12 September 2014

September Domestic Artist Challenge #5: The Foyer


Courtesy of Microsoft.

"You never have a second chance to make a first impression."  Cliches become cliches because they contain at least a bit of truth.  And the front door area--the foyer--of a house is where visitors glean their first real impressions of the family who lives within the home.

In many homes, the foyer is a spacious decorative area, but in our home--because it is the only entrance--the foyer functions as mud room and shoe, hat, and coat storage (no handy front closet here) as well as being the area where we greet visitors to our home.  In addition, the foyer also tends to gather mail, flyers, and magazines that are placed on the shelving in the area as soon as we walk through the door. 

In the foyer I have two medium-sized bookshelves that are used in the homeschooling/dining area for supplies, a small shelf unit for shoes, and a repurposed ironing board that holds the caps the youngsters like to wear.  About the bookshelves:  The backs of the shelves face into the foyer, and the fronts of the shelves face into the homeschooling/dining area, so the tops of the shelves gather the clutter.  About the shoe shelf:  We like to take off our shoes as we come in, and since we started doing so, our incidence of illness has decreased tremendously (your results may vary).  

I do a good job of keeping the tile clean with daily sweeping and biweekly mopping.  The shoes are almost always placed on the shoe shelf, caps and jackets regularly hung up on the ironing board.  (I am considering storing the ironing board or donating it because I haven't ironed anything since before my beloved Braveheart passed.)  Upon reflection, I realized that the paper clutter marred the look of the foyer. 

I found in my store of stuff a stacking mail organizer (somewhat like this one) and put it to use on top of the shelves.  The top shelf is used for mail in envelopes; the bottom shelf is used for magazines and catalogs.  I also made a rule to give myself the treat of an hour on Friday afternoons to read magazines and peruse catalogs.  After saving the helpful magazine materials and clipping any catalog items I find interesting enough for a possible future purchase, I will probably recycle most of them.  

What is your "second worst" clutter area?

Agape always,
Cynthia




09 September 2014

September Domestic Artist Challenge #4: Consider Rearranging a Room

Courtesy of Microsoft.


Dear Ladies,

I continue to work on Challenge #3.  I have finished clearing the table and moving and reloading the bookshelf.  I very much enjoy having a bookshelf right next to my desk.  My desktop is mostly clear, and I have been pretty good about replacing materials removed from the bookshelf.  Now I just need to rearrange the various paper reams housed on my desk and reorganize the shelf at the top of my desk.

Moving the furniture around a little bit and seeing the improvement has made me wonder about rearranging the entire room.  Please let me explain.  When we moved to this particular residence several years ago, we thought this would be our home for not more than six months; therefore, we were not all that careful about where we placed furniture.  In addition, at that time, we were able to afford cable television services, and we watched television for, perhaps, three or four hours a day.  After my husband's death, however, I cancelled our cable television services and use the television for a few hours a week to watch DVDs, but the room remains arranged as if the television continued to be the focal point of the room.

Have any major changes occurred in your family's activities?  Has a child "left the nest"?  Do you have a room that might be repurposed to help your home function more efficiently?  

I have always followed one rule about rearranging a room: at the very least, I inform other family members that the room was going to be rearranged.  That way, nobody is unpleasantly surprised.  When I was blessed to be married, I gained my husband's permission before rearranging a room.  Usually I needed his masculine strength to arrange the furniture, so his participation indicated agreement. 

I have decided to rearranged the great room in the following ways.  Move my desk, computer equipment, chair, and bookshelf to the northeast corner of the room.  I continue to have an outside view, which is very important to me as I teach and write. I believe that the new location will work better for me in the autumn and winter because my feet grow quite cold in the draft from the north-facing sliding glass door.  I am going to move the television stand to the northwest corner of the room.  I am going to focalize the room on the fireplace, its most attractive feature, which is on the west wall of the room.  The homeschooling-dining area will remain on the east side of the room.  The south side of the room opens onto the kitchen and the hallway and includes only a short wall.  I intend to place two shorty bookshelves there to create an area for seasonal vignettes.

I perceive that the room will not only look homier but will serve my family better.  

As always, I hope that my little "woman-to-woman" ideas have helped.

Agape always,
Cynthia


05 September 2014

September Domestic Artist Challenge #3: Reorganizing the Worst First

Courtesy of Microsoft.

Dear Ladies,

The tour revealed what I had suspected all along: my desk area is the most disorganized place in the house. That wouldn't be so bad except my desk area is the our "great room" and the disorganization is disheartening and distracting. After the desk area comes the foyer and then the rest of the house is in decent shape, albeit in need of the twice yearly culling of belongings and unnecessary paper. 

Challenge Number Three, then, is to evaluate the results of your tour, choose the worst example of disorganization, and make a plan to donate or dispose of unneeded belongings and to reorganize what is left.  Make a plan that you believe to be sustainable.  I don't know about you, but I find it very disheartening to make a plan and then not follow through with the plan.  I feel as though I have failed when, in fact, I probably was overly ambitious in the beginning.

My desk area presents a challenge for me because I need everything that is presently on top of my desk.  Books, writing materials, headphones, paper, workbooks--oy!  I think what I am going to do is move my worktable from in front of a bookshelf.  Then, I am going to see what I can donate, repurpose, or dispose of in the way of books from that bookshelf.  Next, I plan to turn the bookshelf  ninety degrees (it's a shorty, so I believe that I can do it myself) so that the shelves are facing my desk.  Finally, I am going to slide the table back about a foot to rest against the part of the slider that does not open.

Somehow, I expect hilarity to ensue.  

I'd love to know how you are planning to reorganize the worst first.

Agape always,
Cynthia



03 September 2014

September Domestic Artist Challenge #2: Take a Tour

Courtesy of Microsoft.

Dear Ladies,

I spent about two hours reconsidering my schedule and consulting with family members for their input, as well.  I made a few changes to my schedule, in particular adding a quiet time each day.  Adding a time of inactivity may seem counter-productive, if not counter-intuitive; however, in chatting with family members, we agreed that we all seem to accomplish more when we take some downtime during the day.  So, starting yesterday afternoon, we have added a quiet hour after our lunch cleanup.

Today, I am going to take a tour of my home.  I will have a pad of paper with me and take lots of notes.  When I visit a family member's room, I consult with the family member about what changes are desired (or not desired).  I already know of two places that need a major reorganizing: the foyer (oy!) and my desk area (double oy!).  Our Fall wardrobes need some reorganization and revamping, as well, and I want to see what other major areas need attending to.  I suspect that my desk area is going to be the worst, but we shall see...

Agape always,
Cynthia

01 September 2014

September Domestic Artist Challenge #1: Evaluate My Schedule and Routines

Courtesy of Microsoft.


Dear Ladies,

The first task I am working on is evaluating my schedule and my routines.  Recently, I read  Daily Rituals: How Artists Work (affiliate link*) which inspired me with vignettes about how famous artists schedule their lives.  Some of the stories were amusing, a few of them a tad scary, and I took away quite a few new ideas.  

I have a basic schedule form on my website, and I use this exact form to schedule my week.   Since I am visually oriented, I color-code my schedule, using blue for Church and service times, yellow for meal times, lavender for rest times, pink and aqua for work-at-home times, and green for work-away times.  I leave blank those precious hours for which nothing is scheduled.  

I also keep formal bedtime, morning, and mid-day routines.  I am seriously re-evaluating those routines.  The bedtime routine, for me, is the most important, for it helps me to wind down after my long, busy day and sets the tone for the next morning.  Still, I have found that in the last few months, I need more self-care than in times past.  This change may be part of the natural aging process that will be permanent or perhaps due to other stresses and strains that I hope are not permanent.  I am starting to feel a bit peppier in the mornings, so I am considering adding a few more activities to my morning routine, which will relieve me of a few mid-day tasks. 

I hope that my little "woman-to-woman" ideas have helped.

Agape always,
Cynthia

*If you click on an affiliate link and purchase anything on the website, I earn a little commission.  All my opinions are my own and not influenced by the possibility of earning a little commission.





Our September Foci: Commemorating and Progressing


Photo courtesy of Wikicommons, in the public domain

October is my favorite month, but September runs a close second.  The temperatures continue to moderate a bit; the public and private schoolers return to their work, depopulating the free and low-cost activities for homeschoolers' visits.  I pray that our autumn and winter are stormy and wet, so I am taking some opportunity for local visits now.

I  had a choice between two flowers for the September flower: the Aster or the Morning Glory.  I chose the Morning Glory because we planted a few seeds here the first summer we lived in this abode, which was my Braveheart's last summer, and they are still blooming.  To me, the Morning Glory signifies the brevity of life and love as well as their eternal natures--a paradox.

September presents a wealth of opportunities for special days.  We emphasize Medieval life this year; therefore, we will commemorate the birth of Richard the Lionhearted on the 8th, and we will read the Tolkien translation of Beowulf during Tolkien week, which is September 21-27 this year.  In addition, we always commemorate the ratification of the United States Constitution on the 17th.  Finally, our next live online Fascinating Womanhood class commences on September 9, and Womanhood Day is September 30. 

I took some time to pick up the Tolkien Beowulf again, for I was reading it the night my car was burglarized.  Four months later, I feel a bit better about reading it again.  I know avoiding the book was irrational, but I felt almost a revulsion toward the book, a book I had waited so long to see and, in fact, believed that I would never be able to read as Tolkien's estate did not seem to be in any hurry to release the volume.

September is a time that I re-organize my home, and I will be posting thirty ways that I intend to do so as a Thirty-Day Challenge.  Will you join me?

Agape always,
Cynthia



26 August 2014

Marine Biology WebCam Site of Possible Interest

Clip art courtesy of Microsoft.


Dear Ladies,

We enjoy studying Marine Biology and visit the EsealCam website on a regular basis.  I thought that some of you might enjoy learning more about the Elephant Seals of Central California, so here is a link to their website, as well:  http://www.elephantseal.org/index.html.  Under the "Marine Mammals" link you will find information about many of the God's creatures found in the Pacific Ocean.  The website does contain non-profit fundraising material, but nothing that I find off-putting (your results may vary, however).

God bless you all.  I pray for all of you: would you please pray for us, too?

Agape always,
Cynthia

PS: I have no financial connection with the website referred to in this "woman-to-woman" post.
 
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