Around the House · Crafting · Food · Media · Musings

Are You A Follower or A Leader?

A few months ago I came across something unusual on YouTube. A young woman who was dressed in not so modern clothing who was reorganizing her small New York City apartment to be a sewing room.

The video quality was amazing. The background music was above par – obviously not cheap filler. The perspective and attention to detail was impressive.

I’m not a seamstress. I have no desire to make clothing – of any era. And yet, I was intrigued.

After a few months of following this woman, I was introduced to some of her costuming fellows. Turns out she is one of a cadre of people who, for a variety of reasons, makes clothing to replicate earlier eras. And they are all darn good at what they do.

Last week three of these women (including the original I talked about) made a video about their various preferred eras and why they dress the way they do. You see, each dresses within their own preferred era(s) to a degree each day of their lives. For some, the “costume” might be wearing regular 21st century dress not what they choose to wear on their own.

Mind boggling, isn’t it?

Over on another channel, I found myself watching a variety of manufactured home walk throughs. These are of relatively new homes that are being marketed at various home shows. All are quite nice sized, although the one prevailing thought I had was that it would require a lot of work to keep them clean and tidy. The other prevailing reaction was to the decor used by the various manufacturers.

Disclaimer: If you prefer this style, great. It really isn’t my cup of anything.

The majority of the homes were presented in the current modern style. Predominately white, grey, charcoal with little to no actual other color. There were, however, one or two that had rooms with a focus wall with Color or a room that had Color on all the walls.

I found myself drawn to the homes that had color on the walls. The ones with architectural details. The ones that had some personality and didn’t look like a cookie cutter version of a Pinterest spread or the latest edition of some home decor magazine. In short, the homes where it looked like a real human being lived there, not just spent a weekend.

On top of all of that, one of my favorite home DIY vloggers posted this week about a project she is doing for a family member in a small apartment. Her taste is very different from that of the person whose apartment she is working on and she commented on the fact that she was looking forward to exploring that difference. One of the commenters remarked on how that would be great because while the rooms on Pinterest and in home decor magazines looked beautiful, most people don’t live like that.

It got me to thinking.

Human Beings tend to not only be tribal but followers. The majority are more inclined to follow the latest trends, be it in home decor, clothing, food, music, media or pretty much anything else, rather than step away from the tribe and decide for themselves what they prefer.

Granted there is a percentage of people who follow their own paths. We see it in pretty much any category, but even within those categories we can find leaders and followers.

When the three women were talking about their clothing choices, the comment that prevailed was one of comfort. One remarked that while it seemed a bit unusual to use natural fibers, it turns out that those fibers were more efficient at heat control, were easier to clean and maintain and were more sustainable. Above all, however, it was the way she felt wearing the garments. She felt comfortable in the them. More so than in any modern off the rack garment.

Self comfort is something that I think we don’t always consider when we choose what we wear or how we decorate our homes or even, to some degree, what we follow. The rest of the pack might not agree with those choices.

The irony of this idea is the lack of realization that the “rest of the pack” does not wear the clothes, live in the homes, or occupy the same space as the one making the choices.

I’ve been around long enough to remember when there was no cable TV let alone streaming. Some folks are shocked at the thought of that. They can’t imagine not having that monthly bill, let alone all those channels they don’t watch.

Some people can not consider not having a monthly loan payment on a vehicle. The idea of not having a brand new vehicle each year or so is so alien they can’t contemplate it.

Some folks come home to a house that may be Pinterest friendly but isn’t comfortable, let alone “homey” and don’t know what they can do to resolve that problem.

I think one of the reasons we have so many leaders in social media is that so many more people are looking for ways to resolve problems they feel unempowered to deal with on their own.

The problem is, making changes takes courage. Stepping away from the pack and going a different route can be frightening. It can also be strengthening.

There is a natural phase when you evolve from the way you were raised into the way you choose to live. That being said, there seems to always be carry over; family traditions, family recipes, for example.

When you choose not to make changes that you know (or at least ‘think’) will make your life more comfortable, you deprive yourself of self comfort. You deprive yourself of self expression. You deprive yourself of you.

When fear of the unknown stops you, you lose.

Now I’m not saying you need to jump out of an airplane or go cliff diving or swimming with sharks – unless, of course, that is what you really want to do. What I’m saying is that you can do little things to see if you really like something. If you do, keep going. If you don’t, stop. Re-evaluate. Reconsider. Try a different thing.

You do You.

The only way to know what “you” is, is to try. Experiment.

A sample sized can of paint is inexpensive. If you don’t like it, paint over it. And, by the way, painting as an activity can be very therapeutic. This can be applied either to a canvas, as in “Art” or on a wall, which, ironically, can also be “Art”.

Trying different clothing can mean a trip to a charity shop or a visit with a consignment shop. Or, if you are up to the challenge, a trip to a fabric store.

Exploring different music, books, and various media is a simple visit to the local library – which is usually free.

Speaking of free, check out the local museums in your area. You might be surprised at the treasures they hold.

Curious about craft projects? Visit your local hobby shop and see if they hold classes.

Ditto regarding home do it yourself projects. Many local hardware stores either hold classes or will know where to direct you.

The point is simply to take baby steps. Dip your toe in the water to see if it is something you want to explore or not. It doesn’t have to be expensive or drastic.

What it does have to be is something that allows you to be come more comfortable living your life.

One step at a time.

Around the House

A Touch of Organization

Getting Your Life On Track

It seems that January is all about losing the weight gained during the previous few months (holiday time) and February is recovery from January’s efforts. March, however, seems to be a reminder of those pesky resolutions to Get Organized.

Since we seem to be halfway to March, it feels somewhat appropriate to at least address the organization issue. A bit. Think of it as a headstart with the ambition of tackling the problem.

I’m not the most organized person on the planet. I’m better than I once was and, at the same time, seem to have new issues with the same old problems. Confusing? Yep.

I used to be able to keep my shopping list in my head. Now, if I depend on that method I find myself missing items I Really Need while stocking up on things that aren’t used that much. Fine if you have an extra roll of bath tissue when you need it. Not so fine if you don’t.

One of my Pet Peeves is food waste. So, for me, having a disorganized fridge that allows the fresh veg to go bad because I (a) forgot I had it on hand or (b) couldn’t find it when I wanted it without cleaning the fridge is not a viable option. The equivalent of setting fire to my ATM card. After burning down the bank.

For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.

Benjamin Franklin

Like many people, the idea of “Organization” is a touch repellent. It somehow seems to take the spontaneity out of pretty much anything. I get it, I also get the reality that without a touch of, shall we call them guard rails, nothing gets done that needs to get done. (Putting off doing the laundry because it is a bore tends to lead to some other issues…)

So, in the effort to get yourself on track and reduce the potential problems of not doing stuff, how do you go about getting organized?

The K*I*S*S* Method

Keep. It. Simple. Silly.

We live in a world that bombards us with the idea that Everything Should Be Done Immediately if not sooner. The reality is that things take time. Not always as much time as we think they will, but occasionally more than we thought they would.

If you are one of those folks who look at the <cough> Huge List Of Stuff To Do and find yourself a bit overwhelmed, might I suggest that you stop. Take a breath. Take a second breath. Pick up a pencil and a piece of paper and write down what you need to accomplish and put it in some sort of priority order.

Notice I didn’t say pick up your phone or your computer to do this. Why? Because it is very easy to get distracted using the tech. Let’s go a bit Old School on this project, okay? Trust me.

Here are some items you might add to your list:

  • Make your bed
  • Laundry
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Sweep / vacuum the floors
  • Dust
  • Take out the trash
  • Wash the dishes
  • Clean the kitchen

Before you groan and slide back into the “That’s Too Much Work!” mode. Let’s think a bit, shall we?

You will never be completely ready. Start from wherever you are.

C.J. Hayden, MCC

Start somewhere, anywhere. If you feel overwhelmed, set a timer for 15 minutes and start on a task with the goal of getting as much of the task completed before the timer goes off. Once that happens, stop and look around. You might be surprised at how much has been accomplished.

There are things you can do to help yourself to avoid being crushed under the weight of So Much To Do. Make your bed every day. Set aside a specific day (or night) to do a load of laundry. Spend one day a month preparing foods for the month’s meals.

Okay, that one may be a bit much for now, but file it away in the back of your mind for “Later”.

I remember when I was a youngster there was a set of kitchen towels that had the day of the week with a specific task assigned. Monday was laundry day. Tuesday was ironing day. Wednesday was for vacuuming and dusting. Thursday was mending day. Friday was baking day. I forget what Saturday was for, perhaps shopping? Sunday was designated a Day of Rest.

We can follow a similar plan, if we choose. If our homes are small enough, several things can be accomplished on the same day. Put in the laundry, dust, do the floors, take out the trash, clean the bathroom. Laundry pretty much does itself, so the rest of the time can be put to good use. Dishes can be put in the dishwasher every day. Handwashing can be done either every day or every other day, depending on the amount. I like to do mine every other day, putting them in to soak when I’m done with the meal. Less water and soap used and reduced time to spend doing the chore.

If our homes are larger, we have the option of spreading tasks out over the week. Or weeks.

You can take that original paper list and build on it, or you can move to a white board, calendar, bullet journal to help you keep track of what needs to be done – and when it is done.

The idea is to break down that Huge List Of Things To Be Done into smaller, more manageable steps that can easily be accomplished in the time you have.

One may walk over the highest mountain one step at a time.

John Wanamaker

In a Nutshell

  • Make a list of what needs to be done
  • Assign a priority to each task
  • Set aside at least 15 minutes per day to complete at least one task.
  • Repeat

Give yourself one month with this process and see what you have accomplished.

Leave me a comment about your progress. 🙂


Let’s Talk About Stuff

It doesn’t matter if you are a crafter, cook, gamer, collector or what, chances are there is a lot of stuff that goes along with whatever your interest may be.

Lots of newcomers look around at all the paraphernalia and immediately start backing away because they don’t have the stuff and can’t reasonably afford a quick acquisition of it, so think they can’t “do” the whatever that they were interested in in the first place.

Sound familiar?

Here’s the thing. The stuff can come later. Or not. What you really Need (note the capitalization) is the basics to do what you want to do to see if you want to continue with it, or not.

  • Need is a necessity.
  • Want is something that won’t always alter the end product.

I love to cook and over the years managed to acquire a lot of stuff. When I moved, I found that I could get rid of a lot of it because <gasp> I didn’t use it, need it, or want to haul it to my new home.

My new home has a kitchen that I lovingly refer to as the size of a postage stamp. I literally don’t have room to stash things I don’t use. Anywhere.

What this means is I no longer own a microwave. Shocking, right? Well, maybe not.

When I owned one – that was gifted to me – I found that it was used to heat water and steam vegetables. I tried actually “cooking” in it and was totally turned off. It didn’t “cook” so much as just “heat”.

I have used a stove to heat water, steam vegetables and actually “cook”, not to mention “heat”, food for years. Decades, in fact. Why would I waste precious counter space on a tool I didn’t need?

I inherited a blender I rarely used. It went to Goodwill. I had a waffle iron I rarely used. It followed the blender and if I want waffles, I pull them out of the freezer. My original food processor also went to Goodwill and was replaced by a Much Less Expensive Model because it fit my needs and wouldn’t cost the bank to replace the blades.

I have a set of cookware that is almost as old as I am – and I vividly remember when my mother bought it – but use a set I purchased myself a few years ago that does more, is more efficient and versatile.

The old stuff worked great on my old stove, but when I bought my new stove I discovered that the newer technology didn’t lend itself to old pots and pans. Yes, I can use them. No, I choose not to.

As a crafter, I tried a lot of different tools for the various crafts I do. Some work better than others. Some I prefer because I work better using them than not.

I get fussy, er, particular, about certain tools because I know how I react. For example, I’m fussy about color matching when I work on cards. I don’t like it when colors that are supposed to be the same, aren’t. (I’m weird that way.) Some folks may not notice, but I do. So I purchase my papercrafting supplies from a manufacturer who makes certain that their colors work together across all their lines and the quality of the materials are high.

If I’m quilting, I like to pull fabrics from the same designer line. Why? Because the designer created the line with a specific set of colors to work together, even if they don’t appear to.

Things like this make my job as a crafter easier because I don’t spend time and money trying to put things together that won’t work the way I want them to.

I am fond of some computer games but have never had a system that can handle some of the more advanced games. But, I can (and do) play the ones I enjoy on the machine I have.

That being said, gaming itself has done some interesting evolution. I loved “Table Top” when it was on YouTube. It allowed me to see what could be considered semi-old fashioned gaming in that games were being played without technology. The games are interesting, interactive and fun.

And if the power goes out, and you have a light source, you can still play.

Don’t get me wrong, stuff can be great. It can add to an experience, it can make a process easier. It can also deplete the bank account, take up space and gather dust, not to mention keep you from doing what you wanted to do in the first place.

If you are thinking about getting something to learn a process, talk to people who already do that process. Ask them what they think and what they recommend. You might be surprised.

Whatever you do, please don’t let the lack of owning something keep you from attempting whatever it is you want to try.

Cord Cutting · Media · Movies · TV

Keeping Up With…Everything

I don’t know about you, but lately I seem to be more behind in my viewing than ever before. This is astounding to me as I once had two (yes, 2) VCRs set to program a full 12 hours each week.

I no longer use my VCR or my DVR, and I do have a streaming service or two, so I can catch up if I want to. But do I?

I’m also the one who, in case you are new to the blog, set up a yearly Media Calendar specifically geared to keep up with shows I want to watch. This is usually done around 9/1 in time for the new Fall Season to arrive.

It is, therefore, a touch odd for me to note that there are items on the calendar that I have yet to actually watch. I might have caught the season premiere and enjoyed it, but weekly?

Star Trek: Picard just arrived and I am thrilled. It drops on CBS All Access on Thursdays, but I seem to be watching it on Saturday evening. Why? Well, with the first episode I wanted to not get caught up in the online sturm and drang and just experience it and The Ready Room when I could focus on them with a clear head.

Murdoch Mysteries Season 13 recently began being released on AcornTV and drops an episode every Monday. I admit it has been a long wait in between seasons and I’m enjoying every single second of the new material. Even the creepy <shudder> Halloween episode.

As I managed to catch the October Grunge, I also managed to miss several episodes of NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles and NCIS New Orleans.

I am still a Gibbs Girl, but wasn’t all that excited by Ziva’s return. I don’t particularly care for Torres, either. This can create some issues when catching up.

I enjoy NCIS-NOLA, but the loss of LaSalle was a bit devastating and I haven’t seen the episodes surrounding that sad event. I’m not sure I’m ready to delve into Pride’s head at this point, either. Last season was rocky enough.

I’m glad to have the NCIS-LA team back (go Hetty!) and have managed to keep up with them more than the others. Go figure. Maybe it is the “old married couple” dynamic that is Sam and G, I’m not sure. Somehow it just seems comfortable.

And, yes, I get the irony of that, too. 🙂

I enjoyed God Friended Me a lot, but for whatever reason when the October thing hit, I got out of the rhythm of watching and now… Not sure.

I looked forward to, and enjoyed what I’ve seen of both Bob Hearts Abishola and Stumptown, but somehow they have been put on back burners, too.

I am eagerly awaiting the next (and last) season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Can’t come along soon enough.

All that being said, what am I watching, you ask?

I’ve been catching quite a few documentaries on British history along with several episodes of Escape to the Country and various cookery shows. British shows. Lots of British shows. I sense a theme here.

I really am enjoying the opportunity to explore Britain and learn more about the country. it isn’t just the vloggers I follow on YouTube, it is the other material that catches my interest.

A couple of years ago it was Australia care of their version of Better Homes and Gardens. I do manage to catch a couple of episodes of the Bondi Vet – we were introduced to Dr. Chris Brown on Saturday morning syndication on CBS.

Maybe it is latent wanderlust. I don’t know.

It isn’t just the regularly scheduled programming I’m not keeping up with as I used to. I have similar issues with a few of my YouTube regulars.

Justin Scarred is back to filming. Both he and Ally have been under the weather. Tim Trackers are also back now that baby Jackson has arrived and the new family is getting organized. Magic Journeys are also putting out new content – and I’m seeing where they are expanding beyond the usual Disney areas more and more. I’m thinking (and could be wrong) that they are getting more invitations to media events as their channel grows.

Me? I’m just not ready to repeat the usual runs and, to be honest, am not all that interested in another round of visits to the Star Wars Land attractions.

Yes, the theming is amazing and yes the rides are exciting, but somehow… once or twice or even three times was enough. I really would rather go and have a nice meal at the Blue Bayou or sit by the river and watch the ducks. The Florida parks are their usual wondrous things, but with all the construction … I’ll pass watching for now.

Maybe I need to find out what’s new on the Discover Wisconsin channel on Roku? I’ve enjoyed some seriously beautiful scenery and lots of interesting people.

The funny thing about having so many options is that at the end of the day, you can only keep up with a few and after a while you need a break. The nice thing about some of these options is that the viewer no longer has to wait for rerun season and hope that missed episodes will air.

Which reminds me What’s My Line from 1955 is available on Amazon. I’ve been enjoying that, too. Care to join me?

Cooking · Dining · Food · Musings

Java – The Joy Of

Good coffee makes the meal. Bad coffee will kill it.

I’m one of those people who really do appreciate good coffee. I am by no means an expert, but I do know how to make a decent cup of Java. It took me a while.

I admit I was spoiled. Both my parents knew the secrets to excellent coffee, but it was my dad who taught me to appreciate the joys of a perfectly prepared pot accented with Just The Right Amount of Sugar and, believe it or not, evaporated condensed milk.

Yep, my coffee life began with condensed milk rather than dairy cream. Probably because the former was a lot less expensive than the latter and we watched our pennies.

As I grew up and learned more, I found I actually prefer <gasp> Carnation Creamer. There is a richness that I haven’t been able to find anywhere else.

I also learned that the process of actually making a decent pot of coffee is a lot more difficult than first thought.

I’ve tried most of the usual suspects but really only found my perfect solution in a Melita Pour Over pot or a Keurig. Since I no longer make large pots, I tend to follow the Keurig but have the option to use the reusable pod. There are lots of these types of machines on the market, just as there are lots of pour over pots and filter systems that I knew nothing about.

The truth is, everything changed when my place of employment replaced their old coffee bar system with one that used thermal pots. No more burned coffee. Joy!

Then, I happened to discover one of my coworkers ground his own beans and made his own brew. He was an excellent teacher – I still own my first coffee grinder.

Coffee is a joy reserved for weekday mornings when I’m trying to organize my thoughts or Saturday evenings with some seriously good TV.

I prefer Pike Roast or Donut Shop – no decaf for me, please. Both have similar profiles, but each has its own distinctive characteristics.

There was a point in time when I could get my hands on bags of the most wonderful Colombian Supremo beans that made an amazing pot of coffee. Even my dad was impressed!

Now I understand that not everyone enjoys their coffee the way I do. Some don’t care for it at all and others aren’t all that particular. In some way, it is a nice change of pace from the folks who are far more invested in the contents of the cup than I am. 😉

At the end of the day, a good cup of coffee can be the balm that keeps the rest of the world at bay. Even for just a little while.