Thursday, April 30, 2015

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Book twenty-four: The Vacationers by Emma Straub

How I enjoy a dysfunctional family. We are all in one so this book can resonate with everyone.

Franny is the matriarch of a family with a number of things going wrong. Her husband has strayed. Her daughter is actively working to lose her virginity before she leaves for college. Her son's bad financial decisions leaves him with staggering debt. And her best friend is waiting to hear news that could change is life.

The characters struggle to move forward and grow and it is just awesome. So many mistakes, so much hurt, so much forgiving, and so much joy.

A witty and fun read that I recommend highly.

24 down plus 28 to go.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Clutter, part one

I began the discarding process, and so far I feel pretty good about it. For starters, touching each piece to determine if the item stays or goes works well for me. I was able to let go of a lot and there were really only a few items that gave me pause*. I took out two bags of trash (e.g., clothes too old and frayed to pass on to another person, clothes with stains that I couldn't see when I viewed them in the closet but became embarrassingly clear in the light of day, old wire hangers, etc.), three bags filled with donations (including quite a few never-been-worn pieces), and one box to send to mom with a couple of jackets for her and a few shirts for my niece. My current thought is that I'll buy another set of drawers to add to our closet system so I can put the remaining pieces (sweatshirts, sweaters, and pants) in drawers, freeing up that space for my crafting supplies (which are stored in half of Hen's closet right now). But even with the stuff on the shelves you can see immediately how much nicer it is than the other side where Darren's shirts, sweaters, and pants are. (He's not interested in discarding so the best I can do there is folding and straightening, which will still be an improvement.)
I freed up shelf space to put away my sleeping bag. (Yay!) My scarves are folded and placed in a box for easy selecting and retrieval. (Yay!) My sock drawer is super organized. (Yay!) And I have extra space where I was able to place a photograph I took of a snail. (Yay! Snail!)
I don't know if I should go through the whole process with my stuff first or go through one category with everyone before moving on. Either way, the next thing after clothing is books. I expect this to be very hard for me. I love books. I love being surrounded by books. I love all of Hen's books, particularly his picture book collection. This'll be an all-day affair. At least any of the books that do end up in the Go pile will help Hen's class next year when the Used Book Sale madness starts.


*My favorite sweater of all time, which I'm getting rid of. My wedding dress, which I kept. And my unmentionables from my pre-Henry days, which I'm also keeping.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Book twenty-three: All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

Enjoyable but not nearly as awesome as Zevin's other two books I've read, Elsewhere and The Storied Life of AJ Fikry. The Things I've Done is definitely intended for the YA crowd. It imagines a future world with 1984-esque qualities of control and monitoring, although this environment has less focus than I would have liked.

Anya is the daughter of an illegal chocolate dealer - illegal because in the future chocolate is contraband. (NOOOOO!)

She falls for the wrong boy, has an eccentric friend, and tries not to run the family but finds herself continually placed in a position of power within her fragile family. 

This is good book for a vacation. You don't have to invest too much of yourself and [SPOILER ALERT] things turn out okay for everyone in the end. 

23 down plus 29 to go.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Book twenty-two: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

I have attempted through the years to deal with all of our stuff and have never been successful, which is why we still have crap all over our place. The number of things we own has grown exponentionally since Henry's arrival, and the 1200+ square feet of space that used to feel spacious now feels stuffed.

Enter The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Perhaps the most useful thing in the book is her suggestion that when dealing with your stuff you must ask yourself if the item you hold sparks joy in your life. If it does, by all means keep it. If it doesn't, to the trash with you! (Or something like that.) Before even reading her book I had heard this joy thing. I used it to help me get through a mound of crap on my desk. A "desk" that was covered with so much crap it hadn't actually been used as a desk in years.

Now that I've read the book, I'm ready to begin. Here are the parts of the book I think will be most useful…

"Start by discarding."
"They are surrounded only by the things they love."
"People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking."
"If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind-set."
"Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination."
"A booby trap lies within the term 'storage'."
"Putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved."

"Tidying up by location is a fatal mistake… When we tidy each place separately, we fail to see that we're repeating the same work in many locations and become locked into a vicious circle of tidying. To avoid this, I recommend tidying by category."

"Effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to store things. Of the two, discarding must come first."
"Tidying is a special event. Don't do it every day."

"Tidy in the right order…Do no even think of putting your things away until you have finished the process of discarding."
"Take each item in one's hand and ask: 'Does this spark joy?' If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it."

"Start with clothes, then move on to books, papers, miscellany, and finally things with sentimental value." [It is okay to divide categories further to increase efficiency.]  - tops, bottoms, clothes that should be hung, socks, underwear, bags, accessories, clothes for specific events, shoes / general books, practical (references, cookbooks, etc.), visual (photograph collections, etc.), magazines

"I recommend you dispose of anything that does not fall into one of three categories: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, or must be kept indefinitely." (Get rid of credit card statements, warranties for electrical appliances, greeting cards, used checkbooks, pay slips.)

General sorting order for miscellany: cds dvds, skin care products, makeup, accessories, valuables (passports, credit cards, etc.), electrical equip and appliances (digital cameras, electric cords, etc.), household equipment (stationery and writing materials, sewing kits), household supplies (medicine, detergents, tissues), kitchen goods/food supplies (spatulas, pots, blenders), other (spare change, figurines, etc.)

Other things to discard: gifts, cosmetic samples, electronics packages (phone boxes, etc.), unidentified cords, broken appliances, spare room bedding, spare buttons, products from the latest health craze, free novelty goods

"The point in deciding specific places to keep things is to designate a spot for every thing."
"Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong. Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out."

Pack bags in bags if possible to save space.


22 down plus 30 to go.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Book twenty-one: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling

This might be the sixth (seventh?) time I've read this book but reading them with Henry is so much fun. I'm not going to bother summarizing the book. If you haven't read them yet, you must not be human, and I still wouldn't want to ruin the surprise.

We took a rather long break from the series but finishing this book has us back on track. We'll move on the sixth just as soon as we finish the Lemony Snicket series.

21 down plus 31 to go.