Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My Sew Called Hobby Room

In my quest to clear the clutter, remove the rubbish and trash the trash, I couldn't leave out my sewing set-up. After we got rid of our bed, moved the guest room bed into our room, put a futon in the guest room and I cleaned out my clothes closet, the room was blissfully clean and clear. In fact, you could hear a pin drop, which reminded me I hadn't cleared out my sewing stuff.

Up until now, if I had a small project, I would stay in the guest room/sewing room to work on it. I used a vintage (read old and ugly) table that had a wobbly top and drawers that stuck. It was very annoying, but it held all my stuff, making it appear that I was nice and organized. Except when I tried to open one of the drawers and a pair of scissors or other sharp instrument would jam up the works. Then it was time to stick my entire arm up to the elbow inside the drawer and try to get the log jam unjammed. I'm fortunate to have all ten fingers left. Time to clear out the mess for good!

Here is the sewing table, looking all innocent and helpful.

Here it is with the nifty organizer on top.
Otherwise known as the Plastic Contraption of Extreme Messiness.

This is one of the drawers.
One of the better organized ones.

There was no other choice but to dump the whole mess onto the new futon.
Which I covered, because it's new and still on the credit card statement.

I have no idea what all this is.
None of it sparks joy, but I'm too afraid to get rid of it.
It stayed.

You can't sew without some cutting instruments, and these are my favorites.
The ones that don't cut worth beans got relegated to the garage sale.

Seam ripper seems like such a harsh word.
But a must is a must.

While it was probably unnecessary to label them BUTTONS, I did, because it made me feel so orderly.
These are all the buttons in our life.
Bye bye buttons from all the clothes long gone, you lasted longer than the clothes.

My super fancy row markers for my rag quilts.
Only the best, that's what I always say.
The numerous poke marks represent to me all the quilts they have kept in order.
Poke marks mean quilts out the door, which means profits.
Profits spark joy.

Can't crochet without these, they stayed.

Quilts without templates are not very squared up.
My well-used templates are in for the long run.

Once I organized everything, I put it all in a pretty floral box, and there it stays. The sewing machine is in the closet, and I'm figuring out what to do next. Either get a new table (I'm eyeing a super cool one at IKEA that would be very flexible) or just keep things they way they are and sew on the kitchen table or the back patio in nice weather. I love the freedom of choosing, and the sticking drawers that annoyed me are gone and out of here. I forgot I had an extra sewing machine in the attic (!) and I got a good price at the garage sale. A lot of the other sewing stuff sold, and what didn't got hauled off to Goodwill.

Miss Sticky Drawers was mortified to end up in the free pile.
No one took her, so she too got hauled away to Goodwill.
I did not shed a tear...

...because I've got some very important projects to concentrate on.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Joy Sparkage

If we didn't have such a variety of stuff, and if we lived in an apartment, and if I had a huge chunk of time on my hands and if I could just stop everything, I would love to clear out the clutter just as suggested in Marie Kondo's brilliant book. Her advice is to just get in there and tackle all your stuff in one giant huge binge clean and you'll never have to do it again. She suggests getting it all done in one barely-get-out-of-your-pajamas, eat-take-out-for-days, don't-even-think-of-stopping-by-my-house-or-I'll-have-to-reprogram-your-memory sort of session.

The lovely author has never seen our attic space above the garage. Most things up there are in opaque black garbage bags and are unidentifiable without opening each one and peeking inside. And I know she would not want to walk past the rat traps out in the garden shed, which may or may not be baited and ready to spring. We are not hoarders, we really aren't. We just have a lot of interests. The RBC tools alone are enough for a day or so.

But, I wish I could. Because this method works and it is amazing. Right now I seem to be at a bit of a stand still. Our garage is getting pretty near crammed full, ready for our yard sale. That means key categories are being blocked - I see stuff I want to get to, but since gravity defeats me, I can't flutter past the "treasures" to reach them. Until I have room to groove, I can't start on any of the major garagy type things like sports stuff, cleaning stuff, more sports stuff and then there is all that sports stuff. And we can't forget the category - Really Gross Rags That Are Ready To Self-Combust. That will be a whole day right there. But here are a few of my favorite categories, not areas, I've finished this week.

First, a very honorable nod of respect to the book of tidying. This is not a fist pump book, but there were lots of inner fist pumps going on inside me these last few weeks.

Enough towels to run a small Bed and Breakfast, but we don't, so only the joy sparking ones stayed.

My fabric stash. There was some weird stuff in there.

Don't try to hide, I will find you.

The joyful pieces are now rolled up so I can see them! 

Goodbye weird pieces that brought no sparks, your forever home is not here.
I learned I don't like either giant amounts of fabric or little bitty scraps. They have to be Mama Bear sized.

Onward to the beauty and health supplies.
Um, you're not working for us. Meet Mr. Garbage Bag.

We're just so naturally beautiful and genetically healthy, we need so little.
Or maybe we're just lazy and we stick to the basics?

This is an example of what area cleaning does versus category organizing
I just "organized" this a few months ago.
It's a mess again.
Junk Drawer, I have plans for you. Big plans. I don't know what yet, but you will spark joy someday.

The neighborhood rooster didn't spark joy for Molly, so she let it move on. Or float away. We hope poultry was just a category of one.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Tidying up - it's changing my life

Recently I heard from a friend about a book that she said completely changed the way she viewed her stuff. She went through her whole house and got rid of everything that didn't "spark joy." I do that all the time, I thought. I'm always getting rid of stuff at the Goodwill drop-off around the corner from us. I love getting rid of stuff, it's so liberating!

Oh, what an amateur I was. Because even though I thought I was Little Miss Organized, I still on a regular basic could not find simple stuff in my own home. Like my purse. My keys. The tape, or rather any one of the six or seven rolls of tape that were being held hostage by the drawers and cabinets in our home. Let's see, what other things do I have trouble finding? Usually it's the thing I really need, and while I'm looking for that item, I come across other missing yet important things, which I don't have time to deal with at the moment because I'm looking for the thing I cannot find. And then I want to pull my hair out, but I wouldn't be able to find the super glue to put it back in. The super glue is playing hide and seek with the tape, those silly guys.

Enter The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo. Another friend, a Little Miss Organized in her own right who also struggles with super glue moments, loaned me the book. How can this be any different from all the self-help books that tell you all the same things? The ones that say:

  • Organize a little every day
  • Organize one area at a time
  • The reason you're not organized is because you don't have all your stuff in the right containers
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

I've always done it that way. It doesn't work. I still can't find the tape. Because the tape doesn't have a home. That's right, we've had homeless tape. Or maybe because the tape had too many homes. 

If you read the book, and you really should because the author is pathetically adorable, you'll see the wisdom and beauty of doing it this way:

  • Pick a category of stuff
  • Any category of stuff
  • Pull out every item of this in your home, from every nook and cranny you can think of. Of course for things like tape, you may need to wait for the hide and seek game to end.
  • So start with stuff you know where the majority of it is
  • Pile it all together
  • Look at it
  • Cry
  • Then take every item, pick it up and ask if the item "sparks joy"
  • If it "sparks joy" keep it
  • Keep all the category in one place - its home
It's not about getting rid of stuff, it's about keeping the stuff you love. That's it. Keep the stuff you love. And give it a home.

Here is what happened with my glassware. (I failed to take a before photo).

I took every last piece of glassware out of our cabinets and put them on the kitchen table, the floor and the counter tops. Vases, glasses, dishes, bowls, everything. Yikes! Was I running a floral shop? How many vases does a person who can't arrange flowers need? Certainly not ten vases! And because I couldn't reach my arm into our Scary Cabinet of Glass, I wasn't using the ones we love! How dumb is that? Through all this moving around of breakable items, I only dropped one thing, a little glass candle holder. At this point our dog Molly tiptoed into the kitchen, gently picked up her stuffed moose toy and gently tiptoed out. I think she expected me to start throwing glassware in frustration, but there was no frustration - just a bit of joy sparking and lots of walks out to the yard sale pile in the garage.

Ernst was part of the process and confesses that when you see the whole lot of it all at once, it's easy to see what you want and what you don't need anymore. It was liberating. There is now room to see what we have, and we love what we have. Simple. While the book gets a bit weird in parts (I'm not going to start talking to my shoes) it is a simple and easy read. There was one item, however, I did have to talk to. Mrs. Duck was a wedding present. She was cute and she held sugar. She served us well. She used to spark big time joy. But the couple who gave us Mrs. Duck is no more, they both died of dementia. I got sad every time I saw Mrs. Duck and she was relegated to the back of the Scary Cabinet of Glass. She deserves better. She will be sold at our garage sale. I said my goodbyes, and I got all choked up over that little ceramic duck. I was in the garage, talking to a duck, and that was OK. That's what this book will do for you. This is what it did for me.

Introducing the Not Scary...


...of JOY!
Last night at a party at our house, a little guest came up and handed me a bouquet of flowers. After thanking him, I floated into the house, reached into our glassware collection, and with room around each item to see what was there, I grabbed the perfect size to fit the flowers. No sighing, no frustration, no breakage.  

I still can't arrange them, but I found the perfect vase! Joy.

Friday, May 1, 2015

A cabaña, but not mañana

The first rule of home ownership should be "First, do no harm." The original owner of our house never learned the rule, and his decisions are just a joy to discover. One brilliant thing he did was build a pool house several decades back that was lower than the pool. When it rained, the pool house pooled, but not in a refreshing way. Besides water coming up from below, the roof leaked, big time. And that's why it has had an ugly tarp over it since we moved in. And that's why I don't have many before pictures - the ugly mess usually got cropped out of all my photos. The pool house was featured often on social media in the photos of friends, but friends don't make friends crop.

This spring it was time to tackle the mess. The roof came off first, or shall I say roofs. There were four layers of roofing material, and they all leaked. Then the siding came down, in preparation for the walls coming down, in preparation for the foundation being raised. 

That was when the Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm Moment occurred. 

Hmm, those redwoods are sort of the highlight of the yard. Hmm, they look really great when not obscured by a leaky, chipped paint, sunken pool house covered with a big ugly shredding tarp. (Why do I not have a photo of that??)

Wow, without walls they look even better. Hmm.

Hmm, should we just not rebuild it? But where will people, you know, take care of business?

But it looks so good NOT there. Hmm.

Once the tornado is cleaned up, the redwoods will just shine!

But really, people need somewhere to, you know, do their business. We can't just build an outhouse. Hmm.

If we don't call it an outhouse, but name it The Cabaña, we could rebuild something much much smaller, much much cuter, with just enough room to take care of business.

Hmm. What's that leaking under the sewer line? Hmm. Mr. First Homeowner of the Really Bad Decisions strikes again! To be continued...

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Rub a dub dub, I made soap in a tub

I have very talented and resourceful friends who make gorgeous soap. Or is it more proper to say they make soaps? Cucumber, lemon, lavender, rose - these bars look good enough to eat. And they're almost too pretty to use, but I do. As much as I enjoy these handmade bars of delight, I've never once been tempted to try my hand at soap making. Until today.

My soap making adventure didn't involve anything exotic, no lovely smells, no essential oils, no fancy molds or pretty wrappings. I made laundry soap, because I'm a practical kind of girl and heaven knows you can't just go out and buy laundry soap. Well, yes you can, but the point is I made soap. Well, really it was more like buying a bunch of different soap-like products and mixing them together, but without me they would never have mixed themselves up and made their way into the Tofurkey roaster. 

When we got our front loading washing machine, I felt pretty stinking good about all the water we were saving. And when I hang out our clothes on the line, I feel pretty stinking good about all the electricity we are saving. But I've been noticing lately our clothes have been kind of stinking, and not in a good way. Our water saving washing machine just doesn't use enough water. I have stood there and watched it. I have stood there and yelled at it to fill up with more water. (I have learned that the permanent press cycle uses the most water, more than the heavy load cycle, which makes no sense.) How could I get our machine to clean clothes better? I did what any person who wants answers does, I Googled "How to make your clothes stop stinking if you use a front loading washer and you hang out on the line." Google searches love when you're really succinct like that. I found a recipe for making laundry soap that is supposed to get the job done without any yelling. Here it is, because you also may have too much stinking time on your hands and may want to feel super crafty while impressing absolutely no one.

First buy a box of Borax. It's on the laundry aisle. I didn't know it existed, but trust me, it was right there the on the shelf at Raleys. Subsequent searches on Pinterest have poo-poo-ed using Borax, but I bet they never had laundry that smelled of poo-poo.

Now buy a box, a big box, of baking soda. Don't walk to the baking section of the store, because that's where the little boxes of baking soda are. The big boxes of baking soda are near the borax. Trust me on this one. Be sure to not get a big box of baking powder, because you can't trust that stuff.

Next, buy a big box of super washing soda. Not just washing soda, it has to be super washing soda. Again with the trust thing, it's on the same aisle as the borax and the big box of baking soda. Look for the arm. Then look for the hammer. They will be together, ready to handle whatever stink you throw at them.

Now you can leave the laundry aisle and head to the personal soap aisle. Look down where the weird soap is, not eye level at the razzle dazzle kind. You can buy Kirk's Castile soap, or Fels Naptha (which really needs a better PR department) or some other kind of soap your ancestors used while washing clothes down by the river. Grate it into the Tofurkey roaster. Be sure to use a grater that is old enough to remember the Hoover Administration. 

There it is, the recipe for making your own stinking laundry soap. Oh yes, be sure to mix it all up really well, that's the part that qualifies you as a super crafty person who makes their own soap. Your laundry will smell so good, you'll want to run out into the street and ask perfect strangers if your towels are not indeed April fresh. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

One drop...two drops...three drops...more?

What does a person who loves rain do during a drought? She waits. 
What does a person who loves rain but hates to wait do during a drought? She complains. A lot.

This dry spell has been super hard on me. It seems like it has rained all of four times here in Sacramento this season. And for one of those times I wasn't even in the state. It's been one long dry parched disappointing year. They keep saying nothing will help at this point, any rain we get won't do much good. Too little. Too late. 

Here's to the Too Little Too Late Mini Storm of April 2015, because it felt really good, even if I wasn't there for it. We went up to our friend's cabin in Iowa Hill, a little town out of Colfax CA on a steep and winding road with hairpin turns that makes your hair no longer need pins. It was supposed to rain some while we were there, which was going to be wonderful for this lover of water falling from the sky. 

We went. And we waited. For the rain. We crossed our fingers and paws, waiting for the rain. And it didn't come. It never came. The rain was a washout. Again.

Crossing all four paws.
For the rain.

It didn't rain.
Because it snowed!

First it was a little dusting.

Then it got a bit more exciting.

It was enough to collect on the little branches.
I just love when that happens.

It was very wet and sloppy snow.
Sierra Slush.
It was terrific.

Driving back yesterday, we left the wet winter wonderland at 2800 feet and drove right back into the greenest green of a California spring in the foothills. The poppies and wildflowers are blooming, the hills are vibrant and the air is clean. The rain gauge in our Sacramento yard said one inch. Even though the paper said that's a drop in the bucket, any drop in this dry bucket is appreciated. Let's put up a big ol' thank you card for the drops, a banner that reads "Thanks drops, you did good, send your friends, we love drops."

We came home to a fresh and clean front yard - our Kill the Lawn mulch was wet and dark and looking good. The second set of irises are blooming, the lavender is doing its thing, the neglected roses are looking pampered and happy, and the trees got their roots soaked. No more rain in the forecast, but when it's this dry, every drop really does count. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Five Steps of Dog Vomit Mold Rehabilitation

Just the other day I said to my husband, "Hey, we haven't had any dog vomit mold in the yard this spring." (These are the kind of statements that keep a marriage strong and vibrant, it's in all the manuals.) And then it rained. Not enough to help out the drought one tiny dust particle of good, but it was just enough to bring up that weird phenomenon known as Dog Vomit Mold. These are the basic principles of the Dog Vomit Mold Five Step Program, often called Al-a-Mold.

First, you see the problem. 

But you are in disbelief. This can't be happening in your garden. Again.

You hope it goes away, but it doesn't.

You try to see the humor in the situation. You make barf jokes. But it's so not funny.

Finally, there is acceptance. Things will get better, it just takes time. Someday when your garden is covered in beautiful plants and flowers and the weeds are under control, this will be a distant memory. A really ugly distant memory.

And you focus on the positive. Bee Positive.