Monday, August 26, 2013

Operation Organization: Linen Closet

I can really be my own worst enemy when organizing.  If I decide to organize the linen closet, I will think, "Oh!  Wouldn't a pretty new shelf liner be lovely?"  Followed by;  "It really would be nice to have matching baskets to hold my stuff."  I love Pretty.  I really, really, do.  However Pretty doesn't get things done; not in this house.  So I organized the linen closet, and Pretty will just have to wait.  Of course, now I feel pretty awesome every time I open the door.

This is half of what I took out:

I have accumulated a lot of curtains in this house.  I don't have many other linens in here because I keep them in the bedrooms and bathrooms where they are used.  This is almost a junk closet.

This is the other half:

This is where I am now:

All of my batteries are current; meaning I checked all the expiration dates (did you know they put expiration dates of batteries?)  Expired batteries and toxic cleaners are in the pile for hazardous waste recycling.

I got rid of the extra red towels that always bleed in the wash.  I got rid of the double size sheets that don't fit any bed in this house.  I have half a shelf that is empty!!!
I put an empty orchard basket on the bottom: this is where the things that need to go to Salvation Army will be kept and not on top of my clothes dryer or on the trunk at the end of my bed.

My vintage apron which I use to clean in is now hanging up for easy access along with the ceiling fan duster.  Yes, the apron is  a bit much, but really it does make me feel more efficient.  When I take it off I know I'm done.  Homemade cleaning supplies have been made/topped up.  Did I mention I have half an empty shelf?

Pretty is taking on a whole new definition for me today:)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


 For all the 'green' laundry make-overs I have been doing, the following project has made me the most excited.  Funny to get so giddy about doing laundry, but hey, I'm pretty easy please.
I have read about dryer balls for a while, but I never did like the thought of putting plastic in the dryer, no matter what they say.  So when I saw you could have an all natural wool version that you can make yourself I was eager to try it.  It's not rocket science or anything, you just wind 100% wool yarn into balls and felt them.  There are lots of tutorials online - just look for 'wool dryer balls' and you will get lots of them.  

I let the balls run through several washes over the course of a few days to get felted.
I used two cream coloured skeins of  wool from Michaels, and with my 40% off coupons I paid just over eight dollars for four balls. If you compare that price to the plastic ones it is about the same or even better depending on where you get them from.   For some reason I got 2 1/2 balls out of one skein, and only 1 1/2 out of another.  I must have been tense while I was winding the second skein:)  I like the fact that I can add a few drops of essential oil to the balls to give my clothes a bit of a scent too.  I tried them this morning with a load of laundry and they really did cut down on the drying time.

Because I'm a little um, particular when it comes to displaying things, I had to put them in a nice container.  This silver bowl - which I love but doesn't see the light of day much - seems to be right at home holding my lovely, wooly dryer helpers.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Something Fun

I picked this frame up from someone's trash around a year ago.  It's plastic, and was painted a dark gold colour.  I think anyone growing up in the 1970's saw something like this on a daily basis.
So it sat around forever:  do I need a new mirror?  No.  Do I need a new photo frame?  No.  Should I paint it white?  Pink?

Really I just couldn't stand my endless debating about it:  it's a plastic frame for goodness sake.  So I painted the frame  with a leftover can of baby blue spray paint and bought some chalk board paint for the backing.  Enter my new, inspirational chalk-board.  It's hanging off the side of my pantry so you see it as you enter my kitchen.  I am in love.

I love my little family.  Now I can let them know in one more way every single day.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Reconstructing Maggie B.

A couple of years ago I saw this quilted Maggie B.  hanging travel bag at Value Village.  I loved the fabric on it so much I had to have it.  I also loved the price:  99 cents.

 I didn't need a travel bag - I prefer a wider, counter top version - so it sat around for a while and then became a holder for my little bits of fabric.  During my recent craft room purging sessions I got rid of the little bits of fabric and the Maggie B. bag went into the thrift store pile.

After reading Unstuff Your Life, I knew I had to make some mini bags to make it easier when I switch purses.  Seeing the opened up travel bag on my counter gave me a great idea...

I cut the bag apart above all the zippers but the top section.  I cut the sizes I needed from two central sections and stitched up the tops.  The two ties were just the perfect amount to fold over the remaining raw edges and seal up.

For less than an hour's work (and 99cents!)I have four pretty new bags to use.  Two for my purse; one for a cross stitch project bag and the last one is for My Favourite Girl to store her knitting needles.

I love that I get to see the gorgeous chintz fabric but can still see what's inside them.  Definitely money and time well spent.  (And a perfect example of why it's good to wait at least a day between purging and charity drop off!)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

You Watch One Documentary...

... and you put your life in upheaval!  Maybe 'upheaval' is a bit strong, but it has certainly created an energy shift around here.  A few weeks ago I borrowed Chemerical from the library.  It's about the toxins we use regularly in our lives, via things like cleaning products.  There was nothing new in this video for me.  Years and years ago I used to make my own laundry soap, air freshener, deodorant; all that stuff, because I read this great book.

Then I had babies, and moved house three times, and life just kept happening.  Costco came out with a great unscented laundry detergent that none of us were allergic too and all I had to do was whip out my debit card instead of grate a bar of soap. That's a big sell for a new mom who wants to do creative things with her spare minutes - and no, grating soap did not make the 'creative' cut. Conveniently they also sell a huge box of OxyClean powder and mega bottles of dishwasher detergent.  Those large dispensers of disinfectant wipes were wonderful at doing a quick and thorough job of cleaning bathrooms too.

After I watched the video I decided to go back to my old way of thinking and go non-toxic.  I pulled all the toxic substances out of my cupboards and could not believe how much I had.  I also couldn't believe how much room it all took to store this stuff.  So I made a batch of laundry soap and did not grudge the ten minutes it took me to grate the soap.  It was ten minutes to myself on the front steps on a beautiful summer day.  That's a good memory to attach to soap grating!  Then I organized my laundry cupboard since I had all this extra space.  Then I started looking on the internet for other home made cleaner recipes and organizational ideas.  That sent me off on a fury of organizing around the house.  Closets, basement, pantry, and cupboards have all fallen victim.  A trip to the library to find a cleaning book led me to this book, which has had the biggest impact so far.

This book isn't just about organizing your spaces, it makes you examine why you have the stuff you do.  I was shocked to realize how much stuff I am holding onto for 'someday'.  When the heck is that ever going to come?  The last few days have had me purging stuff I never thought I would get rid of.  I have felt liberated to get rid of some of these things, but also very sad and a bit angry too.  Sad because I have to realize that the person I was planning to be when Someday came isn't going to materialize either.  I let go of about 50 cookie cutters because so far I have not become the mom who bakes and beautifully decorates sugar cookie works of art.  The saddest part is finally admitting I never will.  If I haven't done it by now, what's the likelihood of it happening later?   The anger part is kind of the obvious - knowing how much money and/or time you invested in these little dreams and now letting them go.  The upshot is thinking how much a local charity is going to make by re-selling these things of mine.  Kind of nice to think those trinkets will pay for someone's overnight stay in a shelter or a hot meal when they have no other access to one.  There's perspective for you.

However, despite these feelings I will press on.  I am not going about it in a terribly organized way:  I might be looking for something in the storage and end up clearing out the room.  Drawers and cupboards and getting done in a random fashion, but at least they are getting done.  I will not have any great before and after shots to show because this really is feeling quite spontaneous to me, and when the mood strikes there is no time to run for the camera!

The last few days I have been attacking my craft cupboards, and it has been really hard.  After two days I am starting to see some empty spaces and feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  I am starting to think that it might be pleasant to do some sewing without having to clear off the table first. I am focussing on the things I like to do the most and getting rid of all the rest.

 When I start feeling down I think of how I always seem to be cleaning up things and putting things away instead of doing fun stuff.  I think of how the next time we buy a house I want it to be smaller, so all of this stuff will not fit into it anyway.  Our current house is really too big for a family of four and I want to spend less time cleaning and filling it up.

 I need to break up with Stuff and it's really hard.  Now I am starting to feel bad again so let's talk about other things.

In between  all this organizing and purging I have been doing a bit of what I love.  I started a new cross stitch (seen above).  The blue poppies remind me of trips to Butchart Gardens with my Mum.  Lovely memories to stitch by.

I have been crocheting flower dish cloths like a madwoman every night and every time I take the kids to the park.

These are rapidly cutting down on my cotton yarn stash and are a great project for me to satisfy my desire to make one object in multiple colour ways.  Six down, many more to go.  I am taking these on vacation with me.  When I am finished they will all be donated to our church holiday bazaar in November.

We celebrated two birthdays and I finished up a little stitchy project for My Favourite Girl:

I started the cross stitch portion in January; finished it in April; and only got the backing sewn on the pillow two days before her birthday!  I also stitched two cards for the kids too.

It's been a good summer so far, despite the self re-examination.  After all, I am always telling people that changing your thinking is the hardest thing to do.

We had to cancel our camping trip due to work issues, but we did manage a lovely day at the beach.

That trip inspired me to get a few more rows done on my ripple blanket.  Yes, I am STILL working on it!  I put an updated picture in the sidebar.
I think that's enough rambling for now.  Today is a big drop off day for some of our stuff.  It should feel good:)

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