Friendship Month in Review

This month, I found it challenging to focus on my resolutions. I did okay at the beginning of the month, and my friends helped me out a lot, calling me, arranging to get together, and just treating me with care and gentleness. By the end of the month, I’d lost steam.

A rundown of the resolutions:

Acknowledge birthdays. I did this. I sent a birthday card to one friend, went to a surprise 30th birthday party for another (although I got there too late to yell “surprise!”), and sent online greetings to everyone else. I think I only forgot one person. And I put on an early birthday party for my daughter, just in case our May is more hectic than our April. (One can only hope.)

Call one friend a week. I think I did this for the first two weeks. It was nice to catch up with a couple of friends with whom I’ve not spoken for more than a year. This week I talked with a friend I’ve not spoken with in even longer, but she called here and was actually calling to talk with my husband about a job, I just got to chat with her while my husband finished his shower. I enjoyed that, but I’m not sure I can count it.

Make three new friends. This was my big stretch resolution. I got closer than I expected with this one. Last week I struck up a conversation with a woman in my yoga class. We exchanged names and then this week she saved me a spot next to her in the weight lifting class we both attended. Watching her with others, I think she’s a quite gregarious person. I doubt the meeting was as big a deal for her as it was for me, and it’s certainly not a close friendship (I don’t think she’ll be bringing me dinner or watching my kids any time soon) but I’m counting it.

Have a mommy-date once a week. I did this once. It was much harder to arrange mommy-dates than I expected, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the person I met up with for tea was a friend whose only child is away at college.

I do feel myself pulling away from friendships here a little bit, which I expect based on my long history of moving away from friends but which is very premature. I get the sense that some of my friends here might be pulling away from me a bit, too, but I can’t tell how much is originating with them and how much is just a response to my pulling away.

Of course, I could be making it all up in my head, too. When I’m feeling anxious, my default response is to feel very much alone and to see everything as a proof that I am alone. With as anxious as I’ve been this month, I think I might be doing a lot of this. As a result, it’s difficult to tell if what I’m feeling is based on people really pulling away from me or if it’s just a result of the lens through which I’m viewing the world right now. If I walk backwards and you stand still, you appear to be moving away from me.

My mood also makes it more difficult to work up the energy to make the efforts necessary to connect with my friends. I didn’t go to a “moms’ night out” this month (that involved a hot tub at a Park City penthouse), and I decided not to attend a workshop today. I had good reasons for missing both of these, but not showing up certainly doesn’t help to build friendships.

I told my husband that if we didn’t have kids (and I wasn’t working), I would spend his job search time lying on the couch watching “The Price is Right” and eating kettle chips and coconut popcorn (with nutritional yeast on it…mmm…), ignoring reality until he had a job and we knew where we were going.

But we do have kids, and they don’t respond well to Sofa Mom. So I need to work to keep myself idling for a little longer until it’s time to hit the accelerator and move forward again, packing up, selling the house, making contacts on the other end, wherever that might be.

In that light, I suppose it’s best to keep on chugging along. So chug I will…

Check in tomorrow for the kickoff post for May – Service Month!

A Record of my Accomplishments (Decluttering-wise)

Here’s what I did yesterday while the sitter was with the kids:

 

Left side of upstairs closet #1. Luckily, it passed the cat's rigorous inspection.

Right side of upstairs closet #1. Don't ask what's in those plastic storage bins.

Pantry (aka, closet under the stairs with the low doorframe I always whack my forehead on). Yes, it's stuffed. But that's a good thing, right?

 

If you sent us a card for our wedding, sorry but it’s now in the recycling. (Well, I kept a couple of personal notes, but the cards that were just signed are outta here.) And what you don’t see is that there used to be a ridiculous set of white plastic shelves just inside our office door that served as our pantry. I managed to get rid of enough stuff that I was able to fit all of the items from those shelves into either the kitchen cupboards or that under-the-stairs closet, which might explode next time we go to Costco. The shelves are now in the upstairs bathroom waiting for the extra toilet paper and tissues that are currently stored in my clothes closet.

Today, I moved all of the craft supplies from the upstairs closet to the hutch-and-buffet thing in our dining room, which is where we do most all of our crafts anyway. I made space in that piece of furniture by moving a bunch of cake pans and glass pitchers to the otherwise useless space in the back of the corner cupboard in the kitchen. I did this while standing on a stool with my son clinging to my legs and laughing.

The bottom shelf still holds food items, but the upper two shelves are all crafts.

 

Craft closet/pantry extension/hutch and buffet. The green boxes are from the extra wedding invitations I finally discarded. They now hold pompoms and sheets of colored craft foam.

 

While the potatoes simmered on the stove this afternoon, the kids and I raked the yard in preparation for the snow/rain/sleet/slush we’re getting as I type this. Mostly what the kids did was sit in the leaves I piled on the tarp then rode on the tarp as I hauled them and the leaves to the holding piles under the big evergreen tree things at the edge of the yard.

I got one heck of a workout this afternoon.

 

Leaves that were, until a few hours ago, covering our lawn. We keep them in piles to use as "brown" for the compost throughout the year and to cover the garden beds in the hopes we'll have lovely soil in them that's ready to plant come spring.

 

I also went through a collection of keepsakes in the antique trunk my mom gave me when I got married. I found portions of my childhood rock and shell collections, which I gave to my daughter, and several stuffed toys which I tossed towards the children and let them dive upon. Included in the bunch was a plush football with the initials of my high school on it that my brother made in home ec class, a hand-made “word fun” activity sheet (an Easter-themed word-find) that my sister made for me, I think when I left for college, and this:

 

I'm pretty sure my little brother drew this for me to take with me when I left for college. I love that Garfield is saying, "Rad."

 

I also found several school photos, band photos, and homecoming photos of friends from middle school and high school. I considered scanning and posting those to my Facebook profile, but decided that these were people I’d prefer didn’t unfriend me.

When my husband returned home from work, my daughter immediately showed him all of the great stuff I’d given her and made a point of how special they’d been to me when I was a kid and that now I had given them to her. My husband spent the evening asking me where things were. (“Honey, where are the crackers these days?”) I gave him helpful responses. (“In the cracker cupboard, dear.”)

Joyfully Moving

I got to attend the Monday night step class at my gym tonight, which I’ve only done once before, even though I loved it that one time I went. I’ve got the babysitter from 2-5 on Mondays and the class is at 5:30. Every time I think of how much I want to go to that step class and start to reason through how I can make it work to attend the class, I stop myself. It’s bad enough to take time away from my kids to go to the gym. I should just work out while the babysitter’s there and not try to take any more evening time. It’s too much trouble for my husband, it’s too much time away from the kids, it’ll mess up dinner time.

I recognized this attempt to avoid doing something for myself in the section of Marion Woodman’s Addiction to Perfection that I read last night:

For the perfectionist who has trained herself to do, simply being sounds like a euphemism for nothingness, or ceasing to exist. When the energy that has gone into trying to justify her existence is redirected into discovering herself and loving herself, intense insecurities surface. Abysmal emptiness questions whether she is here at all . . . To cease to give is to cease to mother, and where the ego is identified with mothering it doesn’t know at first what to do. It is so used to giving that it doesn’t believe it is worthy to receive, or else thinks that receiving is demeaning or selfish.

I smiled as I recognized myself in this passage. Then I took a pad of paper and wrote a note to my husband (who was already in bed) explaining that I was going to stick around home and clean out closets and get dinner ready while the babysitter was here, and then I was going to go to the 5:30 step class.

During the morning, I did manage to do some prep work for dinner (including making two batches of GF/CF pita bread, one that turned out more like GF/CF hockey pucks and the other that was softer but for some reason didn’t form the little pocket in the middle). But I ended up spending the entire three hours that the sitter was here on two closets, and I didn’t get any more done on dinner. I considered scrapping the step class idea, but in the end, I stuck with the plan and left my husband with a recipe book open to the falafel recipe and a bowl full of soaked garbanzo beans.

Waiting for the step class to begin, I scrutinized my image in the mirror (especially the tummy pooch I still have because I cannot seem to get my abdominal muscles to close up since they separated while I was pregnant with my son), compared myself to the other attendees, wondered if I should have worn long pants instead of shorts or a short-sleeved top instead of a tank top or if I was lame for having only one riser under each end of my step rather than two like most of the rest of the class had. But as the class began, I let these thoughts pass and focused on the beat of the music and my breath and the rhythm of my feet. I found that I was able to keep up with the cues better when I didn’t think about them. There were a number of times when I got to the end of a sequence and realized with surprise that I was actually on the same foot as the instructor and facing the same direction as the rest of the class without consciously trying. I also enjoyed watching how the instructor clearly enjoyed leading the class. I decided I really liked him, and I really liked my gym and Salt Lake City and my kids and my husband. I spent the class filled with love and joy, and I had just a great deal of fun.

I worry sometimes that the step class isn’t as intense or well-rounded a workout as my regular workout. As a result, I tend to consider it a treat to only take part in once in a while rather than as a core element of my exercise regimen. If I start going to the class regularly, I wonder if I’ll experience what Woodman describes: “once that forgotten energy begins to flow through dancing, painting, singing, joy is not experienced as selfish or luxurious, but as an absolute need.”

Woodman also writes about a lecture by Northrup Frye in which he points out that the word “rejoicing” in a passage from Proverbs is translated from the root word for “play.” One of the churches I’m planning to visit has this note on their website:

We Worship God Through Movement As Well As Words
Our bodies are God’s own creation through Jesus.  God knows what it is to be human.  Movement can be a way of giving ourselves back to God.  You will see many people crossing themselves, bowing, and kneeling at certain times.  When you come to worship try movement and see if your experience of God is made greater.  Movement, though, is not required. You may find it perfectly fulfilling without it.

I noticed that when I first read this, I felt a little uncomfortable. It seemed kind of hokey to me, and I felt a little nervous about what the service would be like with everyone moving around and giving themselves to God. But now I’m wondering if this could just be the reaction of that part of myself that is more comfortable with the “masculine” and resists any shift towards the more “feminine,” which would include the physical body rather than just the intellect. Maybe I feel more loving when I’m moving with the music in step class because I’m more complete and therefore more open to the spiritual. Maybe I’m rejoicing through play.

This morning while mixing up the first batch of pita dough, I put Chopin’s Polonaise in A-flat Major, Op. 53, on the CD player. The baby smiled up at me and started dancing. He ran his little feet, flapped his arms, spun in circles until he fell down, and laughed when I joined him and danced across the kitchen. I remember dancing with my daughter when she was around this age. Her favorite was Bing Crosby singing Jingle Bells. I wonder if kids are born knowing how to rejoice through unselfconscious movement and we—well, some of us—just lose it as we grow older. Maybe we’re all born with the masculine and feminine fully integrated within us, and as adults, it’s simply a matter of rediscovering that balance.

Getting to the Nitty Gritty of my Perfectionism

My mom just visited for about a week and a half, which gave me the chance to observe perfectionism in action from the outside. Usually I’m just trapped inside, observing my own actions, which isn’t nearly so enlightening as watching from outside.

The way my mom’s perfectionism manifests itself during her visits is in non-stop projects. Those who have been reading the blog this past week or so have some idea of the frenetic levels our home-improvement (and “me”-improvement) binge reached. I get the impression that when my mom looks out at the world, she sees all of the things that are wrong with it. Then she focuses in on the things that she might be able to change and gets to work. I can recognize this because this is pretty much what I do (less with the home improvements and more with the self improvements, although I do move furniture an awful lot and used a caulk gun for the first time last night instead of going to bed at a reasonable hour).

This is where my perfectionism gets in the way of my happiness, I think. In addition to interfering with my sleep and causing me to ignore (or attempt to ignore) my children, the underlying belief driving all of this fault-finding is that things just aren’t right. There’s something wrong in my surroundings and there’s something wrong with me. There’s a related belief, which is that if I can eliminate everything wrong with my surroundings, that the wrong things in me will disappear, too, and vice versa. When I feel stressed and I get that “wrong” feeling, I immediately retreat to perfectionism. I make lists, schedules, routines. I track my food intake and develop rules for my eating. I either avoid social interaction or my conversations are peppered with long pauses as I attempt to say just the right thing (or at the very least to avoid saying the wrong thing). I can keep this up for a few days or as long as a week, and then I start to falter and quickly descend into chaos, from where I then lift myself out via perfectionism and the cycle begins again.

What’s interesting to me is that the chaos I feel inside doesn’t seem to show itself on the outside. We had dinner out with some friends from North Carolina last night whom we hadn’t seen in seven years. I don’t know how we got to it, but at one point the other three adults at the table all emphatically declared that I am very organized. I don’t often feel organized. I wonder if this suggests that the chaos and disorder I feel are mostly on my insides but because I don’t recognize that reality, I try to eliminate the chaos by changing my outsides.

My mom’s visit was like an orgy of perfectionism. Oh, look! This thing I’ve not done anything about because, you know, I’ve got two kids and I’m homeschooling…I can complete it and 15 other things I’ve not even thought of doing because my mom’s here to help. It was awesome and it was exhausting and now I’m trying to let myself down easy so I don’t drop into a pit of disappointment at my relative lack of productivity.

So here’s what I’m going to try to do. I’m going to follow my own advice and Not Jump to Solutions. When I feel that “wrong” feeling, I’m going to just sit with it. I’m going to observe it, take note of it, and just move along. I’ve got my decluttering, which I think will help to relieve some of the pressure that builds up when I just need to pull out the stove and clean behind it at 11:30 at night. But I’m going to do my best to avoid going to extremes and focusing so much on cleaning or on scheduling or on finding the perfect spot for the coffee table that I ignore the underlying feelings and beliefs that are driving my need to change things.

Last night I had a dream that I was in charge of planning nine weddings that would take place over the course of three hours. And I still had my kids to take care of. I had all of these favors and table decorations to assemble and the kids kept walking off with things I needed. I would stare at these tables covered in supplies and try to reason through how to get everything put together before the weddings began. Two of the weddings were for people I knew and one was for myself (the other six were for people I didn’t know). I updated my Facebook status (in the dream) saying that I was getting help from my friend in fixing my hair for my wedding. I remarked that it was something of a lost cause. My friend was getting exasperated with me because I was so clueless about how to pretty up my hair for an important occasion and because I kept trying to do more prep work for the other weddings. Then, even though I’d not finished all of the things I’d planned for the first wedding before it began, I saw that everyone was having a great time and the bride looked gorgeous. I cautiously considered devoting the rest of my energies to preparations for my own wedding, which was the last of the nine.

I don’t know. I think this dream just reinforces the importance, for me, of paying better attention to my own needs and improving my skills at observing and caring for myself. Most everything else can pretty much take care of itself, or at the very least won’t fall apart if I’m not in complete control 100% of the time. Another bit of my own advice comes to mind: If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly.

Like Alice, however, I always give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it.

Houseguests and Routines

One of my resolutions this month is to develop daily and weekly routines. I’m doing OK with the weekly routines, but I still struggle with daily routines. I sort of let myself off the hook this past week with my mom here, since having visitors always changes routines anyway. Now that she’s on her way back to Ohio, my thoughts have returned to this topic, and I’m pondering how to proceed.

I snuck in a few minutes of reading this afternoon. In the section I read today of Addiction to Perfection, Marion Woodman writes about routines as rituals. Whether they are positive or negative, these rituals serve to fulfill archetypes (she’s a Jungian psychoanalyst; they seem to use the terms “archetype” and “shadow” with some frequency. I’m not entirely certain I’m understanding them completely or using them properly). These rituals aren’t always consciously applied. In fact, we often don’t even realize we have them until they’re disrupted.

She uses the example of a morning routine. You wake up, go to the bathroom, go to the kitchen for a bagel and coffee (or, if you’re me, a green smoothie), brush your teeth and wash your face, etc. Then one day you have a guest staying at your house. You wake up and the bathroom is in use. You find yourself annoyed at chatting with another person during breakfast. The whole day gets thrown off and you’re in a bad mood because a ritual you didn’t even know you had was disrupted. These rituals are there to meet needs that we have, and if we don’t follow our regular ritual, we must have a substitute ritual or we feel out of sorts.

I wonder if this is part of why I’ve been having trouble applying daily routines to my life. I’ve been just trying to adopt other people’s routines, which haven’t really been sticking very well. Maybe the answer (or one answer) is to start by identifying the needs I’d like to meet and then building a routine from there. Another starting point could be to identify what routines I already have in place, what needs they’re meeting/what archetypes I’m acting out with them, and then shift the routines so that they are more positive rituals that still meet my needs.

Woodman talks about the overarching “masculine” energies in our lives and our society and how many of our negative rituals are attempts to grasp some “feminine” energy (through our relationships to food, among other things). I guess the goal would be to find more positive ways to balance the feminine and masculine in our lives. My inclination is to sit down with my brain and reason through this whole thing, develop myself a plan, and then record, apply it, and reflect upon the outcome, a process I’m fairly certain is tipped way over to the “masculine” side of things. I’m not sure I’m ready to use only my intuition, but I think I may be able to release my dependence on just my intellect. I have the sense that just having this awareness is starting me along the path to greater balance.

Best Project Yet

Or perhaps it would be better if I didn’t get your expectations too high.

This was just a little something my mom and I threw together this week.

Thanks to my buddy, Dana, and her miter box, we were able to make a frame for it. Thanks to my son, we needed to buy some white satin spray paint to touch up where he sprayed green food coloring on it. Of course, he’s also the one to thank that it exists at all, so I suppose it all evens out (plus, I was the one who said, “Hey! I’ll fill a squirt bottle with water and green food coloring and hand it to the baby! That’ll keep him occupied while we work on this one-of-a-kind art object!”). And a very special thanks to my doula, Stacy Smith, for helping to capture my off-center belly in plaster.

 

Painting the Board

Waiting for the paint to dry. (Have you guessed what we're making yet?)

Choices

Better A or B? We painted both so we could choose which we liked better. The one we didn't use (the one on the left) became the new insert for the cover to our crawlspace.

Belly on a Board

In process. My son was quite interested in the project at this stage.

Voila!

The finished and mounted belly cast. This is on our bedroom wall and will likely freak me out when I see it in the middle of the night tonight until I remember what it is.

 

For those unfamiliar with belly casts, this is an actual plaster cast of my torso from when I was about 37 weeks pregnant with my son. It involved cotton impregnated (tee hee) with plaster, lots of oil, and me sitting in my underwear in my kitchen. I’d intended to get one while pregnant with my daughter, but my water broke before I could have my friend make the belly cast for me. It turned out I would have had plenty of time to have my belly cast done before my daughter made her appearance, but we didn’t know that at the time and missed the opportunity.

At any rate, I have this one, which has been collecting dust on top of my dresser for nearly a year. I’m quite pleased with the result! My husband’s reaction was, “Wow! That’s really nice! Those aren’t real flowers, are they?”

My mom’s flight was delayed, so she’s staying an extra day and most of tomorrow. We’re planning an outing, though, so we’re unlikely to complete any major tasks before she needs to be at the airport. I plan to bake two loaves of bread and she plans to prune a tree and two bushes and maybe rake some leaves. Just a casual morning at home before we head out for a picnic lunch.

Week 11 Review: Reflecting on my Mom’s Visit

This week, my mom has been visiting from Ohio. As usual, we’ve been busy doing projects non-stop. My mom leaves tomorrow afternoon. The week has just flown by, also as usual. As a creature of habit, I will likely feel relieved to get back into the normal, boring daily routine, but I’ll miss having my mom to chat with and to work with (and to pitch in with the kids so I can finish a task without someone crying and grabbing my legs).

During the week, we’ve cleaned out the garage (including hanging the bikes for the winter (all but my husband’s since that’s his commuter vehicle)), re-covered our kitchen chairs, bought me a couple of new dressier outfits and cute shoes, brainstormed ways to organize the utility room, cleaned out and made a new insert for the cover to our crawl space, took three trips to the thrift store to drop things off, dropped off glass recycling, and hung two sets of sheers in the living room. We’ve got one other project we’re hoping to finish tonight and early tomorrow, but I’m going to keep that a secret until it’s done.

In addition, we attended Suzuki Celebration VIII (in which my daughter played her flute), took my daughter to her regular classes and lessons during the week, visited the aviary (and fed sun conures), and grilled out twice. So, like I said, we’ve been busy.

We also attended Mass two Sundays in a row, something that I’ve enjoyed more than I imagined I would. I find that the readings and lessons from the services are easy to apply to my life, even though I don’t hold the same specific beliefs. During this morning’s homily, the priest spoke about the moments during our day when we’re conscious of the Lord. He asked, will the Lord find faith and trust in our hearts during these moments of openness? I relate this fairly closely to my mindfulness practice and those moments I take to stop, breathe, and feel awareness and openness to life, to myself, and to those around me. During these moments, I can either close myself against the truths that threaten to confront me, or I can remain trusting and surrender to the lessons that await me. I may fear these lessons, but I know that they will bring greater fullness to my life and connect me more compassionately to the people around me.

On a more basic level, I think I enjoy attending religious services on Sundays because it sort of resets me. I get to start the week with quiet reflection. And singing. I really love to sing in a group.

So, on to Week 12 and to greater heights of decluttering and organization! The month is more than half over, and I fear that the most difficult decluttering tasks lie before me (the filing cabinet in the office and upstairs closets that contain the innards of scrapbooks I’ve not yet started, my Homecoming dress from 1992, and a large number of craft supplies, among other things).

Errand Day

I was going to post that we hadn’t gotten much done today, but that’s not exactly true. First thing this morning, we swept, vacuumed and mopped the house. On the way to my daughter’s gymnastics class, we found a new drop-off location for glass recycling that’s closer than the zoo. On the way home, we dropped off give-away items at the thrift store and then ran the car through the car wash and utilized the “free vacuums with car wash.” Then lunch and dishes, then while the babysitter was here my mom and I ran errands. She bought me shoes!

Shoes

My first heels in I don't know how many years. I didn't even wear heels at my wedding.

And some clothes for me and the kids. And she bought steaks for dinner. While my husband was grilling those and my son was playing in the driveway salt, we ran out to the the hardware store and bought some stuff for a project we’re going to tackle tomorrow. Turns out my friend a block away has a bunch of saws and other cutting implements, so we plan to borrow from her rather than buy a new skill saw. Hooray!

Tomorrow we’re going to be car-less for most of the day due to the rehearsal schedule for my daughter’s concert, so we should get something besides errands done. Then we’ll get all gussied up and listen to 2,000 children play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (among other songs) for more than 2 hours.

Setting Them Up and Knocking Them Down. Figuratively.

Another day of getting ship done. (Yes, I said “ship.” I feel self-conscious writing gratuitous swear words, so I opt to pseudo-cuss.)

Today we finished re-covering the chairs (see yesterday’s post for pictures) while the baby napped and my daughter played on pbskids.org.

We put up the double curtain rods and hung the sheers while the children clung to our legs.

Window

The curtains were already up. It's the sheers that are new. Or rather, not new, just newly hung.

 

We cleaned and organized the garage while the children dug in the garden (insuring that there are no bulbs planted in that section), watched the dogs next door, pretended to talk on the phone, and helped sweep.

Garage 1

This is one wall of the garage. Notice the buckets of bird seed and salt hiding the entrance to the eerie crawl space.

 

 

Garage 2

Another wall of the garage. Mom says the task for next time will be making it so daylight isn't visible through the walls. Visible outside the garage are items formerly in the garage that are now in the trunk of my car to give away.

 

 

 

Garage 3

Same wall, different section. (The large rectangle of daylight coming through the wall is intentional. Previously it was obscured by spiderwebs. *Shudder*)

 

 

 

Garage 4

First wall again, different section. (Um, yes, the insulation is actually better than it was before my mother put the staple gun to use.)

 

 

We re-hung the portions of the alphabet that had fallen down in the dining room while the baby dumped crackers and crayons on the floor and my daughter collected box elder bugs outside.

 

Alphabetical

Thanks to my mom, my children no longer believe that the alphabet begins at E and ends at L.

 

And I made peach cobbler while my daughter was at flute lesson with my husband and my mom took my son to see the digger working on some part of the brand-new house that’s being built down the street. (No photo available of the cobbler. We ate it before I thought about photographing it, and I didn’t want to photograph it after we’d eaten it.)

My mom’s got two Post-Its filled with to-do and to-purchase items for tomorrow and the trunk of the car is filled with glass recycling and give-away stuff to drop off on the way to gymnastics class in the morning. Rumor has it I may own a skill saw (?) and a label maker before my mom’s visit is over. I feel considerably less trepidation about the latter than about the former. But up until now, we’ve been using a hacksaw for all cutting needs that can’t be handled by scissors or pruners, so perhaps another tool might be a reasonable idea.

Starting to Get Stuff Done

After much preparation (including the purchase of several items), I think I may finally be starting to get something done.

Below are a few pictures to give you all an idea of what’s been accomplished so far. I neglected to take “before” pictures of my kitchen cabinets, so you’re going to just have to make do with the “after” ones. And the only reason there’s a before and after for the chairs is that we’ve only done one. I’m trying to take a few before pictures of stuff I’ve not yet tackled, but it’s going to be a little skewed because I don’t really want to show the worst befores.

At any rate, stuff’s getting done and here’s the proof:

 

Chairs

Recovered chairs. Left: Before. Right: After. Except imagine the one on the left with gashes in the white vinyl (we did the worst chair first).

 

 

Cupboard 1

Mugs, coffee, tea, and various nuts and seeds. And a plant that's barely alive.

 

 

Cupboard 2

Chocolate, candles, cereal, crackers, cans of beans, canister.

 

 

Cupboard 3

Hot cereals, mac and cheese, salt and pepper, measuring cups, oils, vinegars, spare condiments, sea vegetables, two types of cocoa, and granola bars.

 

 

Cupboard 4

Glasses, sugars, plastic storage containers we keep as backup for when we run out of glass ones, kosher salt.

 

Looking at these pictures again, it strikes me that they actually could still be before pictures, despite the fact that they’ve already consumed hours of my time. I’ll try not to think about that.

We’re still at an impasse with the utility room, which is also the entryway we use most often and where one of the cats’ litter boxes is. I’m getting rid of some stuff, but with the way the room is set up, I’m not sure how much more organizing I can do with it. And pretty soon, there will be winter coats, boots, hats, and mittens strewn all about. Maybe I should post before pictures of that and ask for suggestions. And I’m afraid to tackle the office/pantry (yes, our office is also currently a pantry). Maybe I’ll work on my closet next. I know just what I want to get rid of there.