Ideas for Dealing with Mental and Emotional Stuff

Do you ever find yourself in a mental or emotional rut? Be honest now, who doesn’t?

A co-worker of mine who is about to head out for a six month sabbatical with her family has some thoughts on why this type of funk hits folks in their 40s.

While Tammy with Rowdy Kittens, on her 35th birthday, has provided a list of 35 simple and sensible tips for improving your emotional and mental health.

While I’m all for the power of organization to help improve my life, it’s sure not the only tool available, and not always the most fun one either… so why not take some steps to do something new and exciting or emotionally supportive?

What have I done lately? Well, I started a blog on organizing, heh.

I recently took a short trip to a lovely coastal town with a friend. And I’ll be investigating new ways to re-energize my spirits with the two above links as hopping off points.  ;   )

Quick Tips: Pick One Thing to Keep Clean

Pick one thing or place in the house to always keep clean. For some folks, that will be their stove. For others, the kitchen counters. Pick whatever bugs you the most when it’s dirty and focus on making sure it stays clean.

For me, it’s the floors, especially the entryway. I try to sweep or vacuum on one floor of the house every day. This way, the floors never get too gritty, and it only takes a few minutes. My husband wipes down the kitchen and bathroom floors just about every night, so they are always in good shape too.

Storage, Fall/Winter 2013 issue

storage magazineIt’s out. Like clockwork another issue of Better Homes & Gardens special interest magazine Storage has hit the shelves. And I do, indeed, have a special interest.

Lots of nice photos of perfect spaces to enjoy. Plus a quick tutorial on installing a closet system in page 112, which I could really have used two years ago, when I helped a friend install such a system, complete with some banged thumbs and rather a lot of unladylike language.

Laundry Closet Shelves

I do love a project that takes only fifteen minutes to complete. I’m just lazy that way. My laundry closet has two shelves that can get out of hand after a while. I took them in hand this weekend and it’s much better now.

I just took everything off, tossed the trash, recycled the empty cardboard box, cleaned, moved the items not belonging on the shelves to where they belong, and presto.

BEFOREphoto of messy shelves in laundry closet



photo of tidy laundry shelves

Mr. Scarecrow

I’ve never been one to make much of a big deal of holiday decorations. No elaborate lighting, no large, motorized inflatable glow-in-the-dark holiday themed cartoon figures or fancy structures on the front lawn.

And this Spartan decorating approach applies even to Halloween, which is my favorite of all the holidays. Oh, sure, I’d put out some carved Jack-O-Lanterns, maybe a life-sized rubber rat or spider, but nothing too much. Just enough to let kids know, “Here Be Candy” on their mental maps of the neighborhood.

Scarecrow's FaceBut this year, my daughter and I decided to splash out a bit and we made genuine, straw-stuffed scarecrow out of a wooden frame and old clothes, complete with a silly straw hat. As you can see from the photos, my daughter even drew a face for him. I think you’ll agree that it’s a plain, simple face. Honest and friendly. Cheerful, even.

I set up Mr. Scarecrow (as we decided to name him, in a burst of true originality) on the bench by our front door, propped up in the corner, and called it a job well done. And then I did some puttering indoors. Not an hour later, the mailman drove by, so I went out onto the porch to get the mail and caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye of a large man lurking in the porch corner!Scarecrow on porch

Naturally alarmed, I screamed like a banshee… long, loud, and terrified. Even when I promptly realized that it was just Mr. Scarecrow, with his honest, friendly face, I couldn’t stop.

Yes. I had frightened myself with my own Halloween decor.

None of my neighbors dialed 911 to report an emergency. Either they didn’t hear me, which is really hard to imagine, or perhaps after ten years of living next to me, they knew enough to think, “Oh, that’s just Mrs. Jones. Nice enough lady, but kind of tightly wound, you know?”

Basement Update #3

Progress, sweet visible progress at last! I feel like a wanderer lost in the desert who has spotted an actual oasis. Only mine is an oasis of clean, uncluttered space, not water.

So far in my basement project, working in 15 to 30 minute increments and sometimes while watching TV in the background, I’ve emptied the basement of all the easy things such as: empty boxes, trash, recycling.

After that was done, I started pulling together the piles of items to be donated. One corner of my basement (photo below) was quite a dreadful mess. But is is now a clean space after I sorted and packed up various items for donation to local charities.

BEFORE (yipes!)

Messy corner of basement

AFTER (Ahhh!)

Clean corner of basement

There is still much more to do, but you can see that progress is being made.

Re-Using Old Clothes

Whenever I go through my clothes closet to purge unused items, I find myself keeping the same few items, even though I no longer wear them, just because I love the fabric so much that I can’t let it go. I have one pair of practically never worn pants (I’ve never found a shirt to go with them) that are just a gorgeous fabric. A lovely shimmery embroidered silk… mmm.

Silk fabric

I’ve read of people using old shirts and other clothes to sew quilts, pillow covers, etc., so that they can keep the memories embodied in a t-shirt or dress. What a great way to re-use the fabric and enjoy it day to day. I can’t sew, but I can dream, can’t I?

Some quilts are made from old t-shirts that have sentimental value, a brilliant way to take a lot of items and keep only what’s most important about them. Imagine taking a dozen or so of your old t-shirts out of your closet; freeing up all that space; and ending up with a nice usable blanket that evokes great memories!

Even though I can’t sew myself (in fact I just LOATHED learning to sew as a child) there seem to be a lot of companies advertising this type of service. My wonderful pants that I never wear could actually be something I use every day, if they can be re-made into a quilt, curtain trim, pillow cover, lampshade cover, etc. I could actually see basing a color scheme for an entire room on this one pair of silk embroidered pants.

This Pinterest page, Fun Stuff Out of Old Clothes, has some neat ideas to inspire you. I thought the lampshade made of old ties was especially inspired. Something for Dad to do with all those uninspired Father’s Day gifts?

And I love the idea of creating shopping totes out of old clothes. The old sweater that was stuffed and sewn into a pet bed made me laugh in amazement.  The sleeves of the sweater were curved around to make the rim of the bed,… how clever!

To be fair, the mini dress made of old neckties is clearly not for everyone.

It might just be inspiring enough to make me give learning to sew another shot. Or more likely not, because hey, I LOATHED sewing.

Packing for a Trip

When I’m preparing for a trip I tend to make lots of lists; investigate the weather at my destination; try to pull together a few outfits that work together; and to pack light. I’ve found that if I pack too many outfits, I tend to not wear most of them, so paring down is key.

I actually prefer to check my luggage and take my chances, rather than carry everything through the airport and on board with me. I realize many people prefer to do just the opposite, but either way, carrying only what you need really helps.

Check out some fun and helpful links for packing efficiently and packing light:

One Bag
My only quibble so far with the advice on this site? I disagree with its argument against wheeled luggage. I love mine. I took a trip once with a very small carry-on without wheels and I was miserable lugging it about from pillar to post, from train to bus, for the entire two weeks. I channel Scarlett O’Hara on this one… As God is my witness, I’ll never be without wheeled luggage again! Your mileage, and arm strength, may vary.

The Packing Book: Secrets of the Carry-on Traveler

Pinterest – Travel Tips: Packing (How and What to Pack)

Quick Tips: Food Storage Canisters

If you store your foods (flour, sugar, coffee, beans, etc.) in storage canisters, be sure to take a couple of minutes whenever you finish the contents to wash and dry out the canisters and lids. Make a quick note on your grocery list to buy more of the item. When you get back from your next grocery trip, the canister will be clean and waiting!

Making Pretty Labels

I’m a huge fan of labels, especially when they are printed rather than handwritten by yours truly. If you’d ever had the chance to try to decipher my handwriting, you would understand.

I use a P-touch label maker, and it has worked fine for me for many years, with the only annoyance being that it’s pretty darn difficult to actually separate the label from the backing, resulting in many ‘Grrr… argh” moments. I tend to use my label maker only for small projects, and to use printable labels for larger ones.

But I must admit, my labels have always been purely functional, never decorative.

Which is why I was so glad to find this amazing post about making labels from IHeart Organizing. She uses clear tape, fun fonts, decorative papers, washi tape, etc., to make really functional AND gorgeous labels.

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