Category Archives: home

(Too) close to home

The neighbors live in chaos. I grew up in chaos.

I’ve had two years to think about this. A lot.

In a way, that adage about not ever really getting away from your past is true. You don’t. It shows up in other people, in other situations. This time I’m a witness. No – that’s not right to say “this time.” The FIRST time I was a witness too. Not a participant.

(I see grown children who continue their parents’ legacy all the time; participating in the chaos they learned on the home front. That is, they never rejected it in the first place. It was normal and it stayed normal. That was never me. I rejected it very young.)

I am the kind of person who has to find meaning in my experiences. I am compelled. In the neighbors I see what I rejected as toxic in my own family a long time ago. Oh, it’s not exactly the same and the differences initially kept me from seeing the parallels. But – people who live in chaos, who thrive on drama, who have shitty coping skills – they’re more or less the same. The specific details are usually interchangeable and not all that significant.

It might be all well and good to just say “So what, go ahead and live like that, who cares; just stay in your four walls and ‘kill’ each other.” But it doesn’t work that way does it? Other people, bystanders, invariably get dragged in, by choice and not. Other people are affected. Toxicity has tentacles.

Also, people who live in chaos recruit new cast members for their ongoing dramas because old ones get burnt out or move on, and besides, a big dramatic production can always use more players and audience members. And again, even if they don’t actively recruit, the mess such people make is not tidy and contained in those metaphorical four walls. It seeps out and contaminates whatever it touches.

People choose drama and chaos to fill emptiness in their lives. It keeps them busy. It keeps them from thinking too much, from real reflection and introspection. Nothing like a good scene, a knock-down-drag-out fight, shallow distractions, an addictive habit or three, or constantly “helping” somebody else with their “problems” to keep a person busy, no? It’s so transparent to me now.

I wholesally reject everything about this. Decency can trump toxicity. It has too. Decency springs of a better place, it has deeper roots. I chose a long time ago to live in decency not in chaos. It is a choice. It’s one I made with my own original family and it’s one that I continue to make throughout my life.

People whose lives are filled with meaningful pursuits and positive activities to occupy their waking hours are not attracted to and do not thrive on toxic chaos. That is the challenge isn’t it? For everybody. Everybody who gives a damn about how they conduct their lives.

Gliding into summer…

I love being outside. I am a summer girl. I like decorating the outside too making it a comfortable, beautiful place to be, on the cheap.

I recently posted about several lovely things that have come my way of late, including a free bench style glider. Now, I’m the sort who likes to rearrange items till they’re “right.” This season I started with a red bench in my seasonal screen tent. I had finally needed to knock apart and throw out my preferred bench because it passed the point repairs could keep it going. While the red bench looked cute it really isn’t too comfortable because of the shallowness of the seat. I don’t want to sit rigidly upright like I’m in a church; I want to shift positions and sprawl at whim.

I moved another bench in, a legless one that is intended to be a porch swing (which I sit atop cinder blocks instead) but out it came once the glider arrived. Space-wise it made the most sense to put the glider in the tent, space being not “spacious.” I wanted to share with you my inaugural glider ride and popcorn snack.

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With shredded cheese and Nutritional yeast, yum (seriously)

But of course I must show you the view from inside which is really what it’s all about.

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Panoramic view (sorry, it’s not the clearest)

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Calibrachoa

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Lydia, the One-armed Watering Girl

I always wanted one

It’s true. I have always wanted a pink flamingo. They always struck me funny. However, I really couldn’t see spending money on one. In recent years they even started showing up at Dollar Tree, small ones, seasonally, and still I held off. Till the other day. I saw those flamingoes, a bunch of them, but only one had “legs” with it. All the other flamingoes were legless which sort of defeats the point. A hanging flamingo just wouldn’t be the same.

I took it as a sign that I should have my pink flamingo.

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He is standing next to mint to give you a sense of his diminutive stature

The “instruction” were interesting too. Since my “stick” were not stuck in the front as illustrated but in two side-by-side holes on the bottom, I was so confused! I could hardly assemble the thing from these complicated instructions.

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Making a display shelf for Pepsi and Coke bottles

Way back in 2o14 I did a short post on the Pepsi and Coke bottles I’d saved. I didn’t keep them because I’m obsessed with either product (I don’t drink either product) but because they evoked a sentiment and I just thought they were cool. They’ve kind of drifted around a bit, not really having a “home.” I came up with an idea and a good spot in a little hallway this week.

I didn’t want to go to a lot of trouble so this was a get-it-done project. Using scrap would I nailed one narrow board to another at right angles. I used just 4 brads at equal intervals; if this shelf was going to hold heavy objects or was wider you couldn’t get away with only using measily nails to attach it but here it’s fine. It happened that the one board had a red strip I’d painted when it’d been part of something else so I decided to leave it and paint the rest to match the green wall.

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I drilled two holes into the support board that would be flush with the wall and screwed the shelf into place. I couldn’t wait to add my bottles! Plus a red tin cup for good measure.

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Making my bedroom a cheerful sanctuary

My bedroom has been evolving (no, not revolving) over a period of years. While I was good at decorating other parts of the home, I seemed blocked on my room (compounded by the fact I didn’t want to spend money). That all changed when I found this Target (I think it’s Target, because when I say “found” I mean literally) lamp several years ago.

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BAM! This lamp “spoke” to me

I remember how excited I was as I carried the lamp home. Suddenly I had vision for my room. Now I’m not religious, not whatsoever, but it did feel like the skies opened and dropped this wondrous lamp in my path. Am I waxing too poetic for you? I shall wax philosophical instead. For me, my home and immediate environment are reflections or manifestations of me; how I feel about myself, how I see myself, and importantly, what I think – in my realest self – I deserve. Well HOT DAMN, I deserved, warranted, and wanted this beautiful lamp. About f’ing time too.

The lamp gave me focus. Prior to this, I felt my room was kind of shabby and mishmash. The Shabby and Mishmash Collection will NOT be featured at Bed Bath & Beyond or Linens n Things or any other fussy home store any time soon. As I say it lacked focus and moreover, when I looked at it objectively I saw it befitted a teenager or maybe young adult, someone just starting out. I am not just starting out. Not even close. I saw that my room featured things the teenage me might have appreciated (and didn’t have then). What it has become I think is whimsical adult.

No sooner than I found this lamp, I went to a yard sale that had cans of paint, one of which exactly matched the lime green of the base. For a quarter. In addition to the lamp colors, I added little touches of orange aided by a can of orange paint also at the yard sale (although I eventually decided a little orange goes a long way and dialed it back). Shades of blues and greens are my favorite colors, so there were lots of possibilities, no need to be too matchy-matchy or even to get everything immediately. A few things took time. Getting focus was the important part.

For the BIG job I painted the walls two tones of green, honestly, because I used free paint and wasn’t sure I had enough of one color! I love the two-tone; it’s polished and grownup but still fun.

Vanbytheriver recently wrote about the complications of modern bedding. I too have been befuddled by bed accoutrements. I’ve only, here in middle age, learned what some of these items are and do, largely thanks to the education I get perusing Amazon.

Okay. Duvet cover. First I had to grasp that duvet is a fancy name for a comforter. Why would it need its own cover then? It’s easier to take off and wash – theoretically – than to wash a bulky, cumbersome comforter duvet. If you never wash your comforter/duvet, I guess this isn’t your problem. Also, a duvet cover let’s you switch up the look of your room, seasonally or whatever, if that’s your thing. My comforter did not go with the color theme(s) so I used an off-white blanket on top of it for a couple years. That was okay but lacked any pizzazz.

I was stymied because the duvet covers or comforters I liked cost way too much. Not gonna happen! My criteria while shopping Amazon were no flowers or floral design, colorful, goes with “my” colors, and inexpensive. (The covers I loved featured large, blue and green color blocks or big circles/dots. They were pricey.)

I finally found something last month, featuring blue, white, and lime green – for $10! Yay! Decent quality too, made for Macy’s. It was coming together. In the fall I treated myself to the lime blanket from Ross for about $11. I love it.

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I previously posted how I made my own headboard. I’ve followed that up with changing the accompanying artwork. Well, as seen above, I swapped pictures yet again because I thought the strong duvet cover needed strong art. One thing I find is that just changing or tweaking what you already have is often a solution to a decorating problem. In this case I swapped picture frames, not just pictures. The picture seen above is now in the black frame (whose 4 plastic side pieces I turned backward for a better effect), and the other picture is now in the light green wood frame.

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Then I decided to switch up my  corner again, adding the green frame picture.

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So the square picture came over to the other side. (Here you also see the scarf added to the headboard too; I thought it went well with the new duvet cover).

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Finally, to give you a more comprehensive look at the space, I give you the opposite wall (photographed in panorama) which I’m really proud of, and which delights me daily. The curtain (a $6 Kate Spade fabric shower curtain from Ross that I sewed a 1 foot addition to so it’d reach the floor) covers the puny closet. Two shelves over the two doorways hold storage. The green fabric bins came from Dollar Tree. The “blue dots” on the middle shelf also came from Dollar Tree.

Art is whatever you think it is. Here the round Native American drum came from a package of fish given to me as a gift (the fish is looong gone but it was tasty). The picture on the left was a greeting card “woman on the beach” that I bought in the nineties because I loved it. I FINALLY framed it (both small white frames were giveaways). The little vases are almost all yard sale & thrift store finds. For covering shallow storage shelves I made, I found the orange curtain – which I think may be a sarong – for $2 at a rummage sale in November. I figure if I ever want to wear it I’ll just borrow it from the wall!

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Easy home made earring display

I’ve been meaning to post a picture for awhile showing how I hang/display my earrings. I am ALL about earrings.  When I was young I couldn’t WAIT to get to wear them. They are definitely my thing. I’ve previously posted how I hang my necklaces on the wall. My philosophy is – and I tell this to other women when I get the chance – if you don’t see it you won’t wear it.

This is a simple bulletin board I painted. I cut and strung the strings around & stapled them into the wood. I added cup hooks on the sides for hooks that couldn’t go over the string, like hooks that close (if you mostly wear post-style earrings, this display is not for you – I’ll get back to ya if I come up with a decent “post” style display!). I used a bulletin board because I happened to have one but other frames could work too. Part of why I like the bulletin board is for its neutral color; it doesn’t compete with all the earrings so they show up.

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Of course this could go right on the wall and look very nice and I have done that previously. Now however, since wall space is at a premium, I have it on the side of this 6′ IKEA cabinet I use in place of a dresser. Here’s a wider shot.

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Seeing red (dots that is)

I’ve been on a decluttering/prettyifying kick (something I do regularly). I made this simple, shallow cabinet with scrap wood and someone’s discarded shutter last year. I custom-created it to fit in a small space between two doors. You know how “they” say you shouldn’t keep pills, vitamins, etcetera in the bathroom? Well, this to hold those kinds of items. I have really taken to shallow storage – no more wrestling around in the dark recesses of a cabinet trying to find one tiny item while knocking others out onto the floor. Or buying 3 of something because you didn’t know you still had extra supplies tucked out of sight.

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[A side note: this little unit is 3′ tall because that’s what boards I had on hand when the idea and mood struck to do this. Sure, I could have waited and acquired other boards another day but baby, when I am in the mood to do something, I want to do it NOW. One of the things I truly love about being an adult is nobody can stop me and lecture me on how that’s not the right way to do it, you have to plan and take careful, precise measurements and write things down and go to the store with an itinerary. I say fuck that. I gots to do it when the mood strikes!]

So the other day in a fit of getting rid of stuff I came across a stash of red stick-on dots. I never specifically needed red dots but they were included in a Dollar Tree pack of multiple colors  I got for a project. I was about to offer it on Freecycle when inspiration hit.

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They look kind of pink here but they’re really red in person

I had  A LOT of red dots so I put them on, and next to, this other 6′ tall, deeper cabinecornerde that’s tucked into a corner. Such a simple thing but it really makes a difference. They’re fun and cheerful. And when I get bored of them it’s easy goodbye.

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