Thursday, February 28, 2013

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie....


One cleared out cubby in the Expedit for something Stacy Julian calls Storage Binders. They are a crucial part of the photo handling system I am learning in Finding Photo Freedom.

In order to clear out a cubby, though, a great many things had to happen.

First, to take books off the shelves and sort and choose which ones to sell where, I needed to get down to the basement. I have other books from previous efforts of decluttering my books and they all needed to be sorted.

But before that could happen, I had to be able to get to them and to my sorting surface.

But I couldn't.

They were here, in my son's "video games room."

So, I had to move him out.

In order to move him out, we needed to sell this lat pull down machine over in the corner of the basement by the water heater and furnace:

Got that?

Move the books, move the boy, move out the exercise machine.

We thought we had a buyer for the exercise machine, so we dismantled it.

When he failed to show up to collect it, I decided to store it disassembled and set up the new room anyway. My son helped me and we got it done on the weekend.

That left the former video game "room." It was still completely unusable. (Sorry, I didn't stop to take a picture.)

I stacked everything in the room over to one side. I wanted to take a beauty shot of the recumbant bike so we can sell that too. I really dislike using it.

Then, I could get to work.

I started by piling. I sorted the boxes into boxes of books to sell and boxes of memorabilia. I set up a small kitchen table on loan from my Mom and put the memorabilia boxes on it.


Then, on the table where the TV had been, I started sorting the boxes of books I'd already collected from around the house last year. (A local second hand bookstore which specialised in children's books went out of business in the fall. I need to find another good home for them.)

(The white dresser used to be where the black shelves are now.)

Once I had those in piles, and not before, I was able to go upstairs and choose a few things to get rid of and shuffle things about until I had enough space to clear out a cubby. (I added them to their appropriate piles on the table in the basement.)

Ta Da!

Ok, so technically, it isn't empty. That's my cutting mat. But no books. It's empty of books. The cutting mat doesn't count. Besides, it's a scrapbooking tool.


You know, I probably could have cleared out a cubby at any point: physically. I could have just taken the contents and piled them somewhere, anywhere. I really didn't have to rearrange about a third of the basement.

But mentally, that was impossible. I used to just throw things down there willy-nilly to "deal with it later." But I have spent enough time on marathon clean up sessions down there that I just can't do it anymore. In fact, it didn't even occur to me I could have done that until I was writing this post!

That's progress, folks! That's real progress for this procrastinating recovering hoarder.

And so here we have it. My reward. My first storage binder, all put away in its proper spot.

I will make a label for it when I figure out what colour I want to make it.

(Now to get binders for more? I have what I need. Yep. In the basement. That's a whole 'nother decluttering project!)

Linking to the inestimable Jules and the folks who make up the William Morris project every Thursday at Pancakes and French Fries because if creating that cleared out cubby wasn't a cascade of beautiful and useful, then I don't know what is!
PS: Both the lat pull down machine and the recumbant bike have been sold and removed. Yes! 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

My Creative Space: Inspiration

I've been pinning inspiration photos of craft spaces and sewing rooms and scrap rooms and studios like mad for the past few months.

When I went to identify what I liked about those spaces, however, to identify what was attractive to me and made me want to create, I found the cupboard bare.

I didn't actually pin beautiful, heart quickening spaces.

This was the sort of thing I was pinning:

Neat, beautifully organized, highly functional, and an efficient use of space. But it doesn't make my heart sing.

This does:

and this:

I don't know why, but this nearly made me cry. (I think I was up past my bed-time):
I think I had such a strong reaction just because it is so obviously a space designed for creativity--for the openess and clarity of mind one needs to bring to the process--not the stuff, not the things--but the essence, the spirit.
I am somewhat surprised by the lack of colour in these spaces, but then again, scrap booking,which is my current major hobby is consumed with colour--at least for me. So having a creative space which emphasizes textures and balances light and dark elements as exquisitly as these do, seems natural to me.
Here are my takeaways:
1) Large work surface. Huge table--not a desk.
2) Tons of natural light, please!
3) Materials: natural wood. Painted wood. Distressed finishes. A little bit of metal. Wicker. Interesting task lights. Kind of industrial turn of the century-factory-like looking.
4) The containers match. There's an extreme cohesiveness to everything on display.
5) There's an open, airy feel in all these images. Ther's a fair bit of white space--and in all these spaces it is, actually, white!

Friday, February 15, 2013

My Creative Space

One of my goals this year is to awaken my long dormant creativity. I am taking two classes this month to help me along. (I would not have chosen to take these classes at the same time, but that's when they were available!)

The first is Photo Freedom taught by Stacy Julian from Big Picture Classes. Yikes! Is that going to be a ton of work! The second is Organize Your Creative Space by Aby Garvey from Simplify101.

My creative space is my dining room/home office. This room:

Photo from 2011

Most of my scrapbooking supplies are actually in the Expedit.

Photo taken today.

A few more are downstairs in the basement. They're primarily in (and on!) this dresser and these two old stacked pine IKEA units.

There are also different scrapbook projects in the cases on the shelves to the right of the table. (Under that green cloth is my miniature house project I haven't seen in 16 years!)

(I took this photo last year after working on it for a month last year. Shortly after I set up this space to work, my husband and my son turned it into a place to play video games. This is how it looks today! I need to spend some time down here and create a better set up.)


When I last took a scrapbooking class--and thus knew I'd be scrapping for ten weeks or so--I set up my dining room like this:


Everything right within reach. It worked really well.

Of course, this is all cleaned up! This is how things really looked at Christmas while I was putting together the scrapbook calendar:

My problem is, I can't leave the room set up to scrapbook all the time. Never mind the chaos, I need this room for many other things as well.

For example, in my photo Freedom class, I'll be sorting photographs on the table:

For a while, it seems!

So, the challenge for me will be how to figure out how to do scrapbook pages in a casual way, a way that doesn't involve radically changing the dining room but still lets me get a page done now and then.

That would make me happy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

William Morris and Defining "Beautiful."

As we all know, the adage, as stated above, is:
Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.

So, the question becomes: just what is beautiful, (to me) anyway?

I found a wonderful blog a while ago, called Fieldstone Hill. The author, Darlene, has a brief, but profound little series called Personal Style Bootcamp, developed as part of a larger series to help overcome decorating paralysis.

Both series are thought provoking. A crucial part of defining what is beautiful to you is to know what you love.

One way to do that is look at pictures and things and evaluate and sort and name. Another way to do it, Darlene's way, is for the more left brain oriented among us. Come up with the words, first, then find images which express the words. This is step one in Personal Style Bootcamp.

How to find the words? Darlene suggest answering the following questions:

1) How do I want my home to feel?
2) How do I want my home to look?
3) What purpose do I want my home to serve?

After narrowing things down, my word list consists of the following:

Simple, Comfortable, Unexpected, Unpretentious, Welcoming, and Hand Made.

And here's what I mean:


There's a lot to say about this room at the NoMad hotel in Manhatten: but the light, the white, the strong lines, the symmetry and the materials all say "simple, honest, uncluttered, fresh."


It's comfortable not just because there's a warm welcoming colour scheme, and a stunning ottoman/coffee table to put my feet upon, side tables to put down my drink, pillows to put at my back and books to place in my hand, but because it's all so cosy. The scale is just right. Somehow, though, it looks like a living room in a magazine--not a room in a home. It feels cluttered to me, too. And I'd need more colour, anyway!

sidenote: It's astonishing how many "pretty pictures" are not, actually, pictures of comfortable rooms. I try to imagine myself inside--and though they make stunning photographs, most do not have chairs suitable for watching a good long movie, places to put drinks, a spot for my feet. You get the picture. The above is a nest. A magpie's nest, to be sure, but a nest, nonetheless.


Source: Loraine G. Vale via houzz

The red dresser is a bit of an eye opener, isn't it? It makes the room, though.



from House and Home, June 2012 via Wilson Kelsey Design
All that texture! The wood has such warmth. I would love to transfer this, item for item, into my front entry.


I  want to say something about purpose, because it is the most important thing--and the most difficult to capture in just images.

Our home has to serve us. We are not going to serve the home. Cleaning it, decluttering it, fixing up things here and there is all for us--not a design aesthetic I'm trying to adhere to. I am a creature of aesthetics, though, so looking good and caring about that will always be part of my home.

So, while I "decorate" my home, the first questions will always be: what do we do here and how can we do it effortlessly? How do we want to feel? How can I accomplish that?

That is what good design is all about. It's a tool. A means. Not the end itself.

Linking to Jules at Pancakes and French Fries for our weekly William Morris event.

Sidenote: I've had this post percolating for months. Many thanks to Rita and Cane at This Sorta Old Life for their thoughts on Undesign. They provided the push I needed to wrap my head around the issues of design and functionality, once again.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Front Entry and Back Hallway

Our beagle, Stomp, waits anxiously at the front door for one of the kid's to come home from school.

I was looking through the archives to find a post for the Home Tour series and I honestly could not find one simply celebrating these two separate, but connected spaces in my home.

Oh, I have lots of posts on these areas: but each and every one treats them as places with messes to be cleaned up and with problems to be solved. That makes sense: the blog started as a place to record my doing the Cure, after all.

(side note) Apparently, there was a cure last month. I'm absolutely indifferent to the fact that I missed it. I remember an old friend announcing she was not going to do the cure because, well, her place was "cured," thankyouverymuch. I can now say my place is too. That doesn't mean there aren't things I want to do and that there won't be changes: but I know my house, I know my family, I know how we live here and what works for us. For the most part, it works. I like my home, now, too.

Since that very first cure in 2009, the entryway has had something in it, namely, an old cabinet my husband found. It fit just perfectly--but only just.

photo from the Spring Cure, 2011
It was useful: but it made the hallway, just over three feet wide, quite crowded.
In late August, we returned a piano my Mother had loaned to us for about ten years.  Its spot was just around the corner in the living room:
photo from August, 2012

With the piano gone, the logical thing to do was to move the cabinet in. So, we did.

That left the hallway almost perfectly empty.

Here it is as you would see it on entering the house at the front door.

I wonder if I can retake this with the stairway centered and light streaming down the stairs?

Living room to the left, dining room to the right.

And now back the other way, from the foot of the stairs towards the front door:

That's the window from the original door reflected in the mirror. Neat, eh?

You see why I said it was "almost" empty. There's the small child's chair at the entrance to the living room, perfect for taking on and off shoes and boots (or, more relistically, holding my daughter's backpack and coat after school).

Opposite the mirror, we have a small telephone alcove, an original feature of this house built in 1949. Can you imagine being tethered to a telephone in that spot?
The button (barely visible) under this plate still holds the telephone wires.
The back hallway (and stairwell) is yellow-green. I am quite over it.

As a nod to Valentine's day, we're all decked out in pink this week.
This space has four doors: two rooms and two closets. That's my cleaning supplies/towels/tools/lightbulbs/etc closet and my son's room (all that red!) right beside it.
It's a windowless space, so I hung a mirror beside the dresser to catch the sun from the bathroom oposite.
The doorknob below is from the coat closet opposite the ancient Ikea dresser (reflected in the mirror above).
Yep, that's the kitchen right through there with the side of the fridge still uncluttered.

On the top of the dresser is the place where the kids and I are supposed to transfer papers. It's not working quite as well as I'd hoped, but I'm not giving up yet. The oldest has three and a half and the youngest another five and a half years left in school, after all! The calendar is right above it. That is working well.
That's it. That's out front entry and back hallway. A small "ell" shaped hallway that sees a lot of comings and goings.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Paperwork Challenge: Progress!

I have decided that February will be the month I get caught up on my paperwork and get it sorted for the upcoming year. All about that here.

This first week was a huge challenge!

When I made up the challenge and set my goals, there was a sleepy, incoherent voice in the back of me head saying, "What about the big shop?" I ignored it until Sunday when it woke up and shouted at me: "The shop is Tuesday! Get 'er done!"

 It took a chunk of time on Sunday and practically the entire day on Monday.  Then, on Tuesday, I spent an hour or two finalising everything before I shopped (about 2 hours) and put everything away (about an hour, I eat lunch and putz.) Then, on Wednesday, it took about an hour to portion and wrap the meat for freezing. I do this every month and every month I forget how time consuming it is.

Anyway, during the planning stage, I moved the dining room table to form an "ell" with the computer desk.  I loved it!

Ok. As for what I did with respect to my actual paperwork challenge.

My goals for this week were:

1) Work on budget 15 min/day.
2) Follow through on steps for streamlining paperwork.
3) Deal with my e-mail for 10 minutes/day. Record the number of messages left in my inbox at the end of each day to track my progress.
4) Chip away at the avalanche, 10 minutes/day.
5) Choose a container for the papers and files related to our taxes.


1) Work on budget 15 min/day.

I left the desk in the "ell" arrangement on Tuesday and Wednesday to work on the budget since I use the computer for that, too.
I spent 18 minutes on it on Friday (last week) and more than 30 minutes a few days later on Sunday. I found it confusing to try and remember where I had left off and what needed to be done--even though I left myself detailed notes and "to do" lists. On Wednesday, I bit into it and didn't look up for more than an hour until I felt done. As a result, I'm technically caught up.
The budget is not something I can work on in 15 minute segments. This is a great way to start a project--promising yourself that's all you need to do, but I really am a creature of my old grad school habits: once I sink my teeth into something, it's the only thing I do. Using the timer, this project took me a little over two hours. (In real time, it's more, since I'd stop the timer to answer the phone or put the kettle on for tea.) Next time, I'll just schedule a couple of afternoons. That will work well for such a complex and complicated project.
2) Follow through on steps for streamlining paperwork.

I only worked on this a couple of times. On Monday, we went to the bank, and among other things, I signed up for e-statements and cancelled receiving a paper statement. I print off a list of transactions from the chequing account every week anyway (when I'm caught up on the budget!) and only referred to the paper statements a couple of times this year. Still, it's going to feel weird not having that paper from now on!

I managed to add our phone numbers to the Do Not Call List and our address to the Canadian Marketing Association do not contact registry.

Here is the CRTC National Do Not Call List registration page. Remember to register your cell phones, too. It can take up to 31 days to take effect.

To stop addressed junk mail, you need to register with the Canadian Marketing Association. Here's the home page. "Do Not Contact" is at the bottom under the heading "Consumers." It's a good idea to register everyone who receives mail! It takes up to six weeks to take effect and is good for three years.

We'll see how useful this is. I photographed the mail as it came every day this week. (We only have delivery Monday through Friday and there wasn't any on Tuesday.)

1. Tax Document
     Bank Statement (x)
     Addressed charity solicitation
2. Bill
    Unaddressed real estate ad mail. (This was interesting though. A renovated home in our area is being sold for $849,000. Unbelievable. Makes me wonder if renovating our house might be worth it after all!)
3. Addressed car dealership ad mail (x)
4. Addressed magazine
    Unaddressed Ikea Flyer
    Unaddressed coupon flyers from local businesses (2)
    Unaddressed Municipal Notice on proposed bike trails in our neighbourhood
    Monthly investment statements (2)
The steps I took this week will rid me of those things I x'ed. That's all.
3) Deal with my e-mail for 10 minutes/day.
Record the number of messages left in my inbox at the end of each day to track my progress.
I only worked at this for 3 days and for no more than 10 minutes each time. This is so mind boggling, I'm better at dealing with it in even smaller chunks. I started with 147 e-mails in my inbox and I'm now down to 27. I have to open almost every one of these, now, though, to figure out what I need to keep. They're from the Girl guides and Scouts, mostly.
 4) Chip away at the avalanche, 10 minutes/day.
I only worked on this on Saturday for 20 minutes, before I started planning my menus.
5) Choose a container for the papers and files related to our taxes.
done! Meet Mathew (the tax collector, ha ha)
He lives here, for now:
So, for this next week:
Continue to:
1) Follow through on steps for streamlining paperwork.
2) Deal with my e-mail for 10 minutes/day. Record the number of messages left in my inbox at the end of each day to track my progress.
3) Chip away at the avalanche, 15 minutes/day.
And, I'm adding two more projects from Tsh Oxenreider's little e-book, One Bite at a Time.
4) Read Project #9 Streamline Your Receipt System and tweak my receipt system (if necessary).
5) Read and review Project #17 Create an Essentials Papers file and update my "Black Book."
Hope you had a productive week.
Linking to the William Moriss Project with Jules (and the rest of the gang) at Pancakes and French Fries.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...