"Let it go, let it go....."

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
-Leonardo da Vinci

I posted that quote on my Madella's Facebook page last week and I love the quote and its meaning, but here's what I really wanted to say,

"Spring is here and its time to clean up all the shit you've been collecting all winter (or maybe all your life)." I'm serious.  Clean it up, empty it out, give it away, just get it out of your home so you can free up some space.  Trust me, I know it is really easy to accumulate stuff, especially if you have kids.  I thought we had been doing a fairly decent job of keeping things clutter free around here, but lately my office (that's right, not the kids bedrooms or their playroom, but my office) has gotten way out of hand.  And the thing is, I can't function when my office is messy.  It almost feels like I'm choking.   I've been living with it this way for several months.  I could give you a million reasons why I didn't just take the time and clear it out, but the fact is I just didn't do it.  Last week, I was making some drapes for a client and was listening to one of my audiobooks (yep, that's how I spend my time in the workroom, I listen to books.  If you get your window treatments back from me REALLY fast, it probably means I was listening to a rockin' book.)  Last weeks book was called Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston.  Don't ask me what on earth made me decide to listen to this one, but I'm really glad I did.

How can you tell if the "stuff" you have is clutter?  There are 4 categories of clutter says Kingston.

                                     1. Things you do not use or love
                                     2. Things that are untidy or disorganized
                                     3. Too many things in too small a space
                                     4.  Anything Unfinished

Getting rid of clutter can seem extremely overwhelming, but if you start off small, the job can be manageable. For my office, I started with the floor.  I picked up all 3 of my briefcases, fabric books, Charlie's bone that I stub my toe on EVERY SINGLE day.  Then I moved to the bookshelves and finally, the dark horse in the room...my desk.  It took me an entire day, but I put on some happy music, lit a candle, had about 16 cups of coffee and tackled the beast.  I am writing this right now sitting at a paper free desk, looking out my window at the daffodils in the front yard (I couldn't even see out the window a week ago because there was a table in the way).  

I can't even tell you how good it feels to walk into my office in the morning. There must be some truth in the fact that freeing up space and getting rid of clutter helps the energy in the room.  After my office, I did so major damage to my closet and bedroom.  (The kids are hiding in their rooms.)

Kingstons book opened my eyes to a new way of defining clutter.  I was holding onto a ton of stuff that I was saving "for some day".  When I realized I didn't need to save those things, it was so much easier to let them go.  You know what's really bad?  I can't even tell you what was in the bags we gave to the Multiple Sclerosis society last week.  

I love #1, Things you do not use or love.  I have made a commitment to our family that I will not bring ANYTHING into this house that I do not use or love and that means I still have a whole lot of stuff to get rid of before one more item comes in the door.

The coolest thing about de-cluttering your space?  You might find you love your home a little more.

Read the book, but don't buy a hard copy, get it from the library or listen to it on audio.  It will help kick start your clutter clearing process.

"Let it go, let it go" (seriously if I hear that song one more time, I'm going to poke my eyes out, but it was an appropriate ending to this post),

How to stain a railing

We have had these ugly oak railings in our home since it was built and they never really bothered me until we decided to put in new flooring. Once I took a good look at them, the only thing I could think was, "Eeeeww". They have been overlooked all these years because I've had my focus on other areas of the house, but now it is time to tackle the railings.
Here are the supplies you will need to begin:
  1. Stain or paint (I chose to go with Minwax Polyshade stain which is a stain polyurethane mix) 
  2. Sanding block (I used a medium grit sand paper)
  3. Tack cloth
  4. Steel Wool (not shown, but if you don't know what it is, Google it)
  5. Mask (because the fumes will knock you on your ass)
  6. Foam brush
  7. Stolen old t-shirt from hubbies dresser cut into strips
  8. Disposable gloves (get lots of them)

We put it dark hardwood floors so I purchased the darker stain for the railing.  In the end, it still didn't turn out as dark as the photo on the can, but I got tired of putting on coats of stain and it's good enough. (That's right, I've learned it doesn't have to be perfect)
Tape off your wall and floor around the railing.  I didn't bother with the floor because the tile was being removed the next week.  Bye Bye terracotta disaster! (I've had to decorate around that damn floor for the last 14 years)

Here are the steps (sorry no photos of me working on them....that would take too much time and I needed to get this finished!)
  1. Sand the railing with the medium grit sand paper.  You don't have to sand all the way to the original wood, you just need to take off the top layer of polyurethane and all the other gunk that has built up on your railing over the years. 
  2. Use the tack cloth to wipe away all the excess dust and debris.  I also went over the bottom rail with the vacuum cleaner attachment.  
  3. Put on your mask and gloves (I really hope I don't have to tell you this, but just in case you forget I'm giving you a little reminder.)
  4. Apply the stain.  Experts recommend applying the stain with a soft cloth (i.e husbands ripped up t-shirt) and I found that worked really well for the spindles.  However, in order to get the look I wanted without putting on a bazillion coats of stain, I used the kids foam paint brush shown above and it worked great.  I used the foam brush to apply, working in small sections and then used the t-shirt to carefully wipe away the excess.  Timing is key here.  If you wipe away the excess too soon, the stain you just applied will come off (and you'll need to apply about 100 more coats to get the look).  If you wait too long, the stain will be really tacky and you won't be able to wipe it away.  So don't be afraid to play with a small section before getting started.  
  5. Let the stain dry....this was painstaking for me.  Each coat needs about 24 hours to dry completely.  
  6. After the stain is dry use the steel wool gently.
  7. Use the tack cloth to remove any debris
  8. Repeat stain.
  9. Repeat steps 3-7 until you achieve the desired result.  (It took me 4 coats to get this look)  Probably could use 1 more, but it's good enough.
I know,the floor made a HUGE difference too.  

I'd love to hear from you if you decide to tackle your own railings or any other staining projects for that matter.  
Happy staining,