Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Conquering the Overwhelm

In the last month, I've watched 13,200 minutes of television, give or take. I know, because I devoured all eleven seasons of Grey's Anatomy. At 24 episodes a season, that's 220 hours of binge watching. At first, it was like crack. I would turn on the computer, go to Netflix and just gorge myself on episode after episode. I stopped making menus. I did the mere minimum of laundry. (Usually just my own). Sometimes, I would cook, sometimes not. Dishes piled up. Surfaces became overrun. The floors began to look like they were sprouting things. (Especially in the kitchen.)

I did nothing. My husband did nothing. The kids did nothing. I didn't even nag anyone to do anything. I didn't even care. And that's when I realised I wasn't just caught in some binge-watching vortex (though I was), I wasn't just lazy--I was depressed.

The great things about being depressed is that you don't care. The bad thing about being depressed, of course, is that when it begins to lift--and your eyes come back into focus, and you start to care (and you know you care  'cause the mess is bugging you all the time) --there's too much. There are too many popcorn kernels on the rug, too many pop cans all over the house, too many kleenex's everywhere, too much dust---just too much of too much. Like the pain of  nerves coming to life after a burn--the chaos can be overwhelming.

Sunday, that's where I was.

But, having been through this a few times, I've found a few things that work for me.

1. Begin with making a list. 

It will probably make you feel even more overwhelmed at first. It just might be impossibly long. In fact, it should be if you do it right. I put small one-step actions on the list so I can tick each one off once it's done. There's a little extra feeling of accomplishment from that--and that's vital to your momentum.

2. Strategize.

Likely, you are not going to be able to catch up on a month of housework in one day. I certainly can't do that anymore. So, decide how much time you can give to it--and decide what will have the biggest payoff for you.

  • Something easy to get the ball rolling? Say, get the laundry sorted and a load started.
  • Something that gives you immediate positive feedback? For me, that's clearing off the kitchen table.
  • Something you need to do right away? Like, putting away the dishes in the dishrack so I can start doing more dishes--(that would be unloading the dishwasher for the rest of you!) Maybe it is starting that laundry so you have clothes to wear. 
  • Something meaningful? --something that says "This stops now!--I am beginning again." For me, that was a blog post--and cleaning my toilet. 

2. Set a timer.

Chances are, that pile of laundry is a mountain. Set the timer. Fifteen minutes is enough to earn yourself a check mark! An added bonus--switching tasks every fifteen minutes or so keeps things interesting--and moving along.

3. Take breaks. 

I don't handle pain well--and one of the reasons I get depressed is because my back hurts, or my neck hurts, or something hurts. So, I worked on three 15 minute tasks--and then I sat down for 15 minutes. Knowing I have a break coming up makes it easier to push through. (Though, seriously, I'm no hero. I'll quickly schedule a "sit down" task if I have to.) It took me three different sessions to get my stairs vacuumed on Sunday.

4. Make peace with the fact it's not all going to get done in one day.

I'm still working on this one. In fact, I almost didn't post today, because, really, nothing is actually "done." Not one room is completely spic and span. There's still the slipcover to put on the couch, the table to (re)clear in the kitchen, the floor to vacuum in the bedroom and so on. I want the instant gratification of a gorgeous, clean and neat house--but it's just not going to happen with the resources I have.

5. Figure out how to keep the momentum going--and do that.

This is the hard part, for me. I prefer to treat housecleaning like a project--done and done. But it's not that sort of beast. You can't just slay it once. You have to confront it over and over gain. This meager list is my bare minimum. It's for the days I work.

  • Make a menu plan. I did this on Sunday and sent my husband grocery shopping on Tuesday. We cook all of our suppers--and I needed to plan for the horribly hot weather we're getting later this week. As well, planning suppers also means I can easily delegate when I'm too tired to cook myself. 
  • Make the bed. (Or, alternatively, make the bed and natly fold down the covers to air it out--whatever best suits your needs.)
  • Keep up with the dishes as best I can.
  • Keep up with the laundry as best I can.
  • Do a ten minute tidy, every day.

Obviously, your "bare minimum" might be different.

Have you ever come back from a long period of neglect? Has it ever overwhelmed you?
What have you found useful?

Monday, June 22, 2015

From the Weekend: Returning

Again, anew, is
the summer solstice a time
to begin again.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Let's Play Pretend, Part 2.

I misunderstood the assignment.

I was supposed to have put together a room featuring pieces from the mid-century modern collection at Chairish.

Instead. I got so caught up in all the unique and unusual things that I just went off and created something totally off the wall.

Since it is poor etiquette in blogland to remove posts once they're published, I figured I'd just do another.

So, a dining room.

For rooms to be successful, there needs to be just the right balance of contrast and unity to create a harmonious whole.

What's "just right"? Well, that is a matter of personal taste. I happen to like a lot of contrast.

This credenza,

with its white top, sides and base (with hairpin legs) and natural wood front delivers soft colour contrast.

A white Saarinen tulip table harmonizes with the white of the credenza but contrasts with it in shape and line:

Now, almost any chair at all would look good with the tulip table. It is iconic of mid-century design for a reason. 

I picked these chairs just because I liked them. They are light and delicate. 

I love this light fixture. It looks so modern. 

It's sort of spiderish--but charming, too. More Charlotte than Shelob. I love the bell shaped "shades."

We need just one more major thing to finish this room off properly.

I decided to inject a whole lot of fun colour with this 6x9 kilim. By rights we should have one that's more square, but the vibrant colours are impossible to pass up.

These pink and grey diamond lamps would be perfect on the credenza. They are nearly three feet high. Outrageous.


Put it in a large frame, and this page (17" x 22") from a children's book would be a lovely unexpected touch of whimsy in between the lamps.

I don't know about you, but what would you bet that's Spot curled upon the floor of that car?

A nice little collection of German bisque porcelain would finish off the Saarinen table:



I would enjoy sitting and chatting in this dining room, I think. Would you?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Let's Play Pretend: A Dining Room Furnished from Chairish.

A short while ago, I was approached by the good folks at Chairish.* They thought I might like to design a room featuring their mid-century modern pieces.

As far as I understand it, Chairish is a web storefront through which people like you and me can sell our furniture and home decor. Well, if we had beautiful and valuable pieces.

As you know, my dining room/study has been on my mind for a while now. I have longed for a dedicated dining room. One of the challenges of a dining room is that you can wind up with a lot of wood. Chairs, tables, a credenza or a buffet--there are many choices and in all kinds of woods. And that would certainly be one way to go.

I went a different route.

You know the seventies are back, right?
What better way to make a design statement than to embrace it full on.
Like so:

The write up identifies it as designed by Pierre Cardin, from 1976.  I love it's chunky straight forwardness.

With a table like this, I could have gone in any direction for the chairs. I liked these delicate gold and white cane chairs. Contrast is my middle name.

My fictional dining room is off to a great start. It now has a mix of metals (chrome on the table, gold on the chairs), of line (thick table legs, thin chair legs), of mass (closed chunky table, open, delicate chairs), and of colour. 

I want to add in a couple of chairs for the end seats as there are only five chairs in the above listing. (I'd place four around the table and one somewhere else.)

These supporting players would work well:

With this foundation, I could pretty much take the design in any direction.

I focused on picking pieces that would bring harmony to the room and tie everything together. 

The next piece is the sideboard. I wanted it to coordinate with either the table or the chairs: and I didn't want legs. There are enough differences in legs going on in this room.

This sideboard from Ballard Designs is just the ticket. 

The dark colour ties it to the table and its traditional lines and distressed finish tie it to the chairs. The great thing about a piece like this, too, is that if you wanted, you could tie it more strongly to the table by painting it glossy. Knobs in brushed gold or brass would update it instantly, too.

Speaking of gold or brass, I found this fabulous chandelier:

I love all the curves. In a way, the chunky orb relates to the table--but in all other things, this chandy speaks to the chairs.

I was really lucky to find the perfect rug for this room, too. Well, maybe not lucky, exactly. There are so many options on the site. 


Doesn't the pattern remind you of the table? 

Now, to round things out, we need some artwork, a lamp and a few accessories for our credenza.

This poster has a fabulous vibe:

(I think the fold line in the poster just adds to the strangeness of her eyes.)

It is a little on the small side at 15 3/4" wide and 23 3/4" tall. I'd put it in a large frame. I thought about choosing a different poster (there are lots to choose from!) but then I'd have to pick a different table and chairs. Not only do the colours in the poster marry the colours of the table and chairs together, but to me, the font speaks to the table and her eyelashes to the caneing in the chairs. 

Maybe I am over-thinking this.

It wouldn't be the first time.

This gigntic vintage beautiful lamp would look fantastic beside the poster.
(I love gigantic vintage lamps.)

These 24" vases would be a gorgeous counterpoint on the other side of the poster:

You could easily round out the vignette with pieces from Chairish, build a gallery wall, or even kit it out with china and linens. There are lots of choices.

A couple of notes:

1) There's so much stuff on the website that what I thought would be a quick exercise took days. I loved looking through all the pretty things.

2) Stuff is not cheap. This is not craigslist or kijiji. 

3) I loved all the photos of the items. The listing provide you with all sorts of angles. They also include dimensions of the pieces (so grateful for that) and many listings are quite frank about wear and tear. 

*I did not receive any compensation for writing this post. I thought it would be a fun challenge and it was.

Monday, May 11, 2015

From the Weekend: On Mother's Day

My hero.

He bought a belt sander today to work on the table top.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

ORC Countdown: Day 5.5

We hit a huge snafu with the table--we were short a lengthwise board.

So we don't have a table. Not yet, anyway.

In other news, I went accessory shopping.

I may have a thing for birds. No bull. 

And I painted the new slipcovers for my chairs. (Thanks, Mom!)

I am disappointed I won't be taking photos tomorrow: but it'll be a lousy day for photos, anyway. There's 2 to 4 cm of snow in the forecast!

I'm looking forward to seeing the rooms designed and put together by the professionals participating in the One Room Challenge. I'll link as soon as there is one.

Monday, May 4, 2015

ORC Countdown: Day 5.4

In real life.

The following problem has two parts:


A woman wants to build a table 78" long and 32" to 33" wide. She wants to build it with a board at each end which will run perpendicular to the interior boards which will run lengthwise.

Like so:

You will use 2" thick boards (which are really only 1 1/2" thick). You may use any length of board you wish. You may not change the width of any board you choose. You must use at most only two widths of board.

Nominal dimension on the left, real life dimension on the right:

12" // 11"
10" // 9 1/4"
8" // 7 1/4"
6" // 5 1/2"
4" // 3 1/2"

Recommend which boards to be used and how they will be put together in the least expensive way possible while still being aesthetically pleasing. Calculate the rough cuts you want the store to make for you.

Here is the cost of the boards:

Store 1:

2x12x16    $30.47
2x12x12    $23.39

2x10x16    $16.61

2x8x10        $7.45
2x8x12        $9.62

2x6x16        $9.64
2x6x12        $13.98

Store 2:

2x4  $6.99/foot
2x6  $2.99/foot
2x8   $3.99/foot
2x10 $4.99/foot
2x12 $6.99/foot

You have fifteen minutes at each store and no calculator.


Oh, and Store 1 doesn't actually carry any pine, specifically. Those prices are for spruce--or fir--or pine. You won't discover this fact until you have bought them and had them cut, however.


Add the cost of a circular saw so you can make straight cuts and factor in a day and a half to track down the router bit so you can join the boards with biscuits. Calculate the gas used to drive to three stores to find biscuits and two trips to yet another store to buy and return two different sizes of router bits.

Assume it takes three hours to join the boards lengthwise.

Add in a further two to three hours--after work tomorrow--to join the end pieces.

Add the time to sand the table, stain it and top coat it.

How much will the table top cost and will it be done by Wednesday?

Show your work.
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