Category Archives: organization

Happy New Year 2016

Woooo 2016!

Woooo 2016! (Note the unicorn sculpture; made by Babyzilla)

WOooo!!! 2016!!! Happy New Year!!!

Since this is the first post of the year, I figure I had better enthusiastically set the tone! haha

January mushrooms

January mushrooms

January colors

January colors

Lion's tail

Lion’s tail

Pumpkin (from the grocery stote; going to see if pumpkin plants will grow from this)

Pumpkin (from the grocery stote; going to see if pumpkin plants will grow from this)

Woooo first snow of winter/2016

Woooo first snow of winter/2016

Dexie struggling to keep her eyes open on New Year's Eve

Dexie struggling to keep her eyes open on New Year’s Eve

'Zilla also struggled to keep her eyes open till midnight (but awoke after this photo was taken to celebrate east coast New Year's at 11PM; gotta love central time!)

‘Zilla also struggled to keep her eyes open till midnight (but awoke after this photo was taken to celebrate east coast New Year’s at 11PM ahha)

Disco Nap haha

Disco Nap haha

New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve

Sitting outside by the fire on New Year's Eve

Sitting outside by the fire on New Year’s Eve

Embers

Embers

Making a torch

Making a torch

Fire

Fire

Making a torch seems like a good new year's tradition, doesn't it?!

Making a torch seems like a good new year’s tradition, doesn’t it?!

When it comes to gardening goals for 2016…

I’ve always been really focused on edibles. Radishes were the first thing I ever grew. As I dug in each tiny seedling into dry, clay soil I remember thinking, “This is a lot of work for a bunch of radishes!” Hahaha but there was obviously some allure; and I was hooked! I think I took about 20 pictures of those radishes I grew Hhahaa.

But this past year edibles just didn’t seem like my forte (aside from a prolific garlic harvest); and so in 2016 I am going to focus on flowers (edible flowers mostly!) and probably will try pumpkins (since they are my absolute favorite!). Also, houseplants. I was so inspired by a post Eliza Waters wrote entitled “Breathe Easy” citing a NASA study about how important plants are for cleaning indoor air.

Very Wizard of Oz. It is good to open all the windows in your home and let the fresh outdoor air circulate through at least 5 minutes per day.

Very Wizard of Oz. It is good to open all the windows in your home and let the fresh outdoor air circulate throughout at least 5 minutes per day.

Inside/Outside

Inside/Outside

Train painting

Train painting

Outside/Inside

Outside/Inside

Gluing

Gluing

Living room looking into dining room

Living room looking into dining room

Playing with filters

Playing with filters

We still have the Gingerbread Empire State Building. It is such a nice smelling decoration and I bet more graham crackers and ginger snaps (etc.) have sat for months in dingy storage warehouses…so when you think about it a few weeks (going on 3) for a fresh-baked good isn’t that old! If you’ll notice, some pieces are missing and tasted quite fresh; crispy and spicy, not stale at all! Though I didn’t eat the icing. Eventually we have to take it down. I have a friend who is setting firecrackers off in her tall gingerbread house to say goodbye to it!

IMG_5565

 

Hahahah.

But setting fire to the Empire State Building would seem really terrorist-y so we’ll not do that. For now I will just keep eating it; maybe let Babyzilla go to town on it.

Rrrraaaghhhh

Rrrraaaghhhh hahah

She’s really not all that destructive, I jest. Check out how clean her kitchen is!

Two kitchens

Two kitchens

I spy a white-tailed deer

I spy a white-tailed deer

Doe a deer ('Zilla loves the movie The Sound of Music)

Doe a deer (we loves the movie The Sound of Music)

Little roses

Little roses

Living Room

Living Room

Headless Dexie

Headless Dexie

Haha

Haha

Orchid

Orchid

So I’m [insert branching out pun] from growing tomatoes/vegetables and want to explore other healthful uses of plants in 2016. Definitely want to make it to the MOBOT herb show and Shaw Wildflower market in 2016!

Love-in-a-mist seedlings popping up everywhere; they are quite hardy.

Love-in-a-mist seedlings popping up everywhere; they are quite hardy.

January sky over Forest school

January sky over Forest school

Violets

Violets

Mushroom

Mushroom

Vertical garden panel (needs to root for 2-3 weeks)

Vertical garden panel (needs to root for 2-3 weeks)

See the dog picture on the rock?

See the dog picture on the rock?

Snowy white kalanchoe blooms

Snowy white kalanchoe blooms

I’ve been prodding the kids for things they would like to do and accomplish in the coming year and mostly I have gotten some pretty mundane answers.

“Go to City Party!” (She means Party City, a party supply store like 7 miles from our house that we went to around Halloween just to browse for random spooky decorations). She also wants to visit the children’s garden at MOBOT again, which of course I am all for!

The Spy wants more baseball cards (“10 thousand more”) hahah and he is continually working on a list of players he wants to get cards for.

He has baseball cards on the brain 24/7. Hahha

He has baseball cards on the brain 24/7. Hahha

Mushroom

Mushroom

Mushroom

Mushroom

Stump...kinda looks like a bear face

Stump…kinda looks like a bear face

Mushrooms/Fungus/Lichen

Mushrooms/Fungus/Lichen

Winter is my favorite season!

Winter is my favorite season!

Winter greens; kohlrabi

Winter greens; kohlrabi

Painting in progress

Painting in progress

Playing with filters

Playing with filters

January garden

January garden

Snow!

Snow!

At Forest School

At Forest School

Living room

Living room

Driveway

Driveway

A blessed and healthy 2016 to you all! Do you have any New Year’s resolutions?

I started a new goal of writing in a journal. The journal is one I got for Christmas and only has a short space to write, with a Bible verse (365 of them). So it’s no pressure; just jot a few notes down. I haven’t kept a journal ever (maybe sporadically in 5th grade?), so it is fun to try a new hobby. In response to,

“He fills my life with good things, so that I stay young and strong like an eagle.” Psalm 103:5

I wrote,

Honey, tea, water, lemon, legumes, rest, stretching, hiking, running, juggling, gardening, dancing, wash face 2x day, swimming, eat tons of vegetables, grains, oils, protein, facials, good posture, taking deep breaths, painting/sculpture/art, walking. Prayer. Paint nails/toes, clean bathroom, organize closets, vacuum, dust, slackline, arabesque;

Plus I wrote a list of places/parks in my area I would like to visit and included some other things; 10 glasses of water each day, tons of vegetables, lots of hot tea, write in journal daily, “Sophomore Year” of DNP Program, watch more TV, learn to unicycle, play outside often. And try out the canoe, of course!

Starting off the new year very under the weather I interpreted as a reminder to rest more (hence the “lots of hot tea” goal haha). Snuggling on the couch watching the X-files (sooo 90s it is great), movies (Jurassic World, The Sound of Music, etc.), is something I’m doing more often; no matter how much writing or reading time I need to put in for school. In order to be productive, creative and spiritual one needs to be well-rested!

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6

Happy 2016!!!

The Jewel Box

Baby painting still life of tomatoes and the Spy making a crack-proof thing around an egg.

Baby painting still life of tomatoes and the Spy making a crack-proof thing around an egg.

Using straws and tape (and about a 60 minute time limit) try and build something that will protect an egg from dropping to the ground.

Egg Drop Batting Practice

Egg Drop Batting Practice

You can also use paper and bubble wrap (in addition to straws and tape).

The Spy and his friend

The Spy and his friend

Yolk

Yolk

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

Hahahaaa

Hahahaaa

Belgian White Carrot Seed Head

Belgian White Carrot Seed Head

Delice de la Table (melon; like cantaloupe)

Delice de la Table (melon; like cantaloupe)

Rouge Vif d'Etampes

Rouge Vif d’Etampes

7.30.14

7.30.14

Yellow Blooms on Red Romaine seed heads (and nasturtium in the background)

Yellow Blooms on Red Romaine seed heads (and nasturtium in the background)

Love in a mist (nigella) seed pods drying out and feverfew in the background

Love in a mist (nigella) seed pods drying out and feverfew in the background

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

Red romaine blossoms (nasturtiums in the background)

Red romaine blossoms (nasturtiums in the background)

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus

Red Romaine and Nasturtiums (and the garden living room)

Red Romaine and Nasturtiums (and the garden living room)

Harlequin Marigold

Harlequin Marigold

Rouge Vif d'Etampes pumpkin

Rouge Vif d’Etampes pumpkin

Dexie

Dexie

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin

Atlantic Giant Pumpkin

Red

Red

Balloons

Balloons

Daniel Boone Bridge

Daniel Boone Bridge

Missouri River

Missouri River

Horses in Fog

Horses in Fog

Fog in Missouri River Valley

Fog in Missouri River Valley

Baby at School

Baby at School

Forest School

Forest School

And in other cool structures…

The Jewel Box

The Jewel Box

Blooms at the Jewel Box

Blooms at the Jewel Box

Built in 1936

Built in 1936

Awesomest green house: we need a (smaller) version!

Awesome green house: we need a (smaller) version!

Pretty Jewel Box

Pretty Jewel Box

I Know Where the Scissors Are!

I started reading Zen and the Art of Housekeeping weeks ago. And still haven’t finished it. I have, however, done the following:

Completely emptied every drawer and cabinet in the kitchen, and discarded anything chipped, broken or superfluous.

In consideration of questions from the book such as,

“Is this item truly of value to me?”

“Does it make my life better in some way?”

and

“Is it meaningful to me?”

Baby has graduated to normal vessels of consumption (i.e. glass bowls) so we are down to only two ugly plastic sippy cups. Actually one because I forgot the other one at church last week. No more “kid” plastic lurking in the kitchen. This is just personal preference. I am not fond of plastic. I now have NOTHING in my kitchen that I don’t use regularly, save for just a few special things I use only several times a year (i.e. cookie press, piping bags/tips). I thought that I was a pretty clutter-free person but when I did the kitchen overhaul I had three giant boxes worth of trash/donations! You can’t even really tell the difference. Even when you open the cupboards. It just looks subtly more open, more organized.

(not that exciting)

(not that exciting)

There’s no “hidden” food in the pantry. I can see everything. The dead space (dark corner-areas of cabinets) are empty. All of the cabinets have been cleaned inside and outside before I reloaded all the necessities. It may not be an obvious improvement, but it is pretty great.

Last I wrote of Zen and the Art of Housekeeping, the kids rooms had been cleaned and organized (even the closets!) There are no clothes that don’t fit them taking up valuable space. Too-small garments have been donated.

Before you roll your eyes, please know that I am not an organized person and these all are major departures from my normal routine.

I throw caution to the wind and start painting, digging or writing (or whatever creative process) and make gigantic messes on a very regular basis. However, I am learning that it will benefit my creative process (and the people I live with) if I properly clean up my gigantic mess rather than pile it on the table down in the basement when I’m finished.

Like so.

Like so.

This table was clean one week ago. When you think you have all the Christmas decorations cleaned up, there always seem to be some forgotten trimmings coming out of the woodwork, right?!

My house is not always (ever?) sparkling clean. I like art. I view our home as a sort of canvas.

Clutter-free surfaces

Clutter-free surfaces,

Dusted artwork,

dusted artwork,

with clean glass to properly reflect the light,

with clean glass to properly reflect the light,

no visible electronic wires and a feng shui-ish use of

knick-knackery

knick-knackery

is my forte. So usually, Internet, I show you the artful side of Spy Garden Home. Most home and garden bloggers do the same, which is why you don’t see many photographs of artfully-lit dirty bathtubs that need scrubbing on designmom. Or mud caked into a rug on simplygrove. Or crayon covering a closet door on lalalovely. On mogs (mom blogs) you do see (and hear of) such things.

The simple statement of “I have a two year old, an eight year old and a golden retriever puppy” (in my mind) implies that my home is never entirely clean. I appreciate the style of the aforementioned home and garden blogs (and magazines), Martha Stewart, etc. and don’t get offended by the appearance of “perfection” because I know that they are images. I can value a photograph in an artistic way while knowing full well that no matter how la la lovely things look in photos, some common things are true for any person who has kids (or dogs, to some degree):

Getting 8+ hours of uninterrupted sleep is a unexpected delight

All furniture shall be ripped/stained/broken (to at least some degree)

The unexpected happens (all the time)

This one may not be universal but also: One can never find a pair of scissors. Or tape. Or a pen. (etc., etc.) In real life, these messy moments usually involve much laughter and chaos. Just because people don’t showcase their chaos on their website, doesn’t mean they are liars trying to be perceived as perfect. That’s like painting a landscape of a colorful summer scene and calling it a lie because the landscape depicted is actually all gray in winter. Or something like that.

Of writing on the chaos of children, basically the same exact things happen to everyone who has kids. I usually don’t write about such things because so many other people do it so well. It takes a lot of effort to make jokes and be witty (at least for me) and if I’ve just completed cleaning up a mess (or looking for the scissors) by that point (i.e. the end of the day) I’m ready to move on to a new subject, perhaps one that does not involve chaos. Such as organizing (ha!). Or appreciating the artful side of things. But just because I tend to focus on the attractive angle does not mean the rips, stains, messes aren’t there.

But back to Zen and the Art of Housekeeping

My junk drawer is now organized and really, quite bare. For the past year every time the junk drawer was filled to the brim I would just dump all the contents into a big plastic Rubbermaid bin and put it down in the basement. FOR A YEAR. I finally brought the bin up and told Spy-Wonder Boy it was “TREASURE!” And to “Please separate into piles of tools, art stuff, his toys, Baby’s toys, etc.” He did the whole bin, it took hours! One year’s worth of one little junk drawer.

NO MORE! Now junk drawer contents have a home. On top of the fridge.

Out of the reach of the clutches of the tiny destroyers. Though let's be honest it was usually me leaving the scissors somewhere (i.e. out in the garden).

Out of the reach of the clutches of the tiny destroyers. Though let’s be honest it was usually me leaving the scissors somewhere (i.e. out in the garden).

And now, I know where the scissors are. Joy!

I’ve also started a cleaning schedule.

Spy Garden Home Cleaning Schedule

Spy Garden Home Cleaning Schedule

I haven’t religiously followed it, but I if I skip a job (i.e. cleaning the fridge) the next Monday I know I skipped the previous week and it gives me more incentive to just get it done.

Posted right under the calendar, can't miss it!

Posted right under the calendar, can’t miss it!

I used to clean things when you could visibly see something was dirty. But if you just clean everything once a week, the jobs are SO MUCH less involved! I’ve left room for other chores to be added as we think of them. The home pictures are there for motivation and Baby especially loves looking at the pictures of her room.

I haven’t stuck very closely to the sweeping schedule. I love to garden, ergo I love dirt. Dirt on my floors doesn’t really offend me. Smoochie and Baby the Spy and I are constantly tracking it in and I don’t worry about it. To me dirt isn’t dirty. Soil is lovely. Old food on the floor would be unsanitary and I would classify that as dirty. However, food on the floor doesn’t last long with two puppies in the house. So what I sweep up is pretty much all plain dirt. And when you think about it, dirt is just teeny-tiny rocks. Granite and marble floors are much larger and perhaps more luxurious, rocks. If you think about it. HAHAHAHa

So dirt’s alright. But I don’t like clutter or too many tchotchkes. For the most part I don’t block windows with furniture. A fireplace or picture window is the ideal focal point of a room (i.e. not a TV). We pick up the toys. The kitchen counter is cleared. None of this is actually cleaning, they are really just interior design preferences. At a glance, our house usually looked clean and organized. But the drawers, the closets, the cabinets and the basement were a real mess. Shoving things in a closet does not equal organization. Zen and the Art of Housekeeping has made me face this and start to create a more organized Spy Garden Home.

If you read regularly you may have noticed Spy sister (my sister, aka Aunt Spy) and her golden retriever puppy, Magnolia, making frequent appearances. That is because she is living here. Not forever, though we sort of wish it would be forever. She has moved to St. Louis and is staying with us. We have a pretty small house (something like 1200 SF). It’s a basic ranch, with three 10 x 10 bedrooms and one bathroom. As “chaos” is implied within the statement “I have kids”, implied in “one bathroom” are 753 jokes. The man cave is the house’s saving grace, a large, cozy room that doubles as family room and office.

The Man Cave (where tchotchkes are permitted)

The Man Cave (where tchotchkes are permitted)

We have a living room which I regard as the “girl cave” that is now serving as Spy Sister’s sleeping quarters. Living Room Living, if you will.

Living Room Living

Living Room Living: nighty night Aunt Spy!

When you have multiple people (and animals) in the same home (with one bathroom), keeping things clean and organized is sort of mandatory. If I lived alone I would probably have all my clothes piled up on the floor and I’d shove them in a closet when someone came over. In fact, my own clothes are piled up mishmash in my closet. But I’m going to go organize them now. And then maybe I’ll finish reading the book.