In Praise of Imperfection

{Image: Robb North}

Oh, goodness. Has it really been a month already?

So much is going on, and yet, at the same time, not a lot is going on in my life. I’ve had bursts of energy, spurts of hyper-extroversion in which I enjoyed lots of time with friends, extended periods of hyper-introversion in which I spent lots of time perched on my couch with a laptop while thinking or writing. I’ve had ups. I’ve had downs.

I’ve tried to eat healthier lately. I found out I have a mild case of hypothyroidism, on which I’d love to blame my steady weight gain since graduation from high school. Alas, I know the truth. I’ve had one too many McDonald’s value meals and never met a brownie I didn’t like. But that, among other things, has made me realize even more that what we eat truly does affect us. I’ve also tried to work out more. But don’t ask me how many times I’ve been to the gym or out for a run this week, because I couldn’t answer you. Although I do plan on going today. But even if that doesn’t happen, I feel stronger just knowing I’m taking my health seriously and I’m focusing on nutrition and activity to overcome migraines, hormone imbalances, and excess weight. I’m not trying to have a perfect diet or activity level all the time, but MOST of the time would be wonderful! I’m sure I’d feel so much better if I did.

I also think I’m in a down-cycle right now creatively. I need lots and lots of down time. Outside of working on a novel and experimenting with “clean” or “Paleo” recipes for dinner, I’ve not been super crafty or even productive. I’ve been focusing on improving things that aren’t really blog-worthy. Like, for instance, finally getting the hang of staying on top of doing my dishes. I know. It is shameful. I’m a grown woman who hates doing the dishes. I think it is latent rebellion against my grandfather who would insist I help my grandmother with the dishes immediately following a meal when I’d rather be out running around in the backyard. Grandpa would be glad to know I have finally understood why he was so insistent about that. When my counter looks like a mess and my sink is full, it seems the rest of the house follows suit not long after. It’s a pride thing. I guess that’s why Fly Lady says to start by polishing your sink.

It’s true part of the down-cycle is simply burn out from being productive for so long. (Can I get an Amen?!) However, it’s also true that I’ve avoided Pinterest for long periods of time, cut back on my Facebook time, ignored Twitter, and let my Google Reader feed get backlogged. It’s really easy to be busy without really doing anything. It’s also tempting to want all the pretty things I can’t buy or make. Suddenly my blank walls seem depressing when I see decorated ones. My lack of a headboard for my bed is lame and lazy. My bathroom’s cabinet chaos is embarrassing. Yet when I tune out the social media influences, I find myself content with my bare walls. I don’t envy the amazing DIYer’s tufted headboard. I don’t worry that I have yet to create a cute and functional first aid kit and have instead used a hand-me-down from the 80s that holds the gauze and Band-Aids just as well. I rejoice in the fact that I am living within my means. I am using what I have. I am focusing on being grateful for the present reality instead of eternally looking forward to deceptively better future.

How about you? Have you embraced simplicity for stretches of time? Have you been inspired or exhausted by the social media noise? Do you feel embarrassed if you haven’t produced something tangible to show off in a few weeks? Do you long for just living in your imperfect home with your imperfect family and laughing away the imperfect moments?

You’re not alone. I’m right there with you. And you know what? I think it is healthy! Take a sabbatical from perfection and thrive in all your imperfect glory.

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Filed under Balance, Budget, DIY, Home, Home Improvement, Life, Ponderings

Creative Salvage is Open Again

Hi everyone! Just a quick announcement that, after an extended sabbatical, I’ve reopened my Creative Salvage shop. I left it in vacation mode a month longer than initially planned, but it’s back up and running now. I’ll be adding new items soon (I’m working on compiling some vintage inspiration packs like I sent  for the shop swap!).

Here’s a sampling of what’s currently for sale:

{The Girls of Cleveland Ohio, black and white photographs | Creative Salvage}

{Blue and white tin canister | Creative Salvage}

{Early Frisbee “Flying Saucer” | Creative Salvage}

I’m back and ready to go. I even have a special blog promo code for you. Add BCDPROMO to your checkout to receive 20% of your purchase price for a limited time only. Thanks, and have a lovely day!

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Home Tour Tuesday: The Laundry Room

Even as the organizational process is slowing down in our house for a variety of reasons, I still get bursts of inspiration here and there. Today’s Home Tour Tuesday is a testament to that!

Today I’m proud to introduce our laundry room. It won’t take your breath away with its beauty or special touches (… yet. We have plans!) but it has improved our lifestyle tremendously, even in the past few days that it has been organized.

We moved into our house about six months ago now, and we still had all of my dad’s supplies for cleaning and home repairs stored up on the top shelf in our laundry room. We piled the floor with our items. I had originally hoped the laundry room could double as a pantry, so I had added portable shelving and stashed oversized kitchen items on them. It was a bad idea. There was no room to sort or fold clothing, so our laundry inevitably spilled over into the kitchen.

Daniel prompted the beginning of the laundry room overhaul. He suggested we buy the sorting hamper we’d been eying for a couple of years. Done. We took the trip to the Container Store after church one day and came home with this beauty:

He assembled it for me and we began using it immediately. It’s fairly large, so storage in our room isn’t that practical, but the three large fabric compartments, sturdy frame, and casters make sorting laundry easy. We simply wheel it back and forth from our bedroom or bathroom hampers to the laundry room. (And once we cleaned out the laundry room, we could store it there, as well.)

On Friday, I decided that even that big help wasn’t enough. I was tired of having a messy laundry room that didn’t function as well as it should. I took nearly everything out, dusted, swept, and put only what we used or needed to keep handy back. I removed the pantry items (minus our huge bread maker that only gets the occasional use and doesn’t fit on either our counter or our cupboards). I threw out things we hadn’t used in the six months since I’d stored them there. I ruthlessly disposed of duplicates. (Since when had we had FOUR dustpans??!)

As a result, the laundry room went from this:

to this:

Yay! It’s inspired us to do more laundry and even sort and fold right away. I’m pleased, and I can’t wait to dress it up and make it “purtier” sometime soon.

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Filed under Home Tour Tuesday, Laundry, Organizing

Guest Post Time! I’m Over at Healthy-N-Balanced

Oops! I missed this by one day. However, I am excited to announce that my guest post, Finding Balance in Home Organizing, was featured yesterday over at Healthy-N-Balanced. I encourage you to check out that post (it’s pretty juicy … I dish about my deep dark secret I kept for years), as well as read up on all her incredible tips for living a healthy, balanced life.

See you there!

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Q: Why is My House Messy?

{Image: Spectacles}

A: Because I just don’t want to deal with it.

Actually, while I do need to pick somethings up and put others away, my house isn’t in terrible shape today, despite my recent focus on writing over cleaning.

However, just as I was about to head out the door to buy more toilet paper and toothpaste (oh, the joys of our daily mundane existence), I looked down at the mail piling up on our makeshift landing strip in the hall and had a moment of unexpected pondering. (Sometimes the brain comes up with some brilliant ideas after downtime.) In this case, I realized my mail was still there because I just didn’t want to deal with it yet. I know. Brilliant, right? I’m a genius AND a psychologist.

The same thing is true of the dishes in my sink, or the muddy paw prints on the tile near the back door, or the pile of books and publisher’s catalogs and writer’s magazines on my dining room table, or the laundry in my room that needs to be folded.

Hmmm. Interesting. And how does that make you feel?

So basically, I have better or more interesting things to do, and those chores that I really don’t like just don’t get done right away and tend to occasionally pile up. (Those  chores, by the way, are washing dishes/putting them in the cupboard, folding clothes/putting them in the dresser, sorting papers and putting them in a file cabinet.) I know I need to get to it, I just don’t want to deal with it … NOW.

Ahhhhh. I see. Tell me more.

Yeah, I know. This isn’t exactly breaking news. It is, however, the first time I realized that on the whole I’m doing much better. It’s really only three or four chores that I have to work on improving. Yay! So, maybe if I come up with a workable system, or have more places to put things, or figure out a filing system that works for me … I’ll have clean counters and tables! Oh, to have horizontal surfaces be tidy 90% of the time. (I mean, let’s face it: occasionally you just need to make a mess. For instance, Christmas cookie baking and decorating time. Or birthdays. I don’t care who you are. You shouldn’t have to clean on your birthday. Just sayin’.)

Upon closer consideration, outside of pure laziness, the reason I probably don’t feel like “dealing with it” more often is because those tasks literally pile up on a daily basis and if they are ignored for a couple of days, it can seem overwhelming to tackle them.

What actionable steps will you take to address this problem?

Well … maybe I just need to find a better system so I don’t become overwhelmed. I know my junk mail pile has been conquered for good, since I automatically tear up flyers and throw them out without a glance. (Sorry, advertisers of the greater Nashville area.) It used to overwhelm me, too, before I had my little tear-and-toss method down pat. Maybe if I have an automatic response like that, but for folding and putting away my shirts and jeans, for instance, I’ll do better in my weak spots as well!

Here’s hoping.

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Home Tour Tuesday: The Master Bathroom

Well, I said I’d write about our master bath today, and I haven’t forgotten. Yes, I know I’m cutting it awfully close. So here it is, the master bath:

Oh, the master bath. Nothing grand or glamorous here. On the one hand, it is so convenient. On the other … what am I to do with it? It is the original neutral tan it was painted years ago and the cabinet is basic. The mirror is huge and flat, there is not a single medicine cabinet to be found.

There’s a few updates I’d love to add someday. Perhaps I’ll paint or re-stain the original cabinets. I’d add some shelving on the sides for our toiletries. I’d get rid of the massive mirror, or maybe add a frame somehow.

For now, we are making do with baskets to hold grooming products. Daniel has a little plate I got him from West Elm that has a shaving brush and scissors on it. He keeps his shaving supplies there. I have a small plastic make-up organizer I got at The Container Store. I love it. It keeps my brushes and small make-up-y things all neat.

Under the cabinets is a mess. A big one. It’s sad, because I had gotten the bathroom cabinet at our old house so well organized. When we moved I had to stuff a lot under the counter in this bathroom, since there are no drawers. I’m sorry; I’m just not brave enough to show pictures at this point.

I’m trying to pick a new color for the bathroom walls. What to choose? What to choose? Our bedroom is a medium blue-gray. The current beige doesn’t exactly clash, but it doesn’t exactly contrast, either.

While I’m caught in indecision, I haven’t added art or even installed the shower curtain we purchased last year and put in our old bathroom. For now, the bathroom serves a purely functional purpose, and I’m okay with that. There’s something to be said for being content with what you have.

What is it about bathrooms that attracts so much dust, though? It seems like I’m constantly wiping down the surfaces of the bathroom from the same layer of dust that I’ve apparently just displaced for awhile. I’m glad I have a favorite all-purpose antibacterial cleaner for the process, so at least that part of maintaining the bathroom is enjoyable. My recipe has been tested by myself and my friends over the past few months and so far we’ve all loved it, so I thought I’d share my all-purpose cleaner recipe with you today. I modified it from recipes I found online and in the book The Naturally Clean Home. So many of the recipes I found only made enough for a few uses, but this one lasts much longer (unless you have to tackle a particularly tough clean-up job, of course!)

Andrea’s All-Purpose Antibacterial Cleaner

(Makes one large batch — enough to fill roughly two large spray bottles or several small ones, if you want to give some away as a gift.)

3 tsp. unscented liquid castile soap. I used Dr. Bronner’s.

¼ c. + 1/8 c. white vinegar (3/8 c. total)

½ – ¾ c. lemon juice (I used ½ and it was just fine)

6 c. water

10 drops organic orange essential oil (I purchase mine from Natural Earth Oils on Etsy)

20-40 drops tea tree oil organic essential oil (I eyeballed it, so if this seems excessive, just tone it down)

10 drops organic lemon essential oil

5-10 drops organic peppermint essential oil

3 tsp. Borax.

Mix well. I used a cooler jug and shook it a lot, then poured it into my spray bottles. The mixture does separate into layers over time, but a quick shake of the bottle will blend it again. This recipe is good for refrigerators and stove tops and surfaces that need to be cleaned of grease and/or disinfected.

NOTE: For women, if you are pregnant, or trying to become pregnant, I was recently told that using tea tree oil is not considered safe for the duration of your pregnancy. The concerns seem mainly to stem from consumption of tea tree oil, not topical exposure, but I did find an article online that suggests abstaining from any use of the oil during pregnancy. If you are concerned about this, I would simply not add the tea tree oil to the recipe.

I use my all-purpose spray all over my house! It smells so fresh and clean and does a wonderful job cleaning counters, sinks, and even floors. (Although when I mop I generally just add a few drops of lemon essential oil and a bit of white vinegar into my pail of water.)

Enjoy!

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Filed under Bathroom, Home Tour Tuesday

Back Again … With a Twist

Hello! It’s been awhile, I know. Thanks for your patience. Life has been good, but I’ve done a lot of soul-searching the past couple of weeks, and I wanted to pop in to make a little announcement.

Our recent vacation showed me how desperately I had needed to reboot and recharge. There were days when I spent several hours at a time doing nothing but lounging on a deck chair, reading, taking a nap, or just watching the waves go by while sitting with the wind in my hair. My mind went blank and it was a glorious thing.

Maybe it was not having any major commitments to take care of regularly, or maybe it was the white noise of the wind and waves, or maybe it was all the reading of young adult novels I did while on the trip, but an interesting thing came out of all of those things combined: I began creating stories again.

I hadn’t realized how much I’ve missed writing fiction! It’s hard to believe, but I’ve been weaving stories for over twenty-five years. It’s a huge part of who I am. In fact, I still have poems and stories I dictated to my mother when I was a young girl. In high school and college, I had stories published by a small magazine and our university literary journal. I even have a folder on my computer desktop, full of manuscripts I’ve written over the years that are waiting to be polished and sent out to publishers, but I’d ignored them as I focused on other things.

On the cruise ship, the desire to write came flooding back.

For the past two weeks, during my absence here, I’ve gotten back into the writing groove, and I’ve decided to pursue this passion of mine in earnest to see how far I can go. I’ve been editing a novel I had completed and set aside several years ago and I’m working on finding critique partners for that and other manuscripts I have in progress.

What does this mean for this blog? Well, the editing and writing process is a full-time job. I will have to step back from publishing posts five days a week or writing extensive articles that don’t include personal examples, but I am not done with organizing and renovating our home. The frequency of posting might slow down, but I still plan to keep you updated on our progress and share hints and tips I learn along the way. I’ll also keep posting DIY projects you can adapt for your own home.

I’ve been blogging off and on for the past seven years. It has become such an integral part of who I am that I don’t think I’ll stop it anytime soon, so thank you for continuing to be a big part of that blogging journey I’ve taken. I look forward to keeping you updated on my newest venture. In the meantime, I hope you’ll come back for tomorrow’s installment of our Home Tour–this time around, I’m tackling our master bathroom. (Yikes!)

See you tomorrow!

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