I've been a regular participant in the Apartment Therapy Cures ever since they were first instigated. I have regular home routines. I declutter my home on a regular basis. So I was surprised to discover what a difference some of the the second week's tasks made in my space. Especially considering I'd contemplated skipping some (okay, most) of them. Day 8: Flowers, Kitchen Cleaning and Making Yourself a Meal
This was one of those days I was definitely planning to skip. I use my kitchen regularly, I rationalized. But when a friend cancelled a promised trip to Trader Joe's and I was forced to get creative with my meal planning, I discovered that even the most well-used and well-loved kitchens need regular deep cleanings. True, I was fortunate that there was enough food in the pantry, the refrigerator and the freezer that I didn't have to worry that postponing the trip to the grocery store for a week would lead to starvation. I was also fortunate that most of the stuff I have was still edible. But, as the loss of two cans of San Marzano tomatoes suggested (they'd developed what looked like leaks around their seams), food, whether canned or dried or jarred, needs to be used or tossed. The upside is that this experience has inspired me to institute a week each season where I'll challenge myself to eat through my pantry/refrigerator/freezer. The money I saved this week was a nice plus.
Day 9: Create a Landing Strip
My front door opens right into my living room. While I used to have a small cabinet on this wall, when I changed my decor, out went the cabinet. For a while I had nothing here. That was when I felt certain that I was the kind of person that could be trained to immediately attend to my mail and hang up my coat. I was mistaken. Although I'm working on it, I've still got a long way to go. The result is that having nothing here means everything ends up piled on the kitchen counter, the dining room table or on the living room couch. While this solution -- a chair for coats and bags, a pot to hold shoes -- is far from ideal, it's a stop gap measure until I can drive again and the outbox (which takes over the corner that is just beyond the boundaries of this photograph) actually goes out. I've been considering some kind of scuptural coat rack (like this one) but I feel worried that it'll just end up looking messy. What do you think?
Day 11: Try a Media Fast
Maybe it takes two months of being stuck in the house to discover that watching TV, surfing the internet and reading can get monotonous. Only what was I going to do instead? Since cleaning is my default option when I feel stuck, I dove into my outbox, divying it up into Ikea's big blue bags according to its eventual destination. A cache of yarn I'd discovered in my scary closet (aka the place that crafts go to die) was about to find a new home in the Goodwill bag. Whether it was the softness of the wool or being at my wit's end in discovering ways to amuse myself, I picked up needles I hadn't used in three years. By the end of the day I had half a sweater knit and rediscovered a pasttime I'd forgotten how much I enjoy. I did make a promise to myself though -- no more starting projects unless I know I'll have the time and head space to finish them. (PS: My scary closet, no longer scary, is now well-organized home to outerwear, bags and my vacuum cleaner that'll be picture-perfect once it's painted).
Conclusion: Though I didn't make much progress on my big projects, I did discover an unexpected benefit to this week's tasks: I can feel my creative energy starting to creep back. Being confronted by small challenges -- how to entertain myself without the default options; how to create a meal from a motley assortment of odds and ends -- jumpstarted it. I expected to clear the cobwebs from my cabinets, I never expected that the benefit would be clearing the ones in my mind.
(Images: Abigail Stone)