Monday, May 31, 2010

Spring Cleaning my Closet: the Aftermath

So, here's the tally after cleaning my closet:

Three pairs of shoes in dire need of being replaced as soon as fall fashions hit the mall (which should be in about two weeks or so):

Five things to go to the tailor before they're wearable:

One box of stuff that goes elsewhere in the house (left) and one box of donatables (right):

One small basket of trash (not pictured)

Three boxes of stuff that I don't really need/use but that I can't bear to part with yet--much of it sentimental (my children's things, detritus from my parents' house, etc.). How to resolve the dilemma? I'll ask each child to look through the stuff first. If there's nothing they want, I'll offer it to their cousins. And if I still get no takers? Off to charity it all goes.

At the end of my cleanups, there's usually a little pile of "Projects in Process." I've got a necklace that needs restringing, a photo in need of framing, and a family photo album I'd like to copy so each child can have his/her own:

There's also a short list of things to buy:

And here's the final product. Look at that shiny floor! Here's the left side of my closet:

Here's the right side:

And here's the top of the built-in bureau:

Still a happy, cluttered vibe going on, but a whole lot more clean surface now. And no dust bunnies!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Spring Cleaning: My Closet

"Spring cleaning," for me, is a bit of a misnomer. I usually tackle my kitchen in March or April, taking everything off the shelves and out of the drawers, giving it a good wipe-down, and putting it all back. Or, putting most of it back. The stray jar of pickled something-or-other that seemed like a good idea at the time usually gets the axe. Perpetually unmatched Tupperware gets the heave-ho.

But for the rest of my house? Spring cleaning happens whenever the conditions get too cluttery, and the dustballs too...dustball-y.

A few weeks ago, it was the laundry room's turn. Happily, it's staying neat and tidy. I even put up another bit of art on the wall (it's the bottom one):

It may seem odd putting a beautiful little oil painting in such a utilitarian place, but every time I see it, it makes me smile. (Thank you, Lovely Eldest Sister, for such a sweet gift.)

Look how teeny it is!

And now, it's my closet that needs help. STAT.

There's a lot I love about my closet. Like that built-in bank of drawers on the left side of the closet, and the shelves of fabric-covered boxes, straight back in the photo above.

Here's a closeup of the boxes, some of which date back to my Nana's time:

I love the closet's little chandelier, which I bought very inexpensively and decorated with extra crystal drops I found at a junk shop for $1 apiece:

But I don't love how the happy, artsy clutter has morphed into full-scale messes, like this:

Oh, dear! And this:

Ugh! And I hate how, hiding under all that mess, is an army of dustbunnies that seems to grow in the dark:


So, I took everything up and off the floor, gave it a good mop-down, and interrogated each piece before I allowed it back in: "What are you and why do you need to take up floor space in my closet?"

This citizen(below) didn't survive the grilling. The white thing under the tumbled pile of hats and hat boxes is a changing-table top from the baby days of Lovely Daughter #2. She's turning 21 next month! (Eye roll.)

Out it goes. Also failing to make the cut is this juvenile delinquent:

There's nothing wrong with this piece of rolling luggage, per se, but at 5'9", I am too tall--or it's too short--for comfort. The last time I used this I distinctly remember hunching over and cussing my way through the airport.

So, I'lll offer it to Lovely Daughter #1 or #2, who are both 5'5". (Come and get it, sweeties!)

After purging the floor of lingerers and malcontents, I took inventory of my hanging clothes.

Now, here's a place where I thought I was doing pretty good. I sort my hanging clothes by length, so full-length dresses and sweeping skirts, for instance, are all together. Within the "short" category, which covers all shirts and blouses, I further sort them by color:

(Why, yes, those are wire hangers; I live in the real world, and no Closet Fairy has come by to bestow 5 dozen padded silk hangers upon me. Just sayin'.)

But even with this amount of clothes-sorting, I found some mayhem and foolishness. These two tank tops aren't mine:

They belong to The Boy! (Sorry, honey. I must've been putting away laundry in the dark.)

As I worked my way around the closet, I ran into some old friends. My last pair of pointe shoes:

*Sigh* After three full-term pregnancies, there's no way I'm ever jamming my tootsies into these beauties again. But it's nice to see them and say "hi" occasionally.

Here's another nostalgic find. This half-slip used to be my mom's, from the days when no lady would go out in public without proper underthings on:

Look at these deep, tiny pleats! Ridiculously beautiful. I never wear this slip, but it has a permanent pass because it's so lovely:

Oh, hello, sweet thing:

The wreath of fake flowers and pearls was my headdress when I got married a gazillion billion years ago. The veil (plain, simple tulle) is long gone, but I can't part with this sweet keepsake. So I plonk it around the crown of a straw hat of no particular import. And in a hat box it lives, waiting for the next time I run across it and smile.

Speaking of smiling, my closet has a little jog to the right in the far back corner, and in that corner I keep my ugliest clothes. But every time I see them, they make me smile, because...

They are my hiking and car-camping clothes. Just looking at them makes me itch to be up in the mountains again.

Above the outdoorsy clothing is this sweetheart:

It's a photo of my first dog, Nikki, who was part of our family from the time I was 13 until I was 23 or so. She was a cutie-pie but the most horribly undisciplined hooligan. She's the reason I pay good money to dog trainers now:

I hope she's in a sunny, green field somewhere now, barking her fool head off with pleasure.

Speaking of pleasure, it is sheer heaven to have a comfy chair to sit on in a closet. When I inherited this slipper chair (below) from my folks some 20 years ago, it was covered in a grimy, sad lavender velvet. I recovered it in this glorious chintz. For two decades now, it's been the perfect place to sink into at the end of the day while taking off my shoes:

But alas, the chintz--on the seat, especially--is getting old and grubby, as you can see in this photo, below:

According to the carpet-and furniture-cleaning people, it can't be resurrected. It needs to be reupholstered. Oh! how I'm going to miss that chintz. It is totally 1980s, I know, but I loved it.

Lovely Daughter #2 pointed out that, even if I re-cover the slipper chair, I'll still have these boxes to remind me of the old chintz:

I don't know where I found them, but I snapped them up the instant I saw them because they are covered in the exact, same pattern as the chair.

And now, my friends, I almost cringe to show you the shoes. Usually my shoes live on shelves, heels out, so I can watch for signs of wear (I tend to pronate a bit). I decided to turn them around so they point toes out. Here's what I found:

Oh, lordy. I never noticed how awful they were!

(Note to self: Buy new black leather flats and clogs as soon as the fall clothes hit the mall.)

My pumps hold up much better, because I wear them so rarely:

Wish all my shoes looked this good!

If you face a closet mess like mine, try to tackle it one zone at a time--shoes one day, hanging clothes the next, storage boxes and baskets the next, and so on. And remember...

"Keep calm and carry on!"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

English Rain

It's been raining all morning here, a fine, soft, misty rain that reminds me of the English countryside.

My old-fashioned roses seem to love it. I brought these in just minutes ago:

And thought once again how lucky I was to have found this Waterford-like crystal bud vase at a yard sale for just pennies:

Grey, drippy days like this are always cozier with something pretty to look at indoors:

and somebody warm at your side:

Even if he's trying to bite the finish off your daily china.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Simply Wonderful

Today's tea time:

A pot of my favorite Earl Grey/English Breakfast combination and...

My favorite yogurt scattered with a handful of raspberries, dusted with just a touch of sugar:

Two days ago, I began a compelling and thought-provoking book: "Women, Food, and God," by Geneen Roth. One of her precepts is mindful eating.

It's about being totally present in the moment as we eat, enjoying the colors, textures, and flavors of our food.

It's surprising how little sugar you need...

...when you really slow down and appreciate the wonderfulness in the bowl.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Modern Greek Salad

Tonight for dinner, I'm having a delicious salad of fresh feta cheese, baby greens, roasted red peppers, avocado, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

My friend Tanya made this for dinner a few weeks ago, and I've this is now my third time recreating it, I love it so much!

(Forgive the picture quality, but I wanted to give you some idea of what the thing looked like!)
Yes, I am a poor college student. Yes, I am eating my salad out of a sauce pan. Don't judge me.

It's so simple and easy to make--the only "complicated" bit is chopping up the bell peppers, srprinkling them with some dried herbs, drizzling on some olive oil, and popping them in the (toaster) oven for about 15-20 minutes. Then, just mix the rest of the ingredients in a big ol' bowl, and enjoy!

This is from the last time we made the dish, but this time around I'm subbing out the olives and adding fresh avocado instead...a taste of California home.
If I can make it with a dorm "kitchen" that looks like this, then you can too!
(That's some homemade curry on the "stove" there...another delicious student-friendly dish, and maybe a post for next time!)


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