Always Be Beautifying

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Every once a while I find a favorite phrase. It’s kind of like a personal mantra but more like a decision-making filter that I apply to everything. Lately my phase is: Always Be Beautifying.  Last year it was “Always Put Yourself in the Way of Beauty” from the book/movie, Wild.

Yes, I got the idea from Payam’s favorite movie, Glengarry Glen Ross.  I don’t love that movie. It’s full of conflict and the whole movie stresses me out but I do love the ring to “Always Be Closing.”  I love that’s it’s succinct and applies to everything. It’s one of those big ones that has made an impression on many young money-making salespeople not to mention it’s had a significant historical impact on corporate America for better or for worse. I’ve worked with sales people over the years and it’s a skit they all love to quote.

However, I don’t care about closing but I do care about beauty.

I use this phrase in all kinds of ways. When I’m tidying the house I apply it to each room. I walk into the room and think, what can I change to make it more beautiful? Rearrange something? Yes, let’s do it! Clean something? Put something away? I’m on it.  Something needs to be repaired or replaced? I pull out my list-making app and make a plan.

I know most people don’t think like I do. I know Bug definitely does not. She looks at her messy room and promptly throws herself on her bed in overwhelm. She’d rather lose herself in her phone than even take the tiniest step towards wrangling her clutter. I don’t know why I’m different. I guess I don’t get overwhelmed by the whole. I see lots of little parts and bite-sized challenges. I can’t fix the whole kitchen that needs a remodel and has a broken countertop that leaks but I can wipe those fingerprints off the refrigerator handle… You get the picture.

I skip around my house hopping from task to task “beautifying.” It’s a very chicken-with-her-head-cut-off way to do things but it suits me. I’m not necessarily orderly by nature.  I don’t wash my body from top to bottom when I’m in the shower. I wash whatever I feel like and it changes every day. I know this would drive my OCD friends crazy but this is how I work. So I clean my house like a beautifying fairy flitting from task to task.

I do the same thing in my garden. I can’t make everything grow like magic like it does in my favorite fancy nursery but I can curl up the hose that’s laying across the yard into a tidy circle and I can water everything. Before I know it all my little small changes start adding up. Things do grow. Weeds do get pulled and even though it doesn’t happen overnight all at once, you can tell that care has been taken.

I’ve also been applying this to my recycling. I know I might be getting a bit out there with my concept but I like making art out trash. I made tiny haunted houses out of milk cartons for Halloween. I think I’m going to switch them up to cute pink cottages for Christmas or maybe I’ll give them away as gifts… I also cut up a plastic milk jug to make the flower below. Jury is still out on whether it beautifies my yard or not. But it’s fun and I like doing it. One tiny footprint of recycling at a time and we aren’t even talking about the mental health aspects of doing art. Who needs to go to an art store for supplies when you can find all sorts of things to recycle at home?

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It’s not a perfect system. I waste a TON of time being a busy little fairy and I imagine people with real jobs and kids that need to be cared for won’t have anywhere near as much free time as I do but I think it can be applied in little ways. Putting on lipstick can make you feel like you’ve beautified your face. Plating dinner in a pretty way can be beautifying. Teaching your kids to make their beds can be beautifying. Even sitting still and noticing the pretty sky or a pretty plant can be beautifying to your mind. I think we just need to stop and find the beauty in life because right now it can be so dark and scary and overwhelming.

So let’s make art! Let’s make things beautiful! Let’s find the beauty where no one else is looking for it. Is it in your bathroom under your sink? Maybe it’s your linen closet? Maybe its the row of favorite mugs by your coffee maker. Maybe it’s your tidy glove compartment. No space is too small to be beautified.

 

I made you some printable postcards Just in case you want to play along. I know it would be weird to send them to someone, how dare we command someone to beautify!??  But little cards are great to use as bookmarks or just stick somewhere as a messages to yourself. I hope you like them!

 

We Had Such Grand Plans

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This post is purely for me because nobody cares what I did for Halloween when we have a massive election going on. But I care and I can’t start my month off properly if I haven’t blogged and created a new banner. So here goes!

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“We Had Such Grand Plans” could be the title of this whole year. We make plans, they backfire. Over and over and over again. But  unlike the rest of 2020, my plans for Halloween this year actually sort of worked out. Well, mostly. The only part of my plans that didn’t work out was that Joon was at her mom’s this year and couldn’t really participate in my grand plan but I forgive her because she sent me a photo of herself wearing the costume I designed and it looked absolutely smashing on her. So there’s that.  I actually think I had a even better Halloween than ever because I got to do all my favorite things.The rest of my family might not agree but I was a happy camper.  And by favorite things I mean: making crazy costumes, carving pumpkins and eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Really, that’s all that matters to me.

First up let’s talk about costumes: The grand plan was I would be the mad hatter, Payam would be Volcano Man from the movie Eurovision: the story of Fire Saga, Bug would be a Plague Doctor and Joon would be a witch. Except when I showed Joon the sketch she promptly decided she wanted to be the Mad Hatter. Fine with me! She makes a better model for my work anyway.

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A week before Halloween we got to work. Bug created her plague doctor mask out of a balloon and paper mâché. I thought we were going to paint it black but once we saw how historical and interesting the newsprint was we decided to keep it unpainted as a political and historical statement. That was all Bug’s decision which I think is brilliant. Instead of throwing this mask away I think it will be an art piece we keep in the family for a long time.

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For the Mad Hatter I whispered up some cardboard similar to my crazy cake lady hat. That was such a fun costume. This hat didn’t turn out quite as well as the cake but it was still over-the-top silly which is really all I cared about. Of course Joon looks amazing in her thrift store suit, her crazy hair and the cane her dad put together for her.

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Payam’s costume is a hodge podge galleria of ramshackle cardboard glue-gunned together to look like armor. His helmet is made from San Pelegrino boxes. It was really fun to make. If only I maid a faux fur cape I think I would have really nailed it. But considering he only wore if for the photo I think I put in more than enough effort.

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Around four o’clock I called the family (Sans Joon) together to take a portrait in front of our garage. I’m thinking this is going to be the background for all family photos this year. No need to hire an expensive photographer for Christmas cards when I can use my handy dandy remote and my camera on a tripod. It’s not as magical but then neither has this whole year been. I think families standing in front of garages will pretty much sum up this year.

As you can see I am still learning out to use my remote. Hopefully I’ll be a little more natural at it for our holiday photos.

I want to say, and then we carved pumpkins but you can tell we actually carved pumpkins first. Whatever, it fits better here in the post.

 

I’m so happy Bug shares my love of carving pumpkins. Yes, it’s messy and slimy and gross but it’s also really fun!

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Bug made a pumpkin eating a baby pumpkin and I made a laughing scary mouth pumpkin. Not super creative but fun nevertheless.

We didn’t want to spend too much time on them because we had a photoshoot to do in the tunnels with Bug’s creepy plague doctor costume! And even though I planned all sorts of time to do it we still managed to run out of time and rush the whole thing. I don’t think I’ve ever done a photoshoot where I don’t feel rushed and don’t make a thousand mistakes. It’s kind of the nature of the biz since your subjects usually get bored way before you ever nail the money shot.

Anyway, I forgot my tripod… it was super dark and green from the weird tunnel lighting. In some ways I think it makes the shots better but I also know I could have done a way better job.

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I think it definitely checks all the creepy boxes.

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Pretty much encapsulates 2020 I think.

 

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And so that’s that! We came home, ordered pizza from California Pizza Kitchen, handed out a few candies with tongs and masks on and called it a night!

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And yes, we already voted. In case you were worried.