Tag Archives: observations


Thought I’d found the perfect rug/runner for the staircase for $100, free shipping. Realized the reason I loved it was that it resembled the end of a bolt I had in my office. Dug that out. It’s as wide as the stairs (5′) and 6.4 yards long. More than enough there to carpet the stairs, wall to wall, and I only want a runner. Also, it’s a slubby upholstery fabric with a light backing (like a plastic rug backing, but not as thick) — I have no idea how well it would wear, as a rug.

I could fold the sides into the middle and make a runner rug with a double thickness with the fabric I already have.

I just don’t know what to do. I’m in a style conundrum.

Do you like just one style of stuff in your home? Aren’t you lucky! My dad was a designer/engineer. I was raised to see/appreciate good design in everything, forks to forklifts. He liked modern, I don’t as much. I married an artist, also heavily into design, modern art, and how things look. Also, I was teased, a lot, as a kid, because I had no dress sense, so I decided that I didn’t know what was good or bad.

The result is at 60+ I’m trying for the first time in my life to really decorate a house and I don’t know if I want country, artsy, sleek, minimalist, modern, vintage, or industrial. So far? The modern couch (with a blue/black plaid throw from Pendleton on it) sits in the living room with a painted country jam cabinet I hauled out of a basement, rehabbed box bookcases bought for shows, and a modern coffee table, selected because it was in the attic and fit the very tight space.

There’s a large oak flat file coupled with an antique French baker’s table on the opposite wall. Most of the art on the wall is DH’s photos and there’s a mix of decorative stuff on top: the jam cabinet holds a cat sculpture, some silk flowers, a bird cage, a blue bird and a camera at the moment. the bookcase holds a “books” sign, some silk flowers and two large jars.

The couch is worn, but starkly modern. the throw is 1960s style plaid (not neon), the club chairs are about 1970s “modern” unadorned black fake leather.

The coffee table (also modern) holds a bellows from a very old wood enlarger. The lights are rehabbed theater cans, and there’s a wood casting mould on the wall too.

When the room is tidy, I quite like it. The main problem is the stuff, the things cluttering up the space ruin it, but I like it. I have ideas about new throws and one or more ottomans for the club chairs, but haven’t settled on anything yet.

My problem is that I don’t know why I like it enough to find more! I like the pieces. I love black painted steel stuff, so the mould, lights and the bellows on the table fit that, as does the wood stove and the screen for it. I like large plaids and thick/thin plaids, that takes care of the throw on the couch. But that’s it.

We had a modern house in Florida. We bought the couch for it. The club chairs were small, comfy chairs that are so simple they’ll go with almost anything, and they were cheap in an antique store. The flat file is a tool. The antique baker’s table was bought on sale and has become essentially a work platform. The jam cabinet was rescued from a friend’s basement of a house she was going to sell, they’d stored paint in it (and the mice lived in it) for years. It took a lot of work to destink it and clean it — and I love it.

All of it has simple lines. No ornate carvings, no sweeping curves or arches. The couch is the most sculptural piece of furniture in the room. I’d buy a cozier couch except we already own this one and I actually like the looks of it a lot, but it is NOT cozy. And cozy, warm and comfortable are the only things I know I want, except for simple lines.

I know people talk about styles so that they can talk about groups of things instead of one thing or the other, it’s a way of grouping. I get it. But I don’t know HOW to use what I know to go look for throws for the club chairs on ebay, for example.

“Blue plaid” doesn’t work, nor does “1960s plaid” (found one I loved listed this way, but not two). Neither does looking for more copies of the throw I have at the manufacturer’s site, it seems they no longer make it. So I tried other variations and found the same things I’d already seen.

I’m frustrated. I know what I like when I see it, but have no shorthand way to group those things together which anyone else will recognize. “Simple lines” is wonderful, but it brings too many results. “Blue thick plaids” does the same sort of thing. I can’t find rugs, throws, house designs, curtains, etc. which suit me. I look in home decorating sites or magazines and I find most pictures are either too stark or not to my taste at all. I put stickies in decorating books/magazines of the things I like, usually it’s a small percentage of what’s there.

Because I appreciate good design (as promoted by my Dad) I see and appreciate a great many things, which further muddies the waters quite a bit. I can (and do) look at a lot of things and think, “That’s nice design.” but that doesn’t mean I want to live with it. That last piece is vital, and it’s really very easy for me to forget. There are a great many things here I purchased because I thought they were well designed! (But not because I wanted to live with them.)

It’s supposed to be my taste, right? It should be easy. I suppose this is the result of decades of being told what I should appreciate (Dad), that my taste wasn’t any good (Abuser), and the resulting belief that I had no right to impose my taste on anyone.

I’m so confused!

(You can find further discussion about this here.)

Minimalism: Learning

I already did a post on holiday minimalism, but I have learned or figured out a few things since:

  • Ornament hangers are not necessary. Use a piece of thread or monofilament, whatever you have. Then you can stop buying those packages of little bits of wire which break, you never seem to either have enough of, or there’s too many. [I took the few I had off the ornaments, they’ll be recycled Weds.]
  • I had an open box of tinsel, so I used it up. I also have an unopened box. I decided that I would never use tinsel again, whether I already had it, or not. It’s a complete waste of storage space to keep something that I’m against in principle. If I have principles, I do, and I should act on them. The full package is going to the dump’s swap shop Weds. too, with a mini Santa mug, and other odds & ends I don’t have any idea why I kept, many times for decades.
  • Because the little cat daily has spells we call “crazy cat,” we decided not to put anything breakable on the tree. We have enough plastic, wood, and paper ornaments to cover it. No Christmas balls, but other things. Although it’s a bit odd not to have balls on the tree, it’s just fine without it. I have a new to us box of Christmas balls, which is also going away.
  • The Christmas balls I am using are on a charger or in clear glass vases on the couch’s side tables. Two “artist” balls were broken in storage, they’re off to the dump, and most of the others are in the glass vases. Decorations? Yes. On the tree? No. Also less need for “other stuff” to decorate for the holidays.
  •  When my helper and I pulled the Christmas things out of the attic a while back, I had piled it up discreetly under the couch and one side table. After the tree was decorated, I returned the small boxes to where they’d been. I hated the visual clutter. I thought of putting all the small boxes into a larger box. I did. Then didn’t like the way that looked and “wrapped” the larger (small moving) box. (Like everything else, if I have something I usuallly have too much of it. That’s true of the paper I’ve been using the past 2 years. It’s black & white stripes. I got it to put on the back of bookshelves and/or cabinets, on sale. I decided if I used it that way, it would feel like a prison, so I was stuck with 9 rolls of paper. I have 3 left now.) Now we have this large “wrapped” package in the living room, under the tree, without a bow, marked “empty ornament boxes” and no printed Home Depot cardboard carton(s) to ugly up the place.
  • What I learned from wrapping that box?  That I can ditch the trunk where I’ve always stored Christmas stuff. Obviously, I don’t need that much room! I’ll look for and/or make a box with a lid, and make a pattern so all I have to do it wrap the lid next year and years later. The ornament boxes will have a permanent home, and it will be neat/tidy. It will be able to be put out under the tree year after year. I do NOT know why I never thought of putting the small boxes into a big wrapped one! (The little boxes always made a mess before.) No need to tidy the little boxes away, no extra step. Win!!!
  • No gift tags this year either. I have this correction tape, it’s white. I used it for years for price tags and other things, used some of it as labels for foodstuffs (doesn’t work well in the freezer), and have the end of it now. (See comment about too much stuff in wrapping paper bullet.) I’m using it to make labels this year. Sticks right on the package, no strings, nothing to buy. I’m using a silver pen, but I had it already!

My conclusion from all of this is that minimalism is a process, not a destination. I will never really get there, but my mindset is different than it used to be, and it shows.

PURSUE Happiness

This is what I used as a reminder and still do, when appropriate:

Put Up, Remember, Shut Up, & Endure

When things got really bad, I’d use the “pursuit of happiness” idea, with this as an acronym, to get myself through. I’d remind myself to be greedy and/or fiercely vigilante, that I deserved happiness, it was something I’d wanted and worked for, for decades.

This is for dealing with others’ actions. Sometimes I had to grit my teeth, shut up, and deal. (Often my being able to “deal” wasn’t being able to deal with whatever was going on currently, but a focus on the future, the possibility that things would change at some undefined future point.) I expect this to be true for the rest of my life.

When people have called me “brave” or “strong” I’ve always said that’s not true.

It isn’t true — I am STUBBORN. I use PURSUE to remind myself that stubbornness, an unwillingness to accept that the world is F’d up beyond hope is my “superpower.” It’s my form of being passive aggressive. I put up, shut up and endured, while dreaming not of hurting the person harming me, not of a world where whatever wasn’t happening, but of a world where what was happening here/now was a distant and unimportant piece of long ago.

I encourage you to be stubborn, in appropriate ways. The world doesn’t owe you anything, others don’t owe you anything. But you owe yourself to try and make your future the best and brightest you can. That means not hurting others, not lashing out, not blaming, but getting on with your life with joy — when you can.

It’s what George Herbert said: “Living well is the best revenge.”

Changing It Up

It has occurred to me that not only am I wading through the now smaller  mountains o’ stuff, but that there’s FIVE YEARS worth of my blathering about this and that, here.

I have no desire to do away with this blog. But I want to look at something new? It is likely I’ll change the style, again, soon.

I am no longer counting things as I discard them. I am no longer exclusively talking about being wounded and recovery. I am doing those things, but also not.

Maybe my “blahs” are because I just keep going over and over the same grooves in the record one-more-time…one-more….

I’ve spent a lot of time since we mostly finished the living room paint job running away, numbing down, or avoidance. Some of it was related to how contentious the election was; some of it was being really scared I’d have a major setback as the living room progressed. The room still isn’t neat and tidy and has way too much stuff, but it’s a day or maybe two’s worth of work now, if that much. And I’m scared way back in the depths, no I’m terrified. I’m terrified about what changes the election will bring and at the same time I’m doing this major life change, stripping away what has been my protection of last resort. My therapist retired in June. I do NOT know how to recharge my batteries, make myself feel safer, or plug in the charger.

Ironically enough, what usually does the recharging, is creativity, the Christmas wrap design, the card/tag design, etc. would normally get me going. I love looking for/creating new ways to use my supplies and making it look good.

I just don’t care. I feel like I’m running for my life instead of from my old life?

Maybe I am.



Saving Money: where and how?

I’ve decided that I definitely need an automatic “next generation” mindset more than what I was raised with (everything disposable ’60s).

Many of my ideas about this are simply to buy less, use less, or store less. Buying concentrated consumables, shampoo concentrate rather than bottles of shampoo (I can’t do this anymore, alas, but you can!), Better Than Bullion rather than broth, etc.

But many of the items so affected are consumables. What about nonconsumables? Some of my ideas are to go back to older tech (wood stove, grabbing my broom before the vac, etc.).If we owned a place that would be passed along, I’d make it a family “rule” to make at least one improvement, each generation, that would be permanent or last longer than 20 years. Like? Like unpainted red brick exteriors — they need to be washed but never repainted. Good wrought iron fencing, slate roof (metal roofs are good, but not quite as good). Along that line, slate kitchen counters, brick (not tile) flooring, an Aga stove, etc. All are expensive, more expensive that the short-term fix: tile, asphalt roofing, painted exteriors, whatever. Also, trees, like fruit trees, or perennial flower and vegetable gardens fit as well.

My childhood home had a Mexican tile roof. It still has the same roof. As far as I know there was never a problem with the roof. Everywhere we’ve lived since, until here, had asphalt roofing, which needs to be replaced every 20 years or so. We moved a lot before we got here so we never had to replace a roof. I’m sure our home in the desert has needed its roof replaced by now, as well as the home we built in Florida. We passed along the problem: the first home it was passed along to us, and the second we passed it along. Again, it never occurred to me when we built the second house to have a different roof put on. We upgraded the appliances, all dead long since by now I’m sure, moved some features around in the house, replaced one vinyl floor with tile, but other than that, we had built a “disposable” house. The hearth should last: it was stone, but the rest of it was pretty at the time and probably looks like hell now, if the paint, carpet, walls, roof, water connection, windows, whatever —  hasn’t had to be replaced long since.


Likewise, when we bought this place, it was the “prettiest” of the houses we could afford, had the least needing to be fixed right away, but the long-term things we were alerted to we didn’t change, mostly because we couldn’t: we moved in and 6 weeks later DH was laid off. Suddenly every dime we had was precious. The main fix we didn’t do later cost us a lot more to repair and replace the damage.

Things we need to do here to make it less “disposable” and likely to fail: replace the wall to wall carpet with decent flooring and area rugs. Insulate the attic to keep that heat suck away. Upgrade some of the systems, more of the windows. Finish the other insulation projects. I’d like to put in brick walkways, don’t know if that will happen, I’m pretty sure if it does, it won’t be soon. I have some concrete stepping stones now. They’ll last for a while yet.

My stuff is being culled, daily, by my asking myself, “Will I want this in 10 years?” and if the answer is no — it goes. But the repairs and upgrades to the house need to be made with the idea that they should last 30 years or more, when we can afford it. That mindset has changed a few decisions we made about painting the living room and likely will affect more.

I was telling someone about our coffee pot. We’d already done this shift for that. Got tired of electric pots breaking, breaking carafes, etc. So we got a French press, glass one. It broke. To heck with that! Our next pot was insulated and metal. Not this one, but you get the idea.


And, yes, re housewares, I’m not the only one who’s gotten here. If that describes you, you might be interested in this site. However, I need like nothing they sell, because either I’ve got equivalent (some of it was my Dad’s) or I’ve bought stuff used. Buying used is even better to my mind that buying new. . . of course, I could be (?) biased . . . as I sell used durable goods for $. ‘Ya think I might have an opinion? I’m not the only one. The last two things I sold at the booth are a cleaver and toast rack. (I didn’t get either of them new.)

Link: http://www.buymeonce.com/home-usa/