Saturday, October 1, 2022

Back Again: Lost & Found Creativity

 Well I certainly had no intention of taking the entire month of September "off!"  My weekly writing time for it came and went throughout the month, but to be honest I did not make any effort to catch up. I certainly was busy, but it seems like it was a lost month anyway. I was traveling, sorting, purging, starting school, down sick, in a mess, but here's the oddest thing: I lost my creativity at the end of August. 

By "lost" I mean gone, zero, finished, through. I felt like shutting down all writing/publishing/blogging projects, selling my craft supplies and burning my sewing patterns. It was different than just losing your inspiration or looking at your hobby and wondering what to do. It was different from saying "I'm taking a break because I don't have time." It was something in me definitely saying "It's Over, Forever." I felt no obligation to continue anything.

I argued with myself-- don't get rid of it all just yet! Wait and see if something comes back. Think of the money you will have to spend if you suddenly decide to create again. Don't shut your projects down, you may yet write. So I did not act on it, but it was a "for certain" feeling.

I don't know what happened that Creativity just up and walked out on me. It has been years since I have sewn anyway, maybe I was tired of keeping the stuff. I was very much into my papercraft but that sort of ended this summer and I lacked time. This blog can become daunting because of the enormity of the photos I am sorting through for it, it is easy to be de-motivated. I was doing a lot of sorting of items that had been in boxes for years, maybe it was decluttering overwhelm. I had just finished a 3-year writing project, maybe it was goal-achievement exhuastion. One of my children was on a trip that we were all very excited about, but maybe with the extra person gone it affected my brain! Whatever it was, there was a part of me that kept checking with the other part: anything sparking yet?

I was a bit disturbed, because I have been writing and crafting constantly since I was seven years old. It is so much a part of my life, even when I can't do it, my creative mind does not shut down. I dare not even think of something creative (whether writing or hand-work) at bed-time because it will prevent sleep!Yes, I have seen hobbies come and go and let go of supplies. I have had to put things aside as I had no time, but never forever. And there was always writing. So you see how I was looking at myself wondering what happened?

It was three weeks later that some little inklings of inspiration started to sparkle. Why? I do not know. Traveling was over, I had found a bunch of sewing supplies in the declutter that I had been missing for years, it was mid-September, we were back on a school routine. Whatever it was, the sparks became more frequent but it took another couple of weeks for buckle-down motivation to follow. I hope today to get a few posts scheduled and get back on track here!

I want to know: Has this ever happened to you?

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Lights: Keeping Up with the Times


I didn't mention this in my last house post about the lights, but there was a bit of debate between myself and the electrician about the upstairs light fixtures. You see, the standard had changed. 

We had decided on recessed lights for most areas. We were all for using LED bulbs because of their long life and the ability to get the tint we wanted. But our electrician told us that basically canned lights with bulbs were out and the new flat LED fixtures were in. No need to drag large metal boxes to the attic to install. No need to have the hassle of screwing in bulbs.  No need to buy the "rings" to put over the bulb for a nice finish. The new kind were so easy to pop in the holes in the ceiling, were all-in-one, decorative, light weight and super compact. They were also cheaper. Sounds great! 

What concerned me was that in however many years the light does die out, the entire unit has to be thrown away. There is no way to replace the little "bulb" (which is just a very small bit of tape with a quarter inch LED on it). That seems so wasteful. The electrician assured me that these lights last so long that it would be years and years before any had to be replaced (these things could last ten or twenty years depending on usage). That brought up another question: will the replacements be more expensive in ten years? Will the standard sizes have changed meaning we have to renovate to replace? Not only that, but a lot of the larger, decorative fixtures are this same sealed, no-bulb-to-replace style now. The thought seems to be that styles change and you will want to replace your fixture with a new look by that time anyway, so toss out the entire thing. This whole new way of doing things didn't seem the wisest way to me! 

 I'm sure the electrician thought I was really weird to hesitate when it was clearly, from his point of view, the greatest thing since sliced bread. The debate went on, but sometimes there is no swimming against the tide of change. We ended up putting in some of the big-metal-box-in-the-attic recessed lights, but also lot of these little LED discs. It became unavoidable when they were so much less expensive, time-saving and frankly so widely available. They really are better for install, smaller, unobtrusive and look great. I am happy with them. I would probably buy them again (I could use a couple more here or there...). Actually they might become the only choice in the stores after a while. I just wonder what will happen in a decade or so when the lights go out. Maybe by then someone will have figured out how to crack them open and change the wee light strip inside. 

Friday, August 26, 2022

If you are decluttering, toss these first! (May contain bad news...)

 ...bad news if you are really attached to vintage Pyrex/Corning Ware/Corelle dishes, mixing bowls and baking items. You know, those really nice, sturdy, good-feeling dishwasher-able dishes that your mother and grandmothers had in their kitchens. Ah the nostalgia!

I am interrupting our regular content to send out this public service announcement. I tried a regular lead test from the hardware store on these older kitchenware items this morning, and they instantly tested positive. I wasn't surprised because I had read about this recently. But I'm sentimental and I'm frugal and thought I would just try it for myself before committing to toss them.

The cup (Nancy's coffee cups-- boo hoo!) I tested on the rim. We were using them a lot because they were kept in a handy spot. Besides, they were almost indestructible and felt nice in the hand. The baking dishes I did over the decals.

Although some websites state that the inside is probably okay, the paint and decals on the outside are inevitably scratched and leaching lead. Plus, you are washing the leaching dishes with your other dishes. It's not worth it. So I filled up a box with vintage glass kitchen items from my favorite people to send to the dump.

If you love it a lot, keep it as decor but don't eat from it. I decided that I would rather have the cupboard space, and chose to keep my grandmother's antique teacups for my display spaces instead of vintage Pyrex.

Thankfully the lead tests did not at all register on my modern fine china (I even broke and extra saucer to test all surfaces inside and out), although I undertstand that those tests are not perfect. For a not- perfect test to instantly pick up on the lead of all the old Pyrex and Corning dishes, though-- that's good enough for me!

You can find quite a lot of info online if you need more help letting go. Think of it this way: you get to buy yourself some new dishes now! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Spring Rush, Lights, and a Caulk rant

Techincal note: I do not know why Blogger is showing some of my post text as a smaller font. Everything is checking out to be "normal" when I go to edit it. If it shows up on your device that way, I apologize for the inconvenient reading!

As Spring raced on, we were in a race of our own: there was a house being built nearby, could we finish ours first? 

It was very busy on our side of the county with house-building, and we had already seen a few new houses to “race.” We had already lost the “race” with a friends’ house that was twice our square footage (as if there was ever a chance on that, HA! they were in theirs at Christmas). We lost the race with the red spec-house down the road, the giant mansion over the hill... Then one day one of the lots close by was cleared, and a foundation poured. Well we knew how it usually went with us, so this one was going to be “Their house to our trim!”  Soon a truck pulled up over there and unloaded already assembled walls. Sigh. Not only that, it turned out to be something like a tiny house. Not fair.

Amazingly that there were some big leaps of progress on ours. Most notably the electricity. We hired our electrician again. The man's memory was amazing! We needed reminders of what we put this here for, what is that wiring there, and other stuff we forgot. He knew exactly where wires were that no one could even see any more! We decided that electricity wasn't "our thing."

I recall telling the electrician long before how I wanted to stand at the front door and be able to turn the living room, dining room, kitchen, entryway, porch, stairs, and Christmas lights on.  I think the electrician thought it was quite amusing, and suggested that for some things, I could just walk over to another area to turn a light on. The photo you see is my bank of switches (I had wanted more). The electrician can laugh now; I still haven't labeled them and I am always turning on the wrong lights first. 

The second story now lights up, and heaters were functional. Light and heat! There could have been even more light at that moment, but I had not purchased all the fixtures yet. I really wasn't expecting "finish electric" to be done so suddenly!

With the upstairs lights now working, I was excited to see what the blue paint I put in the half bath looked like with a light on it. It looked like an aquarium in daylight, as seen above. Did electric lights improve it? Nope. Back to the paint store on that one.

I ordered a dining room light, I think we ordered it from Wayfair. Of all the lights in the house this was a comparatively easy find. What we had in our mind's eye just happened to be in style. Some of the others weren't so easy to locate. We still have some lights I consider "temporary" and hope to replace someday. Other lights were what I thought I wanted, but after a while realize they aren't quite right. I guess that is just the way it goes!

The search for tile seems never ending. I saw this tile at the store and was contemplating it for the laundry room floor. It was a stone texture. Compared to the other tile on sale that day, I thought it looked like a good price until my son came home from work and said his boss got tile for 30 cents a square foot! Oh, and his boss bought a door that was $1,200 off. You read it right– the price was $1,250 and it was discounted to $50. That spurred me on... we were going to have to shop around, find bargains, go to all the area ReStores.

My husband put up the newell post for some temporary railings. The post had to be set very straight and the laser level is one of the best tools around. 

I liked the look of the temporary railings, made of flooring scraps. They reminded me of a farm fence. I was seriously considering going for this style (and it IS a style of stair railings I had seen before), but then my brain kicked in. Yours was probably already working the minute you saw the photo. No way would you have something like that with kids around. They will only see ladders when they look at it!

Having the older children involved in projects such as priming meant that if I could not finish an area for some reason, I could hand the paint brush off to one of them and know it would get done. Even the small guy figured out what to do with those brushes, though he was probably wondering where the paint buckets were. 

He was especially interested whenever I washed the brushes and rollers. He never wanted to miss a clean-up. I don't know why it was so fascinating to him. (I cleaned the paint stuff in our RV bathroom for lack of anywhere else to do it at the time)

After talking to a knowledgeable paint guy, I decided to double prime the walls. Somehow or other, I don’t know if it was an impression I got from the can label or somewhere else I was reading, I thought one coat would be good enough. Our drywall was extra thirsty. This double-coat decision messed up the calendar and delayed things, of course.

We had forgotten to finish the top stair reading nook when the drywall was being done, and I was so used to seeing the hole in the wall I forgot that it wasn’t finished yet! Plans had changed about how to trim it out, and it ended up being an arched entrance. It looked a bit like a doghouse to me so I was disappointed, but of course I got used to it. Anyway had to call back the drywall pros and ask if they could mud it...


The window trim was taking a month or so to install. We did all the caulking ourselves, and to this day I wish I had hired it done (if that is something you can hire out). The exterior caulking for some reason was great (probably because my husband did that part), but the interior caulking was so difficult to get right. I watched so many YouTube videos of experts giving tips, my contractor relative gave me tips, and our drywall pros gave me tips, but I never developed the knack for it. Neither did my helpers. I blame the caulk itself! But no matter which kind I tried, or which tool I bought, it was difficult to control. It shrunk and left holes, or it smeared and immediately attracted dirt and sawdust to itself. There is a particular brand I know we bought by the box-full, and whenever I see Matt Risinger recommend it on his channel, I want to yell at the screen: "That stuff is awful!"

We had to call a “progress inspection” to make sure that our permit did not lapse again. The inspector said, “you’re getting close!” Yeah, that’s what the last guy said.