Friday, March 25, 2011

Eau de Rotten Eggs

Dear Makers of Tarn-X,

I love your product. I really do. In fact it is my favorite toxic household chemical. I love the way it creates beautiful and unexpected patinas on the metals I use to make jewelry. You know, all those metals that the warning label says not to use it on. It even outperforms the chemicals that are marketed for patina purposes.

And, of course, Tarn-X is my go-to carcinogen for polishing Grandma's silver. Nothing works better or is easier to use. I can't imagine how people used to polish their intricately detailed silver before your product came along. It must have been a living hell for them.

I just have one teensy little issue to talk to you about. It's not even a complaint really, more like a suggestion. As a faithful Tarn-X user, I would really love to see your company develop some other fragrance options for your product. I'm sure there are those who love the current rotten-egg-left-under-the-seat-of-a-'72-Pinto-parked-in-Death-Valley-for-two-years aroma, but I am not one of them.

I get the whole "chemical reaction" thing. I know there's some kind of magic that takes place when Tarn-X touches silver that causes an enhancement of its pungency. But seriously, you people are in the chemical biz. There must be something you can do to change that odious emanation.

A Tropical Breeze fragrance would be nice, or Clean Linen is one of my favorites. Even plain old Lemon would be an improvement, for Pete's sake. This stuff has singed off all my nose hairs which seemed like a good thing at first but then I thought there might be a good reason for them being there in the first place so I might need some of them (the shortest ones) back.

Sincerely yours,
Shannon Green

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Queen of The Goobers Strikes Again

Just in case there was ever any doubt, I have once again proven myself to be queen of the goobers.

I was asked if I could answer the phone at church for a couple of hours today while the staff met with each of the 4 potential candidates for my old job. I jumped on the opportunity since I was really needing a break from my self-induced organizing Auschwitz.

The interviewees came in at something like 15 or 20 minute intervals so I got to meet all of them except the first one. That was sort of fun and I even resisted the urge to make up some horror stories that would send them running.

Job interviews are important so I tried to put on my professional face and act all efficient and not like a goober as much as I could. To be extra helpful I even sent Barbara, the office manager, a text message just a few minutes before each person's scheduled time slot letting her know they were ready. Maybe a minute after each text message Barbara came out to fetch the next person and I marveled at my own awesomeness.

Until it was the last girl's turn. She got there early so we were visiting and I nearly lost track of time. Luckily I still had a minute or two to spare for my text message so the meeting was still on schedule, thanks to me. I had to stop our conversation to send Barbara the text letting her know the final interviewee was ready, so I explained that to the gal as I typed.

When I hit send, I heard a faint little chime sound and looked up in horror to see Barbara's cell phone lying on the desk right in front of me. It had been there the whole time and I was so impressed with my own efficiency I hadn't even noticed.

Final Interviewee noticed. Oh yes she did. What could I do? I just came clean and told her I had been texting Barbara before each appointment but she didn't even have her cell phone, I did. Which just goes to show that you don't have to be too bright to work there.

I was cracking up at my own idiocy but Final Interviewee (bless her heart) looked a little frightened.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Clean Sweep Update

I know what you're thinking. She isn't finished yet?! How long does it take to clean out a house? Apparently the answer is 60 days, which is double the number of days I thought it would take. On the upside, the end is in sight. I think maybe 2 more weeks should do it. Then I will have met my goal to touch and examine every single item in my house and determine whether or not I need to keep it. It's a slow, tedious process but it will be worth it. I think. I've sorta forgotten why I felt the need to do this in the first place but I'm too far in to quit now.

Since I've already posted all the pictures on Facebook with captions explaining what everything is, I will just hit the highlights here. No since in redoing what I've already done, right? I'm just all organized and efficient like that now.

You can read the captions for these pictures in  my Facebook Clean Sweep 2011 album. 

These next pictures are from the Clean Sweep 2011 Kitchen album on Facebook. This is what I'm working on right now so I'll be adding some more to this.

I know. I was as surprised as you to discover what a slob I am. You can read more about these next pictures in my Clean Sweep 2011 Linen Closet & Library Facebook album.

And finally, we have the art room. There are a lot more detailed pictures of this room in my Clean Sweep 2011 Art Room album. It was by far the most difficult and time consuming area I've tackled yet.

After I finish the kitchen then it will be time for the garage and attic. I'm dreading those. There's not tons of stuff in either of them but the stuff is big. And heavy. And it's hot outside. I predict a significant increase in my daily whining.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Do Not Right On Any More!

Purging and organizing your entire house is no picnic but rediscovering stuff you'd forgotten about is sort of fun.

I got this bible as a Christmas gift from my grandparents when I was a year old but I'm not exactly sure which grandparents gave it to me. My great grandparents were Grandma and Grandpa Kizis but that handwriting is my grandmother's. I'm thinking maybe they had her give it to me for Christmas on their behalf.

Anyway, I remember this bible well. I carried it with me every time I went to the big baptist church with my grandparents. I can see myself in my white patent leather shoes with little socks that had lace around the edges. I'd be wearing little white lace gloves and a very frilly and ruffly Martha's Miniatures dress similar to this one only not as comfortable looking.

I don't know who Martha is but I have a feeling she never had children of her own. If she had she would know that putting a toddler in a scratchy organza dress then sending them to church where they're expected to keep still and quiet for an hour is just downright insane.

Anyway, Taylor ran across my bible while she was cleaning out the bookshelves in her room. I flipped through it and started cracking up at some of the things that my sister and I had written in it.

My sister, Shamayn, used to have a "thing" about writing her name on stuff. I always thought maybe it was because she had an unusual name which was inconvenient for a child of the 70s and 80s. Personalized and monogrammed stuff was considered cool. We all had a wooden key chain with our name carved in it even though we couldn't drive for another 6 years. We had our names imprinted on little license plates on the back of our bicycles and airbrushed in glitter on the front of our t-shirts. Poor Mayn never could find her name on the key chain rack at Spencer's in the mall. I think that's where her tagging tendencies came from. But she didn't just write her name on things, the child carved it into furniture and scratched it into the paint on her bedroom door. She was serious about leaving her mark.
Shamayn is 3-1/2 years younger than I am and even though she is my best friend today, we didn't get along well while we were growing up. She was an inconvenient disruption to my little world and she kept touching my stuff. I really, really hated that.

She and I both wrote inside just about every book we ever had but I didn't like her writing in MY books. This was especially true for my bible which I knew was an important book since it was a gift from my grandparents. I knew it shouldn't have been written in at all. In an attempt to keep Shamayn from writing my special bible, I wrote "Do not right on" on every blank page I could find. Made sense to me.

This didn't prove to be an effective deterrent as you can see. On a blank page toward the end of the bible I had to get a little more assertive so I wrote, "Do not right on any more!"

Taylor and I just died laughing at the kid logic of writing "Do not right on" on every blank page. Taylor didn't write in her books when she was little. I've held on to some of her favorite childhood books and a few I've held on to for myself.

The first books I bought for Taylor were a set of Disney board books that I got before she was born. We didn't have a lot of money then, sort of like now, so I would join every book subscription club that I could find advertised in magazines. This was before the internet went mainstream. They all offered to send you a trial book or books for free along with a t-shirt or tote bag or something similar. After previewing the trial books they would send you a couple of books and a big fat bill every month for the rest of your natural life. If you didn't like your trial books you could cancel your subscription but they let you keep the books and the t-shirt for free.

I was really diligent about canceling my subscription before they sent me something I had to actually pay for and through that process I was able to amass an impressive free library for my kiddo plus a whole bunch of t-shirts that she slept in for years. I would read to Taylor from the Disney board books when she was an infant but later they became her favorite thing to chew on when she was teething. There are teeth marks all over them and the spines look like victims of a rat infestation. How can I give those away??! I can't. Taylor might like to read them to her baby some day then it will be her turn to fish bits of bookboard out of her kid's slobbery mouth.

I used to save things for the children I would have some day. Now I save things for the grandchildren I hope to have not any time soon.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Flea Market Therapy

Yesterday I went shopping at the Jockey Lot because we still need a lot of stuff for the new house and because I am slowly going insane. Being cooped up in this house while sorting through 20+ years of accumulated junk has taken its toll on my overall well being.

For instance, a couple of days ago as I continued to purge, sort and clean my art room, I once again was frustrated with some of the storage options I'd chosen. I'm doing all of this without buying a single thing so I'm just using whatever boxes and bins I can find around the house. I'll do the real prettying up after we move.

Anyway, on the shelf in one of my closets I had one Rubbermaid box for my paint brushes and another one for sponge brushes, sponges, and texture tools. I came across another paint brush and went to put it in the paint brush box and wished I could find some other bins for these supplies because the box I had the paint brushes in was too big and the box that held all the sponge brushes and other supplies was too small. I like how the supplies were divided and didn't want to mix the two but the box sizes were driving me crazy and had been for several days. Plus, I didn't like the way they were stacked on the shelf either. I wanted the paint brushes on top to be more accessible but since they were in the bigger box they had to be on the bottom. The whole thing was messin' with my chi.

Okay, any normal person would have instantly seen the obvious solution. Switch boxes. Simple, right? Yeah. I'd been frustrated with that for days until out of nowhere a little voice in my head said, "switch boxes" at which point I jumped for joy while simultaneously slapping my forehead with my palm.

After that I decided to take a break and eat something since I was evidently pushing myself too hard since I couldn't see such an obvious solution to a problem.  Not wanting to waste too much time cooking and eating, I just heated up a bowl of soup in the microwave. I stood with my head pressed against the microwave and my eyes closed while I waited for what seemed like forever for the thing to ding. It didn't ding. I opened the microwave to see if my soup was ready and it was still cold. Because I never turned on the microwave.

This is payback for when I made fun of Jayson, I just know it. Anyway, I felt like I deserved a break so I went to the flea market yesterday. Here's what I found:
Drawer pulls and skeleton keys. The keys will go in my art room and the pulls will go on...something fabulous I'm sure.
Are these the best lamps ever or what?! I LOVE them! Now all I need is a couple of funky shades for them. After I clean the brass I might paint it silver or maybe give it a pewter finish.
I paid $20 for both lamps and was surprised that both of them work. I just assumed I'd have to rewire them which, by the way, is very easy to do nowadays with all the lamp kits that are available.
I saw this idea on some website not too long ago and couldn't wait to try it. I bought the salt & pepper shakers at some of the thrift stores in Houston then brought them back to Lafayette so I could see how amazing my glitter looks in them. It's amazing, right?
There's just something about this that makes me happy. Maybe because it's all sparkly and shiny.
I've been seeing this aaaallllll over the internet but it wasn't very high on my to-do list since I only have one spool of Divine Twine. Then I ran across the sugar container at a thrift store and thought maybe it was a sign from God that I needed to buy it for my Divine Twine. He cares about my twine storage, I'm just sure of it.
I didn't want this glass dish but the couple at the flea market wouldn't sell me just the buttons so I had to buy it. After a little negotiating, they threw in the next 2 items for free so it's all good.
I don't know what was going on with this bottle. I think it was etched then maybe silvered but it had tarnished so badly that it turned black.
After lots of scraping and scrubbing and mixing toxic chemicals to clean with, it turned out half way decent.
These were my other gift with purchase when I bought the bowl of buttons. I think they'll actually look good in Taylor's bathroom with that blue and white seersucker shower curtain I got from the thrift store.
30 bucks and a couple of hours of my time isn't a bad alternative to several months of therapy and hundreds of dollars in psychotropic drugs. Make that MORE psychotropic drugs.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Icing on My Kismet Cake

I posted pictures on Facebook of this pitiful little wine rack that I bought at The Guild Shop earlier this week. I plan to use it to store craft supplies but I didn't tell anyone which supplies those would be. As a hint, I put some empty water bottles in the rack.

I can't show you the finished product yet since the rack is in Houston and my supplies are still here in Lafayette, plus that poor rack needs some work. But here are the mysterious supplies that I intend to put in it.

I cut the tops off empty water bottles and shoved a skein of yarn inside. It works perfectly to keep the skein all neat and still lets me see the pretty fibers. How cute is that thing gonna be when I paint it white and put colorful fibers in each slot? I can't wait to get it finished!

In case you're wondering how the mind of a creative genius works, I have no idea. But here's a sneak peek at how mine works. I often get asked how I come up with some of my creative ideas and the truth is that I don't. I take bits and pieces of what I've seen others do and rearrange them into something similar but different. Most of the time someone else has already thought of the idea which I really sort of like. Serendipity is fascinating to me. Here's how this idea, or my version of it, was born.

I've been drinking a lot of water while cleaning out the house to get ready to move and I started saving my empty water bottles, hoping I could think of something to do with them besides create more trash. Right now I have 2 big plastic bags in my art room: one for trash and one for recycling. A couple of weeks ago I had just polished off the last drop of water in my bottle then reached down to open one of the plastic bags, thinking it was the recycling bag. It wasn't. It wasn't the trash bag either. It was my bag of yarn and fibers that were sitting there waiting for me to decide what to do with them. Bottle in one hand + yarn in the other = the birth of an idea.

I cut off the top of the bottle with a utility knife and the skein of yarn fit perfectly inside. Ever since then I've been putting yarn in empty water bottles then throwing them back inside the big plastic bag because that didn't exactly solve my storage problem, but it was a start.

Then a few days ago I spotted Mr. Pitiful Wine Rack at the thrift store and the first thing I thought of was my fiber bottles. As usual, I had no idea if it would even work but it looked great in my head. Jayson and I both thought the slots looked a little too big for a water bottle but I knew I could rig something if that ended up being the case. The rack is solid wood, except for the particle board thing on the back, so it's sturdy and it was cheap.

As soon as we got it back to the house, I quickly ran inside to grab a water bottle and sure enough it fit. I love it when that happens.

That's my idea but here's where it originally came from. Several years ago I saw this project in my favorite magazine, Readymade. They used Pringles cans covered in contact paper to store art supplies. I don't eat Pringles and really didn't have anywhere to put something like this but I liked it so I just logged it away in the archives of my brain.

Then within the last couple of months  I ran across this little gem on a blog called Leethal. The author was also inspired by the Readymade Pringles cans but she used her Trader Joe's coffee cans to store her yarns and fibers. I really love that idea but her tutorial looked like a whole lot of trouble and I don't have a source for coffee cans so I archived that idea too.

Recently this picture of a mason jar storage idea has been circulating on Pinterest. It's just a little slice of fabulous and I thought I might try to figure out some way to use it in the new house cuz it's just too fun not to. I like that it's functional but also pretty. Into the brain archives that one went as well. Now do you see why I have trouble remembering stuff? My hard drive is full so it has no choice but to overwrite.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago as I was standing in my disaster of an art room holding an empty water bottle in one hand and a skein of yarn in the other. All 3 of these pictures crawled out of the back of my brain and combined themselves. I knew the empty water bottles would give me the look of tubular storage that I fell in love with at Readymade. I knew they would hold at least most of the skeins of yarn and fibers in my collection like the idea from Leethal. And I would be able to see the fibers so the end result would be decorative a well as functional, like the jars from Pinterest.

The thrift store wine rack was just the icing on my kismet cake. I will definitely be posting pictures of the finished product after we move and I get it all put together.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Odell The Can Lady

Today I decided to box up all my new thrift store goodies so that Jayson doesn't accidentally break them before I get the chance to use them. I'm not saying that he's accident prone, but he did manage to tumble down a flight of stairs in a single bound.

Since we haven't technically moved in yet, I didn't have any old newspaper or anything to wrap the dishes in but I did have some cup towels that I brought down here a while back for some reason that I can't remember but I'm sure it was brilliant.

Most of the cup towels are linen souvenir towels that my grandmother collected on some of her trips, but I have a stack of towels that I got as a wedding gift waaaaayyy back in 1988 that I've never used. I like them so I've kept them but they never really matched any of the houses we've lived in so they haven't seen any action.

Until now. Omigosh they're perfect. They're those cotton flour sack dish towels that are hand embroidered with a different task for each day of the week. You know the ones, they've been around forever.

As I was packing up my stuff in these soft towels, I was thinking about the lady who gave them to us. Her name was Odell and she used to come by my Dad's office once a week to collect the aluminum cans we'd save for her. This was way before recycling caught on in North Texas. It just wasn't done.

But Odell did it and she did it not for the environment but because it was one of the few ways she could earn the money she desperately needed just to survive. She asked friends and businesses to save their cans for her and she'd faithfully pick them up every week and take them to the recycling center.

Did I mention that Odell was a widow and was at least 150 years old? On occasion my Dad or Grandfather would find a can that someone had thrown in the trash and they'd fish it out and put in the separate bag we kept for Odell. Not because they gave a rip about the environment, but because they cared a great deal about Odell.

When Jayson and I got married I gave her a wedding invitation knowing that she probably wouldn't come but I would have liked for her to. I worked for my Dad and saw her every week so she knew I was getting married and had patiently pretended to be interested as I'm sure I selfishly droned on and on about wedding plans every time I saw her.

I certainly didn't expect a gift from her and I don't think she felt obligated to give one. She did it because that was how she rolled. I'm always amazed at how the most generous people are often the ones that seems to have so little to give. But somehow they manage to outgive us all.

Odell did give us a wedding gift...several of them in fact. If I remember right, she left the box at the office for me because I wasn't in on the day she came around for the cans.  I opened the box and found what turned out to be my favorite wedding gift out of all the gifts we received. And we received a lot.

There was a spice rack in the box, the wooden kind with 2 rows of glass bottles with rubber stoppers. You've probably seen them before. It was obviously second hand but spotlessly clean. I don't know what happened to the rack over the years but I still have and use the bottles.

Also in the box was a small mayonnaise jar full of assorted buttons. There was a hand crocheted pin cushion with a variety of pins and needles, some with a length of thread attached.

There were 2 aprons that Odell had made from cute cotton calico. One was a Christmas print and the other was pink and white. She also included half a dozen colorful pot holders that she'd made by quilting fabric scraps together. Then there were the 7 flour sack towels that she'd embroidered herself.

The next time I saw Odell I thanked her for the gift and told her how much I appreciated all of the thoughtful items she included. She told me that she liked to give those kinds of things as gifts to brides because they're things we all need but usually don't think to ask for. She was right. I'm pretty sure I didn't think to register a pin cushion or a jar of buttons at Dillard's but sure enough, I needed them.

Odell liked to collect discarded clothing from dumpsters or garage sale leftovers. She would take them home and wash everything really well in hot water. Then she would remove all the buttons or zippers and rip out all the seams so she could use the fabric to make quilts, aprons, pot holders, etc. to give as gifts. That's also where the jar of buttons came from, and she made sure to tell me to save all my empty jars because they were good to store things in.

Next month Jayson and I will be celebrating our 23rd anniversary. When we got married we received a lot of nice gifts and appreciated each one of them but it's difficult to remember exactly who gave what. And even though I do appear to be somewhat of a hoarder (the clean, quirky kind) I have gotten rid of a lot of things over the years for various reasons.

The years, my narcolepsy, and my general flightiness have robbed me of a lot of memories that I'm sure I would miss if I could just remember what they are. I find it odd and fascinating that I can remember so clearly this gift from Odell. What started out in a dumpster quickly became the most treasured wedding gift I received and almost 23 years later I still feel like the luckiest person in the world because I have dumpster pot holders made by Odell the can lady!!

I really don't know where I got my love for dumpster diving and repurposing. It may have been Odell, it may not. But her spirit of generosity, creativity, and her gift for making do with what she had has been my muse for most of my adult life.

I don't know what happened to Odell. I got caught up in my own life and lost track of her. I'm sure she passed away years ago. I hope I see her again when we're in heaven because there's something I really want to tell her. I want her to know that her wedding gift was my favorite and it lasted longer than anyone else's gift because the real gift she gave me wasn't inside that box.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Proof is in The Underwear Drawer

Jayson's cheese done slid off his cracker. Living in separate cities for the past 4 months has taken its toll on him and quite frankly I'm a little concerned.

After Taylor and I got to Houston and got settled in on Sunday, I saw that Jayson had some laundry that needed to be done and I didn't mind doing it. He had some clean socks and undies in the laundry room so I folded them and went to our closet to put them away.

The last time I was here, he had one shelf for all his socks and undies but now there were only socks on that shelf. I held up the 5 pairs of clean undies I had in my hand and asked him where the rest of his panties were. He said, "That's probably all of them".

Well I knew that wasn't right because he doesn't have any left in his drawer in Lafayette and his shelf was full the last time I was here. When I pointed that out to him, he remembered that he moved them to one of the drawers in our new dresser.

I'm willing to bet just about anything that he forgot that he'd moved his all his underwear into that drawer and has been using these same 5 pairs for the last month but I didn't say anything.

I opened Jayson's panty drawer and found this.
 I asked, "Is this also the drawer for your socks?"

"Only the dark ones", he replied.

"But I just saw a bunch of black socks on the shelf in your closet. Why are those there and these here?"

"Well, I'm in the process of transferring everything over", he said as if it's some kind of enormous task that must be broken down into manageable increments.

"Where are your white socks?" I asked, almost afraid of what the answer would be.

He said, "Those are in the drawer on the left." I opened the drawer on the left and this is what I saw.
I pulled one tan sock out of the white sock drawer and then pulled its mate out of the black sock drawer. I asked Jayson, "Is there any reason why these 2 socks were in different drawers?"

"I said it's a process!!" he snapped back.

Okay, okay, I get it. He's having sock issues. I got the rest of his black socks off the closet shelf and put them in his underwear drawer. Then I said, "You know, we have enough drawers in this dresser so that you could have one white sock drawer, one dark sock drawer and an underwear drawer. You don't have to keep your dark socks in with your underwear."

"I like them there", he said.

Fine. We were done with that conversation. I thought. When I started to put his socks and underwear in the drawers where he wanted them he said, "You know...I've never liked my socks folded. I like them loose in the drawer."

We've been married for almost 23 years during which time I have always paired up and folded his socks with no complaint from him. Now suddenly he tell me that he's never liked it and would like for them to be loose in the drawer. The next thing I know he'll be buying a sports car and insisting that everyone call him Jazzman.

I pointed out to him that it's easier to pair them up right out of the wash rather than to waste time in the mornings digging for 2 matching socks. Just when I thought I couldn't be anymore shocked he said, "They don't have to be a matching pair, as long as they're the same color."

What? WHAT?!!!? Who IS this stranger?! I absolutely canNOT function with 2 different socks on my feet! Even if I have 12 pairs of identical socks, I match them up according to wear and tear so that they are as identical as possible. I've done this for my family for as long as I can remember because I thought they felt that way too.

This was almost too much to process. But...I'm the woman, I am adaptable. I unfolded all of the socks I had just neatly paired up and I placed them in the drawers where he wanted them.

As I was putting his underwear away Jayson said, "I really prefer for my underwear to be rolled instead of folded because they fit better in the drawer and it's much neater".

It's much neater. I've got no problem with neat and organized but let me show you what this looks like.
The white sock drawer.
The underwear drawer without its dark socks.

It looks sort of Jekyll and Hyde. Or maybe like a serial killer.

Just to make sure I understood I asked, "So you want your underwear neatly rolled and placed in the drawer, then you want your unfolded, unmatched, uncivilized black socks just thrown in on top??"

"Yes, that's what I want."

So that's what I did. Then I backed slowly out of the room and once I reached the hallway I turned and ran back down the stairs where it was safe.

Jayson and Taylor decided to go to the mall Monday morning so I did a little cleaning up around the house while they were gone. There really wasn't much to do anywhere except the bedroom where Jayson spends most of his time when he's home.

While I was making the bed, I saw this in the corner on Jayson's side.
They're hotel key cards, lined up like little soldiers in a corner of the bedroom. I haven't asked him about them because I'm afraid he might have named them and is having conversations with them or something like that. I'm just sure that I don't want to know.

The last time Jayson was in Lafayette I sent my guitar back with him since it had been riding around in my car for a couple of weeks and was just in the way. I was admiring the spot he had chosen to put it: that weird little ledge on the staircase.
I like it there and might let it live there permanently. As I was considering this, I looked along the curved edge of that ledge and saw this.
Jayson has lined up quarters, again like little soldiers.

I tried to tell myself that this is what recovering alcoholics do when they're faced with temporary bachelorhood. He can't make a beer can pyramid so he's lining up loose change and hotel key cards.

I told Taylor that no matter what we have to be moved by the end of this month because Daddy isn't well.