I don’t know who needs this

Trio of e.l.f. products: Holy Hydation face cream and Flawless Satin Coverage Foundation in Light Ivory and Sand

I am always in between shades when it comes to foundation. Light makeup is a little too light, and the next color is a little too dark. After buying a new product that was too dark and then one that was too light, I decided to take a painterly approach and mix the colors. Ah … perfection. And now I mix in sunscreen or lotion, too. 

I use e.l.f. products–they are vegan and cruelty-free. I like elf Hello Hydration! Skin Cream with Hyaluronic Acid, elf Flawless Finish Foundation, and elf BB Cream Foundation with SPF 20 

Finding your purpose

Black and white tarot card with message "let your intuition guide you, you are what you have been looking for" is displayed, held in a woman's hand.

I was intrigued by this quiz on finding your purpose on the Greater Good Science Center website: Purpose in Life Quiz | Greater Good 

Most quizzes are of questionable value (other than the fun factor), so I’m always especially interested when they have a little science behind them.

The results were interesting and sobering. I have work to do on aligning with my purpose. 
The results page linked to the VIA Survey of Character Strengths which I’ve done a couple of times, and I decided that today seemed like a good day to retake it. My top five traits have stayed somewhat consistent, but this time, Creativity came out on top.

Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

Roll Tide (Powder)

I’ve been following @gocleanco on Instagram and learned about using powdered Tide laundry detergent for, well, everything. As part of our Kitchenette Cabinet Painting Adventure of 2021, we removed some corner turnaround racks. And how do I put this … they were disgustingly dirty. Barkeeper’s friend, a Go Clean Co. standby, didn’t make a dent. 🙁 I also tried Method all-purpose cleaner and even a white eraser sponge. Finally, I dissolved one teaspoon of Tide in some very hot water and let it sit on each tray for 10 minutes. Then I scrubbed with a dish brush and let it sit for another 10 minutes. I scrubbed again and rinsed. WHAT A TRANSFORMATION. I mean, they were almost good enough to go back in as-is. 

I decided to stay true to my overachiever self and paint them for a like-new facelift. I found a very close color in plastic-friendly spray paint. Handy-tip: both trays had globs of varnish on them that I could get off with light sanding. Sanding was remarkably effective. I was able to get a couple of coats done before the temperatures dropped, along with 15 inches of snow. I need things to warm up a bit before I can do the final coats, but they look great. 

Note to self: always take before pictures. Especially of the gross cleaning projects. 


Photo of a folded quilt

I’ve been taking a few quilt classes to level up my skills and learned a technique called popping the seam. You can use this technique when four blocks come together at an intersection, and the combined seam allowances create an unwieldy lump. Popping the seams flattens the intersection by distributing the seam allowances. It’s nothing short of magic.

See for yourself.

Photo by Nathan Bang on Unsplash

A maximalist falls in love with a minimalist

minimalist photography of open door

If I have a motto, it’s that more is more. I’m not usually talking about stuff, but if I am being honest, I am no minimalist. If I like something, I usually wind up with at least three of that item. So I have a hard time explaining my complete adoration for Dawn, The Minimal Mom on YouTube. I am hooked; I’ve already watched a handful of videos in the last five days. 

Maybe I’m trying to change my ways. I think I am realizing the limits of abundance. Dawn often mentions that she doesn’t want to manage that much inventory: I can so relate to that at this point in my life.  

Check out 5 EASY Ways to Make Christmas Extra Special This Year and especially Get rid of these 3 things to feel BETTER about yourself today!! Don’t wait to have clothes you love. Your weight is fine right now. Give away and recycle what no longer fits and love the body you have. Yes, a million times, yes.

You can save your neglected paint brushes

Brush and brush cleaner on an acrylic painting

You never know what life-changing tip you might learn from a class. I love to paint but I’m not always as thorough as I should be on the cleanup. I learned about this product from an instructor on Creative Bug (our local library offers free access). 

The supply list included The Masters Brush Cleaner and Preserver, so I ordered some from Blick Art Supply. It seemed like an amazing product, one that could bring stiff-as-a-board-brushes back to life. I was skeptical but thought a brush cleaner might help. 

I set up to do a painting and the first brush I picked up looked okay but it was clearly not. I last used it for a complicated oil painting project. It was time to put the miracle brush cleaner to the test. And of course, it was an Ad Reinhardt-inspired black on black oil painting. Would anything remove dried black oil paint? I assumed the brush was a goner, but I put the blush cleaner to work, and holy moly, it’s almost as good as new. It did take a while. I had to do several rounds of cleaning and rinsing but was rewarded with a favorite brush back in the lineup. 

Painting design by Let’s Make Art. I did this version with acrylic paint instead of watercolors.

Gifts that make the stay-at-home life merrier

person holding brown paper wrapped package tied with cord

This year’s gift list is heavy on the creative side because that’s the way I roll and because creativity is good for what ails you.  

  1. Share the gift of weaving with a class or kit from Spruce & Linen. I love Jennell Flynn’s YouTube weaving tutorials. Check out her River Weaving Course ($179) or one of the weaving kits in her ETSY shop ($120.28). Her walnut weaving needle would also make a great gift ($27.30).
  2. Share the gift of inclusive design with Black Illustrations by John D. Saunders. I love these illustrations. Sign up for emails to get updates on new collections and special deals. You can download this business set for free.
  3. For the makers on your list, give a subscription to The Crafter’s Box (about $65 per month). This is a great, reasonably priced subscription box with a nice range of projects. The kits come with almost everything you need–the only thing I’ve supplied so far is a pair of scissors. You can easily pause your subscription or swap the monthly box for something else, so you don’t feel inundated or stuck with a project.
  4. Give a whole year of classes to your crafty crafters with Craftsy Subscription ($79.99 per year). Craftsy offers a wide range of art, quilting and needlework classes. Classes come with supply lists and a series of short videos teaching hands-on techniques.
    A couple of my favorite classes:
    Creative Quilting with your walking foot with Jacquie Gering
    Start-up Library: Hand Embroidery with Kat McTee
  5. For the Mother Earth-lovin’ tree hugger in your life, what could be better than Who Gives a Crap Toilet PaperWho knew toilet paper could be gifty? Thank you, 2020. Choose between recycled paper and bamboo toilet paper, 48 individually wrapped (with paper) double rolls per box. $52 for the bamboo and $48 for the recycled paper version. Or subscribe and save. No plastic anywhere. Also: they donate 50% of their profits to build toilets and improve sanitation around the world.
  6. Share the gift of yoga and movement. Help someone you love to find what feels good with Yoga by Adriene! Exercise is a surefire path out of the stress tunnel! Adriene Mishler’s yoga videos are free so you can add a workout mat and a super cute t-shirt featuring Adriene’s dog Benji. (Read more about Adriene in the New York Times.)
  7. Introduce a foodie friend to Tabitha Brown (Instagram and TikTok). Aunt Tab is getting us through 2020. Share something from her shop or a collection of her go-to cooking items: garlic powder, salt-free seasoning, coconut aminos, Nori Komi Furikake, and olive oil, of course, like so, like that. 
  8. For the cerebral world-changers on your list, consider the Obama Trifecta: Becoming, (Michelle Obama), Promised Land, (Barack Obama), and Obama: An Intimate Portrait (Pete Souza). I loved, loved, loved Becoming, and recommend the documentary of the same name on Netflix, too. I’ve been following Pete Souza on Instagram since 2016. He’s not just an amazing photographer; he’s an amazing storyteller and wrote the book on throwing shade. My copy of Promised Land just arrived, and I’m looking forward to cracking that open soon. And share Pete Souza’s new documentary as a bonus, The Way I See It.
  9. Make a contribution to Dogs Playing for Life to honor the dog lovers on your list. DGPL enriches the lives and adoption chances of dogs in shelters by training shelter staff to run dog playgroups. Playgroups improve socialization, reduce boredom, create a better living environment, and make dogs happy. They also offer intensive TLC, training, rehab, and recovery for dogs in their Canine Center Florida.  
  10. The Professional Overthinker sweatshirt by Huyen Dinh. ($56.00) Show the loveable overthinker on your list that you care with a Professional Overthinker sweatshirt. Trust me, they will feel seen. More fun items in her shop.  Follow her on Instagram for a regular dose of pink, fun, and self-love.

Photo by Joshua Lam on Unsplash

Five to follow for more fun and joy

Russian Blue Kitten

Chris Barron (yes, that Chris Barron, from the Spin Doctors). Every Saturday is Caturday on Chris Barron’s Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/thechrisbarron

Tabitha Brown on Instagram and TikTok. Like so, like that, Tabitha Brown wraps you in a happy, loving embrace. Her “America’s Mom” title is spot on. An added bonus is all of the vegan goodies and recipes that she shares.   

Unicorn Manes by Mykey O’Halloran https://www.instagram.com/unicorn_manes_bymykey

RAINBOW HAIR MAKES ME HAPPY! So do the elaborate videos of Mykey and his housemates rolling out the trash barrels (bins). Mikey is someone who creates joy and art with hair. He’s always a pick-me-up.

Mark Kanemura

Mark is a dancer and a performer and a sweetheart of a human being. His performances always make me smile. Follow him on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mkik808/ 

Thoughts of Dog https://twitter.com/dog_feelings 

What *is* your dog thinking? You no longer have to wonder thanks to this Twitter account from Matt Nelson of We Rate Dogs. This account is one of the purest things on the internet.

Preparing to make a quick getaway

Running through the airport

I know that we aren’t doing much traveling these days. But sometimes there’s an emergency, and you have to pack your bag and go. A couple of years ago, I created a packing checklist with key items to take (or think about taking. Sometimes, you don’t need a bathing suit, but you don’t want to forget it.)

I’m sharing my hers/theirs and his/theirs packing lists via Google Docs. You can download a copy of these lists to Word or copy it to your Google Drive and edit it to suit your own packing needs. It can be a lifesaver — especially if you are tired, stressed out, or need to pack fast.

Be careful out there. Wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands a lot — and most importantly, assume positive intent and be kind. 

Photo by Andy Beales on Unsplash

Put down that roll of paper towels

Washing hands at a white sink with a nickel faucet

Hand towels can be icky even in the best of situations. Drying your hand on a damp towel is counterproductive and let’s face it, even though we love our families, some of them aren’t the best of hand washers. 

I was introduced to the roll of paper towels in the bathroom by a coworker. And I thought it was genius until the sustainability shortfalls hit me, and I realized that using virgin paper to dry my hands and fill the landfill was not exactly aligned to my values. 

Another co-worker introduced me to fingertip towels. She was stylish and particular, and it seemed so *fancy* — I was sold. I also learned from her to have a separate basket in the bathroom seeded with a “used” towel, so guests would know what to do. Remember having people over? That used to be a thing.

I started with some pretty fancy fingertip towels. The problem was I couldn’t amass enough on my budget to get through a week. I eventually bought a bundle of low-cost washcloths and used those for a long time. Two downsides: 1) They didn’t have nicely finished edges, and they frayed; 2) they were also on the small side. 

I finally landed at a nice middle ground: six-packs of higher quality washcloths bought on sale–larger, softer, and finished edges.  We have about 24 for each bathroom. That’s not quite enough to get us through a week, so I will do a mid-week load when needed.

My cleaning routine: warm water with detergent plus vinegar in the bleach dispenser and an extra rinse. Move promptly to the dryer and dry using the sanitize dryer cycle.