Monday, January 24, 2011

Colour Flow

Tackling nagging tasks is dangerous at my house. As I mentioned, a million other little voices seem to waken from their naps and begin clamouring for attention. One such little voice, beginning to drown out the others, resides in my front hallway. It is a tiny hallway--and I have done my best to turn it into an entryway by placing a cabinet in it--with "something" on the wall above it.

This is the latest. This is what you see coming in the front door:

I bought this mirror which I quite like: but the black just isn't working for me. (Neither does the "console"--an old upper cabinet from some workshack I turned upside down, attached legs to and painted --but it fits.).

I want to paint this front hall bit. This colour is quite strong (Benjamin Moore, 2149-40 Timothy Straw, 1/2 strength) --and it goes all the way upstairs. I love it there. The colour works really, really well with the orangey wood I have upstairs. (The area also gets more light with a south facing window than this bit does, so it's not quite so intense up there as here.)

And it is time for a change.

I've been playing with my Benjamin Moore Fan deck all weekend and realised I needed a colour flow diagram. Even so, I'm stumped.

(My daughter added the body in the bath tub ;))

The living room is to the left (dark brown, cream, black and orange), the dining room to the right (fresh green, cream, dark brown, black). These two rooms are painted a pale yellow (with a touch of orange) Benjamin Moore, French Vanilla, CC 248.

My choices from least favourite to most are: green, yellow, turquoisy blue, orange and grey.

1) Green. I have it in the dining room and just a little bit in some accessories and the curtains in the kitchen. It is time to change the curtains. I'm tired of the accessories. I love it in the dining room, but it won't be that difficult to change it. I have had green since FOREVER--but now that the sofa is covered up, we can move on from the nineties. Yeah.

2) Yellow. Mmmmm. Yes. My kitchen cabinets are yellow. Sunshiney yellow. Nothing else in my house is yellow. I can't believe it. I will have to start introducing yellow into the other rooms, too. In fact, I should have done so a long time ago. Yellow is tricky, though, and it is easy to over-do.

3) Turquoisey blue. When I posted the kitchen table and chair project last week, I realised that this really was a one-off colour in my house. There's nothing else that is blue-green, either, except the accents in the upstairs powder room (and that's such a different blue-green, it is hard to believe they are the same hue.)

I purchased this little creamer Saturday from Value Village. Isn't it lovely?

I love both the blue-green inside and the blue flowers on the outside as options for the hall.
But is it too late to jump on the aqua bandwagon? Hasn't that train left the station? I don't know, anymore. I've been admiring it for a long time, now, it seems.

4) Orange. I don't want an intense racing stripe-like orange. I don't want pumpkin or caramel or, heaven forbid, peach. I like Flower Pot (CC-96) with my French Vanilla, but it may be too dark. And I thought yellow would be tough!

5) Grey. Yes, grey. Thinking "forward", here. But there's really only one grey in the entire BM fan deck I like with the French Vanilla and that's Revere Pewter, (HC 172).

Any thoughts?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Nagging Task #5 (For Leena)

A long, long time ago, I became inspired by too much browsing at The House of Turquoise.

I lusted and longed for turquoise, aqua, that blue-green.

In this inspiration image, I thought I had my answer.

image from House of Turquoise

I would get my turquoise fix with a quick trip to Benjamin Moore. No problemo.
No more pine!!

Sorry, that's the best picture I've got. I kept the table covered pretty much all the time, even though it looks so fussy to me.



Yes, there is a wow. This Ikea table is over 25 years old.

and, finally, painting ensued.

Then, it rained.

The kitchen table was stuck outside, in limbo, for a very long time. I painted the lower kitchen cabinets, I painted the upstairs bathroom (the walls, the fixtures, and the accessories) and I de-cluttered my daughter's room and painted her dresser and a desk. August was busy.

And then, I brought everything in, set it all up, loved it, and forgot the table and chairs had been a "big makeover." With all of those other projects on the go, I guess it wasn't so strange, was it?

In the back of my mind, though, was the that nagging thought, "You still need to post pictures of this." But you know kitchen tables. They're the dumping ground for everything. Especially one by the back door like this one. It gets cleared off for supper and then, somehow, everything just migrates back to it.

But today, I needed to get the Christmas table cloth off of it. The runner was finally washed and pressed. And so, here it is.

But I'm not sure it will last through the summer. I got this from Room and Board in my inbox this week and I positively swooned.

Might as well jump on this trend at the beginning, rather than wait for the end! I even have a can of that yellow in the basement.

That wraps up the week of featured "nagging tasks." Thanks, everyone, it's been fun and very, very productive!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Nagging task #3 (I think)

Firstly, thank you all so much for your comments! They are so encouraging. (And we do have hooks in the bathroom! It's a combination of 1) she's ten, 2) the bathroom is on another floor, 3) and she is, unfortunately, the sort of person who will open a drwer to put cutlery away and not close it. Have you seen Date Night? That guy.)

Today's (or rather yesterday's) nagging task was one that, actually, hasn't been nagging at me at all. It just seemed the thing to do yesterday evening when everyone was in the living room with nothing in particular to do.

I decluttered yet more shelves: the ones in the living room. Hooray! (I neglected to buy the doors when we purchased these billys from Ikea and now they're discontinued! These have been a bane in my side ever since.)

Before: (left)

After: (left)

Before: (right)

And today: (right)

The stack "to go":

(Ever remove a bunch of stuff and then wonder how on Earth it ever fit in there? I had that reaction when I looked at this.)

Wait until you see what I've done today. You will love it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Nagging Task #2 (and)

Ever notice how once you pay attention to one nagging task all the others get jealous and start to yell at you: "Do me, do me!" They all start clamouring for attention--even ones you hadn't known existed--and the noise is so loud you lose your hastily scribbled list and begin spinning in circles.

That's what happened yesterday.

Here was the task: empty the basket.

But, then, I turned around and noticed these towels:

(Our full bathroom is on the main floor. My daughter wraps herself up after her bath, mounts the stairs to her room, changes into pj's and then dumps these over the railings. I am grateful they are not on the floor.)

So, of course, I had to do the "towel" laundry.

That was satisfying to get out of the way. We needed them done, too. I keep a fairly lean house. Put the towels we need in the bathrooms and this is pretty much all we have to store.)

(I agree there's a bit of weeding of the hand towels needed.)

Once I had the stairwell decluttered, I noticed how I wasn't holding my breath passing through the space anymore. Really? I had been holding my breath? Wow. Talk about making yourself tense.

(I think I might switch out that art-work, too. It feels like there needs to be nothing in that space below the railing.)

But the bookcase needed straightening up. I had removed a number of books as part of AT's Fall 2010 Home Cure and I thought, why don't I style these up a bit.


I stumbled upon this fabulous organizing designer's site simplified bee and I eagerly clicked on the post: Tips on styling a bookcase. I confess she lost me at the instruction to

Store or donate unsightly paperback books.

They are all unsightly paperback books. Each and every one.

So I did what I could with what I had.

I have no totchhkes. No pretty vases, no interesting bits of pottery, no quirky objects, no hands, Buddhas or Eiffel towers. No starfish, no rusted things, no balls of twine, no balls of any kind. I did have letters left over from Christmas, though.

Argh. I really should paint the wall down to the shelf proper and get rid of that annoying unecessary, second horizontal. And the baseboards, should I do something about them under the shelves?
Oh Hush.

Today's? I'm not entirely sure.

Maybe, just maybe, I'll get the shelves up over the toilet.

We'll see.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Report on Nagging Task #1

The official #1, that is.

From this:

to this:

Hemming and ironing (and ironing) these curtains took pretty much the whole day (and evening) yesterday.

I kept going only because I said it would be done by today--and I didn't want to have to start "new post" with a date on it any later than right now. (Besides, it was cold up there!)

The experience makes me think that by putting "tackle a nagging task" on a check list you intend to do something about every day, it's unlikely that Ms. Rubin had such time consuming tasks in mind. Or maybe she did--and I'm just that slow about getting them done.

Regardless, I may (or may not) scale back the size of these nagging tasks. Here's the next one:

Yes. I need to empty and put away the contents of this basket on my stairwell library landing. I have decisions to make about keeping vs tossing some items in here--and finding homes for them, so this isn't quite as easy as it looks.

Wish me luck.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Nagging Tasks

I admit it.

I'm falling behind on keeping my January resolutions.

This may have something to do with my lethargy:

(Snow, everyday. Minus 20C or so, every day. I caught this shot yesterday from the driveway as my son was coming out to shovel, poor kid. I had to give him my hat.)

One of my resolutions, a la Happiness Project, is to do one of those "nagging tasks" every day. You know--that thing you keep thinking you really must do--but then forget about until you trip over the supplies or are inconvenienced by its not-being-done-yet, once again.

One such nagging task was to clear off this mantle, scrape up all the wax, put away the lingering Christmas schtuff, give it a good clean. You know the drill.

And so, before heading out yesterday, I did it.

It's nuts how motivating it is to post what projects I get done, so please, lets hope there will be one a day this week.

That is if you can abide such nonsense.

Here's the next task:

What's wrong with this picture, you might ask--other than the stuffing falling out of the pillow, the unmade bed, the basket of Christmas things not yet put away and the messy shelves? Remember minus 20? Yeah, well, that. The task is to get actual curtains up on the window of my daughter's room--and hemmed. I do have plastic up on the window. Still. Embarrassing.

Hope you are keeping warm wherever you are, whatever your weather!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Why oh why?

Here we are, yep, learning the same old lessons again.

And again.

I'm one who doesn't stash and dash, honest. I don't pile things up in the bedroom --it's on the second floor, for heavens sake. But ever since I tackled our bathroom (and haven't, yet, finished) It's been like this. I tidied up--and it stayed that way for a while, but it's been like this --more or less--since before Christmas.

Today, among many other chores I could have tackled, I chose this one. You know, sometimes you just have to wake up and look at something different. It just becomes time.

Oh and the lesson?

Including a wipe down.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Something to Lose

It was odd, making up this page. I did it on Sunday, my 47th birthday and I felt pretty good about it all. In a month of moving (23/30 days) I've lost quite a few inches. So many, I wondered if I was measuring incorrectly!

Here are the stats:

bust: 1" gone

waist: 2" gone.

hips: no change (poot)

upper arm: 1" (a whole inch!)

and my upper thigh: 3 1/2" (I'd think there's some error there, but I've been doing a low impact aerobics--lots of toning of those upper thighs involved!)

The scale didn't budge. (+0.6lbs is a glass of water!)

But, as I didn't get a chance to work out on Monday, I thought and fretted about it all day long--now I've made some progress, now I have something to lose. I am scared to death of these pronouncements that individuals who "maintain" a significant weight loss do so with 60 to 90 minutes of exercise a day. I haven't got that sort of time--and I panic when I think that may be what it takes. So, I can't let my mind go there.

So, I focus on today. I am ansty for my workout. In fact, I'm anxious for it now, everyday. (yes, everyday.) While I'm sitting here freezing at the keyboard, I know that it will warm me up. I know I'll feel fantastic once I start the cool down stretching and that feeling will last for a few hours. My irritation level will decrease too, making me more pleasant to be around! It will also rev me up and give me more energy.

What it isn't doing is suppressing my appetite--though it isn't increasing it either! (Thank goodness.)

So, this month I want to focus on my emotions, food intake, hunger and fullness. I made a little form to keep track of it all. (Of course I did!) Should I decide to begin restricting my calories (which is not what I'm doing now. What I'm doing now is eating as well as possible.) I hope to have some useful data about how I eat, what fills me up (and what doesn't) and so on. Actually, I'm not entirely sure why I'm keeping track! It just seemed like a good idea. It is making me more conscious about what I'm eating--and that could be a good enough reason all on its own!

Two pages fit on one 8 1/2 x 11 page. Here's today' s (with breakfast filled in):

My resolution to eat more vegetables is going well. Last night at supper, in addition to the prodigious amount of onion in the beef stroganoff, we had boiled carrots, steamed spinach with garlic and roasted sweet potato chips on the side. Dessert was homemade cheesecake with lots of fresh berries, too.

(It was my husband's birthday!)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Goal: Eat More Veggies

As I sort out SMART goals from "learning/purpose" goals and continue to reflect on the distinction, I am going to stick with a "SMART" goal for eating more veggies this month.

Specific? Quite. I am simply going to include vegetables at lunch this week. Yes, sadly, that is sufficient to define "more."

Measurable. All I have to do is look at my plate: is there a veggie (or fruit) on it? Check.

Achievable: Eating nothing but veggies may be unachievable, but including some in my lunch should be more than doable. (Weird criterion. How is this different from the two above? Maybe it was needed so the acronym would work.)

Realistic: As long as I'm not relying on fresh tomatoes, we're good.

Timely. I'm planning on doing this conscientiously and deliberately for the next week. After that, who knows. I'm "looking for" a few staple lunches I can eat over and over again without having to think too hard or spend more than 10 minutes dishing it out.

I am great for planning dinner. But lunch has always been a challenge. I decided to start planning lunch a few months ago, but I've been rather half-hearted about it. The boy loves rice: he'll make a great pot of basmati and dig into it for days, plain. More often than he should, though, he also eats chicken nuggets and breaded fish from a box and swedish meatballs: I have been letting him heat up one of these nasty choices--and making Kraft Dinner when called upon to make an effort. We are not big on eating leftovers, unfortunately. However, part of wanting to be more healthy is to eat more healthily, right? So, here are my lunch plans for next week: I don't know what my son is going to eat.

Actually, this will be a brunch made with homemade waffles, fresh fruit and yogurt --or whipped cream if I can get it. It is my birthday, after all!

Either Sunday night or Monday I will make a soup for my husband to take to work for lunch. (He heats it up in the microwave.) This week I have planned to make Mark Bittman's Two Pea Soup with Frizzled Ham, from The Food Matters Cookbook.) I reserve the right to have a bowl at any time!

More-Veggies Less-Egg Frittata from Mark Bittman's Food Matters Cookbook. (About 1 1/2 cups sauteed veggies bound with an egg per person, plus onion, herbs and parmesan cheese.)

"Oven-fried" Fish and oven roasted potatoes with oven roasted beets and parsnips.

Spinach, onion and cheese quesadillas.

Ham, raw spinach and carrot wrap. (This really is more of a summer choice.)

Grain Bowl.
(1/2 cup cooked grain, 1/2 cup beans, with 1 cup sauteed veggies.)

Ugh. Looking at this list of healthy food, I'm feeling the urge for the orange stuff in the blue box. If I mix in some frozen peas, will it count? I'm kidding, but barely. I have no idea what to prepare. The best thing to do would be to pick something from up above and repeat it. There's quite enough variety to keep me going. Really, I only need three or four seasonal lunches to alternate. However, some of Bittman's "salads" looks enticing, so maybe I'll pick one.


And there we have it.
What are you having for lunch next week?

Moving More, Eating Less: Officially Begun.

I've done this before: set myself up and "declared" I was going to start working out and eating not only better food, but less of it. And it came to naught but egg on my face (except for that stellar effort back in the Spring and Summer of 2009 when I lost 40, count 'em, 40 whole pounds!).

So, this is the layout I created in December when I thought I would start dealing with my weight and wellness issues again. If you read the journaling, you'll see that I was very careful not to commit to actually doing anything. I was acknowledging there was a problem: I was reading all sorts of web-things about how my mind needs to be "tuned" while I get my body reshaped. I took a real-age questionnaire and realized I was much older than my actual years. Things really started to rearrange themselves around in my head though, when I began reading Marianne Williamson's "A Course in Weight-Loss."

Then, I read the Obesity Myth and decided that the most important thing I could do for my health and well-being was to get fit. That's all. No focus on the numbers on the scale, no food charts, no wrestling with God required.

And, as a result, organically and without self-flagellation, I began to move. And I'm still moving.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Picture Winter #4

Assignment: Capture something that makes you think of sunshine

It was another overcast day. Big fluffy snowflakes fell. So, I made sunshine muffins.

(otherwise known as Corny Corn muffins.)

Reverb #12 &13: Body & Action

December 12 – Body Integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present? (Author: Patrick Reynolds)

I don't really understand: do people feel a Cartesian split between their mind and their body? I feel connected and integrated all the time.

My body is me: I am my body.
<----(me, yesterday)
December 13 – Action. When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? (Author: Scott Belsky)

I am tempted to "set up" my whole year. Right now, I am focusing on a few goals centered around the theme I called "Lay the Foundation." I made up a resolutions chart and I'm marking up the boxes. I'm also participating in a class to help keep me on track with my fitness goal and I'm receiving daily prompts from Tracey Clarke's photography class to challenge my creativity every day. I'm already four days into my "plan" and I'm having a blast. I think my biggest "discovery" for 2011 may have already happened: I'm not happy just sitting on my duff all day. I am, actually, happiest with a plan. Who knew?

I don't want to overwhelm myself. I'm afraid I might if I continue, so I will say just this: I hope to focus each month on one "area" of improvement. Which areas and when aren't fixed in place: they aren't even defined, yet, and that's OK. I'm pretty sure February will be the month to concentrate on my relationships--or maybe I'll focus specifically on home school. But we'll see. I'm not sure exactly how to approach the whole "homeschool" thing yet. See? When I know, I'll know what to do.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Picture Winter #2

Assignment: Look out and find your muse.

We took down the tree today: but not before I captured a few pictures. I remembered to look out.

Reflections are a muse.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Picture Winter #1

The assignment: to capture rest from a different perspective.
I admit, this is almost an exact copy of the example given in our prompt today. But I still love it.

On Goals

Since today is THAT day, I thought I'd clarify for myself what I've been reading and learning about goals from Danial Pink's book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.

According to Pink, who is discussing the work of Carol Dweck, how you view intelligence will determine not only 1) what kind of goals you set but also 2) how you will deal with new situations after reaching your goals and 3) whether you will persevere through adversity.

According to Dweck (according to Pink), goals are of two kinds: performance goals, such as, "I will get an A in French this semester" and learning goals, such as "I will speak French."

Both, , apparently, can lead to high achievement: but the former can also interfere with one's ability to apply whatever you learned on the way to getting your A to new situations. So, theoretically, one can get A's in French class without being able to follow verbal directions on a street corner in Quebec City.

(And why do I say "theoretically"? It happened to me.)

Learning goals, on the other hand, can lead towards mastery. You persevere on that street corner, apparently, when your goal is to improve your abilities. You don't judge yourself as "stupid" and give up (as I did). Challenges are just a part of the journey, not a deal-breaker.

Performance goals arise from the perception that your intelligence is an entity. It is fixed, immutable. If you fail to meet your goal, then, it is because you weren't (fill in the blank) enough. Given enough failure eventually, in order to protect yourself you make your goals small and reachable (or you give up making goals entirely).

And even if you do reach your goals, according to other research, you won't be happy. Pink shifts the terminology and calls these goals "profit" goals. That is, goals which pertain to extrinsic aspirations, such as to achieve fame or become wealthy, once achieved, do not increase your happiness.

Apparently, it's gets worse. achieving these so-called profit goals can lead to more anxiety, greater depression and "other negative indicators." These insights are from research conducted by Edward Deci, Richard Ryan and Christopher Niemiec.

Intrinsic goals, however, goals called "purpose goals" --those oriented towards helping others, and to learn and to grow-- can lead to happiness.

And so here we are.

performance goal--challenge--failure--helplessness
profit goal--achieved--(greater) anxiety and unhappiness


Here's the kicker: from what I've seen, (though I've hardly conducted an exhaustive search) most of the literature out there on goal setting will be about setting performance or extrinsic profit goals. It's just in the recipe.

When I gave the link to Lifehacker's post on setting goals the other day, I couldn't help but glance at the "SMART" formula. Take a look. Doesn't it seem like this formula is dealing with performance and/or profit goals? From lifehacker.
  • Specific. Don't just say "Lose weight." Decide to "Lose 12 pounds."
  • Measurable. Instead of "Be better about corresponding with old friends," decide to "Send out birthday and holiday cards to my high school friends."
  • Achievable. "Be the perfect employee/mom/sister/spouse" is an admirable goal, but nobody's perfect, no matter how resolved they are. Make your resolution something that's possible—like, "Improve next year's performance review by at least one grade."
  • Realistic. You've only got so many hours in the day, so make your goals realistic based on what resources and tools you've got on hand. Learning how to milk a cow, for example, is less realistic for someone who lives in the middle of Manhattan.
  • Timely. Since these are New Year's resolutions, set goals you can reach at most within the next 12 months. Giving yourself a "deadline" of sorts will help you figure out where you should be when while tracking your progress.
This goal of mine to "lose weight" for example, could be cast strictly as a Performance/Profit/Smart Goal. That is, I can express it in these terms: It is June 30th, 2011. I feel happy and energetic now that I weigh xxx.

And that, though it follows the SMART formula perfectly, given what Pink has written, would seem to be a goal that, even if it is acheived, may bring me greater anxiety and more unhappiness than I have now.

And you know what?

I think he (and the researchers he cites) are right.

I'll continue this tomorrow.
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