I’m In Love With The Shape Of You

I need to write more often because there’s so much to say and I’m not sure where to start. I guess in the middle? Six years ago, Ron and I were financially stressed in a house we couldn’t afford, dealing with my mother whose help always came with strings, looking for a place to live while trying to get our house ready to sell, all while not being very fond of each other. We couldn’t agree on a house to buy, leading to us being homeless for a month when our house sold on its first day on the market. We ended up in a house we despised although it was structurally the most sound of all that we saw. We came a hair’s breadth from divorce.

Six years later, we’re still here in that structurally sound house. Still married. Still not able to agree on a house to buy after a year of looking.

But we’re not financially stressed. We don’t have to deal with my mother anymore. We’re not homeless although if we put our house on the market, we will be; our neighborhood has appreciated dramatically and houses sell on the first day.

Six years in this house and there is still painters tape around the bathroom door trim and on the glass of the french doors. I’ve yet to have a craft room. Our kitchen counters are still the same fucking hideous gold wheat tile. The kitchen walls are still shit brown.

But we have a(nother) new water heater. Today saw the end of the rotted front window that didn’t open and meant we couldn’t call the third bedroom a bedroom since there was no emergency egress. We finally chose a paint color to go over the vomit inducing Easter egg trim.

Six years in this house and we’ve learned how to communicate. We don’t take each other or ourselves quite so seriously. We value each other’s opinions. I know (even if he has no clue) when he says he doesn’t care, to just pick something, he cares a whole lot. I don’t take things so personally; if he doesn’t like something I like, that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t like me.

Sixteen years in this relationship and I still have a lot to learn about compromise, picking my battles, and showing my love by not fighting over stupid shit like where to live. Because it’s not the house, it’s the person in it with me, that matters.


Around My Neck (and on the wall)

I have been following the KonMari method to declutter my house and the main tenet is to only keep the things that bring you joy. I have a rather large collection of dragonfly necklaces that my daughter and husband have bought me over the years and they definitely bring me joy! I wanted a way to display them on the wall so I could see them all, but after shopping for a week, I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for. As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I had a brilliant idea to frame them but have them still be accessible.

It was easy, too. I used a cheap wooden frame from IKEA, a piece of cardboard cut from an Amazon box, and a scrap of scrapbooking paper that matches my bedding. I started by removing the glass then used it to trace out the size on the cardboard and paper.


Some double tape glued the paper to the cardboard. I measured across the top and marked in 1/6 of the way from each edge, then cut down half an inch at each mark. I put it inside the frame, cardboard side up, and traced across the top on the inside.


Cut across the line between the marks and flip it over.

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Put the chain into the slits created from the downward cuts and adjust it so the pendant is centered.

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Pop it into the frame without the glass and done!

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I was so excited to try this out, I did it before I even repainted the frames so just ignore the chippy bits. Now I have beautiful and meaningful art for my bedroom walls and I get to see my favorite necklaces and enjoy them all, even when I’m not wearing them!

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Except What I Remember And Believe

One of my favorite David Wilcox songs is about losing everything and realizing that the important things are always carried with you. Between two divorces and moving like a gypsy, I know all about starting from what fits in your car. But being married for 13 years and settled for 15 means that I’ve accumulated a ton of crap. I mean literally a ton, as in at least 2000 lbs of crap.

Every year, just like everyone else, I make resolutions to clean up my clutter, clear out the sheds, and be a better version of me. Normally I’m a complete failure by the time February comes around, but considering I’ve been on this self-improvement journey since September with huge leaps and bounds of progress made, I’m feeling pretty damned good about this year’s prospects.

Like thousands of other people, I became fascinated by the Marie Kondo book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I’ve said for a while now that I kinda wish my house would catch fire, taking everything I hate with it. I would grab my computer, camera, phone, and three bins of luxury knitting yarn. Everything else could go and I wouldn’t be devastated, as our Christmas ornaments are the only other thing I would miss and they’re stored in the shed. A book dedicated to getting rid of everything in my house that doesn’t “spark joy” speaks directly to my heart.

For the last few months, I’ve purged what I thought was a lot. I mean I can move my hangers in my closet now, so that’s huge progress. But I still hung onto a ridiculous amount of shamefully shabby underwear, pajamas that are literally falling off me, and an entire underbed storage bin of painting clothes. Keep in mind the last time I painted was September, 2014. I’m almost positive I really only need one set of painting clothes, maybe two in case of big jobs like the craft room.

Every room in the house, both big sheds, and the laundry room have gone through a first level purge, or what Aubrey used to call the painless purge; that’s the stuff that you know you don’t want, or stuff that’s obvious garbage. Now we’re starting the second level purge, which is a little bit harder. This is the stuff that makes you say, “But I might need that if/when…” or “My best friend from 3rd grade gave me that and I haven’t spoken to her in 30 years but she was my BEST friend…” or the worst of all, “That cost me a fortune and I haven’t even used it yet!”

On top of reading Kondo’s book, I’ve joined a handful of facebook groups that are dedicated to the Konmari Method for additional inspiration. Seeing pictures of people’s homes and closets that have gone from looking like mine to something worthy of a catalog photo shoot gives me hope.

Ron’s being incredibly supportive, as he said he’s noticed that I’ve stopped buying crap I don’t need (which is way more important to the process than purging!!!) and picking up roadside bits for projects that I’ll never complete. Having his support means a lot to me, as I’m not physically able to do this on my own. While Matt is here, I’ve made a great start, but once he’s gone, there will still be more to do. Of course, the hope is that once it is all done, I will physically be able to keep up with the house as there will be nothing to dust or clean other than the basics.

In an alignment of the universe, our bulky trash pickup is this Monday. That gave me great motivation to clear out the sheds, get rid of broken furniture, and ditch various other large trash things that I’ve been keeping for insane reasons. Matt has helped without question mainly because I’m paying him, so it’s working out well for both of us.

While our trash pile grows, all my non-consumerism is helping our debt to go down. I was able to do all our Christmas shopping with a net lowering of our credit card balance, and that’s with some rather generously large gifts, like a new phone for Aubrey and a plane ticket for Matt.

For so long, I’ve worked to “organize and store” but Kondo’s approach is to get rid of it. I went to Target on Friday to get a particular ornament storage box (which I did end up buying from Amazon), and planned to get another half dozen large plastic bins in order to store our Christmas stuff. I didn’t get the bins because I realized I honestly had no idea what was going to be left. I came home and Matt and I tackled the Christmas stuff. I ended up with a box of lights and three half-empty bins that I will consolidate into two before they go back into the shed. Once the tree is down, we’ll have that, the ornament box, and a bin of wrapping paper to add to the lights and other bins. Anything I didn’t use this year either got pitched or went into the garage sale pile. I ended up with a large pile of empty bins, so I was glad I didn’t buy any new ones!

As for the garage sale, I’ve promised everyone that if it doesn’t happen by the end of January, I’ll just donate everything. I also promised to donate anything that doesn’t sell. Nothing is to come back into the house or sheds once it goes out for the sale.

I’m feeling confident, excited, and yes, joyful. Every box that goes out means more room to breathe and I feel lighter. However, this is an exercise in patience, as it is meant to take about six months for the average house. I have a tendency to want it all done RIGHT NOW!!!!! and thinking about everything all at once can be overwhelming. So I’m sticking to the 26 week plan.

Most importantly, I promise myself that it is okay if I don’t do it perfectly, as long as I just DO it.


On A Clear Day

I spent the last couple of weeks up in New England with my BFF, Leigh. Leigh’s house is magazine-worthy gorgeous. She does everything herself (with all the labor supplied by her wonderfully willing husband, Bill), from kitchen and furniture design to decorating. She is an amazing little fireball of energy and creativity. I love being up there, because it’s a retreat from my cluttered house of chaos.

While I was gone, I realized that if I came home and everything was gone (besides my luxury yarn…people would die if anything happened to my luxury yarn!!!), I would have no idea what was missing. Matt had joked that he was going to throw everything away while I was off at Leigh’s. Next time, I might take him up on that.

A few days ago, I somehow got sucked into Pinterest; not sure how that happened, as I try to avoid it. It’s sort of like that scene in Interstellar where every hour they spend on the planet is seven years on earth because of the gravity well. Every minute on Pinterest is an hour lost in real life, or at least that’s how it seems. Anyway, I was browsing through my “Pins For You” page and found a link to Home Storage Solutions 101. It is a life altering page that I highly recommend.

As anyone with clutter can tell you, the hardest part is knowing where to start. Looking at a room of disaster is overwhelming. It causes me to immediately shut down, close the door, and retreat to my knitting chair. Yes, I have a knitting chair, don’t you?? However, HSS101 truly is a solution for people like me. She breaks everything down into daily and weekly challenges. Even better, Monday challenges are just reading assignments to prepare you for the challenges of that week, because who the hell wants to clean on a Monday? No one! Daily challenges are a max of 15 minutes (unless you have serious hoarder level issues), so even the busiest person has no excuse.

Obviously, you can do more than one challenge a day, should you so choose. Today is my first day, but I wanted to get the first week of February done anyway. Since today’s challenge is reading, I figured I would take on Feb 1-8. I bribed Matt with breakfast tacos and since he’s still not working, he helped me git ‘er done. Most of those challenges have to do with recipes, although Feb 1 was to clean off the tops of the kitchen cabinets. OMG, what a mess! I tossed a ton of foil pans that I’ve had for over a decade and never used. I found a valentine cookie pop pan, just in time. I put all my melamine Christmas dishes in a garage sale box, along with various vases, pitchers, and teapots I don’t like. I also decluttered and cleaned my kitchen hutch and the top of my fridge while I was at it. Go me!

The challenge for Feb 3 & 4 is to gather, sort, and organize recipes. Feb 5 is to declutter cookbooks. That one was easily done, as I owned exactly three small ones, of which I used exactly zero. All three went into the garage sale box. I use allrecipes.com for just about everything that I haven’t come up with on my own, and even though I tend to modify the recipes from the site, I do refer to it for the basics of various recipes. I keep promising my kids that I will write my recipes down so they can have them, so maybe that will be my personal challenge for February.

We got everything done in about 45 minutes. I put off dusting the cabinet tops until the counters are cleared, otherwise I’ll have a big muddy mess that will make for more work. I stuck a pin in it though, so I know to go back to that part of the task. This evening, I’ll sit down and type in the few paper recipes that I have floating around in my junk drawer. I think the only thing in there that we use is for flourless peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.

Although my kitchen is still quite the disaster, it’s only noon! I had to rest for a bit and I have an appointment with my rheumy this afternoon, but Matt will continue while I’m gone. Our goal is to get the kitchen completely emptied so we can do a deep cleaning. I desperately need a plumber to come replace the pipes under the sink and install a new garbage disposal, but I’m too embarrassed to have anyone come stick their head in that scary spot even if I am paying them. Fortunately, I have a great plumber, so I don’t have to research for that. I promised my husband that I would have all the kitchen repairs done by the end of next week. That and a clean kitchen is his valentine and anniversary present (12 years on Friday, the 13th!).

The weekly challenge is to create a home recycling center and devise a routine to deal with trash. The first part of that is easy, as our city has a recycling program. Everything recyclable goes into a brown bin and trash goes in a blue one. We have two large bins in our kitchen; a black one for trash, a white one for recycling. They get emptied into the city bins every other day or so.

Devising a routine to deal with trash is the hardest out of all the current challenges for me. I am terrible about throwing away mail. One friend suggested keeping a trash bin on the front porch so the mail never comes in the house. That may be the solution, but I am going to work on putting it directly in the recycling bin the instant I bring it in the house, rather than setting it on the table to go through it later. As for the rest of the house, I just need to remind Matt to empty ALL the trash cans every other day, not just the kitchen trash.

Some of you may remember that last year at this time, Ron and I were on the verge of divorce, yet here we are a year later, more happily married than ever. Once we started communicating, he said that one of his issues was how messy and cluttered the house was. Over the last year, I’ve decluttered a lot and we’ve all gotten a LOT better at day to day stuff. But it’s still not CLEAN clean. He’s much happier with the way it is now, but I know it could be a million times better. My goal this year is to get it to the best it can be. We’re about to have our house to ourselves (just a few more months and then Matt is moving to the Seattle area!), and I want it to be fabulous.

Will my house ever look like Leigh’s? I doubt it. For one thing, she has access to things I don’t, since she regularly gets an influx of furniture for free (Bill owns a moving company and gets free stuff all the time). For another, she has skills I don’t have. She is an artist in every sense of the word. I have an eye for color. My hands don’t cooperate with my eyes the way hers do. That being said, I do have one resource…Leigh herself! So while I may never make it onto the cover of Good Housekeeping, I have hopes that this hideous crap shack will eventually be transformed into a super cute cottage with a functional kitchen and a second bathroom. Wish me luck!

Get It On

I was hoping my body would last one more day, but it looks like it’s going to refuse to cooperate. I only needed a few more hours, but nope. At least I managed to get the back sides of my shelves painted before I dropped.

Although I had planned to go with basic bookcases that I already had, after filling one and a half and still having Mt. Everest-Of-Craft-Supplies stacked in my living room, I realized I needed a better solution if I hoped to get everything in here. Because I hoard hardware like squirrels do nuts, I scrounged up several ClosetMaid 84 inch standards, 104 inches of hang rail, and 17 brackets. A quick trip to Home Depot for a few more brackets, two more standards, and a sheet of MDF cut to 90 inches and divided into 12 inch boards, and I was on my way to a whole lot of linear foot storage space.  45 linear feet to be exact, plus the floor under the shelves too!

Risking life and limb, I installed the damn things by myself. There’s a lot to be said for hang rails if you have to do it yourself BY yourself.  I primed all four of the MDF shelves on Friday (I’ll get two more cut when I’m back on my feet) and painted them yesterday. I’m giving them a day to cure because the South Texas humidity is atrocious right now. Once they dry, I should have plenty of room for all my goodies. If not, I have another wall where I can fit more in. Since I *am* purging things, I think what I have should be fine.

Matt desperately needed to shampoo the interior of his van and I really wanted to do my sofa before I posted it on craiglist, so we rented a Rug Doctor while we were at Home Depot on Friday. He did the van that afternoon and Saturday morning, I did my sofa, my office recliner, and the chair (and ottoman) from my bedroom that is now going in Aubrey’s room. I thought the Woolite got my recliner clean, but I was seriously wrong because the water was so gross when I finished. Surprisingly, my sofa was the cleanest of the three pieces. I busted my ass and we managed to get the machine back with 16 minutes to spare. Kinda cutting it close, I know.

Unfortunately, my super comfy office recliner was injured in the ordeal. The rear right leg somehow has detached from the frame and now my chair is listing. We’re going to try to brace it somehow, but if that doesn’t work, I’m back in the market for a recliner for the office. That royally sucks because I love this chair.

Ron has been really wonderful throughout this whole ordeal. He moved furniture, washed the cushion covers (and put them back on!), made dinner, AND made strawberry daiquiris and margaritas. Considering how much he despises DIY and having the house torn up in the process, he’s handled this whole upheaval pretty well. I think what helps is that he wanted this to be our office from the beginning, so he’s content in playing the “I told you so” card. I can live with that.


And The Beat Goes On

Life has been gloriously normal the past few days. We sort of glossed over our 11th anniversary last Thursday, but we’re going to Austin/IKEA tomorrow as Ron’s present to me. While I was somewhat disappointed that I didn’t get any flowers for Valentine’s Day or our anniversary, it’s substantially mitigated by the impending shopping trip.

The weather continues to be cool and breezy, perfect for being outside and working on furniture projects. Ron is super happy that I’m finally getting jiggy with the sewing cabinet that has been cluttering up the back patio for almost a year now. Today I got it completely sanded down, spackled, and sanded again. I had Ron flip it over so I could clean all the spider webs and eggs out from the bottom of it, then I had him bring it inside. I swear I scraped off about a hundred water roach eggs from the inside (also known as palmetto roaches, palmetto beetles, or just big fucking scary roaches that fly at you). The eggs are the size of coffee beans. I got all but one hinge off; one screw is stripped, so I need to check youtube for how to remove it. I plan to spray the hinges black, paint the cabinet a light chalked French grey, and replace the knobs with cute ones that I’m currently shopping for. I love that the top flips open to double the size, and it’s really compact when it’s closed. It has three deep drawers and one shallow drawer, which is quite a bit of storage space, considering. The best part is it was free! A friend found it on the side of the road and gave it to me when we first moved in this place.

The daybed that I hacked from a full size IKEA Fjellse is another project that has languished for over a year but is now getting done. I sliced up the mattress, but I still need to add batting, make covers for the two pieces, and add the middle piece of wood and the slats. It is also going to be painted the same French grey as the desk. I intend to paint an old IKEA buffet for use as a credenza for the printer, scanner, and router, and when I find a wood desk for Ron, that will get painted, too. Paint is a super cheap way to unify a bunch of different furniture; I’m just glad that garage sale chic is in style!

While last Wednesday’s cleaning frenzy landed me in a miserable flare, I’ve still managed to get some things done by working in very small bursts with lots of rest in between. The yarn is slowly making its way into the office, and I’m weeding out all the crap yarn (cough cough Red Heart cough). I’m trying to move stuff as quickly as I can because Aubrey is stuck sleeping on the sofa until I get enough crap out of the old office for her to have room to set up her bed. In anticipation, she bought new sheets and a new quilt set while we were out shopping for baskets at HomeGoods.

I’ve had the worst time finding tips on how to store a giant yarn stash. I laugh at the cute yarn storage buckets that hold less than my project bag. I’ve started piling skeins into my old dresser, some IKEA Kassett boxes, a few fabric bins, and a couple of enameled galvanized buckets. I bought some wicker baskets at Goodwill, and the rest is tucked into clear plastic Sterilite bins until I can find more galvanized buckets. Seriously, I have my very own yarn store, which was really nice when I decided to start my latest project at midnight a week ago…I just went shopping in my stash!

The kissing experiment has been underway for almost a week now. I think it is going well; we’ve been snuggling on the sofa watching old episodes of The Simpsons, cooking together, talking and laughing, and there have been lots of random hugs and kisses. We have another week to go before we revisit our discussion, so more time for pair bonding to occur. I am trying to be positive but at the same time, not get caught up in thinking things are fine. It’s a tough rope to walk, but for the moment, I’ll take it. I think if we make it past this exercise, the next step will be going out to a movie.

The only stress in this week was when Ron’s dad called to say he is officially retired and that he might come down for a visit. AUGH! Believe me when I say that my house is nowhere near ready for company, especially not an in-law. I guess that’s the bee that I needed in my bonnet to get my ass moving! Nothing like impending doom to motive one to move!

Whip It! Whip It Good!

Busy days! Our weather has been insane, with temps ranging from 29 degrees one day to 69 degrees the next. While the cold days have me curled up in the bed in pain, the gorgeous days have me filled with energy. Yesterday was one of those gorgeous days, and it also happened to be Aubrey’s day off, so the great room swap of 2014 pushed on!

For those of you just joining in, I’ve been trying to get Aubrey’s room swapped with what was my office/den. The only problem is that my daughter’s room looks like Goodwill threw up. She loves to go thrifting, and is VERY good at it, so there are designer clothes EVERYWHERE. Then there’s her shoe addiction, which is evident by the ridiculous number of shoes this child has. On top of those two clutter-creating things, she has tons of art supplies, books, and knick knacks. She never gets rid of anything, and it has become a major issue because her room stinks.

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When Aubrey moved back home in January 2012, I bought a filter for an air purifier that we had lying around, hoping it would keep the dog smell down. A few days ago when Matt and Amanda came over to help me move furniture around, we noticed a thick layer of dust on every surface in Aubrey’s room. The curtains were white with dog hair, the bed skirt was the same, and the ceiling fan was a health hazard. I know she’s a slob, but we’ve never had that problem with the rest of the house. We were baffled by what could have caused it. In the morning, I woke her up so she could start dusting down the walls; fortunately, it was just dust, not greasy or oily. As we cleaned, I decided to order new filters. I took apart the purifier to find the filter model number and found the source of the pollution. The filter had over an inch of dog hair clogging it. GROSS! It was a solid chunk that I peeled off in one piece. Needless to say, we unplugged the purifier until the new filters arrive on Friday. Thank goodness for Amazon’s two day delivery.

I’m super excited about moving Ron’s computer out of our bedroom. I’m angling to get a king size bed, which won’t fit until the desk and the comfy arm chair are gone. I’m also dying to paint that room, which can’t be done until there is less stuff in there. But the first thing that I’m going to do is replace the curtains. We’re still living with the hideous blue sheet looking things that were hanging when we moved in. Our walls are a sickly green, and the ceiling has acoustic tiles that are falling down. Yup, it’s time to make a change in that room.

In between our cleaning days, I’ve been crocheting up a storm as I finish a baby blanket for Ron’s boss. I also joined an Artist Trading Card group, so I’ve had a ball tearing up magazines and covering everything with Mod Podge. Having a clean, organized, bright and sunny room is going to make all of that stuff more fun when I have less of a scramble to find my supplies.

I think the thing that has surprised me most is how much time I have with the house clean. Or I should say, how much guilt free time I have. Since it only takes a few minutes in each room to keep everything clean, I have the rest of the day to relax and do the creative stuff. My whole life, I’ve procrastinated the chores and snuck my craft/reading/napping time, which wasn’t as much fun as it could be because I was stressed out about everything being a mess. I wish I could go back in time ten years and slap me. My only hope is that I can instill some good habits in Aubrey before she moves out on her own.

Yesterday, I managed to get all the Amy snot off the windows, the curtains washed, and the walls clean. We threw out five bags of trash and swept the floor three times. Of course, the living room is now a disaster, but as anyone who ever owned a Rubik’s Cube knows, sometimes you have to break one to fix another. Of course, while Aubrey was moving stuff from the living room into her new room, I took advantage of the time and cleaned the laundry room and bathroom. While both of those rooms are still far from “CLEAN,” they are no longer disgusting and don’t make me want to cry quite so much.

Today, we’re taking a small break to run some errands, but before we leave, we are moving the bed. Aubrey has to be at work early today, so while she’s getting dressed, I’m going to swiffer and orange glo the floor, then IN goes the computer! WHOO HOO!

As an update for those of you who are following along with my marriage drama, night before last, we made a frittata for dinner, talked about the horrid IT department at Ron’s company, and Ron made popcorn as our bedtime snack. We laughed and kissed and it was wonderfully normal. Sigh. I love those days. They are what live for.