Monday, August 28, 2017

Simplicity: The Home Edition

To be very clear, I suck at home design and decorating.  I have never seen a show with those Chip and Joanna people, and we've lived in our house for nine years, but someone off the street could walk in the door and assume we've only been here a week.

My hobbies don't involve looking for the perfect throw pillow or turning a closet into a mini office.  I occasionally decorate furniture with laundry that I don't feel like folding, but that's about it.

So, why a blog on simplicity in home design?  Well, my style can be considered very simple, as in kind of non-existent, and I found out recently that that is actually a thing.  Minimalist decorating is pretty much what my home would look like if it wasn't cluttered.  I am also fond of Danish styles, which pretty much mimic minimalism but with really nice light fixtures.

I've found my biggest requirements for decorating happiness are: as little clutter as possible (laugh now.  I have four kids and they basically drop toys from their bodies as they walk around our home), and pieces that mean something to me.  Our walls are almost empty right now because I've been repainting several rooms, and I'm not putting anything back on them until I find the perfect pieces.  My husband is an artist, and he owes me several canvases right now. 

I also like spaces where it's easy to tuck in and hide, with a book of course.  Having things on a shelf that we're not using stresses me out (if we aren't using it, why do we have it?), so I started making tables out of keepsake boxes a couple of months ago and accidentally created a cool space in our bedroom where I often retreat.  We are now also using the boxes and they are not just sitting in the closet, so double win.

Reading The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful by Myquillyn Smith also opened my eyes to tons of possibilities.  Granted, my style is nothing like Smith's, but her advice is really solid and simple for those who want to try to create a beautiful space.

I feel like she gave me permission to care a bit more about how I design things.  It's creating, and I love creativity in all forms.  Though I'm not going over the top in the decorating department, I finally see that creating spaces that work for us isn't a waste of time, which is largely how I viewed it before.

Here is what simple in design looks like for us:

1.  Painting
It's amazing what a coat of paint can do for a room.

2.  De-cluttering
I am always looking for ways to have less, either by simply not purchasing items or by
clearing out what we're not using.

3.  No forcing it.
I could easily take everything I would need to live and move back to the tiny efficiency
apartment I rented in my 20s.  D and our kids could not.  They are minimalists, sort
of, but not like I am, and that's okay.  D collects comics and Alien toys (the proper name is\
apparently action figures, but they are toys).  The kids have more of his collector tendencies than I do.  This isn't bad, but I have to accept that my way of doing things isn't everyone's way.

4.  Find your style.
The best advice I read was to forget mimicking the styles of others or keeping up with trends. Create the space that makes you happy.  It's your home.  Don't fall for thinking it's only good if someone else is doing it.

My reading nook in the bedroom, which is sometimes borrowed by others

New paint in the kitchen and two pieces of art I love. 

Wren, Sam, and D owe me three more tree pictures since I'm making them paint me one for each season.

Homemade hooks from family members and crosses made by the kids.

Style and decorating for me means personal items that have stories behind them.  I love it if hands I frequently hold have made the designs I see every day.  I'm also okay with bare walls until I find what I love.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

July Book List

I'm a little behind because I am currently snowed under in books.  It's a good thing, but all I want to do is read.  Not eat, not adult, just grab my books and read.  Do people take vacations with their books?  Just, you know, a grown woman and three bags of books?  That's normal, right?

Anyway, here's July's list.


The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect, Simsion's previous books, were wonderful and warm.  The Best of Adam Sharp tries to replicate some of the patterns from those books, but it doesn't achieve the same feeling or overall effect.

Again we have a protagonist who seems to be good at analyzing feelings but not so great at actually feeling them at times.  Adam Sharp has a brief relationship with a somewhat scattered woman while in his 20s, but they part and Adam finds himself decades down the road in a long-term relationship and settled in life.  When the woman from his past, Angelina, reaches out through email, is it worth upending his life to find out what might have been?

This book was good and I wanted to find out what happened, but it didn't hold the same charm as the Rosie books.  It also went to some unexpected places.  Told through music, this book has a playlist that can be accessed online for readers who want to hear the tunes of Adam's life.  It's worth a read, but if you haven't read the Rosie books, grab them first.

The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

This is my first book by Anthony Horowitz, but I was impressed with this mystery novel, which is actually a book within a book.  There is more than one mystery to solve, and Horowitz weaves the stories in and out beautifully, creating a story that is about much more than it seems.

When Alan Conway turns in his latest novel to his editor, Susan, she expects a good mystery story with all loose ends tied up.   What she gets is multiple unsolved mysteries, one that is taking place in real life.  As she follows the clues left behind, she finds that nothing is what it seems, and just like in a real mystery novel, the closer you get to the truth, the closer the danger is.

Summer just feels like a time for mysteries, and this one did not disappoint.  

Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy

I was hesitant to pick this one up because the subject matter is disturbing.  I read a lot of disturbing books, but anything with kids in peril makes me squirm since I became a mom.  It bothered me before, but now it's even worse.  However, Meloy's story drew me in, and I found myself laughing as well as holding my breath as I ran through this story.

When cousins, Liv and Nora, decide to take a cruise with their families, it seems like a great idea.   However, when the kids disappear while they are on a stop in Central America, their lives come apart, and no ones is quite sure who to blame.  Where are the kids, and how did this happen?

Luckily, we also have the perspective of the kids.  Sometimes that's not comforting, but at other times it gives the reader something to hold onto.  The families explore their marriages, their relationships with their kids, and the very unreal lines we draw that make us feel safe.  This is a must read.

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

This was my classic for the month, and I found it to be disturbing and addictive.  The entire story is creepy, and I am still trying to untangle the author's motive for his protagonist's metamorphosis.  I know there is a plethora of speculation, some of which I've read, but I'm still thinking it through and deciding what I think.  This book, all these years later, still has much to say about the human condition and how we deal with greed, family, and those who are different than the norm.


Books for Living  by Bill Schwalbe

I haven't read The End of the World Book Club, but I likely will after picking up Schwalbe's latest book.  Schwalbe writes about the books that touched his life, changed his perspective, and worked as touchstones to certain places in his personal history.  I love books about books, and this one did not disappoint.

Schwalbe believes asking someone "What are you reading?" is a wonderful way to get to know them, and I agree.  His accounts of what books touched and changed him made me feel like I knew him, and it also caused me to add even more books to my overflowing reading list. 

Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki

Minimalism is simplicity at its best, and I am reading pretty much everything I can get my hands on about it.  I wrote about how minimalism can help us as parents here, and that article was largely inspired by Saski's book. 

Sasaki wrote a beautiful book about not only the material aspects of minimalism but about how much the practice can do for us mentally, physically, and emotionally.  Having practiced minimalism for years now, I can confirm his conclusions.

Whether a person thinks they are interested in minimalism or not, grabbing this book is a good idea.  It's full of wisdom, and it's a fast read.  Plus, it would make a great coffee table book with it's simple cover, but would a minimalist want to adorn the house with a book on minimalism?  The constant struggle, right?