A Good Home, Humour - Kinda

The Art of Clutter

It’s been a hectic time in our family, and a bout of decluttering hasn’t helped. So, early this morning, husband, older daughter, son-in-law and I mused about Marie Kondo and the current decluttering fad she’s part of. 

We concluded that there’s another way to see this, so we created a system. Useful? I’m not sure. But it should make you smile, perhaps in recognition. We call it:

10 STEPS TO A “FULLER” LIFE

Blog Photo - Afternoon Tea pink cup and saucer

1) Acquire a space. Any space will do.

2) Location, location, location. The space must be located where you will visit it often.

3) Don’t block your path to success — er, excess. Easy access is essential to collecting stuff that nobody needs. Remember, your plan is to fill the space with stuff. And remember also that you’re playing a long game — over-accumulation takes time. 

Blog Photo - Old Blanket

4) Identify things you like. It could be everything. But be sure to identify them. You don’t want to forget and miss an opportunity to acquire more stuff that you don’t need.

5) Identify sources of stuff. The Shopping Network, eBay, Etsy, Kijiji, Costco, Homesense, Dollarama, garage sales, antiques shops and auctions are great sources of stuff.  So are friends, by the way. When they declutter their homes, it’s an opportunity to further clutter yours. Cultivate and nurture these relationships.

6) Start collecting stuff NOW. It’s important to take that first step. As we’re heading into Christmas, surely you need some more Christmas plates to add to the several sets you already have. 

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7) Think bigger. You may think because the horizontal spaces — shelves, floors, and surfaces of furniture — are full, that you’ve run out of space. Do not be fooled! Think vertical. Pile things on top of things, boxes on top of boxes. Look for bare spots too. A bare spot is an exciting new opportunity. 

8) Do not give away your stuff. Treasure your treasures. You never know when you — or your children or grandchildren or great-grands, or friends — will need them.

9) Defend your stash. Fend off all comers and detractors. People who want your stuff or criticize your accumulative instincts are the enemy. And remember #4: you are collecting what you like. It’s your shield and your sword.

10) Recognize that this is an important part of your legacy, and the bigger the legacy to your loved ones, the better.  So, when the current space is verifiably, absolutely, full and cannot take another sliver of anything, be sure to acquire more space and fill it with stuff. It’s your gift to your heirs and to the world.

Of course, if I followed all that advice above, my own family would kill me! Happy Sunday, everyone. Hope we made you smile.

A Good Home, Christmas Dinner

White-Out

Thank goodness for Christmas plates. 

They’re not all to my taste, but they seem to be the most colourful thing anyone uses at the dinner table these days. 

Blog Photo - China coloured patterned Christmas 2

It’s a white-out, I tell you. 

Even here in my own household, we tend to use plain white cups, saucers and plates, saving “the good stuff” for when the governor-general comes for dinner. But she still hasn’t visited, so you get the picture….

Whatever happened to dishes with patterns?

Blog Photo - Anne's dishes2

This gorgeous dish set – service for 8, along with completer items — was valued at nearly two thousand dollars (Canadian) in earlier years. Anne, an acquaintance of mine here in Ontario, is the owner and she is now downsizing.

For this beautiful Old Staffordshire Ningpo set, she is asking only $250. Will someone buy it? 

Blog Photo - Anne's dish set completer items 1

Many North Americans considered themselves lucky if they inherited such prestigious dishes or got them as a wedding gift; some spent years scrimping and saving to complete the set. 

Blog Photo - Anne's dish set cup and saucer

So when did we lose our taste for the patterned Royal Doultons, the Limoges, the Royal Graftons and Alberts, the Villeroy and Bochs? 

Blog Photo - China patterned white and blue 800 Vieux Luxembourg

The floral patterns, the pastel colours, the much-valued blue-and whites?

Blog Photo - china coloured patterned 1a

When did white plates become de rigueur? When did we become such boring young and old farts? 

One big problem now, it seems — as older generations downsize their homes — is that fewer people seem to want their treasures.

Blog Photo - China patterned vintage limoge for 8

Tastes have changed. Become bland. Not only do most young adults I know want only plain white dish sets, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything with a pattern on their wedding registries.

Mind you, I do wonder why the earlier generations were so stuck on patterned plates. Was it for the art? Or was it because the meals they cooked were so boring, they needed a bit of cheering up? Did they find the roast chicken and the over-boiled vegetables, simply too depressing?

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If you want to buck the tide, visit Facebook Marketplace, ebay, Etsy or other online sites. You will find an abundance of beautiful patterned china, many at great prices.  The pictures above came from Facebook Marketplace.

And if you’re interested in Anne’s gorgeous dinner set, contact me, please, and I’ll connect you with her.

A Good Home, Canadian Homes, Home, Keeping House

Housekeeping Wisdom and Foolishness

Lately, I’ve been going through my journals. As you can imagine, it’s not all pleasant reading. But some of it is funny, and even wise. Sharing:

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I’m known for my cooking. How I wish that were not so. My cooking skills are legendary for all the wrong reasons. 

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Of course I believe in miracles! I say that every time something I bake turns out well.

Blog Photo - Cake 2

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If I could, I’d have all-white furniture in my living room, and admire it from afar. I’d have to. There’d be no real living going on in that room, I tell you.

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How do they do it, those people in the magazines?  Their sofas and chairs are spotless, their kitchens – their entire homes and gardens — are immaculate. There are no books or magazines left behind on a comfy chair, no cushions fallen from the sofa to the floor, no threadbare old carpets, no signs of daily catastrophes in any of their rooms.

How do they do it?

“They don’t,” says my friend. “It’s just for the photos.”

“Then I wish they’d stop,” I replied. “They’ve given me an inferiority complex.”

Blog Photo - Verandah - dogs on old rug

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A house can be a showplace, I suppose. But my home – now that’s something else. Though I am all for making a comfortable nest for my family and self, mine is a dwelling that shows the marks of living. By that I mean that items are often out of place, forgotten in one room on the way to another, left there till they become fixtures in their new location.

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Blog Photo - Kitchen Pies on Table

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I’ve assigned a virtue to my brand of housekeeping. I call it the “lived in” look.  Well, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. My home looks and feels lived in, with books, blankets and cushions comfortably misplaced and eyeglasses and notebooks in any room but the one where I most need them.

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An interior decorator told me there’s a big difference between “storage” and “display”. My dining room cupboard was meant for display purposes, he said.

Oh dear.

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Blog Photo - Journals

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One thing the catastrophes of recent years have done for me: I have shed most of my false pride and pretense. And I’m trying to stamp out the rest.

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I don’t worry about impressing anyone. As long as the house is clean, as long as there are fresh sheets and flowers from my garden in the guest room, and people have enough to eat, I’m content. But this attitude of mine didn’t happen overnight. It took years. 

Blog Photo - flowers white daisies in vase

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The wisdom that age brings is knowing that we don’t always have to accept what others think, or what they do…especially when we have experience of our own and some commonsense too.

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I hope your new year is off to a  good start!

 

 

A Good Home, Doors Open, Serendipity

Serendipity: A Post-Script to The Grange Series

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Life is strange, isn’t it?

There my husband and I  were, a year ago, in a pub in Newcastle, Ontario.

We were meeting with our younger daughter’s future in-laws to plan the wedding. 

We were all nervous. The kids were totally in love and getting married.  But what if their parents disagreed — about everything?

Then my husband started telling jokes and everyone dissolved into laughter.  Loud, boisterous laughter. It broke the ice and everything went well.

There was a couple at the next table. Daughter and I went over to apologize for our loudness. 

The couple introduced themselves. The husband also gave me a book and introduced himself as the book’s author.

My daughter said: “That’s funny. My mom’s an author too!”

We all ended up talking. About books. And weddings. And marriages.

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Meanwhile, my blog series on Ebor House was a big hit at last year’s Doors Open Clarington tour.  The printed version was a fundraiser for Doors Open.

Blog Photo - Doors Open 2016 CR at Ebor House

This year,  I told co-chairs Marilyn Morawetz and Bernice Norton that I’d volunteer again for Doors Open Clarington: I’d write about another house. 

I had no idea it would be the home of someone I’d already met. 

Then life went nuts.  Over 3 months, Marilyn gently nudged me — repeatedly.

Finally, Hamlin decided to take a break from his busy schedule to help me out: he kindly agreed to drive us there and take the photos.

Blog Photo - Doors Open The Grange Sign and driveway Hamlin

When we arrived at The Grange, hosts and visitors warmly embraced and laughed together at the coincidence.

Nick and Wendy Boothman were the couple we met in the Newcastle pub!

It was a lovely visit.

Wendy drove us to see Screaming Hill.

Then Nick took Hamlin to photograph the barn and the grounds, while Wendy and I stayed in the house and talked.

It reminds me that one must leave room for the unexpected. And that the thing called serendipity is sometimes, strangely, within our gift.

Thanks to Hamlin Grange, Nick and Wendy Boothman, and Marilyn, Bernice and the Doors Open Clarington team.