Sunday, November 28, 2021

The Address Box

 Despite the myriad digital method for holding onto addresses, I have clung to a physical one -- mirroring what my mother uses. It's a box of 3x5 cards with hard colored alphabetic sorters. I go back to it over and over again, no matter how many times I try to put everyone's address in their contacts on my phone. 

This year, because we moved, I need to get holiday cards out early and so the past few days has involved the deep Updating of the Cards, and quite a lot of texting for "umm, so my address box is definitely out of date, help." 

There are new cards going in, people who have become closer friends over the past year or who I realize I have an address somewhere but not here and here is my source of truth.

There are many cards getting edits. Those are an adventure. History is written in those cards, mostly in black and blue ink, with things scrawled on the side or back, addresses crossed out and added. I did rewrite one card this year of a very old friend -- he's gotten engaged to someone and I felt that memories of his past marriage didn't need to remain on the card. So -- E, if you ever see this, you warranted a fresh 3x5 change. Congratulations. 

And there are cards that I'm letting go. People who were in my life in the past who won't be again. Some I'm not quite ready for yet, even if the details on the card are no doubt sorely out of date. But there are a few. It's strange to see what moves on out of the box -- who no longer has a card but might remain in mind. 

Add things and people who are precious, allow to fade what doesn't need to take up space in your life anymore. 

Even in the address box.  

Monday, November 22, 2021

Use the Good Things

 I am a regular prosecco/champagne consumer.  While I enjoy a glass of red or white wine -- as evidenced by being a wine club at my local wine store*-- realizing that I could just have some light bubbly wine on a regular basis was a discovery. 

So glad I sorted that out before the pandemic. And why yes, I have bought an entire case at a time --- if you have the space I recommend a mixed set so you can sort out which prosecco you like. However, I did not take complete enough notes so obviously I'll need to run the experiment again. Oh no. 

But with all of this bubbly drinking has been interest in some nicer glassware for it. My sister got me a pair of these JoyJolt glasses for my birthday and I've been doing the usual "oh, for a nice occasion" about them for a couple of months. 


Glad to tell you, I'm over that and the glasses have been used. One glass. Maybe I'll use the other one tomorrow.  It's a nice glass and definitely makes me think of a test tube, which I find hilarious. 

Use the gifts, use the good things, enjoy the small things that make you happy. Drink the bubbles. 

*If you have a local wine store, check and see if they have a wine club! Mine is very reasonably priced -- $40/month for two bottles and it means I always have a very decent bottle around for whatever we're having for dinner. Bonus of keeping a small woman-owned business open so I can wander in and ask for recommendations. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Category: The To Read Shelves (and an ebook update)

 My ability to obtain books in far greater amount than I have actual time to read has been fairly persistent since childhood. Granted, children's books had larger font and were generally shorter but it will come as little surprise that I have quite the to-read pile around the Chateau. Thinking about it just now, I'm realizing that the to-read pile is in at least four places. And perhaps I should consolidate one or two of those. 

I've had a To Read shelf for a while; but as I was unpacking I realized it's become a To Read Bookcase. These are books that I expect to read once. I'm no less excited for them; some are gifts, others are ones I purchased for myself. I look at them just there in front of me and I actively do want to read them. 

Do I have brain space or reading time.... that's a separate question.  I've been trying to read more fiction again from the perspective of I need not feel guilty about reading.  No, it's not a "productive" use of my time in terms of I'm not unpacking a box or dusting or brushing the cats but it's productive in that it's serving something I wish for me. And retaining a modicum of mental health through fiction reading is rarely a bad thing. 

That said, I've been carrying the same romance novel for a couple of weeks. Haven't opened it. It's by one of my favorite authors. I know it'll be a couple hours reading at most. 

On the ebook front though, my partner got me the newest Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday and that has been an interesting change! I got it a cover with a kickstand, allowing me to easily read, knit, eat, all the multi-tasking things that appeal and I've finished three books in the past week. The spreadsheet is getting very very slowly updated and I've also bought 2-3 e-books in the past week so I'm not quite on the making progress yet. 

But it has begun. And I'm reading cute stories and they end happily -- with the romance sorted, the mystery solved, the people generally happy for now. A much needed orderly change compared to the reality of a deeply messy world.  


Monday, November 8, 2021

Category: Returns NaNoBloMo

  It's better, of course, not to buy extraneous things. But given the reality that I am much more likely to buy new clothes if they are shipped to my home -- things will arrive which are not things that should be kept. No matter how many pictures, how much detail is provided, especially with clothing there are still things that really matter -- like oh that shirt won't remotely cover my long waist self or the fabric is absolutely gross when put on.  

I also, like many of us, struggle with returns. Getting things dropped off at the right location, printing the return slip and finding packing tape, it all takes *effort* and that takes time and energy and and and...  All this of course to the companies' benefit as now I will miss return windows or just decide to keep/dispose of the object another way. 

However, I'm getting better at it. 

I'm in the process of resetting my wardrobe again. I'm still in business casual most days and beyond that, I'm increasingly impatient with clothes that aren't meeting me where I want to be in appearance, cut, etc. Weird color I was willing to put up with before? Gone. Work pants that mostly fit but are kind of baggy? Out.  Shoes that I adored but are truly dead and it's time to let them go, they've left the building. I'm back in three inch heeled boots today and they are so wonderfully comfortable -- but even with a relatively normal shoe size it can be challenging to locate what I actually want.

It's also meant that rather than trying to make things work, if it's not working and it's not readily alterable, I'm sending it back.  Get the money back, get the item out of my house, stop pretending it'll be good enough for a mediocre day. Truthfully I know I won't wear it, I'll end up refolding it 18 times trying to convince myself to wear it, and then it'll go in the donation pile. So let's at least skip those parts. 

In terms of returns getting easier -- well we have a lot of packing tape still and miscellaneous boxes. Working from home a couple days a week still means that it's easier to take a 15 minute walk to the post office or the UPS drop site to hand over a prepared package. 

So far, this is mostly only working for clothes and a pair of boots. I'm less willing to mail books back unless something is clearly wrong; and mostly other stuff is things I still actually wanted. So there the goal is more to judiciously buy less and remember I have wish lists for a reason. If I still want it three weeks later, it can stay on the wish list. Otherwise it can come off and I didn't actually want it.  

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

NanoBloMo: Didn't We Get Rid of Things?

 I swear that before and during and now after the move, I've gotten rid of things. Lots of things. Many many things have gone to Goodwill, in the dumpster, to the appropriate recipients. 

So far you can't tell. 

Which means it's time to get back to using things up. 

Slow and Deliberate Unpacking continues. It's been somewhat derailed by my return to campus three days a week for the fall semester. Losing 9 hours a week just to the commute as well as the general exhaustion that accompanies all of the planning, being in public, etc makes a significant difference in what I can get done during the week. The encroaching darkness doesn't help either, signaling bedtime much much earlier in the day. 

But it's interesting to look at things again as they come out of boxes, unused for several months, and wonder what continues to need a home with us. Some things are pleasant surprises -- oh *that* is where that was. For example, the discovery of a box of clothes that I entirely did not remember packing, which included both of my bathrobes. Do I remember packing such a box? No. Did I label it properly? Also no, which means it was in the final moving push. Did I have to run the whole box through the laundry? Yes of course. 

In addition to a running box for donation, I've also started a box of Out of Sight. It's things I'm perhaps not quite ready to let go of yet but they also don't need to be in the everyday path where I might have familiarity attachment.  It makes for a random box and one I'll need to date with a "check this in a year and then let go onward."  

Now if I can get through the two "childhood" boxes that my mother brought on her last trip here without too many feelings... 

(Also I'm doing NaNoBloMo - -blogging daily between my three blogs to try and restart my writing in general and get back to these places I do enjoy being. Follow along at HedgehogLibrarian and HedgehogKnitting if you'd like to see everything!) 



Sunday, August 22, 2021

Category 7: Cleaning Supplies

There was nothing quite like moving to multiply the cleaning supplies. First it was that I needed things in two places to begin cleaning one place and clear out another. Then it was "did we have X at A or B?" or the specialized cleaning products for Q or R. 

And then the pulling of things from all the various nooks and crannies where cleaning supplies had gone to live: the bathroom, the kitchen, the entryway, specific things in office and bedroom, a spare spray bottle here and there.  Why do we have three Swiffer handles? Who knows.  But we do. Add this to things like "we need 8 extra bottles of rubbing alcohol and every tub of Clorox wet wipes I can ever acquire" and...well, the cleaning supplies are taking up a bit of space right now. 



There were some things I managed to use up or to throw away, things that had dried out, or there was three splashes left, or it didn't work on weird stain it promised to eradicate.  But mostly it's useful stuff and I'll continue using it up and so it all moved to the new place. 


As we're continuing to unpack, I've tried to pay more attention to what I'm using -- do I reach for this cleaner or that one? If I'm not reaching for it, does it just need to leave? 

The two gallons of handsoap? Yes, those we'll get through eventually. Even with three soap dispensers in regular use in the house it takes a while but I won't buy the multipack on that next time. And not pictured here are the things that I have used up -- a half used box of trash bags that was just... around for some reason and not in rotation; a mostly used cleaner I use in the bathroom; another box of swiffer dusters; the handle for the swiffer fan thing that I used once and hated. 

I'm trying not to stress too much about this right now. I'm not expecting to obsessively be back to stalking wipes on Amazon anytime soon (I sincerely hope) and the ones that are here are going to get used up. The same with the rubbing alcohol and the handsoap. It'll be used; I'll buy much less next time; and the cabinet won't be as full.  

In the interim the goal is the prevent cat hair dust buffalos from taking over.  Bring on the boxes of swiffer cloths! 

 






Sunday, July 11, 2021

On the Side of Mount Cardboard

If you don't know me from other spaces -- I moved in June, going from our apartment of 9 years to our first owned space, a three bedroom condo in a 1920s courtyard building. It's lovely, tons of details, a  million projects we want to tackle -- and it meant that everything we owned had to change locations. 

Nine years is a long time for much of anything and when it came to inhabiting a physical space, the previous 15 months of which had been a global pandemic which kept us very housebound, and you end up with a lot of stuff.  I hadn't weeded much the last two moves, going between similar sized spaces and here again we have even more space. But moving always prompts a good cleanout on the front end where you can and now on the back end -- even more. 

Packing was time constrained, neither of us could really take time away from work and so it was shoved into the evenings and between other obligations. This meant a lot of the sorting I might have liked to do got put off as deadlines approached and things Went Into Boxes rather than were thoughtfully packed. I'm grateful to my mom -- who brought carloads of empty liquor boxes and my brother -- who sent packing labels that meant I can mostly find where the big things ended up. 

Then there was the grand "we have to do the repairs to the old place and get the Move By Hand stuff out of there" but finally we're here in the new place and I'm doing some intentional unpacking. As in , there's already  a giant bag ready to go for donation and I opened a box last night and realized I have a lot more I'm ready to let go of. 

The goal is Slow and Deliberate Unpacking. We're basically functional -- we have dishes, clothes, bathroom things, clean sheets. That's all fine. But the rest of the boxes I'm trying to not sprint through but to instead open and consider what I'm finding. Particularly for the books. "Will I ever read this again?" is becoming a familiar question. 

Of course, that will mean finding places for said books to go. There are a couple little free bookshelves nearby that I need to check out. If I can stock those for a few months on my way to the train; I'm amenable! Few of these books are special, I'm not worried about trying to sell first editions or anything like that. But even with as many bookcases as we intend to have, I know there was an entire 5 shelf bookcase full of books that I knew I wanted to read once and pass on. As I return to commuting, I'm hoping those go fairly quickly.  

Other categories of things where I'm debating if we can Just Get Rid of It include extra plastic tupperware of strange shapes; why do we have This Many Canning Jars (we probably will keep those); and a few other things.  Clothes were reduced as things got put into closets, though the Fall and Winter Coats box still needs a serious and slow examination. 

Cardboard is leaving more quickly. Friends are moving later in the summer and are very happy to receive all of our empty boxes, the majority of which we purchased. We're pleased to have the piles of cardboard go to be used rather than just to recycling.  

How is your Use Up Year continuing?

(also, we have to talk about bath products and cleaning products...) 

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Category 6: Notepads and Notebooks

Going through various piles in my office as I've inhabited it non-stop for over a year has meant finding *all* of the half-used notebooks and notepads that are around. And I do mean all of them. I knew it was pretty bad, there are lovely journals around here that have a dozen entries from whenever I optimistically restart journaling again. There's even a pretty spiral bound notebook dedicated to my research ideas, so I can just sit down and scrawl it out, get it out of my head, and then never manage to get back to that research.


These are not the journals-- these are legal pads of yellow paper, and spiral notebooks that are somewhere between 2-17 years old. They're half used, with pages and pages ripped out and long since trashed or recycled. Where notes do occasionally remain, they're vague and don't tell me much. "Email Scott and Angela" one page said --- although I know neither a Scott or an Angela and cannot remember any such combination in the past decade. 

Notebook pages with misc text folded in to look like points

But I do prefer writing hand scrawled notes; it's better for me in many respects than online notes--easier to highlight and mark questions. Also I can usually pull out the three things after and then dump the rest which was mostly stream of conscious as I worked through an average 6 meeting day. So I've been using up all the half-used, not as pretty but still full of perfectly decent paper notebooks over the pandemic. I still have a half dozen or so to go but, knowing how many meetings I have in an average week, that'll probably be used up before we head back for full time in the fall.

What's the next step after that? Rocketbooks. These are a reusable notebook that is sort of like having my own whiteboards as notepads -- only you use water to clean them not alcohol. They work with the frixion pens, which are always handily available at Target.  They do have to be wiped down and remind me of being in high school and cleaning the overhead transparencies for my calculus teacher but also are very reusable. There's a microwaveable version which initially I was suspicious of but now I do sort of want to try.

An older and grubby Rocketbook spiral bound notebook

I've been using these for a couple of years as different versions have come out and I have five: a small purse sized notepad, the original 5x8, the 8x11, and two legal sized flip notepads with a dedicated magnetic board. I was stunned how fast I was going through the flip notepads recently. I spent a solid two hours transcribing and pulling notes from them and cleaning them up this past weekend. I absolutely use the lined side of the paper more than the dots.  It's a smidge fussy but so much easier than hauling around paper.  (not that I'll ever 100% give up paper, different tactile experience) 

Rocketbook Flip Chart that is legal sized on a teal board


You can see the QR code, the goal is to scan your notes then into whichever app you have set up on your phone. I'm not using them for that right now? I have before but mostly that's not how I want them to be used.  

Are you a half-notebook semi-abandoner like me? How do you prompt yourself to use them up? 



Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Slow Progress and Abandoning Things

So I haven't abandoned my using up of things but I did get derailed on writing. Spring semester and grading and winter malaise all combined on top of each other tends to keep one from focusing on "fun" writing. 

But things are continued to be used and there's starting to be some noticeable dents. Also I'm finding myself less drawn to buying more things when I'm seeing all the fullness of the spaces around me. So that combination seems to be helping a bit as well. Fewer things coming in means less to store and use up. 

What's getting used? Well, I've tossed a bunch of nail polish now that it's demonstrating it's inability to stay on my hands for more than 10 minutes or one round of washing my hands. I had gotten my nails to a solidly decent length all around, stopped painting for a couple of weeks and chewed to the quick. My nails are currently bright blue as I try to get back to decent nail length again. 

Hand lotion has had a big dent. Making sure that lotion was in the four places I sit the most contributed to that.  I'll have to do an inventory of the rest of the bath products at some point, those are decreasing at an exceedingly slow rate. I did, however, resist a giant Spring Bath Products Sale! It was tempting but I remembered I have nowhere to put it. 

This past weekend, I did make a donation run. I've started keeping a couple of paper grocery bags as I try on clothes, finish a book I won't reread, find something else that doesn't have a home that I no longer feel the need to keep. Today three bags went. It's not a huge dent and of course I came home and immediately started another one because I found something I should have taken.  But it's a start and it also doesn't feel like an overwhelming change -- I don't think I'll ever be able to do one of those super intense purges. But we shall see. 

How's your using up going?  

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Book Review: Clutter by Jen Howard

 **This book review is from a copy I purchased in print**

Book cover of Clutter by Jen Howard

Clutter, An Untidy History

Jen Howard
Bookshop Link 

Our relationship to things is the topic of last year's short book by Jen Howard: Clutter, an Untidy History. 

Rather than another chiding book telling us what we should own, why we should all strive for minimalism, and the fourteen new ways to be free of things, Howard instead tackles the subject of what got us here, what has influenced historical move towards the acquisition of things -- simultaneously bringing us along for her own experience of cleaning out her mother's home after her death.  

The stark opening, dropping us into the challenges she faced, was familiar. I knew this world of huge overaccumulation which left a house dangerously full. While it never got quite as dangerous as Howard describes, this was very similar to the home of one of my grandmothers. This meant following her death, it took multiple dumpsters and endless donation trips to empty out a large two-story farmhouse with a large basement. One story I remember my mother telling me -- as I was too far away to help -- was of taking multiple carloads of sheets and other bedding, most of it brand new, to a local charity group (with their grateful advance permission).

Howard's history focuses on the United States and the influence primarily from the Industrial Revolution as it played out in Great Britain. She discusses hoarding briefly, but mostly focuses on the consumerism that has played out since the Victorian era, tracing it forward to mail order catalogs and Amazon Prime. She shows the integration of wanting stuff and our methods of shopping and how it aligns with various other trends simultaneously happening -- women as homemaker, the Container Store as our response to really Can We Just Sort It All, excess minimalism as a trend. 

She also examines throughout the book the professionals who are engaged in the world of sorting and reducing things. This includes an engaging portrait of a junk hauler who worked with her to take things away in his truck from her mother's house, a quiet woman sorting through paperwork for her -- to weed out the junk mail from the the treasured documents -- as well as a glimpse into those exhorting us to get rid of things or at least fully organize them, not least of which is Marie Kondo and the consultants who have taken up her program and other professional organizers.

I knew Howard's work and have followed her on Twitter from her time as a writer for the Chronicle of Higher Education. She was one of the better writers and I could count on her to accurately represent people she wrote about, rather than relying upon outdated stereotypes of what X category of employee looked like. So I expected going into this that it would be interesting and well-written and I was pleased to have my expectations exceeded. 

This isn't a How-To Book and you will not find an underlying chiding or glorification of one lifestyle over another. Instead this is Howard's call to action mostly for herself. Her readers are encouraged to identify outlying forces pulling on them -- including the simultaneous drive to acquire things delivered in two days to our doors and the trendy minimalism that has sparked any number of YouTube channels.* ** Howard instead recommends better awareness of our acquisitions, whether they be physical or digital, their impact on our lives and our world, and how they might affect others if and when left behind. 

This book, read among a few others about cleaning and getting rid of things last year, felt more like hearing from a friend who was struggling at a similar place that I was. You have things, it's easy to acquire more, you don't want to just re-sort things endlessly but you also aren't trying to get down to two forks and no spare bed linens. 

Two final thoughts

1) This book reminded of this light soprano art song that my high school teacher gave me because I wasn't one of the "serious and accomplished" sopranos.  It's short, make sure you listen to the end to learn the epitaph! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=io4_9c9zq7I 

2) Now that I've read through the book twice, I'm ready for it to move on out of my home -- if you'd like it please let me know and I'll pop it in the mail to you. 


*I tried watching one of those channels briefly to see if I could get some interesting ideas. In the second video, a very thin trendy white woman expounded at length about how "she doesn't buy XYZ"--- by instead getting other people to buy them for her. This was her answer for over half the categories of things she claimed to not spend money on. This was not thrift or minimalism -- it was "Oh, well and then I got my Mom to buy me X." The willful shifting of the financial burden to others in her community was so entitled and obnoxious, I had to give up.  

** Why do minimalists all seem to have the same decorating trends? It's all very modern, all white and metal, clean lines.  Is there something wrong with not wanting an overwhelming amount of stuff and also having a brown bedspread that hides the cat hair bit better? 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Category 5: Jewelry

This marks the first category of things that are use but not necessarily use up.  When contemplating this in December, and writing out the categories of things I wanted to pay attention to and reduce around the house -- I knew there would be things that weren't strictly consumables. But it also requires looking at things and deciding if they still have a place in your life and if so -- well then shouldn't I get them out? So I've been making an effort to start getting out and putting on different pieces of jewelry that I haven't worn in years. It's made a nice change on the endless Zoom calls to see myself with new sparklies on. 

Silver Heart Pendant Necklace on Purple Fun Fur Background

Jewelry is a pretty easy category for many of us to contemplate. You may have received jewelry as gifts, you may have bought jewelry for yourself, and it comes through other portals. A couple of years ago, one of my coworkers brought in a lot of period costume jewelry being cleared out from a relative who had passed away -- did any of us want some of these funky pieces before she sent them off as donations? Of course we did!

And this is not to say that I wouldn't appreciate more jewelry as gifts (in case my other half decides to start reading this blog). Thoughtfully picked out jewelry is so personal and meaningful -- but it's getting buried amongst the H&M earrings that I bought before I moved out of New York 15 years ago.  

Part of the jewelry challenge is time and space - I've never been a morning person so anything that adds to the morning routine has been whittled away as much as possible over time.  Whatever I do it has to be fast and built into the routine that starts with "Get up, feed the cats, turn on the tea kettle..." (Yes, of course the cat feeding happens first.) So the time to choose jewelry is usually in the under-a-minute range which leads to general repetition of the jewelry that is on top, still out, etc. 

The space perspective adds to the morning time challenge. I have two jewelry boxes right now -- one that is a large paper/board box that I got from the Container Store or similar with trays inside. Jewelry there is sorted but also those trays are entirely full.  On top of that sits a wooden jewelry box which contains trays but they are less sorted and therefore much messier. But because it's on top, it's also the jewelry I actually wear.  "Move a box and sort through trays" takes far longer than the "oh, these earrings and ring" that I can easily  default to.  

Then, there's the added reality that getting rid of jewelry is very hard for me, even jewelry I don't wear, even jewelry I don't *like.* Some of it is memories that I have of wearing the jewelry once. Some of it is it was a gift and I am holding the memory of the gift-giver. Some of it is that the jewelry is probably at least worth a little bit and do I go through the process of trying to sell it? (I'm beginning to wonder if I should at least do one month where I set up some Ebay auctions but the idea of that just sounds exhausting.) 

The last box that my mom sent as she continues to clean my stuff out of her house (we both thought we were done, apparently it never ends) included a jewelry box my grandfather made for me as a child.  As a jewelry box it fails-- there's no possible way to sort anything and have it stay put. But it's one of a tiny number of things that he made me and it's a pretty box, so obviously the box isn't leaving. I do need to decide what lives in it though and where it lives. On my home office desk is the short term plan and that's already not working. And the jewelry inside of it sparked a lot of memories -- but almost none of it is jewelry I'll wear again. 

Child's Shell and Pearl Necklace (Costume)

Maybe that's the first solution. Memory jewelry -- in Ziplocs so I don't have to untangle it a 400th time -- goes in the jewelry box from my grandfather with notes about the what and why of the memory. Jewelry that really needs to go -- the mostly cheap or costume pieces can be sorted for donation and the nicer things for a masked walk down to the jewelry store near us. We know them and they have a good reputation for honesty about is this piece from your grad school ex-boyfriend actually worth anything or is it just clutter and let's all move on. 

And then I can maybe get back to wearing those pretty earrings my sister got me for my birthday -- which are long and dangly and *do* show up on camera.  





Saturday, January 9, 2021

Category 4: Nail Polish

Getting started with this project , I knew one of the categories I needed to tackle was nail polish. I went for a manicure right before I left for my last pre-pandemic work trip and I really do miss that. When I lived in New York, I had two regular places I'd go to get my nails done and it was a thing you did every 1-2 weeks. I miss the routine of that. It's harder in Chicago; the closest nail place to me closes by six p.m. and that's not do-able when I don't get off the train until 7.   

My dentist would also like me to go back to that regular nail care routine. Yes, I still chew my nails.  Definitely a stress habit that has been ingrained for decades now. But I discovered  during the regular manicure years that if I spent money on my hands, I kept them out of my mouth. Nicely painted nails meant less chewing, which meant nicer nails next time I went to get them painted, etc. etc. ( I mention my dentist in particular as nail chewing is hard on your front teeth -- especially when those front teeth have had damage from other causes like toddler's heads.) 

Three bottles of nail polish -- two clear, one color
Of course, between the chewing and the manicures, I'm also not particularly good at cutting my own nails, which usually leads to nails getting long and then breaking and once one nail breaks, do you cut the others or do you wait and and and....

Also how long does nail polish keep before it goes bad? Or just totally dries out?  I keep nail polish around; one does not wear as much hosiery as I do during normal times without nail polish handy both at home and the office. But I went diving into the drawer to see what I still had and what I could try using. To my great surprise, even though most of the colors had a bit of separation happening a solid shake and things seemed to be mostly okay?  

So I've started painting my nails again and lo and behold, apparently now if I paint my own nails and am mostly at home I can not chew my nails! (The staying at home part helps too -- I'm not caught out somewhere in public with a hangnail or a rough edge and no nail file. I'm going to need a veritable case of emery boards when the world resumes being public.) 

The polishes are varying in how well they are holding up; not a surprise. I've never been a brand loyalist and I'm not delicate with my hands. I wash a lot of dishes, knit, and do myriad other things that would lead to chips and damage to the polish. I could start wearing gloves while washing the dishes or wiping down the bathroom but I won't. I can tolerate the chips to a point and after that I can toss on another coat on that one nail that has chipped or I can replace the polish and try a new color. I have some red polish that is likely not long for the draw -- it flakes off at the touch of a water droplet. 

Probably the most amusing part for me is how little time it takes to do my nails. I have looked at these same polishes before and thought how that will just take forever and I need to do a minimum of four coats and I just don't have time. Now I'm finding that all told it's taking about 15 minutes and I can do plenty of computer stuff while I'm giving each coat a few minutes to dry.  Add another 30-45 minutes where I'm doing more computer things while waiting for full drying -- which isn't hard -- and I'm done.

Now, nail polish doesn't use up quickly, at least not that I've noticed, but I have tossed a couple of bottles that had dried up and I'm re-evaluating the colors I have, so a dent is certainly happening.

Are you pandemic nail painting? Any pedicure tips I should know about? I feel like my toes should be up next for beautification...   




Sunday, January 3, 2021

Category 3: Loose Leaf Tea

A good cup of tea is always welcome at my house and over the years I've acquired a healthy small stash of tea bags and loose leaf tea that come and go. I still get a strange little thrill out of buying an entire box of Bigelow's Raspberry Royale -- which was the favorite from a box of assorted teas as a child -- to be both coveted and hoarded for best but also drunk immediately because otherwise someone else might drink it first.  The small delights of adulthood are sometimes truly the best. 

For my lovely loose leaf teas, I have a couple of silicone tea infusers -- a seahorse and a hedgehog and tea pots. But over time it's taken back seat to coffee as my morning drink when I'm racing out the door. And then, in November, I went to an online tea festival and went off the rails buying tea. I ordered what I thought was a small reasonable amount of samples from a few different tea merchants, only to learn that I really had no idea how much tea was in 1 oz packages.  It started arriving, and arriving, and arriving. 


Tub holding a LOT of packages of loose leaf tea


I've done a tea share with a coworker; I've received a new kettle; I'm making tea almost everyday. And I have quite a lot of tea. It's been fun to try the variants that I ordered and while it seems impossible, I have actually used up a few ounces so far. It's going to be a few months though before I make a significant dent. And at least one of these is going to go to my partner -- it's a lemon ginger and while it's tasty, I think it'd be better iced and he likes a good iced ginger tea. 




It is fun to order from small tea companies though -- Glenburn, tealeaf, The Great Mississippi Tea Company, and Plum Deluxe were all among the orders that arrived on the doorstep.  And I managed to order quite a large variety -- with white, green, and black teas, some floral flavored, others just tea, others will be a very rich Earl Grey. 

In terms of using it up; I don't want these to sit. I'm not the most particular tea connoisseur but I know the tea will go stale or rancid if left too long and there's no need for that. So I'm trying the teas, seeing what I'll actually want to order again after I've finished this giant box, and making notes.  

And if this pandemic ever ends, I can invite a few people over for a cup of tea...