Little updates

I have approximately 250 updates around the house to share and wow, do I have zero time to clean, photograph and post them on the blog.

It’s January 21st and it feels like it should be July. Or 2017 already.

Time is going faster and faster and since I’ve yet to achieve time freezing powers I just work with what I’ve got.

I told you about my new sofa – well I finally got the replacement parts so the chaise doesn’t collapse sideways. I’ll have a full review someday.

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I did take down all the Christmas decorations. Eventually.

I’ve also been working in the garage, deciding how I can maximize space and make room for a new car. Just as soon as the old sofa is moved out I’ll be moving around all kinds of stuff to build a new workbench and storage.

I started with a pegboard by the backdoor which I painted Vintage Velvet blue:

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I also added some supports (so the pegboard hooks have room to hook)

photo 3

and done:

photo 1

Better pictures coming… later.

My kitchen also smells wonderful – thanks to 13 pounds of lemons I picked in Arbuckle and then juiced. I now have frozen lemon cubes and a carafe of juice for my tea.

photo 4In my office I recently added a file cabinet which, as soon as I fix the drawer slide, I’ll have to share that soon. It’s been quite an endeavor to fix.

Why I stopped reading your blog

Recently I was talking (i.e. ranting) to a friend about what’s wrong in the blogging world and thought it would make a great topic here.

Understand that this is heavily influenced by my own view of blogging because this site does not bring me income and has never been designed to make me famous, get sponsorships or support my lifestyle.

Which is why the selling out of blogs, specifically DIY and decorating ones, makes me ill. And as I recently cleared out my bookmarked folder of sites I made notes about the reasons I’m so disenfranchised with blogs lately.

Reason #1 Amateurs pretending to be professionals

Sometimes this is simple, in the form of bloggers who don’t proofread and make numerous, obvious errors in their writing. I’ve never claimed to be a grammatically correct fiend but when I publish for professional sites, every piece is edited by an expert.

Another symptom of this is the bloggers who disappear for weeks or months at a time because they’re “just not feeling it” anymore. Fine, whatever, if you’re not making this a professional endeavor. But for the rest of the blogs, do you really think a client or boss would allow you to just stop working because you weren’t happy doing your job?

Reason #2 Habitual racism, homophobia or discrimination

This one is a little harder because very few sites are blatantly discriminatory anymore. But it’s there and subtle and when it’s not just a single incident but perpetual then I just can’t. I can’t support bloggers who use their platform for exclusion and hatred.

For an example of my personal philosophy, there’s a bumper sticker I saw probably 10 years ago that had such a great message of understanding : “Straight, not narrow” and I love it. Because you don’t have to be a member of a community to extend graciousness and support.

Reason #3 Over sponsorship

Some sponsorships are just ridiculous. I don’t want to read about your super hard life as a stay at home mom in the most privileged nation in the world and how Sponsor’s pain pills helps you through your super hard days.

I’m sick of reading about how your recent remodel was “so affordable” or how you “splurged” on professional installation and then, wayyyyy at the bottom of the post is sponsored by in small print.

And “all opinions are my own”  is just b.s. in my opinion because you can’t serve 2 masters. I’ve yet to find a blog that is authentic to its audience and simultaneously serving the needs of sponsors. It’s completely disingenuous to say “I’d buy this anyway!” because you didn’t. It was given to you.

I’ve seen this on everything from vacuum cleaners, mattresses, clothes and cars. Yes, vehicles worth over $30,000. Again: b.s.

It extends to giveaways as well, promoting flash sales or “curating a collection” and not divulging that when your readers click to buy you get a substantial kick back in the way of money or credits.

Reason #4 You’re boring

I shared this on Facebook recently but in any given year I can predict the subjects of articles all year long. Everything from resolutions in January, love your ____ (fill in the blank) in February, surviving Daylight Savings Time, blah, blah, blah.

It’s boring. Uninspiring. Tedious.

It’s one of the reasons I haven’t been blogging as much myself because when I fall into those traps I can’t stand to hit publish.

A subset of this is the blogger who perpetually does and redoes the same project over and over. Listen, I have decorating ADD sometimes too. I hang a picture and then want to move it pretty much the next day. But I really don’t want to read about how you’ve changed your kitchen island 47 times or how this basket used to be in the garage and then the toy room and now the living room! as if it’s some critically important aspect of life.

Reason #5 You’re weak on the details

This is specific to DIY blogging but if you post a project with no details then I’m unfollowing. If you post a “big reveal” and don’t share sources then I’m unfollowing. Inspiration is everywhere and Pinterest is a goldmine. But if you don’t provide the how or the where or the price then what good is inspiration? It’s a rabbit hole of research to find the answers and I’ve got enough to do, thanks.

Now, I understand that when something is secondhand or a gift or was purchased so long ago you don’t know where it came from those questions are hard to answer. But anticipate the inquiry and address it in the post, not in the comments, not in a follow up post “to come” months or years later.

Reason #6 Your site is obnoxious to navigate

Obviously I include sites that look like cutting edge 1998 design, with too busy backgrounds or flashing ads, popups and 170 sidebar boxes. But also sites that are planned intentionally to be annoying to the reader.

Here are my real pet peeves:

  • sites that have 1-2 posts per page and 3,948 pages of blog posts.
  • sites that when you click “next” reopen in a new tab. Stop. that. now.
  • sites that have truncated posts so you have to “read more” and never take you back to where you were reading so you’re always scrolling around.

You know what these are? Tricks to increase page views and time on the site. And they’re foolish. Because more often than not I’ll just leave forever.

And so that’s what I’ve done on a large scale. I’m not interested in individually messaging bloggers about their sites, I’m just not investing my time anymore.

There are a precious few that I’ll follow and even more on my “last chance” list but since the beginning of the year I’ve removed at least 50% of the blogs I used to read for the reasons above.

“Getting Organized” is boring

Let’s face it, the process of getting organized is kinda boring. Paper cuts and shredding and making decisions is just blahhhh.

Which is why reading about organizing is so much more fun. You don’t have to get your hands dirty. Or make any effort whatsoever.

So I have a love/hate relationship with organizing posts because yes, they’re inspiring but also the crazy side of my brain takes over and I think that I need to read a whole book, the entire series, the finished space before I can begin myself. My brain thinks I need to figure out where they got everything, create a new board on Pinterest, and it just spirals.

Maybe you can relate.

So instead of sharing my own step by step organizing process (which I don’t actually have) I’m just going to work on my own space.

Along the way I might share some posts but only to hold myself accountable.

This year I’ve set the goal to declutter, donate or consign 1,000 items. After letting go of 1270 items last year, I’m lowering my goal a little in consideration of what I’ve already done.

I could probably accomplish that goal in 2 days if I counted individual papers or emails but instead I count a full paper bag of shredded papers as one item.

Here’s what I’m working on this month:

  • picture frames
  • filing in the office
  • gardening pots and containers
  • flower vases
  • owners and operation manuals

Blog more, worry less

I’ve been thinking a lot about why I like blogging and how to get back in the habit this year. I’m not going to make any grand promises and I don’t care at all about sponsorships, ad revenue or subscriber counts.

I blog because writing is how I express myself. 

I blog because it’s a more permanent record than the dozens of faded journals cluttering up my office.

I don’t blog because I want to become famous, make lots of money or have “fans.”

No offense if you are a fan, I’m just not doing this blog to cater to the masses who would likely judge and criticize my every choice.

What I think helped is realizing what I like to read on blogs is different than what I like to write on my own. I’m not one for photoshopped vignettes of cookies and a sprig of mint or the most perfectly displayed holiday table.

I don’t have cute kids that pose for the camera or travel to new countries every few weeks.

Most of the drafts (uh… 21 of them) are just waiting for photos which tells me I need to be okay writing without pictures more often.

The dominance of Pinterest has created this stress of getting the right picture in perfect light and that’s just not realistic.

One project I do want to complete is to re-launch my home pages with new pictures since every single room was painted in the last 12 months. It’s challenging to a) deal with lingering piles of paper or clutter, b) get everything sparkly clean and c) keep it that way for 24 hours so I can photograph, edit and re-take if needed for a single page. Multiply that times 10 “spaces” and the yard and you can see why these things take me forever.

So unless it’s a really photo necessary post, I’ll probably be just writing more. Like now.

And before I get distracted by the internet or the dogs or something else entirely, I will just hit post.

A fresh start in 2015

It’s no secret that I’m a gal who loves a project. Pretty much from the moment I opened my new miter saw at Christmas I’ve been planning what I’ll build this year around the house and it’s quite a list.

There’s something about the cool way January sweeps in, giving a fresh start to old resolutions and renewing them again. It’s the time of year when people claim it’s “finally time” to get fit, save money, find a better job, get organized, eat well, and travel more.

Whether or not that verbal commitment is followed by action is another story entirely. No matter what your goals for the new year include here are 4 simple steps to sustaining your fresh start.

Step 1: Set up an Environment for Success 

We like to think that flipping over to a new page in our calendar means a fresh start but everyone comes into the year with baggage. We have habits that have been well established and creating new routines begins with the right environment.

Your very first task should be asking what in your current environment isn’t conducive to your success. Similar to the alcoholic who must learn a route home from work that doesn’t pass his favorite bar, you might need to change what you do now to make room for your success.

Dieters start by throwing out (not eating…) the bad food that makes them tired and sluggish.

Those who want to save money can begin by canceling unused memberships and subscriptions.

Getting rid of these roadblocks is the first step.

Step 2 : Think of the long road

Today I read how one friend is determined to sort through 20+ bins of stuff in the coming year, and her goal was to complete one before the end of the day.

Instead of trying to cram your goals into the first week of January, spread them out. 20 bins, in this case, means if you do one per week the task will be done by June.

Determine how you can think long term with your new goals and habits – after all, creating long lasting change is more valuable than the quick fix.

Step 3 : Share your goal with someone you trust

The jury is out on whether publicizing your goals is beneficial or detrimental but I believe it has more to do with your personality than anything else.

Instead of announcing your good intentions to the world, choose one person you trust to confide in. It could be a partner, spouse, friend, colleague or coach but spend as much time sharing why you need this change in your life as how you’re going to accomplish it.

There are two-fold benefits here. First, when you’re not acting how you said you would to reach your goals this friend can remind you of your commitment. And second, when you’re frustrated and ready to give up they can remind you why this is so important to you.

Step 4 : Build it into your schedule 

The biggest problem with making a change is the cognitive process that comes with it. If given the choice between what’s new and unsure and old routines we’ll almost always choose what we know. Part of this comes from decision fatigue, but also what’s most comfortable.

So instead of deciding what time to go to the gym or what to make for dinner or where to save your money – build these decisions into your schedule one week at a time.

Which might mean you need to schedule time to schedule, but instead of trying to plan the entirety of 2015 aim for the first week or month.

What are your 2015 commitments? I’m still working on mine for the new year.

The year of paint, and beyond

When I emptied out the living room back in February and started working on the living room ceiling I didn’t realize it would be a declaration that 2014 was the year of paint.

I painted the living room, dining room and hallway.

And the office.

Also the kitchen.

Then the guest room.

And the master bedroom.

I haven’t even shown you the paint in the master bath and hall closet yet.

The walls and ceilings weren’t the only makeovers.

2 new chairs were painted – yes with wall paint – as well as 2 outdoor tables. The fireplace mantle got a fresh coat of paint as did the tiles. I also stained home built shelves for the bathroom and a shelf in the living room but that doesn’t exactly count. I also spray painted an old mirror and some new lamps if spray painting counts.

So it probably won’t surprise you that I recently pulled out the brushes and cans again.

I’ll share that project soon.

If 2014 was the year of paint – as I declare it so – what will 2015 bring?

Well, in terms of bigger furniture planning, I’d like to replace my bar high table with a shorter one. While it’s served me well for 6 years, I’m looking for something more comfortable that I can makeover or possibly DIY.

Don’t look at me like that, I have power tools!

And since yanking my old headboard from the master bedroom has left me with a mattress up against the wall, I’d like to build a new bed frame so I can get my queen mattress off the metal railings. Again, served me well but time for something more sturdy, perhaps with storage?

Again, I’m considering a DIY if I can make some room in the garage for the build.

But I think the biggest project of 2015 will be tackling some exterior projects.

#1 on my list is new gutters. I know, I know, I’ve been talking about this forever and every winter I remember why it should have been done in the summer.

Replacing – at minimum – the length of gutters and downspouts along the side yard will enable me to start the next outdoor project: paint.

It’s like 2014 all over again!

Only this time I’ll be painting the exterior which is a daunting task.

Just the idea of buying that much paint is giving me fits so, just like every other project, I’m going to take it slow and work in sections. It may be a few months before I can begin painting on dry, warmer weekends so I have plenty of time to price shop the paint, gather supplies and replace damaged wood panels.

While this is not nearly as fun as picking out paint for the office or setting up the new guest room furniture I know it’s critical to a) improve the value of the house and b) keep out the elements so we don’t have bigger problems later.

My reach, omg if we could swing it that would be fantastic, goal is to replace the windows throughout the house, although the estimates are around $3,000 and it would mean losing my garden window which I irrationally love in the kitchen.

That pricing doesn’t include the sliding glass door in the master bedroom but if I could exchange that for something new for less than $1,000 I might just put that on the wish list too.

Right now I’m torn between beautiful glass french doors:

french doors

or a Dutch door so I could let in the pups or fresh air

dutchdoor

Or a more solid door because between the dogs and rain the glass gets filthy way too quickly and then I could take down the 5′ of dark brown curtains and hang more pictures and… do you see why I have such a hard time making decisions? So many options!

No Christmas Tree, No Christmas Tree

in my house this year. And here’s the story about why.

Right about the time I was deciding if it was worth the effort to move the arm chair and haul home a tree during the “storm of the decade” and try to get it straight in a stand by myself and keep the dogs from peeing on it and decorate the whole thing for 3 weeks worth of enjoyment…

…I accidentally bought a sofa instead.

And instead of having 2 sofas and a Christmas tree to contend with this month I decided the $40 and 3 hours saved could just go to the sofa.

Since I know some people are impatient, here she is in all her glory:

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Now, let me tell you all about my self justifications for buying this on a whim.

Much of my furniture was dirt cheap. In the master bedroom I have a free bed frame and side chair, nightstands that were $25 and a dresser from the “as-is” clearance at Ikea. And the woven foot chest was a clearance find from Target.

The guest room has a mattress and headboard that was free (from my grandparents), a foot chest that was a gift from mom and dad, a desk (also from mom and dad), a free side chair and an Ikea bookshelf I bought 3 years ago.

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The office? Well, the desk and matching bookshelf came from my grandparents. I bought the Ikea bookshelf last year as well as the new chair and file cabinet on clearance at Staples (actually, I don’t think I’ve shown you those yet. It’s on the to do list.).

The living room had the sofa from my parents as well as a dresser they gave me to renovate, 2 arm chairs that were free and a $20 foot stool.

There are 3 Ikea bookshelves in the kitchen that I bought well over 8 years ago and got the kitchen table at a going out of business sale.

I don’t buy expensive furniture.

But I’ve known for awhile that I wanted a new couch – not just because the older one was purple.

2014 - living room wide shote

It was made by Ethan Allan so it’s incredibly well made, even if my Mom bought it sometime around 2000. It just wasn’t my style.

It wasn’t big enough.

It was just too low to easily get out of if you’re over 40.

I have an abnormal affection for the chaise.

And I draw the line at Ikea chairs. In my experience they’re just not comfortable and nice enough.

Enter Zulily.

Aka the website I need to block.

Because I was just browsing for gift ideas for my father when I saw it.

chaise

It was longer, it had a chaise, it was microfiber (aka easy to clean) and it was deliverable before Christmas.

Did I mention it was $350? Delivered. As in $10 shipping is my favorite thing.

So I clicked buy before I could think too hard but after I measured and on Tuesday UPS delivered 2 GIANT boxes from Sofab on my front door step, while I was gone, in the pouring rain.

The good news is that only the box was damaged by the rain – so no box forts for me – and the sofa was relatively easy to put together.

I plan on reviewing the whole “assemble a couch yourself” process because I found it much harder than the videos would lead you to believe.

Plus I need to do a little bit of surgery. Details on that when we’re done.

But for now I’m loving it. I will be changing up the shelf behind the couch soon so it’s the right depth – that might be my January “I need to build something” project. But the wood won’t go to waste, I’ve already decided where it’s going to be installed. Hint: garage.

I’ll be back with more pictures soon, but first the couch needs to be scotch guarded.