A Crafter's Life, My Minimalism Journey

Dark Cabinet of Mystery (October 2015)

As part of the tierneycreates Blog Anniversary Celebration, I will be featuring (sprinkled through out the month of October) my top posts of the past 4 years (i.e. most views and/or most comments). Kicking off the “Best of tierneycreates” with a sort of scary-Halloween-esque themed post from October 2015 (…don’t read it alone in dimmed lights….).


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 (see posts in category My Minimalism Journey ).

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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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.

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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..


Featured image credit: Ryan Smart, free images.com

My Minimalism Journey, Quality of Life

Minimalism.Life

After 3+ years of writing on my tierneycreates blog, I thought it would be fun to reach out to other online publications. A new online publication, Minimalism.life invited me to write a short essay summarizing my minimalism journey in 250 – 300 words.

My article, “Living as a demi-minimalist”, was published in their newsletter today (Letter No. 8). Below is the link:

Living as a demi-minimalist

This new online journal, Minimalism.life, was developed in partnership with The Minimalists who I have followed via their blog for several years, listened to their weekly podcasts, read their books and saw their movie (now on Netflix) – Minimalism: A documentary about the important things.

So I am honored to share a little of my journey in this publication!

My Minimalism Journey, Studio

Quilt Studio Archaeology and Purge, Part III

This post is a continuation of yesterday’s post: Quilt Studio Archeology and Purging, Part II.

How well do we know each other? Are we at the point that I can bare my soul and share with you my deepest secrets? Can we talk about “Fat Quarter Pathology” (and can you try not to judge…okay you can judge a little..I deserve it…)

But before I bare my fat quarter hoarding soul here’s a couple definitions so we are all on the same page:

Fat Quarter – a quarter yard of fabric cut into a rectangle that measures 18″ x 21″, commonly packaged with other fat quarters into a themed fat quarter pack.

Pathology – any deviation from a healthy, normal, or efficient condition (Dictionary.com)

Are you ready? Alright here is my darkest fabric hoarding secret…

Fat Quarter Pathology

When I started quilting around 1999/2000 and discovered the magic of fabric shopping, I also discovered my love of little “fabric samples”. I was not into collecting scraps yet (or making many scraps as I only had a quilt or two under my belt). I was intimidated to buy a bunch of yardage when I saw a fabric collection I liked, but I did like buying a fat quarter bundle of the fabric collection that gave me a sample of many of the different fabrics in a collection.

This attraction to fat quarter bundles (usually or 6 – 8 fabrics) morphed into an attraction of fat quarters in general, including individually fat quarters. Quilt shops would display baskets of individual fat quarters and sell them in “baker’s dozens” so if you bought 12 you got 1 free.

Perhaps I only need a couple fat quarters (or likely none) but how could I turn down getting ONE free. So I would buy 12 to get the 13th free (makes sense, huh?)

Fat quarter bundles for a future project, individual fat quarters, fat quarters given to me as gifts, fat quarters won at Quilter’s Bingo, fat quarter found at thrift shops, and more, and more and more fat quarters…

I kept them organized, I kept them…IN THE CLOSET:

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I knew as part of the Quilt Studio “Archaeological Dig” I needed to go beyond just looking through them in their containers, I needed to go through them, find the treasures I wanted to keep and let go of what I would never use. I always try to keep lessons from Marie Kondo’s book – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing in mind.

Marie Kondo says you have to actually look at and hold every single item you own in your hands and decide if it is brings you joy. Every single item.

I knew I needed to go through every fat quarter. Then I needed to create a better system to store them which encouraged me to use them, not just try to create the world’s first Fat Quarter Museum.

The big step first – go through every fat quarter – here is my secret revealed – it was all laid out in the huge pile on my floor:

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I am a fat quarter hoarder!

There it is, now you know. Watch for my story on a future episode of the American TV show Hoarders (there was a UK version of this show but I forgot the name of it). I will be the one sleeping in a mattress in the corner surrounded by piles and piles of fat quarters. The Health Department will send a public health worker for an intervention…

But seriously, I was shocked at the sheer volume of the amount of fat quarters I had in my collection. I just kept accumulating them. I had purged a little in the past but obviously not enough to make a dent.

The Intervention

Similar to what you might see on a reality show about hoarding, I had to get honest with myself, deal with this pile and then find a meaningful way to organize what I kept.

Previously I organized my scraps by color (see post When all else fails, reorganize your fabric scraps) and I tend to think in colors rather than in fabric lines or fabric collections when I am working on a textile project, so I decided to organize the fat quarters I was keeping into the following groups:

  • Black, white, black & white patterns, and gray
  • Creams and fabrics where cream to light beige is the predominant color
  • Browns
  • Yellows
  • Oranges
  • Reds
  • Purples
  • Greens
  • Blues
  • Teals & Turquoises (I struggle with sorting these into blues or greens so I decided to just let them be their own group)

Interesting, the colors I had the most of in fat quarters, also reflected the colors I had the most of in my fabric yardage:

  1. Green
  2. Blue
  3. Red & Orange (tied)

I cleared out another standing storage drawer set and arranged the fat quarters in drawer set so I could easily access them. I also had to use the bottom drawer of another drawer set for the Blues.

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When I dumped out the fat quarters from their previous containers, I pre-sorted them by color into piles on the floor (see photo above). When I put them away by color, I looked at EACH fat quarter and made a decision whether to keep or donate.

Here was my criteria:

  1. Do I love this fabric and do I find it visually pleasing?
  2. Is it high quality quilting cotton (when I first started quilting, I would only buy inexpensive fabric at chain craft stores)?
  3. Would I use it in a future project and is it still my style (our tastes change over the years)?

Using this criteria I was able to pull out many fat quarters for donation:

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At one point I likely loved all the fat quarters shown in the donation pile above but not any longer – there is no joy for me in that pile!

Epilogue

Now that this project is over, I know I do not need to add any more fat quarters to my life (as I appear to have enough for several lifetimes!)

If you have followed my blog for a while you likely know a little about my minimalism journey and my quest to curate my life with only those items that bring me joy. I have removed and donated so much from my life such as household items, trinkets and kitsch and clothing (I probably own only 25% of the clothes I used to own).

The challenge with my craft supplies is that they BRING ME JOY and I think this is why I have saved this deeper dive into my crafting related supplies for last.

Another bit of Marie Kondo always in the back of my mind:

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

So fat quarters I no longer love – be gone! I am not going to worry about the money lost for bringing you into my life. I hope via my local thrift shop you will find your way into some other crafter’s life who will appreciate you (or perhaps hoard you in their collection, oh no….).

Thanks for letting me share with you my true confessions and my ongoing journey to curate my life to only the things that are useful and bring me joy.

My Minimalism Journey, Studio

Quilt Studio Archeology and Purging, Part II

I consider myself an organized person. I try to keep everything nicely organized in my crafting area.

However it is just organized clutter.

In two recent posts Quilting Studio Archaeology and Quilt Studio Closet Purge I discuss going through the stuff in my sewing area with a critical eye and beginning to purge. Perhaps “quilting studio archaeology” is not the most appropriate term as over the past couple of days I have been engaged in Crafting Archeology.

You see, I am not just a quilter. I am also:

  • A paper crafter (card making)
  • A beader/jewelry crafting
  • A knitter
  • A crocheter
  • A small fabric craft maker (bags, potholders, pillows, etc.)
  • A various miscellaneous crafter (like my foray into felting…)

Each craft involves related paraphernalia and supplies. I had all of them organized in the closet in my studio, along with sewing fabric:

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Above the closet doors is this a painted sign a friend gave me as a gift – Simplify. I kept this is mind as I go through everything left in the closet and make some honest decisions. I had already purged my unloved knitting, crocheting, and beading supplies. I have avoided until now my card making supplies, random crafting supplies and my fabric fat quarter storage.

Papercrafting Supplies

Between making cards and scrapbooking I have acquired quite a bit a paper and paper crafting supplies.

Over the past couple of years, on my journey towards embracing the minimalism movement and only have in my life that which brings me joy, I have donated a large amount of paper crafting supplies. I completed a huge project in 2015 – all my loose photos  were either put into a scrapbook or discarded. I have no more loose photographs.

When I completed this massive scrapbooking project, I decided to give up paper scrapbooking. If I craved another scrapbook in the future, I would have a digital scrapbook professional created.

However I had not decided what to do with my card making paper and supplies. I did sell a set of handmade cards on Etsy a couple years ago and I still like making handmade cards.

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Initially my plan was to just box up all my card making and remaining scrapbooking supplies and donate them all. However the I am continually inspired by the beautiful paper crafts I see on blogs I follow such as PaperPuff (paperpuff.wordpress.com) and I want to continue to make cards.

So here was the compromise…

What I kept:

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What I let go:

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Next post, I will continue sharing my archeological dig and purge; and talk about my “Fat Quarter Pathology” and the big decisions made around my obscene collection of pre-cut fabric/fat quarters.


Postscript

I am waiting until I have a couple more blocks done to provide an update on my Farm Girl Vintage blocks (see posts Farm Girl Vintage, Part I and Farm Girl Vintage, Part II and Recent Audiobook Delights). I just finished on called “Chicken Feet”.

One of my blogging buddies is also working on Farm Girl Vintage – check out peggycooperquilts.com for her blocks (she has made much further progress!)

Monday 3/6/17 is my last week of my 28 day Fast Metabolism Diet (FMD) that I shared in previous posts. I do not like scales but I feel like I have lost at least 5 – 10 pounds. When I have my annual wellness exam with my MD in April I will find out the official number.

My clothes are definitely looser and I feel great. I am looking forward to having a little dairy when the 28 day program ends!


Check out Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer’s posts on her Schnauzer Snips blog – schnauzersnips.wordpress.com/blog/

Feature photo credit: Russell Hugo, free images.com

A Crafter's Life, Fabric Scraps Obsession, My Minimalism Journey, Thrift Shop Adventures

A “Humane” Way to Eliminate Fabric Scraps (re-post)

Every so often I like to re-post something from the tierneycreates archives. Here is a post from October 2015. As an update to this post – it appears the fabrics scraps I bagged up for donation sold immediately at the Humane Society thrift shop. It seems my part of the country is infested with fabric scrap obsessed crafters!


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!

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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“. 

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

My Minimalism Journey: Part II

The Sudden Decision for a Life Change

So where did I leave off in my first post about my Minimalism Journey? Ah yes, we visited Central Oregon in October 2005 for the first time and a month later we had sold our house in Seattle, WA and had moved to temporary housing in Central Oregon.

It sounds like it all went very fast and smoothly. It did sort of, but then it was also a crazy whirlwind.

On the drive home back to Seattle, WA from visiting Central Oregon for the first time, it was amazing how we both had the same crazy thought: let’s just shake up our lives and do something different.

Perhaps it was the “Big Sky Country” we experienced when driving home through “Northern” Central Oregon. There is something magical about the high desert landscape: endless fields of dry grasses (sort of prairie-like) with the background of the Cascade Mountains and a huge, endless, cloudless blue sky.

It was as if those wide open spaces, mountains and sky were speaking to my soul, saying “Tierney, come be with us, come be here”. I just had to listen even if it meant adding a bit of complication to our lives.

Complications came in the way of Terry (the someday-to-be-quilting-husband) quitting his job (he worked as a Medical Technologist) and me convincing my employer to let me telecommute (telecommuting was very new in our organization, not widespread like it is now). We had to find Terry a new job in Central Oregon (luckily my employer said yes to telecommuting).

It also involved packing up and selling our house, saying goodbye to our friends and huge social network, and going to a place that we did not really know that much about.

I shared in My Minimalism Journey: Part I that our house sold in three (3) days. To clarify it did not sell in three days after returning to Seattle with our decision, but rather three days after putting on the market (it was a hot housing market in the Seattle area in 2005).

When we returned from our visit to Central Oregon, we started packing up our lives in preparation to put the house on the market.


The Packing, The Stuff, The Decisions (or lack of)

If I could go back in time, I would leave at least 50% of the stuff we packed up and brought with us from Seattle to Central Oregon. To our credit, we did do major packing up of our lives in a short period of time to keep the momentum going on our decision to change our life. We did not spend much time thinking about whether we needed all the stuff we packed.

We rented a medium size U-Haul truck and spent every weekend driving from Seattle to Central Oregon to drop off a load of our boxes up stuff into a storage unit we rented in Central Oregon. So many trips back and forth (6+ hours each way) just to haul our stuff its temporary location.

I cannot believe the stuff I packed. Even though I worked for an employer with a business casual dress code and I was becoming a telecommuter (so my business casual could become an old T-shirt and PJ bottoms if I wanted) I still packed up my huge collection of business suits/dresses (none of which I would ever wear again). Many of these suits were from the mid to late 1990s when I worked in an office in management, and some were outdated. A year or two later, while living in Central Oregon, I donated every single suit to a charity organization.

We packed up furniture that we would later give away. We packed up knick knacks, kitsch, and crap, etc. that we would never use after the move and later give away.

The funny thing is we could only fit so much furniture in the U-Haul during the final load after we sold the house. We ended up leaving behind some furniture that we should have kept (like a nice breakfast bar) because we did not have room for it because of all the “stuff” we had shoved into the truck that we thought we needed, and later gave away.

Of course as the saying goes “Hindsight is 20/20”.

Moving to Central Oregon was step one in our move towards a more Minimalistic lifestyle. Step two came a year or two later when we learned that we did not need 50% of the stuff in our lives. Over a 3 – 5 year process we purged our lives of the bulk of the stuff that did not bring us joy. Over the following 5 years we fine tuned what we want in our lives.

I will continue the story of our Minimalism Journey in a future post.


POSTSCRIPT

As I have mentioned in a previous post, I like to write reviews on Amazon.com (and now Goodreads.com) if I borrow a book from a library and enjoy it. It is my way to give a thank you to the author (since I did not purchase the book). As a result I have written a bit of reviews on Amazon.com; and over the past  year publishers and authors have contacted me and asked me if I would provide an honest review of their book in exchange for a complimentary copy of the book.

I say no to many of these offers because either I have no interest in the book or because of time (I have other books I am wanting to read/listen to). Recently however I have read several great books through this process – Sunborn Rising: Beneath the Fall by Aaron Safronoff; and most recently Bonds of Love & Blood by Marylee MacDonald.

You can read my review in Goodreads on Bonds of Love & Blood  – a collection of short stories focusing on poignant human experiences while traveling. I agreed to read and review this book because I have recently grown fond of reading short story collections/anthologies. Over the past year I read/listened on audiobook, two exceptional short story collections: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman and Stone Mattress: Nine Tales by Margaret Atwood. So I was open to trying another collection.

What impressed me about Bonds of Love & Blood was the author’s ability to immediately plop you into the story and get your engaged without having to develop the beginning or necessarily provide the ending to the story. I did not feel dissatisfied by not knowing the full ending of a story, I just appreciated being there in the moment, experiencing a travel experience from the perspective of the main character. Another thing that impressed me is that the author appears to be really into supporting Book Groups and provides book group questions at the end  of the book. She will also make herself available to join a book group discussion on her book (she has her contact info with the book group discussion questions).

I do not currently belong to a book group, but I think that would be very cool to have the author call into your book group! The author, a world traveler, also sent me an e-mail with the background on what inspired each story and a pdf of photos related to each story. Very cool!

Well I was going to chat about another book I have just started, but  I continue to try to keep my posts length reasonable, so more rambling next time!

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!

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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..

Audiobooks and Podcasts, My Minimalism Journey, Quality of Life

The Empty Drawer

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!

Audiobooks and Podcasts, My Minimalism Journey, Quality of Life, Sunflowers!

The Space in Which We Live

Sometimes a statement really resonates with you…

I am currently listening to the audiobook of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (Kondo, 2014).

The author, Marie Kondo makes a very powerful statement when she discusses letting go of mementos from our past:

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

This book is not your average “here is how you organize your stuff type of book”. It takes a very different and profound approach on dealing with clutter, permanently. Getting rid of physical clutter helps free your mental clutter. I have already experienced this through starting to work through this book.

Marie Kondo approaches dealing with “your stuff” in a very beautiful way. In a way that honors your stuff and the happiness or the function it may have brought you in the past.

Her process requires that you physically touch every single thing you own and decide honestly: “does this bring me joy?”

Her process also involves thanking those things that you give up for what role they played in your life and then letting them go. (This all may sound strange but it is not, it feels very right and very peaceful).

Completed “Phase One”

I have made it through the first phase – letting go of clothing I do not need (she has a specific method and order in which you deal with different categories of your stuff). Two big things happened yesterday: 1) I took a huge carload of clothing and other random stuff to the Humane Society Thrift Store; and 2) I got rid of MY DRESSER!

Our bedroom always felt kind of cluttered with two dressers (my dresser and my husband’s dresser). My 25 year-old dresser blocked part of the area I use to get out of bed. My husband was able to make space for my undies and socks in his dresser. Everything else (including old socks and undergarments not in the best condition) was either discarded, donated or folded/hung up in the closet.

I did touch each item, determine if it brought be joy, and thanked those that did not (bring me joy) for their service before discarding them. We placed my dresser outside on the curb and 5 minutes later it was gone (I believe the Universe gave it to the person who needed next)! Suddenly with the dresser gone, the bedroom appeared to have better flow and energy. I now have room next to the bed to put out my yoga mat in the morning!

Unbelievably freeing experience, so far

You must read or listen to this wonderful book for this all to make sense, and it will. I highly recommend this book and the “Eastern Philosophy” influenced perspective of letting go of the stuff that clutters our lives and our minds.

I continue to work on letting the space that I live be for the person I am becoming now, not for the person I was in the past.

Random pretty sunflower which you will have time to enjoy once you declutter your life ;-)
Random pretty sunflower which you will have time to enjoy once you declutter your life 😉
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.