Creating a space for everyday life

 

I ran across a blog post the other day (and now I can’t find it!) that talked about how the author worked and worked at designing her home and yet she felt like she was never successful. That it just never worked for her family. The Ikea catalog (of all things) arrived in her mailbox and as she was looking through it she found this definition of home: Ikea's-definition-of-home

 

As I just spent the last while with my living room transformed into a wood shop I had to laugh. Perhaps in my 20’s I decorated without consideration for practicality. Now it is all about usefulness. I love that usefulness can always look good. When something works seamlessly it is a thing of beauty. Although, I have to say, my dining room table does not make a very good workbench.dining room table

Every summer we use our space very differently than we do in the colder months. Our life centers around the table instead of the wood stove when it is warm outside. We enjoy long breakfasts with the sun streaming down upon us. The table is my sewing room, my artist studio, dinner table, blogging spot. My husband spends a lot of time at it reading his iPad, working on projects, drinking coffee.

In the summer I always shove the couch over against the wall and move the table out so that I can add more seating and open the leaves. Come winter I will pull the couch around right in front of the wood stove where we spend every evening in front of the fire.summertime-couchIf I were to only design our home for aesthetics and not for usefulness it would look alot different. I’d start with a beautiful rug and I would throw away the white slipcover. As I don’t think a room really works if the furniture is all lining the wall I would only float it in the proper conversational circle. But we would never use the room if I designed it that way. Ikea is right. My home is for everyday life as it happens. Because when my home works for the way we live, life simply becomes better. And it works great!

 

5 Easy Steps to Cleaning Up Your Home

Is a clean house a moral issue? Is it wrong to live in a mess? Or is it simply a mess?

tiny dish drainer

a perfect dish drainer for two

I like to clean. Really. It is instantly gratifying. Picture a sink full of dinner dishes, crumpled napkins and crumbs and spills all over the table, food prep mess all over the stove, a little of all of it on the floor. In 20 minutes it can be washed away and sparkling again. If only all of life’s messes were so easy!

basic dish washing supplies

readily available dish washing tools

Last week I was having some friends over for dinner. I love the time before company arrives when I can clean and fuss and make everything pretty and inviting. While I was cleaning I kept thinking about this question of the nature of cleanliness.

Am I crazy? Is it a waste of time? Are there good people with messy houses?

wall hung toilet brush

a wall hung toilet brush

When I was a teenager the house at which everyone loved to hang out was a big mess. It wasn’t a creative mess or an interesting mess. It was just a mess but we always had a great time there.

I once spent a few weeks helping a young friend of mine get her apartment clean. I would send her a text message each day of a task to perform. Every evening she would send back a photo of the results. The before shots were full of piles of stuff. You could see that the piles were all nice things. The bed wasn’t made but the coverlet, blankets and sheets were lovely. The floor was covered with clothing – all of which were the ingredients to cute outfits. The kitchen counters filled with nice but dirty dishes and groceries. The living room floor had no less than five pairs of cute shoes among the debris. The bookshelves were filled with pretty teacups, books, and other keepsakes along with lots of dust. She worked really hard and got it all cleaned up.

It didn’t work, though. She still lives in messy rooms. It must not give her the same thrill it does me. I know she is a lovely person. A good person. A messy person.

Is there an answer? Is there balance? When should one begin to worry? It drives me a little nuts. I want to say very loudly, “Just clean up, people!”. But I won’t because they won’t. As long as it isn’t a health issue I guess it is just a matter of taste and style.  I do believe that the condition of one’s soul is reflected all around and can’t help but think a really messy home means more than a different style.

wood stove clean up

great tools for cleaning up ash and wood chips

Cleaning tips (in case you were wondering):

1. Maintenance is easier than playing catch-up.  Cleaning a little bit of dirt everyday is easier than the long, tiresome deep clean once a month.

2. Don’t let your clothes touch the ground because they are sticky.  It seems where ever one’s clothes end up they seem to be stuck there with glue.  Put them on your body, in the hamper, back on the hanger, back in the drawer, not on the floor.

3. Wash your dishes now rather than later.  Come on, how hard is it to wash a plate, fork, knife and cup?

4. Have your cleaning supplies easily accessible and cute.

5. Take time to admire how pretty your home feels around you.

May Day Dinner Party with Friends

setting the table for a dinner party

the dogs crack me up & I can’t believe how many times I bumped my tripod!

I have a fan club. It consists of four beautiful women who are crazy….about me and each other. We are all fans of one another. One of our husbands bought us all personal fans once and so that is how we came to be “The Fan Club”. We use the fans whenever we have a hot flash. Or to throw at our husbands when we are grumpy. Shut up. I am not old. Yes I am.table full of friends

They all came over last night and we ate meatloaf.  Yum! More importantly we had chocolate cake! With freshly picked pansies decorating it so sweetly. I had some for breakfast this morning which always sounds like a good idea and almost never is. But I always forget.

birthday cakeFan Club night is great. Friendship is one of the best things about life. Even more than chocolate.

friendship is certainly the finest balm

a tour outside

the garden titlewindow box and helleboretulips along the walklilac budschloe-amongst-the-violapink bleeding heartbird bath among the gardenforget me nots in planter

stone planter

ombre geraniums….just imagine what this will look like in a couple of months!

I hope you are enjoying your garden as much as I am mine. Cross your fingers that I get out and water enough. Why oh why is it so challenging for me sometimes? I have lived in this garden for 10 springtimes. I am always so tickled when the bleeding hearts come back. Look! The lilacs are blooming again. There used to be daffodils among the tulips but the squirrels snacked on the bulbs. Thankfully they didn’t like the tulips. Those forget-me-nots remind me of a dear friend every year! The backyard project is almost complete.  It gets rearrange almost every year. Maybe this year will be my favorite.  I’ll show you when it is finished.sneak-peak

Choose Your Life and Plant Bulbs for Spring

Time and again when I have felt frustrated and stuck in situations like having no money or hating my job or being too fat or getting my feelings hurt I continue to have those things in my life as long as I can stand it and then, I choose something else. I choose the thing I knew would be the solution from the first minute I began to be frustrated. I am always the answer. You are always your answer. Which means that I am always the problem and so are you. Bad and trouble will always be around but unhappiness and torment are a choice we make. We have heard this one million times because it’s true.

choose your life

As I get older that choice becomes easier and easier to make, thank goodness. As I look back I marvel at how long it took me sometimes to admit to myself there was even a problem and even longer to remember that I was the solution. When I meet young women I always want to tell them the secret to happiness and contentment but I know they can neither hear nor believe it. I am thankful that when I was a young woman I had Mary Marjerrison in my life to see how someone can be happy in spite of their circumstances. I loved being around her because she was so kind and calm. I know that she had experienced much sorrow and yet her life seemed so lovely to me. It meant a lot to me that she would take time for me. When I was a little girl she would have me over to spend the night and we would have such a nice time together. I would see her every Sunday at church and she was always there volunteering at something. Our whole family was often invited over for dinner to her and her husband’s home. They were both so gentle and generous. Even when she was dying she was choosing her life. Her doctor suggested that she take some anti-depressant medication because she was feeling upset about her diagnosis. Her reply was that it was appropriate to feel upset in her situation. She spent her last Autumn planting bulbs for the Spring. I’ll bet those flowers look beautiful still.

table scape with forced bulb

My table with a Spring bloom gifted to me from a dear friend

Love and Joy and Role Models

best friends, 1962,

this photo was taken the year I was born

I have three women on which I try to model everything I do in life. Mary Marjerrison was my grandmother’s best friend and was a saint. When I remember to act in life the way that she did I sleep very peacefully at night. My grandmother, Jean Allison Bullock was no saint but she had great style and I loved her a lot. Her home was beautiful while being very comfortable and her wardrobe was always stylish but nothing she couldn’t wear while washing the dishes. My mother, Gloria Bullock, has true peace in her soul. I have rarely felt judged by her and always feel her acceptance and love. My mom in her youth

I feel fortunate to have such examples of grace, style and love to draw from and gain guidance by to maneuver through my day. I think the key to successfully emulating these women is to find the confidence and joy in acting so selflessly.

To be able to spread love and joy throughout our kitchens, drive-times (ha!), jobs and grocery lines there must be love and joy inside of us. I believe that when we begin to trust ourselves and discover our confidence we find all the love and joy we need to share. We can be generous rather than miserable.

All the time and energy we use to worry about not being good enough or too fat or talentless is time away from being productive, loving, gorgeous people. Plus none of those things are true. We are good. We have strong, capable bodies. We are talented. We are gorgeous & cute. We have enough to do in those kitchens and jobs and highways and grocery stores. We certainly don’t need to spend a minute doubting ourselves.

Recognizing beauty

Some say there is no accounting for taste. I disagree. I think when we are at peace within ourselves and have a sense of calm in our lives, regardless of our situation, we can recognize beauty. Everyone is born with an elegance about them. That elegance can be misplaced, covered up, drowned out, bent. It cannot be lost. It can be rediscovered.

box made of an old fence, frog, branches

my father made this box out of an old fence
the floral frog was my grandmother’s

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