I Dream Of…

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite TV shows was the 60’s classic, I Dream of Jeannie. While I enjoyed the humorous plot and puzzled at the maladjusted love story between Jeannie the genie and her human “master,” Tony the astronaut, I mostly loved the show for its costumes and interior design. It only recently occurred to me what a huge impression the show must have had on my tastes. From collecting old, illustrated editions of Arabian Nights to having a distinct taste for embroidered silks in rich jewel tones, comfy floor pillows, and mid-century mod furniture and paintings, it all lines up with the looks that fascinated me as a kid.

Even though I was pretty sure I’d be moving out of my apartment this year, I’m getting ready to renew my lease, after all. My landlord only raised the rent by $10, and I haven’t been able to find anything available in my price range (something between “free” and “flat broke”) in a safe neighborhood. So I’ve decided that if I have to stay in my studio apartment for another year, I might as well make the best of it. What if, instead of thinking of it as a shoebox – tiny, cramped, inconvenient – I think of it as a magic bottle – still tiny, but full of possibility and romance, a place where my dreams can come true?

The first thing I’m going to do is redo my bathroom. It’s the tiniest room, and the easiest to make look totally different with just a few touches. I bought a fun/funny vintage shower curtain a few months ago that’s covered in a cartoon jungle theme. It lifts my spirits, and I intend to keep it for future use, but it’s time to make some adult decor choices. I found this shower curtain on Poshmark that fits the overall look of my house pretty well. It’s originally from World Market, but I got mine brand new and unused, for $11 – awesome deal.

showercurtain

Geometric Multicolor Shower Curtain, from World Market – $29.99 (unless you get lucky, like me!)

Next up is new towels and a bathmat, a little piece of art, a medicine cabinet, a corner storage rack for the bathtub, a basket for under the sink to store towels, new bathtub handles, and a plunger.

I’m thinking strongly of buying Turkish bath towels, since they’ll take up much less storage space, and be so much easier to wash by hand than traditional terrycloth towels are. The last time I had to wash the towels, I had blisters on my fingers the next day. I’m not sure where I’ll get the bathmat, but the last one was $5 from H&M.

As for the art, I might end up making a collage, or framing a cool postcard. The piece that I currently have hanging in the bathroom is just that – a pretty vignette from a postcard I had sitting around.

The idea of a medicine cabinet just popped into my head yesterday, while walking around the local reclaimed building supply store. I have so little storage space in the room, and almost no counter space, but every inch is taken up by bottles and tubes and brushes. Maybe if I can find a small enough medicine cabinet to hang on the wall, I’ll get just a little more space. I’ll do some digging and see if that’s a good solution. This is reminding me that I also need to see if there’s a way to fix the cabinet drawer, which makes this terrible screeching sound every time you pull the drawer out.

As for the toilet, the flap needs to be replaced, and I really would love to have a decent plunger. I’ve been using the cheap, pointless plunger that came with the apartment when I moved in three years ago, but it’s time to move on. Which reminds me – I would LOVE to have a new cat-deterrent toilet paper dispenser, and a toilet paper holder that I can stack rolls in for later.

Oh well, that’s a lot of dreaming and planning for one little room. I’d like to have this done by the end of July, so I’ll update you guys once the bathroom is pulled together. I’ll even take some before and after pics, so you can see how it turned out.

My New St. Francis Statue – Plus, Vote On A Color!!!!

By now, most of you know that I really love St. Francis. Ever since visiting Assisi a few years ago, largely on a whim, I’ve been coming to terms with an ever-growing affinity for the 12th/13th century friar. He’s grown to be something of a hero to me. As a non-Catholic (indeed, I’m not even Christian), I don’t admire him for religious reasons, or seek him out as a conduit for communicating with the divine. However, I’m fascinated with his life, with his commitment to simplicity and minimalism, and with his deep and overpowering adoration of nature as an extension of God.

I love that his followers loved him for his honesty. I love that he didn’t bullshit – he called it like he saw it, even when it was a tough pill for others to swallow. I also love him as a historical figure. We tend to think of saints in mythical terms; in many ways they are Catholicism’s answer to the problem of the pagan gods and demigods that the Church wanted to clean up and package into the new religion. Francis is kind of unique as a saint, in that he has a rich history, with lots of exciting, almost magical stories that accompany him on his rise to sainthood, but he was recent enough that we know a lot about him as a man. The thing that sealed the deal for me, I think, was seeing his belongings in the Basilica at Assisi, including the paperwork that was signed to create the Franciscan Order. With the creation of the order (whose members embraced poverty) Francis began the movement that essentially saved the 13th century Church from the ruin of excess.

But enough of my waxing poetic. I really like the guy. He was complicated, and flawed, but so are we all. Having him in my life helps me stop and take stock of what I really need, and appreciate that almost everything is already waiting in my heart.

This being the case, when I happened upon a statue of Francis in someone’s trash pile last week, I was so excited to take him home. It was a pretty weird find, because my boyfriend and I had set out that afternoon to find something (I wasn’t sure what) to go beside my front door for decoration. I’d had this idea that it would be a statue, but all day while we were shopping, nothing was catching my eye. We’d given up and were actually heading back home when we passed the trash pile and I spied Francis sitting there, waiting to be rescued.

Now why had someone thrown him away? Kind of easy – he looked like this:

St. Francis Statue

Sure, he’s missing a head, but he’s still pretty darn cool!

I love him just the way he is – missing head and all. I’ve decided I’m going to sand him down and repaint him in a really pretty, glossy, bright color. Pretty sure that even though Francis would have thought adding tchotchkes to your life is a terrible waste of time and money, he still would have seen the humor in making someone’s castoffs beautiful again.

What color do you guys think I should paint him? I’m a fan of magenta or teal, but what do you think? Hot pink? Yellow? Grass green? Multi-colored with sparkles? Leave a comment below.

How To Clean Sweaty Bikram Clothes

When I first started doing Bikram yoga a couple of years ago, I was amazed at how much I could sweat. I remember the first time I noticed that my shins were sweating, and being simultaneously scared and amused. Before that moment, I thought sweat was pretty much confined to armpits, backs, and foreheads. What a surprise for me to see it coming from everywhere, soaking through my clothes and towel. Walking home from class, sweat dripping with every step, I don’t think I had ever appreciated the lovely Chicago late summer breeze so much.

As time went by, I got used to sweating, and grew to love it. I went to a pretty strict studio, and wasn’t allowed to wipe or scratch if sweat was tickling me somewhere. Part of practice is the stillness, and true stillness means learning to breathe through small discomforts, just let them go. I do pretty well at this part of class, actually. I’ve gotten pretty good at letting things go, and this has translated into my everyday life, as well.

Except when it comes to stinky yoga clothes!

I learned early on that sweaty yoga clothes and towels do not behave as normal laundry does. It stinks, it grows stuff, it’s the height of gross. You think you have it clean, then all of a sudden you catch a whiff of wtf-is-embedded-in-my-clothes?!?!? It drives me crazy. It essentially ruined my stillness for some time before I finally learned how to handle it efficiently. It’s been a while since I was a complete headcase when it came to getting my sweaty clothes clean, but I can still remember the frenzy. If you’ve never soaked through everything you’re wearing, PLUS a thick towel, put them in a plastic grocery bag to get them home, then had to actually empty the bag out in the sink to get rid of excess moisture, you’re not going to get the ‘crazy’ that comes along with doing truly sweaty laundry. It was a relief to get past that point and on with the show.

Lately at my new studio, however, I’ve overheard a number of people talking about battling sweat smells and stains in yoga clothes. I’ve been sharing my not-so-secret secret with as many people as possible, but it seemed like a good idea to just write a blog post about my method. This is a very simple and economical fix, too. No need for expensive sports detergents or any crazy multi-step programs – just a couple of additions to your typical laundry routine will do you a world of good.

You’ll need:

laundry-detergent

1. Laundry Detergent – whatever you’d like to use. I’ve been using All with Oxi-Active, because it’s what The Man brought home after his last grocery expedition. I’d have preferred Vaska (I’m crazy about lavender, and being biodegradable doesn’t hurt), but being out of a job soon, it’s best to conserve cash for a little while. Speaking of, if you can stand visiting their page, those crazy Duggars have a DIY liquid laundry detergent recipe that looks like it might be a good sweat-fighter, too.

Borax

Click through to learn more about using Borax in your home.

2. Borax (1/2 cup) – I’ve recently discovered that not many of my friends had heard of this miracle product. Borax is actually a mineral, with the largest commercial mines being in California and Turkey. It comes in a box, and can be found in the laundry section in most larger grocery stores, as well as box stores like Walmart and Target, and online at Amazon. It’s normally in the section with the fabric softeners and ‘extras,’ not with the detergents, themselves. It’s cheap, at around $4 for a normal-sized box ($11 for a larger version), and can be used to clean just about anything. It’s also a lot safer than many typical household cleaners, so I’ve heard of people using Borax and vinegar as exclusive household cleaning products in homes with new babies or allergy sufferers.

White Vinegar

3. White Vinegar (1/2 cup to 1 cup) – Oh yeah. This stuff is another miracle worker, and don’t worry – your clothes will not smell tangy when you’re through. It took a few loads of laundry for me to convince The Man that using vinegar could be beneficial to our clothing, but it does wonders to soften clothes and help kill off any remaining bacteria that are holding on to those gooey Bikram smells. Best of all, it’s cheap, cheap, cheap, and you don’t need to buy a brand name vinegar to get the job done right. Click through the image for more tips on using vinegar in your home.

The best part of all of these items is that they can be used in either a top loading or front loading washer. If you’re using a conventional washing machine – add the Borax and vinegar when you add the detergent, all at the same time. When we had a conventional machine, I would start filling the machine, give it a minute to get an inch or two of water, then add the detergent, 1/2 cup of Borax, and between 1/2 cup and 1 cup of vinegar, drop the top and let a little more water flow in and mix things up before adding the clothes. If you’re using a front loading (HE) machine – put the detergent in the detergent cup, then add in the 1/2 cup of Borax right on top of that, and put the vinegar in the cup where the fabric softener is supposed to go.

Typically, I try to throw my clothes and towel in the wash as soon as I get home, and then I wash them with cold water and the above products. If I’ve had to let my clothes wait for a few hours or even until the next day, I rinse them in the sink, then let them dry on a towel rack or other spot, and put them in the laundry with the new batch of sweaty gear the next day. When it’s been a day or more, I wash my laundry with warm water, unless something smells particularly ripe, in which case I go ahead and use hot. I also find that towels sometimes still end up getting moldy, in which case I end up double washing them, with a soak, in hot water, and add up to a cup of Borax and put some vinegar straight on the moldy spot in the towel before throwing it in the wash.

Do you use another method to clean your dirty yoga gear? Any secrets, tips or tricks to share? Please do so we can all benefit!