POWDER ROOM Reflections UNZIPPED: the Birth of the JUNK MIRROR

You can’t put a price on the family jewels, but you can treat your guy to a daily viewing.

My mom, like many women, always strives to make things look pretty. Throughout my childhood, this included peppering a cornucopia of decorative accessories around the house, much of it changed out regularly to reflect whatever season, holiday or occasion she wanted our home to decoratively celebrate on any given day.

I didn’t have much interest in all that at the time. I was one of those kids who viewed decorating the Christmas tree as a chore. I wasn’t a Scrooge; I just had better things to do. But there is one  decor-related memory that really sticks out. (That cheeky little pun will make sense in a minute.)

A Powder Room with a View
One afternoon when I was a freshman in high school, my good friend and algebra study partner Scott came out of our downstairs powder room visibly stifling a giggle. When I asked him what was so funny, he wouldn’t answer until my mother, who had been in the kitchen, finally went upstairs.

“Did you ever notice the mirror your mom hung right above the potpourri dish on the toilet tank?” I had not. “Well,” he said sheepishly then paused. “Let’s just say, it is a very interesting placement.” Realizing I didn’t get it, he glanced down pointedly at the zipper region of his jeans. After a few seconds, my cheeks began to burn as I understood what he was trying to say. We went into the half bath to take a peek at the mirror, laughed like the teenagers we were, then went back to Algebra. I never really thought about it much after that.

Fast forward 30 years, now I feel like maybe my mom was onto something there. Because I cannot think of a man who would not appreciate the perfect placement of that mirror. Talk about a hostess who thinks of everything! For the women, a huge mirror above the sink for primping. For the men, an unexpected private viewing of their most prized possession.

For the Man who has Everything…
I always knew my mom had a knack for decorating, but now I think she might have stumbled upon a simply brilliant idea. I’m calling it The Junk Mirror: a well-hung loo mirror that can be a daily pick-me-up for your man each morning, or a sneaky, spot-on surprise for male dinner guests.

It’s a great gift idea, not only because it’s clever and can provide years of viewing pleasure, but also because it can be quick, very inexpensive…or even free!

Mirror, Mirror Off the Wall
If you’re like me, you probably have a little stash of framed art and mirrors tucked away in a closet, pieces you’ve been meaning to hang but haven’t. Perfect! Just grab a mirror and prop it up over the toilet tank or get a hammer and hang it up on the wall above the toilet. Voila!

Easy DIY Mirror
If you don’t happen to have an extra mirror lying around, but you do have a good sized framed photo or painting you aren’t crazy about, you can transform it yourself!

You will need:

  • A frame with glass front (Ideally, 18 inches across. But anything 15 – 20 inches should work)
  • Painters tape
  • 1 can Mirror or Looking Glass spray paint (Rustoleum and Krylon have good options)


Three easy steps…

  1. Remove photo or painting from frame, then clean and dry the glass
  2. Use painters tape to cover the frame (or remove the glass from the frame)
  3. Place the frame/glass on newspaper or tarp, and spray the mirror paint in thin layers


And that’s it! Once the glass is dry (follow instructions on can for details on technique and drying time), you can remove the painters tape and hang the mirror above the potty or just prop it up on top.

A few pointers…

  • When spraying mirror paint, consider stopping before it’s perfect. Imperfections can create an antiqued look, which adds interest.
  • Consider using a round or oval frame or mirror for variety. Also: porthole mirrors!
  • Using a fish eye (convex) mirror is a fun twist, as it is a wee bit distorting, in a good way.
  • If you can’t find a reasonably priced fish eye mirror, look for a convex security mirror and just paint the rim or frame to match your bathroom decor.
  • Another DIY option: repurpose a large round wall clock. If the lens is domed, you’ll get a bit of the fish eye effect.

Personal considerations…

  • If the family jewels are naturally sizable, use a flawless mirror to reflect their glory.
  • If not, maybe look for a magnifying mirror??
  • Want a more subtle version for guests? Use mirror spray on glass for a hazy or antiqued look.
40-Something SOCIAL MEDIA VIRGIN* Seeking Friendly Advice for the End of the World as I know it

Depending on the kindness of strangers. An amusing notion, maybe—but I’m pretty sure Tennessee Williams never intended it to be a six-word life plan. On the other hand, if you’re just asking said strangers for their opinion, you’ll probably do just fine. At least I’m hoping so.

Because I am here to humbly ask YOU to share with me a few words of advice, in 140 characters or less.

My question: How do you do social media?

Here’s the deal: For the past seven years, I have been living under a rock — on purpose. When I took a break from my career to be at home with my two kids, I intentionally opted out of the whole social media thing. Though not technically a technophobe, I am a perennial late bloomer, and a bit of an introvert. And until now, I just didn’t feel like I was ready to jump on that snowballing bandwagon of noise. It just seemed so wild and loud, tweety and messy…and EVERYWHERE! It was just all too much.

Though I have loved this verse since I first read it over two decades ago — long before the Internet was really a thing—now it reads to me like a pithy poetic justification for my social media abstinence. (Photo from my cousin’s birthday, May 1977. I’m the little one at the far left.)

So I became a social media holdout, and I guess you could say I grew into the role quite naturally. Because I really have relished the feelings of …

  • preserving a special kind of purity in my life
  • living in the moment (and not on the surface of my iPhone)
  • maintaining privacy for my family (and my un-photogenic face!)
  • enjoying the freedom from information: NOT being notified as to what/who/how everyone I know is doing every blasted minute.

I have been blissfully ignorant, by choice. But deep down, I knew my sunny days on isolationist island were numbered. My youngest starts kindergarten in the fall, and in the process of rebooting my career for today’s world, I’ve come to realize that it will probably be helpful if Google can tell I exist.

Also, as the state of world affairs seems to be in a tailspin thanks to the big orange Tweeter in the White House, it has become painfully clear to me that, as a citizen, remaining invisible and silent is no longer a viable option. It’s not enough to pay attention; eventually I’m gonna have to show up and speak up. (Currently formulating a plan of activism.)

So here I am! Ready to give this a go, but still quite green and clueless.

Realizing I am almost inexcusably late to the social media party, I’m seeking guidance from those of you who have been in the game for a while.

To kind souls with advice on the ins and outs of social media, please comment below or @karanelsonworks. Please and thank you!

Have some tips at the ready already? No need to read further. Fire away. But if you’d like a little more info before dispensing advice, below are some of my specific questions.

(WAIT! Forgot to ask: If all you want to tell me is to go fuck myself, please just say that one in your head and not online. I am a ‘virgin’ after all, and I’d like to pop my social media cherry with humanity, not hatred. Thank you.)

My Questions

1. Can you suggest a good strategy for easing into social media gradually and safely, but not in a chicken shit way? Or do you suggest I just jump in with both feet and hope for the best?

2. Do I really have to do Facebook? This is the one I’m dreading the most. (I did set up an account a few years back so I could get on Spotify, but I haven’t used it yet.)

3. What do I need to know about the different platforms? Which one(s) do you like best and why? What can you tell me about Instagram or Pinterest?

4. What are some good policies, techniques, tricks or rules I should consider setting up or implementing before I get rolling?

5. What are some rookie mistakes, common pitfalls, or annoying things I should try to avoid doing?

6. In what ways (good and/or bad) do you think my life will change once I get into social media?

7. Who are some of the best people/handles to follow? Who should I steer clear of?

8. Should I try to draw distinct boundaries around professional and personal social media accounts/handles? And if so, how?

Hmmm, those questions sound a little generic, don’t they? While I welcome and thank you for any answers you’d like to give now, in order to get to the meaty answers I’m looking for, I think I’m going to have to show my ass, or just part of it. To tell you my biggest fears about all this. So now I’ll just shamelessly lay it all out for you. Here’s WHAT I’M AFRAID of.

My fears

A. That my natural inclination to cringe at the word “followers” will induce a perpetual state of ambivalence-and-nausea if it turns out that I find myself nonetheless secretly hoping to get more followers, more likes. That I will get so caught up in this that it will start to affect my mood each day. Ugh!

B. That because I’m no longer a holdout, I won’t get to feel special or pure for living solely IRL. That I will be just like everyone else, and that I will have to compete with others. (And I’m not a naturally competitive person.) That I will become addicted to Instagram or Pinterest. That I will feel compelled to check my pages/feeds incessantly, making my children and other loved ones feel unseen or neglected.

C. That by finally opening myself up to social media, I will so feel overwhelmed by the tidal wave of content and stimuli rushing toward me that I will go mad or just shut down completely. That I will be in danger of becoming one of those people: faces glued to their phones during dinner, rudely ignoring the people sitting right in front of them IRL.

D. That people will say mean things about me online. Or maybe worse, that I will be ignored entirely.

E. That it will be difficult to moderate and find a healthy, balanced way to incorporate social media into my life. That I will be relinquishing my privacy and that I will regret joining up. That I will post something stupid one day, and unwittingly become like someone on the very scary reality series: The Internet Ruined My Life.

(As a shorthand shortcut, please feel free to code your comment or reply to indicate the question (1–8) or fear (A-E) you are addressing. But, listen: I am not picky; any and all advice, in any format, will be much appreciated!)

So there you have it. I look forward to any insights you have to offer. A word. A sentence. Whatever. Please comment below or ‘Tweet me’ (There. I’ve said it. Ugh.) I’m @karanelsonworks on Instagram and Twitter.

Thank you ever so!

*Just the tip: In the time between writing this and publishing it, I started posting on Instagram and a bit on Twitter and I find that I’m checking my phone a LOT. To see if anyone liked a cute pic of my dog???!!! What’s happening to me?? I feel like I’m already approaching a slippery slope on this. It’s just that there are so many weird and shiny things to discover and explore on Insta! Pretty sure I’m overdoing it with the hashtags… Help!

**Originally published in That Odd Mom on Medium

Zippy GREEN JUICE + Healthy KID SMOOTHIE

Even though it’s crazy healthy, sometimes it feels a little bit self-indulgent to spend a whole hour prepping and making my favorite green juice—especially since the strong kick of my beloved ginger and turmeric is not for everyone. My kids are always game to try it, but then they say, “It’s too spicy!”

So, I always add an extra (sneaky) step in the process to make sure everyone in the house gets some green goodness from my efforts. I make one batch mild green juice (without ginger, turmeric or cilantro), reserve half of it to make my “spicy” green juice afterwards, and mix the other half of the mild juice with frozen fruit to make a smoothie for the kids. Step by step instructions below.

MAKING THE MILD MIX + SMOOTHIE

Here’s how I do it. In the first batch, I put the following* in my juicer:

  • 1 container spinach or baby spinach
  • 1 container kale or baby kale
  • 10-12  baby carrots
  • 3-5  broccoli stems
  • 2 large cucumbers
  • 2 lemons (skin off)
  • 2-3 apples (Braeburn apples are my favorite!)

I pour about a cup of the mild mix into the blender, and then I add in frozen fruit: cherries, pineapple, peaches, strawberries, raspberries (and sometimes a little plain yogurt or orange juice) to blend into a smoothie for the kids. Depending on the season, you can also add pears, plums, blueberries—just whatever your kids like.** (I used to try to sneak in the green juice when they weren’t looking, but now they know I do it. I never get any complaints, as long as the smoothie is berry delicious!)

If I’m making a big batch of juice, I also pour some of the mild mix into an ice tray. Later, I put the green cubes in a container and keep them in the freezer to use in future smoothies.

MIXING MY SPICY GREEN JUICE

To finish my ‘spicy’ green juice, I put the following into my juicer:

  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 lemon (peeled)
  • 2-3 thumbs of fresh ginger root (peeled)
  • 2-3 fingers of fresh turmeric root (peeled)

I add this spicy mix to the mild mix reserved from above, and voila: the BEST, most refreshing green juice you’ll ever taste! Enjoy!***

NOTES

* I choose organic produce over conventional whenever possible.

**Two ingredients I always avoid when making juice and smoothies: bananas and celery! Although I like to eat bananas and celery each on their own, I find that when I put them in a smoothie or juice, the taste is so strong/dominant that it masks all of the other delicious flavors/ingredients I use.

***It’s best to drink green juice directly after juicing, but you can also keep some in the fridge, as long as you drink it within 24 hours.

My WEIRD DISCLAIMER

Dear Friends, Family and Stranger Readers:

This is a note to tell you that I’m going to be doing some weird stuff in the coming days. Just a little piece of information to keep in mind, in case you find yourself questioning my sanity at any point in the near future.

It’s not that I’m suddenly and randomly trying to come up with oddball ideas in pursuit of some specific agenda. Rather, I’ve finally decided to actually follow up with and experiment with a handful of the hundreds of ideas that have been bouncing—at an increasingly zealous rate—around in my head over the past few years. And there are a LOT of them.

To get to the point: I’m done with being too timid to do a little experiment for fear of being called crazy. No longer will I hesitate to pull the trigger on a project just because I’m not sure exactly how it will turn out. To quote one of my favorite thinkers, Seth Godin: I am fully aware that this might not work. And I’m okay with that.

“At some level, ‘this might not work’ is at the heart of all important projects, of everything new and worth doing… it is either a curse, something that you labor under, or it’s a blessing, a chance to fly and do work you never thought possible.” —Seth Godin

So if you see something I’m doing that doesn’t quite make sense or that seems whack, please do not panic. I am ok. I am not off my rocker. I’m just floating a few ideas to see what they might become. Some of them might seem quirky or cheeky or just plain weird. So, of course feel free to look away. Or if something you see interests you, maybe take a closer look.

A few things that might be coming down the pike in the coming weeks: products with backstories, the cashing in of my social media v-card, collaborative art projects, the “birth” of a new artist (a fictional composite persona with a LOT of strange ideas), and some random, unsolicited advice (just tips and tricks).

I am also aware of the fact that it is entirely possible that no one will even read this post. I am not what you would call a marketer. But since YOU have read all the way up to this point, let me say thank you for the privilege of your time.

Cheers!

—Kara Nelson

Copyright 2016 Kara Nelson WorksAll Rights Reserved