Some homes look like “Better Homes and Gardens,” mine looks…lived in


Not my house!

Wouldn’t it be nice to come home from work one day and find your living space as calm, neat and uncluttered as all the home magazine photos gazing back at you from the grocery store check-out line?

I’m not sure why I get a primal urge to purge my household in January, but obviously, magazine editors believe most American women get the same impulse.

Pick up any women’s publication and you will be bombarded with “10 easy tips” to organize your space so it will look like a photographer’s dream shot.

Pristine counters.  Neatly organized desk.  Uncluttered family room.  Carefully cleaned closets where everything is perfectly poised on shelves.  Supposedly.

Organizing your home takes time.  I wonder how many women have time to properly clean their houses, let alone time to stash everything in neat little rows of containers.  And that’s another thing.  Who can afford all of those nifty, spiffy bins, boxes and binders that perfectly match your décor?

I recently read an article in Better Homes and Gardens entitled, “25 Ways to Declutter for the New Year.”  Organizing experts provided the tips; some were useful, some I thought lacked practicality (my middle name!).

One guru suggested setting up a bookshelf perched by your front door with labeled pails (yes, buckets!) “for each family member’s shoes and other equipment.”  Hmm, ever tried getting pairs of size 11 men’s sneakers and soccer cleats in a bucket?

Do you know how many buckets – excuse me – pails it would take to store shoes for a family of five?  And might I add, that’s certainly what I want guests arriving at my front door to notice – buckets of smelly shoes.  Here’s a novel idea instead.  How about everyone pick up their own shoes and take them to their respective closets?

Is it me or is this idea just plain kooky?  Another expert suggested you arrange two coffee dates with a good friend, apparently one at her house, then one at yours.  Forget about a relaxing moment of peace with your friend and your favorite beverage.

Nope, on this visit, you should clean out her kitchen cabinets and get rid of her clutter.  Then on the next “date,” your friend should clean out yours.   Yeah, that sounds like (major sarcasm here) fun. I don’t know about you, but I’m not up for snooping in my friends’ kitchen cupboards nor am I crazy about them checking out mine either!

To be fair, some ideas proved winners.  If toys threaten to overtake your house, “quietly tuck a few of them away in a box. If kids ask for a specific item, retrieve it.  After a month, donate what’s left in the box.”   When three rambunctious young children squandered their toys all over Mama’s Empty Nest back in the day, hubby and I employed this technique…sort of.

Of course, we didn’t do it quietly.  When our kids delayed picking up their toys, we yelled, grabbed up all the toys and dumped them into a garbage bag which was deposited in the garage.   And it stayed there, promptly forgotten, until we found the “lost” toys when we prepared to move a couple of years later.

I don’t have to contend with toys any more, but a stockpile of too much stuff still overloads our basement.  How pleasant it would look organized in tidy fashion with shelves and color-coded storage containers like all of these pretty magazine pictures.   Oh well….no photographer will be taking pictures of my basement anyway!  At least I hope not!

So in Chapter 1, Page 7 (January 7th) of my book of Opportunity, guess where I spent a good portion of the day?  You guessed it, cleaning out the basement.  Hey, I can walk through it now!


Garden Gone Wild!

blogDSCN6791The girls are busting out of their green tops.  Red polka dots are strewn all over the ground.  It’s literally a jungle out there.  Of course, I’m describing hubby’s garden, which really has gone wild!

Hubby’s been working a lot of hours lately, so his garden is starting to look neglected.  His garden plot is not large, but the weeds infiltrate it and threaten to overtake it.

This morning, I glanced out the kitchen window while I filled the tea kettle for my morning cup of hot tea.  The garden plot pleaded with me to come out and tidy up or at least pick the cheery cherry tomatoes that burden the plants to such a degree that they are leaning completely over their cages and fallen fruit dots the ground.

“We’re so tired of holding up this thriving throng of tomatoes.   Please come pick them,” the plants seemed to call to me.

blogDSCN6792But first, I wanted to attack the kids’ bathroom sink, or I should say under it.  Remember I’ve declared war on all the stuff that’s harboring in closets, cupboards, nooks and crannies.  So first thing this morning, I wanted to accomplish eradication of stuff from that bathroom sink cabinet.

Oh,  the items that were hiding in there!   Long ago used retainers; denture cleaner to clean those forgotten retainers (can’t imagine how old that is!); bottles with what I assume used to be lotion but now thickly gelled goo that doesn’t smell so nicely; remainders of mostly used toothpaste tubes; combs and brushes; hair pins and fancy hair accessories from proms; hair gel, pomade, and mousse; Sephora body polish and body butter (what?? — remember I raised two girls) still proudly packed in its original container; and the list goes on and on.

And that was just the girls’ side of the cabinet.  It was just as bad on son’s side.   Believe me.

I brought the discards downstairs to place in the garbage can and again I glanced out the windows.   It’s fairly difficult not to see outside in the kitchen and family room of our house because there are five windows and a set of French doors.   Again the garden beckoned me.

blogDSCN6781This time it was the lovely sunflower girls.   They have just started blooming out of their green pods at the top of their sturdy stalks and they do present a lovely sight with their happy yellow faces turned towards the sun.

Oldest daughter has always loved sunflowers..  Once her bedroom was totally bedecked with sunflower paraphernalia everywhere.   So naturally, I thought, “What a shame that oldest daughter who lives in that far-away state can’t see these beautiful sunflowers.”

Time to take pictures!  I’ll just slip on my sandals and run out to the garden to snap some photos of those perky plants to send to oldest daughter!

One hour later.  Although the temperature is a nice 72 degrees, it’s sunny and humid outside.  I trudge back to the house, dripping with sweat, thirsty for a Big Gulp sized glass of ice water, laden with a basket of garden bounty, back aching from all that bending over.

What a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back, with a hinge in it. ~Charles Dudley Warner, My Summer in a Garden, 1871.  You said it, Charles!  Can’t agree with you more!

blogDSCN6799That was probably the last picking for green beans and cucumbers.  Broccoli and lettuce are already finished.  Brussels sprouts popping out along the base of the stalks will need picking later.

In the next couple weeks, it will be time to dig up the carrots and sweet potatoes.  Green peppers, banana peppers, and cherry tomatoes still produce.

And of course, the weeds complete the jungle.  They’ve gone wild.  I gave a few of them the heave-ho, but my back started protesting….and that stuff in my house still snickers at me.