I’m typically pretty down to earth with the way I decorate, but I have noticed over the years that there are different style diva’s living inside me, all with their own idea of what constitutes perfection. It’s a recipe for ending up with an eclectic decorating scheme for sure, especially when all those divas decide they can’t compromise and get along. ;)
One of my inner style divas is a 1950′s throwback, who loves glitz and glamour. This particular inner style diva doesn’t play nice with the others, so I tend to keep her suppressed…. but I fell prey a month or so back.
As a person who lives pretty simply, I don’t do a lot of shopping anymore, unless I need something. But I found myself going out on a yard sale/thrifting day with Cora. This was an all-out shopping assault, the likes of which I hadn’t subjected myself to in years. We were out in a huge Suburban (plenty of trunk space for anything we might want to buy) with the newspaper in hand and a route planned out.
For someone who completely stopped the yard sale route for years, it was almost exhausting keeping up with a diehard shopper. I also know the evil lure of temptation, and how quickly I can succumb to the desperate need for a bauble. Sanity had flown out my window many times when confronted with a too-good-to-be-true deal, so I was on my toes guarding against it.
I did wonderfully, participating pleasantly in the yard-saling experience, despite not buying a thing, until we made our way to the fateful estate sale.
Estate sales are always a little melancholy, because all yard salers know there’s been a loss, and this one was no different, with some white haired golden girls running the show, the smell of their cigarette smoke filling the mostly empty house.
It was towards the end of yard sales hours, around noon on a Sunday afternoon, and the estate had been picked clean by the time we hit it.
I spent a lot of time eyeing a food dehydrator that looked like it was still new in the packaging, but I managed to resist. Kitchen space is just about non-existent for Patrick and I right now, and unless I wanted to start dehydrating food on my computer desk it wasn’t going to happen. ;)
And then I saw it.
Ahhhhh. What a magnificent shade of blue it was. So completely different than most blues.
I eyed the large box sitting askew in the middle of the spare bedroom. All I could see was luxurious billows of cloth, taunting me with a shade almost unlike anything I’d seen before, dare I say it was practically perfection.
Nothing like sky blue, baby blue, or pastel blue.
Definitely not a bland colonial blue or navy blue.
Nothing as obnoxious as a turquoise blue gone over the top or a blaring primary blue.
This blue was, this blue was better than royal blue, deeper than cobalt.
There was a depth and a hue to the blue like nothing I’d ever quite seen before.
It went beyond azure, beyond cerulean.
I took a step towards the box.
I wasn’t going to, you know, buy it or anything, I just wanted to see what was in the box… maybe touch that fabric a little.
Cora, being a seasoned yard saler herself, had already eyeballed the box and rummaged through it’s contents.
She buzzed by during her second scan-through of the room and pronounced it a lovely blanket with curtains to match that she’d buy if I didn’t want them.
My mind battled with itself, reason fighting with desire.
Reason said, “Now Tanja, you know you have a weakness for blankets. You already have two, a summer blanket and a winter comforter, that’s more than enough. And both those blankets are in your color scheme and perfect. Remember that Margaret Muir comforter you bought on sale for “just a hundred dollars” last year? It’s still absolutely beautiful and much nicer than this old rag. And your fuzzy purple blanket is the epitome of softness, perfect for a lightweight summer night bedspread. Walk away. Just walk away.”
Lust knew it had the upper hand. Lust said, “Sweet mother of god I believe this is a bona fide vintage piece. I’m feeling 1950 here hon. I’m feeling some Marilyn action. Look at the luster! Oh it catches the light beautifully. And no pattern, just the stitches creating those beautiful circles…. don’t forget that mile long matching curtain. It’s wide enough to do the whole closet.”
Meanwhile the magazine cutout I’d kept for years and years before finally decluttering it swam before my mind…. the blue room, blue sofa, blue curtains, blue rug, in that shade of blue that just didn’t exist except in magazine cutouts, and yet here it was before me.
I throbbed with desire.
I searched for a tag, a tag that would bring me back to my senses, let me know this was just a stupid Target knock-off with ten years of age on it, but there was nothing but ancient aged stitching on the backside, the yellowed color itself a giveaway that this particular bedspread was older than me.
Purple was out.
Blue was in.
I wrapped my arms around the old dusty box and hauled my treasure to the chainsmoking gatekeeper. I parted with my five dollars while I looked longingly back at the food dehydrator, and quelled the butterflies dancing victoriously through all the cells of my being.
Even as I carried that box back to the Suburban, I knew I’d done wrong.
I was a bad minimalist.
As the mothball smell of the bedspread worked it’s way up my sinuses, I knew I’d just let one of my diva’s get the best of me.
I was on my third washing of the bedspread, on gentle cycle of course, and the aroma of mothball was still wafting through the air, filling the laundry room.
This was during the rainy season of summer, and I ended up leaving it on the line for two days straight, during a tropical storm to get the mothball smell out of it.
With each washing I saw that the backing on the blanket was deteriorating completely and leaving small bits of off-color white fabric chunks all over the exquisite blue.
I had bought a glamorous blanket, but I had also bought a project.
It was obvious that mothball chemical had been the only thing keeping this blanket together.
To make it functional I’d need to sew an entirely new backing onto it.
For even better results, I’d have to remove the old backing, along with the ratty interior stuffing, restuff it and reback it.
Could I do it?
Did I have the equipment to do it?
Well. With no sewing room, sewing machine, or space to lay it out flat, it might be a little trixy. But I’d sewn a lot by hand in the past, and I could totally do it if I wanted to.
And that right there was the crux of the problem.
I didn’t want the hassle of messing with it, especially since I had two very nice blankets already. They completely filled my needs, they were attractive, clean, and easy to wash.
Now we dance into the simple solution to every packrat’s dilemma. We grab a few words of wisdom from my darling Patrick, a natural minimalist.
Pragmatic Patrick’s advice was simple, “Just get rid of it. We don’t need it anyways.”
Me, “But the blue is just incredible. It’s divine.”
Patrick, “So fix it then and keep it.”
Me, “Well, I don’t think I’ll take the time to fix it. I know myself and I don’t want to mess with it.”
Patrick, “You either keep it and fix it, keep it and store it, or you get rid of it. Those are the three solutions I see. Pick one.”
Such rational thought. Where does it come from?
I looked at the absolutely exquisite otherworldly blue before me. I ran my hands across it’s falling-apart polyester fabric, and I said goodbye to my inner Marilyn’s perfect yet imperfect vintage cerulean blue bedspread set.
Moral of the clutter story:
First, don’t go yardsaling with your mother-in-law if you don’t want to buy stuff.
Second, give yourself the freedom to step away from problem things:
-Problem things are shirts that you’re always pulling back into place while you’re wearing them, or the coffee cup with the lip that fits your face just wrong, making it awkward to drink coffee from it.
-Problems things often require action. They need to have their backing replaced, or their button sewed back on. They need to have their blades sharpened, or their wheels oiled.
-Problem things are the things you only see once every few years when you pull it out of the closet, feel confused and don’t know what to do with it, and put it back in the closet where you found it…. likely all the way in the back of the tippy-top shelf, or at the back of the closet floor.
-Problem things make you go, “Sigh.”
-Problem things make you feel inadequate for not having gotten to them yet. Problem things highlight your lack of superwoman or supermanness. If only you were organized enough you wouldn’t have all this stuff laying around needing to be done….
But there’s a solution. Get rid of your problem things, and don’t buy projects to begin with.
I am back to my purple fuzzy blanket, along with my Margaret Muir delight, now that it’s wintertime. I adore my bedding. It’s relatively new, I bought it just a few years ago and it’s in perfect condition.
It makes my inner Tanja happy, because it’s simple, clean, soft, cozy, beautiful, uplifting, and inspiring.
I donated my problem bedspread to the local Hospice thrift store, where I’m sure it went home with another adoring fan overcome by her inner Marilyn.
What problem things have you been hanging on to? What would it take for you to either fix it or get rid of it?
p.s. Patrick and I were talking over lunch the other day when he asked me what one of my favorite words was. I’d never thought about it before, but then the word cerulean popped into my mind. I’d read a book featuring a doll with cerulean blue eyes when I was a kid, and I’d always particularly liked the word. I thought it would be fun to write a post that slipped the word in, and that’s when I knew I needed to share this story of the blue blanket with all of you. Hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you’re having a sensationally simple holiday season. Now go make some time to get rid of some problem stuff. Enter the holidays lighter this year! ;)