Spring in January

We packed up the Christmas things right after Epiphany. That’s four months earlier than the nativity nestled into its box last year. I’m blushing, blaming deployment and moving on to the next topic. Stop staring folks. Step along this way, please ————>  A winter storm dumped eight fluffy white inches on our families this weekend. Down here there’s no sign of snow, or an ice storm, or even a decent frost on the grass.

As a four seasons person, it’s disappointing. As a homeowner, it’s oddly beneficial…and not just because we don’t even own a snow shovel. Thanks to sunny weather, there’s no oddly wistful feeling at Christmas’s departure for once. All those newly bare spaces plus warm days keep crooning “spring cleaning” rather than “in the bleak mid-winter.”

At the right time, I really enjoy a good book on home organization, or marriage, or camping, or construction, or whatever activity happens to be brewing around here. They don’t have to say anything new or particularly brilliant. They just need to look at a task or situation through a fresh lens. Often they provide motivation to buck routine and tackle a lurking chore, attitude or possibility.

Ginny over at Small Things mentioned that the Kindle version of Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider was free on Amazon last week. I can’t resist free books, which is probably why I keep having to pay for bookshelves to house my free books, which means the books really weren’t really all that “free” in the end. Anyhow…Kindle to the rescue. This book didn’t say anything new to me, but provided the needed kick in the pants for this burst. It’s short and fast, and I recommend it, particularly if you’ve never encountered the “beautiful or useful?” simplicity concept.

In the last week I:

  • Unearthed, framed, and mailed some needlework I made as a friend’s wedding gift. It was a little overdue. Without specifying how much, let’s just say this friend has since had two children and built a house. Also, I was her maid of honor but had to leave the reception early with a crushing migraine and wasn’t even there to sign the marriage license as a witness. She’s a very patient and gracious woman. I’m more of a work-in-progress.
  • Re-hung the newly painted kitchen cabinet doors. Redoing our kitchen step-by-step is a long project, but so worth it! It nice not to see into my cabinets every time we sit down to dinner.
  • Sorted several more piles of “sell” and “donate” items. It feels good walking into our living room and study these days and seeing zero clutter. No things squirreled away “for the future” that we’ll never really use. [The garage is another story thanks to the kitchen project sawhorses scattered like the ribs of beached whales.]
  • Hung my Massai spear. I bought it on a trip to Kenya four or five years ago, but only unearthed it from the wrong box a few months ago (bless you and your bizarreness, Army Movers). The spear now hangs over the bookshelves in our study, adding a nice sort of Colonial-British-Gentleman’s-Study vibe to the room with its old wood desk, worn hand-me-down oriental rug, and comfy armchair.
  • Baked bread again, a habit I lost while working on the kitchen. Who really wants to mix bread on a counter littered with sandpaper, chisels, and drills? I tried a new recipe out of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day – Portuguese “Broa”. Broa is made like a regular crusty yeast bread, but with cornmeal substituted for about a sixth of the regular flour. Dense and delicious!
  • Scrubbed the whole kitchen floor on hands and knees, washed the trim and baseboards, and cleaned the kitchen windows inside and out. You know things are getting bad when you hope guests don’t arrive until after dark so they can’t see the mud smeared across your windows. How does mud get eight feet up in the air?
  • Cut open an old used book of botanical prints from my mother, picked several for framing, and bought framing supplies from the store.

What helps you keep your home clean-lined and livable? Around here we split the weekly chores like vacuuming, dusting, laundry, and cleaning the bathrooms and kitchens. Bigger “one off” chores are tackled as we go. Sometimes we call a 15 minute tidy “burst”, collecting stray items and putting them away. Every few months I wander through each room looking carefully for duplicates, untouched items, or belongings “saved for later” and never used. Those items are sold or dropped at the Salvation Army. Between these sweeps I keep a giveaway box handy for any odd items I run across in everyday life. This gets easier the longer I’m married and see what we really use to run our home.

One specific rule I set for myself is that I will never get rid of my spouse’s belongings without his permission, or pressure him to discard something he likes. He doesn’t have much “stuff” as it is, and he’s my spouse, not a child to be scolded and bossed around.  The only exception to this was one very funny dinner conversation when we discovered, to our surprise, that he hated my favorite shirt, but had always been too polite to say so, while I hated his favorite shirt and had also resisted comment. We mutually agreed toss the offending clothing into the charity pile.

Does this strange weather have you entrenched in spring cleaning mode, or motivated for work? Or are you fighting the elements, whether tropical heat, downpours, or swirling blizzards? What do you use for motivation? How do you keep “stuff” from accumulating?

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2 thoughts on “Spring in January

  1. I love your comment on the random packing of army packers – our strangest combination yet (last move) was brasso and silvo (for cleaning DH’s dress brass and sword) packed in with the winter coats. It did not end well, and was a very expensive claim for toll transitions.

    It sounds like you have had a busy week. So glad you have been able to get some long put off tasks done – it does feel good doesn’t it? I always find it a virtuous cycle the more I do the more I want to get done.

    In terms of fighting the elements – yes. It is so hot here at the moment and we are heading for a cyclone later this week so the build-up is just going to get worse. I have found that I just have to put on the airconditioning to get things done, for cost reasons we are trying to minimise its use. But, if I turn it on, complete a task and then turn it off again I feel better.

    In terms of motivation – moving; I generally clean out before we move and as we unpack. I have cleared out several boxes of books in the last week. That was motivated by us needing to clear a bookshelf for the new baby’s room. The new baby’s arrival is causing a substantial impetus for cleaning out – we need to make room for him. DH has even decided to get rid of his huge collection of die-cast models. You have no idea how much room that will free up:) I am also trying to get motivated to use up my fabric stash and make my new craft storage cupboard (much smaller than before) workable.

    • Brasso + clothing sounds like a dangerous combination, for sure. Moving is definitely a motivator. We got rid of so much when we packed and unpacked, but now a year and a half later I’m discovering all sorts of things I thought we would need in a bigger space (house vs. apartment) but really don’t. Fitting a new human into the house definitely sounds like it would be motivational!

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