Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Housekeeping in the Name of Beauty


I see from a recent Dooce post that she has been springcleaning. (And I feel sorry for her, so I’m giving her some link love – she really needs it.) There has been some springcleaning going on chez Otter as well. We have disrobed the Christmas tree, prior to putting it out on the street where, for a small donation, a charity will collect it and give it a humane ending. All the Christmas decorations have been packed away in the cellar. This has inspired other housekeeping action: a severe edit of the children’s art table (I threw out two black bags full of outdated artwork), finally turning Lily’s bedroom from a room with a bed to a stunningly pretty (even if I say so myself) little girl’s room, and some tidying action on the other childrens’ bedroom.

I’m finding the newly edited spaces rather beautiful. I don’t have any real resolutions this year (except to bake bread and write more, you know, just little things), but instead have made a theme for the year. My theme is beauty. I want my eye to light on it and my heart to be warmed by it. If I have to purchase something, it must be beautiful and more importantly, be beautiful to me. For many years, I have subscribed to other people’s asethetics and I’m finally feeling grown-up enough to champion my own. From a style point of view, I think that if you love something it will work in your home. I don’t like homes that look like show houses, or as if they have been lifted straight from a decorating shop. I like houses that are lived in, friendly and welcoming, and that work for the people who live in them. So I have no style, per se, but I do have a house full of things inherited and new, and all there because I love them. If there is anything here that I don’t love or find beautiful, be sure it will move on this year.

There are still spaces that need attention – a nasty little corner in the kitchen where I file pile all the papers we should be dealing with, along with notes from the kids’ teachers, bank statements and bills, and of course THE WHOLE CELLAR. Whether we get to that or not is not yet knowable. We hope, we plan, we intend to, but it’s so large and so horrible (my mother-in-law refers to it as The Dungeon), that we may just sweep it under the carpet and not let anyone go down there in case they get lost and are only found months later having survived on dust bunnies and mouldy rainwater.

Moving on swiftly, I am busy doing some housekeeping here at Charlotte’s Web. I’ve given myself a new tagline, more in keeping with the book that inspired the name of this blog. I’ve created a reading list, more for my own purposes than anyone else’s, to keep track of what I read this year. I’ve also subscribed to Bloglines and moved my entire blogroll there. I’m already finding it amazingly useful for keeping track of what’s new, instead of clicking through my blogroll here, as I used to do in Luddite-style, to see if there are new posts. I will keep the blogroll though, but only for people who write regularly and with whom I’ve developed some kind of commenting relationship. So if you haven’t posted for two months, and don’t find yourself here, I’ve haven’t thrown you out in a fit of tidiness but moved you to my Bloglines list. Or if I read you, but we have no commenting going on (I just don’t know why Dooce doesn’t read Charlotte’s Web), I’ve moved you over.

I also would like to achieve beauty here at Charlotte’s Web. You may find I’ll be experimenting with a new look over the coming weeks. I think I’m ready for something lighter and brighter. Some colour in these grey winter days.

In a brief fit of ego-surfing, I checked on Bloglines to see how many subscribers I have (15) and how many Dooce has (4,009). Sigh. Only 3,992 subscribers to go till I’m a grown-up blogger. But I’m going to be a beautiful one, damnit.

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

16 thoughts on “Housekeeping in the Name of Beauty

  1. Welcome to bloglines! I love that place — although I’m currently flirting with Google Reader too. Regarding ego-surfing: I aspire to 15 subscribers! The last time I checked, I had three–and one of those three was myself. So give yourself a nice pat on the back!

  2. I just subscribed to you! Now you’ve got four.

  3. I can never remember if it was Ruskin or Morris who said one should never have anything in one’s house which one does not either know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

    This fails to explain the empty milk carton, the empty Christmas Pudding bowl, the used teabags, the theatre brochure, the empty emvelope, the little bottles of blowing-bubbles and the empty plastic bag on my kitchen table right now.


    Good luck with the space clearing, Charlotte. I look forward to your new looks.


  4. I like your “What I’ve read in 2007” page. I may copy that idea from you, although my page would currently contain zero books.

    By the way, my husband loves Spam (as in the “food”). He sometimes sends me out to buy it for him…

  5. Aphra, I didn’t peg you for a bubble-blower but that’s expanded my vision of you, interestingly. Useful and/or beautiful, that is the contents of my home, with messy moments and places allowed.

    Helen, I’ve never kept a list before. Then I saw one on Jade Park’s blog and decided to copy her. I went through a dreadful Spam on white bread phase in my first pregnancy. My husband – not averse to a little Spam – loved it at first, but grew heartily sick of Spam sandwiches after two weeks!

  6. I used to pore over decorating magazines and wonder why I could never get my space looking as pristine and styled — and then I realised that the pictures in the mags weren’t my idea of a beautiful home, they were someone else’s (and they probably had a stray pair of dirty knickers under the bed, too). Give me a lived in home any day over an interior decorator’s dream.

    I also like your “What I’ve read…” page — I decided to start one myself sometime during December, when I realised I couldn’t remember half of what I’d read last year.

  7. OOoh, ooooh, ooooooh! You’re one of the blogs which has the Snap doodad on its links.

    How cool is that?


  8. I love your theme for the year! Beauty is a wonderful thing to spend time and energy pursuing.

    I love Bloglines too — it’s made reading blogs SO much easier.

  9. Well done for editing your spaces. I know how difficult I find it. I have a whole cellar to edit in 2007. It just has to happen. This is the downside of a full floor of cellar rooms. I think I prefered when we lived in a flat and had only one room in the communal cellar! Ah well. Ms Aphra is right about the useful/beautiful quote. My mother always attributed it to William Morris, so I do too. What I love about the quote is the ‘believe to be beautifue’; i.e. it only matters that you like it, it might actually be really ugly to all your friends, but your own concept of beauty is what counts. Which is what you say, or? I have applied this maxim, and the one you say about, if I like it, it will work in my home, and I think it works very well. If you get pleasure from looking at a roomful of objects and fabrics you find beautiful, a few minor clashes will make it eclectic, not tasteless. I think actually these clashes are desireable, otherwise it does look like a room straight out of a magazine.

  10. Can you count me as #16 even if I do not use bloglines?

  11. Ahh, this is such an inspiring post. We too have started on a “if you don’t use it or absolutely love it, out it goes” campaign to tackle the clutter that prevents us from finding beauty in our home.

    Also loved your cooking post. All of it so, so true.

    Happy New Year!

  12. What are you talking about, bloglines? Subscribers? Snap doodad? I’m lost. Of course, I’m the one who asked azahar what the heck a widget was. I feel like I will never catch up with all this tech stuff. Oh well.

    I’m copying the what I read in 2007 idea. It will be very interesting to see what turns up there.

    I am dedicated to beauty in my home. Too bad it all has to get dusted.

  13. I don’t know about Bloglines either – where do I look for it?

    Love your theme for the year – it’s one i aspire to but it gets drowned under many strata of domestic clutter. Our tree came down today, so maybe I can declutter elsewhere too. The children’s art is the hardest to deal with – as I have piles of drawings given lovingly to me, some beautiful others less outwardly so.

  14. Kerryn, I agree, styled is so boring. Homely can be beautiful.

    AB, I’m confused about the doodad. I’m sure I don’t have such a thing …

    Dorothy, Bloglines makes it easier but SO much more addictive, I find.

    Ta very much Mandarine. Number 16 you are then.

    Emma C, I wish I could achieve a full edit, but it seems I can only make one space neat at a time. We’ll have to support each other through the cellar horror this year.

    Of course, Ms Mausi, decluttering on the basis of usefulness and/or beauty is a great process. Good luck with yours!

    Ms Magic Hands and Kit – check out I think it’s called a feed aggregator. You subscribe to your favourite blogs and it tells you when there’s a new post. Warning: dangerously addictive.

  15. Now I have to go looking for Bloglines – haven’t come across it before either.

  16. Pingback: Coming Out of Deep Lurk « Charlotte’s Web

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