summer, I love them. The books not only heighten the drama--they help balance the long horizontal space. They also bring the colour of the vase over to the other side of the mantel and add some lovely texture.

On the right side, I started with this bird I bought last fall at Target. (Dear departed Target. I'm still upset you left me.) The wood matches the buds exactly.

Then, for bling--and colour--I put this vase I bought just last night at Home Sense. You may remember my frustration trying to style the coffee table. I live a fairly accessory-free life and I just don't have that many options-- so off I went in hunt of pretty things. This is one of the things I found.

The rocks were just lying around, so I just piled them by the vase. There's one on the book on the opposite side, too

I love it. There are groupings. There's tons of texture. The colour palette is tight. (Repeating the colour scheme of the vase with the books--but in reverse kinds sorta thrills me to pieces.)

I give myself an A.

This post is part of a series based on a course I am taking at skillshare by Justina Blakeney called Style Your Space Like a Pro.

Assignment 1: (Identifying) The Styling Principles Of Justina Blakeney
Assignment 2: Styling the Coffee Table
Assignment 3: Styling the Sofa, sort of.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Styling the Sofa, Sort of.

I had plans to style the sofa--but it seems I need more pillows--and that involves shopping. Since my retail options are few and far between (and pricey!), I thought I'd cheat and use the internet.

Styling the sofa is really all about combining pillows and throws--putting patterns, colours, and textures together. One of my favourite things to do! I was up until the wee hours last night looking at fabric and pillows and throws--and was right back at it first thing this morning--before my coffee, even!

I've learned a lot about mixing patterns over the years. Here's a great how-to article.

1. First, patterns are loosely categorized like so:



Loose, or open:

Tight, or closed:




or complex.

I have to say this is probably one of the most complex patterns I've ever come across.

There's also all sorts of textures to consider, too, from smooth indoor/outdoor canvas to soft faux fur. (Ok, so I know there's a thing called sequins--and people put them on pillows. But the number one need for a pillow? Nap-time. So, no sequins for me on a couch pillow! Ever.)

Controlling contrast--letting some things be the same and others different often set the mood and style of the whole room. For example:

The strict black and white palette is high contrast--but the lack of colour keeps things clean and pure.

Amber keeps the contrast here remarkably low. The pink keeps things from fogging over. Textures take pride of place.

Emily Henderson mixes both contrast and colour--but controls the pattern closely. Everything is a variation of a geometric pattern. It's crisp and clean and somewhat masculine.

2. Colours don't need to match--they just need to go together.

Each one of the above pillows goes with the one below--even though the colours may not be a "dead match." (Computer monitors vary in how they represent colors. An orange on my screen may read as a red on yours.)

This is a wonderful example:

Makes me think of sherbet and summer time. Nothing matches--but it all goes.

I wouldn't have thought to add that blue and gold pillow--but it makes the vignette.

3. I love the concept of the linking piece (or in some advanced cases--pieces). These pillows from West Elm illustrate the idea perfectly.

sources: 1/2/3

Not only do the supporting pillows echo the colours in the sparrow--but the patterns on his body as well.

So, what combinations did I come up with?
These would be for my sofa, in my living room.

This is where we left off.

Given I put up a faux brick wall in my dining room, I am trying to introduce a bit of coral or rusty orange into my living room to help the two rooms relate to one another.

My selections are all variations of the same combination: organic plus geometric plus a solid. In each, the organic pattern provides the link.

I envision the first pillow as a lumbar (like the faux fur zebra above) with two in each corner of the sofa--one in each of the supporting players.

Combo 1: (Waverly Lotus)
sources: 1/2/3

Throw: black and white or light blue. This is a high contrast look. For the more colourfully inclined, there's a violet lurking in those lotus pads.

Combo 2: (Tucuman Multi)
sources: 1/2/3

Lower contrast--but still, opposites at play. Throw: deep blue--but really anything from the lead fabric would work, even a rusty red.

Combo 3: Zen Garden
sources: 1/2/3

throw: love to find an orangey rust one for this combo. A caramel faux fur would be gorgeous. A silver fox faux throw would keep the grouping tight.

When I tried to deviate from this arrangement, I wasn't as successful:

sources: 1/2/3

One of these just doesn't belong. That first pattern (Iman Gem Market Embroidery Henna Fabric - $55.00/yard)  may just be too dense for the others.

Assuming the reds/rusts can all get along, this may be a better combination.

sources: 1/2/3

throw: a nice darkish grey faux fur for winter or light grey cotton for summer. Or, throw caution to the wind and go for the greeny gold.

You may have noticed a lack of throws. I found the on-line pickings a bit slim. Besides, it's definitely something I'd have to touch and feel.

Here is a masterful example of how the throw can be that lead piece. The orange pillow looked out of place to me--until I saw the throw!

Looking closer, the throw and the front lumbar pillow just might be co-stars in this production.

My favourite is Combo #2, I think--especially as we approach fall. But I think I can make Combo #3 work with what I have--all I need is the floral and I can let my zebra sub in for the snow leopard, and my navy velvet for that stunning pleated diamond pillow cover from West Elm.

What do you think?
Do you have a favourite?
Is there a formula for mixing patterns you like to stick to?

If you'd like to follow my assignments for Justina Blakeney's skillshare course, Style Your Space Like a Pro, you can catch up, like so:

Assignment 1: (Identifying) The Styling Principles Of Justina Blakeney
Assignment 2: Styling the Coffee Table

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