Thoughts on Home Improvements
I think this has been the longest break from blogging ever for me. And after making a post about how long my blog has been active!
I didn’t mindfully take a break; it just happened. I spent March painting, installing appliances, and just overall spending every moment working on the house. Then in April relatives came to visit and family occupied a lot of my time. May has been dealing with my health. A flare-up had me feeling mostly miserable lately and trying to get into the headspace of dealing with chronic illness.
So that brings me to here. I wanted to talk about my home improvements and also the Minimalism documentary I caught earlier this month.
A few months ago I got into listening to The Minimalists podcasts. It was good timing as I was beginning my home improvements. I ended up getting tickets to a screening of their documentary which was very good as well as the Q&A afterwards.
A lot of it built off my whole Marie Kondo experience from before. Only taking it a step further. Discussing relationships. Discussing the societal influences of capitalism. And within that finding my own way for a life less complicated. I put more time into my relationships. Some of it paid off. Some of it was a disappointment (but nevertheless a lesson.) But I learned and moved on.
The home improvements were another great lesson. Doing the whole house clean-out back in September made it easier to pinpoint things I wanted changed. At first I did the usual thing of going online and comparing my home to that of specifically-designed-aesthetic-spaces… mistake. HUGE mistake.
“Comparison is the thief of joy!” I remind myself often. I thought I’d need to make big pricey changes. New cabinets, paint every room!? … but did I really need those things to be happy? And then I realized I was doing everything in my power to work against the space rather than with it. When I started appreciating the existing elements things became much easier.
I looked at inspiration that came to mind right away (magazines, sites.) I read in Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy that looking through inspiration should be done all at once en masse and across styles so you can swiftly see what you like, why you like it, and move forward. It worked really well in focusing my decisions. I found 1 major reference I referred to throughout the process.
This came from the first issue of Lee I ever picked up. I remember seeing these pictures and something just clicking for me. I realized the kitchen was dark like mine. My kitchen isn’t near any windows so there are shadows and what I liked about this kitchen was how the lighting worked with that fact. I liked the clean utilitarian surfaces. The magnetic knife strip especially. And just overall how simple, useful, and easy it seemed. It wasn’t trying too hard. It didn’t seem preoccupied with perfection. I didn’t need all new kitchen cabinets. I needed better lighting, more space over the stove, and my favorites at an arm’s length.
After all was said and done I ended up removing the above stove range and replacing it with a more powerful, quieter, ventilated hood that had two super bright LED lights. I ditched the wood block for a magnetic knife strip which made space for my 2 most used cooking pots. I added a few large counter-wide chopping boards that tied in the cabinets natural wood texture. I also put up a backsplash using adhesive glass tiles. No grout necessary! And they don’t budge trust me. We replaced the leaky faucet with one that’s also a spray hose. Beyond the kitchen we upgraded our TV, repainted the home office, hung new light fixtures and art work all over the house, took the guitars off their stands and hung them up, built a new TV cabinet, and took a lot of things to the recycling center. A LOT. And when I was done I came in way under budget.
I wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without the whole Konmari part earlier in the year. If I had clutter everywhere I wouldn’t have even considered new light fixtures. I would have felt “what’s the point, the place is still a mess.” Now I can do these upgrades and really feel they were worth the time and effort.
Last month marked the 13 year anniversary of sushi-cat.net. A domain name I created my freshmen year of college as a sushi-newcomer and a lover of cats. Honestly I mostly only eat crustacean type sushi and I’m now pretty allergic to cats (but I still love em.) A lot of people have asked how I’ve managed to keep my blog for so long and I struggle to find a singular reason. It’s been a combination of laziness, familiarity, and scraping together a bit of cash flow to keep it up and running. Mainly it’s just something I do. It’s mine; my space. And I want it in my life.
When I first started out I had previously had blogs on free hosting sites and affiliates. The blog community was really homegrown back in the day. You made friends and often they’d introduce you to someone who happened to own site space and you piggy-backed off them. Awesome people really! Who would even do that these days?
Then you had THE BLOG QUIZZES. Oh those were the rage long before Facebook. I had created quite a number of my own and the challenge was to find image hosting that allowed hotlinking! Because bandwidth was a serious matter back then. You couldn’t just host linked images on your site or else your account would be locked for “Excessive Bandwidth” violations! A blogger’s nightmare!
The quizzes led a lot of people to my blog. And soon after I had gotten into Japanese fashion and was importing magazines (for a pretty penny) and scanning them to share. I eventually created a “CUTiE” sub-domain with a mailing list of over 3,000 subscribers. How I managed to accumulate that many people I’ll never know, but it was during the days the LiveJournal FRUiTS community was red hot and I was working with friends on things like an online crafts store called “Luff Puff” (shoutout to Em!!) to bring in some extra money during college. This was all before social media and I think Etsy was just starting up. Basically if you wanted to sell anything online you either had to create the store yourself or use eBay.
Those days were fun especially as a web developer. I’d churn out a new layout about every 2 weeks. Everyone did! New layouts were the expectation and to have the same one for over a few weeks typically meant you didn’t care about your site.
Past layouts by date!
The oldest layouts. There were too many of these to even display them all. I had to grab these off archive.org. Back when many (2003-2007) people still had 56k (or DSL if you were rich) so everything was tiny. The photos, the text, the text area, the skill (LOL.)
Honestly I still love this header. LOVE IT. The 6 different fonts on the page though… no thanks.
This was my honeymoon layout when I eloped after realizing planning a traditional wedding was bumming me out every day of the week.
Made this during the days zozopeople blog community was peaking. I miss those days. Those blogs were so inspiring and were what inspired me to get an Olympus Pen camera.
Now when I update my blog it’s typically more behind the scenes and during the summer. There’s something about coding all night during summer with the windows open that just hits a soft spot in me. I don’t give a lot of time to my site these days. For one, working on sites all day for work leaves little desire to do it for “fun” all the time. Another reason is social media. I update those so often that my blog is more for documenting purposes rather than simple sharing like in the past.
Blogging and Privacy
When you have a blog for so long you’re going to end up dealing with the overall transparency it eventually creates. These days “Blogger” is a profession and so telling friends and family of your blog is an easy choice. But years ago you’d
1) have to explain what a blog is and
2) ensure your mother that no you were not giving out your address to murderers.
Over the years friends and family and coworkers have found this blog. Some choose to let me know in a positive way. Others chose to use it against me as an emotional weapon. And then there’s the ones who simply kept it to themselves. I prefer the last group. Because if I did not tell you about my blog I probably had a good reason or didn’t feel it was important and wanted to share my life through a different means.
This has led me down a road of waxing and waning when it comes to what I want to share on this blog. There are times I want to share very personal struggles in the hope that maybe it could help at least 1 other person. But there is the reality that these are struggles I may not want to have brought up to me by the people in my daily life who may read it as well. Not to mention the times I’ve been recognized from my blog. While extremely flattering and sweet, I’m not one looking for attention. I’m very introvert and people stopping me while I’m at the grocery store, clothes shopping, or dining out was always very startling. So when people comment for more outfit posts, selfies, etc. it’s only because I’ve chosen to try and be a bit more private over the years.
I’ve also been asked why I leave up my archives and don’t delete them even though I had changed so much! I’ll admit many of those posts are cringe-worthy, but they were who I was. And while I have grown, I don’t want to forget those things either. I’m not the type to “erase the past.” I want to grow and learn from it (while trying not to re-live it.) And really, deleting the archives would make me feel I was taking myself much too seriously! :)
That’s where I am today. Somewhere between serious and trivial.