Sunday, November 13, 2011

Cure Week 3: A serious debate with myself, a resulting blog fast and scary curtain panels

This week was interesting. What was supposed to be a media fast turned into thinking hard about how I really want to spend my time and especially how much time I really want to spend reading blogs. To me, it’s addictive. I’ve talked before about how I need to be careful not to try and tackle too many of the great ideas I see. But what I hadn’t thought about before was how many useful or inspiring things I really get out of reading all those posts compared to the time it takes me. And that maybe there’s a reason why I still haven’t read any of the books I got for my birthday.

Also, I bravely faced my sewing machine and those way too long curtains in the boys’ rooms. Now, those of you who are on good terms with your sewing machines or have mastered the art of using iron-on hem tape are going to laugh at me, but for me, this is something s-c-a-r-y. But let’s start Monday.

Monday was not really my day. Anyway. I’m probably the worst housewife on the planet (hello. My name is Swenja and I don’t enjoy cleaning my house.), but with three men and three cats in the house I don’t have much of a choice. So I floor and surface clean at least one room every week anyway.

What I did notice since I started The Cure again is that I play more attention to detail. You know these things that always bug you but you sort of ignore them because you can’t seem to find the time to just get them done? Or the things you simply don’t (want to) see because they’ve been like that forever?

Every time I sat down with the boys on the carpet in our living room’s play area, I noticed the feet of a little chest I have in a corner being really, really worn. I guess it’s from vacuums and ride-on cars constantly bumping against them and maybe also from wet mopping the floor, I don’t know. But it looked shabby. And, as Jules from Pancakes and French Fries put it so perfectly in this post: “It’s the sort of small detail that can make your home look shabby, and not in a way that is intentional, franchised, and sold at Target. There is shabby-chic, and there is just plain shabby. This is just plain shabby.”

Somehow that thought has been sticking with me lately. As soon as I was able to bend down without having to throw up (which was sometime Wednesday) I took out some wood polish and took care of that poor little chest. Took me less than five minutes and that’s a lot less than it took me noticing this and planning to write it on my to do list for the last couple of months.

Day 12: Buy flowers

Uh, that took me until Saturday. I'll spare you my day to day excuses, ranging from "the store didn't have any good ones" to "I was too tired to run any errands after work". They're here now, they're on my dining room table (and in the sink at night in case the cats attack the vase...) and I think they're pretty. Some nice warm fall color before my color scheme will change to red, white and green for Advent decorations in two weeks (gasp).

Having a hard time with this one. I’ve been decluttering books and media all year and sold a couple of boxes through Momox, which was great. But Maxwell’s assignment is to cut your book collection by 25%. That seems a bit steep to me. I get the concept of leaving room for things to add, but still, one quarter? I don’t even like the look of a shelf with one quarter of the books missing, the rest consequently leaning over (yes, I’ve heard about an invention called bookends. Really). Ugh.

Still I went and looked through my books. Again. Children’s books excluded, because I just did those a few weeks ago. I found a couple I don’t really use or need, so they went into my outbox. Nothing exciting, and certainly not 25%.

Day 14: Media Fast

Luckily this one fell on a workday. Still, it was really tough to ignore my phone. Not checking emails on coffee breaks. Not reading blogs when the kids are in bed. I think I could live without a TV. I don’t watch much. No, TV isn’t what gets me.

I don’t need a media fast. I need a blog fast. Just looking at the blog list in my bloglovin account makes me dizzy. And unlike TV, blog posts don’t just go away when I turn off phone and laptop. Thanks to the concept of following blogs, they’re waiting for me. And I just hate it when I haven’t been catching up for even a day or two and suddenly I have like 264 unread posts. Aaaaahhhh! Even though at least half of that is Apartment Therapy and related sites, i.e. TheKitchn and Ohdeedoh.

Do I really need to read that many blogs?

Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels bad and hesitates when she marks 136 Apartment Therapy posts as read without even quickly scanning the list.

No, I don’t read every single post. For AT sites, I read about 5%. Now, the interesting question is this: how many of these posts were truly inspirational? I’ve considered unfollowing (that isn’t really a word, is it?) these sites for quite some time. It goes something like this:

Tired Me: I would have a much shorter reading list, and I don’t read all that many of them anyway.
Blog-loving addicted Me: But what if I miss that one really cool, life-changing post?!
Tired Me: Like what?
Blog addicted Me: Well, like Sara Kate’s  skillet toffee last year. I loved that recipe, it made a great Christmas gift and is now considered tradition. Or the apple cake I even ended up writing a post about?
Tired Me: Exceptions! But if you must, just keep TheKitchn and delete AT and Ohdeedoh.
Blog addicted Me: And what about all the great blogs I found that way? Like the Ohdeedoh post that brought me over to Greta’s blogs which are now among my all-time favorites? Or the 20/20 Home Cure?
Tired Me: Oh that is just not fair, you know!

I’ve decluttered my bloglovin reading list a few weeks ago. Then I came across a new blog. I added it. And another one. Might come in handy for DIY Christmas ideas. Added that one, too. Oh and this one features really nice photography. Added. Somehow this is not working.

I went back to the list with the same rule in mind that I use for my home: Love it, use it or toss it. That translated into these questions:

Love it: does it make me feel better? Does it inspire me? Do I smile everytime a new post shows up? Do I know the blogger’s name? Have I written a comment on this blog before?
Use it: do I actually make some of the tutorials / DIY ideas / recipes?
Toss it: Have I been wondering why I was following this in the first place? Does it contain a lot of advanced sewing tutorials that I currently can’t do anyway? Do I read less than half of the posts? Does it feel like a chore when I see the number of unread posts?

I’ve started a list of blogs I no longer follow in an Evernote file for future reference. Just in case. And I’ve subscribed to AT, Ohdeedoh and TheKitchn weekly emails, hoping that these are likely to catch the week’s highlights so I don’t have to sift through all of the posts. I’ve had these in the past and it they often featured the posts I had ended up reading anyway. We’ll see.

Now, maybe I am actually going get to that pile of books that’s been sitting next to my couch. Or read my camera’s manual, something that’s been sitting on my list forever. Or *gasp* do nothing. Relax. Talk to my husband. Enjoy the silence in the house. Spend a summe evening staring at the sky instead of a screen. What a concept.

To read more about what Maxwell’s idea of a media fast is, click here. If you look through the comment section you’ll see that I’m not the only one with a blog instead of TV fast… Although it does seem a little strange for someone writing a blog to write about reading fewer blogs. So go read fewer blogs. Except this one. Of course.

This ties into last week’s list of Top 6 Home Needs. I chose to attempt the one thing that has been bugging me forever. Technically it’s not broken, but it’s not right either. It’s the curtain panels in the kids’ rooms that need to be shortened ever since I bought them.

My mom has helped me do this on the other curtain panels in the house, trying both the Ikea advertised method of ironing a curtian hem tape on as well as sewing them. In a household with three cats and two active kids it’s probably no surprise that the sewing method won. By far. Actually I should add “fix previously ironed on hems of living room curtain panels” to my list of things to fix. Sigh. Oh, and then there are the ones in my home office. She actually sewed them, factoring in the length that Ikea says they will shrink. Then I washed them. Uh, let’s just say they are not grazing the floor anymore. Nowhere near that. Agin, I should probably add those to the list. Again: Sigh.

There is a valid reason this task gets pushed down on the to do list. Again. And again. And that reason is not my cat who loves to sleep on the part of the panel that drags on the floor (yes, it’s that long). My mom has sworn to never, ever to touch one of these curtains again. And she’s been sewing things most of her life. Now talk about something being intimidating for a sewing novice!

Anyhow. It's done:

It's not really all that straight. But you see, the curtains are not straight to begin with, they're all wavy and curvy and twisted. Now I know why my mom hated doing this! I actually thought it wasn't all that bad - except for the measuring part. I had expected the sewing part to be the hardest. It wasn't.

I spend all of Friday morning on this and a lot of Saturday afternoon, but I did get it done: all four curtain panels in the boys' rooms are done! Yay!

Oh I'm sure there's a quicker, straighter, better way to get this done. But I don't care. I did this myself. Finally. Ha! So I may be learning to sew just a bit this year. If I learn to do some basic stuff like a tote bag, a hat for the kids, a little zippered pouch and maybe a pillowcase or two, that would be enough for me. 

So that's Week 3 for me. Hoping next week will be a little easier. And I want to start baking cookies and crafting gifts for Christmas and get my annual photo book all done and order it. 

What are you up to? Any thoughts on the blog fast - other than quit reading my blog, of course...?

Wishing you a good one,

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