Thursday, May 31, 2012

William Morris and Four Small Projects

Did you know the William Morris Society has an opinion about our little William Morris project? They do and it is empowering to read. Check it out here. Apparently, Morris made his famous remark in his battle against consumerism. That's not surprising, is it?

I love the William Morris project hosted by Pancakes and French Fries. I really do. I spend most of my week thinking about what I can do to improve both the beauty and usefulness of my home. I do little things, here and there, some so small, they don't seem worth blogging about.

Like this project.

Do you see the difference? (I mean other than I painted the wall.)

On Tuesday I installed a towel rack to the underside of the bottom shelf so my son has a place to dry the towel he drapes over the side of the tub to protect the book he's reading when he takes a bath. I was sick and tired of not having a place to put it when I collected the crumpled damp heap off the floor every morning.

Just a small thing.

I hated digging around in my little file folder holder whenever I used it. I was always squinting to see the writing on the crushed up file folder tabs. (I've been recycling file folders for more than fifteen years. Some of them are pretty beat up.) I made larger tabs to make it more useful. I used coloured pens to make it, well, ok, not beautiful, but certainly more pleasant.

Another small thing.

I want a navy blue and white bathroom and I've been hit with the chevron bug. I decided to satisfy both desires with an already previously purchased can of spray paint--and this:

(yes, taping it was a two, maybe three day project, all told. I kept thinking, it doesn't have to be perfect. Think Missoni and Target!)

Ta Da!

It holds the extra toilet paper.

A small, but fun thing.

I washed a pillow cover during my Spring Cleaning of the living room last March. When I reinserted the pillow, and closed the zipper for the very first time, it stuck. I had no choice but to take my seam ripper to it. I bought another zipper and did nothing until I had my Mom come over and teach me how to put it in yesterday.

A small thing so wonderful it was almost big.

The William Morris Project really isn't all about little home decorating projects. It's about looking and looking (especially as I want to have a post every week) and then seeing what should be done and what could be done. It's about thinking about how to solve a problem or make something work better. And, to be honest, sometimes it's about figuring out how to get something you really want. It's about all of this and more because it's always about accomplishing all of it without spending any more than is strictly necessary.

To me, that seems a good start to becoming content; and contentment is the only antidote I know to consumerism.

Linking to the William Morris Project at Pancakes &French Fries.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Grace Notes

Back when I was a new wife and mother, I also contemplated a career change: from journalism to interior decorating. In pusuit of my new goal, I stumbled upon the inestimable interior designer and author Alexandra Stoddard in my travels through the book stacks at the local library.

One of her suggestions was to pop a vase of flowers in your fridge.

Say what?

Imagine opening your fridge and seeing it. Wouldn't that be wonderful?

"Grace notes," Stoddard defines further in a book of the same name,
remind us that it is ofetn the little things, the small revelations, that make a great deal of difference in handling dissappointment, frustration and loss. They help us celebrate moments of joy by enabling us to unearth the underlying goodness of things.

Well, OK.

For me, grace notes can simply be a little spot of beauty I find to share in the normal drudgery of the day to day.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

William Morris and the Dripping, Dropsey, Nasty Toilet

If you are eating, click away. Seriously. This next bit is gross. Really gross. It's about the toilet. I don't want any of you getting sick--cause this next bit is all about someone who did--over four years ago.

Of course, we didn't know that.

A long, long time ago, long before low-flush toilets were viable and available (2007) hubby and I were forced to replace our toilet because the tank had cracked.

We decided to replace the floor at the same time. We also purchased a new, quieter bath fan.

From time to time I would notice nasty yellow-brown stains around the base of our new toilet on our new floor.

Like this:

At first, we blamed it on poor housekeeping.

The toilet tank sweat when anyone had a hot bath. That, plus erratic cleaning may have caused it. So, hubby insulated the tank with a styrofoam liner. It sweated less (we no longer had standing pools of water on the floor) but the yellow-brown stains kept appearing.

Then, we blamed it on our young son and poor aim. But I knew it wasn't him. I mean, look at that stain above, directly behind the toilet. I said it was impossible--it couldn't be the boy. My husband said it was entirely possible. He had this whole involved explanation. I didn't believe him, but what do I know about boys?

I thought it might be leaking from the base, (a poorly installed ring, perhaps?) so I googled it and that didn't seem right, either.

My husband and I actually had fights over this. For more than four years!

Then, one night, last week, I remembered something. During the night after we had installed the base of the toilet, but not the tank, someone had had a bout of the stomache flu. I don't remember who it was. What I do remember, though, is that the tank was installed right over the vomit without it having been cleaned up. I remember because I was so angry that my husband would have done that that I didn't trust myself to speak to him about it. So, everything stayed. I even blogged about it--the installation, not the vomit. It had been awfully close to Christmas. I'd forgotten that bit.

We took the tank off two days ago to test my memory and found this:
(I hope you have finished eating)

That gunk plus condensation just might drop nasty all over my floor, don't you think?

Ugh. I made hubby tell me I was right. Out loud.

And then I told him to clean it.

It's all better, now.

My son is exonerated, I am vindicated, and best of all, hopefully, no more dripping, dropsey, nasty toilet.

Linking to Jules at Pancakes and French Fries and the wonderful William Morris club--though they may throw me out after this one!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The May Day Tree

I am grateful for these leaves.

This branch is part of our dying May Day tree. It's not the English May Day tree, but prunus pradus, a kind of chokecherry.

It is called the May Day tree because it tends to bloom around May day (Queen Victoria's birthday, May 24th). It also tends to become diseased when it get old, as ours is.

That's our bedroom window on the second floor. I love this tree. I'm grateful to wake up to it every morning.

(This post is part of an ongoing series for May called the Photographic Gratitude Project. Explained, here)

Weekend Project: Flower pots.


I didn't get a whole lot done this weekend. Our hot water tank started leaking Thursday night and had to be replaced--fortunately we found someone to come on Friday and install a new one. The old one was 19 years old.

So we're rebuilding our emergency fund.
I didn't feel comfortable putting on my painting clothes and finishing any projects on Friday. Saturday was busy with Girl Guides during the day and Scouts in the evening, but I did manage one small project on Sunday:

taken last night, in the evening sun

The tall grassy thing is Dracenea, the yellow flowers are pansies, and the trailing plant should be lobelia. I also put in a few white Alyssum plants just because I like them.

taken today, in the noon time shade

I did two: one for either side of the steps:

Pleasant enough.
(Those are extra pansies on the steps. I think I'll return them.)

Friday, May 4, 2012


Day 3 of the Photographic Gratitude Project is "happiness."
Remember that it is nothing to do your duty, that is demanded of you and is no more meritorious than to wash your hands when they are dirty; the only thing that counts is the love of duty; when love and duty are one, then grace is in you and you will enjoy a happiness which passes all understanding.
W. Somerset Maugham (1874 - 1965), The Painted Veil, 1925 (italics mine)
This has become my duty:

Every two to three days, the counter is cleared (the bread is kneaded 3x every ten minutes for ten seconds), the oven is engaged (the only draft free spot warm enough for the bread to rise is in the oven with the light on), and I know that if I start the bread by noon, we can have bread with our supper. (The entire process takes three hours.)

I wouldn't do it if I didn't enjoy it, but I'm glad I do. I might have stopped if the kids hadn't come round to liking it as toast and jam. I love it, too.

Home baked bread makes me happy.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Date

This is for Day 2 of the Gratitude Photography project: a smile.

We went window shopping at Crate and Barrel. What a happy, colourful, fun place.

We sat on a chartreuse sofa with beautiful lines (we both agreed it had beautiful lines) and discussed the recent senate election (only in Alberta). We looked at a fabulous coffee table made out of reclaimed wood. We peaked at the price of a Marmiekko duvet (waaay out of our current price range), fell in love with a pillow or two and exclaimed over the dish ware in great colours and the plates with uneven edges.

We were there over half an hour. It was practically a date.

And then I said, "let's go, before the excitement of all this stuff makes me sad we can't have any of it."

Because, you know what?

I am profoundly grateful for this smile.

This smile, given while still in his work boots because he had an hour and a quarter of over time. This smile, offerred after a long day's work, just because I asked. This smile, because we're finally paying off all those impulsive purchases I made to compensate for the absence of any and all dates.

William Morris: The Vacuum and the Closet

I don't like my vacuum.

It's floppy and untidy.

You can't leave it out without it sprawling all over everywhere and you can't put it in the coat closet without it sprawling all over the coats. (There is no other closet for it to call home.)

When I painted the coat closet (as part of my two month-long spring cleaning extravaganza) I vowed to do something about the beast, so I googled some combination of "vacuum hose holder" "vacuum hose storage" until I found this:

I ran, no, I flew to IKEA to buy it with my very own "blow" money and then it sat around waiting for me to put it up.

Finally, I figured out how best to do it and put it up and hung up the hose.

I also rehung my mop and broom on the opposite side and now the coat/cleaning closet won't attack anyone who hangs up a coat (or puts away her backpack.)

Sometimes something useful can create something beautiful.

Linking up to Jules and the gang for the William Morris coffee klatch happening (almost) every Thursday at Pancakes and French Fries.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Cure for Common Discontent

One of the best cures for discontent is gratitude. Nothing like reminding myself of something I am grateful for to snap me out of the whiny "if onlys."

A long time ago, I came across this photographic gratitude project, somewhere. (Probably via one of Aby's courses.) I've wanted to do it for some time: now is it.

It seems the perfect vehicle to help me refocus my creativity and attention from house related things to other related things: and give myself a much needed little attitude boost, too.

The first "subject" on the list of things to photograph is my favourite food. I always freeze when I hear the word "favourite. I agonize like a mother over her children, they're all my favourites! So, I thought about a favourite I had on hand just this minute. And here it is:

It had a little sticker on it, announcing it as a Red Hat. I googled it. It's more local than I ever imagined a tomato, in Alberta, in May, could ever be.

I am grateful for greenhouses, sunshine, and fresh tomatoes in May.
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