Category Archives: Life Lessons

My Rose by Any Other Name is a Cacti

Came up with a name for my personal style, not that it will help me find things!

I guess it’s not supposed to? Newer decorating books talk about people’s decorating styles as “raspberry coolatta meets Bullwinkle,” well, no not that, but you get the idea!

If the name doesn’t actually have to be *useful* in telling others what you’re looking for? Well, mine could be:

Funky industrial/retail meets modern, or functional & simple lines are best!

( If you put that into google? You get a bunch of pinterest hits for industrial decorating, which is nice, but . . . .)

An example could be our hearth: the wood box is an old crate we bought at auction: on one side it has a label which reads “American Consulate.” On another it says “Mrs. (somebody) and “silverware.” Who the woman was, what kind of silverware, which consulate? There’s history and an untold story in that crate.

We use it for firewood, 2 wine crates for kindling, an old leaky pressure cooker holds fire starters, and a counter display for carborundum blades holds matches. Oh — and two steel US Quartermaster’s bins hold paper.

The club chairs were bought used at an antique store, the table between is a small library catalog, with a step stool behind it with a plastic cube on that we got as a wedding present, lo those many years ago. The end tables are picnic baskets, also from an antique store.

That’s my style — whatever it is!

Maybe?

repurposed/interesting/useful/retail/military/frugal/industrial — or functional & simple lines are best

Almost none of the stuff in the room was new when we got it. Exceptions: the plastic cube, the ash bucket, the hearth materials and the stove.

So, another revision:

repurposed/interesting/useful/retail/military/industrial/frugal —

or used & functional: simple lines are best

The last bit is the reality, really, I don’t go looking for the industrial or military or retail things. When I find one? It’s a plus, but not a requirement. That makes it:

Used & functional: simple lines are best

Put that into google? You get info about linear regression. NOT helpful!

Sigh.

(You can find the first description of this problem here.)

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Becoming OCD: Symptoms

I have many indicators that I am slipping to the other side:

  1. I’m scraping off the “dirty” part of the soap bar and using that when I wash my hands.
  2. I’m thinking that scissors and other tools with dark handles save cleaning fingerprints from them.
  3. When I toss something, almost anything, I think, “One less piece of clutter . . . “
  4. I started wrapping the cord to the upright vac with crossed loops. Fewer loops, much neater!
  5. Our TP holder has room for a 2nd roll behind. I stopped putting the 2nd roll hole forward and instead put it the same way as the roll we’re using… less visual clutter.
  6. I’ve been cataloging, pricing, and tagging items before I leave home. No more wondering if I’d paid $2 for something or $4? I know the mark-up is adequate, and since I know my pricing schema, I know enough when I start mark downs what I likely paid for the item.  $3 is my bottom price, if I can’t sell something for $3 in a week, it’s not worth bothering with. That is the hard-won knowledge of years of retailing and my old inclination to keep things. I’m getting ruthless!
  7. Becoming OCD is catching, did you know? DH is reorganizing his workshop. He’s using a Space Budget (although he doesn’t call it that).
  8. I’ve decided that I love contractions, abbreviations, ampersands & question marks: shorter and tidier writing. (I really am OCD! Tidy writing??? )

Any minute now, I will become that monster: the woman who won’t go outside because her hair gets messed, who wipes the table whenever anyone lifts a cup from it!

If you know me IRL, please TELL me if when I go too far. Please! How do you avoid falling off a cliff?

Feeling Virtuous, but. . .

I probably shouldn’t.

I got 2 crates into the pantry on the pull out shelf today. The crates I’d used previously were too big to use with the pull out hardware. Without the hardware, however, the crates with sanitized sand and carrots were too heavy for me to move easily, so…

We had these other crates. Putting them in the pantry dislodged what had been there since we took out the other crates: an Elfa basket with gallon bottles and a few other things.

I have to go to the hardware store and buy 2 bags of sanitized sand (sold for sand boxes) and find one of the rolls of hardware cloth, to make “lids.” Finally, I have label holders I’ll add to one side of each crate, so I can remember when I put the veggies in.

I removed a small, round plastic bucket which had salted herbs in it. Used one of the available rectangular plastic bins. The bucket will go to the dump, tomorrow. I also removed the 2 dog biscuit canisters I’d been using for canning jar lids. The canisters will go away. The lids have a new home, in a Euro canning jar I also already owned.

(Seeing a pattern here?)

The result is that the hole where the shelf goes was cleaned, the shelf was cleaned, two cleaned crates are on the shelf, empty, with the step stool, and 3 rectangular bins, one has salted herbs in it, the others empty.

The water filters (which had also been on this shelf) are set aside to be put into the attic. I have no idea what to do with the Elfa basket, or the gallon jars, but I’ll figure it out.

So, 3 pieces out, 3 pieces to attic, 3 pieces pulled, nowhere to go, 2 containers used, and a lot less chaos in the pantry. All good!

Wall of Shame

Another company we will no longer do business with: Swing A Way Can Openers. Why?

My Dad bought our first Swing A Way in the 1970s, as far as I know, it’s still working fine in the house where I grew up.

So, when DH and I got married in the 1980s, I bought one for us, the first one was in a box which disappeared in the move. I bought another, about 1985, it survived moving from  FL to New England and two households here, about 10 years or so, then it suddenly didn’t cut correctly. I kept thinking I just had to clean it, and did, and then I got tired of that, and got a new one in a fit of “self-care” about 5 years ago. Seeing a trend here?

Yep. They moved their operations to China a few years back, and the cheap cr*p can opener I bought last has just been replaced.

Note to marketers: Selling me cheap crap isn’t a sustainable business model. I remember your name and I WILL do the research to find whatever new names you adopt.

In the meantime? I will add Swing A Way’s name to the others on my “Do not buy” list.

J

Friday’s 5, backlog. . . & catch up!

Today’s List

  1. Put away the canning supplies if not in use.
  2. Remount the last yardstick.
  3. Find a new home for the basket which holds the “cat towels.” (Old towels used for whatever is needed: car washing, spill clean up, whatever!)
  4. Go through the eyedrops and make sure they’re all current. 12:35
  5. Pick up the yard, put more items away for winter.

Backlog:

  • Clean the dusters. Fri. 10:45 a.m.
  • Clean the ironing board, iron, & supplies. The cover is washed, I will replace the pad at some point and the board feet, etc. have all been cleaned as has the iron. Fri. 5:00 p.m.
  • Work on the “everything file” notebooks and their boxesFri. 11:35 a.m.
  • Polish some of the metal decorative pieces.
  • X something off this or the backlog list (fill in). Fri. 10:30 a.m.
  • Put away everything in the hall which is out of place. Fri. 11:10 a.m.
  • Dry the mint/lemon balm.
  • Put up the 3 missing hurricane clips
  • Replace the saved emergency water supply. (I deliberately used the old water supply this summer.)
  • Put the tile in the basement. (I recently acquired a LOT of mosaic tiles.)
  • Get the ladders put away for the season.
  • Clean the vinyl flooring strip in the sunroom.Fri. 10:30 a.m.
  • Get the gifts sent. What was ready was mailed this afternoon. Friday 10/27
  • Clean two shelves of the bookcases in the office. Fri. 11:20 a.m.
  • Wash the rug which had been in the laundry and put it back. Rug washed 3:50 Fri. 10/27, ran out of quarters. In our dryer now. Should be done by 5 p.m.
  • Get the supplies for the knitted pillow all in one place so you can finish it!
  • Get the rest of the better paint into the attic.
  • Clean the office chairs.
  • Find a place to put away the dehydrator racks and do so when appropriate.
  • Use up the ice cream base in the freezer.
  • Put garden hoses away for winter.
  • Recaulk the bathroom as needed.
  • Figure out a new way/place to store the yarn and put it away.
  • Look at the stored snow tires. Need new ones? In the budget?
  • Make up/try the Naval Academy brass polish.
  • Examine winter coats for flaws, etc.
  • Put ice scrapers in the cars, examine and see if they need replacement? My car is done. DH will do his, I hope! I bought a new metal bladed scraper for my windows. 10/27 

Chores on hold or in process, for whatever reason:

Go thru the record collection, cull. First part done. Moving to in-process 10/27

Sweep the decks Tues. 1 p.m. , porch & entry (fill in). Because it’s fall, I’m not sure you could tell that I swept the decks at all, however, I did do it! It’s raining (Tues – Thurs.) Got the entry Fri.1: 30 (10/27). Also removed the worst of it from the decks, again. Finished! Fri. 10/27 6:00 p.m.

Wash the net curtains. First pair pulled from over the dry stores 4:30. Washed Tues. 10/24 a.m. One pair to go. Two pairs to go.

Use up the eggplant from last week. Used the first one for Sunday’s dinner. 2nd one used Fri. lunch. (2 to go!)

Fertilize the lawn. Did the dooryard lawn and the lawn on the street side of the bulb bed. Tues. 4:30 p.m. Lots more to do!

Cull books from one “holding pattern” bookcases. Either they’re out or they stay!, in process Thurs. a.m. (I did the 1st shelf.)

Put family photos in the album. Can’t be done. Photos located, album missing!

Clean off DH’s desk. This is going to be delayed until he and I catch up. I pulled everything from the top drawer on his side of the dresser, we’re still going through all of that.

Two Ideas

I had not considered before (maybe old hat to you, but they’re new to me)!

  1. To get/keep a space really clean, you have to “dig into” the less used parts on a regular basis. For me, this is the attic, the kitchen storage, and my office, they’re our “dump” sites, where things go to be dealt with “sometime” and “in the future.”
  2. Even in your more regularly travelled areas, when you see something which needs cleaning or culling, do it as soon as you can, so it doesn’t become “invisible” again.

Examples from the past two days.

  • I was dealing with dried herbs I’d put aside in July. I had 3 bags of basils: Italian, lime, and Thai. The lime & Thai basil were supposed to be added to a small jar of “mixed basil” I got from my SIL last year for Christmas. I couldn’t find the jar, but in the process realized that the cabinet my spices are in was in needed cleaning — and did it right then. (The basils got dealt with too of course.)
  • Yesterday’s garlic overwhelmed the garlic storage, as I thought it might. I was pretty sure we’d run out of garlic midwinter, without more. Not now!  I revised the garlic storage.
  • The Mason jar rings had been displaced when I added another crate on one side of the pantry, so they needed to be dealt with, some time ago. Since I was doing the garlic anyway, I went thru the rings, I had too many (of course!) and can’t remember the last time I culled them. I made a new loop in the top of their “string” and hung them over the garlic.

One backlogged problem fixed and two problems fixed immediately as I identified them.

Less chaos is almost always a win.

 

New Ideas About Cleaning

Aside from the PTSD, bad habits and panic attacks, as if that wasn’t enough, I’ve had one other major problem about cleaning up the house. No one ever taught me how! This means that no one ever showed me the “right” order to do things. I was taught at boarding school how to make a bed, clean a toilet or trash can, but not how to make a schedule or plan to cover the basics, regularly.

And, I admit, that doing anything regularly wouldn’t have happened anyway, because of the panic attacks. Cleaning is like writing a novel or any other longer piece, you have to keep slogging away at it I’ve found. Difficult for me, if not impossible for much of my life.

That said, I have discovered a few things:

  1. Always clean more than you have to. That is, if the dishes are done and you have 1 item in the sink, find a candlestick or decorative something to clean too. This also applies to sweeping the kitchen, putting clothes away, whatever. Especially if the chores aren’t involved or big, add something minor. Cleaning the bath counter? Wipe down the box on the shelf, etc. etc. etc.
  2. Hard surfaces, impervious to water are the easiest to clean; where soft surfaces, which absorb water are the hardest.
  3. Clean the areas used the most more than others.
  4. Clean the most obvious areas first. (I have [had?] a tendency to clean closets and drawers when the urge to clean hit me. Before I realized the clutter was what I needed to feel safe, it was dumbfounding to me that I could spend a whole day cleaning and you couldn’t tell. This is, of course, backwards from the way most people work. And that’s the reason why those “toss this” lists really didn’t work for me.
  5. Find whatever works for you and run with it. I spent DECADES trying to use flylady or other cleaning plans, and couldn’t.  This caused more of the internal I’m stupid, flawed, and just screwed up mantra.  I figured “Of course this doesn’t work for me and it does for Mary or Jo. It’s me after all.” I finally accepted that I couldn’t adopt someone else’s plans, I had to come up with my own — in my 60s!