Home & Garden
I couldn’t stand my closet. It was overflowing with coats, jackets, work dresses, sundresses, long skirts, short skirts, pants, sweaters, scarves … shoes, boots, sandals. Enough to dress the female population of small country.
I had clothes for multiple roles mom, exercise enthusiast, media professional, friend, girlfriend and more. Let’s not even talk weight gain and loss. It’s no wonder my closet looked like several women lived there. They did.
Enter Jennifer Marks, a closet curator and stylist by trade, headquartered in St. Louis and Cleveland. She helps clients sort, purge and organize clothing. Marks has a Master’s in Public Health with a focus on social and behavioral sciences, something that has honed her skills for understanding human behavior.
She won me over with a few words: “My goal is to get to know you and understand your lifestyle to ensure your outer appearance accurately depicts your true inner self.”
A curator of more than 100 closets, she assured me she wouldn’t run screaming into the night when she saw this manifestation of my psyche. She didn’t.
Instead, she assessed my roles and goals, my aesthetic sensibilities and comfort zone. Then, we determined who I want to be and what that “me” will wear.
In examining the shadows that shape my closet angst, I saw how my personal history informed my attire. I reflected on how my philosophy, friends, cultural background and daily activities move my fashion decisions.
Freud might suggest the abundance made up for the limitations of Catholic school uniforms. Or, perhaps, I had been trying to find myself after divorce. Or, maybe, I’m more like an actor, choosing completely different costumes for each and every role.
Whatever the case, we pruned my closet to express my unique, powerful self without fracturing into personas and costumes....
We all have friends or relatives on our gift-giving list who are not looking at toy catalogs or the latest kitchen gadget. They are the dear individuals who are gracefully enjoying life and aging in place (code words for those over 60).
HERE ARE A FEW GIFT IDEAS FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
• In-home spa service of a facial, massage or mani/pedi
• One month of pet walking twice a week
• Car detailing
• Gourmet dinner prepared by a chef in the home for friends or family
• Fruit of the month club
• Two months of house cleaning — an awesome gift to free up time
• Personal shopper for groceries
• Consultation with a home designer
Many of these gift ideas are readily available in Northeast Ohio. Most businesses will provide a gift certificate or card that explains the details of the gift.
While it’s tempting to give a gift of the services of a professional decluttering and reorganizing company, pause and reconsider.
After the holidays, if you want to address a loved one’s clutter situation, consider what worked for one family and their grandmother who was overrun with too many odds and ends that were difficult for her to part with.
All of the children and grandchildren came over, and the grandmother had each person use small Post-It notes to identify items they wanted after she passed away. The grandmother was able to decide what to pack away to give to charity, friends and others.
The day provided an opportunity for the grandmother to spend time with family, recall memories and ensure that her cherished items would go to family members after her death.
You can’t bottle sunshine, but with special care you can bring its vigor into your house during the long dormant season. Check the calendar — fall is here, but that doesn’t mean your gardening time has to end.
Overwintering perennial herbs — such as rosemary and thyme — are a multifunctional and fun way to tap warm weather vitality by boosting your spirit and pleasing the palate.
But, it’s not as easy bringing pots inside. The indoor herb garden requires extra effort in Northeast Ohio, according to Karen Kennedy, education coordinator for The Herb Society of America, based in Kirtland. Extra effort means providing supplemental light and attentive watering.
LIGHT, LIGHT AND MORE LIGHT
“Most herbs require six to eight hours of sunlight per day,” says Briscoe White, co-founder and head grower at The Growers Exchange, an all-natural, online garden center in Virginia that specializes in rare and traditional herb plants for culinary, aromatic and medicinal use. “We recommend an unobstructed, southwest or east-facing window.”
That advice is more likely to succeed in areas further south. In Northeast Ohio, growing zones 6 and 7, winter sunshine can be elusive. In fact, if sun powers the plant’s energy production, imagine reducing that power 78 percent, from nine hours per day in July to roughly two hours per day in January. Not only do days get shorter in Northeast Ohio, actual sun strength dwindles. Less sunlight means reduced photosynthesis, and sun-loving herb plants starve.
So, what might look like success in October and November, could fail in January and February. That’s fine, if you have Kennedy’s expectations. “My goal is to keep it alive through the holidays, when I use it most,” she says of rosemary.
Post-holiday success is when modern light sources become important. That’s because traditional incandescent lighting is too hot and lacks the blue rays that plants need to move electrons and produce their own food....
Keeping the outside of your home in good shape adds curb appeal and value while saving money on more expensive exterior fixes later.
Dozens of small, inexpensive do-it- yourself projects can revitalize outdoor areas.
Refresh house paint. A gallon of exterior paint costs $25-$34, depending on quality. For a cheaper option, tackle this project yourself to touch up or to change the color on your trim, shutters or the front of your home.
“It’s one of the best improvements you can make in your home’s curb appeal,” says Duane Prokop, a Mentor contractor.
Change or paint your front door. If your front door is looking a little sad, replace it or repaint it. Choose a color that works with your home’s exterior.
Plant something. Noelle Akin, Petitti Garden Center’s director of communication and education, says creating flower boxes or beds are less time-consuming alternatives to painting.
Dirt, mulch, plants and a shovel are all you need for flowers beds. If you have a porch, patio, deck or courtyard, constructing or installing flower boxes will add a touch of color. Brighten curb appeal with container gardens, especially near the front door, Akin says.
“Container gardens are an easy DIY project,” she adds. “You can start with a recycled container, use inexpensive plastic containers or you could purchase something larger and more exotic, but (you) don’t have to.”
Akin suggests choosing flowers that “attract the eye, especially bright red and yellow flowers that pull the eye toward the entry way.” Pastel flowers can be used “to soften the approach” to the doorway.
Make your lawn greener and healthier You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on your lawn to make it attractive and healthy. Sometimes, all it takes is cutting grass the proper length and pulling weeds to help your lawn look good, Prokop says....
We are part of a generation that truly believes and often feels that 60 is the new 40 and 70 may be the new 50. The late author Napoleon Hill’s philosophy of “Whatever your mind can conceive and believe it can achieve” is a great mantra for a lot of people who are living and loving life to the fullest and experiencing the joy of being in their homes. It is only the times when our home environment is creating minor glitches that we start asking ourselves, “What can I do to make my environment more livable and adaptable to some of my physical challenges that are starting to creep up?”
Maybe it’s a microwave that is too high to reach. Or perhaps it is the extension of wood flooring from the kitchen to the carpeting in the family room that causes us to stumble or fall at times. Or it may be that we need to renew our living area but we don’t have the budget to have a Martha Stewart clone offer expensive design changes. There is a solution.
QUICK AND INEXPENSIVE FIXES
The first question is what is your budget? Ten dollars or ten thousand? The money you spend on making your home more comfortable should be an investment in your happiness that adds to the future resale value of your home.
As individuals get older, mobility may become an issue. Clutter causes safety concerns. Odors from an old carpet or upholstery can affect how you feel about your living space. The solutions can be as easy as getting rid of the throw carpets you trip over, purging trinkets and mementos that collect dust or steam cleaning carpets and furniture.
There are simple things that can be done relatively quickly, easily and inexpensively:
• Rearrange your furniture so there is more room if you need a cane or a walker....