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Monday, July 31, 2006

Choosing Craft Over Cleaning: Projecting the Domestic Fantasy

Craft a.k.a Crap Pile
Originally uploaded by Green Kitchen.
Edit: I've fixed the link problems in this post. Sorry.

Tonight I found Scratch Craft through Heather at Making Time. Heather wrote an interesting post, Craft Blog as Domestic Fantasy, that referred to Scratch's love-hate relationship with the crafty bloggers. In response to Scratch's Bad Mood I thought I'd resurrect this photo that I had posted on Flickr, but had never posted on my blog. Scratch is wondering how the stay-at-home craft bloggers have time for "the kid, the crafts, the site, and then at some point a husband...." I think this photo answers most of her question. A whole lot of neglect happens so that I can craft and blog about it. But it's all in the name of keeping the mama sane, so it's OK, right?

Heather's post makes me wonder if my blog only reflects a domestic fantasy? Probably, but, from the looks of this photo of our living room, it beats the alternative don'cha think? I'm actually a rather grubby kinda gal. I don't know why I make pretty things and take pretty photos of them. Hopefully I'll balance all that frou-frou stuff with some real world crap, especially since I was originally inspired to do this whole blog thing by one crafty mum's honesty.

The craft blog world opened up to me when I happened upon Kathreen's now-defunct blog while looking for a kid pants tutorial. I was captivated with her life because it was just like mine, but she'd been doing the kid thing awhile longer. This post describes how she let her kids watch videos and only cleaned twenty minutes a day in order to do some crafty/self-indulgent things. I read this at a time when I was a newish, first-time parent and was going out of my fucking mind staying at home. I was lonely and feeling guilty for letting my son watch Baby Einstein videos. Kathreen's admissions gave me the OK to do something for myself. She was also the portal to all you amazing crafty gals. Thanks Kathreen, you literally saved my sanity.

As far as the fantasy thing goes, I suspect my sold-my-soul-to-the-devil advertising/graphic design background has permanently affected the choices I make, especially in photos. I'm afraid my blog might look a bit fancier-than-thou. But, let me tell you a little secret—if you look a little closer you'll notice I only take photos in a couple of spots of our home because the rest is much less glamorous, hence the Crap Pile photo. You could call our decor preschool chic with a hint of packratism. In the past I've wanted to add photos to Amanda's Corners of My Home group, but all of our corners are filled with the clutter of a three-generation household.

In my real world I'm a funky, infrequent bather who let's my child watch too many videos and (gasp) TV [insert guilt here]. I don't have cute clothes or read books, except to my kids. I only cook dinner a few times a week. The pile of dirty clothes in our closet is, on average, about three cubic feet. There's an equal amount of clean clothes piled in our bedroom. I don't exercise. I don't travel. I don't edit my posts much. We live with my mom in the house I grew up in. Most of these things help me have the time to craft — all are choices I willingly make. Crafting fits into my life because I can sneak it into the million tiny moments a mom has. I can crochet standing in a parking lot while rocking a baby in a sling with another kid asleep in a car seat. I can multi-talk like nobody's business. I used to fill my life with school, career, costume/dinner parties, travel, gardening, and slow food-style cooking. I liked my life then, I like my life now—neither is better.


Blogger Samantha said...

Your honesty is touching - and so true.

You (well I can't) do it all. But seiwng really does keep me sane - plus it's a whole lot healthier (and cheaper) than booze and alcohol.

Plus it also shows my boys that I am a person in my own right and as such deserve some me time!

Mon Jul 31, 06:26:00 AM PDT  
Blogger mimulus said...

man you said michelle, I would much rahter live in a messy house with happy me and happy family, then in superclean stepford wife way.

I do try to keep food in the fridge, enough TP around, clean sheets on the bed and a modicum of order for my own sanity, but I've been looking at the same fingerprints on the door for months..and the dustbunnies under the furniture are morphing in to woodchucks. maybe I should eventually clean those.

Mon Jul 31, 07:02:00 AM PDT  
Blogger capello said...

I've always wondered if everyone is as put "together" as they appear on their blogs. I, most certainly, am not as put together as I would like.

Right now I'm looking at my pile of magazines and newspapers that are about to topple over. My husband has three piles of mail on the kitchen counter mixed in with four different kinds of cords. My entry room has been a constructions zone for over a year. And don't even get me started on how disgusting our bedroom and basement is. Urgh.

But you know what? My kids are happy (even though the tv is almost always on), my husband is happy and I'm happy. So I guess that's all that counts.

Mon Jul 31, 07:18:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Robyn said...

Thank you for your candor. I know what you mean about keeping your sanity. Besides being a mother and wife, when I craft, I feel that I have purpose, that I am accomplishing something.

Mon Jul 31, 07:19:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Shannon said...

It's so hard to keep up with keeping a house clean with small children. If crafting takes priority over folded laundry, that's okay.

Mon Jul 31, 07:36:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous melanie said...

I also wanted to say thank-you for your honestly. Not that I actually think that everyone with the crafty blogs and small children have perfect homes and lives (in fact, I rarely think about it because I read for the craftiness content) but it is nice to know that not everyone feels the need to have their home look like something out of Better Homes and Gardens. My husband and I both work from home (for now) and live in a small apartment so it gets MESSY with a capital M. My one friend said it looks "academic" which was her way of being kind because her home would never have the piles of papers, magazine, torn-apart computers and piles of fabric hanging around (not to mention dustbunnies and dirty plates) - and we don't even have children yet! But reading the crafty blogs makes me realize that once we do have children it will be okay for them to live in a not-so-perfect home with a Mum & Dad who aren't super tidy but have lots of interests and would rather spend time with each other and with them than worry about cleaning.

Mon Jul 31, 08:25:00 AM PDT  
Blogger stephanie s said...

oh. thank. god.

Mon Jul 31, 09:39:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Dawbis said...

all the while i'm thinking, "god i wish my home looked like that!" heheh.

i love how true and honest this post is. i find it hard to share the details of my life sometimes. you never know who's reading. plus, in real life, it's quite calm and boring here. who wants to hear about that? hehe.

Mon Jul 31, 09:48:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Rosa said...

Crafting is sanity. I save money on therapist by buying bargain-bin fabric and notions. I created a crafting corner/playroom in the attic, so that I can keep a parental eye on my children while I craft and they play or watch TV. I could be doing so much worse than spending time creating things for myself and the kids. Thanks for validating my daily life.

Mon Jul 31, 11:55:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous melissa f. said...

nicely written. especially the end bit-- i think there is a lot of honesty in most craft/mama blogs... but i think it's often overlooked or mistaken for sarcasm or whatever. when somebody says "oh and we just had the longest day ever", or "i wish i wasn't faced with two weeks worth of laundry" i think you can take that at face value... you know, because we all have messy bits and different circumstances that enable us to live and do and then write...

so. thank you again. and a package for you has been brewing in my mind for some time, i'm just looking for the right things to put it all together. you know-- because i'm habitually running behind. and you can take that however you like :)

Mon Jul 31, 12:12:00 PM PDT  
Blogger molly said...

love it. some neglect definitely happens around here when I have a need to detox and your honesty. (and I think my heap of laundry is bigger than yours!)

Mon Jul 31, 12:45:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Nicole said...

I enjoy your blog, and your moxie!

Mon Jul 31, 02:48:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Ruth Singer said...

god, I live in total fabric chaos and have no kids to blame for any of the mess! It's quite normal to want to show off the nice things in life, and who is going to post pictures of their dirty carpet?! I edit my life (in blog) enormously, mainly because I know employers and potential customers read it and I don't want to appear too... well... chaotic really.

Mon Jul 31, 03:26:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous pyglet said...

YAY for that last paragraph especially!
Thanks for the reinforcement of the choices that keep me a little more 'together' also.

Mon Jul 31, 03:50:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Alison said...

What Stephanie S said. I often wonder how the 'perfect' homes really are, and then look around at the utter chaos of our house with despair. Piles of 'stuff' juts get moved from one end of the house to the other, and back. The craft room is a true mess which is why I can never find anything. Clean house? hahahahahahahahaahah. Umm. No. Far from it. Do I care? Not really. Sometimes I do, but our house is lived in, and shows life and vitality and that we do things - all of us, and we all have equal priority for space.

Great post - thanks for saying everything you did.

Mon Jul 31, 04:28:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Kim said...

Great post, Michelle. Your warmth, honesty and creativity shine through in that photo. The colors, the neat containers (I have more shit stuffed into brown paper bags than I care to admit), the great fabric on the all looks very inviting.

Mon Jul 31, 06:27:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Bitterbetty said...

congrats on posting this one.. I know you have been working on it for awhile..
I am always suspicious of women with immaculate homes and kiddies in clean clothes.. I mean what else can they possibly be doing except upkeep??
I love a little creative chaos.

Mon Jul 31, 07:17:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Michele said...

Hi, i like you blog - I am trying to be crafty and causing quite a bit of chaos at home in the process so it is very reasssuring.

Tue Aug 01, 01:08:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous rungirlrun said...

Did you sneak into my house and take pictures? Cause, um, you might as well have been writing about me. I've been tossing around a post about this very topic. I don't know how people do it and I've come to the conclusion that they *don't* get it all done and perfect because something has to give.

Thanks for writing this.

Tue Aug 01, 05:31:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous brenda said...

I love this post, it has organized and expressed some of my own thoughts and thinking about blogging...I love the beautiful pictures!! I get a thrill at looking at pretty homemade things....sometimes my blog is the only place in life that order exists around here...! and even then I feel like I can't pull it off as well as others....

Tue Aug 01, 06:07:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous mangetsu said...

Oh, thank you so much for this post!
I hope, it and all the honest comments on it will help me to react a little less depressed the next time I am seeing one of these perfect corners of somebody's home. Especially when it is mentioned that we shouldn't take notice of the mess in the background... hahaaa, obviously no idea of the mess-potential of a typical Japanese sized apartment we are living in!
I don't show my not so perfect home on my blog, not because I am pretending there was no messy kitchen or mountain of laundry... I just do not want to see it there, too. Not willing to show the mess and to focus on the few beautifuls spaces of our life is totally natural, I think, no sign of domestic fantasy.

Tue Aug 01, 11:08:00 AM PDT  
Blogger kirsty said...

You know, we've been living like this for twenty years and we don't have the mess from the corner of the bedroom from 20 yrs ago anymore (there's a new one!) but we DO have the quilt I made when I "should" have been tidying up.

Tue Aug 01, 04:05:00 PM PDT  
Blogger futuregirl said...

This is a wonderful post.

I've always felt that you were down-to-earth. I think the "you" you describe in this post comes through in your writing. Plus, how could anyone think you are a craft prima donna when make such a point to reference other people's posts, link to other people's blogs, and share your knowledge (like the watermark tutorial)?

Hearing about your messy, real life is endearing and I can totally relate. It's just me and Andrew, but I still have to 'steal' time to craft. During any given week I can be found crocheting at the stove while I cook dinner, at the movie theater before the movie, and in front of the dryer while waiting for it to buzz.

I started to write more... but it was about me ... so I'm going to put it on my blog. Thanks for starting me thinking about this.

Tue Aug 01, 06:47:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous heather said...

thanks for writing this! glad you saw the post on my blog there.

i loved that photo of your pile of goodies, i wish i had that!

anhywho, is it so bad to have that little slice of utopia? i started wondering why we;re doing it, rosa mentions know potential customers seeing her blog.

whether you're selling or swapping, i think in someways alot of craft bloggers all producers here, so some of what we're doing is also marketing.

we're all creative entreprenuers, and martha stewart is our idol. whether you like it or not, she is a business woman selling an image.

i don't know if it is all that bad.

i think there is also another type of online journal which is a personal story, and kathreen is simply a great writer- so there are some people for whom this is also a creative writing outlet.

i think the craft blogs intersect there... so that is why there is an expectation of sharing your personal side as well.

anwyho, i must get off this computer!

Tue Aug 01, 06:57:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Green Kitchen said...

Hi all, I'm really enjoying these comments. Right now I"m nursing a sick babe, so I'll try to write something more when he's better. --M

Tue Aug 01, 09:12:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Krawuggl said...

This post is so wonderful and so frankly written. I definitely love to read such things, they are so real, vital and alive, thank you so much for your frankness. It seems, that your home is a twin of mine, I am always struggling with huge piles of clothes, yarns, fabrics, magazines .... and beautiful pictures on blogs helps me to tidy up sometimes and at least TRY to get a lovely home.
And let me please thank you here for your nice comment on my blog, too, it´s such a delight getting compliments - thank you very much.
Greetings from Germany,

Wed Aug 02, 04:54:00 AM PDT  
Blogger blondebabypeaches said...

Here Here!!

Wed Aug 02, 05:21:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Dawbis said...

i hope your baby feels better soon :)

Wed Aug 02, 05:23:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Di said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences and inspirations- and for keeping it real. I can relate- although my problem is fitting in time for crafting and blogging around work, social life, exercise and home life. I can't imagine what's going to give when children are added to the mix..

Wed Aug 02, 05:49:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Marietta said...

i might be a mom someday - and i feel like you have given me permission to to be the type of person i am now - not the greatest housekeeper but okay and not the greatest cook and i steal time from my life to craft now - so i am sure that i will do the same in the future -
actually - i think you have it pretty much together and are organized :)

Wed Aug 02, 07:49:00 AM PDT  
Blogger eireann said...

I like the voice that says yes to both, not "yes to this and therefore no to that." There are so many ways to live happily.

Thanks for your words.

Wed Aug 02, 10:52:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Mijk said...

Your post truly was thoughtprovoking but the comment got so long I posted it on my own blog..

Hope your baby feels better soon..

Thu Aug 03, 03:11:00 AM PDT  
Blogger one black bird said...

love the post! the points are excellent and i think it is very important to keep things "real" especially when it comes to making one's own art. it is not an easy task, though some might think because it is "creative' that all is always cheery and or pretty. i am not a mom and have the luxury of making my art without much interuption never the less the trials and tribulations of sticking to it can be and are challenging and have required many sacrafices. i like the 'real' stuff it makes the fact that you are creating in the midst of the reality of your life all the more poignant.

Thu Aug 03, 05:09:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous simmyb said...

Your post and the comments really spoke to me. As a SAHM for over 12 years making things keeps me sane. It's what I do for myself but it can be lonely too. Blogging for me is about creating community. It replaces sitting around the table with a group of women and chatting and sewing. Having a blog enables me to share my ideas, inspire people (I hope), I in turn am inspired by what others make, I like having feedback and giving it too. I'd hate for people to think that I had the perfect life though cos I don't there's a lot of shouting in our household, I feel guilty that I'm not spending enough time with my children, the house isn't as clean and tidy as I'd like it to be. But does everyone really want to know all this? Having a blog has made me more creative, found me some friends and given me another identity than just someones wife or mother.

Thu Aug 03, 06:20:00 AM PDT  
Blogger mrspilkington said...

thank you for this post(the living room looks pretty good to me!).

i'm so jealous of the corners of my home folk -- i can barely find a clean spot to take photographs of my projects!

i just muddle along, do a little of everything i want/need to do i try to take care of the faith, family, creative (writing, reading, crafting) elements first and tidying up (OK, cleaning) is last. and i'm going to eventually get over my guilt about that!

Thu Aug 03, 06:53:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Amy said...

I appreciated this post - thanks. I like to have a little spur every once and a while to keep me focused on why I keep my blog.

As the title says, I started the blog to make myself focus on the happy things of my life -- my daughter, my sewing, and the fun stuff we do. It isn't meant to be a full tilt accurate journal of my life as a whole.

But having said that, I do think it is important to look back every now and then and make sure it is still seeming real. A post about a bad day or a mess or a failure every now and then just reinforces why the happy things really are so happy.

Thu Aug 03, 08:29:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Linda said...

Great post, thank you.

Love the photo too, had to look at it large sized just to see the details. ;) What is funny is that although I get stressed out about not having my house look like it's out of a magazine, I feel most comfortable visiting houses like yours. Why is my own mess so unappealing and other people's messes so comforting?

Tue Aug 08, 08:15:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Siow Chin said...

I remember telling you I love you living room photo when you posted in at Flickr and I'm going to tell you that again and how your post touches me.

Wed Aug 09, 01:18:00 AM PDT  
Blogger weirdbunny said...

I love the look of your room. That resembles a true home to me.

Wed Aug 09, 09:55:00 AM PDT  
Blogger PamKittyMorning said...

While my life is at a different spot on the timeline, I read your post and could totally relate to it. There was no Baby Einstein when my daughter was a baby, but there was something else, I can see it in my mind but have no idea what it was. And the housecleaning. Or lack. Again, while I'm just a tad better than I was before, its probably only because I have FINALLY trained my family to pick up their crap. Now if only I would. Sewing, crafting, reading and that kid-video kept me sane. I lived to tell the tale.. my 18 year old daughter starts her second year of college in 2 weeks. When she moves, who will clean my house?

Thu Aug 10, 11:53:00 PM PDT  
Blogger big_bucket_girl said...

great post! what a warm feeling room. that's my kind of room! i always want to see whats behind people when they take the photos. don't you think those are photos that would tell a story!?

(thanks for visiting earlier x)

Fri Aug 11, 11:30:00 AM PDT  
Blogger h&b said...

Wow. What an interesting post .. and all those links to follow up on.

I admire crafy blog pics - so desirable, and I think the fantasy aspect is appealing anyway.
Although I hate junk/clutter/stuff and have no room for it in my home, so perhaps it's a good thing I just admire the craft of others ;)

As for the cleaning and TV part of it .. um .. that's me . and I DON'T craft ( although I always have a 'project' ;)

Thanks for such an honest and insightful post. It was a breath of fresh air !

Sat Aug 12, 12:54:00 AM PDT  
Blogger katie said...

Hooray for your honesty! call by and visit me some time - I can promise you will find more mess and dirty laundry there!

Sun Aug 13, 01:00:00 PM PDT  
Blogger norththreads said...

Wow, how true- massive multi-tasking, yep, thats my life too! Thanks for sharing some real reality!

Sun Aug 13, 09:30:00 PM PDT  
Blogger JAM*tacular said...

I think I'm in love... :) Thank you so much for sharing this!


Wed Aug 16, 11:37:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was so interesting. I looked back on your links and it has got me thinking a lot.... with no blog but lots of projects on the go and a permanent list of domestic chores to be done. I just need to remember that what we see is not necessarily real and therefore to happy with where we are, what we get done and how peaceful each day can be without adding hundreads of extra pressures and expectations on ourselves to create and "show". Thanks for your insight abd honesty.

Sat Aug 19, 07:11:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Mary Beth said...

I love this post. So true and you touch on a lot of things I've been thinking about.

Sun Aug 19, 02:05:00 PM PDT  

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