Category Archives: Creativity

A new favorite word

It seems I’m living like this, these days.

See here: Definition of zugzwang

atomic-bomb-test

Amazing! Much more concise than “between a rock and a hard place.”

I love adding to my vocabulary when it’s pertinent to what’s going on in my life!

J

Figuring It Out

I think I know what I want to do for our new bedroom curtains. I’m going to make them. I knew that, curtains are too expensive to buy otherwise, unless you use sheets. However, I had no idea what I’d do, but think I do now. I will buy enough to do a double window. If that works? I’ll buy about the same amount again, to do the 2 single windows.

Then we’ll see!

The living room has the same window configuration, almost exactly, so if it works in the bedroom, it should in the living room too. Cost per room? About $50, if I have it figured correctly.

Could be I’ll hate the fabric when I get it. Could be. We’ll see!muslin

Revisions and Edits, for Reality and to Fight Depression

I rewrote my “to do” list, it was so cumbersome it was just overwhelming, so I revised it.

I brought one of the narrow, long tables from the attic last night. Except for displacing the books (currently on the coffee table’s shelf) it looks as if the narrower table might work.

It appears the skinny table is TOO long, but I  measured it. It’s actually not as long as the couch. It certainly IS longer than the other one, but it’s also not as wide. The width of the current table is the issue.

So, part of what I’m scheduled to do today is set up the “new” table and take down the one we’ve been using and see? I have a possible plan for the current table too. If it works, it will eliminate a “to do” item for DH –always good.

It’s nice to be using my creative juices for the house again. After months of being rather depressed and overwhelmed by a variety of things, it’s nice to have ideas churning away again. That’s my particular power source. It doesn’t matter if things work or not so much, it only matters that I have another idea, another option. For months, it seemed as if my mind was saying “Dull-dull-dull. Too much! Dull-dull-dull.” And although the rest of the world would likely not see me as being depressed, I sure wasn’t doing the zinging that is my normal. My usual internal dialog is something like, “Oh! Look, maybe it could. Look! It could be “this” or “this.” Wow! Look. . . .”

Learning to use those endless options and the idea of the endless options has kept me out of massive depression most of my life. As I said, it doesn’t matter if the ideas work, it is the process of continually looking at almost everything with the idea, “How was this done?” or something I’ve done with the idea, “How can I improve it?” or using odd pieces or, or, or . . .

possiblities

I learned the idea churning from two places: my Dad and science fiction.

My Dad had a PhD, in physics. His apparatus for his thesis didn’t work and it didn’t work, and it didn’t work — for three years! When he told the story about this what he said was  “I learned to plan for failure, not success.” and although that sounds really defeatist, it isn’t. It’s continually planning another option, if necessary. (His apparatus finally worked for one day and he wrote his thesis on that data.)

Science fiction is the “what if” genre. Writers start with “what if…?” and go from there. If you don’t limit yourself to what you know you can do, know can be done, has been done before in  your thinking, then many more options are available to you. Some options are nonsense or impossible. Flying without a plane is out. Spending millions is out, etc. but all ideas which might include those pieces are still  possiblities, although gravity and your bank might eliminate those.

To solve the couch table problem, I could:

  • Eliminate the couch  – not going to happen.
  • Get a different couch – not going to happen.
  • Move the couch, table, bookcases, and chairs in front of the hearth – not going to happen.
  • Hang the couch or table on the wall  -see flying above
  • Float the table over the congested area – see flying
  • Eliminate the current coffee table – considered. The current end tables aren’t big enough to be used without another table. It will cost $ to store, we might not be able to sell it, then what?
  • Get bigger end tables/eliminate the coffee table – considered, requires spending $
  • Cut the current table in 1/2 lengthwise, creates a “honey do” item, to be avoided if possible
  • Bring down the table not being used in the attic that’s long and skinny and see if it will work?
  • Maybe move the current end tables (3 small tables, which nest) into one long row with a piece of glass atop them and use that as a coffee table – requires $ for the glass,  but this is a possiblity.

My criteria are these, if possible, not a given!

  • Little or no cost.
  • Uses what we already have.
  • Requires DH or myself to do little or nothing (no new projects!)
  • If we eliminate pieces, they are sold.

Life is full of endless options, possibilities. If you approach it that way, it’s rarely depressing or overwhelming, because there’s always another option. More, the turning problems this way and that, standing them on their head or whatever it takes to “see” more possiblities helps keep things from being overwhelming.

My bugaboos are: overwhelming and no hope that change is possible. Creativity, the approach that there’s always another way to solve a problem, keeps those wolves from my door.

 

J

 

Irritating & Human

I spaced an appointment today. I’ve been working hard at being organized, really organized the past week or two, and just blew it.

Which of course makes me mad — madder than when I was completely disorganized! The more I work at it, the madder I get when it doesn’t work. And it seems like I go through a period where try as I might, I screw up, over and over. I think it’s the broken egg/omelette problem.  This time at least, I’m determined NOT to throw my hands up in the air (figuratively) and give up.

chaos-to-order-image

So I “forgave” myself for the lapse. I have another appointment which I have an email out to reschedule. hopefully it can be. There’s a workshop I’d like to go to which creates a conflict.

In some ways being organized is MUCH easier, in others, it’s just work. Not the adult life I thought I’d have, but not feeling like I’m always in a state of chaos will be worthwhile, although scary. It was a major piece of my “camouflage.” I don’t think I need it any more. In fact, I think I need the low stress that not being chaotic will bring!

We’ll see.

J

 

Lapfull of Warm v3.0

(and the last one — promise!)

DH wanted me to recreate a shorter version of the original muffler, for him. I did. It’s finished, except I have to weave in the 2 ends.

This time I’ve been watching Hart to Hart. All those TV shows in the 80s I missed because I worked until Gawd knows what hours? I’m up late, knitting in front of my computer. Works!

Interesting catching up with my youth, now. Certainly not a 2nd childhood, but regressing to some extent, you bet. (Also enjoying myself!)

No more planned knitting right now. The rug I’m working on requires too much concentration for me to do it and anything else.

I keep hoping I’ll have a dream or something and remember the stupid trauma, so I can absolutely, finally put it to rest. In the meantime,  if I knit you something, realize it probably meant not only did I spend a long time on it, but I burned a lot of midnight oil doing it as well!

J

 

 

Decorating: Looking for Versatile, Cheap, Minimalist, and Easy to Clean

Don’t want much, do I?

I’m looking for things I can change that aren’t too fussy,  I can get cheaply (or already have), and are fairly easy to clean. In the past I acquired boxes of decorative stuff. To be fair, some of it was store decoration, but honestly, some of it wasn’t. So I have too much and I’m trying to be sane about culling things.

(Along this line, I removed the unsold Christmas items from the booth. Some of it was donated last week. I have a small bag to try to wholesale. If that works, great. If not, those pieces get donated.)

My “rules” so far:

  • Pottery: crackle glazes don’t look dirty as fast as clear glazes. For that matter, mottled, mixed colors don’t show up dirt/grime as quickly as solids or geometrics. (But personally, I prefer solid colors to most pottery patterns.) Also, “muddy” colors show dust and dirt less than “clear” ones (jade rather than forest green, for example).
  • Clear glass isn’t popular, so it’s easy to find nice pieces, really cheap. You can find interestingly shaped vases, bowls, etc. at thrift shops etc. Buy plain, bigger pieces for their shape.
  • Metalware: Silverplate platters with minimal detailing also look great and can be found cheaply. (I have 2. I think I paid $3 for one, the other was $1.50 because no one had polished it in Gawd knows how long!)
  • Don’t buy ephemeral decorations: fresh flowers, live wreaths, etc. Use silk, dried, metal or whatever otherwise, buy it once and use it continually. Less cost, less storage, less to remember, less waste. If it’s got to be “real,” use citrus, pomegranates or winter squashes which can be eaten when you’re through or as required.
  • Limit decorative space. Right now, I have 3 and the door: the middle of the dining room table, the hall console, the strap table, and the front door. (My goal is to have 3 and that’s it.)

Fairly plain containers of clear glass, china or silverplate can be instantly decorated with nearly anything colorful and look fresh. Add a ribbon or two, beads, or tissue, or fabric or . . . and you can make an attractive, nearly unlimited display, year round.

I have smaller pieces I love which are swapped in and out. If I decorated for each holiday, I’d have iridescent beads as filler in one or more vase right now. I don’t decorate that way; I decorate seasonally.  The only holiday I decorate for is Christmas.

My winter decorating needs to be bright, cheery and colorful. It’s a deliberate contrast to the gloom, bare trees, snow and slush outside.

My plan today is to redo my decorating, so I don’t have to do it again, until March or so. If I get “cabin fever” and just need a change or something green, well, I’ll do something else.

Here are the pieces:

  • wide clear bowl, type flowers are floated in
  • 2 round silverplate platters
  • various vases, bowls, and plates, mostly either crackle glazed or with a “muddy” glaze.
  • large clear glass vases
  • clear bonbon dish
  • candlesticks: clear glass, and otherwise

I have beads, fabric, paper, candles and other stuff. Not sure what I’ll use yet, where.

I pulled glassware and pottery from the display atop the kitchen cabinets. Some of it instantly became merchandise — it’s going away. A vase was put in the living room. Other pieces are part of the list above. I need to get the rest of that display down. If the “stuff” up there gets forgotten, I probably don’t need it and should get rid of it

We’ll see!


The idea is: fewer areas to decorate (4 now, goal is 3. There are 3 now, 4/2017), fewer decorations or decorative stuff stored (in process), fewer changes of the decorations (seasonally & Christmas = 5 turns a year).

General Purging: I’ve lotted one lot of yarn, another of my sea glass “filler” and marbles for the antique store. <-Last of this sold 4/2017. (I kept a sandwich bag of marbles, that’s it, the rest  are going!) I pulled 2 yellow pitchers from the top of the kitchen cabinets, they’re going too. Sold 4/2017.

The idea is that I need to empty/remove the stacked crates on the kitchen counter. There’s not much decorative stuff up there any more (it was entirely that at one point) but it’s where my mixing bowls, etc. are stored. Working on paring down the kitchen tools and china and so that I can make the space I have work.

More to change: the herb rack will come down. The grid wall needs to be replaced by the other ladder. I may combine the herb rack and new ladder, as the ladder is short. That detail hasn’t been determined, yet.


Marked thru changes in the last 2 paragraphs were made in Jan, 2017. Other marked out changes were made in 4/2017.

 

Cheap & Nonconsumer Holiday Season

My mom was a working mom. Because of that, for a few years, she was really broke and couldn’t buy into the whole consumer thing for her son (my older brother). She found ways to make it work.

At various times, for a lot of reasons, there have been periods when money was tight and a lot of stuff or spending a lot of money just wasn’t possible.

Given who we are, my husband and I, we have kept or discarded many of the usual “traditions” and do the following, not all of them, not all the time, but a mix and match as time and resources allow.

TREES & DECORATIONS:

  1. Buy your tree on Christmas Eve, they are usually 1/2 off.
  2. Or, if you have more space than money and can swing it, buy a good fake tree AFTER the holiday when they’re on sale, and use it forever after. You’ll save the gas, time, and money you’d have spent locating, buying, bringing home, and then discarding a tree.
  3. If you have land and the right sort of tree, then cut one of course!
  4. Make decorations and garland and keep them rather than buying glass or other fragile ornaments. Or, if you must buy them, get metal, plastic, wood or paper ornaments which will last, rather than fragile ones.
  5. Cut snowflakes for the tree from the end of last year’s wrapping paper, if you have any. We did that when I was a kid, but I don’t keep wrapping paper around any more.
  6. Make bead “icicles” (or buy permanent ones) rather than tinsel. Doesn’t take much room, costs less over time and there’s less waste.

TRADITIONS:

  1. Start traditions which are cheaper and less consumer oriented. The Aunt who hosts the largest family Christmas in our family has a “Yankee swap” where you gift a gag or nice gift, or several.
  2. Buying a tree on Christmas Eve fits here too.
  3. One year, DH was out of work. We just couldn’t afford to spend the $ we’d spent before making cookies etc. for the neighbors, so we made bread on Christmas Eve. Twenty plus years later, we’re still making bread. The recipe we make takes 1.5 hours start to finish and we’ve made up to 14 loaves on Christmas Eve,families with kids get 2 loaves, couples without kids get a single loaf. A fave memory of mine is going up and down the street with a bag of still-warm bread to give away on Christmas Eve. Everyone seems to like it and it costs us much less than the expensive cookies we used to make. (One of my acquaintances here made a large array of cookies every Christmas. She used the cheapest ingredients she could find — the cookies were awful. I refuse to do that. I’d rather make ONE cookie or something that’s decent than a plate full of unpalatable stuff.)
  4. Last year, I gifted my SIL, her husband and 2 kids with decorated cookie tins.  They aren’t all that large, but at my request, she sent the tins back to me after the holidays. During the year, I’ve put the little bits I found for everyone in their tin. Next week, I’ll mail them. It isn’t their large gift, but it’s a piece of it and it means that I don’t have to buy wrapping paper, boxes, and ribbons for these. I just have to tape them shut and put a tag on them. I might put ribbon on them, but that’s because I have a lot of ribbon and I’m trying to use it up.
  5. We put up the tree on Christmas Eve and take it down on New Year’s Eve. My family’s tradition was that we burned the tree in the fireplace on New Year’s. Since we heat with wood and the tree is almost always pine, we don’t do that. We adapted my family’s tradition: when we take down the tree, we cut a log off the bottom and tie a bow on it. It gets put in a bag and put away in the trunk with the ornaments. The following year on Christmas day, we burn the log. This costs us nothing but the space to store the log and it links us to our past in a nice way.

WRAPPING AND TAGS:

  1. Design your wrapping/gift tags to use (and use up) as much of what you already own as possible. I frequently use metallic or printed tissue for wrapping paper. It’s light, looks great over a layer of white tissue and it’s pretty cheap and takes little space to store.
  2. I’ve been whittling down my yarn/cord stash for some time with my Christmas wrapping. Last year I wrapped everything in black and white striped paper and then used a collection of blue, green and teal cords for “ribbon.” It worked. One year I used a ball or two of yarn I’d bought to make a sweater . You can, if you save them, make new tags out of last years’ Christmas cards. (I’m always afraid I’ll give the person back the card they sent me, so I’ve never done this.)
  3. Wax paper is great for making “snowy” cards.