Sunday, May 31, 2009

what do you do when you feel overwhelmed by the things you want to do?

As soon as I started talking about adding in exercise and meal planning in addition to my housecleaning project, I lost motivation for practically everything. More often than not, I find myself sitting around and wanting to do stuff but not knowing where to start, so I sit and stare at the mess around me, totally bewildered.

Am I overwhelmed at the thought of trying to tackle two projects at once, knowing I've failed there in the past?
Am I overwhelmed because exercise and eating right have always been such huge problems for me and it seems so overwhelming to even TRY again?
Or is there some other reason I'm struggling with the actuality of eating right and exercising in addition to decluttering?

These questions are sort of rhetorical; I don't know the answers. If I DID, I'd be working on the solution.

I think it's sort of a combination of the first and second though. Every time I sit down with a pad of paper and begin listmaking and thinking about all the pieces involved in the two projects, I get really overwhelmed.

For instance:
In the decluttering department, I am almost done sorting through the entire house. That feels REALLY good, and that is why I'm thinking about adding in another project while I finish up. Because after the house is done, the only other areas to declutter are the laundry room and the garage. And those are going to be HUGE, time consuming projects. I think I'll do much better if I take them in small chunks, say, a box a day on my days off. But that'll take WEEKS and I don't want to wait weeks or months before I start working on my health too.
Even though most of the stuff in the living areas of the house has been tackled and will be done shortly, I still have:

1. decluttering the laundry room
2. decluttering the garage
3. sorting through all the magazines I've saved (largely cooking magazines) that I still can't bring myself to throw away
4. sorting through the BOXES of paper that I've saved (and this is just what I've found in the house, not even what's stuffed in the laundry room and garage) because I couldn't handle decluttering STUFF and PAPER at the same time. (So I just boxed up papers separately and set them aside)
5. scanning all the papers I've decided to keep

Yes, I have a huge paper problem. This post isn't about that. I know it's an issue. I'm working on it.

That's all stuff that falls under the 'decluttering' project. That in and of itself is a fairly overwhelming list.

So when I sit down and try to think about tackling all that PLUS exercising every day AND planning out my meals AND changing my eating habits, I get a little freaked out. TOO MUCH CHANGE AT ONCE.

So what's the answer?

If it's too much, the answer is to cut back, right?

Now, despite the fact that my decluttering project list is still pretty hefty and overwhelming, I've been making huge progress in that area and I feel pretty comfortable with it. I'm confident I can keep working on it and tackle it all (in time) and CHANGE for good.

With the weight thing, I know that exercise AND healthy eating are both important. But I think I'm going to start by focusing on just ONE of those areas. I'm a little torn as to which one, but I believe I will start by focusing on my eating habits. Because I feel more emotionally resistant to exercise: eating is something I do every day anyway; exercise is another time-suck that is going to take away from my decluttering project. I know that's not how I SHOULD look at it, but it's how I feel about it right now. I feel like I'm already getting a decent amount of exercise with the decluttering I've been doing, and I want to continue doing it. (I will add in some extra walk breaks on the days I work though, because I really feel too sedentary those days.) My eating habits are a HUGE issue though, and I've also read in numerous places that a healthy diet is really the bulk of the weight-loss battle. Yes, exercise is hugely important, but if you don't have the diet in place you'll never succeed or maintain. So I'll start with diet and worry about structured exercise down the road.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

So basically I live in a constant state of anxiety no matter what.

I haven't gotten very far in tackling two of my roadblocks at once yet. Indeed, whenever I think about starting to work an exercise / healthy meal plan into my life, I start to feel anxious. I am still fighting the clutter monster in my home quite fiercely, and it fills me with anxiety that I will not ever finish this particular project (as has happened in the past) if I start trying to work another project in.
On the other hand, I'm also very anxious about the fact that I'm only focusing on one project, a project that is taking much longer to complete than I had planned, and it is really bothering me that I'm not working on my weight / health issue.

I've also noticed that on days when I work, I get virtually nothing done at home. I just feel too tired. I suspect this is because I sit on my butt all day at the office and sort of fall into a no-energy stupor. I use my brain but not to a terribly challenging level (yet; there are some fun-sounding projects on the near horizon), and by the end of the day I just feel tired and mushy. If I worked more movement and challenge into my days, and if I was eating better-quality foods (or eating at all; sometimes I don't even feel motivated to go eat lunch at work...and that's not so good, especially for a diabetic), then I think I'd be more UP and motivated when I get home.

So all in all, I still think that it makes logical sense to start working on my Fat Breakup...but emotionally, I'm not quite there. I need to push past that.

Today I'm just cleaning, cleaning, cleaning for the next couple hours...then it's a shower and a birthday party (at my place!) for one of my friends. The downstairs is still a mess of boxes and detritus, though it's not nearly as bad as before. However, there's still a LOT to sort through. I'm just going to do whatever I can and we'll party around the rest. It's not like my friends haven't seen my house the way it was before, and they all know about my projects, so I'm not stressing about it. They come to see me, not my mess.
Would I love to have a totally clean house to show off? Sure. And that will come with time. But I'm already proud of everything I've managed to accomplish. Just showing off the closet full of garage sale boxes is a giant accomplishment!

Back to work!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

the weight is over

I still have a long, hard road ahead of me in the decluttering department (Roadblock 1). The more I get done around here, the more I realize how very serious my hoarding issue was, and how much more work I still have ahead of me. I've been shoving boxes of STUFF in the laundry room and the garage for YEARS, people. I can't estimate on the laundry room side exactly how much is there, but it's more than was in the downstairs closet. And the garage? One half (of a TWO CAR garage) is PACKED to the gills.

Yeah, it's quite a project.

I'm not giving up, but I have decided I'm ready to try easing a second project in while I work on this one. Of course, easing a second project in is also like opening floodgates; all the other projects want to come rushing in and demand my attention. Fighting the urge to address them all is a legendary battle. But I think, I THINK, I have beaten them all back for now, and let through only one more. Roadblock 2: The Battle of the Bulge.

That's right, I'm ready to attack my weight issue.

Please wish me luck as I try to figure out how to focus on two, and only two, projects for a little while. And expect lots of updates.

today's pic

Me and the kids at the National Geographic BioBlitz held at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, May 15, 2009. A very, very WET day. :)

where it's all at

I know there are burning questions in everyone's mind today. Questions like, DID Kristi achieve her decluttering goal over the 5-day weekend?

The answer to that question, by the by, is NO. She did not.
And, I'm OK with that.
By Sunday morning I was pretty burned out. And reasonably so, I think. I had done a ton of work the three days prior; a lot more work than I had anticipated. I knew what those spaces looked like, obviously, but somehow I still didn't figure on the sheer amount of STUFF crammed in there.
Once again I liken it to being overweight; you know you're overweight, but you have those 'skinny blinders' on. You still think of yourself as being thinner or healthier than you actually are. Which leaves you heading for a very unpleasant reality check next time you see a recent photo of yourself, or catch yourself in the mirror at that horrible angle, or step on the scale.
So I knew my house was cluttered, and I knew I had a lot of stuff, but I didn't realize the magnitude of the problem until I dragged all that stuff out and attempted to sort through it.

Another very overwhelming factor is that my house is really small. The garage sale box pile, up to this weekend, was taking up a good corner of my dining room but it was...manageable. I was OK with living with it until the garage sale.
After I'd finished the bar area and emptied the downstairs closet, and after I'd managed to fill a few more large boxes and drag them up to the garage sale pile, I began to realize that I was starting to feel overwhelmed by the rest of my house again. That coupled with the physical exhaustion of moving so much stuff left me sitting around for a good amount of time. Sitting, staring at the piles and mounds I'd created in my family room. Re-arranging boxes in the dining room, Tetris-style, trying to make it work in a way that wouldn't leave me feeling overwhelmed and stressed. (Which turns me into MegaBitch; I'd like to evict her from the house permanently, and was getting really frustrated that she was trying to creep back in.) It wasn't working. I kept sorting halfheartedly, and managed to mostly clear the stuff out of the bar side again. I even made some progress in the family room.

Last night, my husband came across me sitting at my computer, frustrated, looking up offsite storage places. He asked me what I was doing and I explained that I was trying to work out what to do with all the STUFF. Specifically, the garage sale stuff. I was looking up storage rates to determine if I thought it would be worth it to store that stuff for a month or two just to get it out of my way, or if it would just be worth it to chuck the garage sale idea completely and drag it all straight to Goodwill.
Bless his heart, I know he'd love nothing more than for me to give up on my garage sale dream and drag it straight to Goodwill, but he reigned in his impulse to fight for that option and instead discussed my feelings and needs. I have a really hard time giving up on the garage sale dream. It isn't even that I love garage sales, or that I think I'm going to get rich off my old stuff. I don't plan on trying to sell it at marked-up prices or anything. The trouble I have is that there's a goodly amount of stuff that I think will sell, even if it's only for a couple bucks, and I think we could get enough to maybe tackle one of the house projects we put off. I harbor a secret dream of finishing our laundry room area (the one 'unfinished' part of our home) so it can be a laundry AND craft area and not feel like a utility room. I'd like to make it a much nicer place, a place I'll feel good going in and working in. I'm having a hard time giving up that dream.
I don't want to try selling this stuff on ebay because I'm not really great about shipping stuff to people. I just sort of hate it.

So, I was struggling mightily last night as I was thinking that it would be better to give up the garage sale dream rather than spend the next several months overwhelmed. And I really do think it will take me several more months to finish off the house projects. For one thing, every weekend from now until SEPTEMBER 19 has something scheduled, which means my cleaning time will be drastically reduced this summer. For another, given the amount of time it took me to clear out the bar and closet...I'm really, really scared of the laundry room and the garage. You thought the areas I did this weekend were bad? You ain't seen nothin' yet.
Even though small storage spaces were relatively cheap, and I think I would make more at the garage sale than it would cost me to store the stuff, I'd still lose around $65 on storage for two months. It just didn't make sense to me to spend extra money on this STUFF. Better to just let it go and make peace with that. It was the 'making peace' option that I was struggling with when it hit me. THE DOWNSTAIRS CLOSET!

I had only put a few larger things away in the downstairs closet, and wasn't planning yet on using it for a ton of storage. I could easily take out those few things it was holding and leave THEM in the dining room for a couple of months without being too bothered. And that closet is at least the size of the storage space we would have rented; it might even be bigger. It could hold all the boxes I have already packed PLUS ones I will be packing in the future! It can even hold the odds and ends for the garage sale that were adding extra frustration. The four or five computer towers, the monitor, the blenders and the coffee maker and the bigelectronic thingie that I don't even know what it is, the speaker stands...all of that stuff can be packed out of sight. EUREKA!

So that's where we're at. I was feeling incredibly stymied and overcrowded and wasn't able to make much progress. but with this solution, which we will begin implementing tonight, I will soon feel as if I have space to work on the house again and I will be able to make a lot more progress soon.

Which is good, because we're having a party at my house this Saturday and we kind of need that space. :)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

overwhelmed by the closet

The downstairs closet is empty! Unfortunately there is stuff EVERYWHERE downstairs now. There was so much in there; so many things I'd forgotten I had. Some of them loved, some of them searched for multiple times over the past year; but most of them? Stuff that doesn't need to be in this house!! Stuff that I look at and wonder WTF I was thinking when I bought it. Or stuff that makes me shake my head and sigh because I bought it several times over since the original purchase would get lost in the mess of my home.

I had a serious hoarding problem. It's taken me years to address it, years to really be able to let stuff go. It's no wonder, sorting through the detritus of my past, that I've been so overwhelmed for so long.

I used to try the Flylady method; I never managed to make it work for me, and I would stop and start constantly. One thing I remember her saying though is to not take out more than you can deal with / put back in one decluttering session. Looking at the mess I've made of the rest of my downstairs, I'm thinking that's one piece of Flylady advice I have totally ignored, heh. (Of course, she also says to just dump the clutter (donate or whatever) rather than have a garage sale, but I stubbornly keep ignoring that piece of advice too. I spent so much money on all this STUFF that it kills me to not at least attempt to get a little bit back.)

So. I am cleaning up mold in my closet, I've made a giant mess, I'm incredibly overwhelmed...AND, it's time to go pick up my kids from my parents' house.

the downstairs closet: before!

I'm tackling the downstairs closet right now. Here are two before videos for your enjoyment.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

the bar area: before and after!

As I mentioned, I got the idea recently to do video 'before and afters' rather than photos; I don't know if it's the small size of our rooms or my lack of photography skills (or both), but I just don't feel like the pictures are really doing it all justice. Besides, one of my favorite shows is Clean House, and if Clean House was just in PICTURE form it wouldn't be as interesting, right? (Sorry, I don't have an entertaining team helping me out, and I can't honestly say I'm all that entertaining, but I give it my best shot!)

I don't have 'before' videos of the bar area because I had the idea after I'd started down here, of course, so here are the 'before' pictures:

This is the corner near the closet; the first thing people see when they come down the stairs.

From the bottom of the stairs; the view across the room towards OJ's desk.

My corner of the bar; that's my workstation. That's where the magic happens, folks.

The other side of the bar. As you can see, it's LOADED with stuff. That's fairly typical; it's a giant hot spot for us. It's going to be a real challenge keeping that surface clean. Also, all that stuff on the floor? That's the path we need to take to attempt to get behind the bar. Not that we could if we TRIED, because...

...this is what it looked like behind the bar! Stuff, stuff and more stuff.

And here is the payoff! The 'after' video! This was a monumental amount of work; there was SO MUCH to sort through. Also, it was terrifying because it had been so long ...
I'm watching my dog try to eat a June bug on the window screen (outside, thankfully, I hate those things) and it's like a car crash; it's totally grossing me out but I can't look away.
Anyway, it had been so long since we'd managed to get behind the bar that there were a LOT of cobwebs, spiderwebs, tiny bug carcasses, you name it. I have two huge phobias: spiders, and corpses. (Yes, even teeny tiny bug corpses.) Serious phobias too, not like girly issues. Working back there was horrible for me. With my husband's help handling the really hard / gross parts, it all got done. I'm ridiculously pleased.

So; feedback! Do you prefer the video before-and-afters, or did you like the photos better?

Also, are there any areas of my house that you want to see? I don't recall what I've posted so far. The rooms that are DONE are the two bedrooms, the upstairs bath and the hallway, the dining room and the kitchen (and now the bar area!) Still in progress are the downstairs closet, the family room, the downstairs bathroom, the laundry room and the garage (the dreaded garage). Those that are still in progress will get their own 'before and after' videos in time. (I will actually be posting the 'before' video for the downstairs closet next!) If you've missed anything on the finished list that you'd like to see, let me know! I'll do a video update.

everyone can learn. has a great post today about how everyone can learn to be organized. As I said in my comment over there, sometimes I get really overwhelmed and think I’ll never manage to be organized. But this post reminded me to look at how much I HAVE learned over the years, and has given me a new dose of motivation. I think I may even hit my decluttering goal for this weekend now ;).

As far as how that is going...I'm 'behind' schedule on paper, but I still feel like I'm doing OK. I started tackling the second messiest of the four areas I've been trying to work on during my five days off. I've got it almost completely decluttered and am just starting the actual CLEANING part of the job. My arachnophobia has really been holding me back on this the past two days (but I've muscled through a lot anyway), but my husband is home today and is going to help me with the scary stuff. (Phobias are a BITCH, you guys. It's another roadblock, but it's one I'm not prepared to deal with right now.) Two of the areas shouldn't be TOO difficult to sort through...and the fourth, the big closet down here, is easily the worst in terms of clutter (we can't even open the door without boxes and bags of STUFF avalanching out), but a lot of that will probably be able to go straight to garage sale boxes, since we haven't even been IN there for easily a year. Which means we probably don't need much of it.

I'm thinking of doing 'before and after' video tours of my rooms from now on; I just think that'll lend itself better to getting an idea of the difference in the rooms the way pictures won't. What do you think?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

island fantasy

We will be going to Miami next month to visit family, and while there we plan on taking a day to drive down and visit Key West. I have never been, but I've always wanted to go. We just decided this yesterday, and already my excitement level has become practically unbearable (almost surpassing my excitement for our Cedar Point trip, which is in TWO WEEKS!!). I've spent far more time than I should have reading about Key West, and salivating, and wishing we had MORE TIME and (most importantly) MORE MONEY.(Have I mentioned yet on this blog that I'm impatient? You should probably know that about me.)

Without having ever been there, I've decided that we need to move to Key West. As a matter of fact, as I was searching Key West realty (yes, I really was), I found the perfect place for us to live:

In case that link stops working one of these days:
Own your own private islands! Coupon Keys - 4 offshore islands & 1 mainland lot for parking and launching - It's incomparable! 14.50 acre island off of MM 27.5 with 3 structures. An elegant resort home with 10 bedrooms & 8 baths, a caretakers 2 BR/2 BA home and a recreation house. Freshly renovated this exquisite getaway is like no other with electricity and Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority hook-up you'll have all the comforts of a true resort. All of the islands are situated between the mainland and Little Palm Island in Newfound Harbor. New impact windows throughout, gourmet kitchen with granite counters & all new bathrooms. Glorious 400 SF roof top sundeck with bar/entertainment room. Plenty of dock space for all of your yachts."

The fact that this phrase makes me laugh, rather than scratch my chin in contemplation, probably indicates to you that this sentence doesn't exactly apply to my lifestyle (THUS FAR).

The price tag of $18.5MIL, a mere drop in the bucket, is another thing that gives me pause.

But this blog is about dreams, right? And now I'll share another dream with you. I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO OWN AN ISLAND. Well, 'always' being 'ever since I read about Richard Branson years ago and realized people actually COULD own a WHOLE ISLAND'.

Once I was asked the question, "How will you know when you've MADE IT?"
This is how I will know. When I OWN MY OWN ISLAND.

And when I do, y'all are invited to come and party there with me. Because what is the point of owning your own island if you can't fly all your friends in and have fabulous Margaritaville beach parties all the time??

(If you're wondering how in the world this ties in with my dream of owning a farm...well, there's chickens and cats roaming free all over Key West. And if I'm living on my own island in paradise, you know what? That's farm enough for me!!)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'm about to directly contradict a very important part of my last post. I'm about to tell you about my new daily exercise plan and how I'm starting it up even though I'm still working on Roadblock 1: Declutter The House.

Yes, I realize this goes against my statement of 'finish one project before moving on to project two'. I gave this a lot of thought before I decided to do it though, and I think it's important.

Project 2, or Roadblock 2 (however you want to look at it), is to lose weight and gain health. This is another area I've struggled for years, and as time goes on it becomes more and more important to me to FIX this problem once and for all. I'm now a Type II diabetic. I'm tired all the time. I have aches and pains that a thirty-year-old shouldn't have. I can't keep up with my kids. I get sick incredibly easily (did I mention I'm sick NOW? And that I've had more colds this year already than I usually have in an ENTIRE year?). That's just the tip of the iceberg, really. But it's all important.

I am not throwing myself full-force into project 2, but I did decide that I can start doing 20 minutes of exercise a day in preparation for project 2. Since Project 1 is taking me a LOT longer than I expected it to, I need to make some modifications to my plan.

So that's my justification. It's a start, a boost, to keep me on the path to health at least a LITTLE while I work on Project 1. I'm building habits, and increasing my core strength.

Speaking of core strength...I have virtually none! But I'll get to that momentarily.

I don't exercise regularly. I have good intentions, don't get me wrong, but I start and stop the exercise train a LOT. I am approximately 80 pounds overweight and I am REALLY out of shape. Last year I started walk-running, and I entered the Shamrock Shuffle, which is a local 8K race (that's almost 5 miles!) that kicks off running season, and I ran it and COMPLETED it. I was incredibly proud of myself.
Then I didn't run, or walk-run, or even walk after that. I didn't set further training goals and I just dropped it.
So this year, when I signed up again, I started training early. I got off to a good start. Then I got sick. A lot. And had several weeks of blood-sugar issues. And breathing issues. And I wasn't able to do it. And I was really disappointed. And also, really SHOCKED at the difference in my overall health and fitness level in only a YEAR.

So I've set my sights on walking, and building my endurance that way.
I also have a friend on another forum (a friend who is in a MUCH better state of fitness than I!) who does these Crossfit workouts. She speaks very highly of them. Also, I am incredibly impressed at the videos and photos I see of non-athletes doing headstands and handstands and funky ring maneuvers and all sorts of crazy things that I've always dreamed of doing but have never thought I COULD do. I've been doing some reading on Crossfit and it's pretty crazy stuff. I'm sure I'll talk about it a lot more as Project 2 gets underway, but for now I've come to realize this: the Crossfitters do a lot of things that I cannot do, at this point. I don't even know what some of the exercises in their daily workouts ARE, let alone know if I could do them. (Luckily the main crossfit website has a WEALTH of resources!) So I'm spending some time studying up on crossfit while I work on stregnthening my core and getting used to doing some of their primary exercises.

One of the articles I read was about a man who went to (his first) Crossfit session with his wife. They did a 20 minute cycle of exercises: 20 situps, 20 pushups, 20 squats. You did those in one minute. If you finished before the minute was up, you could rest. If not, you jumped right in and repeated at minute two. Every minute, 20 of each, for 20 minutes.
Sounds pretty intense, right? Well, it's also exercises I KNOW, and that I could work up to. So that's where I'm starting.
Except I'm starting with one of each per minute for twenty minutes. And when I can do that, I'll do 2 of each for twenty minutes. Then 3 of each for twenty minutes, and so on.

I also want to include stretching and flexibility into my fitness routine, and to that end I'm incorporating yoga. I'm hoping this will also help me reduce stress a little, which is important to my health (and to my family, so I don't take my stress out on them!)

So, 20 minutes of exercise each day. One day walking, one day crossfit (or PRE-crossfit, really), one day yoga.

Yesterday was my first day of pre-crossfit. One situp, one pushup, one squat per minute. Should have been easy, right?
This is where my delusions about my level of fitness come into play. I COULDN'T EVEN DO A SITUP. I knew my abs were bad, but I didn't realize they were THAT bad. I struggled through for six minutes before giving up. And I'm actually SORE today. I never did a proper situp (I did that fat, unfit person flailing situp; you know the one, where your arms and legs kick and grab at the air as you desperately try to get yourself upright without using the floor). I never did a proper pushup (I did modified pushups, with bended knees). My squats, at least, were fine.
And I am SORE today! Not very sore, but I can feel it, and I'm surprised.

Part of me feels like a failure for not being able to keep up with even day one of my pre-crossfit training. I couldn't even go for 20 minutes! Even if I remind myself that I'm sick and I was exhausted, I'm still bummed about it.
But I keep telling myself that I DID it. I almost did the "eh, I'll do it tomorrow" thing, but I didn't let myself. I got down on that floor and I did it. That's somethign to be proud of.
ANd one day I will look back and see how far I've come.

a snail's pace

It's been a while since I did an update on the status of my decluttering. Despite my best intentions of giving you daily updates, I've given you...nearly none.

However, I am pleased to say that I am continuing to declutter, and I have been making progress. I am less pleased to admit that it's going much slower than I'd like, and that I am very frustrated because I feel like I spend most of my time on maintenance rather than on progress. This is probably why there haven't been many picture posts about it; I'm still working on the bar area of the basement, and I still have a lot of work to do there.

I am very pleased to tell you that the upstairs remains decluttered and clean, and we haven't let it get out of hand. It is what I consider 'company ready', and has been since I finished it some weeks back. This is outstanding, really, and I feel so much happier and less muddled. I actually spend most of my time upstairs now (where it was the opposite before), and I sort of view the basement as this evil, filthy dungeon. Which is sad, because my basement is really pretty awesome. But never fear, we'll get it back to 'awesome' soon.

Battling my frustrations on this project has been difficult. I am frustrated that it is taking so long; I keep telling myself it is like weight loss. I didn't pack on the clutter in a day, and I'm not going to dump it in a day either. This is at least a decade of clutter, if not more. Of course it's going to take time to sort through. But I am a very impatient person, so it's been rough. Sometimes I'm not very nice to my family because I'm frustrated, and that's something I need to work on as well. When you add in two frustrations; for example, the fact that I'm sick right now and not making much progress on top of the fact that progress is slow to BEGIN with...well, I sort of turn into a witch with a capital B.

The other thing that is a huge struggle for me is the fact that I am fighting to focus on this ONE project, and this one alone. My nature is to take on fifty projects at once, and then I never finish ANY of them, and I sort of live in a state of perpetual low-grade frustration. I'd like to break that cycle...I'd like to NOT be frustrated all the time, and I'd like to actually FINISH some of these projects of mine. So I'm trying something new. But trying to focus on one thing and one thing only, to completion, goes against my very nature, and this is making me a mite cranky too.

It's a wonder my family hasn't deserted me yet, frankly.

Pictures will come, sometime soon. In the meantime, I am doing my best to keep moving forward, and to pat myself on the back because I'm maintaining the work I DID and still making progress. Even if it is slow like snail.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

feeling muddled

It rained a LOT yesterday, and of course we went out in it (and had fun!)...and of course I woke up sick today. Since I don't feel up to the picture post about the day, I will instead share a nice rainy-day video.

Friday, May 15, 2009

tchotcke day

There is a Livejournal community called "Saucy Dwellings"; every Friday they host a 'saucy salon' and invite you to post pictures of a certain area / item(s) in your home. Since, as you've all seen, I'm in the process of heavy decluttering and erasing years of packrat behavior, I've never been able to participate because my home has always been less-than-saucy. But today! Today is "show us your tchotchke" day, and oh, the tchotchkes I can show. So I shared some favorites over there, and thought I'd also share them here, along with some stories. (Please feel free to share YOUR favorite tchotckes with me in the comments!)

This little mirror came along with my husband when I married him. I *think* he found it in a garage sale somewhere. I didn't love it at first simply because, stylistically, it does not appeal to me; I think it's kind of cheap looking and I don't love the way it's framed. However, I'm totally won over by the 'ideal boy' content, and its kitsch value has earned it a place in my heart. I still don't love the place we've chosen to display it, but I'm sure I'll figure out a better place for it once the decluttering is over and I can focus more on the decorating.

My in-laws, Ben and Gerri, got this kitschy rooster cookie jar for us a few years back, and I just adore it! When I first heard 'rooster cookie jar', I have to admit I was frightened; as much as I might want to run away to the country and live on a farm, I definitely don't employ a very 'country' style of decorating. Roosters in MY house? I figured it was going to be one of those in-law gifts that would be packed away somewhere and only come out when they visited, or maybe it would have an unfortunate 'accident'. So you can imagine how pleased I was when we received it and it was a delightful, colorful piece of kitschy goodness! It's cute as can be, and is a wonderful addition to our kitchen.

When OJ and I were on our honeymoon in Vegas, we bought a lot of stuff at the Coca-Cola store. I have always loved Coke, and Coke stuff, and have built up a small collection over the years. He was totally in line with that collection, and we agreed we'd have a Coke room in our house one day. We thought it would be the kitchen, until we found the Coke shower curtain (more on that later). So it's the bathroom. Except we hung this sign in the kitchen because, again, stylistically it fits perfectly, and also, it didn't fit in the bathroom.

This came with the house when we bought it and it just fits, stylistically, so perfectly in the kitchen that we've had to leave it. Not to mention, of course, that I'm really a 12 year old boy and I love potty humor, so I get a kick out of it every time I see it.

I love New Orleans. When I'm a famous writer with lots of money, I am SO buying a big southern mansion for my winter home. This is a souvenir I picked up back in 2003, and it hangs in my kitchen. Totally out of place with everything else in my kitchen, stylistically, but I don't really have a 'new orleans / mardi gras' room yet. YET. Perhaps when I have my Not House On The Rock house.

This is my cast-iron nun. I don't know where I picked her up, but she's been with me for many years...I don't have much kitschy religious art but I think it's FABULOUS. This particular piece needed to come home with me simply because she's not just art; she's USEFUL.

Yes, that's right; she's a bottle opener. And what makes it even better now is that we have a bar in our home, so she has the perfect place to live. She hangs out on the shelf behind the bar, and she's probably my favorite piece back there, BAR NUN. (Get it? BAR? NUN? HAHA!)

This lovely lady is Diamond. Diamond is another trash-find from my brother, and I love her! I think she may have been some kid's school project because there's a name, in childish writing, on the bottom. She hangs out with us in the family room when we watch movies.

This is the display that greets visitors when they come in our side door. The painting was a wedding present from my very talented friend Jon; it fits perfectly with my love of horror. I've had more than one person ask me "doesn't that give your kids NIGHTMARES?" Honestly? Not at all. It doesn't seem to bother them in the slightest.
On the shelf below, you've got a collection of family/friend photos and some more dragons. A dragon figurine I picked up at the Ren Faire years ago, and a woeful little Pocket Dragon gazing sadly at the scale. I think the Pocket Dragons are adorable anyway, but this little guy has special meaning for me since I've struggled with my weight for so many years.

These are my husband's wedding shoes; he's a huge Converse fan. Me? I'm a huge dragon fan. So when he saw these satin high-top Cons with the embroidered dragon design, he knew he'd found the perfect shoes for our wedding. And he wore them cheerfully along with his tux, much to his mother's dismay. But it was perfect. And now they hang on our wall.

Yes, there it is, the aforementioned Coke shower curtain. Purchased in Las Vegas on our honeymoon before we even had a home to hang it! I love it to death; it's five years old now and it's certainly seen better days but I can't bear to part with it.

And, yes, we even have Coke shower curtain HANGERS.

This one's actually a two-fer; you can see a bit more of our Coke decor in the bathroom, along with this simple but gorgeous soap bowl. I picked it up at, of all places, a SCRAPBOOKING convention last year. I saw it and fell in love. It probably helps that I also have a love of collecting pretty handmade soaps too. And it helps that our bathroom has this lovely display / storage shelf built in. It was a natural fit.

Coca-Cola drawer pulls; have you ever SEEN anything so cute?!

These gorgeous Japanese items were wedding presents from my cousins. The sake set came from my cousin Julie and her husband Scott; the plate and cups came from my cousin Mike and his wife (to be, at the time) Karen. I don't know what the intended purpose of the plate and cups are because I don't know much about Japanese culture, but I do know they're beautiful. And they're all actually FROM Japan, as in they were all in Japan when they bought them for us. And yes, I know the Japanese soda bottles are a little tacky, and the fairy mirror totally doesn't belong. My china cabinet is a little overcrowded right now!

This is the bookshelf in my bedroom, and there are a number of things on here I love. The black case is actually a jewelry box; it belonged to my mother, and she passed it on to me. The catch is broken but I love the old gothic-look of the case; inside, it is lined in red velveteen, and it's just FANTASTIC. Moving on, you can see my Nightmare Before Christmas tealight-holder, a bit of my black-and-white flower glasses case, and the goth-vinyl coffin case that really has no purpose than to just be fantastic. (I keep my watches inside.) And also, a bit of my asian-inspired Partylites tealight holder. There's a total mashup of styles here, I know; Mark Brunetz would be horrified. But I love it.

This a collection of old books, largely composed of old Nancy Drews and Hardy Boys, that sit up on my kids' shelf and wait until they're old enough to read them. These books were actually OJ's, but I grew up reading these as well, and had many of the old hardcovers too. (Which I believe still live at my mom's house.) I also grew up reading Trixie Belden and the Bobbsey Twins. I definitely have a book addiction, and I love these gorgeous old books.

Music boxes from my mom. My mom had a curio cabinet full of music boxes when I was growing up; these two were the pieces in the collection that I loved the most. The piano guy plays The Entertainer (also one of my favorite songs), the airport one plays the Air Force theme song. The airport one ALSO, when you open the hangar door, has a little plane that flies round and round. You have no idea how much I love this little music box. Unfortunately, it seems to have broken recently; sometimes the music plays incredibly fast and the plane flies round in a tizzy. If anyone knows of resources I can use to fix a broken music box, PLEASE share them with me - I'd love to get this repaired!
Also featured behind the beloved music boxes are a few of my Marshall Field's collector plates, which I bought shortly before they changed the name to Macy's. (For those that may not know, I'm a Chicagoan, and this was a Big Deal.) It will always be Field's in my mind, and I love the plates too.

This lovely piece of wall art is actually a SPEAKER. I love the design and the clean lines, and it sounds pretty good too. We have two of them in the living room; I featured this one since you can see part of the stereo with it. My husband could tell you all about the mechanics and the maker and sound quality, but I am not an audiophile so I can't. I can, however, tell you I'd never before seen such beautiful speakers, and I've never seen any since, and I think they're just the bee's knees.

That's all for now! Thanks for coming along on this kitschy little tour of some of my favorite things. Please do share some of yours with me!

Also, this has highlighted to me that I REALLY need to get back into photography. My skills are a bit lacking. Especially when it comes to taking good digital shots. I NEED HELP! So, if you know of any good photography resources on the web, please share those with me. :) It's a hobby I really enjoy, and I'd like to improve my skills!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

And She Was

Sometimes I dream about taking my family and running away to a big farm in the country and opening my own farmstand, living off the land, and of course, taking my friends with me. On warm days like today, as I drive around town and smell the fresh spring air, eyeing lush green lawns crazy-spotted with bright yellow's easy to dream about laying out in a huge field and picking out animal-shapes in the clouds all day, every day. Listening to my kids run and play and scream with laughter. Watching the dogs romp and run and bark all they want. In this fantasy even the dog poop is a beautiful thing, and the corn and beans and pumpkins plant themselves, and the house is paid for, and we can live a life beholden to no one.

Just picture it: a huge, rambling farmhouse; something like the aunts' house in Practical Magic, except in farm country. Your best friends are your closest neighbors, just a walk down the road. You all help each other with cooking and cleaning and housework and errands and child-rearing, but there's plenty of space for everyone. You share fields, and together you plant and raise corn, and pumpkins, and grapes, and apples, and beans, and whatever other crops you like. You grow more than enough to feed your families, with a little extra you can sell at your farmstand down the road. In the fall, people come from miles around to pick apples and pumpkins. Year-round, they come to purchase fresh produce and the crafts you all make; they come to show their kids the variety of friendly animals you raise - chickens and horses and goats (especially FAINTING GOATS) and bunnies and kitties and puppies and who knows what else. At night, you work on your current novel, or you craft some new items for the store. Oh, and of course you and your girlfriends get together on the weekends and drink the wine you made from the grapes you're growing in your own tiny vineyard (which you also sell). And you bake fresh goods for the store too.

Then, as always, my dreams start to get a little too big for their britches, and I start working in my haunted bed and breakfast (it could be another house on the property!) and my Not House On The Rock a haunted house (or maybe a haunted hayride trail, since we're a farm and all) every Halloween and a number of other attractions for the families that come to visit us.

We're going to need a lot of land. But it sounds completely blissful to me. Who's with me?!


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