A Crafter's Life, Audiobooks and Podcasts, My Minimalism Journey, Quality of Life

The Empty Drawer (re-post)

I am getting caught up from being out of town and I wanted to share a re-posting of one of my favorite tierneycreates blog posts – The Empty Drawer (09/30/15).  The sweet memory it evokes, makes it one of my favorite posts.

At some point I would like to update with you all where I am on my “minimalism” journey that I have discussed in many older posts including this post. 

For now, here is “re-run” (smile).


Sometimes love is shown in small sweet ways…

This post is an addendum to the post The Space in Which We Live in which I share how Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing inspired me to downsize my unused and unneeded clothes and get rid of our second dresser in the bedroom.

Since I got rid of the dresser I used, I needed somewhere to store my socks and undies. I convinced my husband to give me one drawer of his tightly packed dresser. He groaned a little at first but realized how much space it would free up in the bedroom to only have one dresser. So he reluctantly cleared out a bottom drawer in his dresser for me.

I jokingly said: “Might I have a top drawer?”  A day later I discovered my stuff had been moved to a top drawer, all neatly organized by my husband.

Surprisingly, it did not take me long to get used to living with one drawer.

Then the other day, I got quite a surprise: I was opening my top drawer quickly and not paying attention and accidentally opened the drawer below it.

AND IT WAS EMPTY!

My husband, without saying anything, had somehow cleared a second drawer for me, right below my newly beloved solitary top drawer. I now have TWO DRAWERS!

The Empty Drawer
The Empty Drawer

Recently I have been listening to a wonderful book on CD from the library called The Empowering Women Gift Collection (1997) which is a collection of lectures by the motivational and inspirational speakers Louise Hay, Christiane Northrup, Caroline Myss, and Susan Jeffers. Although this CD is from 1997 most of the inspirational information is still pertinent.

One of the speakers discusses in her lecture that men may show their love differently than women. Basically they might show their love by fixing the faucet for you rather than getting all sweet and mushy, etc.

I definitely consider this unexpected and “unrequested” second EMPTY DRAWER an act of love!

A Crafter's Life

Coupons of Temptation

Temptation: The Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores’ coupons…

In previous posts such as  Craft Book Purge and Craft Book Hoarder?!?!? , I confess my addiction to craft books; and my struggle to stop bring new crafting books into the house.

I recently realized a major source of temptation related to craft book buying: The weekly Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store coupons that come in the mail.

img_1514How could I turn down 40% off, 50% off and occasionally 60% off – one regular priced item?!?! You can probably guess what I would buy with these coupons (hint: craft books).

Many times I would go to Jo-Ann’s with a plan to buy a crafting, quilting or sewing supply such as interfacing, rotary blades, etc. with the coupon. I would then discover that the item I had intended to use the coupon to purchase, was already on sale and thus not eligible for the coupon.

After finding what I needed already on sale, I could not just leave Jo-Ann’s without using my glorious coupon! I would usually end up getting a crafting related book for 40%- 60% off with the coupon that was burning a hole in my pocket.

The Solution: I have started recycling these coupons when they arrive in the mail.

It was unnerving at first but it is a huge step towards just enjoying the books I have already.

I can continue use the public library to satisfy my need to have new craft books to look at  (True Confession: I do get a little buzz with the anticipation of leafing through a new crafting or decorating book). I do not need to own them!

Postscript

In my recent post The Library Stack I shared how I am enjoying the audiobook  SuperBetter by Jane McGonigal and her discussion on “cognitive reframing”.

Well, another concept discussed in this wonderful book – “self distancing” – has also caught my attention. Paraphrasing the author, “self distancing” is the technique by which you step outside yourself and view a situation from an observer point of view, not from the point of view of the person experiencing the situation.

For example, when I was working through allowing myself to just recycle the latest weekly Jo-Ann’s coupon, I stepped outside myself for a moment and asked:

“Does Tierney really need anything right now (or in the near future) from Jo-Ann’s?”

The answer from an observer perspective is a clear “No”.

A Crafter's Life, My Minimalism Journey, Quality of Life

If it brings me joy, I will keep it in view

This is an addendum to my 12/30/15 post Quilts for the Quilter (and Crafts for the Crafter), recently I came across a very special homemade gift…

As part of my ongoing journey towards living with less and keeping only those things that are useful and bring me joy, I am working on dealing with mementos and keepsakes. I had three boxes of keepsakes – old postcards, cards from old friends and co-workers, newspaper clippings, holiday photo cards, etc. I now have one small box. I have let go of that which does not bring me a deep sense of joy.

During the process of working through my keepsakes, I re-discovered a quilt that my staff had made me when I was a manager at a health plan in Seattle in the late 1990s to early 2000s. I do not remember if I was a quilter yet, so it likely was not a “Quilt for the Quilter” but it is something very special that was just sitting around in a box put away.

My friend Judy, who originally got me into quilting and was a member of my work team in the late 1990s, organized a team quilt project as a holiday gift for me. Each team member made a block and Judy assembled the blocks into a wallhanging quilt. I was deeply touched and surprised with the gift, which I believe was given to me around 1998 or 1999.

This wonderful gift is no longer tucked away, I have placed it on the wall to remind me that I was that loved (because QUILT ARE LOVE, and do not let anyone tell you otherwise!) so much as a leader that a team took the time to make me a quilt!

Below is a photo of the quilt.  The center of the quilt features a photo of the entire team, so I have taken a low resolution photo at a bad angle to respect the privacy of former team members who I have lost touch with and may not want their photo published on the web. (And you likely thought it was just another one of my bad photos!)

I have included a couple close ups of some of the blocks. The “Chocolate Chip Cookies” block, by one of my former team members, was made to honor the fact that I brought the team homemade chocolate chip cookies when I interviewed with them! After I was hired I continued to make the team homemade cookies.

It is wonderful to have such a  special memory visible to enjoy everyday, rather tucked away, only to look at every couple of years (or longer, when you remember it is there).

As far as the other keepsakes, as I mentioned earlier I took them down from 3 boxes to 1 small box. I love what Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (2014), states in her wonderful book:

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

I realize many memories can be held inside my heart rather than my hand. I do not need to hold onto all those physical items to honor those memories (like all postcards I ever received – I have downsized them only a small stack of very special postcards).

And as far as the person I am becoming, I hope it is someone who is filled with gratitude for all the special moments in her life. This quilt reminds me to continue my feelings of gratitude each day.

 

A Crafter's Life

Time to Give (for real)

As I continue on my journey to scale back my material possessions and focus on the important things in life, I realize I have donated a lot of stuff I no longer need to charity organizations but I have not given any of my handmade items.

It feels like I have not been really giving, as I have only given purchased items I no longer want in my life.

Giving seems more like true giving, if you give something that is not as easy to part with – like a quilt (or two)!

So I decided to donate a couple small flannel quilts/baby quilts to Project Linus. I had them listed on my tierneycreates Etsy shop and I am taking down their listings and giving them away instead.

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Ready for donation

If you are not familiar with Project Linus is a non-profit organization that provides homemade “blankets” to children in need. I am getting together with a couple of friends at the end of this month that have worked with Project Linus in the past and they are going to help me donate my quilts.

It feels like this donation is more meaningful donation than a load of unused kitchen gadgets to Goodwill.

A Crafter's Life, My Minimalism Journey

Craft Book Purge

Yes I did it. I purged some of my HUGE craft book collection (see earlier post Craft Book Hoarder?!?!?).

Last April when I counted, I had around 370 craft books (on quilting, sewing, beading, knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking, card making, etc.).

Last weekend, I was ready to again take on thinning out my craft book collection.

Over the past couple of years, I have been able to let go of a lot of “stuff” as I move towards a life focused on experiences, not “stuff”. I even let go of a large amount of fabric that I was keeping “just in case” (see earlier post The Fabric Purge!). My craft books, however, all seemed so precious, and it has been difficult to part with them.

Suddenly I was ready. Following the principle’s in Marie Kondo’s wonderful book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and pulled ALL my craft books out and went through them one by one. This took nearly 4-6 hours to complete.

My primary criteria was: “Will I truly ever make something in this book?”. Using this criteria I was able to lighten my load by over 50 craft books.

The photo below shows the growing stack for DONATION in my laundry room.

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The cool thing was even while I was re-shelving and organizing the books I had decided to keep, I was able to weed out even more that I realized I do not need.

Last Monday, with the help of Terry the Quilting Husband, I dropped off two huge bags of books to our local public library. They will either go into the library’s collection of craft books for circulation to library patrons; or they will go to the Friends of the Library which will sell the books to raise money for the library. One of the library staff gave me a huge “thank you” on donating the books – she was amazed how many of the books were brand new and in excellent condition.

I have no regret over the money I spent on these books I never used, because they are going to either circulate in my beloved public library or raise money to support library activities!

(Yes I still have a lot of books left and I love them all. Let’s see if next year I can do another craft book purge…)

 

A Crafter Needs to Eat, A Crafter's Life

A Quilter’s Life

A while back a dear friend, who is not a quilter, whom I was trying convince to follow my blog, said: “But your blog is about quilting, and I am not a quilter…”

I replied: “My blog is about a Quilter’s Life” (which is of course more than just quilting).

So on this blustery autumn Saturday afternoon I have decided to just share some random happenings in my Quilter’s Life!  (Hope you are not too shocked over the wild life I lead, wink, wink).

Fabric Scraps, Well, Um, Yes Thank You

I hope I do not lose credibility with my readers, but in my very recent post A “Humane” Way to Eliminate Fabric Scraps, I pretty much vowed not to accept any more fabric scraps from friends. I have broken this vow, but if you are a quilter you will understand. I had lunch today with a couple of friends at our favorite Thai restaurant downtown and my friend Susan had beautifully packaged up some batik fabric scraps for me – how could I refuse them?

How could I turn these beautiful batik fabric scraps down?
How could I turn these beautiful batik fabric scraps down?

Junk Drawer Under Control!

I am still working through the lessons learned from reading Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (2014)  which I discussed in the post The Space in Which We Live. Recently I took on the infamous “Junk Drawer” (I know you all have one) and now have it under control. I was going to do a post just on organizing my “junk drawer” but I was pretty sure that would put you all to sleep as “organizing a junk drawer” is likely one of the most boring topics imaginable to devote an entire post. Thought I would share a photo and that is the end of talking about my “junk drawer”!

Ta Da - a semi organized
Ta Da – a semi organized “junk drawer” (I am actually able to find stuff without rifling through it too much).

Let’s Pretend this is a Culinary Blog (Just for a Moment)

Since I began blogging two years ago I have become addicted to reading other blogs. I never knew what I was missing – there are so many wonderful posts, ideas, stories, life experiences, and photos that my fellow bloggers share.

However, there is one type of blog I am completely intimidated by: Culinary/Cooking Blogs. Their photos are so beautiful, their blogs are so organized and well-written, and the recipes and cooking tips – sigh, I shudder with envy and intimidation.

For fun, I will pretend for a moment this is Culinary Blog and I will share a wonderful tip I learned from my friend Ali (who is a wonderful Home & Garden writer) who learned it from a chef she interviewed for an article:

A QUICK WAY TO DEAL WITH GARLIC CLOVES (eliminate the tedious peeling of garlic skin)

  1. Separate the cloves
  2. Take a medium-large stone (like one from the beach or your garden) that has been scrubbed clean, and firmly press down on the garlic to break it open.
  3. This will make removal of the garlic skin very easy – remove the garlic and chop, grate or mince it for your recipe!
No worries, I am not going to start a blog
No worries, I am not going to start a blog “tierneycooks”!

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and….

(By the way, did you notice that the photo above, from the section on a quick way to deal with garlic cloves, is not a very good photo? In culinary blogs their knives in photos are always very clean and very shiny while mine looks like it was smeared in mysterious goo. This is why you do not have to worry about a future “tierneycooks” culinary blog).

In my post Shared Bounty, I discussed how a friend had shared the “fruits of her labor” in her garden this past growing season. Today she gave me the last of her parsley, purple sage, and rosemary and suddenly I have the traditional English ballad “Scarborough Fair” (made famous by Simon & Garfunkel) stuck in my head. The only thing missing is “thyme”.

“Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parley, sage, rosemary, and thyme; Remember me to one who lives there, For once she was a true love of mine.”

I love cooking and I am pretty excited by this last batch for the season of fresh from the garden herbs and plan to make them part of several stews and soups!

Parley, Sage, Rosemary...but no Thyme (but we could still head to the imaginary Scarborough Fair!)
Parley, Sage, Rosemary…but no Thyme (but we could still head to the imaginary Scarborough Fair!)

Well I know you all are exhausted from reading about my wild Quilter’s Life, so I will close here, as I now need to find something else to organize or a new project to start and not finish!

Fabric Scraps Obsession, Studio, Thrift Shop Adventures

A “Humane” Way to Eliminate Fabric Scraps

If you have followed my blog for awhile, then you know about my addiction to fabric scraps. This addiction seems to be incompatible with my desire to downsize and minimize my possessions.

The fabric scrap addiction began innocently enough – friends would give me their fabric scraps at quilting retreats. I would go for a “sew day” at a fellow quilter’s house and leave with some of her fabric scraps. As if that was not enough, I began to actually BUY scraps.

Yes, BUY FABRIC SCRAPS, you read correctly. There is a wonderful quilt shop in Central Oregon called The Stitchin’ Post and occasionally they would sell scraps bags of their beautiful high-end quilting fabrics.  I bought numerous bags from them.

Beautiful scraps or not, still I was buying fabric scraps.

In my post “Creative Inspiration: Organization???” I shared my new organization of my favorite fabric scraps by color. Although I had organized scraps by color I still had a GIANT box of remaining fabric scraps.

I knew I had to do something. I needed to let go of the fabric scraps I did not completely and absolutely love. However, I did not want to throw them away or try to convince another quilter to adopt them.

So I packaged them up into 30 bags and organized them into two baskets and DONATED them to our local Humane Society Thrift Store to sell! (How do I know that the Humane Society Thrift Store sells fabric scraps? Do you want to take a guess? Yes, because I have bought fabric scraps also from several thrift stores include the Humane Society Thrift Store in the past).

The Humane Society Thrift Store Volunteer accepting my donation seemed pleased that I had packaged them up for sale. I like to imagine if they sell each bag for a couple dollars or more each that could be over $90 – $150+ profit for a wonderful local animal shelter! Some of the bags are packaged by color and some are random – so many options for the Humane Society Thrift Shops’ customers!

A
A “Humane” way to let go of excess fabric scraps!

When I buy fabric from quilt shops in the future, it will be actual whole fabric (fat quarters or yardage). I still have plenty of fabric scraps and my fabric scrap collection contains only scraps I truly love and plan to use…eventually.

POSTSCRIPT

I am still working through the lessons from the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo that I discussed in the post “The Space in Which We Live“. 

Quality of Life

Dark Cabinet of Mystery

There is nothing on the Design Wall and the sewing machine is cold…

We all have those stretches on “non-creatvity” and I am hopefully on the tail end of one of those stretches right now. I have however continued with my side project of decluttering and scaling back my life as discussed in previous posts.  I decided to take on THE DARK CABINET OF MYSTERY

Don’t be afraid to peek in (and then reach inside)…

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Mysterious Dark Cabinet in my kitchen
I know I am not alone – many people have those drawers or cabinets “of mystery” in which you never peek unless you really, really, really need to find something (and you strongly suspect, unfortunately, it is in THERE).

Most of the time you just throw something in there and quickly close the door without looking too hard to see what has gathered inside.

I have started working on what I call my Dark Cabinet of Mystery in the corner of my kitchen. It is an oddly shaped cabinet and has angle that reaches into…another dimension? A break in the “space-time continuum”? A wormhole?  I actually asked my husband to just reach into the cabinet and pull everything out.

(I figured if something grabbed him when he reached in, I could retrieve the dogs quickly and run out of the house)

Well everything got pulled out, and my husband survived emptying the cabinet. Below is what was inside and it is obvious that I kept thinking: “oh I need to save this glass jar”, “I probably really need to save this glass jar”, “not sure if I have enough glass jars”…

In addition to a large supply of empty glass jars I discovered I had a springform (aka cheesecake pan) which I have never used since buying it like 20 years ago; and I have an electric carving knife used once or twice in the 15+ years I have owned. I also have an entire extra set of flatware.

All the things discovered inside the cabinet of mystery
All the things discovered inside the cabinet of mystery
Now I have to decide what to keep and what to recycle (hint the numerous glass jars) or donate. I also need to decide the future of the Dark Cabinet of Mystery…

Maybe I should just have the Dark Cabinet of Mystery professionally sealed up…especially if creatures from other dimensions find a way to slip in through a portal likely in one of its dark corners..

Studio

Sorting and Organizing: Sometimes All You Need is a Friend

schnau

I have coworker (in my non-crafting, health care industry day job that keeps the electricity on so I can blog) who likes to say: “Sometimes all you need is a friend” (to resolve an issue). She says this tongue-in-cheek and is usually referring to a complex software challenge and “a friend” means someone who knows how to resolve your software issue, or a tool/reference to guide you towards resolution of your issue.

Although she says it tongue-in-cheek, her statement holds true. In my observations, in many situations in life, such as taking an overwhelming project to sort, declutter and organize your stuff – sometimes all you need is a friend.

Recently I helped two friends with their different organization projects:

  • A friend who wanted to gain control of a huge and unwieldy fabric stash; and
  • A friend who wanted to declutter and organize a desk where intense piles of paper had taken control

Both friends were overwhelmed with the tasks before them.

I can relate to being overwhelmed when it comes to a large decluttering/organization project of your own stuff. In my post The Fabric Purge! I share that during the sorting and reorganization of my fabric stash, I became so overwhelmed I sat on the floor and cried for a while, as there seemed to be no end in sight of my fabric purging and organization project.  I could have definitely used a friend there, even if for just mere moral support.

SORTING (DON’T DO IT ALONE)

I think one of the biggest challenges to taking on a decluttering/organization project on your stuff, is SORTING YOUR STUFF.  Why is sorting your stuff so difficult? Well, because it is your stuff.  It is interesting to you, it has history, it brings back memories, it makes you think about things good and bad, it makes you realize what you forgot to do, it is meaningful to you. You can get stuck trying to sort through your stuff as you take that trip down memory lane or get anxious on what you have YET to accomplish.

This is where a having friend there can help. Your friend knows you but does not have the level of connection to your stuff that you have to your stuff. Your friend can more objectively sort your stuff to help you make quicker decisions. What does this mean? Below are some examples of when I worked with my two friends on their decluttering/organization projects:

Friend with the Unwieldy Fabric Stash – For this friend I sorted her fabrics into what I thought were piles of the same collection, and presented those collections to her to quickly sort through and decide – keep or not keep. I noticed when she was left to sort from scratch she had some memory lane bonding with fabric. I was not pushy, but I kept her moving forward by continually asking her to make decisions about piles of fabric. Once she made a decision I boxed up the fabrics and put them on the shelf. She could not spend anymore time visiting with that particular fabric collection until we finished getting through her whole stash. I did let my friend visit with her unsorted fabric as she liked while I was sorting as she knew when I started asking questions, it was time for rapid decisions. 

Friend with the Desk-from-Heck – For this friend, first I sorted her papers (using my quick best guess from quick glance) into 4-6 general piles such as 1) important looking papers; 2) stuff she might want to keep; 3) business cards and small tags/cards; 4) photos; and 5) junk mail looking stuff. I made quick decisions and since I wanted to respect my friend’s privacy I did not read through any of the important looking papers (statements, business like correspondence, bills, etc.). If my friend had started sorting from scratch on her own, she might have gotten stuck on reviewing each important looking paper, etc. When I was done sorting materials from her desk into the various piles, I handed each pile to my friend and she made quick decision on each piece of paper of 1) keep; 2) recycle; or 3) save for immediate action. Before you know it her overwhelming pile of papers turned into a clean desk with a stack of important papers to go through on her own the next day. Plus by pulling out all the recycling (mailers, catalogs, obsolete papers) it made her pile that actually needed her attention look much smaller and less overwhelming.

In both cases, I think the key to success is having someone you trust (such as a friend) do the initial sorting (even if they get it wrong); and then having a friend with you to encourage you (not pressure you) to make as quick decisions as possible. You can get stuck if you are sorting through your stuff alone.

Even if your friend is not into organization and not interested in helping you sort, sometimes just having a friend there with you to hang out with while you work on your project, encourages you move forward.

Sometimes all you need is a friend. 

Audiobooks and Podcasts, My Minimalism Journey, Studio

The Fabric Purge!

Before I talk about my FABRIC PURGE, I wanted to give a little follow up on my Addicted to Audiobooks post:

I had mentioned in the post that one of the disadvantages of free audiobooks from your local library is a short loan period (14 days for example). Recently I discovered that my library allows up to a 21 day audiobook loan period but you have to set up your account that way! I guess when I first set up my digital book account with my library originally I accidentally selected the 14 day hold as my default. I wish I knew this earlier as recently I was in the middle of enjoying Beyond Willpower by Alexander Loyd and my loan expired! The audiobook has other library patron holds on it so I have to wait patiently until my turn comes around again. Ultimately it is my fault for alternating between three audiobooks at once time – 21 day loans will make it even easier (maybe I can alternate between four or five audiobooks…just kidding!)

FABRIC PURGE!

Sometimes you have to let go of clutter to make space for your creativity. I had collected an unwieldy amount of fabric in my 15+ years of being a quilter. My fabric collection (aka “Stash”) includes purchased new fabric, purchased (from thrift shops and garage sales) used fabric, recycled fabrics (old jeans, manufacturing remnants), and fabric given to my by quilting friends.  When I say “fabric” I mean anything from a 1/4 yard to several yards of fabric, not scraps. We won’t talk about my scrap collection at this point…

I had organized all my quilting cotton, non flannel fabrics either by color, by type (Batiks) or by collection in an old IKEA bookcase cabinet. This cabinet was REALLY STUFFED. It was so stuffed that I could not find smaller pieces that have somehow “melted” into the larger pieces. It was time to reevaluate what I really loved and needed in my collection and to let go of that which I do not really love or really need. I had taken Monday and Tuesday off from work for a little “staycation” so I had no excuse not to begin the PURGE!

The purge was kind of painful and tedious. I do not want to discourage anyone from evaluating their clutter and purging, I just want to be honest. I removed all the fabric from the bookcase cabinet and it transformed into a scary mess on the floor. In the spirit of honesty and full disclosure – I did at one point sit on the floor crying and exclaim: “Why do I have this much fabric? I do not need all this!” I had to keep self-coaching to get through the project, reminding myself how wonderful it will be to quickly find the fabric I am looking for and to get rid of what I will never use.

It took two days of sorting through fabric and refolding fabric to complete the project (by the way, I did take many breaks of course and did other things on my “staycation”). I found on Pinterest this wonderful link to instructions on how to uniformly fold your fabric using a ruler so that your fabric will stack easily together: How to Tuesday: Ruler Folding  (from a lovely blog – Create Kids Couture). I organized most of the fabric by color (this time I integrated the Batiks) and some by special collection (one shelf). I purged a giant bag of fabric to give my local quilting friends (oh no I am just adding to their stash so they have to purge someday!)

The fabric purge was worth it, despite some brief emotional distress. I feel like I have made room for my creativity by eliminating clutter!

BEFORE THE PURGE

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AFTER THE PURGE

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