46 articles

Humidify me

stadler form humidifier

A humidifier that won’t bum you out every time you see it.

School starts tomorrow, and we’ve just gotten back to home base after basically two months away. So today is going to be spent trying to get ourselves together (school supplies, anyone?) The regular Monday links post will have to wait.

But while we’re on the topic of preparing for the upcoming seasons, here’s something else instead. Links coming soon…

I know it’s still hot and everything, but labor day has passed, the cold and flu season is quickly approaching and as I just happened upon this incredibly attractive humidifier (what?? seriously??) by Stadler Form, I figured I should share it with you all, should any of you perhaps be in the market for such an object.

Tiny steps part 1.5

organize my cabinet please

When my daughter was tiny, I used to blame this mess on her love of opening cabinets and “rearranging” them. She is not tiny anymore, however…

Here’s a slightly embarrassing fact about me: I subscribe to a few self-help e-newsletters. And while, more often than not, I delete them without even opening the messages, I do succumb every once in awhile. Maybe they’ll have something helpful to say, I tell myself hopefully.

About a week ago, I opened an e mail from Flylady.net (a cheerleader-y daily get-your-house-clean-and-organized site that I like because it’s all about not being too hard on yourself) and read that my daily task should be to “declutter our leftover food storage containers!” How did she know about my cabinet-from-hell (see above photo)? I did what I usually do, which is to put that task on my imaginary 500 page to-do list and went on with my day. And I haven’t opened another e mail from them since.

This morning, however, I thought about that message again as I dug through the aforementioned cabinet, desperately trying to find a top for the container that housed the cookies my daughter and I had made for teacher appreciation day. (We should probably have given the teachers a bottle of Scotch, but I digress.)

And so this morning, after walking to school in the pouring rain and delivering our cookies to much acclaim, I sat down in front of that cabinet and straightened it the f*^k out.

same cabinet. much cleaner

Here’s that same cabinet, after a mere 45 minutes of loving attention during which time I also learned about cooking on the Gaza Strip by listening to NPR.

It took less than an hour. Here’s what I got out of it:

  • A much nicer visual experience when I open up the cabinet.
  • A huge bag of #5 plastic to recycle at Whole Foods.
  • A huge bag of various containers to give to Ada’s school art department.
  • Only glass or BPA free containers to store our food in.
  • 2 muffin tins, a cake pan and a pan to make Madeleine cookies I didn’t know I had
  • A glorious and almost overwhelming feeling of victory.

  • Fly Lady also suggested putting all the tops into a large zip lock bag – a great idea which I didn’t end up using but thought I’d pass along to you guys.

    After all that, I am now sitting down to my desk to begin the slightly less housewife-y part of my day. But I do it happy in the knowledge that there is just a tiny bit more order in my life. Next time the org bug hits me, I’ll get back to working on my office, I promise…

    An indoor herb garden

    cult evergreen planter

    Now even I, whose Native American name should be plant-killer, can keep my thyme alive.

    I don’t know about you guys, but it drives me crazy to have to buy a big bunch of, fresh thyme lets just say, only to use a sprig or two before the rest of it dries up and shrivels away. Such a waste of thyme and money. Plus there’s all that packaging that ends up primarily in the landfill.

    This year, I resolved to do something about this horrendous problem. Blissfully on my way (in my mind) to becoming an indoor year-round herb farmer, sprinkling good taste wherever I go, I bought a thyme plant, potted it, and killed it within two weeks.


    But then, enter my husband, with the most perfect birthday gift ever (also typical). The idiot-proof-and-also-attractive square planter from the Swedish company Cult. Here’s how it works:

    The top part is made of unfinished terra cotta, natural, absorbent, historic (in constant use for 5000 years!). The plant lives in there. The bottom part is glazed, and the water lives in there. Once a week or so, you fill the bottom with water, and these canvas straps soak it up and transfer it to the hungry roots living in the top part. The plant drinks what it wants, when it wants, and you barely have to pay any attention to it at all.

    Except for when that recipe calls for a sprig of thyme.

    (Continue on if you want to get one of these things RIGHT NOW! Like for mother’s day… hint hint?) — Read more

    My new favorite merchant

    Wooden measuring spoons! Photo courtesy of Merchant No 4.

    Wooden measuring spoons! Photo courtesy of Merchant no 4.

    Unfortunately for me, I have found a new beautiful online store full of simple, ageless, organic, useful, everyday objects for the home at Merchant no. 4. Damn them!

    Also curse my husband, who is the person who initially sent me the link.

    Because now I want to trade in about 60% of the stuff I have in my kitchen for things they sell. Problem is, these items don’t come cheap. So I’m going to have to settle for just a few of them. Like these storage containers, which will hopefully replace my overflowing cabinet of scratched tupperware:

    The nicest food storage ever. Photo courtesy of Merchant No 4.

    The nicest food storage ever. Photo courtesy of Merchant no 4.

    …or at least get me headed in that direction, since 2013 is supposedly all about decluttering.

    We’ll see how that goes. But in the meantime, if I can’t fill my apartment with everything Merchant no 4 sells, at least I can share it with you guys. And maybe collectively we can do some damage. Or at the very least, we can admire the lovely photography (which I have brazenly cut and pasted onto my blog… thanks guys)

    Tiny steps

    clear bookshelf

    This is, currently, the only non cluttered space in my office.

    WARNING: This is a post about cleaning up my office (or trying to) which may not be at all interesting to any of you. So feel free to move on and check back in a few days when some other, potentially more interesting topic is on the table. Or read on, if you’re curious.

    At the beginning of this month (and of this year, actually) I made the grand resolution that I was going to clean my office. And I started following the steps on Apartment Therapy’s January Cure, narrowing the scope from the entire apartment to just my little home office.

    Easy peasy, right?

    Well here it is, 2 weeks later, and I haven’t really done all that much. Which is more like my 2012 operational style than I care to admit. I did tidy up a bit, so that I have room on the floor to push back my chair and I can see a bit of the surface area of my desk. And (see photo above) I cleared off one shelf, exposed the high-gloss red I’d painted it when we first moved in here, and put just a few of my favorite things on display… in other words, I made the kind of tiny space that looks like the rooms in the magazines I drool over so jealously. When I look at that little area, I feel better about myself, somehow.

    But I fear I have strayed from the path and must now get back on track. By the end of the month, I’m supposed to be done with my two self-appointed tasks (clear off the desk and clear off the piles of stuff from the floor) but at the rate I’m going, I’ll be lucky to get half of one done.

    So today is the day to regroup and to get back on track. I’m going back to Apt Therapy to see just how far behind I have fallen…

    Ok so week one of the January Cure asked us to make a list of projects, set up an outbox, stock up on green cleaners, clean the floors and get fresh flowers. I did everything except the floors because my office is so cluttered that I couldn’t really even get to the floors to clean them. Oh well.

    Week two asks us to get a fresh perspective on the space, choose one task to do this month, chose some art to frame and get going on that, work on the party we’re going to have to celebrate the new clean space, clear out excess from the kitchen, buy flowers and cook a meal.

    Actually, I did a lot of this stuff too… Took not one but 5 things to the framers (though none of them are going to end up in the office, so does that count?) I’m probably not having a party just to celebrate the tidy version of my office. That seems kind of lame. Though maybe I’ll invite my husband, because the current chaotic state of my office bothers hi to the core. Now while I should have cleaned out excess from the office, I couldn’t resist attacking the kitchen, so I cleared out one shelf, got rid of 9 bottles of old grains, expired boxes of food, etc. Didn’t get fresh flowers because the old ones still look good.

    Week three is where I faded out. I was supposed to create a landing strip, that mythical place close to the entrance of my apt where I sort through the mail put my keys away and prevent any unnecessary clutter from getting all the way in. I really need one of these, but am far from having it. Then I was supposed to work on my goal project (nope), try a media fast (hah!), declutter books and media (no comment) and clean my bedroom. Oh and more flowers. Of course, I have done none of this.

    Translating this to the office, I’m thinking the media fast and decluttering is easy. I could use an inbox (hello landing strip, office style) and, well, I did clean out my bedroom fairly well because my in laws just came to town and I like to put our best foot forward, clean-home wise, when they visit.

    Day 14 and 15 are all about getting files together (a year-long project, in my case) and controlling the chaos of the cords. Both need to be done. Badly.

    Hmmmmm. Lots to do. Got to get realistic, pick one project to do in the office (desk! desk! desk!) and think of anything else as a bonus. Wish me luck, as I have 10 days left. Plus I’m trying to write other, normal, far more interesting posts as well. That involve stuff outside of the limited sphere of my apartment. So you guys won’t all get bored and stop coming to visit.

    And hopefully, by month’s end, I will be typing these missives from a clean desk.

    Fingers crossed.

    The January cure

    Words cannot even describe...

    Words cannot even describe…

    Happy slightly belated New Year everybody.

    The world didn’t end on December 21st and we are now forced to reckon with our realities for yet another year. Usually, by this time in January, I have made a long list of resolutions attacking every failing I have ever had in my life, determined to change the way I eat, work, spend, relate, create, exercise, etc in the space of one year. It never works.

    This year, I have decided to be more realistic. I have two resolutions that I figure are enough to keep me busy all year. And if I finish them early, I can always add new ones. But at least, if I keep it simple, I may actually have a shot of accomplishing them. Not that they are easy, but at least they are not numerous.

    First off, I am determined to become more mature about the way I deal with money. Enough said. This one is private, so I’m done talking about it here. Just wish me luck, because I’m going to need it.

    Secondly (and here’s where the blog comes in because you are going to hear all about this one– sorry!) I am determined to clean up my office. Because I am currently giving the Collyer brothers a run for their money, and it’s only getting worse (see photo above for proof.)

    This is how I plan to begin. I am not going to go my usual route of coming up with my own plan. Instead I am consulting the experts. Apartment Therapy, the wonderful home design online universe, (started by my high school friend Maxwell Gilligham-Ryan) has a thing they call the January Cure which, if followed, will result in you having a cleaner, clearer more organized home in just 31 days. I’m taking it down a notch, and just concentrating on one room. My office-from-hell.

    Now of course, I’m starting the whole thing late, and as such, have several days worth of chores to get done in order to catch up, but I’m going to give it a go. And hopefully, by the end of the month, there will be a much improved version of the above panorama (taken with the wonderful app Photosynth, which you should all get, by the way) at the top of my post.

    Click below if you want to hear about the first couple days worth of tasks.

    Ok so this first week of tasks has been crammed into a couple of days in a desperate attempt to catch up to the rest of the folks who are faithfully completing their assignments in a more timely fashion.

    First up, The List of Projects. We are to go through the house (or in my case, the room) and ID trouble spots. My list is absurd and includes something about every inch of my office. Ugh. I then am to take that list and pick 3 to 5 specific tasks that will make a big difference in the way I experience the space. I picked two, that are probably too big and will have to be broken down further, but at least I’ve committed to them in writing.

    I’m going to clean my desk and then clear up (most of) the floor space. Right now, there is barely room for my desk chair to push back. You may hold your applause till the end of the month.

    We then are instructed to Create an Outbox (a brilliant concept.) This is a place in our house where we put the stuff that we think we want to get rid of. It’s a kind of limbo. If, in a week, we still don’t want it, it goes. Mine is in our entry and already includes the birthday sign I made and used for my kid’s past two birthdays and the advent calender I made in 2011 that is now falling apart. Obvious choices, maybe, but you have to start somewhere.

    Next we are supposed to clean and vaccum/mop, but I can’t do that because the room is TOO MESSY. Oh and buy flowers, which I’ll totally do– I swear– when I finally get out of the house today.

    Next up, get a fresh perspective on your space by sitting in some kind of new spot and taking in the fresh view, visualizing the room empty and then mentally rebuilding it from scratch. This shit is hard, and the only reason I’m going to actually do it is so that I’m not caught lying about it here on this blog.

    10 minutes later…

    Staring at the mountain of clutter for 10 minutes straight was daunting, but I discovered a couple of great things. I have a Monopoly game here already, so I don’t have to go buy one. Also, I have a huge box of thermal fax paper from the nineties that I can totally get rid of, instantly freeing up shelf space. Who knew?

    Ok taking a break now. I promise to keep you all posted as the saga continues. I know you are thrilled.