My Minimalism Journey, Quality of Life

Living with Less?!?!?!

A favorite pastime is to browse the library shelves for crafting and home design/decorating books. During a browse the other day I found a book Living with Less: how to downsize to 100 personal possession by Mary Lambert (2013).

I am really into the “Tiny House” movement and I am known to blow a weekend afternoon looking at “Tiny House Porn” on YouTube. I love the idea of scaling back and scaling down your life and “living with less” in exchange for quality of life. Ms. Lambert’s book provides an excellent process on scaling back your life to 100 personal possessions.  In exchange for this downsizing you can gain an “ordered life” and  “liberate your mind, body, an spirit”. After reading 1/2 of the book and skimming the other half – I was sold on this wonderful concept.

Until a casual conversation with my husband…

My husband Terry has been very tolerant of my obsession with tiny houses and scaling back our lives. We already live in a 1300 square foot house (having scaled back 9 years ago from a 2800 sq. ft house) and we have a fairly simple and thrifty lifestyle. Still I fantasize about being able to “quit my day job” in health care and dedicate myself full-time to tierneycreates.

Terry, the Realist, quietly nods his head while I give him an enthusiast summary of the book Living with Less and idea of each of us pairing down to 100 possessions. Terry gets up from his chair and begins to start counting out loud the quilts hanging on the wall, hanging on the quit rack, on beds and chairs, and then in a cabinet. He states: “do these all count as one item or 25?” Then he begins to count the craft books I have on the shelf, and I tell him to stop (as I do have an issue with craft books).

He sighs and states: “So will you just be keeping a pair of underwear, a pair of socks, a pair of shoes, and 1 outfit in your scaling down?  And, do all those fat quarters of fabric count as one piece of fabric?”

So, as much as I admire Ms. Lambert’s concept of scaling down I do not think it can happen anytime soon.

My pile of scraps for making scrap quilts: Do they each count as 1 item or can I group all the scraps together as one item?


Books, Music, Podcasts

Life is Nonfiction: Part V

We arrive at the conclusion of a series of posts which began with Life is Nonfiction, a listing  of my favorite nonfiction audiobooks and subsequent discussion of key insights I gained from listening to these books.

In my prior post in this series, Life is Nonfiction: Part IV, I opened with a brief discussion of  the fictional audiobooks I have listened to recently as part of my 2015 “a year of fiction”. I realized forgot to mention that I had recently finished the Ann Patchett’s book The Magician’s Assistant, a highly enjoyable listen about being in love with someone you cannot have, closure, and finding your own way. Currently I am listening to Ann Patchett’s The Story of a Happy Marriage, an excellent collection of her essays. After reading or listening to Bel Canto, State of Wonder, The Magician’s Assistant and now The Story of a Happy Marriage, I have decided to start with her earliest novel, The Patron Saint of Liars and read/listen to her entire catalogue of novels. I have become interested in exploring an author’s entire body of work. It is intriguing to find reoccurring themes in an author’s writing. So far several of Ann Patchett’s novels touch upon some version of unrequited love.

Now onto the key insights I gained from the remaining favorite nonfiction audiobooks:

Robinson, Ken (2013). Finding your element: how to discover your talents and passions and transform your lifeNew York, NY: Viking.

KEY INSIGHT: Be brave and identify where your passions lie. The pursue them!

Singer, Michael (2013). The untethered soul: the journey beyond yourself. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.

KEY INSIGHT: I think this book is a mandatory read for humans. I first read it and then I listened to the audiobook. The audiobook is humorous in a way, after reading this very profound book, as the narrator sounds like a slightly irritated New Yorker telling you to “get over yourself”. The key insight of the book is basically “get over yourself”! Don’t listen to your ego talking and bossing you around, find your real voice, the voice at your core. This book helps you dispel with the negative self-talk and “chatter” and get to the magic and the beauty of being a conscious living being. I must recommend that for your first exposure to this book – read the book and then if you want to revisit it listen to the “slightly irritated New Yorker” narration!

Taleb, Nassim (2012). Antifragile: things that gain from disorder. New York, NY: Random House.

KEY INSIGHT: Awareness of the fragility in systems, what makes them fragile, and how to protect yourself professionally and personally.

Tolle, Eckhart (2005). A new earth: awakening to your life’s purpose. New York, NY: Dutton/Penguin Group.

KEY INSIGHT: Like the book The untethered soul, this book focuses on the awareness of the ego and then letting go of the ego. Listening to this book helped me gain quite a sense of peace and release from things that I was obsessing and worrying about as ultimately many of them do not matter in the whole scheme of the universe.

Tolle, Eckhart (1999), The power of now: a guide to spiritual enlightenment. Novato, CA: New World Library.

KEY INSIGHT: Live in the moment. The past is not changeable and the future is not ultimately known. This book helped me let go of many worries and to appreciate what I am experiencing in the moment. This book is about being fully present in the Present.

Weber, Lauren (2009). In cheap we trust: the story of a misunderstood American virtueNew York, NY: Little, Brown.

KEY INSIGHT: This book was an enjoyable discussion on the history of frugality and that “being cheap” is not a bad thing!

White, Jennifer (2004). Work less, make more. Ashland, OR: Blackstone Audiobooks.

KEY INSIGHT: This book encouraged intense scrutiny of what was really important to me in life. I realized that my health care career was not at the top of the list. At the top of the list is family (including furry family members) and my tierneycreates creations!

Whew – not sure what I was thinking when I decided to take on discussion/key insights of so many nonfiction audiobooks. I hope you will find a book or two that inspire you after all these insights. I did notice repetition in “self-help” nonfiction audiobooks but repetition of important ideas/concepts can be a good thing. Happy Listening!


Rethinking a Closet

I am addicted to “Studio Porn” – photos of artists’ and crafters’ studios. At least once a week I settle in with a cup of tea, in a cozy chair, and leaf through publications such as Studios and Where Women Create or various books on craft/art studio organization. These publications are filled inspirations on how to organize, design, and decorate your studio.

My studio is small, but I feel lucky to have a place in my home that I can dedicate to my crafting. It was designed as a bedroom and I removed the traditional bifold closet doors to open the space to organize and store supplies. I thought: “who needs closet doors when you can have more open space?”

Then I saw the studio of Jean Wells in the Better Homes and Gardens book Studio Spaces: Projects, Inspiration & Ideas for Your Creative Place (2011) and I saw what a closet can be in a studio! Ms. Wells turned one side of a closet door into an inspiration board and the other into a design wall. Her closet doors became my dream closet doors! Thanks to a generous gift from my mother-in-law, my dream studio closet doors have become a reality!

Cindi and Rob of CR Construction did an excellent job designing my new closet doors based on the photos from the book. They put sheet metal on the left door and wrapped Warm & Natural cotton batting on the right door. They designed a unique floating track system that allowed the doors to float over each other without touching when opened. This allows pieces on the design wall side not to be disturbed (who wants to redo their design wall every time they open their closet?). Cindi and Rob added strong bright lighting inside the closet – previously I had no light and would aim a lamp in the studio towards the closet to illuminate it in the evening.

My home studio is very simple and a mishmash of furniture and shelves thrown together, but my closet feels really special and inspires my creativity!

Check out the Textiles Adventures page for other updates.

Books, Music, Podcasts

Life is Nonfiction: Part IV

After spending last couple years primarily listening to Nonfiction audiobooks, 2015 continues to be an enjoyable year of Fiction audiobooks as I focus my audiobook selections to fictional stories. So far all have been excellent. After listening to Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being, I delved into Margaret Atwood’s impressive collection of short stories – Stone Mattress: Nine Tales. The book was narrated by the author herself as well as several other wonderful narrators. Several of the short stories are connected in a masterful way and others stand alone. Many deal with themes about aging and empowerment in the face of loss of youth, while others are just marvelous little fantasy stories. After finishing Stone Mattress, I listened to Rene Denfeld’s mind blowing novel The Enchanted: A Novel that provided a lyrical story about life on death row from the perspective of an incarcerated  sociopath with profound mental illness. It does not sound like something appealing to listen to but the narration by Jim Frangione is amazing as is the extremely masterful story.

Now you are thinking: “Wait a minute Tierney, the title of this post is Life is Nonfiction: Part IV!”  You are right and the actual purpose of this post is to continue sharing the key insights from the list of my favorite nonfiction audiobooks which I began in the post Life is Nonfiction.

So here we go:

Guillebeau, Chris (2010). The art of nonconformity: Set your own rules, live the life you want, and change the world. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

KEY INSIGHT: To live life on your own terms; and that it is okay to give yourself permission do that! I have always felt like I never quite “fit in” and have always considered myself an outsider. This book reinforced it is okay to be an “outsider” and to walk your own unique path. The more I listen to books like this more I am at peace with being an outsider and walking my own path.

Heath, Chip (2013). Decisive: how to make better choices in life and work. New York, NY: Crown Business.

KEY INSIGHT: This audiobook provided great insights on making better choices personally and professionally. I loved the “WRAP” method of decision making discussed in the book: 1) Widen your choices; 2) Reality test your assumptions; 3) Attain distance before deciding; and 4) Prepare to be wrong.

Heath Chip & Health, Dan (2010). Switch: how to change things when when is hard. New York, NY: Books on Tape.

KEY INSIGHT: Looki at change in an optimistic way and honestly examine obstacles to change.

Huffington, Arianna (2014). Thrive: the third metric to redefining success and creating a life of well-being, wisdom, and wonder. New York, NY: Random House.

KEY INSIGHT: This is one of the best nonfiction audiobooks ever in my opinion. The female narrator has a Greek accent to give you the feel that  A. Huffington (of The Huffington Post) herself is reading the book to you. This book inspires one to rethink, or think about for the first time what success really means to you personally and professionally. This audiobook inspires you to examine what is actually important in your life. This audiobook importantly encourages you to take care of yourself in a loving manner and to protect yourself from burnout. This audiobook inspired me to get more sleep, which has been a wonderful thing (and has made our miniature schnauzer Sassy very happy as she loves to go to bed as early as possible if you read her blog on Schnauzer Snips).

Kelly, Matthew (2011). Off balance: getting beyond the work-life balance mouth to personal and professional satisfactionAshland, OR: Blackstone Audio.

KEY INSIGHT: That work-life balance is a myth! This audiobook inspired me to look beyond that myth and honestly examine where I want to focus my energies in life.

Kingsolver, Barbara (2007). Animal, vegetable, miracle: a year of food life. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

KEY INSIGHT: In this wonderful book narrated by the author, Barbara Kingsolver takes the reader along with her family’s one year experiment of growing and raising their own food. She shares all the hurdles and challenges to eat “clean” and local in humorous, educational and poignant ways. After reading Fast Food Nation and The Omnivore’s Dilemma years ago I was already conscious about “where does the food I eat actually come from and how it is processed?” This book helped remind me to make wise choices on what food I bring in my house/place on my table/put in my mouth.

Kornfield, Jack & Siegel, Daniel (2011). Mindfulness and the brain. Louisville, KY: Sounds True.

KEY INSIGHT: Why slowing down and being mindful is so important to your mental health. After listening to this audiobook I began to believe in the power of meditation.

McKeown, Greg (2014). Essentialism: the disciplined pursuit of less. New York: Crown Business.

KEY INSIGHT: I already knew you do not need a lot of stuff or achievements to be happy but this audiobook beautifully reinforced this concept. This audiobook made me think about living my life more simply and carefully deciding where I want to put my time and energy.

I hope you experience some of these excellent nonfiction audiobooks for yourself.



2015 Goals

Over the past month I have been thinking about my 2015 goals related to tierneycreates. I have two main goals: 1) post more on my blog; and 2) get the tierneycreates Etsy shop up to 100+ items. I just have to work around my full-time health care job I have in order to meet these goals!

Recently, and probably too late for the Valentine’s Day holiday, I have been working on sets of little love note pillows to sell on my Etsy shop. They would be perfect for Valentine’s Day but they also work well as a little wedding gift, a little way to say I love you gift, and a nice little treat to show yourself some “self-love” and have around your house. Before I even got the them posted onto the Etsy shop I sold a couple to friends to give as Valentine’s gifts – they are so cute in person it is difficult to capture their cuteness in a photo (and that could be because my photography skills are lacking…).

I have also been working on a new piece for the collaborative collection, The Wardrobe Meets The Wall, tentatively called “Vessel”. If you’d like to see it in progress check out the photo on the In Progress post on The Wardrobe Meets The Wall blog.

Sassy has been trying to keep her her section of the tierneycreates blog updated so be sure to check out her posts at Schnauzer Snips!