Monday, April 25, 2011

One week later . . .

It is one week since I last posted and I still find that my studio is a work in progress.  Whilst I have puttered in that room each day, opening boxes and shifting the contents around to fit in with all the other items that I have unpacked, I find that my progress is slow.  I am trying to find a way to speed up this activity and am at a loss for a method to make me gain on the vast quantity of boxes that have yet to be opened.  I find that I tend to look at each item as it is unpacked and reminisce over how it came to be part of my family of art supplies or how I have used said item in other pieces of art.  Every piece seems to have a story and it is these stories that seem to be slowing me down.  Even newer pieces that I have not used slow me down by my needing to think about how I want to use them.  But, in order to use them, I need to move more quickly and think a little less it seems.  I suspect my inner muse is guilty, or so I would like to believe, and is the part of me that brings about the daydreams of working artistically, adding new dimensions to my craft.  What I need is to straighten my shoulders, stiffen my backbone and get down to the actual work and with great determination, tidy the shelves, stack the neatly labelled boxes and sort the unending amount of various elements that are all a part of my life.

It is with a sheepish laugh that I tell you all this.  I used to be able to tidy up, inventory my supplies and get my smaller flat ready for another day of artistic endeavours.  It appears that having an entire room to dedicate solely to matters related to art is not helping me in producing more or anything for that matter.  I would have to say that my mind requires as much of a decluttering as the physical part of the studio.  How does one declutter the mind?  That requires a strong will and a definitive idea of what must be filed away for future reference and what should be tossed away in a bin.  I will progress to that point, but it seems that first, I need to dust off my resolve to "get it done" and move forward with arranging the studio quickly without wasting too much time thinking about whatever I am holding in my hands at that very moment.

There seems to be progress since there are quite a quantity of empty boxes on the floor taking up space.  So, I think my first logical step is to gather up all these empty boxes and put them away in the general storage room, giving way to more space to move about and sort my treasured supplies.  I think if I do this, then set about tidying and sorting from one end of the room and work my way around to the other, that I might make more progress quickly.  Setting up the lights that I do have in strategic areas so that the entire room has light beyond sunset will be my first task (after moving the empty boxes to storage) and allow me to assess the level of light that I have for the studio.  I suspect that I will need to supplement the lighting at some point as my savings allow.  The room is a good sized one and the few lights that I do have will not suffice.  I have two lights with clamps on them to attach to my easel/drawing table.  One floor lamp is currently sitting beside the bookcase and two other table lamps are sitting on tables that have a number of boxes with some of their contents spread around them and onto the floor.  There is not an overhead light fixture in this room so the flick of the switch just inside the door yielded nothing until I found out which one of the many outlets would turn on a lamp if I made the correct connection between the lamp and the corresponding outlet.  Note to self:  mark out this fixture with an adhesive dot over it so that I know which of the eight outlets is wired to the switch.  This information may come in handy should I unplug and move the lamp to another location to increase the level of light for a particular project.

The storage room within the studio is filling rapidly and I admit that I was overly optimistic at how much it would hold.  The double shelving unit is full of small shoe box sized bins, the shelf over top of this area is the holding area for untouched, pristine canvases.  The shelf across from this one is holding most of my Christmas treasures with the area below this destined to be the area where the bankers' boxes will be stacked.  I am hoping that I manage to place fifteen of such boxes in this area, but that may prove to be a figment of an overly optimistic mind.  I will get organized at some point, but sooner is preferable to later.  I desperately need to get back to painting.  My routine has been disrupted for far too long and I am feeling the lack of making art is weighing heavily on my soul.

Routine is something I need to define my day and I had hoped to be establishing myself into one long before this time.  There always seems to be something that needs to be done that is of more importance than art.  I am horrified at that thought, but must agree that returning the call to my solicitor does rank higher on the to do list for Monday even if it is only to go over the paper work that he mailed to me last week.  I am a visual person and I know that it would be far better for the solicitor to e-mail me with all the details so that I can read the information whilst looking at the documents.  I suspect that even he realizes that as he has said that he would review the information with me and that it would likely still be as clear as mud.  Oh well, perhaps after that conversation I can make my way to the studio room and do some serious clearing that will allow me to at least set up my painting area.  That will make it seem that there has been visible progress in my journey.  But, one knows that every path in the journey yields a surprise or two.  Consequently, a delay or two may be encountered.  I am going to pray for Divine intervention and hope that I am rewarded with unencumbered time that results in cleared floor space, cleared off table tops and a tidy storage room.  An artist can dream, right?  Sometimes dreams are what makes the impossible become reality and I am hoping that this is one of those times.

For now, I am going to forgo the Thursday postings in order to free up a little more time to get myself on track again.  I apologize for this as I look at posting as having a conversation with a grouping of my friends.  This is a ritual that I hold dear to my heart.  I make a cup of coffee or tea, depending on what time of day I am writing, sit down at the computer and tap away at the keys, spilling my thoughts out on the page for you to read.  When some of you respond with a comment either through the blog or through Twitter, I am delighted to hear from you.  Never doubt that I take this for granted for I do not.  Each and every comment is taken and thought about with serious contemplation.  I look forward to your comments and try to respond to everyone who takes the time to contact me.  So, know that I will get back on schedule as soon as possible and that means posting twice a week here on my blog and tweeting regularly on Twitter.  How did we ever keep in touch before social media made it so much easier? 

Have a great week!  For those of you celebrating, I hope that your Easter was a wonderful gathering of old and young, that traditions continued and new ones started.  But, most of all, there is the never ending question:  Did you eat the ears first or did you start nibbling on the tail of your chocolate bunny?  I hope all your days this week are filled with chocolate treats or a rainbow of jelly beans.  Just remember to check all your pockets before you do the wash next weekend!



Sunday, April 17, 2011

Just a kid in the candy store!

Well, as promised, I hit the art supply store this morning.  I had a good chat with myself as I dressed for this little shopping treat and warned myself that only a few tubes of paint, possibly one very tempting stamp and maybe if I kept myself in check, I might allow myself to look at the row of coloured papers.  Well, I tried, really, I did try to be frugal and stay with the game plan.  But, the problem is that once I start roaming around in the store, I get ideas that maybe I should try something a little different.  And so it goes as with the most well planned shopping trips, a few extras made their way into my basket.

To my credit, even though my beloved tubes of acrylic paint were on sale, I restrained myself and only bought three tubes, just the colours that I am low on and tend to use the most.  I felt pretty proud of myself at my show of strength.  But then I encountered the area where beading and jewelry supplies are kept and curiosity got the better of me.  I decided that I really should try some simple beading.  Now, I know that I am not going to be making jewelry of any real description, but I thought that I might try working some of the beads into mixed media projects.  The idea of a pathway of darker coloured beads has been percolating through my art starved soul for the past few weeks and hopefully, this will be the week when I get to give that idea a try.  I really do not know why the beads seemed so appealing, but the rows of packages of various colours just seemed to reach out to me, but it was only the darker colours that found their way into my basket.  Just a few packages.  Perhaps a few of the beads will find their way onto some greeting cards as well as some larger projects.  The beads are small, so it will take quite a number of them along with a great deal of patience to make any impact in an artistic attempt.  I think it must be the spring air that has me wanting to try new things.  Or maybe it really is an art starved soul crying out for a long session in the studio working on something new and exciting. 

I did make my way to the aisle that holds my particular downfall in terms of temptation.  Stamping supplies, rubber stamps, ink pads and all other related supplies was where I met my fall from restraint.  However, I will justify this with the fact that the rubber stamps I purchased were all clear out specials.  Once these stamps are sold out, there will not be any more of them carried by the store.  I could not resist getting some of the stamps that I have been looking at for months, especially when they were on sale.  Instead of the one stamp that I had been prepared to allow into my collection, I ended up with four.  Seriously, I just had to have them and the total cost of the five was still well below the cost of one of the more expensive stamps.  I suspect that I sound like a charter member of Stampers' Anonymous, guilty as charged, but I am really looking forward to using these little gems in a number of different ways on any number of greeting cards.  The really nice thing about these stamps is that they are not limited to one particular holiday or occasion.  I can use these throughout the year for birthdays, anniversaries and on cards that I send with only the thought of telling someone that I was thinking of them.  I love sending cards to people and when they really seem to understand that there is artistic merit to these unexpected greetings, then I feel that I have accomplished what I set out to do, tell someone that I care and have them tuck the little card into a book as a bookmark or prop up on a table for friends to see.  The little greeting card is something tangible and the recipient will not just hit the delete button and dispose of it.

My little cards will never make it to the big time greeting card companies and I am okay with that.  These little cards are personalized for each recipient.  The colours are carefully selected, any little embellishments like ribbon, scraps of special paper and now, the newly purchased beads, are incorporated so that the recipient knows that I care enough to take note of the little things that they enjoy.

Oh, did I mention colour?  Yes, colour is another area of downfall on my part and so in order to use my newly acquired stamps I purchased a few ink pads in some lovely spring colours.  I cannot wait to get my cutter out and start getting the card stock ready for the many cards I hope to get out in the post over the next few days.  So many occasions are a part of my artistic journey over the next few weeks.  A former colleague is retiring, Easter is only a week away and a birthday is only a flip of the calendar page away.  I need to send a few thank you cards to friends who helped with my move to a new home along with a few invitations for others to come for tea.  I am getting gentle hints via e-mails from curious friends who want to see Molly and me in our new environment and so some special greetings will be sent via a real postal employee who will probably smile indulgently as he or she sees a trail of happy chirping birds or colourful butterflies fluttering their way across the envelope.  You see, I do more than just decorate the card, I make the envelope as tempting as possible so that it softly calls to the recipient "open me first."  And, yes, these colourful ink pads were a special price so I do not feel terribly guilty at giving in to temptation.

My little spree of retail therapy really was not a destructive hit on the pocketbook.  The reality of it is that I spent pretty much what I had intended to in the first place.  But, it was on items other than those strictly related to painting on canvas.  It felt so good to go out and buy these few indulgences that I am not going to chastise myself for giving in and buying more items to add to an ever growing collection of stamping related equipment.  I do not do this very often.  Some people are addicted to shopping for shoes, clothes, the perfect mascara or whatever their particular feel good item might be.  The items that make me feel good are all related to an artistic journey that involves all manner of mixed media items. 

I love this journey and I sincerely hope that it continues for many years to come.  Heaven only knows where I will tuck all these little treasures, but I will find a safe place to store them and if I set aside some time each day, maybe I could start to catalogue some of the supplies I have in the storage room attached to the studio.  That would be terribly sensible so I suspect that this will be something that I think about doing but never really get around to just yet.  There is always tomorrow, or the day after that.  For me, the most important thing is to keep moving along on my journey.  While the studio is not completely set up, it is making progress each day.  Today, there is enough room to ramp up the card production and hopefully, by the end of the week, I can get back to work on my calla lily paintings.  I have been away from them for quite some time now and I suspect that when I pull out those particular canvases, I will see them with a fresh pair of eyes.

I hope that your artistic journeys are progressing and that you are feeling satisfied, complete and at peace with where you are at this point.  I really think that most of the joy is in the creating more so than in the completion of a piece.  You do feel a certain satisfaction when you complete a particular piece of art, but when you really think about it, what makes you get up and move each morning is the thought of working in your particular medium.  The journey continues and will never reach a destination or at least that is my fervent hope.  To actually reach a destination might mean that there was nothing left to dream about.  That would be a terrible day much like the story Don McLean sang about in "Bye Bye Miss American Pie," the day the music died.  I cannot even allow myself to think about a life like that.  Music and art go hand in hand and must be allowed their place in our lives in order for us to live a full and complete life. 

Have a great week and give yourself permission to play with whatever it is that makes you smile.  It really is truly important and good for the soul!



P.S. I've put up a few more pictures of the flat.  Molly is much happier, the place is feeling like home and I scored on some second hand lamps for my bedroom.  Life is falling into place and I am very grateful for a new home, good family/friends and so many other blessings.  I am very grateful for all my online friends who have sent good wishes, really helpful suggestions for the move and have been so supportive.  You guys rock! 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Getting back into the swing of things

Good Morning!

Life is starting to get back to normal or as normal as it ever is around my home.  Molly Cat is lazing in a pool of warm sunlight and I am, well, I am digging through boxes trying to organize my art supplies into some semblance of order that will make artistic ventures easier to jump into because I will be able to pull out the supplies from my nicely organized closet.  The art closet which looked huge when I saw it empty, is in reality, a good sized closet, but by no means would I consider it a room all unto itself.  It will hold a lot of supplies once I purge it of the empty boxes that somehow found their way in there to make room for full boxes that needed to be sorted through to remain on the floor of the actual studio.

The chaos on the floor was such that I could barely make my way from the doorway to the front of the room to work on the bookcase.  At one point, my foot got lodged between some boxes and the only way out was to abandon my shoe and try to retrieve it at a later date.  Some friends were over this past weekend and helped me make a good sized pathway through the room and I am hoping to work my way through all these boxes and house all similar components into one box, maybe two.

My best find through all this process has been what I refer to as plastic shoe boxes.  I found these sold in bundles of five and bought several bundles.  This way, I can categorize my rubber stamps according to holidays and house the ink pads in another.  Another grouping of these boxes is set aside for coloured pencils.  I have a love of coloured pencils and have them in great quantity.  So, I have separated the artist quality ones from the general ones with each box being labelled with the appropriate tag which lists the brand and any other information.  Another kit contains items used with the coloured pencils such as burnishing pencils, sharpeners, sandpaper, cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol.  For my acrylic paints, I have resorted to using the plastic bins that kitty litter is stored in and which make wonderful containers to hold an ever growing number of tubes of paint.  The lid of the container can be used as a palette.  I tape a piece of waxed paper to the lid so that I have a disposable palette which makes clean up easier.

In the actual storage closet, I have an old shelving unit to hold all these plastic bins along with cardboard boxes originally designed to hold photos, but since they are the perfect size to hold items used in making journals, that is how I make use of them.  Other boxes hold beads, writing tools, rulers, erasers, scraps of paper that will be used in future card making ventures. 

Did I mention my stamp collection?  I have a vast number of rubber stamps along with the clear plastic ones that need to be mounted on acrylic blocks.  I have a box of stamps for each holiday i.e. Birthdays, Hallowe'en, Christmas, Valentine's Day, Get Well, Thinking of you, and then a box of stamps that are just plain interesting and can be used for any number of holidays or just because situations.  I am like a kid in a candy store when it comes to rubber stamps.  I will walk up and down the aisle looking at individual stamps, packages of stamps, and try to decide which one will be my pick for that particular trip.  I am always in the supply store for at least two sometimes three hours.  Warning!  I will be heading that way on Sunday.  So, anyone trying to find me late in the morning might just as well save their energy.  I am going to spend some time looking over any new arrivals in the stamp department and seeing if there are one or two that are begging to join my happy little family.

Ribbon is another item that I feel you can never have too much of on hand.  I wait for sales and stock up on 1/8 of an inch to 1/4 inch ribbons to use on my cards.  Ribbons with wider widths are generally set aside to be used on wreaths that I make for my door.  Since I came across 3 lovely wreaths in my unpacking, I suspect that I will be making a spring time wreath, perfect for this lovely time of year as well as to celebrate Easter which is not too far off.  That means that I had better move into high gear and get my Easter cards done this weekend and into the mail.  So much to do and only so many hours in the day. 

This is what I love about an artistic life.  I can make it as full as I crave or kick back for a bit and just work on specific projects.  The problem with that is, too many people have told me that they have started collections of Rutheemac cards and that they look forward to receiving one for each holiday.  So, that means the card project must carry on.  One tip here - never make just one of a particular card.  Always make at least six.  Put one in your sample book with notes about the colours and techniques used on it and the rest of the cards are for distribution.  If you have a few left over, place them in a study box and file them for reference.  That way, the next time you need a card for that particular occasion, you already have some to choose from.  It really does not take much more time to make six of one type of card than it does to make just one.  Making the extras means you are saved in a pinch and have a card on hand to use with a hostess gift or for a co-worker's birthday.  Another little hint is that making collections of cards as a gift is not only thoughtful, but lets others see your work. These might be people who would not normally see what kind of cards that you make and you never know where that might lead you.  Perhaps you might consider selling a package of greeting cards for a reasonable price.  Each package could contain three birthday cards, one get well soon, and two generic cards that would be suitable for any number of occasions.  Closer to the holidays, you might even do up packages of Hallowe'en cards, cards for any of the December holidays and New Year's cards.  It is just a thought, but getting your artwork out in the community for people to see can be difficult.  When someone sees your cards, they often ask if you do any other type of artwork and that opens a door for you if you choose to enter it.  So many possibilities if you take the time to consider them.

So, today is all about organizing and seeing what supplies I have on hand that might be made into something of value.  My autumnal door wreath was sold right off the door, so maybe I had better get a move and make a spring time wreath quickly.  Just so happens that I have a love collection of silk flowers that would make a wonderful display on my rattan wreaths. 

I advocate looking through your treasure trove of goodies on a regular basis to see what you have and to see what you may be secretly hoarding.  Both my sister and I love the Japanese papers to the point where we are hesitant to use them in any artwork.  But, we bought the papers with the intent to use them, yet there they sit, increasing in their numbers whilst still not seeing daylight.  I am firmly telling myself now that I must use them or I will not allow myself to purchase any more.  So, I have better get working on some collages or cards and incorporate some of these beautiful pieces if I ever want to purchase some again.

I am dreading going through all these boxes and yet I am eager to start the task just for the joy of finding things that I may have forgotten about.  Who knows where this little journey might take me?  But, I can work at my own pace, jotting down notes in a book as I move along and make order out of chaos.  It will be a pleasant day, probably two or three days to get everything set up the way that I want it to be.  But, my studio will be a reflection of me.  It will be colourful, diverse in its number of different supplies and the art work that they will be used in, but it will definitely yield some interesting results in the upcoming projects that I plan to work on and complete.

Not to worry!  I am not abandoning my painting.  I could never do that, painting is my all time favourite de-stressor and vital to my well being.  So, painting will always be something significant in my life and there will always be projects propped up around the room, all in various stages of completion.  And I will get to them, but for now, I just have to answer to the call of whatever art form has caught my attention and work with it to learn whatever it is that it feels that I need to learn.  Sometimes I learn that I must become more patient with the process.  Other times I learn that I need to be more daring in my choice of colour and in my choice of technique.  It is all about being open to what you have sitting  before you and making the best use of the materials and learning something about them in the process.

That is a pretty fair exchange for someone who is planning to tidy up their storage room.  I get a  plethora of ideas by looking at what I have and the supplies are housed in protective casings to save their beauty until I get the time to put into practise some of the ideas that I have learned while traipsing about on my artistic journey.  Now, that I have psyched myself up, I had better go and make good use of the time left today to sort out my goodies and see what tempting grouping will appeal to my senses.  What a perfect day!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The journey resumes, but at a slower pace

After a long absence, I am finally back at the blog.  It has been far too long since I last tapped out a recounting of where my journey has taken me or ideas as to where I hope I might find myself.  I found that over the past month, my lack of blogging and sharing my thoughts with you has left me feeling cut off and my artistic soul feeling empty.  These are not feelings that I enjoy.  Being away from communicating regularly with my friends meant that I was very alone at a time when I really needed to be involved in artistic discussions, practising my craft and chatting with my friends .  My stress level reached an all time high and anxiety attacks were frequent, making me feel that life was out of control.  And, life was out of control.  Anyone who has moved knows that at some point during the transition from one place to another, you do lose control of your life and you just have to do the best that you can to maintain your sense of self and home in order to carry on with some semblance of sanity.

Maybe that does not make sense to some, but I am equally certain that some reading this will nod their head and agree with what I have written.  It takes time for a new place to become home.  Unpacking a mountain of boxes and trying to place the contents in areas comparable to where they were housed previously is not an easy task.  Just getting the essentials of daily living into cupboards, closets and drawers takes significant time.  Friends told me not to worry, just keep moving things around until I felt better about their placement.  That seems like such a lot of work and not conducive to maintaining a sense of balance in my daily life.  I like to think about where things are going to be placed and get them into that resting place as soon as possible.  That would be why I pushed myself beyond what was sensible and found myself on the floor a few times when my legs buckled and I went down full force.  Luckily, the results were only bruises to my body and and maybe more significantly, bruises to my psyche.  I had to sit back, reassess what I was doing and then make a conscious decision that it was not imperative that the entire flat be in perfect order within a week of moving into it.  Once I had made peace with that decision, I could move forward and try to get my life back in order.

I am a creature of habit.  I freely admit that and know that I need to loosen up and just proceed with each day as it unfolds.  That sounds so sensible and yet something that I am not able to yield to just yet.  I like to get up at a certain time each day.  I move slowly and get myself organized in order to make the most of each day.  The past two weeks have been predictable in that I knew I was unpacking 18 years of my life and needing to find out where the various aspects of my daily life would end up.  With new cupboards, closets and an assortment of drawers, none of which matched in terms of size to my old flat, I had to reposition everything including my thinking process so that I would remember where I had put much loved tea mugs, books that I needed to have near me in order to feel comfortable and my odd assortment of CD's so that I could calm myself and Molly Cat with familiar music.  As uncomfortable and upset as I was, poor little Molly Cat was even more so.  My little feline companion was adamant that she was not going to leave the old flat and climbed to the upper kitchen cabinets sobbing and meowing her distress.  My friends who had come over to help me move were caught up in the drama and I could see the concern in their eyes as they watched a little tuxedo cat and her owner become unglued.  This was not the happy move that I had envisioned and I felt horrible for uprooting Molly from life as she knew it.  Eventually, the wailing kitty was persuaded to crawl into her carrying case and made the move down two floors into a new foreign flat that smelled of fresh paint, new carpet and all other scents unfamiliar.  How strange, we find these scents appealing in a new home, but in reality, it is familiar scents of lavender, chamomile and citrus that would make Molly and I feel that we would be able to live in this unfamiliar place.  And so, in order to make the flat familiar in some way, I set about washing the counter tops, setting out candles and hanging a few little bags of lavender to scent the air with familiar fragrances to calm both Molly and me.

Molly and I have been in our new flat for two weeks now.  The closing on the sale of the flat came through sooner than we had originally planned and allowed us more time to pull the last of our belongings down to what is becoming home for us.  We are becoming used to the sounds in the new hallway and I am hoping that maybe this will be the week that I start hitting the correct floor button in the lift and head to the correct door once I walk out into the corridor.  I have tried to keep life as normal as possible and it has been just these past few days that Molly has started eating with her usual vigour.  The various rooms are being put in order and the pile of boxes is diminishing.  My studio is a mess and likely will not be put to rights for another week or so.  I have learned that it is better to take my time and do a bit, rest some and then resume putting life in order.  Better to take a little longer and be comfortable with the changes than to rush into the chaos and make life even more frenzied than it has been.

A friend who was over helping prior to the main moving day told me that experts suggest that we should go through a "move" every seven years or so.  While you might not actually change your residence with such regularity, you should reassess what you have in terms of belongings, edit them as you would if you were actually moving to a new place and eliminate what you do not need.  That sounds terribly sensible and I know that I will not be following this piece of advice.  I find comfort in seeing old tea mugs and remembering how I came to own them.  As I place some well used books back in the same bookcase I have had for over twenty-five years, I glance through them and smile at notes that fall from between some pages.  I have brought a lot of my old life with me to this new place.  Memories of what has been are mixed with nervous anticipation at what life will be over the next eighteen years or so.  It has been that long since I last moved and so much happened in that period of my life that I have to wonder how much change I will go through in the years to come.  The journey continues and the only thing that I can assure you of is that I plan to make the most of it.  Every journey takes energy and commitment, a determination that one will move forward and learn something new each day.  I look at where I have been in my life and see that I am not the person I was eighteen years ago, ten years ago or even three years ago.  Change has been a constant throughout the years and I expect that it always will be.  I think that is what my journey is all about in many ways.  Change is what keeps the journey fresh, keeps me looking forward to things that I once thought were never possible.  I once thought that my journey was not one related to art, but I now realize that for a while, the journey was leading me to an artistic life and that now the journey is all about life being artistic.  I might hit a few bumps in the road, even some detours, but I know without a doubt, that art is an important and necessary part of my life.  I have met so many wonderful people along the way, been able to participate in artistic ventures that had not even been dreams not so long ago and learned to incorporate art into my life every day .  The journey continues and while I might not move along as quickly as I might like to, the journey teaches me so much that I do not mind taking a little longer to get from one place to another.  That realization itself is worth taking a little extra time to think about and celebrate.



I am going to try to stay on my posting schedule of Sundays and Thursdays, but I hope you will be patient with me if I stray every so often.  The move took a lot out of me physically and mentally, more than I thought it would.  I really want to get the flat organized and desperately want to get my studio up and running.  I have put up a few pictures of the mess that will be conquered and turn into Chez Rutheemac.  Pictures need to go up on the walls and drapes on the windows would be a nice touch.  Right now, the only room with window coverings is the bedroom.  Needless to say, I am careful not to walk around in my scimpies!  Here is to a productive week of putting my life back on track and finding a quiet spot for some artistic pursuits.