Thursday, March 24, 2016

Love Your Home Days 15-21: Refreshing

Melissa Micheals, of the blog The Inspired Room is posting little Love Your Home assignments every week. I quite enjoyed the first week I did them, so I thought I'd do the second.

Day 15 – Making Memories: Gone are the days when we send all of our photos to be printed. While there are some good things about the technology shift to digital, the not so good thing is many of our favorite photos live on our phone or computer. Today take a quick look through your phone or computer images. Pick a few candid moments or special memories and send them online to a photo printer (or print them out at home right from your phone! Here is a phone printer that looks really cool). Update your frames and send a few through snail mail to family! You’ll make everyone feel loved.

Wow. I don't think I have any recent photos of the kids. Not even from Christmas. (My daughter got quite upset when I tried to take a few shots Christmas morning, so I put the camera away. Then I got busy.) I should take some.
Day 16 – A Place of Your Own: Do you have a special spot in your home, a comfy chair or a desk? Today treat yourself to a little love by improving or designing that place of your own. Add a spring pillow on a special chair, declutter your desktop and add a vase of flowers, find a special cup for your morning coffee or afternoon tea, or gather a new stack of books and magazines by your reading spot. Treat yourself to an inspiring place of your own.
I finally found some daffodils! I decided to put them on my bedside table. I don't often put flowers there since it is so small, but I've been enjoying them enormously. I also stacked all my current library books neatly on my shelf.

oops, typos.
Day 17 – Lovely Linens: Today we are going to streamline and refresh our linens. Pare down excess sheets and pillowcases and only keep to what you actually use.  Tidy up the shelf or closet where you keep bedding! Now, make a fresh linen spray to keep your room and linens smelling divine! Here’s my current favorite blend: mix drops of lavender and lemon essential oil with water in a small glass spray bottle.
I have tidied the linen closet many times: I do not have anything we don't use....except for my yellow duvet cover. I haven't used that in along time. So, I re-dressed that and the bed. I didn't make a linen spry. I wouldn't know how to use it--and I probably wouldn't remember, anyway.

Day 18 – A Gracious Giver: Where do you keep your gift wrap? Is it hard to find, wrinkled and crinkled? Do you have pretty ribbons, gift tags or embellishments for gifts? Today gather what you need to set up a newly organized space. What will inspire you to give each gift your own special touch? Make or print a few gift tags, visit a pretty paper store to pick out something new, or just organize what you already have.

Am I strange? I just don't give gifts all that often....

My gift wrapping supplies are still here in the drawers in the basement where I keep them.

Day 19 – Make it Sparkle: Today let’s make the bathroom sparkly! Clean the whole room if you are motivated, or focus on one part that could use a little TLC. Clean the mirrors, polish the faucets or reorganize a drawer. Make it shine and step back to admire your progress!

I am definitely willing to make the whole room sparkly--but it will take more energy --and time--than I currently have. All of the grout needs a scrub.

I started.

 I also cleaned the fan--which is way more difficult than it should be.

Day 20 – Music to Your Soul: Music moves us, improves our mood and inspires us! Today get your home soundtrack organized and ready. Set up a house cleaning soundtrack, put together a fun dinner playlist or round up inspirational songs that speak to your soul. You can set up music with an online service or app for your computer or phone (Amazon Music, Spotify and Pandora are all great options).

Hmmm. Two things.

1) When I was cleaning out my old files in the basement, I came across lists of composers and their works to study from when we were homeschooling. So, I made some requests at the library.

2) I also listened to my favourite music playing radio station while I was at the computer and wrote down the artists and song titles of tunes I thought would be great to clean with. However, without a phone, an ipod, or mp3 player, I don't actually have any way to listen to songs as I clean and move from room to room.
Day 21 – A Cleaning Frenzy: Today we are going to clean as much as we can for 15 minutes. Before you begin, grab your phone and snap a quick BEFORE pic of the area you intend to tidy or clean. Now, crank up your cleaning playlist and set a timer for 15 minutes. Ready, set, GO! When your timer goes off, grab the camera and take an after pic! Amazing, right?
I chose my desk.

I am not doing every one and I'm not doing them every day, but here and there, as much as I can. I'm afraid I am a bit behind! (The week starts on Sunday and ends on Saturday--this is last week!)

The flowers have wilted, the desk is messy again and the playlist hasn't progressed much beyond that first burst of enthusiasm, but it's still good.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Inspired by: Painted Ceilings.

I love the look of a painted ceiling.

Such drama!

Such impact!

I was reminded of them recently when I went through some old notes I found while clearing out the basement files. I'd written:

  • Ceiling Height: perception of height can be manipulated with colour. "Paint the entryway ceiling a deep neutral and the white ceilings in nearby rooms automatically rise." from Small House, Big Style, BH&G, 2000


Using colour to change one's perception of the volume of space. What's not to love?

Ceilings seem to come in two versions.


and liquid.


As much as I love a lacquered ceiling, the surface beneath the paint has to be perfectly perfect. And mine is most definitely not. In fact, I am kind of hoping a dark ceiling will help hide the gouges and cracks.

So guess what's my next project?

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Love Your Home: Days 10 thru 14. Spring has Sprung!

Ah, Spring.

Not my favourite time of year. Not for the house anyway.

The weather in March is so capricious--like a teenager, rolling out of bed at noon, barely showing her sunny face.

And all the dog does is drag in mud.

But, the end of winter (though we barely had a winter this year) is a relief--and I can celebrate that.

Melissa Michaels, hosting the Love Your Home Challenge invited us this week to bring a little of Spring into the house (but without the mud).

We start with a centerpiece.

Day 10 – Set A Spring Table: Let’s get our dining area ready for spring! Is your dining table buried in clutter? Clear and clean it. Now for the fun part! Find a vase, tray, bowl, glass cloche or a cake plate to use as the foundation for a spring centerpiece. Then shop around your house or go shopping for a few spring items to add to your centerpiece like ceramic eggs, birds or bunnies on moss, or a simple bouquet of tulips or daffodils.

Well, the table certainly needed some clearing and cleaning. And it took me several days. Couldn't find any tulips or daffs, oddly enough. I thought about buying some birds, or bunnies, or a cake plate,... but I've been decluttering and I am just not in the mood for seasonal tchotchkes. So, I settled for a bouquet of my favourite flowers available from the grocery store.

I love it--but it doesn't exactly shout "Hey, Spring!" 

for Day 11, we were encouraged to bring the outside in.

Day 11 – Go Organic: Plant some seeds for an indoor kitchen garden, or find organic elements outside to bring natural beauty to the inside. Sticks or flowering branches in a vase, pretty rocks, or even fruits and vegetables arranged in a bowl can bring organic life to your home.

Yay. I dug out the pussy willow branches--and bought a few more to add height to the arrangement. I also bought a narcissus.

That was so much fun.

Day 12 – Note to Self: What are some meaningful quotes, verses or words you could post around your home to encourage and inspire yourself or  your family? Print your favorites off from Pinterest or create your own version. Tuck printed quotes in drawers, lunch boxes and on bathroom mirrors.

Okaaaaaay. So, I am not an "inspirational quote" kind of girl--at least not the kind who will tuck them into drawers (clutter), lunch boxes (kind of overly sentimental) or bathroom mirrors (definitely, too Anthony Robbins-ish). But I will put a good piece of word art into a frame.

"In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." Margaret Atwood. Did you know Margaret Atwood lives on Pelee Island? I'd smell like dirt, often, if I lived there.

I couldn't find anything I liked and that would fit. So, I made my own. I like it, though the overall impact is less than I'd like.

Day 13 – Dress It Up: Tonight make dinner time feel like a special event by setting the table in advance! Clear the table of any clutter, set out pretty spring linens and tables settings. Add votive candles and soft music.

Well, I invited my husband to eat with me at the semi-cleared kitchen table. No candles, no music. But it was still special.

Day 14 – Welcome Home: Today let’s give our front door or porch a little spring makeover! Sweep and clean the area around the door, and then add a spring wreath, a pot of flowers or make a spring banner or pendant to welcome you home.

I swept and tidied and I bought a new mat. I loved doing this--nothing like scraping the old pumpkin off the step to put you in the mood for Spring!

my son just got home from school. That's his wet boot print on the step.

I have more planned for the entry. I'll post as soon as it's ready.

I am having a blast doing these little assignments. I may not do one every day--and it may take several days to do one, and I'm not doing them "perfectly" but it's still a lovely way to engage with the house.

I'm curious--are you doing anything to welcome Spring?

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Retrospective: 7. The Living Room, pre 2007-2015

Well, hey there.

Remember this series?
Neither do I.

No, of course I do. I just got impossibly, overwhelmingly busy last fall and didn't finish. The living room is the very last installment in a series I started last fall to celebrate my blog's eighth anniversary.

In this series, we travel back in time to see at all the changes I made (or didn't make) to the rooms in my humble little house. The last room we looked at was The Kitchen, 2007-2014. If you'd like to start at the beginning, go here: The Front and Back Yards, 2007-2014. You can also catch all the retrospective posts under the Prairie Home Tour tab, above.

So. The Living Room.

Err. No, scratch that. It's The Parlour.

That is what my husband calls it. 

It doesn't look like much of a parlour here!

Please click through to read through.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

At Mom's: The Back Porch

I had a fabulous day with my Mom sorting through all the things on her back porch.

We have to get everything out because it is falling down--and she wants it rebuilt. It's not heated--just enclosed.

I started at 10:15. Mom was actually getting her car serviced and she ran late, so I worked for about 45 minutes without her. I remembered to take my before pictures after I'd been working for about 1/2 hour.

This is a good overview of the space. I'm standing at the entrance from outside. That back wall is to the north. The white wall is the east elevation. That's the siding on the house. The door to the house is on that east wall, just to the left of the black shelves. You can see a bit of the door, standing open, through the shelves, there.

Moving left to right, the area in front of the window (which faces west):

The north-west corner. (I am standing in the doorway to the house here.)

And then the pair of black shelves;

As I worked, I brought things inside for Mom to go through.

I used the deck just outside the porch to group stuff.

I piled drywall in one area,

and baskets and containers in another. All of these were on the porch--and all of them were empty. Essentially, as Mom was decluttering inside the house over the winter, she'd move the empty baskets and containers to the porch--intending to put them in the garage when the snow had cleared. She has made me promise not to toss or donate any basket or container until the house is organized. They're now in the garage. (That has to be cleaned out too.)

The sun was beautiful and warm.

And here we are--about six hours after I started.

Mom wants to keep this dresser. I've told her she'll have to find a place for it--or she can't have it.

As I was pointing out that lone box way, way up there to my mom, she said, "Oh good. That's a box of electrical supplies." I must have looked confused because she went on to say, "That's good. We're finding more electrical supplies, because right now, if we had to do a project, we'd have to go to the store, and, you know, buy things." She said it like it was a bad thing.

I was even more confused. "But what's wrong with that?" I said to her, "the store is a perfectly good place to store things."  And she laughed and thought I was terribly clever (as mothers do).

We found long lost riding equipment, a large box of cast off clothing, a couple of dead plants, and even a bee bee gun which no one can account for. We got rid of old mops, a light fixture, dishes, piles and bags and baskets of paper, and a hundred thousand bags. There were cloth bags, plastic bags, and bags of bags. I let my seven year old nephew smash up an old mirror inside a plastic bag--and then I sealed it into an old drywall tub and clearly labelled it. He helped me clear the porch, too.

Here are our "take-away" piles.

The donations filled the jeep.

Mom finished two more bags for donation and one more bag of trash after these were taken.

Obviously, there's more to be done: but we've broken the back on this thing.

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Monday, March 7, 2016

Love Your Home Challenge: Day 9. The Home Binder.

I don't have any problem loving my home. I used to. There were parts of it I absolutely hated. I don't hate them anymore--but without renovations, they have remained awkward and difficult to deal with.

But, the best way to grow to love something is to take care of it: to invest time and energy. And yes, in the case of a room in a house, to make it pretty and functional.

To do that, you need a tool like the Home Binder. Accordingly, Melissa Micheals, who created the Love your Home Challenge, encourages people to create one:

Day 9 – A Home Notebook: Today let’s create a simple home notebook (or if you already have one, update it!). Set up a three ring notebook with dividers and plastic sleeves, or use a special bound notebook or an electronic note system on your phone or computer. Divide your notes by room so you can keep track of paint or fabric names, sketch floor plans or measurements of rooms and windows, lists of furniture or accessories you are looking for, keep garden notes, home maintenance/warranty information, and inspiration photos.

It's probably comes as no surprise to you, but I have had a "home binder" forever--and not just for this home. In fact, one of the first things I ever did whenever I moved into a new place was take its measurements and draw a floor plan. How else would you know where to put the furniture?

My home binder now contains floor plans and paint information, a wiring diagram and a cheat sheet for my light bulbs and fixtures as well as other things. But inspiration photos live on Pinterest, and garden notes as well as my warranties and manuals also have their own individual binders. My point is--what you keep in it reflects your needs at the moment.

I used to have a home binder almost exclusively devoted to the issues of organization and function(s) of each room. That's long gone, but I did discover some other versions of my home binder while I was clearing out the basement files last week. I found many old pages torn from House and Home magazine, articles on how to read decorating magazines, notes --handwritten-- on how to mix styles--how to visually raise or lower ceilings--make a room look larger--Jeffrey Bilhuber's favourite whites--all sorts of things. I may or may not do something on the blog with these.

But now--I most definitely want to paint my front hallway ceiling a darker hue!

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Sunday, March 6, 2016

Love Your Home Challenge: Day 8 Pamper Yourself.

I did it! I'm so excited.

I've read Melissa Michael's charming little book: Love the Home You Have. (Not an affiliate link, but it should be.) In the back, she has a thirty day Love Your Home Challenge which Melissa is now hosting on her blog, The Inspired Room.

Somehow, I missed Week One, unfortunately. Too busy cleaning and decluttering! But I have decided to jump right in where we are.

Melissa writes:

Day 8 – Pamper Yourself: Make at least part of today all about YOU. What is one thing you always WISH you could do for yourself that you never seem to have time for? Today, make time for the bubble bath, paint your nails or enjoy coffee and a good book.

I don't know about you, but I don't like assignments like this sprung on me. Anything beyond a coffee and a good book takes some planning. Even popping down to the grocery store to get some flowers takes time.

Flowers. Wait.

I know! I have been sitting on ordering some fabric to make pillows for a Spring Sofa pillowscape.  I still love and want the fabric after twenty four hours (its been more like 72 since I saw the possibilities and fell in love with it.)

So, I pulled the trigger. It is the fabric beneath the title card of the post. Sakura Green Tea, to be precise.

Buying something I love is rare for me. Especially expensive fabric. Oooh, I can't wait.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

40 Bags in 40 Days: Days 7 to 18: So Good.

I want more things to get rid of.

You heard me. More to get rid of.

The feeling I get when I create a clear wide open space is addictive, intoxicating! It makes me feel calm. It makes me feel free.

But a bit anxious too. What if my husband asks me for something I've let go of? What if after five years of forgetting--he suddenly remembers?

Day 7: The Laundry Room

I meant to do more, but the day got away from me, somehow.

Day 8: The Paint Spot

An hour and a half later...

The opposite happened. I hadn't meant to do so much! I cleaned out and reorganized the top two yellow drawers.

Day 9:  Donations Run I

release the kraken, indeed!

It took me more time to pack these up and load the car than it did to drive to two different locations to drop it all off!

I found more bags in the I loaded those up, too.

Day 10: Clean the kitchen Day!

I spent the day and cleaned the kitchen.

Day 11: Nada

I didn't do anything today.

Day 12: You Can Do Anything for 15 Minutes!

I decided to do just 15 minutes. I wandered down to the basement--and the first thing that caught my eye was these shelves. (Not surprising, they're just to the right at the foot of the stairs!)

And just like that, I had a bag for the animal shelter.

Day 13: Nada II.

A long, tiring day. I didn't try to declutter at all.

Day 14: A Pile and Some Files

This was actually a surprise. I was tidying the bedroom and decided to go through my closet and my drawers just quickly to see if there was anything I could let go. And there was!

In the evening, I went through the top drawer of a filing cabinet we have in the basement. It holds just our taxes and supporting documents.

Everything dated 2008 and before--except the returns themselves--was purged.

Day 15. The Past and Donation Run II.

I went back to the filing cabinet. My goal is to get these three totes into the cabinet.

I also bit the bullet on a few things that have survived past purges--but still, have never been used. Now they are gone.

This donation run saw me go to H&M for their cloth recycling program, Value Village, the animal shelter, and Habitat for Humanity's  Re-store (the old light fixture from the dining room). It probably took over an hour (well, there was a train, a slooooooooooow mooooooooooooving train, so definitely, it took well over an hour, lol!) to drive to all four places. Decluttering this way is not for amateurs!

Then, I went to Mom's and several hours later, left with a garbage bag I could barely lift and a liquor box full of movies on VHS. I dropped them at Value Village on the way home.


Day 16: The Files, Continued.

More files.

Over half this drawer went to recycling. I had six inches of poli sci papers. I did keep a copy of Rawls' paper, "Justice as Fairness," however. It's a reminder of what I missed not finishing my Ph.D. Given the way things have turned out at Universities--especially in the Humanities, I am very happy I did not continue down that path to the ivory tower. I also kept a copy of The Constitution Act of 1867 to 1982 as a nod to my interest in constitutional law and a copy of the Indian Act because, well, because, every Canadian should have one.

The files in the totes are on hanging files. I prefer that system even though it takes up more room. Ever notice, sometimes, that "organizing" something isn't as space efficient as not organizing it?

Day 17: The End (of the) Files and Donation Run III

I finished up the files. I bought one more hanging file rail kit and a box of hanging files. (I didn't bother putting the tax drawer on rails.)

Just look at that!

The file drawers are labelled taxes, household, Memories general (and hobbies and Interests) Memories--Kids' school years).

That pink bucket up top? That's the burn pile.

We don't have a shredder--and there's no point getting one when we have a back yard fire pit. It'll just be a month or two before we can use it.

As for the donation run, I grabbed three boxes from the garage and went to my Mom's where she had a bag ready for me to take away. We filled another bag while I was there and I dropped everything off at Value Village on the way home. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me,

Day 18: Terrible Tuesday

I made the menu for the week and went grocery shopping. I decided that March will be "eat from the freezer" month.

I've decided I'm going to continue--though the pickin's are getting slim. I hope I can spend some time at my Mom's helping her declutter before my hours at work pick back up later this month.

If you'd like to catch up, here are the previous posts:

Introduction:  The 40 Bag Basement.
Day 1: Clearing the Decks
Day 2: I Can See the Table!

Days 3-6: The Bunny, the Comic Books and Other Difficult Decluttering Decisions

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