Divine Bird

I believe in a high-fiber diet…like wool, alpaca, cashmere…

Cleaning House: New Year Edition


I can’t believe we made it to 2015!  No, seriously, it’s been insane.

December was such a bust in so many ways. Dashing’s illness, now in its eighth month, seemed to get worse. At best, it was barely reacting to the treatment he was undergoing, and he missed out on everything from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. The worst day was Christmas morning, when he woke up with an intense new pain on his left side–previously the side that didn’t hurt–which resulted in an ambulance ride to the ER. Cue the cancellation of Christmas at his mom’s; my sweet MIL instead dropped everything and came to stay with us in the hospital all day. They let him go home that night, but that pretty much ended any chance for him to celebrate the holiday. We cancelled our New Year’s Eve party, too. It was a very quiet and subdued end to the year; I, for one, am happy to see 2014 in the rearview mirror.

Before I get into the cleaning part, I have to say–if there is nothing else I’ve learned while dealing with Dashing’s health over the past months, I have at least learned gratitude for the immense aid we’ve received from family and friends. From a listening ear to a little financial help to expert advice on dealing with the constant paperwork, everyone around us has been so supportive. Thank you all for being there!!

Cleaning and Organizing – the Year-End Update

When I started my cleaning project last year, I had no idea how my plans would change before even half the year was over. Looking back over the changes I’ve made, it’s pretty wild to see the differences. By now, Angie has moved in with us, which was the biggest change of all–an overwhelmingly positive one, I might add. I may have lost my studio, but in a way, doing all that work in January and February last year actually allowed us to offer the room to her when she found out she’d need to find a new place. If it had been the mess it was before, I don’t think our house would have been a very tempting option. Now we have a little more financial stability with the income of a roommate, a little help keeping the house in order, and of course the companionship of a close friend. Not only that, but her parents are happy she’s here. She may be an adult, but that doesn’t stop a mom from worrying, right?

To list all the things we’ve done to the house, I might need more than a single blog post can handle! Here are the highlights:

Living Room:

  • Hung up the new standing desk in the Living room
  • Decorated for Christmas for the first time in 10 years (!) (This will be its own post soon)
  • Displayed spinning trophies and some special knickknacks


  • Exchanged the old microwave cart for a much nicer one from Ikea (from Angie’s mom) to hold our appliances
  • No, seriously, we cleaned the scary fridge. **See my note about this below!
  • Hung up even more artwork
  • Hung up two Ikea storage rods to hold towels and utensils

(New) Craft Space:

  • Moved the Dining Room table to the Man Cave
  • Set up the new Craft Space & continually refined the system
  • Hung shelves over the sewing table
  • Decorated with my celestial stuff that I love
  • Found excellent bins for fiber & yarn for the storage cubes

Blue Bathroom:

  • Hung up a double towel rod
  • Replaced shelves that had been put into the Studio for a while
  • Cleaned it!


  • Brought all carding & weaving supplies down
  • Set up more storage shelves
  • Made a huge mess moving things and then cleaned it all up
  • Still in progress but it makes sense at least

Man Cave:

  • Created a wall of board games and Dashing’s books
  • Set up the Dining Room table (now the Game Table)
  • Got a set of nice folding chairs with Christmas money so we can USE the table
  • Moved Dashing’s office to the corner

The list keeps going. Every single day, no matter how crappy I feel, I do something. Most days, Angie will nudge me to start moving. That has probably been my main catalyst lately, because not only have we been dealing with Dashing’s health, I now have a tracheal infection that has caused me to lose my voice and robbed me of all my energy.

And yet…and yet! Despite feeling like I’m moving at half speed, once I get going cleaning, I can’t stop until that particular job is done. It is both a little scary and awesome. I feel real joy when I see something (like those towel bars!) up on the wall, being used, after literally months of procrastination. Something as simple as hanging a picture can lift my spirits every time I notice it.

For instance, I found a box of my celestial frames and prints in the basement when we cleaned it this fall. These special things are a collection that I have put together over the years. Now it’s all grouped on the walls in a way that makes sense, not hidden in a box! These are important to me in a very visceral way. Just because I don’t have a studio in a separate room doesn’t mean I can’t have a special crafting area at all. It just meant re-thinking how we use the space in the house. So far, it’s working out well, and with careful planning and flexibility, it’s going to stay that way.

Next Steps and the New Goals

Despite all the work that’s been done so far, there’s a lot to go. As you all know by now, I do pretty well when on a deadline, or at least a schedule. Having a plan gives me the structure I need. As a creatively disorganized person, a little focus can keep me on track so I actually complete tasks.

As of January 15, I will have been doing this cleaning project for exactly one year. One year ago, I looked around and realized how much I hated the space in which I lived. More importantly, I realized how much control I had over that space. I made some pretty big promises to myself. My goals might have been a little more…ambitious than I was prepared for, but in a way, that also kept me going. I was in a battle with myself, and I wanted to win!

Back then, too, I had a very different plan. We were going to save up a lot of money, fix up the condo, and move in the next couple of years. But with Dashing’s health and the resulting financial and emotional strain, moving isn’t even in the picture at the moment. Once that became clear, it made this cleaning project even more urgent. If we weren’t going to leave, then we needed to act like we were staying. That changed the way I thought about my home.

This year, I am wiser, less starry-eyed about what has to be done. But that just means my enthusiasm has been tempered with the realities of what I can accomplish on a nearly non-existent budget and amid the chaos of my husband’s illness. So here are my new goals for 2015, put in print (or on screen) for the world to see:

1. I will complete the project: this means I will have no more boxes of papers, no more items waiting for a home, and no more “things to go through”.  The hopeful deadline is by my birthday, Feb 25, but my realistic deadline is by May 1. By then, the weather will be getting nicer and I’ll want to get outdoors more, so I don’t want to feel guilty about a mess at home when I’m out enjoying the sunshine!

2. I will create a maintenance and cleaning schedule to keep the house in order. I’ve already started this with Angie, but there’s no formal schedule at the moment.

3. Each day until the project is done, I will work toward completing it. No excuses! Even if I’m sick and can’t lift boxes, I can still go through them. There is no reason why I can’t complete one small task each day.

There are other goals for the year, but I’ll talk about them another time. These are the cleaning-related ones. With a plan, some help, and a little forward momentum, I can totally do this!

**SPECIAL NOTE: While the fridge needed the cleaning in a big way, that wasn’t the whole motivation for doing it. At Thanksgiving, my sister offered me the extra fridge they had in their basement! I couldn’t believe it. We planned to buy one last year but it never worked out after Dashing got sick. So we had resigned ourselves to making do with the old one, until now. I should be getting it in the next week or so; it’s bigger and much newer than my old one. Can’t wait for the day when I can stock my freezer for real…and best of all, it looks like we can donate the old one to Habitat for Humanity. Win-win!


  1. Good work!!! :) keep going! Xo!

  2. Sweet! It sounds like things are going really well. Hope you get a chance to post some after/before pictures soon.

    It’s funny that you talk about putting up a tree because this was the first year I DIDN’T put up the tree. I usually do, but we’re not home during Christmas, ever. It felt good to say, “you know what? I’mma save myself the cleaning up effort in January.” One of these years we’ll stay home for Christmas and then, it’ll be ON.
    Good on you Jenny for fighting the good fight. Can’t wait to see how everything turns out. :D

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