Tag: Home

Simplify, Simplify

 

I was talking to my 30-year-old daughter a few months back about 2 habits I always made sure I kept doing. One is putting on makeup before going out. That one is probably not so important, but it is ingrained so I don’t know at this point if I could give it up or not (I said). I’m Southern, plus it goes way back to a beauty pageant, one of the Miss America prelims (yes, really) when we were told never go out without your face in place.

I’m good at following the rules, so I always put my face on. I mean, everybody else did too. We’re Southern. This is probably not so important here in South Florida, which is not the South but is, perhaps, a suburb of New Jersey, and where (1) it is hot and humid and (2) nobody else wears any and (3) did I mention hot? And Humid?

So – a couple weeks after our talk, I decided to quit wearing makeup. By “makeup” I mean foundation and / or powder. Not even Bare Minerals – have you ever actually seen what Bare Minerals looks like with a few drops of sweat running through it? Sort of like a sandy riverbed. Not pretty!

Besides the heat, my shoulder has been frozen all of 2016. Which means I can’t move my left (dominant) arm. I finally gave in and started taking pain pills the week they told me it was not frozen, but rather torn all the way through. Multiple tears on multiple muscles. The point of this is the pain pills make me sweat, as in hair-dripping-down-my-back sweat.

So I quit wearing makeup.

It was freeing; after all, I never wanted to bother with that stuff. It was the people who said things like “you need to put your best face forward,”  “you look soooo much better without it,” and so on. Superficial. I let go. (I also will probably save a bunch of money. Some months the bill for that stuff has been over $300).

It would be a great segue here to discuss why we teach our daughters that kind of rule, but perhaps I’ll save that one for another day.

Anyway. Enough about that. The other habit I like to keep in my routine is making the bed first thing in the morning. Not first-first, but somewhere in the getting dressed part of my day. Making the bed causes your room to look instantly cleaned up. It is a big part of the room, so if it isn’t made the bedroom will feel messy no matter what is going on around it. Plus, making the bed usually leads to more household chores like doing laundry or picking up the puppy’s toys. Anything that pushes me toward chores is a good thing.  So I like to keep my bed made. Except…my shoulder froze. I still made the bed, some, but then they told me it (the shoulder, not the bed) was torn. I quit making the bed in case it injured my shoulder more.

Now I am totally out of must-have routines. There’s nothing like a little pain to show you what matters. Makeup? No more. Fix my hair? Fuggedaboutit. I can’t reach it. The bed? Well, Mighty Man mentioned how he likes it made, and I explained that it takes about 15 minutes now, as I have to go from side to side dragging things with one arm. [Actually I might have said two hours…] So now he does it. So sweet!

Now that the musts are gone and a lot of the hacat-abed ve-tos are being ignored, I’m free to completely re-design my routines. I have to have some, otherwise chaos abounds. So I’m going to put a lot of thought into it and share it with you here on the blog. To follow these posts, use the category or tag Home Organization.

 

Photos Courtesy Someecards and Original-Cards

Organizing Your Home Slowly Vs the Tidying Up Way

 

I recently ran across this blog which offers a 52-week challenge for organizing your home.

“You cannot expect to get your home completely organized over night [sic], even though that would be wonderful. It just won’t realistically happen for most of us because we have too many areas in our homes that we need to address,” it reads.

On the other hand, we have The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. This book is so popular that people refer to decluttering as “Kondoing,” a play on the author’s last name.

51H8x07Fd7L._SL160_

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Kondo claims that we don’t need to take an entire year to de-clutter our homes (I breathed a sigh of relief!  Really, my counters are cluttered again after a day—a year would kill me!). She says that if we follow her method of decluttering, and believe me it is drastic; we would never have to do it again. Imagine never going to the store for more storage containers, boxes, and sweater bins.

Usually my declutter lasts about one afternoon, and looks like this:

Piper helping Sort Magazines
Piper helping Sort Magazines

You will notice that I’ve read the book. Twice, in fact. You will also notice that I am here telling you what ‘she says,’ not ‘what worked for me.’

Yeah. There’s a reason for that.

It’s because I’m still trying to figure it out: Is it better to declutter over a short span of time, like two weeks, or over an entire year?

I’m a third-generation hoarder married to a 30+year antiques dealer, so we know clutter – intimately. Hubby says neither of us knows how to put our toys away.

Store front image
Our former stores, Fiddlesticks and Trace of Time.

 

Sadly, he is right, at least about me. I craft, paint, groom my own dogs, and write books, leaving all my related tools/parts/scraps/stacks wherever I was working last. Recently I had to set up a 6-foot table beside my desk because my desk is too cluttered to write.

My Desk :(
My Desk 🙁

Hanging my head in shame.

 

Handmade gemstone necklace
My favorite type of jewelry to make, a chunky gemstone beaded collar necklace.

 

Pendant
Handmade Pendant

 

 

 

 

 

Then I remember the two parts of the Life Changing Magic book that I did implement. One was to place a small box near my purse hang-out (for me that is the back of the walk-in closet) and empty the contents of your purse, using the box for your ‘have-to’ items. You can put away the lipstick, toss receipts, and store loose change. This gives you an empty purse to put away, and makes choosing one so much easier the next morning –grab the contents of the box, dump them in, and you’re ready to go. Well. With a lipstick and a car key.

Suddenly, I change purses all the time. And they look so orderly there in the back of the closet. None of them fall off the shelf from the weight of mystery items inside. I don’t carry around 5 pounds of stuff I don’t need. I feel…organized.

The other change was the way she folds and stores clothing in dresser drawers. Rather than folding more or less in half and stacking them, Kondo suggests folding shirts (for example) into thirds, then into a little package and stacking them endwise. The drawer holds way more shirts that way, and you can see what you’ve got without digging around wrinkling them. I did that, and loved it… and changed around another drawer, then another…

Courtney Carver, who I have followed online for a long time, says there is no such thing as overnight decluttering. I participated in her Project 333 (you choose 33 items of clothing for the current season and put away the rest; presumably you’ll decide you don’t actually need the rest). It really worked, and 33 items were plenty for my lifestyle, as long as I kept as much jewelry as I wanted. But I gained and gained and gained weight since then – so now my closet bulges with sizes from 8 on the left, to 10 and 12 in the center, up to size, yep you guessed it, 16. Booo!

I guess I could redo the Project 333, but honestly the closet door can be closed, and there’s clutter everywhere else…

So what do you think? Declutter fast or declutter slowly?

Change is in the Air

Tanya Logan's breakfast table

I’ve been thinking on this blog for months. Actually not just the blog, but the entire website. Does it meet its purpose? Why am I feeling like it’s a weight around my neck lately? Am I burned out? Should I stop writing?

My focus over the past few years has been narrow. I did it that way on purpose. But now I have the God>I website to handle the “narrow focus” part, plus I’m feeling rather squished in this box, the one I put myself in.

You see, I secretly have desired to expand into more lifestyle-oriented topics, yet I want to honor who I am as a child of God. Is that possible?

Well, of course it is, I decided; after all we struggle and think on and marinate in all our daily “stuff.” Things like, should I switch churches? Should I send my child to Christian school? Do I really act as a wife/mother/teacher ought to act? What do other people do when X does XYZ?

And I would like to share my wreaths, handmade jewelry, and *maybe even* my paintings-in-progress with you. And yes, recipes. But I’ve felt that I shouldn’t, in order to be true to the ‘purpose’ of the blog.

Then there’s my voice. I talk to you like I speak in person, but I’d really like to talk to you like I think. Like I speak to myself in my head. The silliness, the fun jokes I don’t ever share; I see humor almost everywhere. Really. You didn’t know that, did you?

You thought I was some serious Jesus freak. You were both right, and wrong.

So friends, we’re gonna fix this thang.

Starting now, we are going to embark on a new adventure. First, I am melding the website and blog into one. It has a new look. (Do you like it? I wanted something reaaaally girly) And I’m going to talk about the mundane things of life, the things that affect us whether we are Christians or not, whether we are thinking Christlike thoughts in that moment or not, and whether we are doing the right thing.

Or not.

I might even share a recipe or two.

I believe this will enable us to have dialogs that are more real, more honest, and probably deeper than we could in the past. I hope this doesn’t offend my 2,000+ followers. I truly believe it will be for the better — but I know we humans hate change.

Let me know what you think.

Rescuing a Parrot

Ernie white capped Pionus

If you have ever considered a parrot as a pet, let me tell you that rescuing a parrot is nothing like getting a dog from a shelter. As you know if you read this post, I didn’t really adopt Ernie; he adopted me. I have no knowledge about parrots – only little finches, which are a completely different pet. Finches live in the aviary and I provide food, water, clean papers, and a lot of watching. Parrots are interactive, needing to be talked to and petted and tended to almost like a perpetual toddler.

My parrot? Not so much. He’s afraid of everything, and it’s not simply fear. Everything new is a BIG SCARY MONSTER. Dreams of a chattering parrot that goes everywhere with me are out the window. Dreams of him coming out to greet me are out the window too. He prefers his cage. L

Last night I had a small glass in my hand, and it was very frightening. Yet he sees a coffee cup every day. I have to be careful, thoughtful, about everything I touch or move. For every step forward, there are at least 2 backward. Victories are never large, they are tiny. We’re learning to make a really big deal out of a tiny, seemingly insignificant step.

Not knowing what Ernie went through before makes it tough to be a good Parront [parrot parent]. He’s probably set in his ways in addition to having (I think) little interaction with his previous owner. His cage is near my desk, and if I glance over while he’s eating his breakfast, he stops eating and moves back to the top perch. Sigh.

I’ve purchased several books and videos on parrot training; they have titles like ‘teach your parrot to step up in 20 minutes.’ Ernie isn’t learning in 20 minutes, 20 hours, or 20 days.

 

The instructions all start with feeding your parrot treats. The training gurus all assume a parrot will automatically get a treat from your fingers. Not Ernie. I suspect he was taught to only eat from a bowl. At first Ernie didn’t seem to like anything – except Zupreem fruit blend, and ONLY the purple ones. He picks them out. He hates the all-natural pellets. I figure he’s probably been on an all-seed diet, so pellets are a step forward, let’s go one step at a time.

After two months of offering various foods, I have recently (finally!) found his favorite treats: almonds and cashews. Next is teaching him to take them from my hand. . He has bitten both me and Mickey trying to take an almond from us—nasty bites. I believe they were both accidents, his aim was off.  But today he took 3 in a row with no mishaps. Victory!

Now that he takes treats, he needs a solid “step up” which means step onto my hand. He did this occasionally at first, but seems to have forgotten it. Or he’s bluffing. Did I mention, I don’t speak parrot at all? I have trained dogs and horses, and can glance at them and tell you their energy level. Not so with a parrot. I can’t read him. Fortunately he threatens to bite a couple times before he actually does it—otherwise I’d be sporting a lot more scars. But I stress a lot: Am I treating him right? Does he need more, less, better interaction? Would somebody else do a better job? (I’m pretty sure the answer to the last one is yes).

So for the “step up” command, I read about this great tool. It’s a perch that you hold in your hand, a wooden T shape. It has a clear acrylic cover over the part you hold – so if the parrot tries to bite you, he hits the cover. Perfect, right?

No. It is a big, scary monster. It is so scary that I’ve laid it near his cage for a month, and he still can’t stand it. Last night I held it up to him and said “step up” and he ran to the bottom of the cage. I placed him on the perch and he flew down in a huff, going under the secretary to hide. Poor baby.

As I said, the small victories, tiny forward steps, are to be celebrated. One that we have managed to conquer is getting him out of his cage on a consistent basis. I tie his door open every morning and invite him out throughout the day. He is having none of it. OUT is a scary place.

But in the evening, when the sun sets and it’s finally cooling off outside, he seems to relax. Or maybe it’s me that relaxes. At that time of day, Ernie happily comes out. Well, with a bit of urging. He heads straight for my shoulder. You aren’t supposed to let unpredictable parrots ride on your shoulder but that is where Ernie feels safe. It’s where he’s been since that first day at the shelter. So up he runs, and I ask “wanna go outside?”

We go out and sit near the finch cage and watch the action. Ernie makes the most sound then –he’s silent 98% of the time—he squawks quietly to the finches, as they’re pretty quiet themselves. He occasionally chatters to me, and when he hears the baby finches in the nest he says “baby birds!” Last night, he got off my shoulder on his own and went to his play stand, located near the finch cage. He didn’t want to come back to me when I asked (Victory! Cheer!) So I left him there until nearly dark.

I don’t know where this story will go. It seems like everybody else’s parrot will eat from their plate, drink from their glass, scream to be let out in the mornings, and fly straight to them like a child running to meet a parent. Not so my smart, complicated Ernie. He is a project, a constant work in progress. I am learning not to compare my rescue friend with other people’s feathered ones. Like children, we take what we are dealt and learn to make the most of it. Every day you wake up and learn that lesson over again.

We will continue to celebrate the smallest step.  I respect that he is older. I respect his high fear level. I absolutely adore him. If three years from now we are still working on step-up, I will be a little sad but we’ll still be training.

I’m so glad he picked me.

 

Shy Ernie–How One Bird Can Change an Entire Household

Shy Ernie – How One Bird Changed an Entire Household

or, How a Trip for Bird Seed Turned into a Parrot

I recently acquired a new parrot — he’s called a white-capped pionus. The author of Parrots for Dummies, Nikki Moustaki, has this to say about Pionus:

“The pionus isn’t the most popular parrot — it’s often outflashed, outcolored, outtalked, and outnumbered by many of the more commonly kept parrot species.”

I didn’t know anything (and I mean ANYTHING) about parrots. I have 6 finches which I bought myself for my birthday. They’re lovely and wonderful.

finches
The Finches in their new cage

One day I went to the local parrot rescue to see their price on finch food. I stepped into the back and was looking at a bright  blue Indian Ringneck (it’s a bird). I can’t explain what happened next.

Somehow Ernie, from behind me, got my attention. Now lest you think that was easy, there are at least 30 birds back there shrieking. If you have never heard parrots scream, go find some and listen; they’re ear-splitting! Among all that, quiet little Ernie spoke to me. I turned around. He sat there quivering, and looked at me sideways. Get me out of here.

I spoke to him a few minutes and left–but you know the rest. I kept going back, and being drawn to him. Everyone at the rescue said “He doesn’t like me!” yet when I picked him up, he went straight up to my shoulder and snuggled, giving a cackly little purr when I scratched his head. I filled out an application and ordered a cage.

parrot
Ernie, White Capped Pionus

My husband was, um. Less than ecstatic. I won’t even go into the ‘discussion’ we had. But I asked him just to go look. “Yeah, you can tell them to cancel the cage order,” he snorted.

Off we went.

But at the rescue, someone had let Ernie out of his cage. “He doesn’t like me!” both people present chorused. I picked him up and he snuggled up on my shoulder. My husband looked at them, at the parrot, back at me. “O-o-k-ay-y,” he said, getting the picture: Ernie had picked me.

parrot after bath
Ernie after a bath

We brought Ernie home. He is shy, afraid of everything. At 18, the only  owner he’d ever known went into a nursing home. He then went to the parrot rescue, and now a completely different household. Everything new is a monster, and his wings are clipped so to “escape” he flies to the floor where there really are monsters (two dogs and a cat).

He shakes and quakes. I’m simply letting him be, and twice a day giving him rides on my shoulder. We play piano (he sways, and occasionally quacks softly), watch tv, surf the Internet. I sing to him a lot. There was that one day when I took him out on the screened porch but he flew into the pool. I jumped in for a rescue; that will be our last time swimming!

Pionus aren’t the wonderful talkers some other parrots are. They have low, rumbly voices that only a mother can understand. He will occasionally say “Good morning, Ernie,” and once he said “NO NO NO.” One day I mumbled to myself, “oh, goodness,” and I can’t promise he said it, but the inflection and the right syllables were there. Mostly he is silent.

I’m learning everything I can as fast as I can about parrots. We’ve bought as many toys and equipment as any parents of a first newborn child. I’m cooking for him, which makes for conversations like this:

Me: Are you hungry?

Husband: Yes! And what you were cooking smelled wonderful, what is that?

Me: That’s for the birds. You can have a sandwich.
Ernie is exploring foods he apparently has never eaten. He likes it steamed or cooked; he likes orange food; he flings cauliflower.

I’m crazy about him. Totally, unequivocally nuts over this silent creature that I don’t understand.

Stay tuned.