Good evening! Is it weird to say I’m just grateful to be alive? I really feel like that’s where we’re at with COVID and *gestures broadly at the entire country being consumed by flames.* I recently had my first family members get COVID, so I’m currently quarantined awaiting my test result (I feel completely healthy, so I’m praying for a negative!) The swab is not fun. I can’t believe some people have to do that for work every day!
This hardcore version of quarantine has really started to get to me, as evidenced by my sobbing to Faith Hill’s “Breathe” the other night while doing medical research on the internet (famously a terrible idea!) But being cooped up like this, without even the respite of trips to the grocery store or Starbucks, has also been creatively inspiring and very emotionally revealing. I feel grounded and present in a way I haven’t in, well, possibly ever. It can be challenging to intellectualize your own good fortune, especially at times like this, because more dire circumstances than your own are an unknown (I think I’ve just defined “first world problems”). I really feel it right now. I feel…optimistic? Is that a thing? Have I fallen victim to the New Year’s Resolution Industrial Complex?
Anyway, as usual, I have no cogent way of wrapping this up and segueing into my frivolous round-up, so let’s get to it!
Currently bingeing the Australian show Please Like Me on Hulu. It is an absolute delight. As a result, I can’t stop listening to this song.
I can’t drink for the foreseeable future (I actually mean it this time, it’s not just Dry January) so I ordered all 3 types of Ritual Zero Proof liquor alternatives. I’ve been making martinis with Seedlip, so I’m really excited to try their gin alternative! It really is the ritual for me! They’re running a 20% off backordered items right now, so it’s a good time to grab them.
Since I’m an absolute nutcase who loves a project and is in mega nesting mode, I bought this sideboard for my office. I’m completely redecorating the space (I literally drew plans up, despite my complete lack of artistic ability), and I want it to have a mid-century lounge feel. Since you asked, I will be painting the hardware gold. My goal for this room is for it to be like if Stevie Nicks moved into Frank Sinatra’s Palm Springs house. You know, normal!
And before I go, I’d be remiss not to say that I am terror-stricken and devastated by the insurrection that took place on Wednesday. I don’t want to live in a nation where violent white people can commit open treason and walk away safely while people of color are continually brutalized by the police for merely existing (which is to say nothing of the virulent, egregious anti-Semitism on display). But *the discourse* doesn’t need another white voice taking up space, so I’m just going to listen and keep trying to do the work to unlearn white supremacy and be actively anti-racist. Fuck fascists, invoke the 25th amendment.
So, full disclosure, I’m actually not much of an animal person. I never had pets growing up, and I was afraid of dogs and freaked out by cats into my twenties. However, when I was 21, I made a friend named Michael, who had a 6-year-old kitty named Della. She’s 13 now, and I’ve gotten to spend over 6 glorious years with her, which I have cherished, even though she’s an asshole. I have grown increasingly fond of cats over the past half-decade, and while I still don’t touch the litter box or feed her (those are Michael’s jobs), I spoil her with affection and sacrifice all of my nice furniture to her hair and claws. If you know anything about me, it’s that I really value the aesthetic of my home, so having ugly pet supplies is not an option (if I ever have a kid, the poor thing’s going to be playing with wooden blocks, because I’m not letting plastic Fisher-Price stuff into my house).
I’m always on the lookout for ways to upgrade my space, and that space includes an animal for the foreseeable future.
Stylish Litter Boxes
I am in denial about the concept of litter boxes. Why? Why does this animal have to eliminate waste inside of my house? Can’t they breed a type of cat that doesn’t do this? It’s frankly vile, but at least it’s less vile than TOUCHING a dog’s POOP with your HANDS when you walk them (Seriously? Why would anyone ever get a dog?)
If this hideous monstrosity needs to be within the walls of my domicile, I’d at least like it to be nice-looking.
If the existence of litter boxes wasn’t disgusting enough, cat spill little pebbles of litter when they come out of the box, so you have to put down a mat to catch it (and any other surprises that might leak out (vomit face emoji). We have the second one, which I use as an extra mat at the edge of the existing mat underneath her box.
I mentioned before that Della is an asshole, right? She has two beds, and still chooses to sleep on my furniture (she has a predilection for slipper chairs). Since she doesn’t use her beds, I have no grounds upon which to get her another one, but that won’t stop me from browsing.
Michael and I often marvel that there’s a small, wild creature living with us. She has a very strong personality and is extremely opinionated. Gender is a construct, but my cat…is a girl. I can’t explain it, but she exudes a very feminine energy. I think she’s going stir-crazy with us being home all the time, but she still snuggles under the covers with us at night, so she must like us a little bit. I think, in quarantine, we can all learn a lot from indoor cats: take frequent naps, get as cozy as possible, and learn to relax.
My queens and idols Clea & Joanna of The Home Edit have graciously provided us with “mini edits” throughout quarantine—small one-day organizing projects to help us optimize our homes during this, well, sub-optimal time. Full disclosure, I will absolutely be ripping a few of their ideas off, but this particular mini edit is tailored very specifically to a certain kind of home: one that is already organized but seeking to minimalize. I’m so inspired by minimalist homes, but no matter how much I sell/donate, I never seem to be able to get all the way there. I’m, I guess you’d say, a maximalist clutter queen trying to become a Scandinavian ascetic.
If you are already tidy, but want to take it to the next level, here is my *very Barenaked Ladies voice* One Week Organizing Challenge!
Refresh the Refrigerator*
Be honest—when is the last time you actually cleaned your refrigerator? Like, took everything out and cleaned it? I’m a tidy gal, but I must admit that I’ve done this maybe…twice? I’ve had my fridge for like 4 years. There are plenty of great resources online to set you on your path. Jolie Kerr wrote thedefinitive guide to deep-cleaning your fridge, but here are my tips:
Take every single item out.
Wash your bins with soap and water, wipe down any shelves you can’t remove.
Check expiration dates. Expiration dates are mostly a scam, and have more to do with corporate liability than health hazard, but some things really should be tossed on schedule. Your miso paste is probably fine, but the sour cream has got to go.
Organize all of the food/bev into categories. Put them back in the proper place, i.e. vegetables in the crisper, cheese in the drawer, etc. It’s easy to get lazy and just throw things in there, but maintaining an organizational system not only makes cooking & eating easier, but saves you time at the grocery store, since you always know what you have. I can’t recommend fridge bins enough. Target’s are great and really cost-effective. If you want to splurge, definitely hit up The Home Edit’s line at the Container Store.
Now, repeat the whole thing with all of your cabinets and drawers. Be ruthless.
Pare Down the Paper*
You don’t need your tax returns from 7 years ago. Off to the shredder! Keep a shoebox handy for sentimental items like Christmas cards and recycle everything else. Basically, all you should keep is tax paperwork from the past 3 years (just in case), identity documents (birth cert, SSN card), things relevant to your current health insurance, and receipts if you itemize. Or, honestly, just digitize everything.
Itemize Your Inbox*
Emails cause some people a lot of stress, and for good reason! They’re omnipresent—they bombard us at work all day, and then in our personal lives they’re receipts, coupons, bank statements, tracking info, personal correspondence, and politics. It’s a lot to take in. My first suggestion is to use a service like unroll.me to unsubscribe from or hide unwanted emails. Next, create broad categories with sub-labels to help organize what’s already there. Soon you’ll be living an Inbox Zero Lifestyle! Here’s an example of ideas for a Gmail side menu:
Family & Friends
Tickets & Travel
Go through and delete anything older than 2 years, except tax/loan documentation and personal correspondence. Flag anything interesting that you haven’t gotten a chance to read. Take a deep breath and embrace freedom.
Sift through Your Shoe Collection*
“You’re never going to wear the yellow flatforms, Chelsea,” and other things footwear hoarders say. Truthfully, I feel like all femme-identified folx only need a pair each of the following shoes:
A “work” heel
Riding boots (suitably waterproof for winter)
Chelsea boots or booties
Leather sandals (for everyday summer wear)
Flip-flops (for the beach or pedicures)
When you purge, make sure you don’t overdo it and get rid of something functional #fortheaesthetic. But don’t get rid of your “fun shoes” either! You’re allowed to have a ton of fun shoes, just make sure you have sensible (preferably hidden) storage. I use this at my house and it fits…most of my shoes. It’s a great price and it looks really stylish. It also comes in a bench version, which I also have (for my husband’s shoes), which could be used as a TV stand as well.
Clean Up Your Carpets*
Do you have a pet? Or even just long hair that sheds? Your carpets/rugs are probably disgusting. No matter how much you vacuum, you can’t make up for the fact that rugs literally live on the floor. And vacuums can only do so much. Unless you’re a billionaire and can afford one of those fancy pet Dysons (please buy me one), a vacuum can only do so much. And every rug has different cleaning instructions (for instance, jute can’t be cleaned with water). Figure out what your rug is made of, Google deep-cleaning instructions, and go to town. You will be shocked at what comes up. This is especially important if you or a loved one has allergies!
Tackle Your Toiletries*
Your bathroom cabinets, drawers, or closet can be a breeding ground for clutter and chaos. Somehow, you can run out of bar soap while simultaneously owning 14 travel-sized tubes of toothpaste. I guarantee you have tubes of lipstick that should definitely be discarded. Getting a handle on your bathroom storage makes life a thousand times easier. This is a great guide to getting started! And since bathrooms are the least fun area to clean, less clutter means less surface area to wipe down—it’s a win-win!
Rehome Your Reading Material
I am a huge book-lover, and I would never go so far as to propose, à la Marie Kondo, that one should only own 30 books, but you probably don’t need all of the books you have. I actually wrote a post about this a few years ago and I absolutely stand by what I said. The beat up copy of Catcher in the Rye from freshman year of high school that you’ll never read again is just taking up space (if, like me, you probably will read that book again, treat yourself to a nicer copy and ditch the public school standard issue). You don’t need to own Faulkner’s entire bibliography; Toni Morrison was influenced by him, and her books are way more enjoyable. If you read her, you get the point.
Cut Down Your Closet
Another tricky one. People get very sentimental about clothes. I tend to go scorched earth on my closet every few years and then regret getting rid of that oversized Banana Republic sweater or that too-small Anthropologie jumpsuit that I will definitely fit into again someday. I think Marie Kondo speaks on this subject far more eloquently than I possibly can, so suffice it to say that you truly do not need all of those clothes you never wear. Go through everything, make a donate pile (or resell them on Poshmark!) and enjoy your simplified wardrobe!
Nothing makes a space visually interesting like color coordination. Organizing your bookshelf in rainbow order (or your dresser drawers, or closet, or literally everywhere in your home) is functional and fashionable. My favorite thing to color-coordinate is phone apps!
*I have actually accomplished all of these things very recently, so I know it’s not impossible!