Monday, February 27, 2012

Yellow Flowers in the February House

I get so tired of pinks and reds after the winter holidays, that I find I'm always craving a bit of yellow in late winter, and my favorite late winter/early spring yellow flowers are the primulas, cultivated cousins of the English wildflower known as cowslip (Primula veris). So what a delight that my local co-op, Seward, had a bevy of them from which to choose. Naturally, I brought home two. They're enjoying the soft light that comes in the north window over the buffet.

So, no stunning bouquets in this house, but a cheery flowering plant instead. To feast your eyes on a delightful parade of lovely flowers in houses, begin your tour at Jane's place.

Oh, but there are also the clover seedlings, still a long way from actually looking like clover, let alone producing flowers.

Yet, they're doing pretty well, considering that there were a few false starts: a too-cold windowsill in the basement followed by a too-dark warm spot near the furnace that got them germinated but anemic; a bit of absent-minded neglect on my part wherein the pale fragile little sprouts withered and died; a new beginning in the sunny south windows by Craig's desk; and a too-curious cat bringing my four pots down to two.

But here they are, the sweet little things, even beginning to show their first true leaves. Will they look like jaunty Irish clovers by St. Patrick's Day? Well, we have almost three weeks to go, so maybe they will.

Why clover and not "shamrocks" you ask? More on that later.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Desk organizing for the chronically untidy

How to tidy up your desk:
• Stick the small scrappy notes and such on something on the wall, like a cork board;
• Put all the loose little things in a couple of bowls and mugs; 
• Gather the objects you want to keep on your desk in one corner, more or less, in a pleasing arrangement, so the rest  of the surface is mostly clear.
• If you're not sure whether to file those loose papers or get rid of them, put them in stackable shallow boxes (aka "document boxes") labeled with broad general categories like "household," "work," "school" etc. Don't use boxes that are very large, and don't allow yourself more than one box for each category! When it gets full, you must thin out the contents, when you'll find that you can discard a lot that you weren't sure about before; the rest either gets filed or remains in the box.

Two very important guidelines:
(1) Don't get too fussy about exactly where everything belongs.
(2) Surround yourself with objects that please you, especially the things you use to help you gather your clutter; and arrange the items that remain on your desk into an attractive vignette — which only needs to be attractive to you.

Although I have long believed in "a place for everything and everything in its place," I often stumble over the idea that each thing's place needs to be precise and separate from each other thing's place. And if I don't know exactly where that place is, or I haven't established it yet, I just leave things lie where they are.

So, I've learned to uncomplicate my method of organizing:
• A few mugs for pencils and other stick-like objects;
• A bowl or two for the assorted small things I like to keep handy and that would get lost in a mug;
• A rolling filing cart near at hand for assorted papers (and a stack of blank file folders on a low shelf, ready to use);
• A few shallow plastic boxes that I can easily label and stack on a low shelf nearby (I use Sterlite clip boxes, which I got at Target).
• A bulletin board for notes to myself and small ephemera I don't want to discard (including a couple of "I love you mom" notes from my kids from many years ago);
• A homemade cork strip for additional notes and arty inspiration from friends. The odd-shaped little wire picture holders are paper clips that I unbent, more or less, at one end and bent a little more at the other end and stuck into the corks. (Click to zoom in for a closer look if you like.)

The ATCs above the corks were made by, from left: Shirley Ende-Saxe, Ann Renee Lighter, and Terry Garrett

The wide shallow bowl in the first picture, that has the jump drive and paper clips and other small items in it, is one I made of papier mache, using pages from MOQ, the little quarterly zine Craig and I used to publish. I spattered it with some paint left over from some other projects and found the result both pleasing and idiosyncratic. I wasn't so sure anyone else would want it, or appreciate it as much as I do, so I put it on my desk to replace a couple of smaller containers I used to use for this sort of thing, and I find that I like this shape and style of bowl much better. It's easy to rummage in it to find the various little items I have put there.

A bowl made from a vintage math book
There are a few versions of papier mache catch-all bowls in my Etsy shop, including some made from the same mold as that one, one of which is pictured above (the mold is a plastic faux basket bowl I bought at a secondhand shop). If you appreciate handmade bowls but would like one that's also lightweight and unbreakable, this may be the thing for you.

I don't really think my system, such as it is, is right for everyone, but I figured I'd share it. Maybe somebody who has trouble tidying up because they're too much of a perfectionist, or simply too overwhelmed, will have found something helpful here.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Buffalo Guy

I love it when someone who buys something in my Etsy shop tells me a story about why they bought it:

"It's a funny card. It's perfect for my husband. We once visited a safari that you drive thru and you get a big bucket of food to feed the animals from your car and my husband put his bucket out the window to feed this huge buffalo and it took the bucket right out of his hands and ate it all and threw it on the ground. And we had just gotten into the park. So we had no more food for the rest of the drive. LOL! Then we saw in the brochure that it said 'no feeding the Buffalo!!' Guess we should have read the rules a little closer. LOL!"

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pretty little purses

Sometimes a girl is just drawn to pretty little things. So, even though I should probably have revamped my little purses to make them a bit bigger, as long as I was reworking the basic design anyway, I didn't. These are still only about 4 inches high and across, not quite big enough for an iPhone. But then, you don't want your keys and coins scratching your iPhone anyway, right? And a bigger purse wouldn't look nearly so sweet hanging in a tree pretending to be a flower, would it?

These are available in my Etsy shop now, and I'll be adding more of them as I make them.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A light house-work-out

Find any cat toys yet?
My husband gets up most mornings way before I do, enters the second bedroom (our home office) and closes the door, meditates for a time, then puts himself through some fitness routine that's a bit of a mystery to me (I'm usually sleeping, but I sometimes lie awake and listen to the strange thumping and grunting coming from the next room); he makes a brief appearance when he emerges from the room, then disappears into the shower. By the time I'm fully awake, he's gone to work. (Who was that sweaty guy?)

I'm not a slug, really I'm not. I'm just a night owl, often staying up until well past midnight, and also a light sleeper (except after about 7 a.m.). When the dog walks into the second bedroom and throws up on the hand-tied Turkish rug at 3 a.m. (the same rug where Craig sits in meditation, etc.), I'm the one who hears it and gets out of bed to clean it up.

But other than cleaning up the occasional dog oops, neither of us does a lot of housework. So the spot where I just cleaned up after the dog is often the cleanest spot on the rug.

I mention all this as a preamble to describing what happens when I try to follow hubby's lead and get a little exercise at home during the day.

As I get ready to roll out my yoga mat on the rug, I notice how much the fur has accumulated there, and set aside the mat to get out the vacuum cleaner instead. While vacuuming the rug, I notice that there's still more fur and dust attempting to hide in the corners and around the base of the bookshelf and other furniture. So I get the broom and the dust mop and round up the dust and fur, sweeping it out to where I can suck it up with the vacuum.

Oh, but look. The bookshelves are dusty, too. I get a rag from the closet and start dusting, first the shelves, then the top of the printer stand, and the printer itself. My, but the dust does accumulate on the picture frames and baseboards, doesn't it?

The cat begins to follow me around once I put the vacuum cleaner away. He no doubt senses that this could be entertaining, especially if I find any of the cat toys that he has lost under the furniture.

Now I have a few dirty rags, I add them to the laundry basket in the bedroom, which is getting pretty full, so I may as well bring it all down to the laundry. Walking down and up stairs isn't a bad workout, anyway, right?

Next thing, I'm sweeping the stairs.

Every notice how, when you clean one thing, everything else looks that much dirtier?

I finally decided that I had had my workout, what with sweeping, dusting, vacuuming, carrying laundry down, cleaning the cat pans as long as I was downstairs, and so forth.

Time for yoga. The cat, of course, thinks I rolled out the mat for him. Still, I manage to get in a few stretching poses and then a shower.
"Asana this," says Tres.

As it turns out, it's not a bad workout, and the house looks pretty good when I'm done. But it took a lot longer than the half hour or so I had intended, so I'm not likely to try again for some time. And by then, the house will need cleaning again.

Craig says that when he does his push-ups, he looks right down at the fur on the rug and it doesn't bother him a bit. It's just as well or he'd end up being late for work.