Cleaning Out My Closet

One of the things I’ve had on my to-do list was to reorganize my closet.  Eric and I share a closet and it is tiny.  And somehow during the winter months it sort of exploded and I’d never gotten it back under control.  So, one of my goals this month was to take care of this closet.  These are the before photos, just to give you an idea.  It wasn’t terrible, but it was making me crazy. 

Part of the problem was that a good portion of my sweaters were stacked up on top of my shoe rack.  Which sort of turned this spot into a catchall for clothes. 

And as I pull out shoes that are in shoe boxes, they kind of go back up on the shelf haphazardly.  The shoes on the floor tend to end up wherever I kick them off. 

So it was clear, something had to be done before I lost my mind.  The first thing I did was pick up another sweater box at The Container Store.  Then I made sure all of my sweaters were clean so that I could put them away for next year.  That one box made a huge difference in my closet. 

As you can see, I can now actually get to the shoes on the top of the shoe rack without having a huge pile of clothes there. 

And I took five minutes and restacked my shoe boxes on top of the shelf.  Now the box that’s missing its top is on the top of the stack, rather than somewhere in the middle which makes the whole stack wonky.  What a concept.  <— sarcasm

And the shoes on the floor have been relegated back to their boxes.  Hopefully they will stay that way. 

It’s amazing what a difference one box and less than an hour’s time makes.  My closet looks so much better, and it’s not making me lose my mind everytime I slide open that door. 

Now I can cross this off my to do list and move onto some other things I need to do around the house.  Eric and I must be nesting, because all of a sudden we keep thinking of projects that need to be done.  Speaking of which, thanks for the compliments on the Patio Project.  We are so pleased with how it turned out!  The next project for me is making a skirt for my craft table in an effort to hide all of my “stuff” underneath it.

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An Object of Beauty

Ready for another book review?  I know, I can’t believe how fast I’m reading them either.  This one is the next book selection for Artful Readings (the book club I belong to).  And amazingly, I finished reading the book a mont before book club.  In nine years, this has never happened.  A month after book club, yes.  But never this far in advance.

This is the second book we’ve read by Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin).  The first one was a play called Picasso at the Lapine Agile.  That book was pre-Goodreads for me, so I only have a vague recollection of it.  It was good, but didn’t stick in my head like other books have.

This book, on the other hand, I loved.  I thought it was witty and well-written, and the story and it’s characters just engaged me from the first page.  Our main character is Lacey, who is a young woman working at Sotheby’s.  Upon reading this, my first thought was “huh, I never thought about working at an auction house with my Art History degree”.  It was kind of a “duh” moment.  A little flash of the road not taken.  But I digress.  Lacey is joined in the story by our narrator, who is at times a part of the action and at times steps into an omniscient role of the observer.  I loved how the story took the reader on a virtual tour of the art world and how it changed over a 10-15 year span while still showing influence of the decades before.  The book had some unexpected turns that kept me wondering what else might come to light.

Steve Martin is a really engaging writer and this book makes me want to return to my previous read with a new eye.  I would highly recommend his work, and if you’ve only known him as a comedian and actor until now – get to know him as a writer.

Since I have so long before I get my next book club selection, I thought it would be a good time to pick up something I can take my time with.  I decided to start The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  My mom read the first two books in this trilogy and lent me her copy.  I’ve heard very good things, so I’m anxious to see what all the hype’s about.

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Patio Project (aka Operation Cocktail Space)

First of all, let me say a big “Thank You!” to all of you who’ve been checking in on my blog and leaving comments.  I really really appreciate them. 

Anyway, a few weeks ago over dinner Eric said he was thinking about doing something about this unused corner we have in our side yard.  We have a very small cement patio that is mostly taken up by the grill.  To the right of that patio area there are some pavers that lead to the backyard.  Eric has his herb garden on that side near the back door.  But on the left side of the patio, between where the concrete ends and the gate going to the front yard is, it’s a wasteland of weeds and lava rock and three unusable stepping stones.

So when Eric suggested we do something with this area, I was ecstatic (of course I had to remind him that when I’d had the idea myself a year ago and shared it with him I’d been ecstatic too).  My Eric’s idea was to get some plain pavers that matched what was on the other side leading to the backyard and fill in the wasteland to allow us space to put a couple of chairs so that we could enjoy sitting outside again.  As you can see in the top photo, there’s some good shade in this little corner too due to the tree and slight overhang from the roof.  One of the things we had to keep in mind though is that since we rent our house, we didn’t want to install anything permanent (in case the owner didn’t like it), and we didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it. 

We measured, we brainstormed, we priced the supplies and yesterday Eric brought home everything we needed.  Supplies for this project came in at about $100. 

This morning work got started and within a couple of hours we had a new patio space!  It’s level, it matches with the walkway on the other side, and it’s doubled our outdoor living space. 

The lava rock was saved and used as fill in around the edges.  And those three sad stepping stones now have a new life. 

I am absolutely thrilled with it and I can’t wait to mix up a couple of mojitos and kick back on our new patio. 

Great idea, honey!

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Black Dagger Brotherhood

Adding a little spice to your Friday, I thought I’d review my most recent read.  I know, I know…how can you choose something to read after reading The Help?  Impossible isn’t it.  I tried picking up a book I’d previously set aside, The Museum of Innocence.  I still couldn’t get into it, even after 150 pages.  So, I gave up.  Still not having an easy time deciding what to read, so I decided to go to the completely opposite end of the spectrum.  I chose, as Eric likes to call it, “Vampire smut”.

Now, don’t discount the vampire smut so lightly.  Back some time ago when my friend, Missy, recommended this series to me she basically warned me that they are not great literature, but that they are fun, hot, romantic, funny, and that I would love the references to fashion.  How could I resist?  She loaned me the first five or so books in the series and told me to get to it.

I, being the restrained, cold-hearted cynic that I am did not expect much.  So I started in on the first book.  Within days I had finished the first book and dove into the next book.  I could not stop.  I approached these books in about the same way I approach a box of Thin Mints – one minute I’m cracking it open and the next minute I’m wondering why they’re all gone.  In fact I was reading one of these books instead of studying for one of my certification exams.  It got so bad at one point, I was like a junkie.  Eric had to physically take the book out of my hand and refuse to let me have it back.  True.

I have since returned Missy’s books to her and begun buying my own (the sign of a true addict).  So when confronted with what to read, the answer was simple.  There was a new Black Dagger Brotherhood book I hadn’t ripped through yet.  And so I settled in for another foray into the world of the hotness the Brothers.  Although it’s hard to top that first book in the series, I think this book may have been one of my favorites.  The books actually seem to be getting better, the storylines a little more complex, and it’s not all about the hot & sweaty.  But there’s still plenty of hot & sweaty.  *fanning myself*  There’s also a ton of romance that even managed to crack my icy heart.

So, if you haven’t checked out the Black Dagger series, I highly recommend it.  Just read them for what they are and enjoy them while they last.  It’s gonna be awhile before I can get my fix again.  Speaking of which, when is Girl Scout cookie selling season?

Oh and bonus, the books look great with my manicure (this one was the completely appropriate shade of Essie’s After Sex).  True that.

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Catch Up

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It’s been a couple of weeks with no Wednesday Walk posts, I need to get back on track. My motivation seems to have lagged with the rising temps. Anyway, I wanted to give a special shout out of thanks to those who have left me comments lately. I really appreciate it and seeing a new comment show up makes me really happy!!

I also had to share some really cool news. Eric had one of his photos published in a local publication this week. I’m so proud of him and it’s such a great photo – perfect for summer!

Anyway, I’ve got another book review coming your way tomorrow, and eventually I’ll get my ass in gear editing photos from the Gothic shoot we did a while back so I can post them. I’ve also signed up for a jewelry-making class this weekend, so I’m looking forward to that.

So, in the immortal words of Rihanna, “cheers to the freakin’ weekend”. It’s almost here!

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The Help

Stop what you are doing right now and go read this book.  As I mentioned a few posts ago, I’ve been completely immersed in reading this book and throughout it I kept wondering why the hell it had taken me so long to read it?  I borrowed this book from a friend months and months ago.  And it’s just been sitting on my shelf patiently waiting.

So what can I say about this book?  I loved the way it was written from the three women’s perspectives.  I love how they each had their own unique voice.  I was shocked and horrified and touched and warmed all at the same time with this book.  It made me stop and think how far we’ve come, but how far we still have to go.

“Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision. You gone have to ask yourself, “Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?”

Last week Eric and I watched several shows about the Civil War.  Having visited Gettysburg, it is not something you soon forget.  And watching those shows, and reading this book, really bring the point home to me how relatively recent these events are in our history.  You can read this book and think what a great piece of writing it is, what a great story, but ultimately it’s when you realize that these kind of judgments are still happening all over our country – that there are still people everywhere separating into “them” and “us”.  And the “them” and “us” varies, but it’s still all a separation.  And sometimes the separation still creates violence and hate.  But what I love about this book is that even with the odds stacked against you, you can still choose to make a difference.  You can choose to not see the separation, but instead focus on what makes us all the same.

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

Read. This. Book.

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Decorating with Books

Recently I decided that I really needed to get over and start dealing with my storage unit before someone calls Hoarders and blows the whistle.  I’ve been meaning to go through everything there and start getting rid of as much as I can.  I mean, it’s been in storage for years so the majority of it probably isn’t anything I need to keep at this point.  But, my collection of leatherbound books are actually there, and are not anything I want to part with.  I made a deal with myself that if I brought these from storage into the house, I would in return get rid of some books at the house.  Let me tell you, I made the employees at Half Price Books work for their money that day.  I brought in several big shopping bags worth of books to sell.  And as a reward, I now have a good majority of my pretty leatherbound books sitting on the shelves at home.  I was so thrilled at having “rescued” them from storage, that I thought I’d do a post about decorating with books.  Since I’ve already covered Decorating with Quilts, this seemed like another worthy topic. 

You can see in the photo at the top of the post that I’ve used my set of Tales of the Arabian Nights as a backdrop for an Erté sculpture in the deep bookcase in our bedroom.  I love how the gold plays off the deep red of the leather. 

And while those books are acting as more of a decorative element, you can see others that fit well within my bookcases in the living room.  And I’ve also used them in small vignettes throughout the house too.  Here they are with another Erté sculpture on top of a tall chest of drawers. 

And not all the books I decorate with are my nice leatherbound books.  I absolutely love this collection of books on cigar art.  They sit on a shelf next to two decorative cigar boxes, as I’ve shown you in my living room makeover post

The possibilities really are endless, and it’s a great way to actually make use of all those books you’ve got in your library.  A way to add a bit of personality to a room with a well-worn copy of a favorite book, a stack of art books on a table, even a collection on a particular subject.  I’m so thrilled to have my pretty leatherbound books with me at home now, and it was a good compromise to get rid of other books I’m not so in love with to make room for them.

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June Goals

Somehow May has zipped right past and June is already upon us.  So, I thought I’d better recap how I did with my May goals and take a look at what I can cross off my list. 

May 2011 Goals:

1. Fitness/Eating/Health
Continue with Saturday 3m walks  yes
Yoga twice a week  yes – almost every week
– Start doing menu planning nope – need to work on this one
Attend WW meetings yes – religiously
– Schedule eye appointment still need to do this

2. Work
– Get back on track with weekly status reports and time tracking almost caught up
Complete training on my replacement basically done

3. Home, Us, Etc.
Schedule donation pick up done and picked up
Read book for book club done
Filing in office done
– Make hair appointment nope
– Finish closet organization not yet
– Continue cleaning out storage unit need to go back for round 2

I also got several things done like getting a new watch battery, signing up for a class, doing some organizing around the house, etc.  And, as I mentioned, I’ve been working on paying attention to my eating habits. 

So what’s on the agenda for June?

1. Fitness/Eating/Health
– Continue with Saturday 3m walks
– Yoga twice a week
– Gym at least once a week, twice would be preferable
– Start doing menu planning
– Attend WW meetings
– Schedule eye appointment

2. Work
– Get back on track with weekly status reports and time tracking

3. Home, Us, Etc.
– Clean up media room
– Read book for July book club
– Scanning papers on desk
– Make hair appointment
– Finish closet organization
– Continue cleaning out storage unit
– Organize photos in Lightroom

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