Monday, February 24, 2014

Weekly Declutter: Socks

It surprises me that people think that they will declutter "once and for all." The thinking seems to be that they will have a big session of decluttering (or several small ones over the course of time) and then they will be done--for all time.

Decluttering, however, will never end. Sorry. As long as things come into the house and as long as we have limited space: some things will have to go out. That's just the way it is. I have been trying to declutter something (or some area) every week.

This week, I decluttered the sock bucket.

Whenever I do laundry, I try to pair socks right away. But because I do only one or two loads a day, the socks can become easily separated. Once in a while, I give my daughter the sock bucket --to pair up socks while she watches TV. But, as you can see, it was time for me to tackle the job.

It only took me ten minutes:

I tossed eight stray single socks (not pictured).

That was too easy--and now I feel like I got something accomplished!

Friday, February 21, 2014

My Mmmmmarvelous Mantel: or the Importance of Colour and Scale

Edie Wadsworth has thrown the gauntlet. The challenge? To decorate the mantle and have something to photograph by Friday. She laid out the rules:

“Something alive, something to lean, something you love, something with sheen.” 

I chose to accept. Since I removed 90% of my decor during Nester's tchotchke challenge last summer, I have been quite content with practically bare surfaces.

Yet, the urge to decorate has been slowly returning. So when I read Edie's post, I decided the time had come. I scoured Pinterest for guidance. I wanted something simple, yet dramatic--and something I could easily ditto with items I already had. This was the winner:

And this is how I interpreted it:

My first pass wasn't nearly so good, however.

What's the difference? An extra small painting, one more book (with a pink spine) and a switch of candlesticks. Bam! The whole composition sprung to life.

Let's break it down:

Something alive:

In both the inspiration image and my interpretation, the thing "alive" is huge. It is over-scaled to the space--and that adds focus and drama. The only thing I have that would do that are my beloved peacock feathers. I love flowers, too, but I haven't the time to pick them up, let alone arrange them. True story: my husband brought home a bunch of red carnations in early January --and they sat on my kitchen table for two days before someone plunked them in a vase with water still wrapped in cellophane. I still enjoyed them--but I haven't had any since.

Something to lean: 

Ok, so the mirror has been here in what feels like forever, but whenever I think about replacing it, I can't think of anything better. I did add a painting by a friend of my daughter's though. That introduced some much needed colour into the vignette.

Something you love:

Well, the books, of course. I concentrated on pulling books with blue, green and yellow spines. Once I'd added the painting, I also slipped a book with pink binding into the stack. I needed something to "speak" to the painting, to make it look like it belonged rather than placed randomly for effect (though it totally was). That brought the whole thing alive.

Something with sheen:

I started out with these candlesticks. But everything just looked too staid, too polite. Sometimes "sheen" is just not enough.

Sometimes you need sparkle.

So, I ran downstairs and replaced them with the coloured glass.

Ta da!

why yes, that is a pink volleyball in a green bowl there on the left

You cannot imagine how happy I am. I feel as though I am falling in love with my house again. I certainly wish I had more time to spend with it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

How I Stopped Procrastinating.

Short version: I got fed up.

here's what happens when your hallway is also where you change

Somehow, along the way, I installed the curtain rod over my bedroom window crooked.

Can you see it?
There's just a bit of wood from the window trim peeking up on the right hand side.

So, when I decided to paint my room, I figured I would put the curtain rod back up when I finished painting that wall--only straighter and wider.

No biggie, right?

Except, it was. Mostly, I required a second person to stand on a chair with me and help me hold it up, eye the level, and determine whether it was straight.

So, how long does it take a one and three quarter income family to install a curtain rod?

Three weeks plus a day.

Long version:

Time is scarce. It always is: it's just our perception of it which changes. I am a procrastinator. For various reasons, I will put off until some other day what I could have done today. This time, it was because I was afraid I would screw up. But the reason doesn't matter. Eventually, you run out of some days. Eventually, you get fed up and the dreaded task moves to the top of the to do list. That's not really a problem--unless the sum of time it would take to do all those procrastinated things exceeds the time available to you when you get fed up.

That's a problem.

Because then, you're living in a bad mood.

And that sucks.

Sneak preview of my next project in the bedroom:


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Menu Plan --Transitioning to VB6


The Whole30 went well. Really well. I am thrilled I did it. But, I have to say, it is quite the transition from a meat and veggie centered diet (W30, Paleo) to one built around veggies and grains (VB6).

But, we must.

I am so glad Mark Bittman wrote Vegan Before 6:00. Not only does he lay out the world-view behind it (argued for much more extensively in Food Matters) but he includes the principles and 28 days of breakfasts, lunches and dinners. (There is a really nice account of someone's experience with the VB6 food protocol at The Kitchn.)

As the title suggests, breakfast and lunch are meat, dairy, and egg free. At dinner, he says, "anything goes" but the dinners in VB6 are quite light on the meat. Although it is allowed after 6pm, "Meat is a treat." We will work up to that, eventually, I'm sure.

The numbers in brackets are the hours I am working this week. I try to make new dishes and dishes which require longer cooking times on my days off. The only exception is crock-pot cooking--or something I can make ahead of time and then tell the kids to pop in the oven for me when they get home from school (like Friday's Beer Braised Cross Rib Roast).

On Sale:
Chicken Drumsticks  $2.89/lb (6.37/kg)
Chicken Thighs  $2.99/lb (6.59/kg)
Pork Loin Centre Cut Roast  $4.49/lb (9.90/kg)
Cross Rib Roast  $3.99/lb (8.80/kg)

So, here we are.

I will do my best to return to my beloved porridge oats with apples, raisins and nuts for extra flavour and satiety. I may also look up savoury oatmeal. I don't really want all that sweetness for breakfast anymore. It's only been two days and I miss my veggie egg scrambles already!

 My husband and I need to take our lunch every day we work. I will make up these three recipes the night before we need them and they should last each of us two days. Each recipe makes four servings.

Chickpea Ratatouille (Bittman, VB6, p. 167)

Easiest Veggie Soup (Bittman, VB6, p. 160)

Greens and Beans Soup (Bittman, VB6, p. 164)

Here is where I go back to my old tricks. I am just not ready to treat meat as a condiment--and I doubt my family is either! So, for this week, at least, we will be eating our usual meat and veggies.

Monday: (10-6)
Roasted Chicken thighs stuffed with garlic and onion. Spaghetti squash, yam and turnip fries, steamed broccoli

Tuesday: (off)
Cabbage, Sauerkraut and Pork Chops. (Bittman, VB6, p. 227)

Wednesday: (7-3)
Easy Chicken drumsticks on Roots

Thursday: (7-3)
European Pork, apples and cabbage on cauliflower "rice." (Joulwen, Well Fed, p. 36)

Friday: (10-7)
Beer Braised Cross rib roast, roasted beets, salad

Garlic Pork Roast w/roasted sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli

Pan cooked Grated Veggies and Crunchy Fish. (Bittman, Food Matters, p. 248)

Yes, our dinners are light on the "whole grains." I am still quite nervous about incorporating them back into my diet. My weight loss goal this month is to maintain the 12 pounds I lost in January.

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