Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Moab Part 2

Here are the last of the Moab pictures. The last day we were there it was doing a funny snow/rain mix and  even though it was cold it was very beautiful. 


I've only ever seen Moab in the blinding sun or the pitch black dark with numberless stars and the whole milky way strung out above me. This was a nice change, and perfect because we had worn ourselves hiking Canyonlands the day before. 




We traveled to Arches National Park and hiked up to the arches and then back again. Arches is nice because you can do little short hops - between two hours and ten minutes - and get right back into your car to blast the heater and eat a snack. 


We traveled to Arches National Park and hiked up to the arches and then back again. Arches is nice because you can do little short hops - between two hours and ten minutes - and get right back into your car to blast the heater and eat a snack. 


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Things I Love

I love a lot of things, but here are some of the things I love the most today:

(Photo via Skonahem, a great Scandinavian home design blog.)

- Old windows picked up off the curb
- Speaking French to my cats when I get home from work
- A glass of wine and a deep bathtub
- Good books. In fact I'll go one step further and say reading those good books.
- Dinner at the table with my husband.
- De cluttering my house (now don't ask me to take the pile out to my car and to the thrift store!)
- Japanese and Scandinavian home design magazines
- Going through magazines and ripping out pictures of outfits for "someday."
- The idea of a capsule wardrobe (though the actual thing eludes me.)
- Watching, going to, dancing, and performing in the ballet.
- Hikes that take up a half a day and no more or less, leaving you with energy and time for other things even though you feel like you've accomplished something.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Moab, Again. Part 1.

We go to Moab a lot because it's close. 


And because it's beautiful.

This time we had planned to go to Moab. (Remember last time when we went? We wanted to go snowshoing but just kept on driving to Utah when we realized there was really no snow.) 

We even took friends with us, or rather they took us with them since we took their car. 

We arrived in Moab at 2 a.m. and woke up in our favorite campground. We had all slept in the back of the truck like sardines, smushed up against each other to keep warm. It worked - we all stayed warm but it was hard to sleep because you couldn't turn or change positions! 


When we got up we decided we were going to go hike Canyonlands the first day and walk around Arches the second day. The hiked we picked was just over 11 miles and had 1800 vertical feet we had to go down and up. 


(This is the view down from the top of the canyon.) 




(steps down the canyon wall)


(terrain at the bottom of the canyon) 


(taking a break at the bottom)

There was also a three mile section of wash which was miserable and endless - like walking on a winding beach for miles on end. 


(view from the hogsback that circled the canyon)

The hike was beautiful and the company was amazing.



I slept like a baby when we got back to camp - as soon as I was in my sleeping bag I was asleep!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Last Week/This Week

Last week I had the flu or consumption or whatever the kids these days call fever/chills/achy joints/stuffy nose &etc. This week I'm catching up at work from having the flu or consumption or whatever the kids these days call being really, really sick. 

Reyes Point

I hope to return to regular outfit blogging and not just giving you unsolicited housekeeping advice within the week! 

To tide you over (pun not intended) here are some old pictures of JR and I in our driftwood house on the beach at Point Reyes in California.

Reyes Point

Happy Valentine's Day! Are you doing anything fun?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Editing - Preparing for a Spring Clean

There are two stages to a spring clean for us - The first one is editing my home and the second one involves scrubbing it. We have edited regularly for the last three or four years because we have moved on average once or twice a year. This is the first time we've gone into our second year in the same house since I left college so this year I've had to be very deliberate about making sure that I go through a process of really thoroughly editing every nook and cranny, drawer, or hidden cabinet.  


The reason that I edit, or de-clutter, my things before I do a large scrub is that it is simply easier to clean once my  house is de-cluttered. There are fewer things to move around, I've already done some surface cleaning like dusting and sweeping, and I don't have to reorganize as I'm trying to scrub. Organization requires a bit of thought - not too much - but it does help to keep your mind on the practical side of things. 

For example, my husband and I kept our board games up on the highest shelf of the built ins. We have amazing board games that deserve to be played but rarely were because they were out of sight and almost always out of mind. When I reorganized the built ins I placed them on a lower shelf and put the fabric stash up where they were since I don't usually use stash fabrics for projects. Since then we've been playing our games more after dinner which is a great way to have together time and be a little competitive. 


So far, we've been at it three days, going room by room starting at the back of the house (which is the oposite direction I do my 15 minute nightly tidy-ups in) because I know the bedroom and built ins are the places I stash the most clutter and get the least amount of tidying on a regular basis. 

Here's a few things to help you get ready for spring clean or any sort of big scrub of your house as well. 

1. Have a visual goal: Every year when I edit my house I have an idea of how I want my house to look - calm, collected, elegant, vintage, a little modern, airy, and light. I keep a board on pinterest  and when it comes time to stage my home or de-clutter/redecorate I can look and see what running themes I have on my board. For example, I noticed that a lot of my pictures have big white rooms (check) with high ceilings (check) and a mix of modern Scandinavian (not so check) and antique (check) furniture. Because I have a clear picture of what I like I can edit out the things I don't like or don't work and arrange my home in such a way that these things are featured. I see what is missing, needs to be updated, and I write it down to make or purchase at a later date. 

2. Start at one end of the house, do one small space at a time:  Editing can be intimidating because you have to make decision after decision about things. I try to keep the overwhelming sense of "I have so much stuff" that hits me when I'm going through closets and storage bins down to a minimum by doing a little at a time. I started by writing down my rooms in order that I want to tackle them. My house is a pre-war 5 room with a front and back hall. It made sense to move in a direction. If your house is larger or you have some rooms that are used more often than others perhaps you'd like to do this in the order of how often they are used or how much is in them getting the rooms with the least amount of clutter done and out of the way first. After I decide the order of rooms I compartmentalize (I generally do this in my head) it into sections. My bedroom is the most overwhelming room to declutter so I broke it down into closet/nightstand/bookcase/under bed/dresser and just tackled each at a time. If you tear apart the whole room you may end up running out of steam with everything in your closet and dressers on your floor and no energy to put it back! 

3. If you don't use it or love it toss it: I believe every organizational guru from Martha to Marla has said this at one point or another but it holds true. Lose the guilt associated with tossing something you paid good money for or the guilt associated with getting rid of a gift and free up a little space in your life. This is one of those things that gets easier with experience. I used to hem and haw about tossing things but now I just go for it and don't worry about it. 

4. Pull out your best things and start using them: One of my favorite ways to cut down on the clutter is to start using my good things and get rid of the seconds. I want to honor my home and family with the good china, cloth napkins, the best dishes, the good linnens, and so on. I don't want to save them because then they are simply clutter pulled out once or twice a year. Even though I still have two sets of dishes (a "good" set and the "regular set") we eat just as many meals on the good set as we do on the regular set and neither set is clutter. Instead of having stacks of paper napkins I use the cloth napkins I have collected  over the years. I wear any and all of my wearable clothes  whenever or wherever instead of saving them for special occasions.

5: Don't bring clutter into the house: This is a hard one for me but I am getting better. I don't bring anything into the house unless I've really thought about where or how I will work it in to my house, wardrobe, or clothing collection and whether or not I think it is truly beautiful or not. I want even the most practical thing in my home to be worthy of a beautiful home. I buy the best quality I can afford, take good care of it, and expect it to last. 


Note: This post has also been posted on the Vintage Homemaking Blog here. 
(Photos of this morning's breakfast - Scrambled Eggs, a Brie Quiche, Gluten Free Buttermilk Biscuits, and home made plum jam...served on the good dishes) 

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Please Operator, Get Me No Man's Land


I have a whole stack of Downton Abbey era sheet music. The earliest one is from the 1890's and the newest ones are from about 1919. They were owned by a woman named Gertrude who painstakingly dated them all with her black fountain pen. 



They are popular hits - lots of love songs, some general ragtime hits about the collegiate life or afternoon excursions, and of course those awful, beautiful ones that are written during wars. 


They were tucked away under the typewriter below my nightstand. They were just gathering dust but I'm glad I remembered I had them so I could look at them once more and try to sing their melodies. 


When I hold things that old I always imagine what the person holding them felt. Did my friend with the fountain pen sing them in the evenings with her family or friends? Was she a farm girl? I think so because they were all purchased at a music store in Kewaunee, WI, which was the same tiny farming town my Grandpa grew up in.


 Did she have someone to sing a duet with on the love songs or was he away fighting a war? I'll never know.

Many things come to me with a story - when I am given something the person giving it to me will know that I hold the story in my heart and the object in my house so many things have come my way. 



But these ones,  they came quietly, handed to me because I simply love all that is old. 


Shirt: Lands' End 
Jeans: j. crew
Socks: wigwam 

The headband is actually a necklace that my lovely in-laws gave me for Christmas. There is an artist that travels the world and collects plants and then casts them in different metals. I am very sad that I lost the business card that came with it so I can't point you to the source especially because it's my absolute favorite necklace that I own right now. If you know who I'm talking about please leave a comment or email me so I can link to him as well as convince my husband to buy me another piece or two! 

Friday, February 03, 2012

Snow day, snow day

My wish last night came true. About thirty seconds after I posted the blog the district website stated we were going to have a snow day. Both JR and I were off and at home all day. 

And what else is there to do during a snow day but read


and read while drinking tea



and smile at the beautiful flowers JR got me as they open up and settle in



and begin to look like watercolor paintings. 


Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Dressing Table




We're waiting on a winter storm here. With any luck it might mean a snow day tomorrow, a white winter wonderland, and the hush of a city put to bed under a blanket of snow. 

Keep your fingers crossed.