Friday, January 29, 2010

In The Thick Of It

Aaaah, here I am in the middle of chaos once again! There is not a flat surface in my house that is not full of STUFF!
Does it ever end? I know the answer to that. I just want to have complete control. Is that too much to ask? I don't even want to control the whole world. Not even the whole town I live in.

I just want to control my own little house. That's really all I ask. Is that so unreasonable?

So I ask myself, what price order? If I were as organized and in control as I imagine that I want to be, what exactly would that mean? What would my life look like if I were in "perfect order"? I mean, I have to find some way to justify the mess!! Right?
Do I want perfect order and no mess and a boring life? Or would I rather have SO many things to create, to rearrange, to fiddle with, to sell, and have the mess that comes with all this creativity?
Maybe I don't need perfection. Maybe perfection and the idea that I have to attain it is working against me. Maybe I need to make friends with chaos. Maybe chaos is an integral part of my process. Not total choas, but the chaos that comes out of creativity.
What if I embrace my chaos? Don't fight it, but dive into it. Enjoy it....
The more I think about this, the better it feels. I can learn to relax in my chaos. Let it feed me ideas and inspiration. Let go a little, and let the messes happen and be okay with them. Stop making judgments that messes and chaos are always a bad thing that needs to be cleaned up and put away.
I have found that I usually create more when my desk is a mess. There can be a turning loose, a setting free in allowing chaos to exist. Hmm...maybe that's one reason why I named my studio AmongTheRuins.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Valentine's Sale!

Hi all!  I hope you have had a good week and will have a restful and restorative weekend!  I am putting some things on sale for Valentine's Day in my shop.  I decided to pick out only pieces with pink and red in them, in celebration of sweethearts!!
This is the first sale I have put on so I hope I got all the details right.  Here are just a few of the pieces that will be 10% off through February 14th.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

My Brand New Shop!!

Hi everyone!  As those of you who read my blog know, I have been going through the process of decluttering my home.  I know that makes it sound as if there is an end point to this.  I have not experienced the end point yet, so I'm not sure there is one! 

I decided since I have so many nice things, and I don't really want to give all of them away, I would open a vintage shop on Etsy.  If they don't sell then I can always give them to Salvation Army.  I will still have plenty of things for Salvation Army.  I am only going to sell relatively small items so I won't have any shipping nightmares!
So I hope you will stop by my new shop, Among The Ruins Vintage and have a look-see!  I will be adding many more items as time permits. 

The man in the banner in my vintage shop is none other than Jack Benny.  I was very fortunate to have met him back in 1973.  I was a freshman in high school when he came to his home town of Waukegan to play for the inaugural concert of the newly formed Waukegan Symphony Orchestra, where I played violin.  He was amazingly talented and extremely funny.  He never cracked a smile the entire time we were with him!  But we sure did!  
I took some years off when I had my daughter, but I am currently playing in Waukegan Symphony.  If you look very carefully on the left side of the picture, that tiny head with the dark hair  is me!  Just a bit of my personal "vintage" for you to enjoy. 

Here's a bigger picture:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monday Morning as Mini New Year

Hello fellow bloggers, readers, artists, geeks and computer addicts!  I hope the beginning of this new year has been kind to you! Monday mornings are like mini New Years to me.  I like to start fresh and Mondays give me that opportunity every week!  

I have been enjoying a few new things.  There is a brand new website called IndieJunction.
It is "a place where indie artisans across all genres form a synergy that helps each individual achieve their goals within the handmade industry."  It is a wonderful place to meet other artisans, show your work, network, support and learn from each other.  It is very easy to use and there are plenty of friendly and helpful people there that are more than willing to share what they know.  I highly recommend it!

We finally got the house clean.  There's nothing like having company over to get the house clean!  Well as soon as I had some clear and clean spaces in the house, I found some space in my brain to actually dig in to some of the old clutter that I've been needing to deal with for a very long time.  We hauled out many boxes full from "the back room", which in our house is that no-man's-land where everything that doesn't have a place yet, ends up!  If you want to see the back room, it's somewhere in the archived blog articles. 

I did struggle a bit with some of the things in those boxes.  For one thing, what about those items that I could sell and make some money?  My friend who was here for dinner and I talked about that one.  Yes, I could have a garage sale.  I had a garage sale once.  I made some decent money.  I hated every minute of it!  I didn't like strangers wandering around my place.  I didn't like it when some of them stole items that were priced at 10 cents.  I hated being stuck in a chair all day long.  So for me, it is not worth the couple hundred dollars I might make to go through that again.  Besides, Salvation Army really does need our generosity.  I give all of my stuff to them.  I also buy from them.  Sometimes I buy something from them, use it for a few months, grow tired of it and then give it back to them.  It's great for everyone - I get my stuff very inexpensively, they benefit from my purchase, and from my re-donations.  So I don't have to sell the stuff in a garage sale!  YAY! 

Next comes the hard-to-part-with-it-even-though-I-haven't-used-it-in-years items.  This is where I have to be brutal.  My daughter is a huge help (and a little scary) with this one.  She'll really push me on all those critical questions - How long since you used it?  How many do you have?  How many do you need?  It's ugly!  You really think you're going to go back to using paper organizers someday, in place of the computer???
Ok, so she really got me there.  BUT how can I just give away these gorgeous leather - I'm talking REAL LEATHER organizers that I paid good money for???  This is where the "decompression box" comes in.  This is the place where I put the things that I know I don't need, shouldn't keep, but can't quite get rid of yet.  Just put them in there and close it up until the next time I am dejunking.  I'll get there eventually.  And if those few things remain with me until the bitter end, it's not the end of the world.  At least they are not taking up prime real estate in the house any longer.

I'm so proud of myself.  Last night I actually put out 3+ boxes full!!!  I found some long-lost items in the process!  Today I will go through some more.  I'll just take a little at a time, so as not to overwhelm myself!  

I also plan on making new jewelry this week!!  I've taken a long break and I'm feeling the creativity in there getting ready to erupt!  

Happy Monday to all!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What Is Freezing Fog?

Last night I was at my computer and I noticed a weather advisory for "freezing fog".  I don't believe I have ever heard of freezing fog before.  I asked the people I was chatting with and they had never heard of it either.  We imagined it could be a solid block of ice, trapping everything inside of it until it cleared, or melted, or whatever freezing fog does when it's finished.  Of course we had a good laugh over that.
Well this morning I woke up to freezing fog and it is quite beautiful!!  Here are the pictures:

Friday, January 8, 2010

It's A Winter Wonderland!!

Well, we finally got our big snow!  Last time they predicted this, it skipped over us and I was sorely disappointed.  This time we hit the jackpot!!  I went out and took a few pictures this morning.  I only stepped onto the porch.  It's cold out there!! 

It's pretty deep!

We get very long icicles.

Aren't they amazing?

I had some fun trying to capture the tiny drops of water that were sliding down the icicles! 

In this last shot you can actually see the crystal pattern around the edge of the ice, where the ice meets the water.  It looks like a knitting pattern or feathers!

I've been working on the house all week (still).  I am trying to get it to the point where it will be easy to maintain an acceptable level of cleanliness without that much effort.  I know this is possible because I have done it before.  I am very very close to having it there!!  Then I will finally get to what I really want to be doing, making jewelry!!!  

I've also been feeling the itch to get back into some fun with mixed media and altered bottles.  I'll put a few pictures here of some bottles I made last year.  I don't know if I'll put any in the shop, because the shipping would be much more complicated and pricey.  I may in the future.  But for now, I just want to make them.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Jewelry Stands Now For Sale!

Well, here they are for the brand new year, my twisted tree wire earring stands.  I'm liking these a lot.  They are very stable and secure.  They can hold a lot of earrings in a very small space while keeping them at easy reach.  They look like little weeping willow trees when thy are loaded up.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Place For Everything And Everything In Its Place...

Doesn't that sound wonderful?  Doesn't that sound divine?  Imagine if all that you owned actually had its very own permanent place.  You would never again say to yourself, "Now where did I put that tool?", or "Darn it I know it's here somewhere!!". 

I have noticed that I am far from alone in my constant quest for order and organization.  It is an integral of living in a wealthy country.  Even if you are so-called "lower or middle class", believe me, you are wealthy if you have too many things to keep them in order easily. 

Sometimes I think I am a procrastinator.  But when I stop and analyze what's really happening, it's more a problem of a lack of order in different areas.  For example...

This morning I set out a pair of jeans that I need to alter.  I just need to take in the side seams a bit to make them fit better.  That means I have to use my sewing machine, which is sitting under the table that it will eventually be on top of.

 That table is covered with all the items that have been moving westward this week in my decluttering adventures through the kitchen and dining room... 

Ain't it purty?

So the first thing I have to do in order to fix my pants, is clear off that table and set up my sewing machine. 
I set out to do that...but I'd like some music playing while I do this.  I go to my computer (uh-oh) to find something to play.  I thought it would be nice to listen to the Bach Double Violin Concerto that I will be playing next spring in a chamber concert.  I can't find it in my iTunes.  I know I had it in there at some point...maybe that was a couple of computers ago.  Hubby, being a computer guy, keeps me in the latest and greatest computers, but that means every couple years I go to a new machine and sometimes things get lost in the process. I'm searching for the Bach Double, and I realize what a mess my iTunes is.  Ooh, I really do need to completely reorganize my iTunes...I somehow manage to steer clear that project for now, and move on to see if the Bach Double is in my daughter's iTunes.  I don't see her share on my iTunes, which isn't right.  It's always there! 

Suddenly I have a flash of inspiration and I simply must sit down and write a blog entry about this disorganization and how the ultimate goal is actually to never have these endless hunts for things I need to get my hands on.  So I go to my blog and discover that my internet is down.  (So that's why my daughter's shared music doesn't show up.)  Oh well, I can write this in Wordpad for now and when hubby comes home and gets the internet back up, I'll post it to the blog. I'm finally getting something accomplished! 

When he comes home, I go to greet him at the door, and as I walk through the family room I see my pants slung over the back of the couch and I remember what I started out trying to accomplish, and then I see the table still covered with everything from the now clear kitchen and dining room, and as I retrace all my steps in the last hour I see what a zig-zag I am on!! 

~~~I'm starving!  Time to find some food - I'll be back!~~~

Ahh, that was good.  Ok, now back to work.

Another common complaint is being constantly sidetracked when we are trying to get things done.  Of course what I described above is all about being sidetracked.  We usually think of being sidetracked as a bad thing, but I'm looking at that again, wondering if it really is a bad thing.  It is bad if it keeps you off-goal.  But what about side-tracks that are within that goal?

My ultimate goal is to have a place for everything and have everything in its place.  At this stage, I have many many areas that are out of order and it's impossible to work on one area without the others encroaching.  Since I have to do them all eventually, what difference does it make if I get sidetracked into another area before the first one is done?  It may feel more scattered at the moment, but ultimately I will finish it all.  Whether I do it one area at a time until it is done, or a little at each area along the way, I don't think it will matter in the end.  So I'm not going to bash myself, or try to re-route myself as much when I get sidetracked, as long as I am still aiming for the same goal!

As my hubby loves to say, "Go with the flow".  Some of my most productive days are the most scattered.  I am not focused on just one thing, but flitting like a butterfly from one thing to another all day long, wondering if I'm getting anything done.  At the end of the day I make a list of all I did get done and it's impressive. 
Other days I am zeroed in on one specific task and I keep at it until it is finished.  That is also a very productive day.  There certainly are more ways than one of getting your goals accomplished!

I think the most important thing is to clarify exactly what the goal is.  I do think baby steps are a very helpful tool.  If I tell myself to "organize the crafts" - that includes my desk and all its drawers, the extra little drawers beside the desk, the steamer trunk full of stuff, and another chest of 3 deep drawers that is also quite full.  Oh, and there are more drawers in the dining room that I forgot about.  I'm overwhelmed already, just making that list!  Oh, and I forgot those three boxes under the craft table--EEEEEK!

I need to cut this down to size.  I ~~~

~~~ just got totally sidetracked, looking up on google about what ever happened to the hanging indent!!  Remember in school - if you're over 50 like me - they always taught you to indent the paragraphs 5 spaces.  Nowadays you never see that except in books.  I just spent the last 15 minutes reading all about it...yikes...I gotta get focused!

Yes, I need to cut this project down to size! 
Don't have the whole project in your mind at once when you begin the actual work.  You've got to break it down into pieces you can handle.  If you have the entire house and every mess in your mind, you will not get very far.  It's just too big, so take it down a few notches to just one room, or even just a corner of a room.  Don't let yourself stray from that small part until you feel satisfied with it.  That doesn't mean you can't move to a different area before you have finished the first corner completely.  Just try to stay on task until you reach a good resting point.  Then you can decide if you want to stay with this spot or move on to another.

It's far too easy to reach mental overload if you let yourself look at the whole entire household.  You don't have to perfect your entire house in one weekend, or a month, or even a year.  It will be a life-long pursuit, so relax and enjoy the journey!

Ok.  Just imagine if everything did have a place of its own and everything were in its place all the time except when it's being used.  My grandmother's house was like that.  She knew exactly where everything was, from every kitchen utensil, all the way up to the steamer trunks full of family heirlooms in the attic, and everything in between!  Her house was always immaculately clean and orderly.  She had set routines, but she never struck me as rigid or overly strict.  She was the most "moderate" person I have ever known.  She didn't overeat, or over-spend.  She had no vices.  She took a walk outside almost every day of her life.  She never swore.  She kept a neat, clean, very warm and welcoming home for a very very long time.  She lived to be just a few months shy of 105.  There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of her.  She had a huge influence on me and I want to emulate those qualities in my own life.  I am so far from it!!  But I keep at it and I think someday I will get there.