Monday, December 12, 2011

Simp-My-Life: Report on Day Two of the Alternative Non-Consecutive Twelve Days of Christmas

As I have mentioned, Walu and I are planning a kitchen remodel in the upcoming year. Well, mostly I'm planning it. Walu is mainly planning to bear it like a soldier when it happens.

Anyway, I've been looking at magazines about kitchens for ideas, and one question keeps arising in my mind: who are these people with the perfectly matched sets of all-white dishes stacked neatly behind the glass doors in the kitchen cabinets? I mean, really? Who lives like that? What happens when the odd blue dish creeps into the house? Do you scream and attack it with a broom?

If I get glass doors on my cabinets, I'm gonna fill those cabinets with every lonely, mismatched plate I can find. I'm gonna put plastic Flintstones cups in there! Gimme coffee mugs from State Farm Insurance! Guernsey cow salt and pepper shakers! Then I'm gonna post photos of it all on the interwebs to show matching-sets-of-white-dishes people how to live it up a little!

OK, on to the report: Yesterday I finished the Queen Anne ottoman I started during the last Christmas break. I count this as de-cluttering, since I'd essentially finished all the components last year but for the assembly, but was put off by all the laborious sanding required by the cabriole legs. (What? I can't use the random orbit sander? Pffshh!) All year I've left them on top of a work table in the shop, right where I could see them, hoping that since they were annoyingly in the way, I'd be inspired to go ahead and finish the job. But they must have been annoyingly in the way in a singularly uninspired manner, because I just never got around to it. I moved them out of the way a lot so I could work on other things...and then moved them right back in the way so that I wouldn't forget to work on them. So there you go. Another brilliant plan bites the dust. And they were annoying.

Anyway, here 'tis, finished up and in its proper place:


 I also finished organizing and cleaning the laundry room. Here are the new blinds that replaced the light-proof shutters:

And though I'd installed these earlier in the autumn, I like them so much, I'm including them in my Simp-My-Life List O' De-Clutter Goodness: dog and cat food bins:

Finally, I hung a hat rack in the bedroom and filled it with the four hats I use the most:
I may or may not get rid of the other hats; I haven't quite decided...

The rest of the week may be spotty with reports, as it will be busy with grading and the general wrapping up of the semester--hence the "non-consecutive" part of the alternative Twelve Days. I'll work on things as I can, though, as it will give me a much needed psychological break from grading.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Simp My Life: Report on Day One of the Twelve Days of Christmas

It's my project and I get to make the rules, and so Rule Number One is that there will be no "before" photos. Sorry, but them's the rules.

Now that that is out of the way, on to my report for Day One:

My original plan for day one involved getting rid of most of my enormous hat collection, but as I was going through them, it occurred to me that I actually wear quite of few on a regular basis, and can make a case for retaining those. So I need a way in which to store them so that I can continue to reduce clutter. The plan I came up with required some shopping and closet re-organization (which I was planning to do anyway), and so I spent much of yesterday on the road, fighting the Christmas crowd. It was not in vain, however, and as a bonus, I shopped for some organizational tools that I will need for the other de-cluttering projects on my list.

Since shopping took up much of the day, I only had time to do a small project, but it turned out so well, it made for an excellent kick-off. Some years ago, I turned our laundry room into a photo darkroom, but since the advent of digital photography, I haven't had any use for it for several years. I'm planning to get rid of all the darkroom equipment over the break (if possible), and yesterday, I took down all the light-proof shutters on the windows.

Quelle miracle! Such light flowed in!

One of the shutters was over the kitchen sink, which looks out over the laundry room (which used to be the back porch, long before we moved into the house). And although it let a lot of light in the kitchen by taking down the shutter, it meant that anyone washing the dishes now looks down on...well, the laundry room. I don't know about your laundry room but ours is not especially attractive, even under the best of circumstances, what with all the bags of cat litter, bottles of stain remover, boxes of laundry soap, and stuff. While this project is all about getting rid of stuff, unfortunately, this is the sort of stuff I will have to keep. So among all my wanderings along the Christmas shopping highway yesterday, I stopped off at the hardware store and got some frosted glass film. Last night I applied it to the window panes, et voila!

I truly love this, and it was such a simple fix to a major eye-clutter problem. Walu and I have plans to renovate the kitchen sometime in the upcoming year, and when we do, I may replace the window panes with architectural glass in a leaf pattern. For now, however, this really lifts my spirits. I actually enjoyed washing dishes this morning.

Well, not really, but you get my drift.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A different kind of Twelve Days of Christmas

I am really, really sick of the clutter in my house. This all started when my sibs and I cleaned out my parents' house a couple of years ago and I saw what a life of stuff-accumulation can lead to (and my parents weren't even what is popularly termed "hoarders"), and the feeling has not gone away. Since that fateful summer, I periodically get this urge to purge the crap that surrounds me, and for some reason I'm really feeling it this Christmas season. So now that the Christmas break is upon us and I'm pondering just which projects to take on between the craziness of the semesters, I'm thinking it might be fun to have a different sort of "Twelve Days of Christmas."

"What if..." I started thinking this morning, "...what if I spent twelve consecutive days of organizing and getting rid of clutter? One project each day?"

I could call it, "Simp My Life."

The trouble with this plan at the moment is that though I am in a lull between the end of classes and when my students' final projects come in and I can start grading them, the Christmas break hasn't actually started. Until the grading is over, things will remain kind of hectic and crazy. This weekend, however, is indeed a calm before the storm of Monday, when the onslaught of papers starts, and so I find myself itching to clean and organize. So I'm declaring executive fiat on the whole consecutive days thing and saying that I can start tomorrow and pick it back up next weekend, after Commencement Ceremonies, the traditional start of the semester break.
And so it begins...

Tomorrow: The First Non-Consecutive Day of Christmas, or, The Hats Gotta Go

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A custom walnut snap deck for Annette the Xtracycle

This is the second of the projects I worked on over the Thanksgiving break. The snap deck that came with my Xtracycle Free Radical was a simple piece of plywood.

Naturally, since it is plywood, the finish doesn't hold up well to weather. In fact, the instructions say not to leave it out in the rain. What kind of utility bicycle never gets left out in the rain?

So I decided to put my paddle-making skills to work and create a weather-proof wood deck out of some scrap black walnut and soft maple. After all, nobody ever said you couldn't take a canoe paddle out into the rain.

You can't tell from the photos, but the maple has some very pretty curl in it. I finished the deck with four coats of marine polyurethane.