Why You Need to Declutter Your Life


Clutter is such a fascinating word. Its both the individual pieces and the state of all those pieces put together. It’s an active verb. It’s a state of being. It’s a process.

Almost every self-help decluttering guide focuses on the central theme of feeling overwhelmed by stuff. You are literally tripping over things and it gets in the way of your life. My personal (and continuing) journey to decluttering started with similar frustration.

Continue reading


5 Plants to Propogate as Gifts

Bamboo leaves

I love giving plants as gifts, even when they are misguided. One summer, I had two friends who were both pregnant with similar due dates. The first, Meg, was a free spirit. She had a soft, cozy home and we often talked about our furniture restoration projects. The one, Jess, was a settled-in city girl. She stored clothes in her oven because she didn’t like to cook and enjoyed traveling.

Continue reading

3 Easy Indoor Plants to Clean Your Air

Peace Lily Plant


While I like my jade plants and lucky bamboo (which is not actually air-cleaning bamboo), they don’t actually do much for air quality. Over the years, I’ve acquired a mixture of pretty and practical plants that create a happy, healthy addition to my environment.

If you are hoping to improve the air quality in your home, using easy plants, consider bringing in one of the following flora.

English Ivy

View this post on Instagram

Bathrooms and houseplants can be a tricky combination; often the natural light is limited, there’s a lot of humidity (which cacti can react badly to) and the plants can get very cold at night. Below are some suggestions for common combinations: • bright, humid, warm at night: palms, rhipsalis, ficus, pileas, maranta, other tropicals. • bright, dry, cold at night: clivia, aspidistra, English ivy, cacti and other succulents. • low light, humid, warm: ferns, philodendron, rhipsalis • low light, dry, cold: spider plant, snake plant, aspidistra • medium light, humid, cold: clivia, ZZ plant, and if you can find them, Tasmanian or New Zealand ferns • no light: save your ££ and buy an @earlofeastlondon candle 😉 – Img via @pinterest #bathroomgoals #tropicalplants #houseplants #bathroomplants #houseofplants #fern #bostonfern #englishivy

A post shared by Ro Co 〰️ Green Interiors (@studio.roco) on

Care Level: English Ivy is like a celebrity with one of the easier riders. No picking red M&Ms out of its candy dish but, it still needs a special spot.

How it Cleans: It’s known to help clean airborne toxins from homes including, benzene, formaldehyde, xylene and toluene. Also, it may reduce mold in your house.

One of my earliest horticultural experiences was with an English ivy plant. I actually propagated it from one of my grandmother’s plants without much work. I was 14 and my bedroom was in a mostly underground basement. I had one small window above eye level and the plant thrived there.

The fun of English Ivy is the crazy growth. You forget about it, watering it enough to keep the soil constantly damp. You have creeping vines around your room within a few months.

Peace Lily

Care Level: It’s the rising Phoenix of flowers.

How it Cleans: It reportedly filters out benzene, formaldehyde, trychloroethelene, xylene, toluene and ammonia.

I’ve practically let my peace lily die and it always comes back. Granted, I’ve never had it bloom (nor have I tried to coax it). However, this plant just needs a little water to perk back up.

My peace lily is about a year old. As a last-minute gift from my husband, he had no clue what he was picking up. I think it was just on a display of “air cleaning” plants and he knew that was my jam.

Luckily, he picked out a very photogenic addition to my indoor garden (pictured above).

Snake Plant

Care Level: Easier than a cactus.

How it Cleans: It reportedly filters out benzene, formaldehyde, trychloroethelene, xylene and toluene.

You can over-water a cactus without much effort. Snake plants can live through extremes on both the dry and moist ends of black thumbs. While they prefer moist, well-draining dirt, they can handle some variety.

I started with one small plant 10 years ago and now, I have 3 with me and two given away. They grow tall and often sprout new sections.

I find that in temperate climates, they can even last outdoors on a porch in the spring and fall.

Indoor Plants to Clean Your Air

Slowly adding indoor plants to clean your air can improve the happiness and health of your home. In the most practical sense, adding them one-by-one is easier than committing to several at once.

When you find a plant that suits your style, you can buy more or propagate them to add to your routine. Then, you won’t feel overwhelmed.

My Top Tip? Keep plants clustered to remind you that they all need to be watered.

What about you? 

Tell me about your favorite houseplants. Tag me on Insta or let me know about your plant lady adventures in the comments below.

5 Lesser-Known Fairytales for Creative Minds

Juniper TreeI read fairy tales to push my creativity into overdrive. Most of them are oddly written, with themes we usually don’t explore in modern times.

Unlike the sanitized, Disney interpretations, they are dark and deep. Power, corruption and conventions are major themes throughout most of the tales.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, consider reading one of the obscure fairy tales below.

The Goose Girl by The Brothers Grimm

Read Now

As a child, I was fascinated by the problem posed in this story. The main character, a princess, loses everything because she refuses to break her promise.

This story is one that is hard to understand unless you think about the lesson it was trying to teach. The titular girl’s character is what saves her.

She is too good.

And that always fascinated me. Also, she has a talking horse.


Then with many harsh words the chambermaid ordered the princess to take off her own royal clothing and put on the chambermaid’s shabby clothes. And in the end the princess had to swear under the open heaven that she would not say one word of this to anyone at the royal court. If she had not taken this oath, she would have been killed on the spot. Falada saw everything, and remembered it well.

Blue Beard by Charles Perrault

Read Now

The more tales you read, the more you’ll realize that many stories were meant to prepare children for adult life. Thus, themes about young women adapting to forced marriages frequently present in stories. From Beauty and the Beast to Little Red Riding Hood, beastly males dominate young women’s lives.

Blue Beard follows this trend with a twist.


Neither of them would have him, and they sent him backwards and forwards from one to the other, not being able to bear the thoughts of marrying a man who had a blue beard. Adding to their disgust and aversion was the fact that he already had been married to several wives, and nobody knew what had become of them.

Mother Holle by The Brothers Grimm

Read Now

Serena of Gossip Girl may have been the “golden girl” but, the original lives in this story. Two step sisters are contrasted for the content of their character by Mother Holle. Unlike other witchy figures, Mother Holle is both fair and benevolent.

Interestingly, the girls are sucked into her world. Usually, fairy tales feature magical beings that jump into our universe.


The girl went back to the well not knowing what to do, and at last in her distress she jumped into the water after the spindle.

She remembered nothing more until she awoke and found herself in a beautiful meadow, full of sunshine, and with countless flowers blooming in every direction.


The Magic Fishbone by Charles Dickens

Read Now

Perhaps the most nonsensical story on this list, it will remind you of listening to a tale from a child. That is perhaps the best part of this writing. It captures the mind of a young person in a way that few adults can replicate.

It’s supposedly told by a child. So, the story follows a random and senseless narrative. This makes the moral even sweeter at the end.


The King was beginning, “Might I ask the reason—?” when the Fairy became absolutely furious.

“Will you be good, sir?” she exclaimed, stamping her foot on the ground. “The reason for this, and the reason for that, indeed! You are always wanting the reason. No reason. There! Hoity toity me! I am sick of your grown-up reasons.”

The Six Swans by The Brother’s Grimm

Read Now

Although the better known fairy tales feature men saving women, this story’s protagonist is a diligent sister. She saves her brothers, and the whole kingdom with her patience.

Intriguing power dynamics play a role in the making and unmaking of the core curse. At the time, women wielded strength through marriage and children. This story focuses on the use and abuse of that privilege.


The King in his anguish of mind consented, and the old woman led him to her little house where her daughter was sitting by the fire. She received the King as if she were expecting him, and he saw that she was certainly very beautiful; but she did not please him, and he could not look at her without a secret feeling of horror. As soon as he had lifted the maiden on to his horse the old woman showed him the way, and the King reached his palace, where the wedding was celebrated.

What Are Your Favorites?

I’d love to hear about your favorite tales and fables. Let me know what stories you love to read.


5 Poets for People Who Don’t Like Poetry

White flowers bush

Soul, WhitmanYou say you don’t like poetry but, don’t read poems. Consider this list a tasting.

I can appreciate the struggle to enjoy poetry. So many old tomes are long, with forced rhythms and rhymes. And then, current spoken word pieces can be overwhelming to decrypt.

But, I love poetry.

In fact, I prefer to sit and read a single poem from a selection of poems on a Sunday afternoon. Often, it’s aloud and a point of discussion.

Each of these poets are readable, enjoyable and overall, a pleasure to experience.

1.Edward Lear

Read Now

This is the limerick guy. He’s snotty and it’s delightful. Also, he drew creepy cartoons to go along with his poems.

Look for an illustrated volume for the complete experience.


There was an Old Man in a tree,
Who was horribly bored by a Bee;
When they said, ‘Does it buzz?’
He replied, ‘Yes, it does!’
‘It’s a regular brute of a Bee!’

2. Maya Angelou

Read Now

Possibly the best known to modern readers, Angelou had a wonderful presence. Her work is quite popular, and become very pinnable, because her words are succinct.

Her thoughts are communal without becoming commonplace.


I will remember silent walks in
Southern woods and long talks
In low voices
Shielding meaning from the big ears
Of overcurious adults.

3. Pablo Neruda

Read Now

Although his quotes about love have become the most popular, Neruda pontificated on a variety of topics. He has a subtle humor that most readers will appreciate.

It breaks up the earnestness of his writing.


Fleas interest me so much
that I let them bite me for hours.
They are perfect, ancient, Sanskrit,
machines that admit of no appeal.

4. Sylvia Plath

Read Now

Although she is better known for her fictional near-memoir, The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath’s poetry continues to resonate.

They’re mostly confessions.

Yet, they’ve become a rallying cry for many.


The nights snapped out of sight like a lizard’s eyelid :
A world of bald white days in a shadeless socket.

5. C.S. Lewis

Read Now

Before he wrote popular children’s fiction or theology musings, Lewis put together youthful, angry words. He had recently returned from the war.

And he had a lot to say about it.


What call have I to dream of anything?
I am a wolf. Back to the world again,
And speech of fellow-brutes that once were men
Our throats can bark for slaughter: cannot sing.

Tell Me Your Thoughts

Reading poetry is a pleasant way to absorb new thoughts and discover fresh voices. If you liked this list then, you might enjoy reading some new works like 15 Poets You Need to Be Reading in 2018.

Check out some rhymes and tell me what you think.




5 Quick Weekend Reads


Smart, Hannibal

Oh, the luxury of weekend reading! It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?

We get to curl up somewhere, maybe even between errands and projects, to feast our eyes upon the written word.

As someone who believes it is acceptable to cancel plans over a good book, I have put together five recommendations to renew your creative energy for the upcoming week.

1. Everything You Need to Know About Writing Successfully – in Ten Minutes by Stephen King

Read Now

Everyone writes these kinds of lists now as clickbait but, this one is actually worth your time. King doesn’t throw together fluffy advice to hit a SEO-induced word count. He wrote something real and helpful from his experience with writing failure, and ultimate success.

Why read it?

He writes like he is talking. So, it feels like a conversation with a brilliant friend.


All of what follows has been said before. If you are interested enough in writing to be a purchaser of this magazine, you will have either heard or read all (or almost all) of it before. Thousands of writing courses are taught across the United States each year; seminars are convened; guest lecturers talk, then answer questions, then drink as many gin and tonics as their expense-fees will allow, and it all boils down to what follows.

2. I Didn’t Laugh For a Long Time by Hayley Williams

Read Now

This is one of many discussions about artists and their struggle with mental health. You should read it anyway.

Inside, Hayley Williams describes a state of struggle that she doesn’t want someone to diagnose. Most creative people can relate.


We wrote and wrote and I never liked what I put to the music Taylor sent me. His stuff sounded inspired. My parts sounded, to me, like someone dead in the eyes. I didn’t know the person behind those words. Probably because I never before allowed her to come out and say how she really felt. I never cared to get to know her.

3.  The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr.

Read Now

This one is for a long weekend. Or you can translate “read” to mean “skim.” I love this book and recommend it constantly. It’s not just helpful for writers.

The book can help anyone who wishes to express themselves better.


It is an old observation that the best writers sometimes disregard the rules of rhetoric. When they do so, however, the reader will usually find in the sentence some compensating merit, attained at the cost of the violation. Unless he is certain of doing as well, he will probably do best to follow the rules. After he has learned, by their guidance, to write plain English adequate for everyday uses, let him look, for the secrets of style, to the study of the masters of literature.

4. Hey, Computer Scientists! Stop Hating on the Humanities by Emma Pierson

Read Now

If it’s not obvious from the title, Pierson makes the argument that numbers aren’t enough to make a good decision. Since the Op Ed was published in 2017, we’ve seen even more examples of how the ability to code something doesn’t necessarily mean you possess good judgment.

Essentially, she points out the Frankenstein-like approach that American engineers seem to be taking to invention. Don’t ask whether you should create something. Just make it.

It’s a fair question because other fields of science, like medicine, require an exploration of ethics.


I’ve watched brilliant computer scientists display such woeful ignorance of the populations they were studying that I laughed in their faces. I’ve watched military scientists present their lethal innovations with childlike enthusiasm while making no mention of whom the weapons are being used on. There are few things scarier than a scientist who can give an academic talk on how to shoot a human being but can’t reason about whether you should be shooting them at all.

5. Rescue the arts from the budget chopping block by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton

Read Now

The prolific Julie Andrews and her daughters discuss how the arts can improve learning in all fields of study.

We need it.

We just don’t want to pay for it.

They break that arguement down to show why the arts should be a priority in our culture, especially in education.


There was the student who sat silently at the back of a playwriting class for the better part of the semester, ski hat pulled low over his forehead, arms folded defiantly across his chest. Who would have thought he would ultimately write an award-winning political satire that was selected for production, and go on to start a student-written and edited section of his local newspaper, before attending journalism school?

What Are You Reading?

I’d love to hear about what you’re reading right now. Is it long or short? Tell me more about it and don’t forget to talk to me on Facebook or Instagram.






10 Quick Reads for a Rainy Day

Rainy window

Autumn. It’s the time when we suddenly curl up with cups of tea and short stories. Saturdays beg for quiet comforts like imaginative musings.

Although they aren’t as commercial as novels, short stories remain my favorite form of fiction. Most can be absorbed in less than an hour.

Also, the brevity forces the writer to condense the very best thoughts into a dense tale.

My Top Reads for a Rainy Day

On any dark day, I would curl up to re-read all of the these tales.

Smart hannibal2

Each one is notorious, surprising and thought-proving. They provide something to talk about over dinner or inspire your next project.

1. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Read it here

One of the darkest stories in this list, and a notable example of early feminist literature, the story builds symbolism around the sick room of the unnamed narrator. A modern reader will feel conflicted about her situation as she is held against her will to recover from her recent pregnancy.

It’s not a thriller. And it doesn’t need to be.

There is no real twist. Just a horrifying journey of an unwell mind (or perhaps a mind that has been made unwell.)

Excerpt from The Yellow Wallpaper:

If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency—what is one to do?

My brother is also a physician, and also of high standing, and he says the same thing.

So I take phosphates or phosphites—whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again.

Personally, I disagree with their ideas.

Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good.

But what is one to do?


2. The Red-Headed League by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Read it here or Listen on Spotify

If I were asked to choose a single adventure of the prolific detective Sherlock Holmes, I would select The Red-Headed League. It may not be the top literary choice, or even the most popular. But, it has everything you want in one of Doyle’s stories.

The beginning is light-hearted. The middle showcases Holmes’ deductive process. The end delivers a worthy enemy and memorable action.

Also, it holds some of the most quoted snips like “three-pipe problem” and

Excerpt from The Red-Headed League:

“How, in the name of good-fortune, did you know all that, Mr. Holmes?” he asked. “How did you know, for example, that I did manual labour. It’s as true as gospel, for I began as a ship’s carpenter.”

“Your hands, my dear sir. Your right hand is quite a size larger than your left. You have worked with it, and the muscles are more developed.”

“Well, the snuff, then, and the Freemasonry?”

“I won’t insult your intelligence by telling you how I read that, especially as, rather against the strict rules of your order, you use an arc-and-compass breastpin.”

“Ah, of course, I forgot that. But the writing?”

“What else can be indicated by that right cuff so very shiny for five inches, and the left one with the smooth patch near the elbow where you rest it upon the desk?”

“Well, but China?”

“The fish that you have tattooed immediately above your right wrist could only have been done in China. I have made a small study of tattoo marks and have even contributed to the literature of the subject. That trick of staining the fishes’ scales of a delicate pink is quite peculiar to China. When, in addition, I see a Chinese coin hanging from your watch-chain, the matter becomes even more simple.”

Mr. Jabez Wilson laughed heavily. “Well, I never!” said he. “I thought at first that you had done something clever, but I see that there was nothing in it after all.”

“I begin to think, Watson,” said Holmes, “that I make a mistake in explaining. ‘Omne ignotum pro magnifico,’ you know, and my poor little reputation, such as it is, will suffer shipwreck if I am so candid.”

3. Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Read it here

If ever there were a short story to reflect the gender tensions of modern American society, it’s Metamorphosis. Kafka himself struggled with ill-health and that challenge his masculine identity overshadows this surreal vision.

Within the first few paragraphs, you will question what you are reading and why you should continue.


His stories mean more when you finish them and absorb the entire story like an impressionist painting at a distance.

Excerpt from Metamorphosis:

Gregor hardly slept at all, either night or day. Sometimes he would think of taking over the family’s affairs, just like before, the next time the door was opened; he had long forgotten about his boss and the chief clerk, but they would appear again in his thoughts, the salesmen and the apprentices, that stupid teaboy, two or three friends from other businesses, one of the chambermaids from a provincial hotel, a tender memory that appeared and disappeared again, a cashier from a hat shop for whom his attention had been serious but too slow, – all of them appeared to him, mixed together with strangers and others he had forgotten, but instead of helping him and his family they were all of them inaccessible, and he was glad when they disappeared. Other times he was not at all in the mood to look after his family, he was filled with simple rage about the lack of attention he was shown, and although he could think of nothing he would have wanted, he made plans of how he could get into the pantry where he could take all the things he was entitled to, even if he was not hungry.

4. Desiree’s Baby by Kate Chopin

Read it here

A reminder of how far we have not yet come, this story dwells on the concept of race. The titular character, Desiree, is an orphan who is suspected to possibly have black ancestry. It isn’t much discussed during her life.

After she marries, her dark-skinned baby causes her husband to leave her.

That conflict, and its social implications, will leave you considering the weaker arguments of white nationalism.

Excerpt from Desiree’s Baby:

It was no wonder, when she stood one day against the stone pillar in whose shadow she had lain asleep, eighteen years before, that Armand Aubigny riding by and seeing her there, had fallen in love with her. That was the way all the Aubignys fell in love, as if struck by a pistol shot. The wonder was that he had not loved her before; for he had known her since his father brought him home from Paris, a boy of eight, after his mother died there. The passion that awoke in him that day, when he saw her at the gate, swept along like an avalanche, or like a prairie fire, or like anything that drives headlong over all obstacles.

5. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge by Ambrose Bierce

Read it here

You don’t need to be a Civil War wonk to enjoy this tale from Ambrose Bierce. Immediately, you can see how the narrative influences modern storytelling with a non-linear plot and twist ending.

And if you don’t read it, Kurt Vonnegut thinks you’re a twerp.

Excerpt from An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge:

The man who was engaged in being hanged was apparently about thirty-five years of age. He was a civilian, if one might judge from his habit, which was that of a planter. His features were good—a straight nose, firm mouth, broad forehead, from which his long, dark hair was combed straight back, falling behind his ears to the collar of his well fitting frock coat. He wore a moustache and pointed beard, but no whiskers; his eyes were large and dark gray, and had a kindly expression which one would hardly have expected in one whose neck was in the hemp. Evidently this was no vulgar assassin. The liberal military code makes provision for hanging many kinds of persons, and gentlemen are not excluded.

6. Fundevogel by The Brothers Grimm

Read it here

Based on an interesting plot known as a “Transformation Chase,” this fairytale details love between adopted siblings. You’ll find yourself reviewing and trying to decode the symbolism.

Reading this tale puts other Grimm stories in an interesting context.

Excerpt from Fundevogel:

Then Lina said to Fundevogel: ‘If you will never leave me, I too will never leave you.’ Fundevogel said: ‘Neither now, nor ever will I leave you.’

7. Thank You, Ma’am by Langston Hughes

Read it here

The mercy of strangers is a rarity in our society. More so, a societal responsibility to raise our youth as a village has altogether disappeared.

This story reminds me of something I’ve never really seen.

It’s a tome of morals past.

Excerpt from Thank You, Ma’am:

Sweat popped out on the boy’s face and he began to struggle. Mrs. Jones stopped, jerked him around in front of her, put a half-nelson about his neck, and continued to drag him up the street.

When she got to her door, she dragged the boy inside, down a hall, and into a large kitchenette furnished room at the rear of the house. She switched on the light and left the door open. The boy could hear other roomers laughing and talking in the large house. Some of their doors were open, too, so he knew he and the woman were not alone. The woman still had him by the neck in the middle of her room.


8. Everyday Use by Alice Walker

Read it here

A culture clash starts this story as the prodigal daughter returns home. If you have every stormed off from a people and place, only to return more “worldly-wise” this recollection will humble you.

The story is narrated in first person by the mother of two daughters. She lives with the younger and they are waiting for the eldest to return.

And when she does, the scene really begins.

Excerpt from Everyday Use:

You’ve no doubt seen those TV shows where the child who has “made it” is confronted, as a surprise, by her own mother and father, tottering in weakly from backstage. (A pleasant surprise, of course: What would they do if parent and child came on the show only to curse out and insult each other?) On TV mother and child embrace and smile into each other’s faces. Sometimes the mother and father weep, the child wraps them in her arms and leans across the table to tell how she would not have made it without their help. I have seen these programs.

9. The Gold-Bug by Edgar Allen Poe

Read it here

While Poe may be better known for his tales of angst, he actually coined many fun adventures and mysteries. This one is a treasure hunt.

The mystery includes cryptograms and secret writing, making them popular devices in modern literature.

Excerpt from The Gold-Bug:

Driving a peg, with great nicety, into the ground, at the precise spot where the beetle fell, my friend now produced from his pocket a tape measure. Fastening one end of this at that point of the trunk, of the tree which was nearest the peg, he unrolled it till it reached the peg, and thence farther unrolled it, in the direction already established by the two points of the tree and the peg, for the distance of fifty feet—Jupiter clearing away the brambles with the scythe. At the spot thus attained a second peg was driven, and about this, as a centre, a rude circle, about four feet in diameter, described. Taking now a spade himself, and giving one to Jupiter and one to me, Legrand begged us to set about digging as quickly as possible.

10. The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Read it here

In this story, the main character becomes obsessed with removing his wife’s birthmark. She is otherwise beautiful – nearly perfect.

The dynamic of their relationship, and the overblown role of a tiny flaw, mirror the dystopia that we currently experience through thoroughly modern, mind-bending management of social media personas

Excerpt from The Birth-Mark:

Had she been less beautiful,—if Envy’s self could have found aught else to sneer at,—he might have felt his affection heightened by the prettiness of this mimic hand, now vaguely portrayed, now lost, now stealing forth again and glimmering to and fro with every pulse of emotion that throbbed within her heart; but seeing her otherwise so perfect, he found this one defect grow more and more intolerable with every moment of their united lives. It was the fatal flaw of humanity which Nature, in one shape or another, stamps ineffaceably on all her productions, either to imply that they are temporary and finite, or that their perfection must be wrought by toil and pain. The crimson hand expressed the ineludible gripe in which mortality clutches the highest and purest of earthly mould, degrading them into kindred with the lowest, and even with the very brutes, like whom their visible frames return to dust. In this manner, selecting it as the symbol of his wife’s liability to sin, sorrow, decay, and death, Aylmer’s sombre imagination was not long in rendering the birthmark a frightful object, causing him more trouble and horror than ever Georgiana’s beauty, whether of soul or sense, had given him delight.

Share Your Favorites

I’d like to know your favorite short stories. Tell me which ones you most enjoyed reading, either from the above list or something that you found.

Join the conversation on my facebook page.