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)…

IMG_1182
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, 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. 

A Crafter's Life

Paper Wrangling: Organizing my clipped patterns

In my post Craft Book Hoarder I mention my discovery that I now have 370+ craft books. If I have that many craft books, you might suspect I have a lot of crafting magazines.

I used to have a ridiculous amount of crafting magazines, especially quilting magazines. I had a subscription to 4-5 quilt magazine publications (plus the quarterly and annual special publications I would pick up at a quilt shop) and I would hold onto every issue in case there might be a pattern I might want to make someday or a helpful quilting tip. I had the same issue with Beading magazines and even for a while Scrapbooking magazines!

A couple of years ago, over a series of several weeks, I made myself go through every magazine and clip out only the patterns I would actually make and only the tips that I would refer to over and over again. Then I put them in a large binder in sheet protectors.

I was so proud. I thought I had conquered paper clutter.

Then this huge binder sat on the shelf, with all those nice patterns and tips inside, unloved, untouched, unused and gathering dust. I had started downloading free and purchased patterns from the internet and storing them on my laptop. I did cancel all my quilting magazine subscriptions (because seriously, how many new and unique patterns are there to find after a while?) but for any additional magazines that trickled in, I would just scan the pattern I wanted and then donate the magazine to the Humane Society Thrift Shop.

This past weekend I rediscovered the MEGA BINDER of patterns in sheet protectors. It was actually unwieldy to remove from the shelf. I realized I primarily use my laptop for storing patterns now and if I buy a new pattern I like to get it online. I also have a nice folder organization of patterns and quilting tips on my laptop…

IT WAS TIME TO GET RID OF THE PAPER! 

So now a new huge project has commenced: I have removed all the paper patterns from the sheet protectors (donated the mega binder of sheet protectors to my favorite thrift shop for the next organization victim) and I am going to SCAN them all into my laptop and then recycle the paper! Then I can organize all the patterns for quick access..and…maybe actually USE them.

I am a woman with a plan and ready to SCAN!
I am a woman with a plan and ready to SCAN!