Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I'm now one of "those" people

It's true.  It's happened.  My dog has taken over my life.  I'm now "dog people."  She goes on rides with me in the car.  I take her to the bus stop morning and afternoon.  She's on my lap RIGHT NOW as I'm typing.  Snoring.  And I'm trying to sit still, so I don't disturb her.  It's true. 

On the other hand, it's a little chilly today, and she is keeping my lap warm.  So, technically, she's earning her keep...right?

Wait...leg is asleep...gently, slowly, just moving it....okay, okay, I'll stop.  Whew that was close.  Almost woke the dog up.  In fact I did, if only for a brief moment wake her up.  She gave me the stink eye.  She's back to sleep now.

But, she's just a puppy.  A baby.  I used to hold my human baby in my lap while she napped in the afternoon.  At seven years old, she barely fits now.

We went to a barbeque over the weekend at a friends house.  Our kids are the same age, husbands work for the same company.  Want to know what we talked about?  Our dogs.  They have three dogs, we only have the one.  Our dog was invited to come, but since one of their dogs is very old, we decided our dog/puppy might be too exuberant for him.  So she stayed behind.  In her crate.  See, I'm not totally dogged out.  I still make my dog stay in her crate at night and while we are gone.  (at least when my husbands around...sometimes, when he's at work, and I'm only going to be gone for an hour...)

Okay, this time, dog be darned...I really have to move my leg.  I'm just going to do it, quick.  Like a bandaid.  She'll be over it in no time.  One, two, and it's done.  I tricked her.  I moved my leg before I got to three.  Ha.  She didn't even know what hit her, and she's readjusted and back to sleep. 

I might have to fire the painters.  We're having our house painted.  It's the first time we've hired out the task, and I gotta tell you, it's fabulous.  No hanging off ladders in the burning sun, or drizzling rain.  But yesterday, the painters assistant asked me what kind of a dog Frankie is.

I told him she's a mix.  Dachshund and Terrier.  Now you've all by now seen pictures of my dog.  She's not the most beautiful, but she is cute and adorable and completely loveable. 

"hmm," says he, pointing at my dog.  "See, that's why people should have their dogs spayed and neutered.  Cause that's what you get."

I smiled.  Cause I'm nice that way.  But inside, "SCUSE ME !!  DON'T BE DISSING MY DOG."  I'm just waiting for the perfect opportunity to slip a little dog doing at the base of his ladder.  I have plenty.  It won't be any trouble.  HA.  Take that, mister DOG DISSER.

btw, does anyone actually say "dissing" any more?  I didn't think so.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Building on a firm foundation

I've been trying to figure out how to write about my joy at the return of pantyhose to fashion.  Trying to write about it in a way that doesn't set womankind back a century, and have feminists the world over hurling flaming rocks and arrows at me. 

I live in a small suburban city, and well, I can't go anywhere without running into someone from the PTSA, or church, or the neighborhood.  Mostly I like that.  But when I get on a soapbox and raise ire, I'd rather I lived in a large metropolitan area.  You should have seen the fallout when I wrote a letter to the editor of our small town newspaper about enforcing the no dogs at the farmers market regulation.  It went on for most of that summer.  (I'm not sorry I did it though - and clearly I'm a dog lover, which you know if you've read any of my posts)

Pantyhose are fabulous.  Before the pantyhose, we had the girdle.  Before the girdle we had the corset.  And hoopskirts.  When seen in that light, pantyhose seem rather tame.  Not the torture device we had come to regard them as. 

At first, I embraced the loss of pantyhose, though I always wore them to the office if I wore a skirt. Of course, without the pantyhose came the return of the pantyline.  Not attractive.  Nobody looks good with a pantyline.  Just check out re-runs of Starsky and Hutch.  Lots of pantylines.  Very unattractive.  The thong panty promised some relief from the pantyline...but came with a surprise.  With actually nothing covering the bum, well the bum as it turns out - I'm just going to say it - the bum flobbles. 

There I said it.  It flobbles.  You know what I'm talking about too.  You know when you are walking down the street and your bum is swaying side to side (bum cheeks, not hips) and bum cheeks are bouncing up and down at the same time.  Here's an ugly truth.  If you can feel it, everyone else can see it. 

Now before you go getting all upset and cancelling your subscription to this blog, bear with me.  I freely admit to the flobble.  I flobble.  Which is why I bought spanx.  Which I find to be more uncomfortable than pantyhose.  And a darn sight more expensive.

Lets be clear.  All women flobble.  Except for maybe the extreme bodybuilder woman who can crack walnuts with her bum cheeks.  Nope, she probably flobbles too. 

The solution is simple though.  And it doesn't have to cost a fortune either.  Leggs Sheer Energy.  That's all it takes.  $6.00 a pair.  Slip 'em on and something wonderful happens.  Yes, tushy is firm.  But so are thighs.  And you know what else?

I thought I was going to grow old gracefully.  That was my plan.  My skin, has other ideas.  It's become rather transparent.  Which means, in addition to my veins showing, my lovely dark leg hair is now visible under the skin.  My perfectly shaved and smooth leg looks like it hasn't seen a razor for several days.  I've tried everything under the sun.  Waxing - caused unsightly ingrown hairs.  Depilatories = chemical burn.  Shaving started to cause ingrown hairs.  Shaving with an electric razor...same thing.  Tweezing the ingrown hairs out caused scarring.  Which caused more ingrown hairs.  TMI I know.

But a nice pair of pantyhose, a nice suntan shade, and all of a sudden my legs are nubile.  Smooth, silky, pretty, and as mentioned above, not flobblish. 

So there you are.  Ladies, embrace the foundation garment.  The wise man builds his house upon the rocks. 

Oh, hope I don't twist an ankle stepping down off this soap box.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Can we see it already?

Yah yah yah....I've been going all great guns with the studio re-do.  It really is almost done.  But I've been a Lee for several years now.  And well, Lees are busy people.  We don't like to waste time.  This is one thing I've noticed about Lees.  This is why we are always late. 

Lee 1 will be ready to go.  Lee 2 needs a few more minutes.  So Lee 1, not wanting to waste minutes, will: 
  • a) start a load of laundry
  • b) change her shoes
  • 3) etc. 
Lee 2 is now ready, but Lee 1 is still loading the washing machine. 

Lee 2 then:
  • answers an e-mail. 
Lee 1 is ready again, but Lee 2 is still typing. 

Lee 1 then:
You get the picture.

The other thing about Lees, is we think we are incredibly efficient and therefore think we can take on many things at the same time.  What ends up happening is handy husband rebuilt the island in the kitchen from the ground up.  It's larger, it has more storage, and it now has an eating bar.  It's beautiful.  Or it will be, once it gets painted.  And the tile gets the final coat of grout.  You see, it's perfectly functional, and has been since December.  So that's the problem.  We get it to perfectly functional, then start to feel the heat from another fire we started, and turn our attention towards that. 

You see, my office / sewing room is now perfectly functional.  It's even mostly decorated as well as organized.  But, it's not done.  The valance still needs to be made.  My two little pine chests from Ikea need to be painted.  There is a large basket full of "don't know where to put these things" things just outside the door.  I'm to the point of having to make lots and lots of little decisions about frankly unimportant stuff. 

In the meantime, I had to pay bills, I had to plan a craft for Daisy Scouts, I had to write an article for my church newsletter, I needed to prep for a meeting I was leading...

I will say this, my office functions SO MUCH better.  Everything I needed to do all of that was within reach.  And I still have room to apply pencil to paper when needed. 

And why didn't I include "blog post" on my large list of other stuff to-do?  Because I had it in my head, that my next post, for continuity's sake, needed to be the conclusion of my studio re-do series.  Since I wasn't done with the re-do, because I haven't worked on it for a week or so, it would be against my "rule" to post about something else. 

This post, however, accomplishes two things.  First, the post is technically about the process of my office re-do, since apparently, stopping work once I get to the point of "Perfectly Functional" is part of my process.  Second, this post is indeed a post, and it makes me happy to write this blog.  So now, I'm back to being happy.  That's pretty fabulous.

Oh, and my other reason for not finishing the office.  (I mean, studio) There are times when you gotta make hay when the sun shines.  And the sun has been shining in the Pacific Northwest for several days now.  In a row.  I've even turned off the furnace.  So I've been outside.  Planting, and planting, and sitting on my behind in my chair outside admiring my planting.  Ooh, an idea for my next post.  My hidey hole in the backyard.  You're going to love it !! 

( I should go take some pictures while the sun is shining !!)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Colorful Character

I am one with color.  There is little to nothing about me that could be described as beige.  I realized several years ago that bright or deep rich colors make me happy.  They also look the best on me, with my cool skin tones.  I've become kind of known for my colors.  My winter wool coat is magenta.  My everyday spring coat is red.  The fleece jacket I'm sporting right now is apple green.  My purse is navy blue purple.  I often tell people, "I'm far to colorful a character to wear bland clothing." 

I think my penchant for color stems from growing up in rental housing. Off white walled rental housing.  I didn't live in an "owner occupied" home until I was 28 - when I was the owner occupier.  It was then, I picked up my first paint roller, and made my first paint mistake.  Pale pink.  I thought I was getting a pinky beige.  Nope.  It was pink.  Pure and simple.  In the living room.  It's ok, though, it was the early nineties, and the pink did "work" with my teal and white striped sofa set.  Sort of a Miami Beach vibe.  ( I'm just sorry I don't have a picture available to insert right here.)

I've since learned the value of two trips to the paint store.  The first one, to buy the sample quart.  It's imperative this step of the painting the room process not be skipped.  Imperative!

Now, how to marry my deeply rooted love of color, with my newfound crush on Swedish Country design.  Most walls in Sweden are painted white, pale grey, or pale blue.  And I do mean "pale."  Which of course reflects a great deal of light, whereas my bright colors absorb the light. 

I know I'm in love with apple green.  And magenta, and navy blue, and purple, and red, and yellow.  My studio has been painted a lovely buttery yellow for five or six years.  What to do, what to do?  Well, the buttery yellow fits, sort of, with my scheme...but I kinda wanted to mix it up a bit.  An accent wall perchance? 

I started flipping through my design magazines, looking only at the colors.  And this one room hopped out at me.  (literally, cause it's Kermit the Frog green.  I'm not kidding.) 

Now, when I laid out the room, I essentially split it in half diagonally.  One corner and it's corresponding walls house my office junk, the kitty corner corner and corresponding walls house my sewing junk.  Light bulb !  and not one of those CFL's that take forever to get to full brightness,  but a good old fashioned wattage busting incandescant.  Oh yes.  I could paint the office half of the room Kermit, and leave the sewing half butter yellow!!

Or maybe the office half pale sky blue, in keeping with my scheme, or maybe Kermit, or maybe pale blue, but then again Kermit.  And the debate in my head raged on for several days.  I was loathe to give up my scheme.  Swedish Country homes DO NOT have Kermit green walls. 

Then, this image of my back yard in summer came into my head.  My back yard is small, but it does have a patch of green grass and is ringed with trees and shrubs, all planted by my handsome husband and myself.  And it's so calming to look at.  This sea of green.  Natures green. 

Rules be darned !!  Let anarchy reign !  Kermit, here I come !!

You may notice I have not removed the curtain rods.  No fears...I forgot...until I painted up just a teensy bit more...then I remembered.

And now for the reveal.  My almost finished office corner.  Just a few more tweaks and it's open for business.  I can't wait to show you around.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

To contain, or not contain...that is the question

I have probably 5 books on home organization.  I've viewed pretty much every page on home office organization at the Real Simple website.  While I'm no expert, I have learned a thing or two on the topic over the years.  I've also learned a lot about what methods DON'T work for me. 

When a person decides to "get organized" the first instinct is to go out and get containers for organizing the stuff.  And it's an exciting first step for those of us with visions of organization.  Especially if we go out and buy matching containers.  Oohh, I get all tingly just thinking about it.

However, as all the home organization guru's say, it's pointless to buy containers until we know what we are going to be containing.  In other words, we need to get containers that fit our stuff, instead of trying to make our stuff fit the containers that we've gotten.  (This is why my garage is now full of containers that didn't end up working  - because I didn't follow this very important step)

So, this time, before I bought any containers, or any storage units, or re purposed things I already have (which is actually my ideal - since I'm kinda cheap) I went through the painful and messy step of looking at all my junk in one big pile of a place. 

Sure, no one could enter my house for a week or so, because the front entry was blocked, by the massive junk pileup, but looking at one big messy pile was more purge inspirational than looking at a bunch of neat little piles of sorted stuff.

I'm sure we're all familiar with the "three bag method."  One bag for keep, one for donate, and one for toss. (I'm loathe to toss - save the earth and all), but sometimes, you just gotta do it. 

And so, after giving myself permission to admit I may have made a mistake on some of my prior purchases (Rule #1 - Nothing is sacred )  Also being somewhat sickened by the size of the pile, I got to work and almost immediately cut the pile in half.  Now, let me just say, I'm not a super disciplined purger person.  I'm just like you.  So if I can dive into a pile like this and make half go away in an afternoon, I have faith that you can too.  Really.  You can.  Trust me.  The hardest part is sending away things you paid good money for.  It feels wasteful. 

Then I realized, it's not wasteful to send it on for someone else to use.  It's wasteful to have this stuff sitting in my house unused.  It's not like I live in the frozen tundra, and can only sled dog out once a year to buy pens and notebook paper.  There's no legitimate reason for me to have 6 spiral notebooks.  None.  Yet I did.  So now, a local charity has 4 spiral notebooks to give to people in need. 

Next up - containers !!!  Yes, yes, yes !!  I love containers.  But still, my first containment step was not a container store.  My first step was to think about what sort of containers worked for me.  Clutter makes me claustrophobic, but I'm a visual person.  I need to see what I have.  I realized that for me, the containers that worked best, were the clear containers.  This means, all my lovely baskets and boxes, though pretty to look at, were actually part of my organization problem.  Rather than taking the time to lift the lid, and look at what was inside...if I needed something, I just went to the store and got it.  Mainly because I had no idea that I already had it - in a pretty box.

Armed with this new knowledge and insight, and with a list of the optimal container sizes in hand, I hit the shopping trail once again.  It's hard for me to make a bunch of trips to the same place over and over.  It seems so inefficient.  However, this process has taught me, it's more efficient and cost effective to only buy what I know I need at that moment then to try to anticipate what I'll need in the next step and the next step, and buy it all at once.  Mainly because I'm horrible at returning things. 

I'll tell you, it practically killed me, doing it this way.  In the end though, it's working out a whole lot better. 

Next up - color.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Vive la liberacion !!

Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait just one darn tootin minute !  Now all of a sudden we're in Spain?  Vive la liberacion...make up your mind, are we in Scandinavia or are we in the Mediterranean in terms of decorating philosophy? 

Well...Vive la liberacion is a cry of overthrowing our oppressors.  Swedes don't have oppressors.  Really, never have.  We (the Swedes, of which I am 1/8th) are a peace loving neutral people.  So no such cry in Swedish.  Hence, I resorted to Spanish.  And, I'm not sure I resorted correctly.  I mean I took two years of German in high school, nearly a century ago.

Intrigued now?  The main concept here, is overthrowing the oppressors, which in the case of my studio, is all the junk.  It's oppressive.  And all the "making do" and perching precariously atop piles and furniture cleverly "repurposed" finally broke me. Literally.  I was having back and neck pain from working in an environment that was not remotely ergonomic.  Not even close. 

When last we met, I had decided on a style for the new room.  Swedish Country.  I also knew what size and what sort of work surfaces I needed.  I wanted to pick those first, cause I figured that was the one area I did not want to compromise on.  I was also hoping to avoid the use of particleboard. 

Well, this turned out to be a week long quest.  But finally, finally, I made a slight compromise, and found the perfect units.  And guess where I found them?  This is the best part.  I found them at IKEA.  You know where Ikea's from right?  SWEDEN !!!  How perfect is that?
GALANT Corner desk-left IKEA Tested and approved for office use. Fulfils the highest quality standards for stability and durability.

The legs are even height adjustable.  And Ikea has a tool on their website that allowed me to calculate the perfect ergonomic tabletop height based on my height.  Plus they have lots of options for adding length, and stuff to the tables.  My compromise?  It's not exactly wood.  It's birch veneer - which is wood - over MDF, which is wood dust and glue.  But, still not particleboard, so that's good.  (right?)

One of these days I will regale you with the story of my getting these tables (two of them) from Ikea, by myself in my mid size SUV.  I won't do it now, because that would be too long of a digression for this post, even for me. 

In order to assemble the desks and install them into the studio, I first had to haul pretty much everything out of the room.  Once I had the tables set up...I didn't want to bring anything back in.  It looked so good.  So open, so airy. 

Which means, the liberacion began, in earnest.  It was surprisingly easy. Apparently, the trick is to look at the stuff outside of it's natural habitat.  IE, stacked up in the front hall.  Getting it out of the studio, where I was used to seeing it, made me truly realize just how much stuff I'd had in there.  It also made me realize, the sheer volume of this stuff violated rule #3 - Does it make me happy?  Nope, it did not.  So, the oppressive junk has been overthrown - mostly.  Oh sure, there are still pockets of resistance, hiding in the hills.  I am though confident I will eventually take them the Goodwill.

Next up.  Storage.