Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dyslexic Decorating

So about two years ago, while in my second semester at college, I came to learn that I was dyslexic.  Thanks to a little gadget like this:

 I was able to memorize the correct spelling of most words and learned to 'decode' what we know as reading, when I was a little girl. If not for my speak'nspell, I'm not sure I'd have learned to read the way I did.

If any of you are dyslexic or know someone who is - a child, a friend, a relative, a classmate, this will perhaps resonate.

Most people identify dyslexia as a learning disability where the person twists letters backwards, but in truth dyslexia covers many areas, including ADD.  If you picture an umbrella, there are multiple areas that would fall under it.


Math is my idea of torture - anything beyond simple addition etc. and I'm what my grade 8 math teacher referred to as "How could you POSSIBLY be so STUUUUUPID!" (imagine a british accent and a very frustrated tone) I avoid it at all costs, just to save my brain.  Quite happily :)

However, since being on Ana White's woodworking website (found here), I think I'm going to try some projects that involve woodworking. Woodworking = measurements = math.  Gulp.  Well, my mama says I like to take

I have no internal GPS (meaning I cannot find any directional sense, and I do mean that); my kids would ask "Mom, are we going to get there?" rather than "Mom, are we there yet?"when we were going somewhere..

 My reading comprehension is decidedly low (as is my memory - if you add my recently-celebrated 40th birthday and oh dear lol!) and because I think in pictures, I'm easily bored, and process swiftly.

 So, there's goods and bads to this.  Bads when it comes to schooling, goods when it comes to creativity and thinking.  There's "gifts" when it comes to dyslexia too.

Which is what this post is about.

Dyslexic decorating :)

Do you ever have a hard time FINISHING a project?

At any given time I have about 30 projects on the go, with various rooms in various states of completion.  Sometimes that gets 'over the top' and I force myself to FINISH a room. FINISH projects.

FINISHING a room means this to me: "no auctions, no yard sales, no thrift shopping, no shopping in general, ignore blogs (or try!, but above all, NO PINTEREST)"  It feels almost like a punishment!

But I don't do well living in chaos, and I feel sooo good when I get things DONE...and we're moving into the holiday season, and I need to be in that room to make gifts and cards soooo....

I'm fighting against my dyslexic tendancies to flit and fly from one room to another like a butterfly, seeing this and that and getting this idea and that idea...and I'm GETTING IT DONE!

Right now, to give you an idea, here's just my craft room list:


Craft room

-sand/stain desktop of desk
-paint/wax desk
-paint/wax bookshelf
-paint/wax sewing table
-find cute chair
-paint walls (this took THREE tries.  How hard is it choose a pale pink?!  Thankfully it no longer looks like a 90's baby room - turns out I needed something along the 'peachy' lines to get the look I was going for)
-find cheap drawer knobs for wall unit to replace the ugly ones
-put together gallery of b&w heritage photos
-hang gallery of photos
-finish staining pull-outs on desk
-order wooden circles/pulls for creative window treatment
-find lace curtains for window - I have one, where did the other one go?!
-paint/wax antique chair
-re-upholster antique chair
-add moldings to wall unit
-finish painting/waxing wall unit (currently has one and-a-half coats on it - almost finished!)
-sew muslin liners for IKEA storage baskets in storage closet
-sew muslin liners for various other storage baskets (which hold scrapbooking/craft supplies)
-organize storage closet

So ya.  There's my list.  My goal is to have MOST of it completed by the end of the week, when I fly off to Vancouver, BC Canada to visit with family and friends. I need help with reinforcing the antique chair and the cutting of the moldings but I think I can manage the rest..

Here's a sneak peek of what I've been busy with..

(meet Rio, who *loves* my craft room window - there's a birdbath about two feet away from where she is)

So that's a peek at what I've been busy with - are you busy with a very 'personal' project, such as a personal office, craft/creating space, maybe an intimate reading nook?  How do you find it different from decorating, say, a bathroom or living room?  I find I have so much freedom to make it truly mine that I almost didnt't know where to begin.  Almost.  Now, to finish it.  

And I'm only going to the auction tonight to look for a mirror for my mother.  Honest.



To read more about dyslexia, please click here.

For fun, here is a list of famous people with the gift of dyslexia - whoohoo I share this with the founder of IKEA!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Why "35doors"?

Why blogging?  Everyone has a blog these days, why is yours so special?

It's special because it's mine lol...okay no seriously, I've been reading blogs for years.  Home decor, healthy living, card-making, scrapbooking, DIY - mainly.  Often I'd see a fairly repetitive theme as people followed what was trendy, but once in a while I'd stumble across someone who really wrote well, made me grin, had some ideas that I could actually use and inspired me.  Trends don't grab my attention, but people do. 

My blog is mainly about home decor, thrifting and DIY (they all work together, in my opinion - you'll find I have lots of opinions, by the way) but it'll also have blips here and there about my life.

 I've lived not only in North America but in Arabia as well, so my 'style' can reflect other cultures other than my own dutch/canadian one.  I'm told my life is interesting and that I'm a good writer, and I keep being asked to share where I found ideas, what I did to get this and this result etc.  So I suppose it's my hope to entertain and inspire you, as others have done (and continue to do) for me!

One of the blogs I've been following for years is Young House Love (they're coming to Houston in November on their book tour and YES I'll be there!) and while their home decor style is quite different from mine, their DIY tips and style of writing over the years has touched my heart, makes me laugh and inspires me to try things in my own home that otherwise I think I'd shy away from.  Things like woodworking, for example.

There's more projects than you can imagine listed on their site. When I first saw them in Home & Garden magazine and looked up their blog, I thought I'd struck gold - that was quite possibly the biggest project list I'd ever seen.  I thought I was a bit of a veteran after all these years, but it turns out there's always new tricks and techniques to be added to one's repertoire ;)

I follow several more blogs - Centsational girl, House of Smiths, Miss Mustard Seed, Dear Lillie, French Country Cottage and a few lesser-known ones as well.  I begin my day with tea/coffee and checking email - and since those are directly updated to my email, I follow along and get my 'fix' of inspiration, not to mention laughs and nodding of my head as I relate to what's being shared.

My project list grows as I'm inspired, but I'm also motivated by the posting of projects and processes..and I figure if I'm motivated that way, perhaps I can pass it along and motivate you too :)

As I mentioned, some blogs I've been following for years.  I think after a while you can feel that you almost 'know' someone, just from their writings.  I think I'd like to feel like people can know me that way too.

A little about my background, and why so many doors??

I grew up in a Canadian family (with dutch/german heritage) and we moved a fair bit.  My father was in the military for some of those years, but my parents were also avid DIY'ers and flipped homes here and there as well.  To date, the longest time I've ever lived in a home was five years, and that was in my childhood.

 I would have loved to live in one home, have all those years of memories and see the same flowers come up year after year, watch trees grow that I'd planted, had my children grow up and fondly look back at their childhood home, but that wasn't my reality.

Reality as a single mom in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada (near Vancouver - for those of you from the USA, that's about 3 hours from Seattle), is that rentals are hard to find, very expensive, social housing is limited and add to that a few relationships and, well, you don't stay in one home for that long.  So I've had many keys to many front doors, and decorated many homes behind those doors.

 I was never afraid of moving, you see - because the intent behind the move was to move UP.  Better home.  Nicer neighbours.  Better neighbourhood.  Better rental cost.  Better school area.  Closer to family.  Give the children a dad, or try.  So we moved.  A. Lot.  That's a lotta doors I opened for the first time.

And I remember every one.  :)

Why Home Decor?

Decorating has always been a passion of mine. Not because I subscribe to any particular 'trend', but it has always been very important to me to find the ways and means to create a home that worked for me and the kids.  There's a psychology involved in home decor..or at least, I think there is.  I believe that how you feel in your home affects your well-being.  I believe cleanliness + organization + pretty (whatever 'pretty' is to you) = happy woman.

I need(ed) to be organized to stay sane (with there being only one of me + three of them, I was in serious danger of losing my mind at times!), so finding cheap solutions that allowed me to keep the clutter in check was vital.  But I wanted it to be beautiful too.

I have always needed to walk into my home and breathe - deeply - with that "ahhhhhh...home." feeling.   And what created that feeling has evolved as time passed...but a few things remained.
I needed:

*calming colours.
*comfortable furniture - not just pretty.
*I needed things that evoked memories, all around me.
*I needed plants, greenery.
*I needed books
*I needed to be creative, and to have a place where I could be creative (sewing, crafting etc)
*I needed to feel inspired, and to have space to evolve.

And I needed to do it on a shoe-string budget.  See?  Shoestrings.  Hmm...I should find 35 of them and put those all together as a graphic...but I digress.  Budget.  Shoestring.

Actually, I'm not sure we had the shoe-string.  I think maybe more like the little plastic doo-hickey thingy on the end of the shoestring, that lets you guide the shoestring through the hole?  lol that's maybe more like it!

The first Value Village (Savers, for those of you in the USA who may know it by that name!) opened when my oldest daughter (we'll call her dd#1 for short - dear daughter number 1) was one year old. My first thrifting "option" :)

 I didn't really learn thrifting from my mother, as her thriftier days were really before I was born, or in my younger years.  So I hadn't really been exposed to garage sales much, and we didn't have a lot of consignment stores in our area at the time.  So when Value Village opened, for me as a young 18 year old single mother, it was *fabulous*.  It was never the same, the merchandise was constantly changing, which meant I never knew what I'd walk out of there with.  That works for me.

That place allowed my children to wear GAP, OshKosh, allowed me to find clothing for myself, and cute things too - stylish things - not junk.

Typically I walked out with clothing that was brand new, barely used. Sometimes with the tags still on it!   Shoes, boots, coats too, and books.  And things for my home, that I could paint or repurpose or make work.

I had more fun in there than I'd ever had in Sears, because I could afford to shop here.  I didn't feel guilty if I bought a shirt here and decided six months later that I didn't like it, because I hadn't paid much for it anyways.  I still was careful not to accumulate much - I recognized that trap - but it was fun for me.  Still is!

Over the years I explored more and more...became less and less afraid of entering junky, icky-smelling places, realizing that often my 'treasures' were buried in those places.  But I wasn't looking to simply collect just anything...I was looking for specifics.  I've almost always had a little book or list in my purse with books I'm looking for (series, ones I'm missing and want to own), clothing items I'm short on or need to replace, gift ideas for other people.  Kinda like this one in my purse currently:

I think thrifting is a mindset.  I honestly believe that now, even if I had more money?  That I'd still do it.  

There are things I'm not likely to find at the thrift store - like my iMac, or my Silhouette Cameo.   So I save my pennies for those things that I cannot buy used or on the cheap, and spend very little on the rest.  And I don't suffer for it.  Not one bit!  It's a challenge but I'm up for it.

I also feel good about recycling and I have come to realize that I become more creative when I have less to spend.  It's easy to walk into Pottery Barn and simply buy what you see.  But for me, it's a lot more interesting to challenge myself, to create what I see - or my own version - and smile at how I did it.


Each door I walked through and lived in was important...and the criteria to make it a door that was was included in 35doors, for blogging purposes (and my own memory, for that matter) was that I lived there for at least six months.  Six months meant I had decorated that space, had thoroughly unpacked and settled in.  Usually I do that within 24 hours because it drives me insane otherwise,  but by the six month mark I'd probably sewed curtains and planted flowers outside ;)

Each home...each door...represents a learning curve.  A new challenge to figure out.

A few of the things I learned along the way:

*how to look at a space and use it, not necessarily in the way it was intended.  I believe they call this 'creative thinking' ;) Also how to see past the horrors...
*learning to hang pictures
*hang shelving (and why anchors are necessary..)
*powertools - I used my first drill in 1995!
*learning to install curtain rods
*home organization
*sewing curtains and pillow covers,
*painting furniture (many, many, many pieces of furniture..)
*painting walls, painting in general actually..
*changing hardware
*learning how to arrange furniture (in every type of room imagineable, especially very small spaces)
*learning how to create children's play areas (my mom was a kindergarten teacher, so this involves understanding child development, learning-through-playing, everything from toys to costumes to centres)
*budgeting - how to decorate when you don't have a budget for decorating (ie what can be shaved off  the grocery budget?)
*resourcefulness, because as a single woman that's kind of necessary

Throughout the years, I also learned what colours calmed me and which ones were an "oops that really doesn't work..". I'm still learning what my exact 'style' is, but I've definitely got it narrowed down.   And I wouldn't say I was obssessed with my home - then or now - but I would say that because I was at home with my children for a lot of their lives, I noticed my home, I lived in it, and I loved it.  No matter where I was.  No matter where I am, my home will always be very important to me, and it will always be a reflection of myself.

And I guess that's what this blog is about.  Sharing with you what I've learned along the way.  I just celebrated my 40th birthday, and my children are ages 22, 19 and 18 (next week!) now.  I've lived on my own since I was 18, so that's 22 years of home decor!  And I love that.

  I've seen many styles over the years, tried many different ways of doing things and have had some ehm...BIG failures, but I think I've had more successes than failures, especially when my creativity met with a sewing machine, a thrift store, an auction, or a paintbrush.

 These days I borrow (shamelessly, I might add lol) from those who have tried techniques, who post them on their blogs and Pinterest and I eagerly share what I've learned or know, because I know how delighted I am when I'm able to accomplish something by my own hand, that adds to my home.

 And of course I love the compliments too - don't we all?  So if I can pass it on, or you can be inspired by me because of something I've shared with you, that'll make me smile.  Because walking through your own front door should make you smile.  :)