Monthly Archives: March 2019

The Way It Seems to Work

What have I done today?


#1 – Sweep the laundry room floor, after removing all the undone laundry, and put down a rug which previously had been there? Was somewhere else? I don’t know, but it fits, so for the moment, it’s staying.

The above has generated these action items:

A) Put away the clean laundry on top of the washer/dryer.

B) Wash the laundry which was on the floor. Still in process the next day. 3/27/19

First loads of clean clothes and of household “linens” (dishtowels, etc.) ready to put away. (10:12 a.m.)


#2 – Packed a box of books going out, but not sorted, researched, etc.

Which has generated these action items:

A) Pack a box or two of books to keep without homes. 3 4 so far today.

B) Clear the asst. books which got piled on the bed off the bed. Done by 3 p.m.


#3 – Work on organizing the living room bookcase.

Which has generated these action items:

A) Go through the stacks of books of various categories. Are there dupes to cull? Those I think I’ll never use, aren’t those also culls? This made a huge mess. I dealt with some of it, didn’t with other pieces of it. I just don’t have enough book shelving for all the books I want to keep and it’s a continual problem. Considering who I am, there are really only 4 bookcases in this house, not anywhere near enough!

B) Try to get the annuals organized so you can see any dupes. This at least got finished.

C) Clean the shelving as it’s revealed. IT NEVER GOT REVEALED! This isn’t done.


It’s 9:15 a.m, and doing all of this will keep me plenty busy today! Fortunately, I can run the laundry while doing the other things. I’ll annotate the list above as I get things done!

 

 

 

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First Panic, This Time

Had the first sign of a panic attack last night. I had asked DH if he liked the way the house looked earlier, that may have triggered me. I woke up, mid sleep, palms sweating, leg cramped from pushing with it, and near tears. Figured out what was going on and rolled over, calmed myself down and went back to sleep. Only to wake up again, later and again rolled over and went back to sleep.

On the other hand? Things are getting done. The laundry room, bath room, kitchen and dining room are picked up. The living room has been worked on, so has the bed room. Just too much stuff to get it done.

This morning, for example, I unpacked a box in our bedroom. There’s a bunch of books in there, which are mine or need to be gone through. There was a stack of magazines, I’ve pulled all the pages I want out of all but 2 of those. And the magazines (minus pages) are in the paper recycling bin.

I grabbed the overlarge rattan satchel I’d bought a few months back, without a specific idea where I’d put it or how I’d use it? I knew I loved it, wanted to use it for kitchen linen, but it’s too big for that. It’s now the designated spot for “out of season bedding” one side of the tag in blue says cool weather and the other side says hot weather in red. (We still have flannel on the bed and probably will for another month or so.) The satchel isn’t big enough to also store excess blankets in the summer, but I do have another basket for that. It’s not covered AND it’s not big enough to take the extra sheets, duvet, and pillow.

I’ve decided that I love our duvet covers (one is black & white linen the other is greens and cotton) and will use them instead of a bed spread. (I now have one bedspread to add to the flea market stock.)

I also decided that since we’re down to one sets of bed linen for each season: winter and summer — (bottom sheet, top sheet, and duvet) and no more, I will try and do what I’ve heard others do: wash their sheets and put them immediately back on the bed. This will cut down the amount of things needing to be bought, maintained, and stored, saving money and storage space. All good — all I have to do is make sure to start the sheets in the morning….

I am slowly, but surely, finding a work pattern here. It isn’t fast, but it has been working. There’s only one piece which has really amused me. I decided I should clean the toilet after the first time I used it, daily. (We have a lot of iron in our water, so it needs daily scrubbing.) Wouldn’t happen,didn’t happen, no matter how often I told myself I had to do it! But the second time I use it? Well, then I can do it.  I’m greatly amused at my human foibles, but it is what it is. It’s getting scrubbed every day, and that’s all that matters, but I have to have my coffee first! 🙂

 

And so it goes, and goes and goes!

 

Today’s job and tomorrow’s is to organize the flea market stuff and get it into my car so I can take it to the storage or just store it here, in one place, and neatly, which would work better. It needs to be in one place and having it at home means I can clean, sort and price things as I have time, instead of trying to do it all at once, either at the market or in the storage.

I feel like it’s one of those marble or ball bearing games. Today this falls through the hole and gets caught. Tomorrow it will also get caught with some other piece. I am letting this process develop, organically, as it were, at its own pace. And it’s getting done; again, that’s all that matters!

Becoming the Fantatic I was Afraid of…

I’ve been working on clearing up the living room. At the moment, there’s boxes in there for the flea market next month, boxes which were brought in from the storage to go through, books to go to the new book booth, books being donated to the bookstore in Maine, etc. It’s a mess.

Because I have new rugs coming, some of which are for the living room, where the others are for the kitchen, I started clearing out the living room this morning. Fine, it’s the usual cull, clean, move it over there because there’s no room here, etc. No problem. I move, cull, sort, trash, and clean the space where what I’ve been working on has resided. This is work with a vac, otherwise the dust gets to me too much.

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Photo by Heather Ford on Unsplash

Battery ran out on the vac. Went to charge it, the charger already had a battery being charged. Hm…what to do next?

I cleaned the outside of the vac, hose and all — I spent about 5 minutes cleaning the wired hose for the vacuum cleaner.

Yep, I’m becoming a fanatic, sigh. Oh well, I always have gone from one extreme to the other before I settled down into sanity. Let’s hope the swing into fanatic cleanliness and out to reasonable cleanliness is a short trip!

The Unhibernated Dining Table

The dining room table had been “hibernating,” or something. It had a length of fabric over it and the cherry coffee table, which currently has no home, upside down on top of it.

That means of course, we couldn’t eat at the table. During the winter, since this is the north side of the house, in a room that’s cool by nature, that wasn’t a problem.

But I bought new rugs yesterday for the dining room. In order to get them in the room and convert it to the two or three separate functional spaces it needs to be to USE those rugs? The table had to be cleared. It is.

Unfortunately, it had also developed a rather bad check (crack) while storing the coffee table! DH looked at it and said something like, “Hm. You really want a round table, right?” and indeed I do. One of the pieces of research I did on decorating talked extensively about the effect of square or rectangular tables in a room, that is that emotionally, it’s says, “Stop!”

I bought the table and chairs to decorate our Tampa house, in 1985 or so. It’s oak, modern, and rectangular, which fit the open-concept, new/modern house we had. It was our kitchen table. There was a tiger oak dining table, which I sold a few years back, an English antique, it was one of our first pieces of “real” furniture. A relative of DH’s contributed tiger oak chairs. We still have the chairs, they’re heirlooms.

So, DH may make me a new table top — we’ll see! But in the meantime, the dining table has emerged from where it was hibernating — progress!


Other things I bought yesterday were a desk organizer and a sign, also for the kitchen/dining area. While at the company’s website, I decided wtf, I’d take their decorating “quiz,” because it could hardly be worse than all the others I’d tried.

Much to my surprise, the description of what I like was pretty accurate:

“You love the fresh, stylish-yet-simple look found in today’s updated Farmhouse Décor! Your style is graceful and uncluttered but retains a welcoming and warmhearted feel. Clean, soothing whites, taupe and grey tones, mixed with weathered wood and the occasional splash of color create a simple backdrop that’s easy to live with and even easier to accessorize! If you love the look of painted bead-board, or ship lapped walls paired with wooden floors…you’re all in girlfriend!”

Well, okay. I like whites, (and matte black) but I hate most greys and taupes and “greige,” ug. Lots of splashes of color. Yes, I like painted bead-board. Shiplapped walls? Nope, but this is a log home, it looks like we shiplapped the entire building! Wooden floors? Well, I like my wooden floor, I just wish it had been finished before we moved in!

“Farmhouse style reflects a way of life that is intimately connected to the land. It represents a lifestyle where necessity and a do-it-yourself attitude demand that items be repurposed and reused – often by generations of farm families. You love this style because it hearkens back to the simpler days of yesteryear and satisfies your longing for good-old-fashioned hard work, practicality, and close family ties.”

I don’t know if any of this is true or not. Certainly we do a lot of DIY and I like reused items quite a lot. But I said years ago that I liked “shabby” not because I loved chippy paint, but because I liked the fact that you didn’t have to fuss to maintain the surface. My observation about modern decorating is that it’s all about surfaces: clean, shiny surfaces — and they demand extensive caretaking. I do NOT want that. I want a place I can put my feet on the table or couch without stressing about it. The Tampa house was beautiful, but it had a great room with a white floor and the other floors were all med. grey carpets. Took a lot of maintenance to keep up the huge horizontal surfaces (which I didn’t do well).

“A Farmhouse style home is unpretentious, but definitely stylish, with an emphasis on useful yet aesthetically pleasing items. Flea market finds and DIY masterpieces are combined with new items and reproductions – it’s all part of the charm. A neutral color palette sets the stage, followed by weathered or painted furniture, apron front sinks, open shelves, and farmhouse tables. Complete the look with grain sack, linen, or ticking stripe fabrics, farm and industrial accents, galvanized tin items, vintage signs, chalk paint, white ironstone, and mason jars.”

I agree with all of this, up to the apron front sinks. I’m not fond of most of the rest of it: grain sack linens, ticking, farm/industrial accents, galvanized tin items, vintage signs, chalk paint, ironstone, and mason jars. I like all of that in moderation and HATE most of what I see. I call it “cheap Chinese crap.” I’m not fond of cutesy. I don’t want this place to look like the Sears catalog or any other. 

This was weird, because I hadn’t found anyone who seemed to have any idea that I might like a huge old industrial pressure cooker (we use it to hold fat wood) as well as the LCD op art looking thing on my bedroom wall (it’s a thermometer). If you read this blog at all, you know that I’ve written several posts about trying to find a description of my preferred “style.” And, although I will likely never put up a sign about farm girls, farmsteads, or country, or sweet tea or… this is pretty darn close!

The company has NOT asked me for this review, and I’m not getting anything for it, but the company is this one.

Useful & Unusual

I have a list of useful and unusual gifts that I know people have given and that I give.

Housewarming: This is mine. It is not the housewarming gift, but how I pack it, with new rolls of toilet paper. Why? Because everyone needs it, it’s not high on the priority list when everything you own is in boxes, and TP actually makes great packing material, if you’re shipping something fragile, and it’s cheap. But you know the frazzled mom who needs it will say thank you!

Newlywed or First Home: This was my Dad’s standard gift: TV trays. Why? Because it used to be, especially if you were just starting out, you didn’t have a dining table and the trays can be used in almost every room, even if you do have a dining table!

The second was a friend of DH’s. His standard wedding gift was a fire extinguisher. No one buys them for themselves right off the bat, but like TP, when you need it you DO!


I have had people laugh when they opened my housewarming gift, but later tell me they were grateful.

Do you have a standard gift you give for a certain occasion? What is it? I’d love to have a LOT more of these!

J

 

Food Waste Tracking & Food Plan

I dropped the ball on the food tracking because I was just too busy: compiling tax data, cleaning house for new to us freezer, and yesterday dealing with something we really needed: another cord of wood. (We heat with wood.)

In between there we voted, had meals, counted ballots, did laundry, etc. But there has been one major thing having to be dealt with after another all week. It’s done. Hurrah!

Today we get to go to the dump. DH is working on the pot rack he’s building. I started cleaning the kitchen cabinets. Laundry has been done. Dishes have been put away. Life is slowly returning to normal. And I have no idea what we ate which day. I tossed 4 packages of old left overs Wednesday, thinking I was going to the dump, but we didn’t make it. Definitely have to go today, the trash is stinky and full!

DH finished the pot rack he was making! Well, he used up all the materials he had. This meant that we cleaned another part of the kitchen, removed the old apple ladder and grid wall we’d used to hold our pots, pans and colanders/strainers. All of that is on the new rack. Very spiffy!

Why didn’t we buy a rack? DH is 1’+ taller than I. To get pots where I can reach them, he’d be whacked in the face by them. Put them where he can get them? I can’t. So he built one, a spiffy new version of our old ladder.

I tossed one package of food during the freezer move. We unpacked the old freezer, thawed and cleaned it, packed the food in coolers. Moved the old freezer outside. Repacked it, turned it on. And kept it cold for a week. Then we unpacked it the morning the new freezer was delivered and packed all the food into coolers again. Cleaned old freezer. It was put on the driveway to be picked up when the new one was delivered. That happened. The new freezer got packed with the food from the coolers. The coolers got cleaned and put away.

We’ve discussed what happens to the coolers now? The old freezer wasn’t frost free. The new one is. At one point I thought we could store the small cooler inside the bigger one, but that won’t work, alas. They take up a fair amount of real estate on top of the fridge. (We’re going to wait and see how it goes.)

My job re the freezer now? To empty it as much as possible before 6/1, when we start getting farm produce and here we go again!


What I’d intended to talk about was historical food planning. I have a brochure from WWII era by the local electric company and another, I think it’s older, from Knox Gelatine.

From the electric company (edited) and with my comments in italic;

  • Don’t pare carrots; scrub with a stiff brush. Seems my root veggies are always really sandy. I’ll have to try this and see if it works!
  • Cook potatoes in jackets; eat skins and all. See above.
  • Cook young beet tops as other greens. If we ate beets, I would. DH hates them.
  • Don’t peel tomatoes or pare cucumbers or apples. My plans for this year include making tomato powder from tomato skins and there are various ideas for apples. Never thought about cukes. We hardly eat them. Hmmm?
  • Use green onion tops as seasoning. I do this already.
  • Save celery tops for soups, salads, etc. I just use them, always have.
  • Save coarse part of celery; puree for soup. If I’m not planting the bases this year, I’ll try it.
  • Use dandelion and other wild greens. We’ve done this.
  • Use every scrap of baked goods. (bread, cake, cookies) We do this and then also do something I’ve never seen elsewhere. There’s usually a small container in the freezer of “flour dregs” which is the left overs from kneading bread. I use these to thicken soups & stews or make gravy.
  • Use carrot & radish tops as garnish. Or food. I have a recipe I call “beans & greens” which I save carrot greens for every year.
  • Check refrigerator and bread box daily. I usually do this before I make a meal.
  • Plan to use all left overs daily. Nice idea, I rarely manage it.
  • Keep a list of left overs and check them off as used. Never considered this. The tracking I was doing effectively does this.

The Knox book includes recipes for leftovers: meats, rice, etc. The main idea I got from this isn’t actually in the book: making gelatin from LO jelly.

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Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

We always have various jellies going. It seems that they all run out at once: lime marmalade, current jelly, orange marmalade — there’s just a little bit left in the bottle. I have not had an idea what to do with that tiny bit? Maybe make a drink? That seemed like it might be easy to make something which tastes bad: too thinned, so it’s all but tasteless, or if I combined the jellies to make a drink base, it might just be awful.

So I haven’t.

I think I’ll try making small gelatins instead. The flavor/no flavor thing could be a problem? We’ll see!


Honestly? I don’t even know if I have any plain gelatin in the house!

 

Different

I have been reading a book I’ve had for some time, and only used before as a reference: Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson. She has this to say, which I found really mind-boggling:


“The sense of being at home is important to everyone’s well-being. If you do not get enough of it, your happiness, resilience, energy, humor, and courage will decrease. It is a complex thing, an amalgam. In part, it is a sense of having special rights, dignities, and entitlements — and these are legal realities, not just emotional states. It includes familiarity, warmth, affection, and a conviction of security. Being at home feels safe: you have a sense of relief whenever you come in and close the door behind you, reduced fear of social and emotional dangers as well as physical ones.” (page 7)


 

As an abused and neglected child, I had none of those things. Home was, as I have said elsewhere, the place where they knew how to put the (emotional) knife so it hurt the most. And, if a person wasn’t actively hurting me, they were wondering wtf my problem was? So, I have no expectation of safety at home.

I also have no experience of someone as she talks about caretaking a home as a way of showing love.

DH’s circumstances were different from mine, but his childhood home wasn’t happy and protective entirely either.

I have been for years trying to figure out what makes a place “home” and the most I could come up with was cozy and safe, so that’s what I’ve been heading towards decorating wise. But it has been an ongoing problem for me, because I want something I have never had, and decorating magazines and books just do NOT talk about how to create a home-like atmosphere.

And then there’s this:


“…what a traditional woman did that made her home warm and alive was not dusting and laundry. Someone can be hired to do those things (to some extent anyway). Her real secret was that she identified herself with her home.” (page 9)


And that I’ve never done.

The panic attacks happen in at least one predictable way, or used to. That was if I set up something to please myself. I was sure others would see what I did as laughable, stupid, or just wrong.

That’s a product of years of conditioning as a kid. It’s part of the cyclic rant: “Someone will break it. Someone will steal it. Someone will deride it or make fun of me,” that is the verbal side of my panic attacks.

Standing in front of a bookshelf with palms sweating and near tears, because I displayed some of my favorite things isn’t an experience I remember fondly, but it used to be common.

I identified myself not with the space I occupied, but internally. Inside was my only safe harbor.

I feel rather at sea in some ways. Years ago, my therapist told me to nurture the wounded kid inside me. I asked, “How?”

She looked at me and said, “If you’d had a kid, you would have learned, because your instincts and the child’s needs would have taught you. But you never had a kid. And you weren’t nurtured. I’ll have to think about that.”

And we came up with some answers, but not a lot. Although I don’t see myself as an uncaring person, frankly, I suck at relationships.

I ruin friendships, put off people, and always have. Some of it was being wounded, because I said inappropriate things, but much of it was just that I never learned how to build community, closeness, not really. I try hard. I try to have integrity. I try to be of use to the people I know, but I’ve never been sure I do it right, and think I screw it up, all the time.

The house is much the same sort of thing. It used to be that every time I did some new decorating thing or worked on cleaning the house, what I said to my husband was, “Are you mad at me?”

And although that’s pretty pathetic, it’s still the truth. These days, by contrast, what happens is that I’m grumpy. I was this morning, when I cleaned the kitchen.

You know? I’d really, really love to outgrow my childhood. Maybe by the time I’m 70?