domesticity,  house stuff!,  I'm an idiot,  Slow News Day

If you give a mouse a cookie…

rodeo central aka the living room

I’ve had this really self-indulgent post in my mind for a while. Well, since the new year when we took down the Christmas tree. It’s basically pictures of my house and why I rearranged everything from top to bottom. Why would somebody spend time rearranging their perfectly functional house into a completely different functioning arrangement just for kicks and then spend an hour styling it just so for photos? AND THEN ANOTHER HOUR BLOGGING ABOUT IT?

UGH!! I do not know!! I am some kind of freak! This makes me happy and I can’t stop. I just secretly want to be Emily Henderson and this is all I have to work with. Maybe it has something to do with procrastinating and the fact that I can’t sit down and concentrate on work when there are objects of furniture jutting out at angles that offend me and certain first grader’s desks full of cluttery messes distracting me. %$#*%!

I know I’m ridiculous. What a luxury to spend the day moving furniture around. I’ve spent time at my friends houses recently where they have more than one child and it’s just plain chaos getting food on the table. I realize how good I have it. It is a complete luxury to obsess about one’s furniture and how it looks from the doorway.

So anyway. The neighbor girl helped me take the Christmas tree down. We were quite a pair lugging that giant thing down the stairs to the trash area in the parking lot, trying not to scrape up the walls with the metal base and not dump stinky, three-week-old Christmas tree water along my neighbor’s front step as we went. It was a huge tree. It took up the entire dumpster. It seemed like such a waste to throw out such a great beauty but it did make the trash smell nice. Maybe it will make the dump smell nice too.

Then when the tree was gone, there was this great big open spot in my living room and next to it was Bug’s desk covered with papers and crayons and marker pens, books, miscellaneous toys etc… Ugh. That desk drives me crazy. Bug has not inherited my appreciation of minimalism. Not one bit. And now it was just out there in the living room screaming for my attention. I could clean it every day for her (which I have done I must admit in shame) OR I could find some other place in the house that is not so much in plain view. I could hide it.

Bug's Library/School

So I did. I moved it into the bedroom with everything else! Now our bedroom is not a sanctuary for sleep. Hmmm…that kinda sucks. It is now the place where we put everything that I do not want to look at first thing when I walk in the front door. Hello stuff!

It’s just a weird Bren Shui thing. This is my rule that I made that I have to obey for who knows why. Maybe I’m OCD. Everything has to look good from the door. I can hide all kinds of clutter behind the door, in baskets in the bookshelf, in closets, in drawers…even around the corner in the bedroom. It just can’t be there visible from the doorway. The same rule applies at every doorway. So the clutter in the bedroom can’t be the first thing you see when you walk in the bedroom either. Or the bathroom or the kitchen…etc etc. It’s some kind of magnetic pull in my brain or something.

cozy bedroom

Thus the bookcase is now standing up on end, creating a little library nook for Bug. How nice that Ikea bookcases can go any which way. It’s like a puzzle.

hiding her mess

Clutter hidden. Success!

Dorm Couch

Then I moved the futon out of the bedroom into the living room because we always move it out there anyway when guests come over to stay and it weighs about a thousand pounds so that makes more sense. It looks kind of sloppy and college dorm-ish as a makeshift couch but the neighbors like it. Now they have somewhere else to sit besides my awkward yellow chairs.

my office

Then there was a weird awkward place in the bedroom where the futon used to be so I stole Bug’s shoe bookcase from the closet (she’s grown out of most her shoes and doesn’t need such a sophisticated way to store them anymore) and now I have a little bedside library.

chillin' in the library

It will probably last a month before I change it again. But it is kind of nice to have a place to put my massive collection of books I plan on reading. I used to just stack them by the bed and use them as a makeshift nightstand but that was not very functional either.

happy kitchen

And then since I was movin’ and improvin’ everything else in the house I decided to repot my poor baby banana tree and give it a bigger pot.


This poor plant. I don’t know what’s wrong with it. (It’s the one on the right) The fiddle leaf fig is doing great. It’s put out six leaves since I got it and every time it puts one out I want to throw a party. I threw away the instructions for the banana plant and I think it doesn’t like its soil. I think I need to get it sand or something…I don’t know, I need to look it up.

I hate it when plants require something besides normal potting soil because when you go to the nursery they always want to sell you potting soil and when you ask for something else they look at you like you are just landed from Mars. At least that’s been my experience. I know there are other plant lovers out there. Surely these big box garden departments have dealt with people asking for specific soils before, right? I don’t know. I just get discouraged and plant everything in potting soil and hope that my love and singing can take care of the rest. Sadly, I think the banana plant does not like my singing. It’s been in that dirt for a week and it still looks depressed. (Also? The dirt faintly stinks and it’s making it hard to cook.)

I just realized that my neurotic worrying about plants AND my habit of rearranging furniture for hours on end has solidly put me into a category of someone who has too much time on their hands.

Sigh. Maybe there is somebody out there like me…

I love my green things

Does this little corner of greenery make you happy? Will you be my best friend?

somebody needs to do the dishes

Whatever. At least I have my priorities straight and leave the dishes for later.

bake station

Oh! What’s this over here? You want to see my little Bake Station? Yes, I have moved the heavy KitchenAid mixer out of the cupboard and now it is living permanently on the counter. Why? Because it’s cold in my house and I have to bake every day to warm it up. Please come over and eat scones so that I don’t gain fifty pounds from all the butter. We can talk about soil. It’ll be great. Or maybe we’ll have a party for the baby fig leaf and bake a tiny cake in it’s honor.


And that is all. I am embarrassed of this post. I’m not going to write anything like this again for five months. I will write about important things like blueberry pancake mornings and Narnia parties and what is that thing hanging below my air conditioner/heater unit?


  • Courtney

    Whatever makes you feel good! I honestly wish I could be more like you. I recently moved (Nov 1) and I still haven’t unpacked anything and our house is all cluttered and messy after the holidays and I just want things organized and put away and pretty but I have no idea where to start. So I don’t and then it just sits there and I get mad at myself.

    Can I hire you to unpack and prettify my house? :)

  • beck

    Oh my gosh I love everything about this post and I was planning on saying that before I got to the part you said you were embarrassed. I would love for you to come do a walk through of my apartment and fire off ideas about everything. I am completely inept in that regard.

  • Susan:)

    Seriously, you have a gift. You can come help us organize too! Our house isn’t bad, but there’s always odd corners of clutter that we don’t know what to do with. And I love seeing pics of your beautiful and organized home! Nothing embarrassing about that! And I love your plants. And I hate doing dishes. And um, Narnia party? Do tell!

  • Jen

    I’m really nosey so this post is speaking to me!! hahaha. If it makes you feel any better, I cleaned up my foyer (actually Emily cleaned it for me) and as I passed by I almost took a picture and shared it, haha. I was just so happy with the none cluttered clean! Hey! Maybe you can tell me what to do with the corner of my living room that looks sad and neglected.

  • Bouncy

    I would love to come hang out to discuss the various bags of soil that are collecting in my basement (repotting orchids anyone?) and I am a fan of baked goods! I would be right over oogling your Bren shui.

  • Kelly

    I adore talking about houseplants. I have been eyeing the fiddle leaf fig on amazon since you posted that link! It’s such a cute plant!

  • sizzle

    I love rearranging furniture. I find it totally cathartic and inspiring. I grew up with a mom who loved interior design and rearranging furniture so it feels normal to me. I, on the other hand, can’t keep a house plant alive.

  • Ninabi

    I love, love, LOVE looking at houses and how they are decorated- this was such a cool post- it’s like an episode off of HGTV.

    As for the banana- I grow banana plants. The best way to put it is that banana plants are pigs. They love to eat and drink and my big outdoor banana plants need to be fed several times a week. I got around this by using those fertilizer pegs for more steady feeding (the huge plant got quite a few of those).

    They do better with sunshine, although too much in the summer and they dry out and the leaves get fried- I have mine on a porch where they get sun part of the day. Hope this helps!

  • Jen Wilson

    This post didn’t seem at all weird to me. I’d love to spend an entire day rearranging furniture! And since I am home most days, I totally could. Except that I’m much too lazy.

    I kind of miss the single-mom-to-one life sometimes. I really did love it. Not that I don’t love my husband and other two kids, but my former life was much simpler and tidier. :)

    Also, I think I spotted Eleanor & Park on your nightstand! Such a great read.

  • MrsBodien

    You’re so funny! Please come to PA and make my house pretty. I long for the cool, collected spaces I used to have, like you have here. Now my house is a chaotic, cringe-worthy affair.

  • ioi

    Maybe it runs in the family. I love to rearrange furniture (Sir prefers that I leave stuff settled though), so moving in to a new place or helping someone else move is one of my favorite things! I thought I got it from my mom though, ’cause she used to rearrange stuff all the time. Remember the summer when the ‘guest room’ was set up out in the chicken house? It was a normal thing to find complete rooms moved to different areas of the house growing up. Now I get to ‘play house’ whenever we do a birthday party that I have to fit lots of people at tables for or if I get a new dresser or change a kid from one bed to the next step up, but those are not very frequent events. :) I loved this post.

  • Mary

    I wish you could come here and make my house beautiful and organized. You should become a professional organizer! I love all of your posts btw…even about organizing your house :)

  • Melissa K in Nebraska

    I think women rearranging furniture is a chromosome thing. You don’t ever see guys rearranging the garage just because.

    This post was fun. Like a How Many Times Can You Spot Bug game? I counted 4. Do I win?!

  • Deborah

    LOVED this post! I’ve been a re-arranger since the age of five. I always feel great for days after the rearrangement…the same kind of rush you got as a kid when you received a new toy. It’s cathartic for me.

    As for your banana, it looks fabulous! Why would you think it looks sad? The leaves are supposed to droop down a bit like that. Keep up the good plant work. :)

  • Sonja

    We’re Dish Brush Twins!!! Thank you, Ikea! :-)
    I’d love to come eat your scones (though I am allergic to butter) and talk about dirt. Or soil. Heh.

  • bethany actually

    Oh, stop. You have to know that your weirdness with arranging and perfecting and Bren Shui is one of the reasons I love you. (You DO remember those three houses you’ve helped us unpack and organize, right?)

  • Heather

    Awesome post; my favorite kind aside from your sketching diaries. I think you should follow your self-indulgent whims more often!

  • Penny

    Loved this post. Not weird at all. I would love for someone to come and rearrange for me. I really don’t think there are many ways my family room could be arranged, but I would love someone with a fresh eye to take a stab at it. I once had a friend, years and years ago, who would come over on the weekend and rearrange things. Even little things made it feel fresh and new. One time she took everything from my shelves throughout the house and rearanged them. It was crazy how different it made everything feel. She had a real eye for design, like you. Thanks for the great post!

  • TexasLea

    Man, I was gonna ask if I sent you pictures of my rooms if you’d suggest ways to rearrange my stuff but then you went and said you’re embarrassed and your place looks 10 times better than mine so then I was embarrassed to ask your advice.

    Yes that was a long run on sentence, I tend to over talk when I’m embarrassed.

    Anyway, please do share what that thing is hanging on the wall, it looks very interesting.

  • MargieK

    Don’t be so hard on yourself. I like getting a glimpse of how other people decorate, organize, and explain the why behind what they did — particularly people who have artistic talent (I’m more of a practical, engineering-type who needs inspiration in that area).

  • BeachMama

    I love that you do that!!! I used to years ago before I had TWO kids!! Now my house is a constant state of clutter. Oh you wouldn’t see it if you visited (well you would today because I am decluttering) because it is all tucked away in closets. My goal for this year is to get back to my happy place of less clutter and more organization.. let’s see how that rolls ;)

  • LB

    Loved this post as well! I think you should do more like them, they inspire me! You have great style and you’ve made your place look adorable and homey.

  • eticket

    I’m going with the singing, although of course it’s completely objective and I’m sure yours is mahvelous. I have a banana tree that is every bit as invasive and destructive as a ficus and repeated attempts to remove said banana tree have been unsuccessful. More lives than a cat and harder to kill than the Alien. Careful what you wish for.

  • Heather

    My husband is just like you. There could be (and is) stuff just crammed into any closet or basket not visible…. But he wants any room he sees from the doorway to be free of clutter. Clutter being defined as anything that is not his stuff or stuff he left out. Apparently hammers and drills are okay. take no offense since I am the actual cleaner (like mopping, toilets, counters), he is the declutterer, and our kids are the clutter makers.

  • mamalang

    I love these posts…I love spying into another normal persons life. And having met you, I would love to come hang out and eat scones and talk about plants and crazy Ikea stuff, but alas you live on the other side of the continent :(

    I want to rearrange furniture, but find that most of the rooms in my house just don’t lend themselves to any other arrangements. Sigh.

  • Jan-n-NE

    Brenda -Great blog ~ my mom was the same way … always moving things around … said it was the best way to do her housekeeping … besides it kept the monotony of everyday living at bay. I’m of same nature but my hubby doesn’t see clutter or mind living in it … so to save the peace I’m not as inclined as I once was.

    The following website seems to address your banana plant Q about soil
    Your plants look well loved and well cared for … even the banana plant.

  • leslie

    oh those weirdo-posts….i LOVE them!

    i rearrange our furniture so often that my in-laws require a new plan every time they come for a visit….actually, i gave up showing pictures of our apartment on my blog, because i change its look so often….you’re not alone:)

    for my plants i use a mixture of soil and granulate, which they seem to like a lot. i learned {or my plants showed me, so to say}, that one of the most important parts of plant-growing is WHERE they are put. so all the rearranging comes in handy, too ;)
    but i must say that my mother is the master of all things green, so i always have someone to call….my banana-plant died a few weeks ago, though, so i admire yours anyway!

    have great day!

  • leslie

    one mor thing: my mother swears by putting rosy quartz on top of the soil/granulate to help the plants grow.