Monday, April 13, 2009

peppermint poo

Normally I buy kitty litter in a bucket (easy to carry.) But I was recently shopping with a friend, and he spotted some bags of litter, very inexpensive, and offered to carry them for me. It was a name brand, so I decided to give it a try. Unfortunately, I did not read the label, and discovered, to my dismay, that is is not clumping litter. When wet, it just turns brown and stays wet. And, strangely, it smells like peppermint!

Today I was reading an article about "The Most Toxic Places in Your Home" on Today / MSNBC. The article mentions that many kitty litters contain crystalline silica, which is a carcinogen. Great, now another thing I have to look for on the label!

Darn stinky cats.

fragrant fire

Herbal Fire Starter

Pinecones and dried herbs such as rosemary, sage leaves, and cinnamon sticks make fragrant kindling for a winter fire -- and, unlike composite firelogs and lighter fluid, don't rely on chemicals to ignite the flame.

1. Bundle dried herbs and small pinecones in a sheet of newspaper and secure the ends with raffia or cotton twine.
2. As you pile up logs for your fire, nestle the herb bundle underneath, with paper ends sticking out.
3. To start the fire, light the newspaper ends. As the paper burns up, the herbs inside will ignite and incinerate, giving the logs a chance to catch fire.

Cost: less than $10

From MSN article "25 Eco-Chic Ideas for Your Home."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

new year, new space?

I found this anonymous quote recently:
If it is neither useful nor beautiful,
it doesn't belong in your life.

It really sums up something that’s been on my mind for a while: I have too much stuff, WHY?

I need to downsize drastically. We will not always have this 3000 square foot house with the huge garage and 3 storage sheds... and when we (eventually) move across country, we can’t afford to take all this stuff with us!

A recent issue of House Beautiful magazine featured an article about clearing clutter from closets. Julie Morgenstern’s strategy is SHED.
SEPARATE the treasures — identify the gems that are worth hanging on to.
HEAVE the trash — eliminate what's weighing you down.
EMBRACE your identity — connect to who you are without all your stuff.
DRIVE yourself forward — explore the direction that connects to your genuine self.

I really liked what she said about items of “sentimental value:” Ask yourself: Is this the best and most important reminder of that time in my life, or person I knew, that I own?

You can read the article online here, but I encourage you look for the print version too, it’s laid out nicely with different fonts & colors.

To rid my home of clutter, I’ve created a "6 bucket method." I will go through one room at a time, with 6 buckets/bins/containers:
1. OUT -- trash
2. OUT -- donate
3. OUT -- sell
4. IN -- put away somewhere else
5. IN – keep for sentimental value
6. IN -- not sure / decide in 1 month

This is my variation of the “four box method” from Organized Home (and zillions of other sources on the web!)

Today we cut off our cable and internet, and after this weekend we'll be cancelling NetFlix. So our entertainment will be reading, watching our small collection of DVDs/VHSs that I’m frankly pretty sick of watching (I see an opportunity to donate here!), or crafting (but I don’t have much space to work, too much clutter!) So this is a great time in my life to dedicate my evenings & weekends to cleaning up the clutter!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pier 1 nearly redeemed

Ever since I set foot in Pier One decades ago, I've loved to shop there. I rarely buy much, but I enjoy looking. I always thought, "if I had more $$$ I might buy a bit more." But for the past couple of years I just haven't found anything in there that I wanted. I even had a $30 gift card, and just could not spend it! Finally, Thanksgiving Weekend I found several things I wanted. Now I kinda regret paying $6 for a small bag of rocks (especially since I bought more than one!!!) -- but I think the final result just may be worth it (see below.)

They have lots of great Christmas ornaments, and of course their selection of candles & candle holders kept me mesmerized for over an hour. But sadly they do not have a single menorah or other Jewish holiday item in stock, neither in the store nor online (as far as I can tell -- it's hard to know for sure, since THEY DON'T HAVE A SEARCH BOX ON THEIR WEB SITE!!!!)

They have several mult-candle holders, but they only hold 5 or 6 or 7 or 12 candles -- not 8 or 9. So I made my own Hanukkah menorah from Pier 1 stuff.

And I got another candle platform, maybe it will go in the fireplace. Candles are from Ross (cheaper than Pier 1!)

This year we are going to celebrate the LIGHT in the darkness: Solstice (shortest day / longest night), Yule (burn a huge log), and Hanukkah (8 nights of candles.) We'll see what we celebrate next winter (hopefully we'll be living someplace cold and can have SNOW!)

Scandinavian folk-inspired holiday decor

I've been seeing these great Scandinavian-themed decorations in several stores this year: red & natural wood in JoAnns and/or Michaels, red & white in Target, and red & yellow & green in KMart.

Target red flocked ornaments

Target metal ornaments

KMart Martha Stewart "Yuletide Cheer" felt tree toppers

Crate & Barrel felt mini-stocking ornaments (I haven't seen them in person, but oh my are they cute! and pricey...)

KMart also has some cute table runners, tablecloths, and napkins that go with the theme -- sadly, they are sold out...

I'm trying to stick to blue & white & silver stars & snowflakes, but if I had the $$$ to really decorate the whole house, I'd have to get a bunch of this red stuff too. It's so cheery, and would fit in with the "northern Europe" look I'm creating for my whole house.

Martha Stewart winter holiday decor

Normally I'm not a fan of Martha Stewart or KMart, but someone gave me a KMart gift card, so I took a look. And I found quite a few "winter holiday" decorations that I really like! This will be our first year celebrating "winter holidays" and our budget is tight, so I restrained myself... but I did pick up a few things.

Martha Stewart "First Snowfall" wood snowflake garland (9 feet of bead-y goodness!)

Martha Stewart "First Snowfall" painted white wood snowflake ornaments

Here they are on my dining table. Not sure if they'll end up on a wall or a tree, but I'll post pics later.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

soup tureen

Country Home magazine runs a regular feature, "What's Hot." In the November 2008 issue, they featured soup tureens.

Now, I've had this Pfaltzgraff Yorktowne soup tureen since 1993 -- but never really had a place to display it. It has lived in the back of the cupboard for ages -- and I don't think it's ever been used.... In October, I was doing some cleaning & decorating to prepare for houseguests, and I decided to pull it out. This was before I read the magazine, actually. Guess I was on the same wavelength!

My tureen is shown here with a vintage platter I won on ebay a couple years ago. I had intended to hang the platter on the wall, maybe surrounded by some other blue & white plates, but it just hasn't happened yet. It did come in very handy for holding the turkey last week! :-)