Quick and Easy DIY Project: Rope Wrapped Container

 

Recently, a friend of mine and I decided to take an afternoon and just relax and craft for the fun of it. We listened to music on 8tracks tagged “crafting + for hipsters” and had a blast. Later we put on an old French movie with English subtitles and I hot-glued rope around and around the oatmeal container as Beauty and the Beast spoke dramatically while wearing incredible costumes.

I burned my fingertips a few times, so if you tackle this quick and easy DIY project, please do so with care! I don’t recommend this craft for children. That being said, it is simple to make. I just wiped down the inside of the oatmeal container, grabbed some rope I had on hand, and warmed the glue up in the glue gun. I squeezed out a few inches of glue at a time and just kept wrapping, gluing, pressing, and repeating those steps from the bottom of the canister up to the top, stopping at the rim and cutting off the rope when it would begin to overlap.

As you can see, I used a piece of junk mail to catch the glue drop drips, but you can use whatever you want. The whole process took maybe an hour to do, and now I have a rustic canister to hold items such as these paint brushes.


4 Comments

Filed under DIY

Conquered: Cleaning!

On Monday, I talked about how I’ve conquered doing the dishes. Today, I want to talk about cleaning.

Here’s my lessons I’ve learned so far:

1. Getting the clutter off of surfaces as quickly as possible (but not in an OCD way) is the big secret to not being embarrassed when friends stop by or you have to give a maintenance worker access to your house. I start near the door and make my way back through the open areas. It’s my thing. You’ll have your own. But stick with it!

2. Don’t take on the whole house when you tidy. Stick to a room or two, and purposefully move throughout the house each day. Combine tasks so you don’t have to get the same supplies out. Mop all the moppables the same day. Spritz and wipe all the mirrors another. By the end of the week, all the major areas will have been tidied or cleaned, and you’ll have more free time for the weekend! (I don’t know where the idea that Saturday should be for deep cleaning came from, but it’s a miserable way to spend your time off. Take 15-30 minutes each day during the week, and only have a handful of chores before playtime on the weekend!)

3. Don’t be rigid about scheduling. Here’s the thing about that “schedule” for dishes or tidying/cleaning: almost everyone I’ve read has specific days for specific things and a schedule to get through the house on a regular basis. That’s great if it gets you going, but for me? Meh. I like variety. The idea of every Tuesday from here on out being “dust and vacuum day” makes me yawn. Outside of mopping (which, lets face it, is just a hassle), I like to choose a room or two to focus on each day and then just get it done, whatever “it” needs to be to make the room presentable. This isn’t the time for perfection, but the accumulated effort over time will result in low-key cleaning and the occasional deep clean, instead of daily chaos.

4. Life sometimes gets in the way. That’s okay. You’re not a failure. From personal experience, I can say that the past two months have been unusual for me and my family, so some weeks were better than others. In fact, in addition to helping a family member move, I decided to focus on my fiction writing last week, and yes, the chores suffered. But not so badly that I can’t pick up and keep on moving forward with them now that things are settling down again. Just keep up that forward motion!

5. Do it for you. Not for your mother whose voice you hear chiding you in your head. Not for the fear of friends seeing the truth. Not for your nosy neighbors. For you. And your family who lives with you, if any. Do it because when you do, you feel free. Do it because you’re giving yourself the gift of time to do other, more pleasant things, without guilt!

There. That’s what I’ve been learning the past two months of silence here on the blog. I hope some of it will be useful!

photo credit: Pragmagraphr via photo pin cc

Leave a comment

Filed under Cleaning

Conquered: Dishes!

Oh my goodness. I can barely believe it myself, but I think I’ve finally got it. I conquered dishes.

And I’m winning the battle of cleaning on a schedule, as well (more on that Wednesday).

Crazy.

If you’re like me and you have a household nemesis or two or three (*cough* laundry.dishes.mopping *cough*) and you want to conquer it/them, you’ve probably hopped on Pinterest, searched Google, talked to friends, listened to familial advice, and come up with a lot of how-to’s and do’s and don’ts and probably a lot of well-meaning but completely off-track advice for you. You may have tried some of it. You may have failed miserably. You know what? That’s what works for them. What works for you?

Well, that’s what I was trying to find out.

Here’s what I discovered. First the dishes:

1. Finish the dishes. Completely. Every day. (I know; that’s kind of a “duh” statement, but man it has not been easy for me). I let hand-washed dishes dry in the rack, but what I need is a clean counter top after every meal, or before bed, whichever fits with my daily schedule better. That counter top is my clutter barometer. If it has stacks of dishes and mail and leftover Starbucks coffee cups on it, the rest of the house goes to pot (if it hasn’t already). I’ve heard this called the broken window theory. As I type this right now, I do have dishes on my counter, but I’m about to attack them. While watching TV. Which reminds me …

2. If you can, watch some guilty-pleasure TV while you wash dishes. Or, you know, jam to those pop tunes you’re embarrassed to admit are on your iPod. It takes the edge off the misery of a thankless, daily, unending, bottomless, disgusting, boring, necessary task.

3. If you must fudge on the dishes, at least put the clean ones in the dishwasher up into the cupboard and then pile the dirty ones inside.

4. Use a nice multi-purpose spray to clean your counter and sink when the dishes are all done for the day. You don’t have to scrub, but oh it is so nice to have sparkling counters and a sink without leftover dish scum. Plus, my mom always told me this was part of the job of dishwashing.

5. If you’re in a relationship, form an agreement with your spouse/significant other: one cooks, the other washes dishes for each meal. You can share the tasks, or if you find you love dishes AND cooking you can always do both, but since dishes is one of those never-ending chores, I say make it clear that the responsibility is shared. And then, always cook. I’m just kidding! Actually, I’m more the dish-washer and Daniel is more the chef in this family. (Works for me, as my man can cook. He’s definitely a keeper.)

6. Whenever possible, only buy cookware and dishes that are machine washable. I mostly say this in jest, but I can guarantee that our copper, cookie sheets, cast iron, and stoneware have the tendency to stay on the counter, unwashed, the longest. They’re needy. And I’m a throw-it-in-the-dishwasher-and-forget-it kind of gal. That being said, nothing cooks like copper, cast iron makes the BEST biscuits, a pizza stone is a girl’s best friend, and cookies are best without rust. Just sayin’.

7. To quote Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never, never give up.” Not when you miss a meal or a day. Not when there’s a strange funk coming from the garbage disposal. Not when you break a glass. Not when you leave a pot soaking too long. Never.

You can do it! I did.
photo credit: E R I via photo pin cc

1 Comment

Filed under Cleaning

June: The Month of Travel

June was the month-o-travel for me. Not counting the roadtrip drive-through bits (I’m looking at YOU, Virginia I-81 corridor that Never.Seems.To.End), I hit up five states plus the District of Columbia. It’s been great. It’s been a whirlwind. It’s been exhausting. It’s been invigorating. All rolled up into one.

It seems like my suitcase is in a perpetual state of being half-packed, but I don’t mind. That being said, I’m home now, and that’s where I really want to be. Especially since Daniel wasn’t able to go with me on this last trip when I visited family and I missed him like crazy.

Highlights of this past month: riding the D.C. Metro, Seeing Abe Lincoln up close, visiting Einstein, wandering through modern art, taking a sunset water taxi cruise across the Potomac, gazing at zoo animals, playing tag with my niece and nephew, wading out into the Atlantic ocean with cousins I hadn’t seen in ages, and having long conversations with my brother, sister-in-law, father, and husband.

Here’s some Instagram shots from my travels. So, what have you been up to this summer?

Leave a comment

Filed under Life, Travel

NeatReceipt is … well … neat

I spent an hour or two today in our office, inserting collected receipts and important documents or business cards into a slim white scanner. They pulled through, quickly and quietly. If I inserted a piece of paper a bit skewed, it self-corrected.

Insert receipt. Push scan. Watch it glide through. Catch the paper. Set aside. See it come up on the computer monitor. Repeat.

It worked like a charm.

We’re on our way to being (almost) paperless in our office.

1 Comment

Filed under Office, Organizing, Paper

Life is Beautiful

Every moment is a gift.

I was looking at a couple of different professional photography blogs today and saw people captured in light and time in a way that was flattering, but also in a way that allowed their specific physical quirks and graces to shine. I recall from my own wedding that some of my favorite photos were the least staged or the most wrinkle-filled. My grandmother with Alzheimer’s, her face glowing from excitement, even though she had a hard time remembering who was getting married. My husband’s grandfather, sitting quietly on a bench in the church, observing the festivities in his own stoic way. My brothers and my husband’s best friends, giving him a hard time while they got ready for the ceremony–I can see the mischief in their faces, even today. My closest friends, surrounding me as I got ready, and praying over me. My dad’s expression when he saw me for the first time … and the tears of joy and regret we shared when acknowledging, together, we wished my mother could have lived to see that day.

And then I look back at old family photos. Some are from my family. There’s snapshots of my brothers and I growing up. There’s the snapshots from my parents’ wedding, blurry and overexposed, but still treasured. Some are from other families I don’t know. I bought those photos at an antique store, in bulk, and have sold many of them over the months through my shop. While looking at them, I’ve marveled at the life of this family. Their snowball fights in the late 30s or 40s. Their new cars. Their summer trips across the United States. Their boating outings on the lake. Their photos of men and women in uniform around the era of World War II. It’s amazing. This whole existence, in a box of photos. I’m enchanted and so curious about the people I’ve never met.

The photos don’t tell the hard stories, usually, but sometimes they do. I have a digital photo of my mother that makes me tear up every time I pass by it on my way to find another photo. I have a hard time looking at that photo, one of the last ones I have of her, taken a couple of weeks before she died, but not before her skin saw the yellowing of jaundice brought on by a failing liver. It hurts to see that photo, yet it doesn’t only hurt. It is still a memory of a woman I loved dearly.

Every photo I’ve held on to through the years tells a story. A beautiful story of the lives of my world … my family … my life.

What stories do your photos tell?

I bet they’re beautiful, too.

Leave a comment

Filed under Life

Build Habits

{Photo Credit: Colin Dunn, via Creative Commons}

I am notoriously bad at remembering to take my vitamins, plus the iron makes me queasy if I take it in the morning, so instead of stashing them in the cupboard, I put a cup and my bottle of vitamins on the bedroom dresser, next to my lamp. Now, before I turn off the light, I swallow the vitamin for the day and go to sleep. I rarely forget. I never get queasy. I don’t know if my vitamin consumption habits have definitively helped improve my sleep quality, but I can say this: I’m sleeping through the night for the first time in a long time. I used to wake up every couple of hours, and now I sleep straight through more often than not! I can’t tell you how exciting that is, but I digress.

My point wasn’t to take your vitamin at night to sleep better. My point is any daily task–like taking a vitamin–can be habitualized. I suspect tying the habit to a daily ritual (getting ready for bed) is what worked for me. Every night, I brush my teeth, I get fresh water in my cup, I take my vitamin, and I turn off the light. Then I go to sleep.

This made me wonder: what other simple, but often forgotten, tasks could I or others make habitual? And would tying them to a specific time, location, daily ritual, or other event help me (or them) continue the habit until it becomes second-nature? My guess is YES.

I’m going to keep a look out for those opportunities to hack my lazy brain into a mean, lean,  house-cleaning machine!

Leave a comment

Filed under Home, Life, Organizing, Ponderings, Uncategorized