Weird Place

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A spring scene at my mom’s house from last year.

Beloved readers,

I have not forgotten you. You find me in strange circumstances. Recently, we have had the confluence of two unusual events: my phone photo/video storage reached it’s capacity and then while I was working on that issue, my 88 year old mom fell and broke her knee.

So I have been hanging out at mom’s house to help her out. But she doesn’t have internet. (I know!!!) So blog responsibilities took a back seat to real life responsibilities. But I believe I can move forward in this way: I need to delete a bunch of photos that I am not likely to keep, but I think are beautiful, nonetheless. So I will share them with you all and then delete them from my phone, to make space for more photographs to share with you all! Sound okay?

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Lake Mendota outside my daughter’s apartment in 2018.
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A rainbow outside my bedroom window on 7/4/2019.

 

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One of the eastern facing windows from the St. Louis Friend’s Meeting House (the Quakers.) This building is in the middle of the city, mind you. I love worshiping here.

So the minimalist in me does not feel obligated to save these photos for eternity, though I did enjoy them for a moment or two.

Hopefully, I will have worked out the bugs in the system and mom will be upright on her own two knees soon.

Thanks for your patience.

Fawn

Entry Hall

I decided the entry hall was boring and needed something. Which is not my usual reaction to a blank wall, so I sat with the feeling for some months to see if it would pass.

I thought about adding a chair (to put on boots) but there is a chair two steps away in the living room.

I settled on two hooks which can hold coats or a purse or a shopping tote and hat.

I like that these objects are both decorative and functional.

New Year

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Really, it is not that strange for a retired hospice nurse to do such a thing.

Every year, about this time, I review my “Death” folder, to make sure it is up to date.

As you can see, it includes instructions for the disposal of my body. It also includes an updated list of bank accounts and insurance policies and who to contact to stop my pension checks. Some years I tinker with the song list for my memorial service. This year I had to add a whole page of instructions on how to help my disabled son.

I do this because I love my children very much and while I can not make my death easy for them, I can make it less difficult by giving them access to the information they will need in the days immediately following my death.

Now on to more fun topics.

I thought I would try my hand a New Year’s resolutions. In the past, I did not bother with them, thinking that if I wanted to initiate a change, I should just do it and not wait for the calendar to catch up with me.

This year, I thought, “What if I am missing out? What if New Year’s resolutions will really improve my life and I never gave them a fair chance?”

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This was my first draft.

But frankly if seems kind of bossy and abusive “for my own good,” kind of like The Biggest Loser TV show where participants enter into a boot camp full of healthy food and vigorous exercise.

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Draft 2.

This one is more gentle, and a lot more “new agey.” But is also seems pretty complicated and likely doomed to failure if I can’t pull my resolutions up from memory.

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So I settled on this one.

How about you all? Any New Year’s resolutions that you would like to share?

A Review of a Couple Books

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If you look carefully, you can spot a chihuahua sitting amongst the cushions.

Both of the reviewed books were borrowed from the library. The cover on this one is a bit worse for wear, which I interpret as that it has been checked out and read a lot.

The cover here tells the story: Bea Johnson has created an ultimate guide to reducing household waste. Her family’s story is one we have heard before. They had the large home in a nice area with a long commute and spent their free time taking care of the house and the yard and in the car. They relocated to a city home that was half the size, and this started them on the path to simplifying their lives in other regards as well.

While reducing the family’s landfilled trash output to less that a quart per year is an amazing achievement in our culture, I don’t think that that aspect of their adventure simplified their lives.

If you are looking for ways to reduce your trash output, this book will give you lots of good ideas: some simple, some complicated.

Best tip from the book: Look at the stuff that you put in your trash can and recycle bin and ask yourself how to find a way to keep from putting it there. Easy options include using reusable bottles and shopping bags to replace single use plastic bottles and plastic bags. More challenging options include making your own yogurt and buying clothing second hand and creating a compost. Probably too difficult for most of us include taking your own glass jars to the cheese and butcher shops so the staff can deposit their wares directly into your containers and teaching your elementary-aged children to say no to party favors.

Worst tip from the book: putting a brick in your toilet tank to reduce the water flow. Don’t do it! I have heard/read from several reputable sources that the bricks deteriorate over time soaking in the water and will cause plumbing problems.

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More challenging than getting your fish in a jar? Growing it yourself!

The Toolbox for Sustainable City Living will teach you how to grow your own vegetables, chicken, fish and small mammals for consumption in a city setting.

The techniques laid out are easy to understand and the supplies required affordable. It would be useful to own your own property before implementing these methods, but information is given on how to do so on abandoned city lots as well. There are plenty of diagrams and photos to help the reader replicate what Kellogg, Pettigrew and their community have achieved.

The environmental, economic and political benefits of this type of farming are also discussed in the book. I have added to my Travel List a visit to their community in Austin, Texas both to see the husbandry in action and to learn how they work as a community to get the work done.

Simple Winter Décor

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A little evergreen and a little light for the early evenings.

Here is my holiday décor for December. When the rest of your space is simple, it doesn’t take over-the-top flash to make it feel cared about and fresh.

The plate was in my kitchen. The cedar branches with berries came from a tree in the apartment complex’s yard. I was careful to trim from a side where the branches were not desirable (rubbing on cars in the parking lot.) The candle was .99 USD at IKEA.

After the holidays, the plate will go back into the kitchen, the cedar will be composted and the candle will either make it’s way to my meditation space or to the household emergency kit. Frugal, stylish and sustainable. Exactly what QuakerStylist is all about.

And I need a dose of restrained style, because this is our front door for the next two weeks.

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… and his mustache moves. Sigh….

Frugal Greeting Cards

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My basic card making tools.

My stash of home-made cards was getting pretty low, but I have been waiting to make more. The librarian at our local library told me that she clears out the circulating magazines at the end of the year and they are offered first come, first served to the general public. She even offered to reserve a few for me!

 

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I requested two copies of these three titles, because I thought they would have good pictures.

And they did not disappoint! I cut out any photo or illustration that appealed to me. I had purchased a package of 25 blank note cards with envelopes from the local craft store. They were on sale for $5 USD. Based on the size of the note cards, I created a cardboard template from a empty cereal box. I used the template to crop and frame the pictures I liked in a way that appealed to me.

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I just move the template around until I have an interesting frame of the image and I mark inside the template with a pen.
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Here you can see my template marks, ready for cutting.
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Most of the cards are made from a single cropped image, but a few are collages, like this one.
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26 varied, beautiful, handmade cards created for 20 cents each! Honestly, I like these way better than what I can find in the shops.
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I did not make these cards today, but the exact same process applies to making holiday cards.

Any two dimensional image can be used. For past cards I have used antique photos, old calendars, used greeting cards, magazines, interesting tags that came on purchased clothing, parts of a playbill, a politically incorrect children’s book that the library was giving away.

I have a file folder where I collect interesting images for this purpose. When I have enough, I buy the blank note cards and get busy!

A Few Things I’m Grateful for This Thanksgiving

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This is where I usually park my car.

We had some high winds Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, and when we woke Wednesday morning, we were greeted to this tree crashed down onto what is my usual parking spot. I’m ever so grateful that I parked in a different spot when we got home from the movie Tuesday night.

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Half of the flatware and plates in this photo are borrowed.

I hosted a dinner at our apartment Wednesday evening for my children and their families/partners. Due to my minimalism and recent multiple moves, I did not have enough plates and flatware for 8 people, but I was easily able to borrow the needed items. No less than three people offered to loan me plates and flatware for the event.

(And by the time dinner was served, the electric company had cut down the tree hanging on the power lines and another crew came and hiked the electrical cords back up to their normal, safe height.)

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All of my kids and their families/partners were able to attend the large family gathering this year, which is the thing for which I am most grateful.

Dear readers: I would love for you to share in the comments what you are thankful for this year. International readers, please chime in also. Surely, gratitude is not confined to federal holidays.

 

Bathroom Tile Project

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Sloppy painting, sloppy caulking and dirt have been accumulating for some time.

From the moment that I moved into this apartment last February the grime and careless workmanship of the tile repair bothered me. I knew that tackling the tile and grout was going to be an intensive task. I undertook some easier ones elsewhere in the apartment first, so that I could have some success under my belt before I took this on.

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It turns out some of those tiles were only being held up with paint and edge caulk.

And it got worse before it got better. I scraped out the filthy grout before gluing the cleaned tiles back in place.

After the glue set, I laid down fresh grout.

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So much prettier!

And the corner that set me off–

 

Christmas Wrap

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The ladybug came off a bar of soap I bought. I have been saving it all year just for this application.

I know it seems a bit early for a post about wrapping Christmas gifts, but my family is travelling here for Thanksgiving and I won’t see many of them near the Christmas holiday. We have developed a family tradition of sending the wrapped gifts home with each other when we gather at Thanksgiving to save on shipping costs.

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The wrap and gift tags.

I use the same paper for gifts all year long. I just dress it up differently according to the occasion. I bought this large roll of cream drawing paper at IKEA from the children’s section. Here. I’ve been working on this roll for a couple years. The brown paper is reused from a framing job I had done. The gift tags were all cut from an 87 cent piece of cardstock. I’m still working through a large stash of ribbons and string that my mom collected over decades and passed on to me. I usually color on the gift tags in colors that coordinate with my ribbon or string.

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I think the pile of presents makes a charming vignette in the corner for now.

My cost this year was just the cardstock. Everything else I had on hand. The paper can be reused and recycled. The fabric string and ribbon can be reused and composted.

Clean Threshold

Beloved Readers-

I realized this is the second kind of lame post in a row. The bathroom tile/grouting project is time consuming and I can really only work on it when my son is visiting at his dad’s because there is no second bathroom to use while work is underway.

In the meantime, I amuse myself with small projects I can knock off in an hour our two. Here is one from this past week.

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Here is the threshold to our apartment with decades of grime in the crevasses.
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And here it is a couple hours later.

All that took was a bit of vinegar, a toothbrush and some elbow grease.

And it makes me happy every time I cross the threshold.

PS. I did not get the house that I made the offer on, so back to the property search.