Friday, April 27, 2012

Swedish design, hold the lutefisk

I am 1/8 Swedish.  It's the most highly concentrated and certainly most interesting part of my heritage.  So I choose to call myself a Swede. 

Sweden, a land of the midnight sun, is also the land of the midday moon in the wintertime.  What, you may ask does this have to do with design, and more particularly, purging the office/studio?  If you'll allow me a little latitude, I'll get to that.

I love all things French country.  No, really, I do.  I love the textiles, particularly toile, but also the blue and the red and the yellow and the green Provencal fabrics.  I love the colors, I love the wood.  The furniture, the paneling.  Those dark rich woods. The parquet floors.  I can look at French Country design books all day.  I can envision it in my house.  My sub-division even has a French name !

And so began my quest to decorate my home in the French Country style.  In the sun, it looks great, and warm. But, here, in the Pacific Northwest, unlike the South of France, we don't have sun in wintertime.  We have the grey clouds.  And we also have grey clouds.  Sometimes we even have, wait for it, grey clouds.  So, dark and heavy furnishings, well it just looks dark and heavy.  And not happy at all.  I need happy.  I neeeeddd happy.

Back to being Swedish.  One day, while learning more about my Swedishnish, I happened upon a book about Swedish Country Design.

Swedish Country Interiors

Eeh?  That's right.  Swedish Country. 

Seems back in the day, old King Gustav went to visit his King buddy in France.  He liked the furniture.  So he took some back to Sweden with him.  But it was dark and heavy.  So, he painted it.  White or palest grey, or pale blue.  It's pretty much like my beloved French Country, only instead of oak and walnut, everything's made out of oak and pine.  Instead of dark rich stain, its whitewashed.  Or painted.  Painted light colors.  Why?  It's all cleverly designed to fool the mind into thinking there's more light than there actually is.  It's a psychological and totally genius way to decorate. 

Where contemporary Swedish design has very clean lines and is essentially minimalist, Swedish Country allows for a bit more flair in the furnishings, and more tchotchke's.  Like carved furniture.  Like a Dala Horse.  I do like me a Dala Horse. 

So for my studio, where I often spend a great deal of my day, Swedish Country design it is.  It also helps that my former (sniffle) neighbor gave me her whitewashed pine sideboard and hutch when they downsized last summer.  It's kind of a prominent piece and handy too.  It also reminds me of my all time favorite neighbor.  Which means, It follows my rules.  It makes me happy, and it functions the way I need it to function.  This piece is my jumping off point for the studio. 

Next up, the quest to find work surfaces.....

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Office Re-org. Step One - Nothing is sacred

When I finally decided to get serious about this organizing my studio project I figured I'd better come up with some ground rules.  Otherwise, instead of organizing and purging, I'd just end up cleaning and tidying, once again.  Been there, done that, doesn't work.

Here are the rules:
  1. Nothing is sacred or automatically exempt.
  2. Does it serve an actual useful purpose?  (yes = keep/maybe, no = bye bye)
  3. Does it make me happy? 
  4. Does it make me frustrated?  (IE, does it actually work the way I need it to?)

Yep, that's right.  Only four rules.  KISS.  Keep It Simple Stupid.

Next I spent a day or two pondering what I want to be able to do in my studio.  Keeping in mind, it had to be easy and also keeping in mind that I'm a visual person. (out of sight = out of mind)

Here's what I came up with:
  1. Office Work.  (book keeping and the like)
  2. Creative Writing.
  3. Planning and preparing for speaking engagements and conferences.
  4. Sew
Next...what do I need to have in order to accomplish this?  Besides a hot cup of coffee

  1. Office Work
    • Computer
    • Comfortable chair, with arms.
    • Room to spread out (and ergonomic at that)
    • adding machine
    • telephone
    • office supplies (and place to keep them)
    • ease of access to files
  2. Creative Writing
    • Computer
    • Comfortable chair, with arms
    • comfortable and cheerful atmosphere
  3. Planning and Prepping for Speaking Engagements and Conferences
    • Computer
    • Comfortable chair with arms
    • Comfortable and Cheerful atmosphere
    • Room to Spread Out.
    • Ease of access to books and resource materials.
  4. Sewing
    • Table to accommodate sewing machine, serger, and embroidery machine
    • Comfortable chair - no arms
    • Fabric storage
    • Sewing Notion Storage
    • Cutting Table
    • Dress Form
    • Storage for "projects in progress"  (I'm easily bored, and have multiple projects going at any time)
Armed with this knowledge, I then carefully measured my room and drew a template on graph paper. 

Then....I hit the Internet.  Stay tuned......................................

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Where it all began

Some weeks ago, I made this bold proclamation about my office.   About the condition of my office to be more specific.  On January 30, I declared triumphantly that I would have touched every piece of paper in my office, I mean studio, by the end of business January 31.  But then January 31 had plans of its own.  Influenza plans.  On February 8, I tried again to make this proclamation. 

Let me show you what I was up against.

Do Not Be Fooled.  I like to start with my best foot forward.  Sure, this looks all color coordinated, roughly following the ROYGBIV colors of the rainbow.  (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet)  Come with me now to the wider angle shot.

This is my "cutting table."  It's counter height, so I don't have to lean over when applying my rotary cutter to fabric.  It's actually a very nice size, could be bigger, but my room is small.  However, no cutting can happen...unless I clear this off.  So, in reality, no cutting happens.

Let's have another angle.

As you can see by the sheer volume of sewing machines and chairs, I like to sew.  In fact, I love to sew.  Alas, no sewing gets done in here.  Too depressing, and too much work to clear areas in which to cut, sew and press.

And finally....the nerve center.

Note the makeshift desk.  A baker's rack from Target and what is essentially a TV tray as a "writing surface".  Only guess what?  It's piled with papers and junk, so no writing can actually take place on it.  (and by "writing" I mean pencil and paper)  Look, my teeny ironing board, bungeed to the top of a teeny book shelf is serving as an extension of my desk.

This corner, by the way, is where my creative writing juices are supposed to flow.  Have I mentioned that clutter makes me claustrophobic?

Seems like a monumental task, getting this room functional.  Oh I cleaned it up, several times in fact. Once I even managed to sew for a couple of hours. But within a few days it would be right back to this. 


So, let me ask you a question?  Have you ever heard this expression, "How do you eat an elephant?"  The answer of course is, "One bite at a time."

I was reminded of this over and over, over the course of the last few weeks.  My brain decided it might be a good idea to apply this adage to my office, I mean studio, dilemma. 

Over the next several posts, I shall detail each bite I've taken.  Until we finally get this elephant chewed up and digested. 

Stay tuned.....please.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The thing about blogging

One of the very happy side effects of blogging, is that I now have a valid excuse, make that valid reason to read blogs.  It's research baby.  In an effort to hone my craft, why it only makes sense to study other successful blogs.  In fact, my "blogging for dummies" book suggests aspiring bloggers do just that.  Spend time reading blogs.  (tee hee, I just typed "bogs" That would be funny, "bog study"  "Honey, I'm going out to work on my bog") 

Dog germs, dog germs, get the hot water !!  Why must my dog lick me on the lips?  She's so fast with that tongue, I cannot escape.  There is no escape. 

Every now and again I Bing  "Methods of a Mostly Managing Mom."  Still no hits.  But this morning's Bing netted me this blog.  Simple Mom.  It's actually written by several contributors on two topics near and dear to my heart.  Parenting and Productivity.  Or as I like to call it, "Momming" and "Simplification."

And I am nothing if not about simplification.  Yesterday, I managed to go through two of the four file drawers in my file cabinet.  I know what you are thinking...I think this too.  "Why do you have a four drawer file cabinet full of papers, you stay at home mom you?" 

I don't know.  It makes no sense.  And yet I do.  I think it was a mistake to get the four drawer cabinet.  It's kind of like getting a big house.  No matter how big the house is, eventually you will fill it up.  And I did. 

But...guess what I found in one of the files? 

A few years ago, my friend got me to become an "Usborne Books and More" consultant.  I am, by the way, my only customer.  At any rate, if I can recover from my latest digression, which could be why I never get anything done, my penchant for the digression.  Perhaps a symptom or sign of genius? 

Being a consultant of course necessitated several file folders.  Shortly after becoming a consultant, my dear friend got a booth at a Christmas Bazaar.  She asked me to help her.  So I did.  (My friend, by the way, is one of those people who actually makes a living doing this sort of thing)

Contained within the Usborne Books section was a file folder labeled "Candy Cane Lane 2010".  Since it's now 2012, and even I don't buy books from me at the moment, I decided it was safe to rid the cabinet of this file.  But, better check inside first.  Just in case.  And there were several items in there that needed to be shredded.  Namely the receipts with customer information.  Then, there was this envelope in there.  "What the..." 

Well, apparently my friend handed me my share of the receipts for that bazaar in cash.  In an envelope.  Which I then put into the file. 

Purging pays my friends....purging pays!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Done and Done

Just got the confirmation from the IRS that my e-filed tax return has been accepted.  To celebrate, we had pizza delivered !! 

Yes, I know I boldly proclaimed a couple of weeks ago that I had to finish my taxes by March 23, or the poll tax for e-filing was going to go up by 20 dollars.  I somehow thought killing myself and burning the old midnight oil was worth the 20 bucks.

Reality bites.  I didn't make it.  We are though getting a bit of a refund.  So that's nice.  And certainly better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.  (Who comes up with sayings like that anyway - sicko)

But...I did put together a fabulous, and I do mean fabulous fairy costume for a series of skits I was performing at a women's retreat.  The leprechaun to my left was my teammate in the inaugural running of the "Indy 2.5"  The paper plates were our steering wheels for our imaginary and invisible formula one racing cars. 

And I saved at least 20 bucks by coming up with a costume mostly from my daughter's toy box. 

The best part of the weekend...the skits were totally unscripted.  It was all improvised.  Sort of a "who's line is it anyway?" for Christian Women.  Unfamiliar with that show?  Oh please, if you have any sense of humor at all, find it.  It's just got to be on the interweb somewhere. 

My point is, sometimes you gotta get goofy.  Sometimes, you gotta wear pink sparkly Tom's.  Apparently though, my friend and teammate should never wear a leprechaun hat with attached fake gave her a rash. 

Let's hear it then for gettin' the taxes done, gettin' my silly on, and the healin' properties of my friends "generations cold cream."  (available at

I raise a glass of iced tea, laced with "emergen-c" cranberry pomegranate flavor.

Friday, April 6, 2012

I'm Hungry !!

Where or where are my staff when I need them?  Oh that's right, no staff.  I'm a middle class mom.  We don't have staff.  Bummer.

So I had this dream where my 7 year old daughter was playing on a basketball team.  Which is interesting, because she's in the 25th percentile for height.  (She also just broke 40 lbs, which puts her into the 10th percentile for weight - which means thank heavens for capris and clam diggers.  There will be NO PANTS for her cause the ones that aren't high waters won't stay up around her tiny waist.)

Basically, I'm just typing, because I had this really great idea for a post (no really, I did).  But sometime between now and last night when I thought of it, the great idea has run away with the spoon.  Well, it's just hiding.  Every once in awhile, I get this glimpse of it, "Yes, yes, I was going to write aboooout....," then it's gone.  I'm so close to remembering this idea.  You would not believe how close. 

Shoot, the dog needs to go out. 

Where was I?  Oh yes, I remember, I forgot. 

In the meantime, let me amuse you with this shopping anecdote.  Yesterday, Samantha and I went to the mall.  She may be little, but she's growing like crazy right now, and she needed underwear.  I have determined the best children's underwear on the planet can be found at Gymboree.  I've never had to toss a pair of Gymboree undies due to "undie failure."  The elastic never loses it's stretch.  The seams don't come apart. 

One of the rules I live by, is that everyone in the family, for whom I do the laundry, must have at least 14 pairs of working underpants.  I know, I know, this seems excessive.  But 14 pairs = 2 weeks worth.  You can go without socks, you can re-wear a shirt...but you cannot recycle underpants (contrary to what most boy children believe ) And what if I can't get to the laundry?  (It has happened)  I never want to hear, "Mooooom, I don't have any clean underwear !!"

Back to my story.  We're walking through the mall, towards Gymboree, when suddenly, Samantha stops in her tracks, and looks up at me in horror.  "Mom,"  she says, wide eyed.  "The people in the store are going to know what my underpants look like." 

It seems we've entered a new phase of development.  Embarrassment. hmmm.  I'm going to have to think about that one for awhile.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

My New Best Friend

"Oh goody," you're thinking, "another post about the dog."  Nope.  Not this time.  Though she is a great companion, and totally housebroken (yes !!)

My new best friend is  It's an organizational blog and website.  Each day is a new tip or task.  Just 15 minutes as a rule.  The thing I liked the most is a disclaimer she has.  "Jump in where you are, you are not behind.  Just take it one baby step at a time." 

Talk about liberation.  Permission to not feel behind.  To not feel like we've missed the bus and have to run really hard and fast to make it to the next stop.  Cause it's that feeling like we'll never catch up that causes us to sit down and give up.  Inertia can be as powerful a force as momentum. 

There's even a section on taking care of yourself.  Most of it is common sense stuff we could figure out for ourselves.  But do we ever take the time to figure it out, or put it into practice?  No.  Why?  Because we are mostly mom's in the trenches.  Living in the moment of putting out the biggest fire first, feeling overwhelmed because once again the toilet is gross.  (Didn't I just clean it last month?)

It's nice to have this stuff spoon fed to us.  I like to be spoon fed.  Especially if it's pudding.  Pudding with raspberry sauce on it.  Maybe a little dollop of whipped cream, you know, if I'm feeling decadent.  (or if for some really weird reason, I actually happen to have whipped cream at the same time I have pudding or raspberry sauce.  Note to self...make some pudding and raspberry sauce)

So for today, I will put on my shoes, and I will make my bed, and I will take time to have fun with my children and my dog. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Writer's Block

I had this notebook where I was jotting down all my ideas for blog posts.  You see I intended (and still do) to post every day 'cept Sunday. 

But I lost the notebook.  And I still haven't cleaned up my office.  I mean "Studio."  So I think the notebook might be in there.  I remember I had some really great ideas.  I had even mapped out a pattern of the type of posts.

"Thoughtful Thursday" "Shortcut Saturday", I forget the rest. 

So now I'm ramping up for a trip to Romania this summer.  To plant a MOPS group.  And to facilitate a women's retreat with a focus on connections.  I think thinking about this is taking up all my available brain space. 

And what's with waking up at 3:30 am and not being able to go back to sleep?  It's 6:00 am now, and I've already been out of bed for an hour and I'm on my second cup of coffee.  I know...lots and lots of people get up at this hour.  But typically...not me.  I usually wake up around 7:00 or 7:30.  After a blissful 7-8 hours of sleep.  Well, blissful might be too strong a word, since I often have very weird dreams.  Very.  Weird.

Then, just when I thought it was safe to get back into the's Spring Break.  Could have sworn we just had mid-winter break, and Christmas Break.  It's no wonder Johnny can't read.  He's never in school.  In our school district, Wednesday is early release.  Thursday is late start.  Then there's a bunch of days off in between.  Only once this entire school year have the kids gone to school for three straight weeks without an extra day off.  Really! Oh boy, will it be a whole new world when they graduate, and will have to work FIVE DAYS IN A ROW, EVERY SINGLE WEEK, EXCEPT FOR THEIR ONE WEEK OF VACATION A YEAR. (and 6-7 holidays)

And "Spring" break again might be too strong a word.  Cause It's Raining and Cold in the Pacific Northwest.  Oh yes it is.  And I'm whiny and crabby.  And the kids are going to be home all day for FIVE DAYS IN A ROW. 

hmm...time for an attitude intervention.  It's going to be a great week !!  It's going to be a great week !!  Kids will be sleeping in.  The word "focus" will probably not cross my lips.  (As in "focus on your breakfast" or "focus on getting dressed")  No mad dash to the bus stop.  No HOMEWORK.  (Cause first graders don't do homework by themselves.)  No pieces of paper coming home in backpacks.  That in and of itself makes it worthwhile.  No rushing home to get there before the school bus in the afternoon.  No green "head injury" bracelets this week.  That'll be nice.  Extra snuggle time in the morning.  Good, since she's barely fitting on my lap anymore (picture the little tear running down my cheek, sniffle) and I have to get in as much snuggles as I can before they start to cause serious injury to my person. 

OK, I can do this.  It's going to be a great week.  When are they going to get up?  It's 6:30 already !!