Sunday, October 11, 2009

Purging, how long to hold on to things

We all have things we hold on to. And different reasons why we hold on to them. I buy things on sale and hang onto them because I know I will need them "someday". Or, I have things that I used so much and so often at one time, but that I haven't used in a very long time. Or, I have things that I spent way too much money on and that I just haven't used in years.

Regardless, homes have only so much space. How long to hold onto things? Sooner or later, you realize that you either need to get rid of some stuff, get a bigger house, or rent a storage space!

I am an artist. So....I tend to collect a lot of art supplies. Papers, blank canvas, colored pencils, pastels, scissors, bottles caps, ribbons, pictures, inks, paints, brushes, stamps, the list goes on and on. Every art project seems to take it's own list of supplies. I make jewelery, scrapbooking, multimedia art canvas, niche dolls, pen and ink art works, artistic trading cards, knitting, sewing, the list goes on and on. And while a lot of these crafts take similar supplies, there always seems to be "one more thing" that is needed.

A few years back, I was into fused glass. I bought a glass kiln, tons of glass, cutters, molds, slumping molds, all the stuff to go into making things. And I made a whole slew of things as well! Tried selling my art, not much luck there. Two different shops, on-line in two or three different ways. Gave away a lot of it as gifts for Christmas, birthdays and simply as gifts at a gift exchange.

Two years later, it sits gathering dust. I haven't touched that kiln in two years. I see it in the garage, and it makes me feel....guilty. A weight of what I "should" be doing with it. Of an expense that is wasted. Hard to explain.

I decided this weekend, I would rather it were gone and that I made a little cash from it, than for it to be taking up space and making me feel the "shoulds" about it anymore. It was fine for a time in my life, I enjoyed the process of working with glass, but I moved on from it. I never gained enough expertise in it to be successful enough to sell my work, and without selling my work, I couldn't stay motivated enough to keep creating (nor could I afford to keep spending money on supplies!! Glass is expensive, not to mention electricity!).

So....why do you have some things that you hold on to? If some of your old things were broken, would you be upset, or would you shrug your shoulders, or be quietly relieved? Glad that you are no longer responsible for that item? Maybe it is the family silver that you are entrusted with...that is a pain to keep polished? Or a gift from a family member who points it out whenever they visit, but you actually hate? Or something that you loved at one time, but have since outgrown? It's okay to get rid of these things! Make space for things that are appropriate for THIS time in your life. Things that reflect who you are right now, rather than who you used to be or who someone else thinks you are.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Painting a Pennsylvania Dutch Sign

I needed something to pick my spirits up. I am trapped at home with a sick child (day two, son still has a wet, hacking cough. No fever. But I don't want to expose others. So, we stay home.). Sick kid has taken control of the television, and I don't even want to be in the same room as that....junk.

The weather is lovely right now. Itching to be outside in it! What to do, what to do? I can't go walking (I miss my walkies with my friend and my dog...sad that I miss exercise, but I do!). Oh-kay.

OH! Hubby mentioned when I was going to do that wheelhouse project. Okay, so I put off project too. When he finished his portion of the wheelhouse, there is a large expense of frontage that is blank. We debated making a mirror "window", and then I got the idea of making a Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign on it. I even did the research for it and discussed it with hubby. He liked the idea. And....that is all the farthest I got with the concept.

Until today. I was irritated. (Oh so irritated...see my previous post.) I needed to work off some irritation. So I primed the circle out. While that dried, I researched again the Dutch signs, wrote out my plan, dug out paints and brushes, sketched out my plan. Then, I went out and spent HOURS painting it out.

But look how it turned out! I love it.

The heart in the center means love (0f course), the oak leaves mean strength, the rain drops mean abundance, and the wavy border means smooth sailing through life. The colors represent: red for emotion, yellow for love of man, green for growing things, blue for protection.

What I like is that I didn't copy what someone else did. It is in the style, but the items I chose are for MY family, arranged the way I did for MY family. And I really like it.

Living green and feeling frustrated

I'm reading a new book, "Green Metropolis" by David Owen. He's comparing the greeness of living in New York with the greeness of living in other area's. In chapter one, he makes the point that the average kilowatt-hour use per household per year in New York is 4,696 compared with the average Dallas household of 16,116 (more than three times as much).(page 17) Which made me very curious...what is MY average household use? Now, our house is small, under 900 square foot, but still larger than the average New York apartment, still we aren't "insulated" as New York apartments are---but we try to live sustainably, so I wonder where we would be in comparison to those two numbers.

Dork that I am, I pull out my latest electric bill. Well, they give you a graph for the year, but only hard numbers for the past month. Herm. So, I call up Billing and wait on hold. And wait. And wait. And wait. (Gee, wiz. Is it really worth all this? But now, I am curious and somewhat invested.) Finally, I reach a human!! She looks up the number and tells me. Just over 12,000 kilowatt-hours for the year. And then says "yeah, that's a lot." WHAT?! What do you mean, "that's a lot?" How many people actually ask the question? Everything looks like a lot if you look at an entire YEARS worth of it all at ONCE! *breathing*

Still, in relation to the electrical use in New York City, my family DOES use a lot more than they do. Despite having done many many things to reduce the amount of electricity that we do consume. Truthfully, I am at a loss at this point in what to do.

We have switched out all our light bulbs for compact fluorescent bulbs a few years back. The windows have been upgraded for better ones. We put more insulation in the attic. I have a high-efficiency washer, and line-dry my clothes whenever possible. We just bought an energy-efficient fridge to get rid of the 10 year old leaking one. We have a heat-pump and installed a pellet stove (fingers crossed that that helps A LOT in our heating bill this winter). Other than blowing in insulation into the exterior walls (which would cost us a few thousand to do)....I am at a loss. We keep our heat low---right around 62 degrees in the winter. My kids are used to walking around with socks and slippers. We have portable heaters with fur, aka: dogs. We keep throws and blankets around. I offer tea and cocoa.

The "low-lying fruit", all the easy stuff to do to save money on our electric bill....we have done that stuff. And I am frustrated. Makes me want to throttle that faceless woman in the billing department who blithely said "yeah, that's a lot." If she only knew how hard I work to make that number as small as possible. And that one comment, tossed off without a thought, made me feel as if all my work is meaningless.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Channeling a little Tom Sawyer

I did some chores around the yard today, cleaning up the duck pen, changing the chinchilla bedding, stuff like that. Hub's was putting up a new fence, and I thought "I'll bring out my knitting and just chill on the deck and watch him for a while." Yeah, that was the nice plan for the rest of my afternoon.

I even brought out my knitting basket and my coffee. Then, I looked out to my garden, which I had been in and out of several times today, and noticed how ratty the fence was looking. Now, when hubby had put it in, we had gotten most of the picket fencing used off of Craigslist for a great price, and picked the rest of it from the home improvement store, unfinished. So, most of it is painted white, and part of it is unfinished. Hubby promised me that he would paint it all white for me to match, that he could do it with a paint gun, and it would take "just an hour or so".

Uh-huh. You ladies out there probably know where this is heading. That was two years ago, and the fence boards are still mis-matched. Spring-time is a bad time to paint since it rains in Oregon (go figure!), and once it stops raining, it is planting time...specifically peas, which I grow along the fence line, covering it up.

It just never seems to work out to be the right time to paint that blasted fence. But today, I guess it seemed right. I found a brush, an old can of exterior paint (thank you for the professional painters giving away paint! Sure, it's been sitting in the garage for a few years, but it was FREE. We were saving it for a reason.) and got to working. Three hours later, my garden fence is painted.

Hubby did come by, and tell me he was planning on painting it for me (uh-huh....when?!), and that I had paint in my hair. Gee, hun. Thanks for the help. Love you too. And while you are being helpful, why don't you touch up those few boards for me? Oh, and since you are picky about how the brush is cleaned, I'll let you take care of that.

Love you!

BTW....if anyone has any tips on how to get this huge glob of paint out of my hair, I would appreciate it. Cause this isn't a small bit, it takes up quite a bit of my hair. *sigh*

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fall decorations, make the most of what you have

I love re-purposing things that I have. Fall is a great season to do that, in fact, it practically screams out to do that! Want a scarecrow? Take some old clothes, stuff them with newspapers really well, take an old white or cream pillow case, draw on a face, and use a baseball cap or cowboy hat for the topper! You can dip fallen leaves in candle wax and hang them from fishing line. Use squash and pumpkins as decorations (you don't have to carve them for them to be decorative--in fact, if they are carved, they will rot very quickly).

In years past, when I grew corn, I would save the corn stalks, tie them up with string, and then set them next to my front fence posts or near my front door for a Halloween decoration. Sadly, I didn't grow corn this year to do that with. It is the first of October, and I am itching to decorate. What to do, what to do?

It hit me. I have an entire bale of hay in the garage for Jefferson (our chinchilla). See, it seemed totally weird to buy a huge bale of hay for a tiny chinchilla when I got it, but that bale had come in handy! I've used it for duck bedding, used it in the garden, and now, I am using it for decorations for Halloween. (Plus, it works as a bench in the garage!)

I simply pulled out large handfuls of hay and then tied them with some loose rope that hubby had used earlier in the summer and had lying on the ground. Here's how they look on my window box with my pumpkins. In the next day or so, I am thinking about making another three or four to put on the other window box.

If you have any good ideas for fall decorations, please leave them for others to use. You never know when a flash of insight will strike!