Monday, January 31, 2011


I just wasted way too much time messing around with the design of this blog and I hate it. I also tried to add three new blogs (explanation later) and Google would only let me add two and then it wanted to text me a verification code. HUH? I don't know how to receive a text. Why do all these computer geeks assume I have a mobile phone that operates like the rest of the world? I'm not sure I want to pay 25 cents to get their "verification code." Or they can call me. But do I want them to have my phone number? Maybe if I just wait long enough they'll let me add another one. I wish I could get my last 45 minutes back. Happy Monday!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Operation Purge My Stuff: Phase 1 Begins

So, getting back to this post. I don't have all the answers yet. I don't care. I'm fed up with feeling jumbly and overrun with "just in case" items. I am embarking on a 5 month challenge for Phase 1 and there is a good chance it won't even take me that long. (Phase 2 involves the basement and the breezeway/garage and that may may each take five months!) The five months was going to start in February, one month for each room on my main floor, but I've already finished one so I'll just be going along with the calendar. Theoretically, I should be in good shape to even get some extra things done before the kids are off for the summer.

For a brief moment, I am going to defend myself as I have been spending a lot of time wondering how I ended up hoarding all this stuff. Some of it, like a lot of people, is sentimental. I know I am going to struggle with that a bit, but I am going to try to be tough. It is strange to think that I moved to this house less than three years ago and that I brought all this jumble with me. But that's just it. I did. We moved under financial duress, I had thee babes under 5 and had spent the better part of a year often in single parent mode with those babes while Mike worked on THIS house and I stressed about cleaning to show the other one. It was really awful. I don't know how I did it. I think when we moved I just didn't have the energy or the presence of mind to truly examine what was necessary and what wasn't. I took us until earlier this year to go through a big pile of boxes in the basement that had never even been unpacked! I think I am probably not as overrun as some people with stuff, but I certainly have more than I need. I am looking forward to paring thing down.

Without further ado and no pre shot tidying... I present January's room: the bathroom. My bathroom is very small and narrow, but it has these big storage cupboards behind the door. Convenient location? No. Fabulous storage? Yeah. Here is the before:

There is also a small medicine cabinet on the opposite wall. And I recently moved a small antique cupboard underneath that, which is not pictured.

While the after pictures look neater, things really are purged. I pulled out only two sets of winter sheets for each of us and packed away the non-flannels in a trunk in basement storage. I threw away outdated medicines and recycled the bottles and boxboard that I could. I was able to move up all the extra toiletries from a basement cupboard and still had room for guest pillows, bulk tissues and bulk toilet paper.

And, while I may need to break my habit of buying some things in bulk for a sale, as I am pretty sure I end up just spending the money somewhere else, this will also help me identify more quickly the things that I have plenty of and should think twice about purchasing more of.

This feels super good. I would love to just keep plowing through rooms like this. I think my bedroom will be easy too. The kitchen and my sewing room seriously scare me as I know I will be faced with a lot of sentimental hoarding and will probably lose my nerve a little bit. I THINK i'd like to tackle the sewing room in February though as I have so many sewing projects coming up that would really benefit from an uncluttered room.

Now off to fight my losing battle with dog hair. I am really hoping she's just shedding her puppy coat and this isn't a permanent thing. There seems to be a problem when I only have two 8 by 10 area rugs, but I am longing for a Dyson ;-)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Playing Around

I've been playing around with free motion quilting. My stitches aren't even, but they aren't terrible either. It is really pretty fun.

I found 4 squares of "crazy quilt" pieced by my maternal grandmother who knows how long ago. I put two and two together, a border and a back and started two mini quilts. Mini-mini. Doll quilts if I can stand to give them to Ellerie when I'm done.


I kinda want to keep them for me.

ACK! I really am a hoarder! ;-)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Too Much Stuff

I've been thinking a lot about this post over at Melissa's place and her response to me. I have too much stuff. I am not good at getting rid of it. Why? Am I actually attached to the stuff itself? Does having extra stuff just make me feel secure and prepared? Does getting rid of it make me feel guilty in some regard? What would my life be like if I did have less stuff? Would I feel less secure, or would I actually feel more free? Would I have more time and money to devote to the things I actually have and love? And what about the kids' stuff? Truly, I don't have a lot of NICE stuff. Why am I not more selective about what I surround myself with? Is there a way to fix this?

How would I feel if this happened to me, to my family? Would the stuff matter? From Edie's posts it feels like, "No. Absolutely not. Only.... sort of."

I don't want to surround myself with things just because they seem to "appear" or because I think I might need or want them later. I want less things and I want more experiences. So how do I get from where I am to where I want to be? With what measure do I select the things I choose to keep from clothes to cds to dishes to fabric scraps to things of my grandmothers'? How do I get rid of things without offending people who gave them to me or without feeling I'm losing some connection to a person or place or memory or that I am being negligent or wasteful? How do I manage to learn to say "no" more often when things are offered to me?

I don't have the answers.


Monday, January 17, 2011

In Other News.....

I'm sort of boring lately. I'm cold. I'm feeling my winter hermit tendencies kicking in. I've been doing endless amounts of laundry, some furniture rearranging and attempting to purge some things. Clearly, I have been too overwhelmed with where to move my coffee pot to put up a blog post.

More exciting than what I am doing is the fact that Mike's sister is getting married! Even better? They used the thought bubble sign I gave Laurie for Christmas for her photography business. My Dad jigsawed it and Mike and I slapped some chalkboard paint on it.. you know... Christmas Eve.

Cool right? Way cooler than my laundry.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

You Gals Rock

Thanks for all the validation and love ladies!! It is hard for someone like me, who generally puts on a pretty confident front to the world at large, to admit all that. Yeah, I'm a poser ;-) I really appreciate it though. It makes me feel JOYFUL. Still, so as not to paint the picture of all sunshine and roses with this challenge, I will share my response to Shauna at The Reed Life yesterday after a bit of a bump in my road choosing joy in all things.

"haha! it was rather hard today to feel joyful as i paid my SIXTY TWO dollar library late fee. yup. 62 bucks. i wouldn't exactly call it joy, but i did swallow the rising voice that wanted to kill me over it and i reminded myself of all the lovely books and videos we get at the library and tried to make myself believe i was a rich woman just donating for the fun of it. philanthropist. yeah. that's what i am, a library philanthropist. TAKE THAT negativity ;-)

truly, i am not a very inspiring person. but i play one on tv."

Now... how to find joy while reorganizing my VERY cluttered sewing/crafting/junk room so I can BEG my husband to move the washer and dryer up here. Anyone have tips for what they do with fabric scraps? I have a HUGE bin of them all jumbled together, but I am afraid to try anything else because one, it will force me to get rid of stuff which I am bad at (not so much the getting rid part, but the deciding WHAT to get rid of part. That's not the same thing, is it?) and two, may require a type of storage I don't have handy. Oh STRESS, you may not take hold of me...

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2011's Motto: Joy is a Choice

So I've been mulling a lot, wondering how I want to enter this new year. I keep reading posts of women and families who have chosen a word or phrase to sort of guide them through the year ahead. Words like simplicity, focus, be present, live fully.
But I'll make a confession here: I sort of want to be that person with the family mission statement and the written out goals and that very focused purpose for myself and for my family, but I never seem to do it. I'm too wishy washy. The other part of my confession is that I am in almost constant struggle with anxiety and depression. ( That said, it is mostly under control but my reality is that those are part of the weight of my life and often the filter through which I view the world.) I have come to terms with it just being a part of me, part of my chemical makeup, part of my psyche. There are some good things. It sometimes keeps me grounded as I tend to be impulsive. It gives me great empathy for others who struggle. But it can also make me very negative and feeling lost or hopeless. And it can overwhelm me and keep me from doing things I want to do and feeling in ways I want to feel. It puts up little walls where my dreams and goals should be and it tells me I am weak, disorganized, poor and untalented.

Wow. That was harder to type that I thought it would be. I don't like that I sometimes feel this way about myself. I want to rise above that, and often do. I saw this poster over at Whatever yesterday and I really want it, because it's true (and it makes me laugh.) Awesomeness IS a choice and every circumstance presents us with the option to put on our rosey glasses or pull our hats down over our eyes. We can look at our days with thankfulness for God's blessings in our lives or not. We CAN view the world and the people around us with grace and generosity and we can do the same for ourselves. So today I am deciding to be joyful in everything. I am choosing to look purposefully for the happiness and beauty around me and to not be dragged down by the monkeys on my back. It may not always come naturally and sometimes I am sure it won't come easily, but I can do it because I choose to.

So I choose joy for the easy things like Ellerie writing her name.
I choose joy for the big things like a happy marriage, warm home and healthy family.
I choose joy for the little things like Gigi snuggled at my feet
and I choose joy in the more difficult things for me like seeing beauty in cold, gray winter and staying positive and hopeful about the little dreams and plans for the future still in my head.

I know I won't always feel happy and sunny and that's okay for me. Still, I look forward to a more purposeful contentment. My life is good. I don't want to ever lose that forrest for the shadows of trees. I want to see the silver linings and remember that my cup is really more than half full. Here's to a joyous new year! So far, so good. ;-)

Monday, January 3, 2011

What I Made For Christmas (Mostly)

(I apologize in advance for the amount of photos in this post. The good news is none of them are taken up super-close so I shall remember my works in perfection and not see all the boo-boos! )

After I managed the feat of my first quilt, my mother (who has made a bunch of quilts in her life but has lost her sewing mojo (by which I mean her desire, NOT her abilities. Those are still awesome when she chooses to sew!) in recent years) decided to pass along some of the quilting plans she had on to me. Some were the quilt tops and squares pieced by my paternal great-grandmother and I really am going to share about those soon. Another was a bag full of log cabin squares mostly already pieced that she bought at a yard sale. Apparently she loved the fabrics and thought, with most of the piece work done that she'd put it together herself, but never got around to it. She had even bought fabric to back it with and fixed a few of the pieces that were missing, but had sort of just stopped there. I decided to try to fix up a lap quilt for her with what she had given me and it turned out really pretty (if not my style).

I will confess though, working with someone else's wonky piecing is actually even more frustrating than working with my own. Apparently I like to be able to blame myself when something isn't right. There is probably a whole post right there, but i'll save the couch session for another day! This impatience with non- self- created imperfection led to that quirky corner square. The last square that I have, was cut and/or pieced larger than all the rest. I tried to fix it and it looked awful. I tried taking it apart and it was worse. So I used the center and just appliqued it on another fabric. In the end, it makes me love it more, because it is a little different.

The back is hard to see, but there are little off center squares within squares where I quilted. I like it, but the pic doesn't show it off very well.

In other quilting news, I finished Ellerie's first quilt!!! WAHOO!!! Let's see. I only bought the fabric almost two years ago now? No biggie. I gave it to her for Christmas, even though it wasn't really intended as a Christmas present. Obviously, I am motivated by a deadline.

Here's the back. I am aware that the whole thing is sideways. Couldn't have it dragging in the dirty snow and mud.

I appliqued the paper dolls, like I did for Polly's, and added more pieces from my great-grandmother's stuff.

The backing is a thrifted sheet. Oh, how I do love getting that much cotton for 2 dollars!!!

That little blue square in the center with the kitties on it is where I "signed" it and is a patch of fabric from my mother's stash of scraps. She had a nightgown or pajamas made from it when she was a little girl. Isn't that cool? I think you can see it a LITTLE better if you click on the picture.

Speaking of cool... my awesome husband surprised me with these boots for my Christmas present. ( Dana! I am no longer the only person on the planet without awesome leaf-crunching boots! ;-) Check out the cool little buttons!

Anyway... back to the crafting. We are entering the home stretch and my favorite thing. Can you believe my favorite thing is not Ellerie's quilt? That is how awesome this last thing is. I got the idea back in November after seeing this somewhere and once I got started, I practically couldn't rest until they were done. Wait for it......

breakfast, lunch and dinner bibs for my nephew!

I used an old bib that was mine as a child for a pattern (although I think this is a common vintage top pattern from the 70s), all fabric from my scraps, and I free handed the applique.



(love the sandwich!!!!)

and dinner!

The next day I got a quick email from my brother with a pic of Milo in the lunch bib. Made my whole day!

Last, but ABSOLUTELY not least, is not something I made but a grandpa-made gift from my parents for Ellerie.. a tiny ironing board!

They are so creative. The pic doesn't do it justice. Someday, she really could iron on this! My dad made it adjust to two different heights and it folds up, just like the real thing. Mom covered it with a top to one of those countertop boards that she happened to have and they cut the cord off a tiny travel iron (also hanging around their place not being used) so it has all the knobs and fun parts to a real iron. She loves it! The boys too as, leave it to my kids, they quickly discovered that it actually holds water and squirts it out the front. Several items of Elle's clothing was soaked while being "ironed."

Those were my creative accomplishments for Christmas 2010. I wish I had done more. I like making things for people and it really does give me more satisfaction than buying something. Every year I say I am going to start early and plan and make more and I don't follow through on that the way I want. I am proud of what I managed, but really do want to start thinking early this year. Right now though, it is back to reality. Kids (and self) to be dressed and fed, laundry to be done, rooms to be cleaned. It is good to be back to routine though. 2011, here we come!