Thursday, February 28, 2013

How To Declutter Your Home: The Brilliant Solution

I believe there have only been two times in my life when I had to hire people to help me clean my home.  Now my house is certainly not clean enough to eat off of the floors, but it's just that I like things in order and relatively clean and decluttered.

The first time I hired a cleaning girl was way back in the final two months of my last pregnancy, 26 years ago.  For some unknown reason I was developing a very potentially dangerous condition - toxemia - and I was told to basically lay on the couch all day on my left side.  This is tricky enough to do with three other children to care for, and so housecleaning was out of the question.  That's when we found some cleaning help for a short term .

Then yesterday again, a kind lady came and cleaned my house from top to bottom.  Because I'm having difficulty with my achilles tendons tearing and fraying, and because I'm currently wearing an immobilization boot on one foot, walking, much less cleaning, is very difficult and painful.  I feel a small sense of failure in admitting that I cannot take care of my home now, but my very loving husband assures me that that is not the case and reminds me daily that this state of hardship is temporary.  Hopefully temporary.

So right now my house is sparkly clean and I feel relieved about that.

Then last night I heard a short blip on the radio that blindsided me WITH ITS BRILLIANCE.

A woman claimed that she had the simple solution to the problem of How To Declutter Your Home.  She said that if you eliminate ten items a day, every day for one year, your home will be decluttered (or very well on its way).

Here's the formula:

      10 items per day    x     365 days      =     3650 items gone

That's a lot of stuff gone.  As I thought about this, I realized that devoting just a few minutes a day to putting 10 things somewhere is not only simple, but realistically to do.

However, let's read a little between the lines and spaces of her most brilliant equation before we get ahead of ourselves.

First, consider HOW you will eliminate the 10 items each day:
        I propose having a large trash can  nearby for the items being discarded.
        I propose having a large box nearby for the items you will donate.
        I propose you take the filled box or boxes away once a week to your local thrift store.  If you don't regularly eliminate your filled boxes, you have just essentially rearranged and grouped your clutter.

I am just amazed at the simplicity of this possibility.  Although the rooms of my house are not filled with clutter at all, it's the drawers and closets that are the problem.  Do I have 3650 items in them that need to be gone?  I don't know.  Possibly.

I could modify the equation.  How about one month of decluttering?

10 items  x  30 days  =   300 items gone

Eliminating just 300 items is nothing to sniff at.  And while I'm on a roll, if a year is too much, how about just every other month?  Or even just working on one room, every day, until it's done?  The possibilities are endless, and yet the solution is still simple.  Just remove 10 items a day.

I can sense a great tide of motivation swelling up inside of me ------> I will never have to heave/jam/contort myself to shut an over stuffed drawer or closet door again.  I just don't need all this stuff.

And so, it is going, going, gone.  Ten items at a time.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Here Goes.....

Yeah.  I'm just gonna gripe a little today.

It's a gray, rainy, cold, miserable day here in central Pennsylvania, just like most days, and it's getting to me.  As I write this I am emailing back and forth with a travel agent, thinking thoughts of a sunny, tropical location that the husband/lover/travel companion can whisk me away to.

So I need to gripe.  These complaints just keep cycling round and round in my brain, and I figure if I put them out to you all, it will sort of diffuse them and eventually they will slide away and be gone.  So here goes:

1.  Seventeen days in a row with no sun.  Nuff said.

2.  Big piles of black snow are really ugly.  There are a lot of them around here nowadays.

3.  I dislike it when truckers in the passing lane fly by me when the roads are obviously icy and treacherous.  That's too scary.  

4.  Xlerator hand dryers in public restrooms are frightening and dangerous.  They blow so hard that I have to make sure my rings stay on, and then when I leave the restroom I cannot hear for the next half hour.

5.  What is the sense of having automatic entrance doors at department stores, but then not automatic exit doors?  To quote from a favorite movie of mine (Rainman), "K-mart sucks."

6.  This boot is still on my foot, and I can't see it going away any time soon.

7.  Recently I had lunch in one of my favorite local cafes.  The entire time I was eating there was a woman pacing back and forth in the main aisle, talking loudly on her cell phone.  Why would she think we would all want to hear her life played out in front of us like that?  This behavior is just generally inconsiderate.

8.  I am still waging the battle against the occasional stink bug.  Just found one the other day in my house.  Gone now. 

9.  Why do people want to wreck up their automobiles by putting such dumb stuff on them?  I must admit, when I saw this one I had to wait till the driver came back to see if she was what she advertised. She did not appear to be what she advertised.  At all.

10.  My husband tricked me into accompanying him twice in two weekends on a trip to Lowe's.  He thinks Lowe's is a hot date.  I.  Do.  Not.  I believe he even breathes better in there.  All is well with the world for him in there.  I just wanna get the heck out.

Well there I've done it.  I've unloaded my burden of gripes and diffused them out into the atmosphere.  I'm sure tomorrow will have its very own problems, but for today, I'm good.

Have a great day, folks.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

After the 2013 Academy Awards

So it has been a full two days since the 2013 Academy Awards, and as usual, I have a few things to say.

Yes, I did find myself in front of the television promptly at 7:00 PM Sunday evening, because that's when all the magazine and tv advertisements said it started.  But noooooo, that was when the red carpet events started.  The awards didn't actually start until 8:30 PM, Pennsylvania time.

I stayed up way past my regular bedtime, and held out to the bitter end, which didn't happen until, oh, about midnight.

I do enjoy looking at the stunning gowns many of the women wear to this event.  I've read that attendees receive instructions prior to the event instructing them to wear outfits that are tasteful and mostly modest.  Some stretch the rules, to be sure.

Here then are some of my thoughts about the show.  Most of them have very little to do with any of the very fine movies that the program was all about.  They are just a random collection of the details I noticed and the thoughts sailing through my head.

1.  Did all the nominated men agree together beforehand to grow beards for the event?  I thought Ben Affleck had a particularly fine beard.

2.  I found the Red Carpet Mystery Box to be an interesting addition to the typical red carpet interviews.  However, it seemed that most of the celebrities didn't want to be bothered with making a guess as to its contents.  I find it curious that several of the stars guessed that there was a human head in there.  (It was opened to reveal Dorothy's red sparkly shoes from "The Wizard of Oz" later.)

3.  Host Seth MacFarlane was the worst host I can remember seeing for this gala event.  Ever.  His jokes were so off color and inappropriate.  It was disgusting at times.  It is NEVER all right to make a joke of a presidential assassination.  

4.  As an example of how horribly bad the host was, his opening song was "I Saw Your Boobs."  In this hideous song he listed nearly every female celebrity and when he had seen her stuff.  The Academy Awards show is a very dressy affair that millions of people watch as those people that have spent years of their life producing a fine movie are honored.  And then he sings that?  Perhaps a middle school boy may have been a better choice to host the show.

5.  I loved when the orchestra began playing the theme song from "Jaws" every time an oscar winner continued speaking too long.  There is a monitor in front of the podium with a timer counting down, and it's just somewhat inconsiderate of them to keep blathering on and on and thanking every single other person in their lives.  Besides, if you are a nominee, that alone indicates that there is some percentage of chance that you will win, and therefore, you have time before the event to create a succinct acceptance speech.  

6.  I have enjoyed every movie I have ever seen in which Jennifer Lawrence was the lead.  I thought she looked classy and stunning at the awards, and it's unfortunate that she had another fashion mishap.   If you missed the show, she tripped on the front of her dress and fell as she was going up the steps to receive her Best Actress award.  She also had a dress mishap during the Screen Actors Guild Awards ceremony several weeks ago.  It happened then as she was going up the steps to receive an award, too.  Several layers of her dress parted and revealed the stuff underneath.  Next time, they will have six people at the ready to help her to the podium.

7.  Although yellow is my favorite color, Jane Fonda's gown hurt my eyes and gave me a headache.  Her stylist missed it on this one.

8.  Kristen Stewart looked bad, every time I saw her.  She looks miserably unhappy.  

9.  Meryl Streep is probably my favorite actress of all time, and she can do no wrong in my book.  Therefore, if she wants to pick her dress out of her behind as she's approaching the podium to give an award, I say go ahead and pick it.  (She actually picked at it several times, geez.)  Some of the media are already having a heyday with this, and I feel bad for her. 

10.  One last thought:  there are still some apparently excellent movies out there that I need to see.  I saw about half of the movies on the Best Picture list, so I'll try to catch the others soon too.  

Just get me some popcorn, and I'll be good to go.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sunday Afternoon at the Theater

My six year old grandtwins and I were well overdue for another theater date, and so off we went yesterday together to see Imago Theatre's live stage production of "ZooZoo"  at the Community Arts Center in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

The husband/lover/chauffeur drove us first to pick up Tori and Brianna, who, as usual, were all dressed up and ready for the theater.  This is the first time they appeared with loaded pocketbooks, and on the drive from their home to the theater, they proceeded to empty out and show me every single item contained in their purses, including an outdated driver's license (Brianna:  "Mommy says I should have this because when I get older, I will probably look like her"), snacks, and hand sanitizer (Tori:  "If I use this on my hands, it will make my purse smell really good.")

Upon arrival, the girls looked for the theater doormen with their big top hats who usually "get us out of the car" (Tori) .  "I think they only wear those funny hats at the night shows."  (Brianna)

We made our way to our seats and still had a few minutes to play a few games of tic tac toe before showtime.  Then the lights lowered and the curtain rose and it was all fun from there on.

The innovative Imago Theatre's "ZooZoo" has been described as Cirque Du Soleil evoking acrobatics mixed with mime, dance, music, and special effects, set in a unique avant-garde playground.  The show featured creatures such as Polar Bears, Bug Eyes, Anteaters, Frogs, Cats, Hippos, and Penguins.

We watched two giant frogs coping with a third frog who was rambunctious and clumsy.

A cat was trapped for a long time in a super large paper bag.

Two hippos suffering from insomnia amused us with their antics as they stole each other's covers and fought for bed space.

One anteater waiter tried to serve another anteater, until both discovered that eating ants off the heads of the theater patrons was much more fun.  Oh how the girls giggled when they came to the bald guy in the second row!

We watched two polar bear parents in a windy, cold, and foggy land try to keep their three cubs in line.  The cubs were unruly and enjoyed climbing over the theater guests' seats at times.  Tori whispered in my ear at one point, "We're Ok.  They won't come all the way back to our seats." Ever the brave one, she is not.

Finally we laughed as five large penguins played an impromptu game of musical chairs.  Along the way one of the losing penguins creatively tricked an audience member out of her chair.  

It was truly a zany collection of illusion and comedy, and we simply had great fun seeing it together.  

Afterwards, we called for our driver, who so willingly picked us up, AND took us for a special post-theater treat at Dunkin Donuts.  I believe it's always a good policy to sugar them up and then send them home to their loving parents.

Seeing a fun show with two special girls is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.  Brianna is already studying the theater's catalog of shows, looking for the next one.   Fun times, for sure.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Blast From My Past

Due to the marvels of modern technology, especially in this case FACEBOOK, yesterday I was able to have a conversation with an old childhood friend, after more than 50 years of no contact.  She had left a message on the Facebook page of my family's pretzel manufacturing business, Tom Sturgis Pretzels, which got forwarded to me, and which ultimately allowed me to finally connect with her after all these years.

My family moved into a home in the same neighborhood where Kerry lived when I was four years old.  Kerry and I fast became best buddies, and spent all our play time together.

We enjoyed reminiscing yesterday about the silly things we did together.  We remembered visiting some of the older ladies in our neighborhood, Mrs. Barber and another kind elderly woman, Dollie.  To "visit" them meant we rang their doorbells, and then they were so glad to see us that they gave us candy.  Kerry and I visited those friendly neighbors often.

As we Facebook chatted, Kerry started posting some very old photos, easily over 50 years old now.  In the first one she and I are enjoying one of our frequent dress up sessions.  She tells me she still has her mother's fur collar that she is wearing in the picture.  I am the girl on the left.

We were quite the debutantes, don't you think?  Gloves and all.  I can only imagine what important stuff we carried in those purses.  Probably candy from the neighbors.

Kerry mentioned that she vaguely recalled making trips together to a nearby penny candy store, and asked me if I remember the same.  I do clearly remember going to a store with her and her older sister.  Kerry and I would have been about 5, and I believe her older sister was maybe two years older.  That store was easily 4 or 5 blocks away, including several fairly large streets to cross.  We both agreed that those were different times back then.  One would never feel safe allowing youngsters of those ages to go that far alone nowadays.

I remember purchasing those little wax soda bottles filled with koolaid, packs of gum "cigarettes" that blew "smoke" before you removed the paper wrapper, and little drawstring cloth bags containing gold nuggets of bubble gum.  A quarter went a long way if you figured things right.

Then she posted a picture from a birthday party for her sister that we attended.  We recalled how those were the days when you attended a birthday party wearing your dressy clothing.  In the picture, I am the second girl from the right (I believe I am studying a balloon), and she is in front of me to my right.

Funny how you remember little details - she remembers that the dresses she and her sister wore matched and were purple and white.  We all look so well behaved and fancy.  

All too suddenly, my best buddy Kerry and her family moved away.  I didn't know at that age why or to where, but I do remember my mother telling me it was very far away.  I recall trying to process in my little girl brain the fact that I may never ever see her again.  When we chatted yesterday I told her that her family's move was perhaps my first lesson in learning that everything is life is not always hunky dory.  

So what a nice surprise it truly was, getting to communicate with her again after all these years.

Sometimes technology is not a bad thing.

Friday, February 22, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Mantle Reveal

I have had a request from one of my very most faithful readers (hi Mom!) to get on with it and reveal my St. Patrick's Day mantle decor.  So even though I wasn't quite ready to do so - I still have one more St. Patrick's Day project in the workings - I will go ahead and do the mantle show and tell today.  I think she just wants to copy my mantle onto hers because she knows that mine will be so spectacular.  That other project wasn't going to be a part of the mantle display anyway, so I'll save that one for another post another day.

But first I must show you how I put together several of the pieces.  I decided to be a good girl and do some reusing, recycling, and repurposing.  Those seem to be the buzzwords these days, and now I'm even doing them.  Oh yes, I've been recycling my newspapers, cans and glass for years, but I've never really consciously repurposed anything.

So I decided to go down into my scary and messy and out of control with too many boxes of stuff and things that I don't know where else to put  basement and gather several of the bazillions of floral vases I have received and saved from over the last several decades.

I had read somewhere that if you are not ever again going to use a glass vessel for food or flowers, you can easily paint the inside and make it decorative and useful.  At least more useful than sitting endlessly on a basement shelf forever and forever and collecting dust.

So I decided to try it.  I went to my local Wal-mart and bought several two ounce bottles of acrylic craft paint in various green colors and a foam brush.  I think the paint only cost 57 cents a bottle.

I put a large blob of paint on the brush and started slopping it into the vase.  I quickly learned that my brush handle wasn't long enough to get the pain down into the bottom of some of my taller vases, and so I improvised by rubber banding a ruler onto the brush handle.

At times I literally just squirt the paint into the vase and turned the vase to help the paint to run and fully cover the inside.

It was a fairy simple process and in just about a half hour I had painted half a dozen vases of various sizes.  Certainly they are not perfect, but at a glance from a distance they look fine.  I'm very happy with how they turned out.

I still had one more idea that I wanted to create for my mantle - I wanted a banner.  I had some fabric scraps left from my St. Patrick's Day front door rag wreath which I had made earlier, and you can learn to do in this blog post.

I made myself a triangular pattern out of a scrap piece of cardstock and cut one flag out of each piece of leftover material.  Next I used my trusty glue gun and glued the top edges over a length of twine.  Finally I added a sparkly shamrock sticker to each flag.  Very simple.  I like simple.  Voila!

So here you go everyone - here is the Official Reveal of the St. Patrick's Day Mantle at my home:

A few store bought decorations, half a dozen repurposed vases, a washi tape lucky clover (read how to make it here), and a colorful banner.  Fun making the stuff, and fun looking at it.

Now, bring on those leprechauns.  I'm ready.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Not A Happy Camper

No, I'm not.  Happy, that is.  I went to the hospital this morning to have a procedure, Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy, on my left heel.  I've been wearing this immobilization boot for the last five weeks, hoping it will allow my tearing and fraying Achilles tendon to heal, and subsequently, avoid major surgery.  You can read about my initial reaction to my diagnosis and my acquisition of this Frankenstein-like boot in this post if you missed it.

This relatively new treatment option is said to be orthopedists' dream (possibly) come true, and already many major athletes have had this therapy for sports related injuries of shoulders, knees, and ankles.

The procedure involves drawing blood from the patient, cycling it through a centrifuge, collecting the healing blood elements and reinjecting them back into the patient's injured area, essentially bathing that area with a healing blood bath.

Preliminary ultrasounds of both ankles showed that the left (booted) ankle had experienced a small bit of healing, but the right heel had deteriorated terribly and the achilles tendon there had lots of tearing along with other issues.  The plan was changed.  Instead of doing the left heel, the right heel would be treated.

The doctor warned me that this procedure would be "rough."  I wondered if I should ask for a stick to bite on.  I didn't ask him.  I should have.  Nuff said.  Won't want to be doing this gig again any time soon, and maybe never.

The success rate is 50 - 75%.  Insurance does not cover this.  Not enough studies and use of this therapy have been conducted to convince the insurance people that they should pay for this.  Some people have had amazing results, others not so much.  We will see.

The result is that now both of my ankles are immobilized.  The left one as before in the ugly boot, and the right one in a 90 degree splint for the next 48 hours.  No walking on it.  Add pain.  Lots of pain.

Did I say I'm not a happy camper?  I will be hiring a fork lift (aka the husband/lover/nurse) to take me to the bathroom, and a chef (aka the husband/lover/cook) to make food and bring it to me.

I'm trying to convince myself that I do NOT indeed have the ugliest "shoes" on the face of the earth, and I came across several images that almost have me convinced that that may be true.

Here are some of the very truly ugliest shoes I have ever seen:

I actually saw these for sale a year ago in Las Vegas, in a very upscale boutique.  You couldn't pay me to wear these:

These next shoes give a whole new meaning to "just kick him in the groin."

And the person wearing these is a ballerina wanna-be:

Just a few more odd/ugly/hideous ones for you:

Beach wear?

Shoe and/or weapon

I guess my current foot attire isn't so bad, compared to these.  But certainly not as cute as these little shoes my grandtwins were wearing the other day, don't you think?

Only 44 more hours until mobility.    I can do it.......