Summer Settles In

The Perfect Shower!

Because so much has happened…so very much…that William and I have decided to take a break from the renovation. He has it so I can live here, but there is still much work to be done though is already showing it’s simple elegance!

The kitchen too is shaping up!

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White walls!

The ceiling has been painted with primer… and a few walls. It looks so clean and fresh! The cabinets arrived yesterday and are beautiful. I am very, very excited.

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At last…wood floors…a smooth ceiling…and lights!

Wide wood plank floors…now what color to stain? Look a the new ceiling! No more popcorn and beautiful inset light that can be used as focal spots…and they are all on dimmers!

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Laying the sub floor boards

A strong base is put down and I know what it means to have “firm footing.”

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The Escavation

Underneath the carpet…was no floor!

There is nothing left. The room has literally been stripped down. It was shocking to realize the reason the floor sloped so radically was that there was never any floor! Beneath the carpet was only a sheet rock or subfloor. Cha-Ching! It will cost to lay down flooring!

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Spring Cleaning

I am going to have a facelift. I have been dreaming about if for years. Boring friends with all the “should I” or “shouldn’t I’s.” Now I am ready. I am going for it. I am going to renovate my condo.

The time has come. The place is virtually falling apart. I use velcro strips to keep the kitchen cabinets closed. The floor slopes to such a degree that it is a skateboarder’s dream. Step into the plastic tub and it creaks and squeaks as if any moment it will give out and you will find yourself sitting on the downstairs neighbor’s toilet. The carpet is worn and the furniture gives real meaning to “shabby chic.” The slip covers are well-used and the upholstery has a touch of mold spores on the arm rests where summer rains have penetrated the screen doors and drenched. The furniture has turned from white to green…and I don’t mean “environmentally.” It is all going. I am shedding every piece.

I have just handed my savings over to the contractor and he promises (he swears) to get the job done in a month. Jasper and I have moved out. I have rented the apartment next door and I am going to capture and relate every step of this transformation.

In packing up I have to confess I cannot believe that I…a dedicated life long minimalist…have stuff…too much STUFF. Granted…a lot it is good stuff…like Bouchard French candles and Irish linens…but it is still stuff I don’t use. Yet, to give justification, it was used…two apartments ago. Since then I have moved on…carting all these things with me. Well, the STUFF stops here. I am either going to use or lose it.

I am packing it all up…or trying to. I use old newspapers to wrap china, wine glasses and other breakables. The only issue is that I am reading the papers when I should be wrapping. I keep finding fascinating articles that steal my attention…like the piece about Cori Schumacher a top female long boarder who works as a waitress and refuses corporate endorsements because she surfs for the love of it…not to shill stuff. As an advocate for women’s rights she is boycotting the world championships in China. I am in awe. I admire her integrity and think what the heck I am doing?

I am flummoxed by the stuff I don’t know what to do with it. I am overwhelmed. With each cupboard…I discovered even more stuff … really good stuff that I don’t need…yet I can’t seem to let go of.

Please understand I make a point of not saving “good china” and “silver” for “special occasions.” I use good stuff every day. However, over time my taste and needs have changed and my stuff is used and loved for both function and form in my life today. So I haven’t broken out the sterling in over three years because it is such a pain to polish.

I confess though I live the “there is no more special day than today” mantra, I apparently have too much of a good thing and not all these good things are getting the use they deserve. That is about to change. Everything I haven’t touched for two years is going to be sold on eBay or given away. When I enter my renovated abode I will bring only the stuff I use. I mean it! Not only will my place have a new face, but it will be a lot lighter too.

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A Long Winter Begins To Thaw

It has been awhile since my last post, I confess with the guilty heart belonging to a long lapsed Catholic. There are reasons for both failings (for not writing and the gully splitting me from any organized religion), yet a residue of Catholicism chastises me with “there are no excuses.” So I begin by apologizing and sharing the multiple events that have demanded my attention and time.

This has been a winter of discontent. Darkness descended early with cold, starless skies fueled by whining incessant winds. Inside me, a void of restless energy dismayed to finally have to acknowledge life, whether slacking in the doldrums, or pulsing with a thousand wayward demands, can change in the flash of a second.

I do not accept change easily. I fiercely wrestle against it, fighting to keep the status quo. This January a slap of nature let me know my place in this world is simply one among many and that change is inevitable. It began with a break…the snap of my wrist as I fell on ice. For two weeks I was in shock unable to accept the vulnerability of my body, my self….the frustration of the simplest task, such as buttoning a coat, was suddenly impossible. I was indignant. How could this have happened to me?

I lost my self pity when my brother awakened one morning and could not move. Three herniated disks were deeply imbedded into what was diagnosed as a congenitally narrow spinal cord. A slight fender bender could result in him being a quadriplegic. My broken limb withered to a mere annoyance in the wake of this knowledge. With news his surgery was a success, my tears flowed from sheer relief. Now I have learned my beautiful sister-in-law requires a surgical biopsy, which I am confident will be negative, yet reminds me again I cannot control what comes into my life or into the lives of those I love. No one can.

Life is a series of fleeting moments, each one evaporating in a breath. It is how I live in the now that matters…not the yesterday that is gone or the tomorrow that has not happened. I am learning. (Oddly enough, learning comes through change.) While I cannot stop change, or shall I say, bad things from happening…I have the power to manage my reaction to change. I have the power to control how I choose to respond…I have only this moment.

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Shop Your Closet

This is a guest blog written by Mary Frisby, my sister-in-law and professional stylist and shopper. She dresses women for any and every event (including me…from office to red carpet) she maximizes my minimalist wardrobe so it works overtime. Her mantra: SHOP YOUR CLOSET! Anyone can get 25-30 completely different looks from a handful of basics.

It’s time we all go on a clothing diet.  Not because we need to, due to the recession or downsizing, but merely for simplicity’s sake!  Now this, coming from a personal shopper who has worked for a major retailer for the past five years, might sound a bit counter-intuitive, but hear me out!   I am not recommending an extreme fast, akin to the sixitemsorless web challenge that popped up last summer, but more of a realistic approach to reducing the amount of clothes we think we need.  The August, 2010 edition of British Vogue, predicted a “seismic shift that will reprogram how we think and feel about the way we want to live.  Simple clothes that slot neatly into real life will resonate with women.”

If this resonates with you, this is a blog that I hope you will find interesting.  “Shop Your Closet”, taking pieces that you own already , and update them with select on trend items that will freshen your wardrobe. And, like every good diet, you need to get rid of those items that are toxic, in other words,  those that no longer fit, are too trendy, or have not been worn in years.

So what to keep?  Well as we move through February and towards a new season (which will arrive – I promise!) let us begin with pants.    One pair of cropped, black pants and one pair of skinny, dark rinse jeans will see you thru snowstorms this month, paired with boots, and then thru spring, with heels or simple ballet flats.   Yes, we’ve heard that  wide legged jeans and pants are making a comeback, but they require careful maneuvering around the inches of slush we’ve been required to navigate currently.  Cropped pants can be tucked into boots far easier, and you arrive at your destination looking pulled together and these pieces are timeless – trust me!   In addition, one black pencil skirt, made of four season wool is a perfect look for all sizes, just make sure that the length, is just at your knee. no longer, particularly if you’re petite, and make sure the fit is a good one.   A pencil skirt should hug you in the right areas, but not so tight that it pulls.

Next time?   What to wear with these key three bottoms, until then, enjoy the next storm!

Please let us know your comments and thoughts! Please forward to a friend who may find this information helpful!

My Minimalist Closet

If you wish to see an incredible design of a small living space … just 200′ … click here!

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Forced to Live in the Moment

Well, as you may be aware, we have been socked with frigid weather and one of the hazards is black ice. I learned this when I took a fall last week and broke my arm. After much moaning and groaning about the frustrating inconvenience, I am trying to make the best of the situation. This is truly a lesson on living in the moment. The most menial task demands my complete attention. (Try applying deoderant with your left arm to the same arm pit. This is an exercise that makes you want to go completely natural). Right now I am pecking away with one hand at the keys, but getting quicker by the day. What I have been able to do is post a few pages that explains “aesthetic minimalism.” I invite you to read and send me your comments and questions.

In the meantime, I can tell you a little more about future posts. I am going to renovate my “room with a view” and will chronicle it all here. I am inviting my brother, Gregory, a master interior designer of small spaces, and my sister-in-law, Mary, one of the top personal shoppers at a major lifestyle retailer, to discuss how to maximize minimal spaces and wardrobes.

Also, (though I am on the bench) I will share how this woman of a certain age (who broke a sweat at the mere thought of carrying a bag of groceries up a flight of stairs) trained and completed her first sprint triathlon, lost over 30lbs, found her inner athlete, while enjoying and inhaling every moment.

So, please come visit me again and, if this blog strikes a chord…I would be honored if you were to forward to your friends.

Stay warm and watch out for black ice!

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Today is a Snow Day!

A gift of winter that I relish. As the blizzard rages blowing clumps of snowflakes against the windows and driving frothing waves to shore, I sit nestled in the couch with my dog, reading and writing and sipping green tea. Life is simply great!

It is such a wonderful pleasure to have no where to go…no errands to run…no one expecting me to do something.

A friend called and invited me to hike through the drifts of snow down to the ocean, but I declined. I am enjoying doing nothing but watch the storm as it blusters across the bay.

I follow the philosophy discussed by Eckhart Tolle in “The Power of Now.” I try to practice living in the moment. Being very aware of my surroundings while focusing on what I am doing at this very moment.

Snow days encourage one to slow down and watch the miracle of winter.

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