Tea time

Thursday, July 12, 2018

If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited, it will calm you.  


Tea is for every season, even, as William Gladstone reminds us, for the hot, humid days of summer. A tall, cool glass of iced tea is always refreshing, but hot tea is lovely, too.

Our on recent cruise to Alaska, we were able to enjoy afternoon tea several times. It is offered every afternoon on the Princess cruise line. We enjoyed hot tea and a selection of tea sandwiches, scones, and tiny cakes and cookies. I think Queen Victoria was on to something when she instituted this custom back in the day.


Lovely to watch the scenery while sipping tea. This is the life!


We took a ferry to Vancouver Island after we landed in Vancouver. We stayed at The Fairmont Empress where the famous Empress Tea Room is. We weren't able to schedule tea, but we did go have a look at the tea room.


I bought this mug in the gift shop. All the china and teapots in the tea room are in this pattern.


Disappointed to miss tea at The Empress, I asked the concierge back at our hotel in Vancouver for the name of a good tea room. He directed us to TWG Tea. At first I thought it was an abbreviation of some sort for Twinings tea, but there's no connection. TWG Tea is based primarily in the Asia Pacific, with the Vancouver location their only one in Canada. 


Oh my goodness. I felt like a kid in a candy store when we walked in.




Can you believe I didn't buy any tea? I still have so much left from our trip to China. But if I had bought tea, it would have been this. I don't even know what kind it is, but who could resist?


I couldn't figure out what SFTGFOP1 meant. But there it is, right on the box -- Special Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe First Quality. Of course.


They had a huge selection of tea. (I think they said 200 varieties in the tea room; many, many more online.) I always like to try something new, but I had no idea where to start. The waitress helped me pick out a black tea, my favorite, but I can't remember now what I had. It was delicious.

My husband had a blue tea, which I liked even more than mine. I just looked it up and blue tea is also known as oolong tea. No wonder I liked it.



My husband actually ate this quail egg. I just can't eat a runny egg!



I had to open up this contraption. What a clever way to keep the teapot hot.


Next time I'm in the market for tea, I'm definitely visiting their website. So sad our local purveyor of tea has closed down.

When we were in Vancouver, I had to pick up a couple of these candy bars.


A Canadian blogger friend (can't remember who) mentioned how good these were. They're not available in the U.S. that I know of, and you have to buy a case of them if you buy them on Amazon. Which I'm now thinking isn't a bad idea. They're delicious. Light, crispy, nice chocolate and coffee flavor.

More flowers from the Butchart Gardens.
When we got home from our trip, I went with my book club to a lovely little tea room just north of us. It is housed in an old Victorian home, and filled with beautiful, vintage decor.



We shared three pots of tea, including a fruity blend and a chai. The menu included quiche and salad and individual mini loaves of pumpkin bread. We shared desserts and more tea. It was lovely.


Besides the two rooms set up for tea and the kitchen, all the rest of the rooms in this house were filled -- filled -- with jewelry, teacups, linens, and other pretty things to buy. Mostly jewelry. We took little baskets around and had fun filling them up and selecting from the bargains.



*******

 My friend Rita from Panoply blog just sent me the beautiful red bowl shown below to complete my vintage Pyrex bowl set. She has a booth in an antique mall in Charleston, West Virginia, and found this bowl while looking for items for her shop. Her blog is filled with wonderful antique finds and lovely home decor ideas.

I use my yellow bowl all the time (I have two of them) for mixing cookies and scones and breads. The other ones are in regular rotation. I'm excited to use the red one now. They look so happy together. Thank you Rita! 


I had a chance this past weekend to put these bowls to use. My sister and her husband and three boys came for a visit. These are white chocolate chip/cherry cookies.


And because one of my nephews is gluten free, I made some gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. These were from a Betty Crocker mix, and they were pretty good.


Thanks for stopping by friends. Don't forget to take time for yourself and enjoy a relaxing cup of tea.
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How to eat dessert every night and not gain weight

Sunday, July 1, 2018

We just got back from a two-week vacation to Alaska. We did a land/sea cruise, starting in Fairbanks and ending with a few days in Vancouver. I will be sharing some photos of the stunning scenery we were able to see. But because nobody really wants to see anyone's hundreds of vacation photos, I thought I'd share something maybe lots of you all would be even more interested in.

How I ate dessert every night for two weeks and didn't gain a pound.  


I know that many people have sworn off white sugar and flour. I think that's great. That's how I've lost weight in the past. But, seriously, are you never going to have a piece of birthday cake ever again? Or a scone with lemon curd? Or a homemade cinnamon roll?

Some are really disciplined and can do this. But why can't we have our cake and eat it, too, I ask?

I think I might have found the answer.

A feeling of abundance versus deprivation. And moderation.

On a cruise ship, the food is everywhere. This was our first cruise, and the stories are true. Unlimited amounts of food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. An afternoon tea every day. An open-all-day ice cream bar and pizza and burger counter. An all-you-can-eat pastry bar next to the coffee counter.

Yes, there's lots of healthy options, including fruit and veggies, salmon and yogurt. But loads of things I try and keep out of my house -- cakes, pastries, cookies, muffins, breads, pancakes, and more -- are everywhere you look.

I've heard people can gain an average of one pound a day on a cruise, and I can see why. 

I felt like I ate a lot, and ate a lot of "forbidden foods," including the dessert every night, sometimes a pastry in the morning, and many days, a large salted caramel latte. 

Crumpets for breakfast at The Fairmont Empress in Victoria. Can't believe I've never had a crumpet before -- delicious! I think they taste like a cross between an English muffin and a pancake.


Beautiful presentation. Though small, this is utterly satisfying. 
Afternoon tea on the cruise ship. We met some lovely people, including three Mississipian ladies who were as sweet as pie!
And we really didn't get a lot of exercise. We were either on a boat, a train, a bus, or a ferry. Some walking but less than what I do at home on my treadmill.

Mt. Denali (formerly known as Mt. McKinley), the highest mountain in North America, at over
20,310 feet. We got a wonderful view. We were told that 2/3s of the time it is covered in clouds.
Butchart Gardens on Vancouver Island. I have more pics to share. It was beautiful.
So how did I maintain my weight?

I think I felt such a sense of abundance around me that I was able to relax and enjoy everything in small bites and in moderation. At home, I never have any treats in the pantry or refrigerator unless I'm having guests over, and think I probably feel deprived all the time. Because when I do get a dessert, it's like "last copter out of 'nam!" Hurry up and eat, and eat all you can because it's my last/only opportunity to eat something sweet before I have to deprive myself again. Kind of sad, really.

I end up munching on too many "healthy" snacks, such as almonds, and probably consume just as many or more calories as I would if I'd just allowed myself what I really want, such as a little bit of chocolate or a small piece of pie.

But with all the desserts around me on this vacation, I could relax and tell myself, they'll be here in the morning, and tomorrow night and the next day. I can have a dessert whenever I want. There's no need to squirrel it all away. As if I'm preparing for a famine. Or the apocalypse!

So I was actually able to eat a small dessert without finishing it. As in, take a few bites, and push the plate away. I knew there would be a pastry the next morning. And yes, I was eating sensibly the rest of the time, small servings of meat, simply prepared, without a lot of breading or gravy, vegetables, and lots of water. I only ate one roll from the bread basket all week. If I had really craved the bread, I probably wouldn't have had the dessert.

Although I didn't go to the ice cream or pizza counter (no need! I was full!), we did go to afternoon tea twice, and enjoyed scones and cookies and little sandwiches. Two hours before dinner!

So I've been thinking a lot of about the idea of deprivation versus abundance. 

If I were to keep muffins and desserts and other such treats in the house on a regular basis, so that I knew they were always there, and never off limits, would I begin to relax and see these foods in a more healthy way? I.e., a normal, acceptable part of a balanced diet? Would I be less likely to binge if I knew I could have a scone or a (small) brownie every day? Would these foods start to lose their power over me? 

Could I begin to eat more sensibly, without bingeing and without deprivation?

{Someone reminded me that this is actually the theory behind the book French Women Don't Get Fat, which I read some time ago.}

And I've been testing this new theory at home. This last week, I went to a tea room with friends where I had pumpkin bread and dessert. My husband and I split a mini cherry pie from the local farmer's market. I've had a few crumpets with strawberry jam. Otherwise, I've been eating lean protein and veggies and salads. And I've lost two pounds. 

We got to see glaciers up close.
Reindeer. They serve reindeer sausage up there!

Does this make sense?

I'll keep you posted if my theory holds up long-term.

Back from a holiday

Monday, June 25, 2018

Just a quick post to let you know I'm still here. Just got back from a land/sea cruise in Alaska with a stop at the end in Vancouver. I'll post about it soon, but had to share these two lovely pics.

You know wherever I go, I'll find roses and a tea room!



The roses were in Stanley Park, Vancouver, and the cakes were from a tea room, also in Vancouver.

As soon as I sort the laundry and the mail and the photos I'll be back. xo


Summer reading

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

I've got quite a few books lined up for my summer reading, and realize none of them really qualify as your typical light beach reads. I will need to fill in with a few of those, as some on my list look like they'll be heavy going.

No reviews here; I haven't read them yet. But as I always like to see what people are reading, I thought you might feel the same.

Our book club is currently reading A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar. Because I won't be at the next meeting, I decided to take a pass and spend the time reading one of my favorite authors, Wendell Berry. I love his books set in the fictional town of Port William, Kentucky. One of my favorites is Hannah Coulter. But right now I'm reading a book of his agrarian essays entitled The Art of the Commonplace. In it, he laments the passing of the small family farm and shares a vision of what real community can look like. He offers an alternative to the mass consumption, stressed-out urban culture of today.

Here is a poem of his I've always liked.

The Peace of Wild Things 
by Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
 and I wake in the night at the least sound
 in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
 I go and lie down where the wood drake
 rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
 I come into the peace of wild things
 who do not tax their lives with forethought
 of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
 And I feel above me the day-blind stars
 waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Isn't that beautiful? I don't have a similar place to go and lie down, but I can imagine . . .
In our book club, if a book you recommend gets enough votes, and we decide to read it, you are in charge of leading the discussion. Two other books I recommended will be coming up later this year, The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien, and The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky. So I want to get started on those. 

The Silmarillion is the story of the events that occur in Middle Earth prior to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I've already read the chapter entitled Of Beren and Luthien because I read that those are the names engraved under Tolkien's and his wife's gravestone inscriptions. It's quite romantic, and a little unusual in Tolkien's writings as he doesn't have much romance in his books (although you could say his whole genre is certainly romantic in the broader sense of the term).

I chose The Idiot partly because I love Dostoevsky. One of my all-time favorite books is his The Brothers Karamovoz. But mostly I chose it because it contains the famous line "beauty will save the world." Can't wait to read that in context.

I would like to write another book, this one on the importance of beauty in our lives, entitled simply The Beautiful Matters, or Why the Beautiful Matters. I have a small stack of books to read on that subject. I've been perusing them, but I'm thinking perhaps I should just write without being influenced too much by what others have to say on the subject.

This lovely old card catalog is in the library at the state capitol in Des Moines, Iowa. I would love to have this in my home.
My mom read and then passed on to me the whole Jalna series by Mazo de la Roche. This is the multi-generational story of a family who settled on the early Canadian frontier. I've read three out of the ten books that she had (I think there's a couple more to the complete series), but I'm already a little tired of them. Kind of in the same way I got tired of Poldark and Downton Abbey (not the books, the TV series). Just ongoing soap operas.

When I feel worried or anxious or in need of comfort, I turn to my stack of Grace Livingston Hill for some light and soothing old-fashioned story telling. I've read through the sixty or so books I have of hers and just finished the fourth in my second go-round. Other comforting and well-loved books that I turn to include any by Elizabeth Goudge and, for lighter reading, Miss Read.

I have to keep up with the book club reading also. We move at a pretty fast clip; a new book every two weeks. I'm not a particularly fast reader; I tend to savor every word and stop and think about what I'm reading or look things up as I read. So I'm usually up late reading the night before book club, trying to get my "homework" done! 

What are you all reading this summer? Anything good?

Wait . . . forget everything I just said

Thursday, May 24, 2018


I try ladies, I really do.

But I love pretty things, girly things, pink things . . . and beautiful packaging.

In my last post I shared how I was decluttering my makeup routine. I was doing so well until I tuned into You-Tube. Those makeup tutorials!! And then went to Nordstrom with my daughter for something and passed the beauty counter.

Sigh.

I have reduced the amount of makeup I use. You'll notice most of the above are skin care products or cleansers. But I may as well face it. I'll never be a minimalist in this area.

*****

I give you the lazy woman's method for winding up a skein of yarn.


It works.


Progress on the sweater. It is just about doing me in. I don't think I'm cut out for these kinds of projects.


In happy news, look at what my son, who just moved to Des Moines, sent me for Mother's Day.


*****

More on my decluttered makeup routine

Monday, May 7, 2018

In my last post I talked about decluttering my makeup and beauty routine.

A recent visit to a tea room in Des Moines. I had the lavender sencha tea, in front. Honestly, with the lavender, it felt like I was drinking my bath water!
I tell you what, this new freedom has come in handy as we have recently made trips to visit each of our sons, one in North Carolina and the other in Iowa. Both live in apartments with one small bathroom. There are no mirrors in the bedroom.

Having a simple and quick routine made getting ready easy and fast. I didn't need to pack as much stuff, spend as much time in the bathroom, or try to set up a makeup mirror anywhere.

I was ready quickly and easily and wasn't holding anybody up.

Less is more is sounding more and more appealing. From 30 items to less than 10! (See previous post for my lists.) Only three or four makeup items, including foundation, blush, and lipstick. I'm still thinking about whether or not I can go without mascara. It feels so good to go without it. I can rub my eyes if I want to and I don't have all the trouble of getting it off every night.

The library at the capitol building in Des Moines. Notice the spiral staircase in the back. This place was gorgeous!
I did visit Sephora and the Nordstrom beauty counters a week or so ago with my daughter, and I can't deny I'm like a kid in a candy store at these places. So much fun. I love pretty things in pretty packaging.

But I'm going to focus on good skin care and a few well-chosen essentials. I think about my grandma who had beautiful skin all her life. I'm sure all she used was soap and water. When she was getting dressed up maybe a little lipstick, powder, and a spritz of cologne. That's it. 

One thing that surprises me is that I feel cleaner. Not so much goop on I guess just feels better.

Or perhaps it is the fresh air and sunshine that we're finally enjoying. That feels super-good, too.

Decluttering my beauty routine

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Hey blog friends, I'm still here. (I think I said that in my last post.) This winter has not found me much in blogland, and I am woefully behind on visiting.

It's April 17 and snowing here. We keep a fire going every night. We're almost done with our eight cords of wood. I will be wearing my boots and mittens with my winter coat today. Sigh.

I've taken a little break from decluttering my house, but will start up again in a few days as my husband is ready to tackle the basement and garage, areas that I can't really do without his help.

In the meantime, I've been decluttering and simplifying my beauty routine.

The statistics vary, but on average, women use about 16 beauty products a day. (I discovered after counting that I use lots more than that.) The Environmental Working Group says women put over 168 different chemicals on our skin every day (see article here). We spend more than $8 a day on beauty and skin care products (see article here)!!

These are compelling reasons to cut down on what I use, but the main reason is that I was getting overwhelmed by all the stuff crowding my drawers and counters. The other reason is that I am basically lazy. Do I really want to be tied to such an intensive beauty routine? (And I actually thought mine was simple, especially after watching beauty You-Tubers sharing their routines.)

Here is a list of all the products I was using. And yes, most of them every day, even when just going to the grocery store.

Hair

1. Shampoo
2. Conditioner
3. Styling gel
4. Hairspray

Body

5. Body lotion
6. Heel cream
7. Perfume

Face

8. Cleanser
9. Toner
10. Moisturizer
11. Eye cream
12. Primer
13. Foundation (includes sunscreen)
14. Concealer
15. Blush
16. Eyebrow pencil
17. Eyeshadow
18. Eyeliner
19. Mascara
20. Lip balm
21. Lip liner
22. Lipstick
23. Lip gloss

Teeth and Nails

24. Toothpaste
25. Floss
26. Nail ridge filler
27. Nail base
28. Nail polish
29. Nail topcoat
30. Nail polish remover

I'm sure I'm forgetting something. (Eye makeup remover!) And of course, I don't have just one of each of these. Multiple bottles of nail polish and perfume, eyeshadow palettes, lipsticks, and lipliners.

And then there's the tools and miscellaneous:

Hairdryer, round brush, comb, flat brush, curling iron, eyelash curler, toothbrush, tweezers, false eyelashes and glue, stick-on fingernails, nail files, etc.

You'll notice a few things missing on the list. I gave up deodorant a couple years ago. (I just don't smell, even after exercising. And yes, I've asked close family members to confirm that.) And razors and shaving cream. I never had much hair on my legs and after getting them waxed a few times, there's really nothing there. Every couple months I might notice a stray hair and I just pluck it out with tweezers. (Okay, that was probably more than you wanted to know.) I also don't use mouthwash. Never liked it, and I figure if I floss every day, I'm okay.

Now, I do like to look nice, and I do have fun with makeup and all the girly stuff. And just because I'm getting older doesn't mean I want to give up. But this is crazy, right?

I have a nice big dressing table area with nine drawers just packed with beauty care products, and more overflowing into my closet area. It was time to get serious and do a complete overhaul. I pulled everything out, and started weeding.

The first thing that I got rid of was old and expired items. A pretty eyeshadow palette I paid good money for? Sorry, that was several years ago. Out it goes. And anyway, do I really want to wear eyeshadow anymore? Remember that old video? "Ain't nobody got time for that!"

I started thinking about what was important to me, what wasn't, what was healthy. I realized a number of products can be multi-taskers, like a cream blush stick can be used as a lipstick too.

And okay, these were fun. But really? Fake, fake, fake. I'm done with that.


I returned these nails and several boxes of false eyelashes (unopened) without a receipt and got a $65 gift card back from CVS. Yay! Those false eyelashes were just too much work. I really don't have to compete with the lady news anchors.

I got ruthless. Do I really need hairpins, scrunchies, hair claws? It's unlikely my hair will ever be long again. Out they went. Do I need those hot rollers, flat iron, two sizes of curling irons? Heat can turn silver hair yellow. I don't want that! (I did keep one curling iron, just in case. The rest of the stuff got donated.)

How many bottles of lotions and creams do I need? One multi-purpose item is enough.

I kept going, turning to some articles online about more natural beauty to keep me motivated. And over the course of a few weeks, I've made some radical changes.

So what does my routine look like now?

Hair

1. Shampoo
2. Conditioner
3. Styling gel
4. Hairspray

Body

5. Body lotion
6. Heel cream
7. Perfume

Face

8. Cleanser
9. Toner
10. Moisturizer
11. Eye cream
12. Primer
13. Foundation (includes sunscreen)
14. Concealer
15. Blush
16. Eyebrow pencil
17. Eyeshadow
18. Eyeliner
19. Mascara
20. Lip balm
21. Lip liner
22. Lipstick
23. Lip gloss

Teeth and Nails

24. Toothpaste
25. Floss
26. Nail ridge filler
27. Nail base
28. Nail polish
29. Nail topcoat
30. Nail polish remover

Simple and lovely.

So, this is what's left:

1. Shampoo
2. Body lotion (fractionated coconut oil)
3. Heel cream
4. Face cleanser
5. Face oil
6. Foundation
7. Blush and lipstick combo
(8. Mascara)*
9. Toothpaste
10. Floss
(11. Nail ridge filler)*
(12. Polish remover)*

How did I go from 30 products to 12? (or 9, as I don't use the items with asterisks every day).

My hair is short and its natural silver color. I get it trimmed every four weeks. (My best beauty tip is get a good haircut that suits you and doesn't fight with your hair's natural tendency -- like fine, curly, etc., so you don't have to spend so much time or products fighting with it). I've always hated spraying hairspray. It sticks all over everything. Hair gel makes my hair feel dirty. And do I really need conditioner? On a day when I wasn't going anywhere, I just used shampoo and skipped the conditioner, hair gel, and hairspray. I just blew it dry using my round brush. And guess what? It looked virtually the same as when I use all the products.

Next, the perfume. I love perfume. I've always worn it every day. But I know more and more people are sensitive to it. Maybe I would be doing everybody a favor if I stopped using it. (I have to say, though, that I still have a couple bottles of my favorites, Angel and Coco by Chanel, for a special occasion.)

I think I'll do another post on my makeup routine, as that's a big one. But I am trying to focus on healthy skin, rather than covering everything up.

I would love to have beautiful bare nails, but I have such a problem with ridges and splitting. I have done gel nails, but . . . the money! The time! The UV lights! The ridge filler I have looks like a pretty coat of natural polish so I'll use that to keep my nails looking nice. If I keep them short that prevents the worst of the splitting and tearing.

I've discovered too that you can use the same product for many different things. I have a bottle of fractionated coconut oil (meaning that it stays a liquid) that I use when I get out of the shower. I use it all over, including on my face, as an all-purpose moisturizer. My cream blush stick can be used as lipstick. A little extra foundation can be used for concealer.

I have to say I still have one eyeshadow palette, one eyeliner, an eyebrow pencil, and some perfume and lipgloss. They're neatly stashed in a drawer in case I go into withdrawal!!! or want to do a little extra for a night out.

I've totally emptied out two drawers, and the remaining drawers are not even half full. Feels good.

What's weird, too, is that I feel cleaner. And a little more bien dans ma peau, as they say

Next post I'll describe how I cut down on my makeup routine.

What about you all? Are you a beauty product lover, or have you gone simple and natural? What is one thing you can't live without?


I'm still here, underneath my pile of stuff. What I've learned.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

It's been a month since I've blogged or visited any of my blog friends. I'm still here. Actually not underneath my pile of stuff anymore, but emerging from it. We've donated three huge loads of stuff, not including furniture, and thrown out even more.

We've been shredding papers like fiends, emptying out one whole file cabinet and a dozen or so boxes of papers that were stored in the basement. Old cross country skis, sports equipment, lamps, china and linens, 80s decor, clocks, baskets, clothes, framed art, you name it . . . they've also been given the boot. If it doesn't spark joy or serve a useful purpose, out it goes. I've had to grit my teeth and override my all-too-present feelings of guilt over and over again. 

But the more I let go, the easier it becomes, and the better I feel. There's a lot more to do, but I'm burned out at this point. I'll come back at it again in a couple weeks with a fresher perspective. 

In the meantime, I present to you some of the things I've been learning during this process.

1. I am not responsible for everyone's stuff.

How did I get to be the caretaker of all this stuff? Loved ones have passed on or moved, and I somehow got all the stuff nobody wanted to deal with. Why? And how did I manage to save every. single. paper. my children ever scribbled/wrote/drew on?

I either agreed to take these things on because I felt that it was my "duty" or because I genuinely wanted to keep them.

But there comes a point when all this becomes a burden and I start to feel resentment at the weight of responsibility. How can I make the decision to save or throw out photos of people I'm not even related to? How do I know if someone else might want this handmade item? Do I have the right to just make the call, and throw it out? Do I need to check with others first, even if they've shown no interest in all this stuff?

I have come to the conclusion gradually that I do not have to sort through every thing myself. Other people can take the responsibility. I can ask them if they want to sort through the stuff, or if not, tell them I'm getting rid of it. 

In the case of my children, I can box up all their stuff and allow them to decide. I don't know what they want to keep or not. I've been afraid they'll just end up throwing it all out, but it's really up to them.

2. Things are not the same as people.

I've held onto so much stuff because it's felt disloyal to give it away. Gifts, handmade items, items handed down. Like if I get rid of them, I'm throwing the person out, or disrespecting them. No. It's just stuff. It is not them. Now, of course, we do want to save some things that remind us of people we love, but we don't need to save everything; how much we save depends on us. But letting go of something doesn't mean letting go of our memories.

This was a gift from a neighbor after the birth of our second child.  I've held onto it all these years because I associated it with my son sleeping as a baby. I realized that letting go of it doesn't mean I'm letting go of those memories. And, to be honest, I never was too fond of Precious Moments stuff anyway.
3. I can make new choices and do things differently.

I have a rare opportunity to start over in terms of decor as we have been redecorating our living room, dining room, and foyer.

I am no longer tied to a certain color/style/decor. I had a very large mural painted on the foyer wall. It was here when we moved in, and has stayed for the almost 20 years that we've been here. The colors and style of it dictated the entire downstairs decor.

Some time ago I asked you all to vote for whether I should paint over this or not. Most of you thought I should keep it, my husband included. But I have to say, I've been very happy to say goodbye.
 All of a sudden, with this gone, all kinds of possibilities have opened up. Instead of being tied to blue and sage and burgundy and yellow, I can do fuchsia and turquoise if I want! 

I also realized I didn't have to keep the art on my walls. Why did I feel guilty about donating it? I've looked at some of it for over 30 years. It wasn't expensive. It's okay to let it go and do something different, even if it takes a while to figure that out. 

So now what? Modern abstract art? Am I a modern abstract art person? I never thought so, but I could be if I wanted.

With some of the older furniture gone, I can do something different as far as style, not just color. I could do farmhouse, French country, mid-century modern, anything. I could do glam, with gold and mirrors and animal print. 

I didn't choose many of the things in my house. They were hand-me-downs, appreciated and loved, but like the mural, I didn't pick them out. Now I have a chance to think about what I like.

It's actually been a good time for thinking outside of the box about a lot of things, letting go of not only things, but of guilt and unrealistic expectations, and old, unhealthy ways of thinking.

*****

I hope to be around to visit my blog friends soon. Thanks for stopping by! xo

More decluttering

Monday, February 12, 2018

The donation truck is coming again today, and we already have another pile in the basement waiting for the next pickup. The more we declutter, the more we find. It really is overwhelming. 


We started tackling the basement yesterday, and it is looking even worse than when we started.

Warning: embarrassing photos.


Please tell me somebody else's basement looks like this!

Many of you suggested that it would be easier to part with things if I took pictures of them. This is especially true of some of my children's things.

A sweatshirt I made my daughter, a crib bumper pad, a sweet First Christmas onesie, and a soft little blanket. You mothers understand.



After I took the pictures, I hardened my heart, and out they all went.

I have a whole cupboard filled with stuffed animals. Then I found these. I kissed three of these dollies goodbye (literally), and shoved the rest in the cupboard with the others. I'll have to sort through these again, but really, I do have to save something for the future grandchildren, right? Or will I want to buy them new stuff? (Probably.)


I'm having book club tonight. We will have to navigate the pile from the laundry room clean out/painting.


Amidst all the mess, there is this one lovely spot . . . 


I'm so happy to have a new table and chairs, and I am super in love with this new chandelier. It was so heavy and awkward it took three of us to get it hung and leveled. Isn't it lovely?

I'm going to put some black and white framed photos on the wall and hang some curtains in here. I have removed all the little picture frames scattered about the house and on the walls, including the collage I made years ago of about 15 photos above the piano. There will be six 8 x 10 black and white photos here (in 20 x 20 frames), and about six in the upstairs hallway. That's it. After donating a whole box of picture frames, I still have about a dozen left. They will probably go in the next round of decluttering.

 I'm still deciding on centerpieces for this dining table. I'm thinking fuchsia peonies in two mercury glass bowls, candles, maybe a long tray. What do you think?

Whatever I do, I'm going to be super careful about what I bring back into the house.

Someone said we spend the first half of our lives accumulating stuff, and the second half getting rid of it. It seems so wasteful. And yet, there was a time when we did use the camping gear and hockey gear and cross country skis and bowling balls and Legos and all. And all those old suitcases and Christmas lights. Life just keeps moving on, and our needs change.

We do have room for all this stuff, but why? I see people moving and downsizing and they are totally overwhelmed. We won't be moving for some time yet, but I am thinking and working as if we were putting the house up for sale this year. That way, it will be much easier when we do finally downsize. In the meantime, someone else can enjoy the stuff and we'll be able to enjoy living lighter.

{I just ran across a huge tub filled with letters from my childhood. Remember when everyone wrote letters? Going through those will take some time, for sure.} 
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