Sometimes when reading Amazon’s “Top picks” for me, items they believe I’ll want, I think, “It’s like you don’t know me at all!”😩
My lifestyle does not call for a lot of pretty shoes. But I like pretty shoes! It’d been awhile since I owned a pair of undeniably feminine, lady-like shoes. I saw these – beautiful, low-heeled, sparkly sandals – for an excellent price on Amazon and decided to go ahead. I’m not really sure where I’m going to where them, in a pandemic no less, but in the vein of “If you build it they will come” (Field of Dreams), I figure “If you buy it the occasion will come.”😊
I’ve written about an issue of mine dating back to childhood, related to what I deserve, or more pointedly what I believe I deserve. I’ve gotten into this before, as I say, and I’m not going to totally rehash it now but the gist of it is I’ve been really thinking hard for many years about this issue – what do I deserve – and trying to correct its negative effects in my life.
I have not always thought I deserved a lot, or even much at all, in several areas of my life. It’s not a happy thing to discover this about one’s self let alone admit it, but as with other topics, I’m more inclined to share AFTER I’ve figured a bunch of stuff out. I need to process things alone.
In a book by Dr. Phil McGraw, aka Dr. Phil, whose title I don’t remember but would find if anyone is desperate to know it, he writes about choosing someone to be in your life, and says words to the effect that the first rule of choosing anything is don’t pick the broken one. That’s obvious right? Most of us would understand that as a reasonable truism. But the reality is, especially for women, that a lot of us DO pick the broken one, especially when it comes to choosing a person to be in our life.
Until I read it put that way, so directly with no namby-pambying around, I would never have thought about it in such hard terms. Lots and lots of people are broken in some way. Many women don’t think they deserve better and/or think they’re going to fix the broken person. Haha! I am in a position to scoff, having finally learned that no one “fixes” another adult. Love is NOT a cureall. Certainly not for major personality or character disorders in other people.😐
Let’s shift gears and look at this another way. The (semi) autobiographical movie, The Homecoming ( pre-cursor to the TV show The Waltons), Earl Hamner’s tale set at Christmas in depression-era rural Virginia, features a scene that had an impact on me. The many kids in the big family have gone to a church where missionaries are giving out presents. The youngest girl is delighted to get a gift, a wrapped baby doll. However, the doll’s face has a big crack in it, and the kids are disgusted and leave, dropping the doll on the ground as they do so. See, in the same position I would not have abandoned that doll. Oh no. I would have taken it home and kept it. Maybe I would have tried to use glue or tape to fix the crack. Whatever. It would not have occurred to me to throw it away nor would I have thought I was allowed to toss it out. A doll is a doll I would have thought, a gift a gift, even it’s a bit messed up.😕
I have a long history of trying to “make things work” no matter how shabby or defunct or defective or pitiful. I know where this comes from and the more important thing now, at this point in life, is simply recognizing it. Nobody but me will ever set the standard for what I deserve, for what is good enough and what is not, be it in things or situations or in people.
For instance when I meet someone now, man or woman, and they seem a bit messed up? I can be civil, even somewhat friendly, but there is no welcome mat into my larger life. You got yourself “a little drinking problem”? You lose your temper on a regular basis? You lie or obscure the truth? You have lots of legal troubles? Not for me.
I shop regularly on Amazon for many things and it’s really in the last couple years that I’ve gotten more into it. It may seem odd but it’s actually the impetus for this post. Now with the pandemic it’s been all the more important since I’m staying out of stores. Anyway, Amazon has been a training ground for me in terms of forcing me to confront what I think I deserve. I regularly send things back or ask for a refund for anything substandard. The “old me” wouldn’t have or not nearly as much. I would have “made it work” or settled for less than I expected. And this is a little embarassing, but I’d have done that so I didn’t bother them.😢 Or annoy them. Yep bother or annoy AMAZON. Sad but true. However, each time they sent me crap, crap I considered keeping, I gave myself a little talk. Would you select this pair of shoes that are scuffed up if you saw them on a shelf? Would you take this browning head of lettuce home from a grocery store? Would you be willing to re-glue a brand new pair of earrings? Why should you do any of these things and many others? (Note that as someone who routinely finds stuff others have cast off & takes them home to fix up, I’m not talking about that at all, which I do willingly and enjoy.)
I have felt like I’ve been tested. Tested & tested. You may have heard the idea that anytime you make an important or momentous decision about implementing a change, the universe will test you to see if you mean it. I do think I’ve had many opportunities to examine and investigate what I deserve in a variety of scenarios, perhaps a few more than was called for! Still, until it’s not even something I (have to) think about, I expect I’ll be challenged. IT HAS GOTTEN EASIER. Which tells me real progress has been made.
I’ve had a good winter. It was productive and the little “kick” in my step I felt in the fall hasn’t gone away. There’s been a bit of reprieve from an on-going problem in my life (not because anybody did the right thing but just out of a change in circumstances) and it’s allowed me to breathe a little easier. So that was certainly part of it. Creating more focus and direction for myself in the last three years with the annual resolutions has helped me considerably. I’ve already made a good start.
In a post a few years ago I remember saying that I felt like my life was a big ship in need of minor course adjustments. But big ships don’t change direction easily. They groan and strain and balk when required to turn; momentum has got them chugging along straight and that’s the easiest path. My ship has groaned and strained and balked but BY GUM it has turned. I don’t feel as wasteful. Wasteful of time, energy, talents, potential.
I stayed in shape and ate well. That’s one of the most important things I do every winter. It’s important always but tougher in winter. I pushed myself to not get lazy or eat more calories than I burned. In years past I’d be very active in good weather and was burning off the calories I consumed but come winter, when I slowed down physically, my calorie intake didn’t. I have finally realized I need to start dialing back the portions, even in a fairly healthy diet, in the fall not later in winter. I ate fruit like it was my job. A good, juicy mandarin orange, for one, is an amazement each time.
Somewhat of an aside but I feel like mentioning this: Last summer and again this winter, I bought a lot of food from Amazon. I’m in an area where Amazon offers home grocery delivery for Prime members. I only get Prime, which I split with someone, occasionally and when I do, I go to town. See, a year of Prime is $119. However, if you pay by the month and get it, say six months a year, it costs, at $12.99 a month, $78 a year. I don’t need Prime every month and I don’t even need it six months a year (last year I believe I got it for two months and two separate weeks when they had a special). Point being, when I do get it, I make sure to get my money’s worth and part of that has become groceries, both shelf-stable and perishable. Having food delivered to me has been wonderful. It’s not perfect but it’s made my life better. My life really does revolve around meals.
I was doing yoga but injured myself (not doing that) and had to cut back in the last month but have kept up my other exercising (push-ups, hand-weights, walking, and so on).
One of my goals was 8 attempts at a pull-up (or chin-up). Not 8 consecutive attempts but 8 visits to a local playground to have a go at it. The bar is just out of reach, so that when I’m standing on the ground below it, just the tips of my fingers touch it. I have to jump up to catch hold of the bar and decided that if I could touch my chin to the bar that’d count as a success. On my third visit I was able to do that and did it once more to make sure I could. I wouldn’t call this a pull-up exactly. I think a real pull-up requires you to pull yourself from a dead weight (no jumping involved) and to get your chin over the bar. Still, I was pleased to accomplish what I did!
I’ve read 15 books (out of a goal of thirty). I recently discovered Playaway books at the public library. They are cute little recorded books that you plug ear buds or headphones into. I am really enjoying being “read to”. I’ve listened to two books I read in years past, Animal Farm and The Handmaid’s Tale as well as two other novels. It’s fun to have these for variety (in addition to actual books) and I can go outside or do routine chores while listening. Some readers are fantastic at the narration and their talents really add to my enjoyment. (I was half-expecting that Margaret Atwood would read her own book but it’s Claire Danes; the story’s narrator is a young woman so of course it makes sense to have a younger person narrate.) While I’ve listened to books on CD in the past, I’ve yet to listen to any podcasts and resist reading books on any kind on an electronic device (like Kindle) so the Playaway books are a big deal for me!
I am on a mission to get rid of stuff. I’ve already put 72 items on my list this year. I’m not living in an empty house by any means but it is streamlined and orderly and visually attractive. Getting rid of a lot of stuff in the last several years is a big reason for that. I can find things, I know where stuff is. There is something very freeing in getting rid of things. I haven’t stopped buying NEW things but right now the things are going out in larger quantities than they are coming in; I’m trying to be very particular about what comes into my home (and my life for that matter; it’s all connected).
In December I fixed up my kitchen with a a “poor woman’s” semi-Italian update. No major appliances left or came in; it was largely a cosmetic project but I’ve been very happy with it.
I went through ALL of my clothes, looking at everything with fresh eyes. I got rid of (charity, etc) anything that wasn’t working for me or made fixes that could turn clothes into better versions of themselves. Whether I get them new or second-hand, I routinely have to take “tucks” in most of my jeans, pants, and shorts at the waist in order for them to fit right. (If I buy a smaller size, then the rest of the garment is too tight.) Taking in “tucks” at the waist makes pants or shorts sit where they should so the rest fits better.
If I got a piece of clothing free or cheap, I feel freer to “operate” on it. I bought these cute Forever 21 shorts for a dollar at a rummage sale last year but realized they were just too big. I remedied that by hand-sewing new seams down both sides and cutting off the excess. Now the shorts fit and flatter me.
This Merona sweater (a former Target brand) that I think I got from a thrift store is very sweet but just a bit big and additionally, it “gapped” in between buttons (you women readers know what I’m talking about; people can look right in at your bra! I hate that.). I fixed the button-gapping by sewing buttons (I keep a small stash of extras) permanently on between the gapping buttons at the top. Now the sweater is a pullover – since the newly added buttons sewn right through the front – but that’s okay because at least it looks good and I’ll be more likely to wear it.
I also went through all jewelry. I think there’s a point, although I haven’t decided exactly where it is, where you can have too much of something to truly enjoy it. I think this is true of clothes and jewelry too. When I clear things out I can see what I have and I appreciate them more. This doesn’t mean I have hundreds of things because I don’t. Just that I want to manage anything I have where there’s reason (or desire) to have more than a few of it (clothes, jewelry, music, dishes, etc) so that I have a number that works for me. What is the point in merely collecting things in quantities you don’t actually use? Or really love? That’s where my head is at.
I’ve done 10 “good deeds” of the twenty on my resolutions list. The good deeds have to be something more than I might normally do; they can’t be everyday stuff I do all the time; I have to go a bit out of my way. And I have to do them with no idea of being rewarded. I hesitated to even mention this resolution when I wrote about my 2020 plans because I didn’t want it to sound self-congratulatory. I still don’t. But if I was reading this, I might want to know what kinds of things I’m talking about when I say “good deeds” so I will tell you one.
The small grocery store near me is having financial issues and going through changes. I have mixed feelings about the store but I don’t want it to fail and while I won’t give them extra cash (they’ve been doing quite a bit of fund raising) I will help in other ways if I can. On a recent Sunday many grocery carts were outside the store, where they’d been abandoned, rather than stored inside for new customers. Usually an employee is in charge of bringing the carts back inside but I could see nobody was around (maybe nobody ever does this task on Sundays or maybe it was just this particular Sunday). I took it upon myself to round up all the carts and bring them inside. It took a few trips. It is harder to push a line of carts than it looks! I came back through the store a few hours later to see if the carts needed to be brought in again but an employee had apparently already done it.
Basically, I’m keeping my eyes open for things I can do to be helpful or decent or kind, where it requires more effort from me than what I might normally do. And — except for here in this blog – I am keeping them to myself. They are secret good deeds, at least part of the time.
I cut back on my DVD watching. Less internet and less DVDS mean more reading, etc. I’m still doing crosswords and other mind-challenging activities. As much as I want my body to stay strong, I really, REALLY want my mind to stay strong. That said, I’m no zealot and I believe in entertainment. I’m catching up now on movies that were nominated for or won Oscars this year so my DVD-number is on the increase. I figure I’ll just slow it down later this year. I was uncertain about setting a number, but I think a movie a week is good, plus a few series.
It is always about balance. Modern life is not about balance. It’s about excess and immoderation, about indulging one’s self, and never having enough. Does that sound preachy? I don’t mean it to be. But everywhere I turn, I’m encouraged to overdo it and not in good, healthy ways. It is a real struggle to stay in your own lane and not be caught in anyone else’s agenda, be it an individual’s or a corporation’s, or even a government’s. You have to decide what is important to you and keep to it. Beat those distractions back with a stick! That’s what I tell myself.
I enjoyed this winter more than any in years.
I’ve had a productive winter, starting in December. I was feeling vaguely dissatisfied with my kitchen, which I last showed here a year ago. I thought I could do better. After all, I am in the kitchen a lot and I want it to be cute, usable, and inspiring. I was looking at stuff on Amazon when I saw these Tuscan stick-on tiles. I was immediately smitten (at the time I was able to get two packs of four for $20; they are higher at the moment). The tiles gave me an idea. Why not an Italian kitchen? Or a semi-Italian kitchen? After all, that’s what I am! Semi-Italian.
My kitchen was busy, there was no getting around it so I decided best to just give in to the busy look. (I see those sleek, modern empty kitchens in magazines and on TV and while they can look great, that’s just isn’t happening here.) I was thinking also of something somewhat retro in theme. I’m a renter so a major overall is out of the question but I still have a lot of leeway.
I took down and dismantled the mug rack I built over the stove and extended the utensil rack I made in its place. I took down the spice rack I built and made a new, more compact one. I painstakingly removed the (free) blue glass tiles I’d put up as a back splash over the sink. That was a bitch. Apparently I put ’em on real good! For the cabinets I found wonderful ivy stickers on Amazon as well as the yellow glass knobs. I toyed with getting bright colored ceramic ones, like a bright yellow but decided to go with something a little more subtle.
The vinyl tiles have a clear plastic cover that adds dimension and makes it look more like real tiles. I didn’t extend it over the oven because the manufacturer said not to on the product page and besides, that would have cost more. I ditched the silly two-outlet tap and replaced it with this six-outlet tap. (By the by, whoever installed the outlets did so upside down which I finally realized but after taking a look inside I decided that level of electrical work was beyond my pay grade.) I used double-sided tape squares to put the tiles up (instead of permanently installing them by removing the backing).
Because I eliminated the mug rack I needed to make more room in the cabinets. I previously made shallow shelves for the back of the lower cabinets so I opted to make more so that there are narrow shelves all along the backs. Very convenient!
I found great little Moondance (by Circleware) salt & pepper shakers at Ross for the back of the stove. I found the sugar dispenser at Dollar Tree years ago. That’s a “vintage” tea kettle I’ve had a long time now (it came from a house that was being cleaned out). I previously put decorative stick-on paper on the back of the stove (where the word “Sunray” is) and took many days peeling it off in tiny, tiny, tiny, bits. The color part came up but left the sticky back in place which I proceeded to remove by fingernail (I didn’t want to scratch the stove surface with a tool and nothing I tried would dissolve the sticky stuff). It was the worst part of the project.
The shelf unit to the left of the stove is one I made from scrap wood a few years ago. I fixed it up a bit now by adding colorful place mats I found at Dollar Tree to the bottom door and the top. It was only after I bought them that I saw “Moroccan” on the receipt. Oh well, I’m not splitting (Italian/Moroccan) hairs here! That small $2 fix really spruced up the shelves. I found the retro kitchen timer at a rummage sale last year. It works great.
The cabinets extend on the left side of stove so you can see below where the ivy starts. I took the blue-checked fabric off the window where it’d served as a curtain and instead hung it in front of an ugly water heater and various cleaning tools (vacuum, brooms, etc). It might be fun to have a red-checked one eventually… but I already had this blue one from a thrift store.
My canned tomato stash is on shelves below the far left cabinet. I also moved my glass jar collection there (from above the kitchen cabinets). I am proud to say I have wittled it down to what you see here in the bag, so far as jars I’m not currently using. (I tend to hang onto glass jars for fear they will one day be unavailable.)
Initially I tried fire-retardant decorative foil-look film over the stove, thinking it would be reflective and add light to the space. It didn’t. I didn’t like it. It absorbed too much light and looked cheap. Instead I put a small piece on the bottom of this 1800’s (or thereabouts 😁)
Recessed lighting of some sort would be nice but plug-in under the cabinet lights suffice. I had one light and added another; they link together. The photo on the left is how it looks straight on and the one on the right lets you see the actual light fixtures.
I found cute retro-style coffee curtains on Amazon. Looking at Amazon gave me general ideas because I wasn’t too sure initially what inexpensive things I could fairly easily do for an Italian theme. Much of what I saw was to cutesy (fat chefs were featured on a lot of decor) but I wanted more authentic, subtle touches.
I eliminated most of the fire-engine red color I’d previously added to the kitchen- I decided it was too much – but have left this lone cabinet over the washing machine that I painted long ago. I toyed with painting it white but as it’s different from the other cabinets, I think it kind of works as red and adds character. I also wanted to show you my “plastic bag hanger” for freshly washed bags that I hung over the washing machine; it’s actually a small laundry hanger in design. And those are just-fit shelves I made a few years back for laundry detergents. It may not look it but you can still open the right cabinet door.
I took off a dark wood handle I’d put on the kitchen’s token drawer and put this simple white one on instead. Some time back, in search of more space, I’d opened up the area under the sink and made a slipshod “drawer.” It never worked very well so I ditched it and put in this wire basket instead. See where I added more of the ivy stickers just under the sink too. (To the right of the stickers, with the small white-handled door, I made a simple shelf for microwave pans, in what was previously unused space.)
Turning our attention to the other side of the galley kitchen, I painted this previously bright red, tall cabinet door white and added a few ivy stickers. The inside of the door looked awful where I’d tried to peel off stick-on paper rather unsuccessfully, so I added new wood-look paper and a place to hang bag clips.
In my quest to eliminate the fire-engine red (a change I started before I came up with before the Italian theme) I painted the posts and the defunct pipe this red-orange. I eliminated an ugly shelf I’d put over the doorway – the board was warped & the stuff on it wasn’t attractive – and re-housed the stuff I had up there in other places. I got an inexpensive olive-themed clock from Amazon to hang over the doorway but sent it back because it was mediocre quality. I am still looking for the right thing to put there like maybe a tin sign featuring food.
I put fresh paper from Dollar Tree on these open shelves. I didn’t do anything new to these jar shelves by the window that I made (I don’t think) but just wanted to show them to you again.
Here’s a view from outside the kitchen.You can see the new color on the posts, which closely matches the chair. I got a new chair pad for the chair too. The “stone wall” stick-on paper was an earlier project but it complements the Italian theme so that worked out well.
In keeping with my semi-Italian theme, I added these placemats I found on Amazon to the small table.
I don’t think I’m quite done with my kitchen project but I’m really happy with what I’ve done so far. It’s a cheery place to go into now!