The Best Baked Plans…

This is why I shouldn’t have any bright ideas in the kitchen:

I was racing around preparing for a showing on Tuesday morning when I realized I’d forgotten breakfast. Seeing Squirrel left one store bought chocolate chip cookie in the cupboard – the light bulb went on over my head. Why not warm it up, killing two birds with one stone – snack for me, warm fuzzy scent for the potential buyer?

But this is me we’re talking about. No sooner had I got the cookie in the oven than I heard someone fire up a serious sounding power washer outside.

No!!! The neighbours are not getting their roof power washed (spraying gutter gunk all over my deck and backyard) today – of all days! I hurtled out the door and launched into interrogation mode:

Me: Are you just doing the driveway?

Power Washer Guy: Yep…oh, and the roof…and the gutters…

Me: Oh, well, we’re trying to sell the house (pointing to very obvious sign) and I have someone coming to see it at 1:15. I know it’s hard, but can you PLEASE try not to spray stuff all over my yard?

Power Washer Guy: No problem. I’ll have it cleaned up by 1pm.

Me: What’s that smell?

!@#$  %^&* !@#$  %^&* !!!

I darted inside to find half my breakfast smoking blackly at me from the bottom of the oven.


I switched the fan to high and opened all the doors as Power Washer Guy revved his engine sending a mist of debris swirling past my recently washed kitchen windows.

I ate the unburnt half of the cookie anyway, standing over the kitchen sink, feeling sorry for myself.

Just then my realtor called. She told me not to worry about things I can’t control. “If they can’t look past the minor things,” she said, “they’re probably not serious anyway.”

Wise words.

Because on Wednesday the burnt cookie showing had turned into an offer!!! and by Thursday night (after a few rounds of negotiation), we accepted it.


I woke up the next morning and looked out the window to see that Power Washer Guy actually did an excellent job of cleaning up after himself, but that a bear had walked right through our back fence knocking out five planks.

Sometimes the things we can’t control end well, sometimes not. I know one thing for sure, that fence repair can wait until I’ve celebrated.

How should I celebrate this untethering from the cleaning cloth? Any suggestions?


Waiting (Not So) Patiently

Waiting for a house to sell is a lot like waiting for the sun to come out on your every second year beach vacation. You can only lay under the clouds for so long in your brand new tangerine swimsuit before the cracks start to form in your brave face.

Yet, the stakes are so high and the temptation to pretend is so great that you’ll start telling yourself that the sun is just about to pop or that the right buyer is just around the corner.

The truth is that there is no way to tell if the sun will come on the fourth or the fourteenth day of your vacation or when the stars will align to bring that perfect purchaser to your well-marketed doorstep.

The very best you can do in either situation is distract yourself. Fortunately, I distract easily.

Lately, it amuses me probably more than it should, that the most common search term that brings people to my blog is: interpretive dance. Now, I mentioned interpretive dance very briefly in a previous post which tells me that there is a great deal more interest in the art form than there is in clutter, decluttering, or simplifying.

Just imagine the following I’ll attract by dedicating this entire post to the subject.

The thing about interpretive dance is that, in its highest form – it’s a highly skilled art form that calls forth deep imagination and emotion.

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Yet, in its grassroots form, it’s accessible to everyone. Regardless of age…

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…or species.

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There’s no need for a special venue. Interpretive dance can be performed anywhere the spirit moves you.

At the coffee shop…

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In the park…

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And, why not at the conference…if that’s how you roll?

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Some dancers only reach their full expression with a partner…

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While others feel there’s something missing if there’s less than twelve limbs to call upon.

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Men make excellent interpretive dancers.

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So do dogs…

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While Interpretive dance sequences are often self-explanatory – sometimes a caption or a bit of text brings deeper meaning to the dance.

It is noted below this photo that it also appears in: Bee and Adam’s Wedding Album

That definitely speaks to state of mind.

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And, this one is called:

Joanne Still Interpretive Dancing

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Some people just don’t know when to quit, I guess.

Others still have found a way to incorporate interpretive dance into unimagined arenas.

These people are interpretively dancing their Ph.d dissertation.

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There is debate in some circles over whether interpretive dance is more powerful with costume….

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or without…

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And, if all of this bores you – there’s always interpretive arson…

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Whatever lights your fire, chances are someone has already danced exactly how you feel about rain on your vacation, or no offers yet on your house…

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…which, if not cathartic, is bound to be distracting.

Clutter Rehab: A Picture Is Worth A Hundred Things

For those of you that don’t know, this is Dr. Drew of Celebrity Rehab, a show I don’t watch unless it pops up while I’m changing channels, and then I can’t always look away.

And no, I haven’t exactly relapsed per se, but I think I’d admit to pretty much anything if Dr. Drew was giving me that look. Squirrel pretty much nailed it when he called it the – “You can do better.” look.

Well, I can (and can’t) do better.

Have you ever noticed that you can go along for weeks with all your balls in the air until someone adds just one more, and this happens:

Then no one (especially you) seems to remember that you balanced 100 things for as many days when 101 sets you this far back.

It won’t be news to you that I’m finding out that I am exactly the same person as I was in May of last year, only with 10,000 fewer things.

I’m still an overwhelmed Mom operating just one ball short of a blow out. And as much as I’d like to say that getting rid of 10,000 things changed me, that wouldn’t be the whole truth. The fact is, I may always need a little help keeping decluttering somewhere near the top of my list of priorities.

Looking back on the challenge it amazes/amuses me that it all started with something as simple as a picture. The key to my motivation was simply seeing my stuff through your eyes. And, of course, the fact that you didn’t all cancel your subscriptions upon reading stuff like this.

Well, I think it’s time to pick up the camera again, but let’s leave the numbers out of it this time. Will you join me in a motivation experiment?

Take out your phone, camera, or even just your finger frame and snap a shot of any area in your home where you can (and want) do better (cue: Dr. Drew’s understanding but disappointed look). If you’re really brave, you can imagine how a Home Show host might introduce your picture to their audience.  Now, go on with your life.

What happened? Did you make any changes? Did you get rid of anything? Did you do it all at once or slowly over the course of a week? How did it make you feel?

How does your inner Dr. Drew look now?

My (sort of) Simple Christmas

I originally wanted to adorn this wreath with an owl having fallen in love with all the owls in the shop windows this Christmas, but I’m wary of trends lest come next year owls are so last year. Imagine my excitement upon finding another decorative woodland creature that never gets old around here.

The snowflakes are made from some card stock I was going to declutter and a snowflake punch I bought last year when I decided to take on papercrafting.

What is it with me and Christmas and papercrafting? You think I’d learn. This year I saw a “how to” for making paper ornaments and decided immediately that I had to have fifty of them in white hanging from my ceiling.

They covered my table and window sills for a week. My hands were never idle. In an incident I hardly care to relive, Squirrel even sat on a bag of small ones.

That evening as he teetered precariously on the ladder (the great irony of my “Squirrel” is that he’s 6’6″ 230 lbs), I wondered if I was taking this craft a little too far. After the circus feat of installing the second row, I called him down. In the end I decided that I could live with twenty-five ornaments. My compromise sparked the beginning of a family tradition.

When I slipped an LED tea light into one, just to see what it looked like, my oldest son exclaimed:

It looks beautiful, just like a glowing snowball.

And the tradition of the Advent Snowballs was born. We (I should say, I) decided to light one snowball in the window every evening leading up to Christmas every single year because that was the most painstaking, paper cutting, tedious, tangling craft I have ever attempted and I will need to squeeze years of joy from it just to get over it. Happy Holidays!

To continue with the snowy theme that will be the family theme for years to come, my kids allowed me to adorn our tree with white lights this year. My youngest encouraged me as I strung hundreds of cotton balls onto translucent thread to give it a wintry look.

Now you might be wondering, as I am, how I found time to declutter amidst  this decorating flurry, but I did. Here’s the first 9 things I got rid of:

The tenth was a decorating casualty.

Off to the thrift shop with the frame. Someone who hasn’t drained all their creative juices papercrafting might have a vision for it.

Are you keeping it simple this season? Or not?

Who’s Driving This Thing, Anyway?

I think it’s time I put you back in the driver’s seat. When left to my own devices, I do very little decluttering. In fact, I get so sidetracked I end up surfing into uncharted territories. Here’s just a taste of where I’ve been:

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Don’t get me wrong, I loved every minute of it. I started at Reasonably Ludicrous (best post ever on the value of and English degree), made my way to Hyperbole and a Half (full points for writing a cartoon about depression) and ended my evening with an hour (or two) of Awkward Family Photos. Do NOT go there, you’ll never return, and, if you do, you won’t be the same.

Focus is not my strong suit. No wonder I had to devise a decluttering routine and make it pubic in order to follow through. Since, that was one of my great successes in life, I think I’ll make myself accountable to you again. (You don’t mind, do you?)

So phase one of maintenance will be decluttering ten things  a day. I’ll even post the pics to keep me honest and hopefully keep me off the internet for three hours at a time…

Here’s the first ten for you:

Hold that thought. I’m going to need a continuance. As I was logging off to find my things, all manner of screams erupted from the basement.

I raced down the stairs to find our son’s good friend cradling a very obviously broken arm. Given the tone of the cries, we didn’t even pause to consider a strain, just took him straight to the hospital. His moans and pleas for deliverance at every bump in the road reminded me so clearly of my labour with my eldest that I burst the buckwheat filled cool pack I was holding to his brow.

We just  passed him into the very capable hands of his parents and the Emergency Room staff. The last I heard he was getting IV medication in preparation for a realignment and that he had baffled the staff by being covered in grains.

And, I guess I decluttered a cool pack, although I’d rather it happened any other way…

I’ll post my ten items tomorrow and an update on the status of our young friend.

The Last Thing On Earth I’d Buy

If you haven’t noticed already, I can be a bit hard on myself sometimes. I’m sure I’m not the only human to spoil their kids with toys or spend a little too much time dreaming about shiny pretty things.

However, when I’m turning my fourth cup of coffee into a moral dilemma, Squirrel is quick to remind me:

“It isn’t cocaine!”

So, today is about the things I do right. A bloggy little pat on the back for all the things I wasn’t even tempted to buy. 

1) Beer Pong Table

By the time you can afford to drop $479.99 on a light up beer pong table, you really shouldn’t want to.

2) Butt Station Tape Dispenser

Because toilet humour in the workplace is just hysterical…

3) Clinton/Lewinsky Nesting Dolls

When you’re in the mood for something a little different.

5) Yellow Pages Booster Seat

Why use the real thing when you can spend $20 on this?

6) Shoot A Brew

Because getting up to get your own is such a pain in the ass.

7) Corn Dog Maker

Experiment with other “on a stick” snacks.

Next time I over think a purchase, I’ll have to remind myself – it’s not Clinton/Lewinsky nesting dolls.

What’s the last thing on earth you’d buy?



You Wouldn’t Spend Your Vacation Looking For Throw Cushions, Would You?

When was the last time you checked into a hotel in a brand new city, dropped your bags and got right down to the difficult business of choosing the perfect throw cushions for the sofa?

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Ridiculous, isn’t it?

Well, that’s exactly how I feel about spending the better part of three days wrapped in the riddle of Ikat vs. polka dots, neutrals vs. colours. Now, I have absolutely nothing against making your home beautiful. I admire people who can solve the aforementioned riddle without turning it into a vocation. I have friends who don’t make themselves sick over decor accessories and, I must say, I really enjoy hanging out in their homes.

The truth is, as I was stopped at the second construction detour on my way to my favourite furniture store, I began to feel a bit silly for not ordering the cushion covers I found online. Price range on the cushions at my formerly favourite furniture store – $75-$175. I drove home through traffic to order the $36 cushion covers I found online.

Then I started second guessing. Charcoal or ivory? 20×20 or 24×24?

“Find a new obsession,” said Squirrel from the couch, “and chuck a couple of pillows from the bed over here.”

I usually ignore comments like that, but my eyes were dry from scanning pages of patterns and my heart was racing. I needed a vacation. And I can tell you exactly how I would not be spending it.

Isn’t that the greatest thing about visiting another city? It’s a tabula rasa. The only decisions to make there are what you’re going to do and who you’re going to be. Suddenly, I realized that hand blocked or embroidered weren’t “big picture” questions.

And then, and only then, did I see the solution that was right in front of me.

I feel a repurpose coming on…

At least, I’ll ask my local seamstress if she shares my vision of Mexican blanket toss cushions.

Finally, here is another after photo for you. My kitchen table used to host all manner of things. Now, only three:

And, happily, just one decision – salt or pepper?