Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Closet with a View

Hello, Viewers!

Don’t you wish you had a walk-in closet? I have one, and I’m telling you, it’s not all fun and games.

I could kick myself for not having taken a “Before” picture; so imagine, if you will, a walk-in closet on the brink of a nervous breakdown. The physical breakdown had been progressing for years. Serving as a wardrobe, linen closet, and catch-all for who knows what, my closet had become almost impenetrable. Finding an item of clothing could take endless, crucially important, minutes on my way to work in the morning; many things were indeed never found. Some items could be glimpsed, but barely reached – others had become forgotten, having remained invisible for months or years. Everything was balled-up, stuffed and shoved, squeezed and wrinkled. Countless giant blue IKEA bags jostled with worn-out shoes and once-worn sweaters on the floor, often managing to trap me, and almost trip me, with their long, slinky handles. Empty boxes, broken hangers, pieces of string and a vicious gang of dust bunnies had risen to power. The amount of what we home decorators call “stuff” was mind-boggling and paralyzing. The door could not close. A shudder and a quick escape had become the daily routine. As for hanging up clothes in the evening - don't make me laugh! Dejected and defiant, I would stand at the threshold and toss my things into the writhing inferno.

Not being of the clinically insane persuasion, I had obviously made attempts over the years to tame the chaos, but my approach was never drastic enough. I would stand in the middle of the closet, surrounded by the overflow, and try to whip it into shape. Some superficial order would be achieved, but within days, a week at most, anarchy would begin to assert itself again.

So, after much soul-searching and much agony, but finally propelled by a force greater and stronger than myself, I resolved to solve the problem once and – for all? Embarrassing as it was, I had to enlist the assistance of my cleaning lady – the place must be entirely evacuated. Together, we pulled and dragged and lugged everything out of there, my embarrassment increasing by the minute; the stuff filled up the entire bedroom. When the closet was literally voided of every removable object, she washed down shelves and floor – and then the real fun began. After two hours, she “conveniently” had to leave. I don’t blame her. It took me three weeks to go through every single item and either restore it to its rightful – sometimes reconfigured – place, or discard it – for the garbage can, or for donation. Bag after bag was triumphantly carried out of my apartment; a few things were brought down to the basement; some relocated within the apartment, to more appropriate spots.

Relentless (who am I kidding?) weeding of garments yielded space for a new drawer unit – it consisted of two 3-drawer units from the Container Store, that I reconfigured into one 5-drawer piece in order to use every available vertical inch. This unit now – finally – houses all my shells and T-shirts (which are the staple of my daily toilette), in addition to some other odds and ends. I already had another drawer unit, that holds lingerie and hosiery, and many very odd ends.

Let me make a clean breast of it: I am not big on folding. In fact, I am as un-big as it gets. Scrunching and shoving is more my style. For years, the above shirts were dragging out a miserable existence in a tangled mess on various shelves. It was a daily fight to find something to wear. 

Now, with one drawer assigned to each type of shell – long-sleeved, ¾-sleeved, etc. – I no longer have to worry about my failure to fold. Gathered in closed drawers they all present a neat front, and I can quickly find exactly the type of shell I need. Nifty, no? It may sound like a small feat, but I cannot adequately express the daily feeling of relief I’m experiencing!

Bins for Shoes is another of my little innovations. Perish the hanging, compartmentalized shoe organizers; away with the Polaroid-encrusted cardboard boxes; farewell to the stackable shoe racks – hello, bins! One for boots and walking shoes, one for slippers and sandals, one for normal, nice shoes. Believe me – it’s good enough! I am so fed up with the contemporary trend of shoe pampering. It’s like shoes are the new babies. Or at least poodles.

In a moment of weakness, coupled with unsound ambition, I bought a few clear shoe storage boxes some years ago, before I had seen the light (see above). Since I already have them, I use them for the very few, rarefied shoes I own, but I really don’t see the need. Unless your shoes are entirely made of satin and velvet (and how many are?) a bin is perfectly fine. We are not all called Carrie Bradshaw. 

A few shelves had to be reserved for linens, but many a threadbare towel and tired pillowcase were made to join the big Rag Bag in the Sky. The remaining items are those that I like – and actually use. 

My various fairy wings needed their perch, of course (on top of a box of Fairy Paraphernalia), as did handbags (on two shelves above the shoe bins), jewelry and of course, my feather boas. I realize that feather boa storage is not a big issue for most people, but if you are like me – here is a great tip: I hung them all over the crossbar of a velvet hanger (to prevent slippage), then enclosed the entire thing in a zippered garment bag. This way, they are easy to get to, and I don’t have shedding feathers all over the place.

While I am on the topic of velvet hangers: they take up less space than conventional hangers, and even the slinkiest negligée stays put. I hereby offer my whole-hearted endorsement! If you haven’t tried them, by all means do – I have found them to be a great boon.

Another tremendous boon is Zip-lock bags, as you can see below. I use them to corral like items with like, or just to prevent things from slipping around all over the place.

As for jewelry – I have amassed quite a lot over the decades. Don’t be envious; it is all fake. Well, I mean, it is all real costume jewelry, of course, just not “real” materials. I have had some of it since I was fourteen. Younger, in fact. Drawers, baskets, S-hooks – and a rickety, revolving rack that I found once at the curbside, are what I employ to organize by color and function. Some of it is entirely for masquerade purposes. I am very much into masquerading; I dress up as myself. It is a fabulous disguise.

So – it was a great day when I was finally able to enter my closet without crying. Everything was neat and organized, the useless removed, and a calm logic reigned for the first time in twelve years. Getting dressed in the morning was no longer an agony.

THEN came the unguarded moment in which I drifted into a HomeGoods store and found The Ultimate Stool. It is pink (what else?!), upholstered in a damask-patterned velvet, vaguely oriental in its shape and outlined with a nail head trim, and it has storage space inside! Now I have little spot to sit while I put on my shoes (as I retrieve them from their bin), or while pondering the correct number and combination of accessories. It is a pleasure!

Unfortunately, as I am sitting here, I have come to pay more attention to the irreparably worn and damaged linoleum floor with its countless paint splotches, and the sadly defunct overhead light fixture – and I feel that something must be done… 

Hopefully, there will be an update to follow.

Finally, below, an overview...

Regards from Rosebud!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Balcony Brunch for the Fairies

Hello, Viewers!

It was supposed to have been an early September Backyard Brunch for eight Fairies – but in the end only four Chosen Ones were able to attend, so We, the Fairy Queen, made an executive decision to move the party to the balcony of my Fairy Palace instead. So rather than packing up all my stuff and taking the show on the road over to the Fairy with the Backyard, I was able to focus all my powers on transforming my own environment.

The first order of the day is curtains. (I am reminded of Moominmamma, who is so eager to nest and decorate her new house-to-be, that as soon as the weight-bearing beams are in place and the cement has barely dried, she hastens to hang up some pretty curtains. Walls – who needs them?)

These pretty, rosy (shower) curtains from Europe are my go-to staple in all cases of exterior decorating. This time they were enhanced by some hot pink sheers that often come in handy. 
As usual, I am suspending it all on the Sukkah frame that sits up all year round. The "sun roof" is a marquee canvas that IKEA sold a season ago, and which fits the frame almost to perfection. 
In an effort to camouflage the pug-ugly dog fence a previous tenant installed on the balcony, I draped it with a length of lace, held in place with tiny binder clips. The silk flower bouquets in their buckets are prevented from falling over by S-hooks, attaching the bucket handles to loops in the fence. 

Two gold-framed mirrors (hung with S-hooks) added some magic of their own – don’t underestimate the decorative usefulness of mirrors outdoors as well! Mirrors always open up a space, and if they reflect something beautiful, so much the better. A cliché, I know - but so true!

 The table was covered with a pink-on-white tablecloth, and the wicker chairs with quilts and over-sized, squishy pillows - all in various floral patterns.

 The small, round table that usually sits on the balcony was used as a sideboard.

Then to the flowers: beyond the three bouquets in buckets, and the peony plant on the sideboard, there had to be hanging decorations as well. (The "crossbeam" over the table would support lanterns at an evening party, but in the daytime I hang flowers.)

This hanging planter (Skurar from IKEA), really calls for a trailing plant - which I didn't have. So I plonked in a rose nosegay that I did have, and the "trailers" had to consist of curling ribbons in pastel colors. The rose pompoms added more festivity.
The green pompom was a present from one of the fairies - who had no idea how the party was going to be decorated. What an inspired gift! 

The table setting was fairly unpretentious, but pretty nonetheless. Disposable plates with a rosy rim (bought in Jerusalem) set the tone, and some roses and mini fairy wands in a vase made a simple centerpiece. Individual fruit salads (apple, kiwi, mango, pineapple) are in place, and the champagne glasses, each with a strawberry, are awaiting the Mimosas, without which any brunch would be a sad travesty. (50% champagne + 50% orange juice = Mimosa!)

Salad in a hat box is a very good thing!

The hat box is "lined" with a disposable plastic bowl - the bowl on its own would have been just too tedious. (And one of the fairies got to take the box home with her - also a good thing.)
The salad itself?
Red bell pepper
Red onion
Feta cheese
Roasted, salted hazelnuts
Olive oil
               - voilà!

Wholewheat mini baguettes, and omelets - one with onions & lox; one with asparagus and kani (fake, kosher crab sticks) - were also on the menu. The dessert was a Butter Loaf with strawberries. Loads of coffee, of course, and loads of Mimosas - some fairies got quite loaded!

We sat at the table for almost four hours - the sun was shining and the breeze was breezing, and nobody had the heart to tear themselves away. It was truly an enchanted event!

Regards from Rosebud!