Divine Bird

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

January 24, 2015
by Jenny
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Cleaning House – Snow Day

My back yard <3

Snow is one of my favorite things. I love the smell in the air. Watching it fall is in my top ten joys of life. It’s not just pretty to look at, though. Snow demonstrates how even the smallest things can collectively make an impact–something I think we often forget.

I’ve been sick since Christmas, which has only added a ton of stress on top of Dashing’s ongoing illness. It’s also put a damper on my plans to power through the rest of the house cleaning. I’m tired all the time, and too much moving around makes me cough, so how am I supposed to make any headway?

The answer is…do something. Anything. Load the dishwasher. Spend five minutes to clear off the coffee table. Sit in my comfy chair and open mail. Doing even one small task–especially a visible one–may only be a single step on a larger journey, but it’s still a step. Every action you take toward cleaning will add up and pay off. It doesn’t even matter if all you’re doing is maintenance. One thing I try to do every night is to collect the tea cups from the living room and put them in the sink. This is a task that literally takes seconds to perform. There is virtually no strain on my body to carry three cups from one room to the other. Its impact is greater than the task, though. Next time we make tea, the cups are in place and the coffee table isn’t covered in dishware.

Today, when I woke up, I couldn’t breathe easily until I took my cough syrup. I cancelled my attendance at a craft market until tomorrow because I knew I physically couldn’t handle it. I know my limits and I’d more than reached them this time. However, even on a day like this, I have a to-do list of small things I CAN do to feel like I’ve made progress. This is what I wrote:

  • transfer old computer files to DropBox
  • take down greenery
  • design artwork for blue table top
  • go through @least 1 box of papers
  • work on photos
  • stuffed animals
  • clear off the hooks by the basement

The two things on here that require any physical activity are taking down the last of our Christmas greenery and clearing off the basement hooks. That’s it. Everything else can be done sitting down. The greenery will take me all of 5 minutes and the hooks (of which there are only 4) will probably take even less time. But those are also highly visible areas; the impact it will have on the overall neatness of my house is huge. The other items, you’ll note, are almost negligible in their visibility, but each one will bring me closer to good organization. Transferring files from my old computer to Dropbox will allow me to get rid of the old comp AND will give me access to my old files again.  The stuffed animals are for friends with kids; they are currently in a bin that takes up space in my living room. The toys will be loved by new owners, and I won’t have to walk around them anymore. The photos, which have been collected as I have cleaned the house, will be viewable again in a pretty album that I can share with my family.

If anything, the tiny projects are the most important ones. Sure, the big days of moving furniture and taking out trash are important; they set the stage and give you space to work in. But it’s the small projects that have the biggest effect on your organization. Pile enough of them together, and they–ahem–start to snowball.

Any progress at all is still progress.

This is a kitty who wonders why someone is sticking a camera in her face

January 18, 2015
by Jenny
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Cleaning House – Small Projects

I’m still feeling sick–whatever it was that started in my throat has now moved up to my sinuses–so I haven’t been up to doing big project days around the house. That doesn’t mean I can’t make progress, though. I spent a lot of time on my to-do list and on Pinterest, making plans. This weekend, I accomplished three small tasks that have had a big impact on my morale, not to mention allowed me to cross things off the list!

First, I put some new wheels on the Craft Room chair. It’s Angie’s chair from Ikea–I love the green, of course, and it’s surprisingly comfy and supportive. However, on the carpet, the small plastic wheels just didn’t work very well. I had a set of industrial wheels for a wire shelf that I never used. Turned out they had the same threading that the original chair wheels had. My dad cut them down to size for me, and now the chair has some super heavy-duty wheels that roll perfectly on any surface.

One wheel even has a brake so it won’t roll

Stylish, no?

It rolls like a champ now

Second task was to deal with the damaged photo album that I talked about in my previous post. I finally found a rhythm as I put the new one together, and the result is a beautiful, colorful album that reflects my life from birth to age 19. That’s when I underwent a major life change, one of those definitive points where I can honestly say one chapter ended and another began. So I think it’s an appropriate place to stop and start a new album. I may not be completely done, but I made a significant dent in the project.

Took this before I put it all together, but you get the idea.

All I used to make this were the album, a pack of 12×12 floral papers that coordinate (bought on sale at JoAnn’s), 12×12 sheet protectors that came with the album, and double-sided removable tape so I wouldn’t damage my photos. I also left room on some pages in case I wanted to write about memories or something. I may not be into the whole embellished scrapbook thing, but the memories would be fun.

The third task I completed was to call and arrange for my NEW REFRIGERATOR! Again, I’ve been feeling so crummy that I haven’t been up to scheduling things. Finally, though, I set everything up and the guys brought it over today! They even took my old one away. I had planned on donating it, but it turned out not to be in good enough condition. On Monday, my dad will come over to reinstall my cabinet and to hook up the water line, and we’ll be in business. I LOVE this fridge. It’s a good 3 inches bigger all around, so there’s tons of room for food. Angie and I are planning a Costco run sometime soon so we can stock up.

So clean and new-looking!

Look at all this space!

I need more food!

With the refrigerator in, we can FINALLY adjust the living room floor plan now that we don’t have to worry about leaving enough space. The new setup will be a lot like the current one, but I’m moving some tables around and moving my chair down about a foot, giving me room to actually access the back shelves of the bookcase.

Next on the to-do list is to finish the craft area. I found this amazing fabric for less than half price, so it’s time to make that duvet cover. The swatch is purple velveteen, and while the diamonds in the fabric are actually deep blue, they are the right kind of blue to coordinate.

I am seriously in love with that velveteen…

Hoping to get this done by the end of the week–it’s COLD out and we need a cozy blanket on the bed!

January 16, 2015
by Jenny
0 comments

Curating My Own Life

It would be so easy, I thought. Just buy a new photo album, move the pics from my old one onto new pages, and done. Easy peasy!

Oh my GOSH. How do scrapbookers do this more than once??

This adventure started with a beat-up, bursting-at-the-seams photo album that had been a gift at my high school graduation. My mom had put it together for me and it included the usual round of photos of myself through the years, my family, and special memories. Back then, in 1993, scrapbooking as we know it wasn’t really a “thing” yet; mostly teenagers and jet setters made them. The rest of us made do with cellophane pages and photo corners, or simply threw pics into plastic sleeves and called it a day.

The album in question had been a lovely gift at the time, but 22 years and dozens of moves have taken their toll. The sticky pages had turned brown under the cellophane and the binding broke somewhere along the way. Not only that, but I wanted to add to it–my marriage, the cool things I’ve done since graduation, and the photos I inherited from relatives who have since passed. I figured I’d just start a new album with bigger pages, pretty backgrounds, and better archival materials.

So tonight I completely gutted the old album. I kept the photos pretty much in order (thank goodness I did THAT, at least) and it seems my mom had been good about labeling them so I can keep track of the years. Then I integrated the photos I’d inherited, plus all the photos of my own that had languished in a box for years. And that’s where I started to get overwhelmed.

I mean, it’s just one box, so it shouldn’t be so hard, right? But where do I start? Where do I stop? Lives don’t have definitive chapters; things overlap. People overlap. Do I just include things from my childhood? Should it just be pics taken during my school years, and then start a new album for what came after? But then that means there wouldn’t be any pictures of my husband, or my college friends. And if I decide it’s just going to be family pics, that includes my husband, right? And if I want to include my sister’s college graduation–an event that occurred just a few years ago–should that go in this one, or a different one?

Choosing the guest list for my wedding was easier than this.

How do you do it, scrapbooker people? I honestly want to know. I’m not trying for a “theme” and I’m not embellishing beyond a few notes in the margins. I just want to figure out a way to organize this pile of photos that is much bigger than it appears.

January 13, 2015
by Jenny
3 Comments

Cleaning House – Light-filled Edition

On Sunday, I woke up and decided that I wanted to be able to use my sewing machine by the end of the week. That has driven a lot of my action for the past couple of days. I didn’t get much done on Sunday due to running a million errands, but today we had a snow day at work, so I put my time off to good use.

I was going to save this for the end, but I am so happy with how the Craft Space is coming along that I just have to share it now! It’s nowhere near done, but look how much we’ve accomplished so far! I feel inspired when I look at this corner. There’s so much color and everything is within reach…can you blame me for wanting to actually use it instead of just working on it all the time??

Does this or does this not look like a super fun space??

So anyway…the progress. Because I have been using the sewing table as a staging area, I had to start by finding homes for a lot of the stuff covering it…which turned into a session of putting up lots and lots of lights, among other things. First, we put away pretty much the rest of the Christmas decorations into a proper bin. Bags, tags, hangers, lights–it’s all been packed away to await next year. That actually cleared a lot of space, even though the total mass of decorations wasn’t very much.  As we put away the holiday stuff, I was able to unpack my non-holiday lights.

Now, I have a serious thing for fairy lights. I love the colors and the gentle glow they give a dark room. I have had two sets in particular for over 20 years–I’ve talked about the chili peppers and the moons before, I think–and this year I replaced the old light strings with brand new ones for safety reasons. Tonight, we hung them both up in their new homes. The peppers are in the kitchen, of course, and the moons are over the doorway to the kitchen.  At the moment, they have to be unplugged in order to turn them off, but I’ll put them on timers eventually.

Chili peppers ca.1995, moons ca. 1999. Notice the switchplate, too!

Next, we took down the old colored Christmas lights that we used for the last time this year…they, too, were very old, and I wouldn’t feel safe using them again. In their place, we put up some deep purple LED fairy lights. Because my living room is SO yellow, I’m trying to counteract that yellowness by using purple accessories. The lights look amazing! This photo doesn’t do them justice.

Amazing purple lights are amazing

And while we were at it, I put up the lavender lights from Ikea. Once we get the fridge moved in, we can shift the living room furniture down a bit, and my chair will be centered under this shelf. I will have my sparkly cozy throne eventually! :D  I used four Command hooks to give them some depth, and put both strings on a timer that will go off when it’s my bedtime. They’ll come on in the late morning, when I’m most likely to be sitting down to work on my editing.

This shall be my throne of light and cozy

At this point, the “cleaning” session was really about taking care of lots of tiny tasks that both crossed things off the to-do list and created better storage and display for my things. The old expanding peg rack by the front door has been replaced by a proper set of heavier-duty hooks that also look much nicer. We also hung up two small white shelves over the spinning wheel wall. They should help keep people from walking into the spinning wheels, and the wheels will keep people from walking into the shelves. Mutual benefit! For now, my grandmother’s teacups and Dashing’s grandma’s vase are on there. I think they look super cute!

Love how this wall is coming along!

Whew! With all those little things done, I started sorting through the craft supplies that have gathered throughout the cleaning process. I’ve been making these yarn wreaths for gifts and the shop, and found an incredible deal on the forms. The problem is, they are really difficult to store as they’re bulky, somewhat delicate, and round. Angie had the incredibly bright idea to put them on a tension rod in the alcove between the basement door and the coat closet–and it worked beautifully! I have room for more if I find another deal, and this can even store the finished ones between shows. Brilliant!

Seriously, it’s out of the way, yet visible, yet not unattractive. Win-win!

Aaaand while I’m at it, I should show you the adorable wall sconces we found at the charity shop the other day. Angie wanted a little light in the stairway so at night she doesn’t have to fumble around in the dark but doesn’t want to wake Dashing up with the big hall light (since he goes to bed early when he’s feeling sick). For the princely sum of $5, I brought home these wrought-iron-style tea light sconces and spray-painted them purple. Angie found these awesome LED tea lights that have a built-in timer. We set them to automatically go on at 7pm and off at 1am. How cute are they?

I cannot get over how cute these are

I took one of the timer tea lights and put it in a sun-shaped sconce of my own in the kitchen. This is an otherwise dark corner, but now it looks so inviting.

I’ve had the two upper left prints for 20 years, and the right & bottom pieces are original watercolors by my step-MIL.

And just for fun, here are a few things I set up/put up around the room. My unicorn marionette that my dad gave me many years ago, a plaster Leonardo relief, and my art horse finally has a rider! :)

 

So that’s the update for today. Despite still not feeling well, I think I used my time wisely. Having things like the lights and the shelves in their proper places and NOT in the pile of “stuff to go through” actually gave back a ton of space, and I’m a lot closer to being able to sew again. The crazy thing is that we did even more than this–we figured out a great use of a piece of pegboard I had in the basement, emptied three boxes of stuff, and put the gift wrapping supplies away, not to mention all the cooking Angie and I have done in between. For an “idle” weekend, we sure made major progress!

January 11, 2015
by Jenny
0 comments

A Sense of Relief

Saturday was a good day for my to-do list. I completed a large editing order that was due later that night, so it was a bit of a pleasant morning jolt to send it to the client before lunch. I then baked a test batch of some pretzels I’ve been meaning to try. They were pretty good–a little chewier than I’d like, but for a 30-minute recipe, I can’t complain too much. They were definitely better than nothing and would certainly do the trick on a day like today when I really want soft pretzels but don’t have hours to devote to them. Then, while the pretzels were in the oven, I put together a quick batch of artisan bread so we’d have some later this week.

With those things done, I finished another project that has been hanging over my head for over a month. That was such a big thing that it almost feels like I can’t possibly be done! The sense of relief I had after I sent it off and closed the file was actually invigorating.

To celebrate, I rewarded myself with a trip to the Dollar Tree to pick up some cute organizers for a cleaning basket. Yes, you heard me–the reward was to buy cleaning supplies. But these aren’t just any cleaning supplies…these are BRIGHT GREEN and PURPLE supplies! Someone on Pinterest happened to post her DIY cleaning kit from just a few days ago. Usually I miss all the cool stuff, but Dollar Tree had tons of these organizers and supplies in four colors. I got a green set for the main floor and a purple one for the second floor. Just look at the adorableness:

Both kits in progress

I need to run back and find a purple one, since my closest DT didn’t have the caddies or spray bottles, but this is starting to look pretty good! Setting this up also meant I got rid of a bunch of cleaners I never use. I love using vinegar and baking soda for cleaning, so there’s no need for storebought ones with sharp chemical odors. When using vinegar, even at its strongest, the smell goes away as soon as it’s dry, and it never makes me dizzy. I’m using lavender essential oil and lavender castile soap when I want a scent.

These new, streamlined kits will handle everything I need to do in my house. Sure, it might not matter how such utilitarian things LOOK, but as someone who has never been good at keeping up house routines, any kind of encouragement helps. It’s fun to use a bright green or purple scrub brush, or a cheerfully colored dustpan and broom. Throw in some fancy rubber gloves to match each kit, and cleaning the bathroom will feel more like a game than a chore.

Purple kit in progress

Sunday’s going to be a day to chill a little; I have two knitting projects that I MUST finish by the end of the day so I’ll be focusing on those. Dinner has already been planned–my chicken coconut curry–and if I’m up to it, I’ll try baking and decorating some sugar cookies. One of my cooking goals for this year is to hone my pastry bag skills, so I’ve picked up some ready-made cookie dough so I can practice from time to time. I know the cookies aren’t great, but it’s a lot easier and cheaper than making the dough every single time. That way I don’t mind if the decorations don’t come out well, too.

Green kit, nearly finished

So it’s been a pretty good weekend–clearing out the to-do list is so rewarding! What have you got hanging over YOUR head? Work on it this week and get it off your list!

January 9, 2015
by Jenny
1 Comment

Cleaning House: 1st Week of January 2015 Progress Report

January is so full of promise, isn’t it? The new year makes us all believe we can accomplish new things. Even though I’ve been sick for a couple of weeks and don’t really feel like doing anything, I have had this weird energy that won’t go away. It’s an urge to organize, to purge, to clean everything. I want to decorate everything, too.

switchplate

Sunny and bright! There’s even a little light behind the dimmer switch when the light is off. :3

This week has seen a lot of small changes because I’m not up to doing the big ones. But here’s the progress report of what I’ve done to improve my house since the new year:

  • Worked on the Man Cave with Angie; emptied 2 big boxes and threw away a broken chair
  • Donated 4 bags of clothes and shoes to Allied Attic
  • Returned library books (years overdue, sob)
  • Hung measuring cups & spoons inside a cabinet door

Measuring cups & spoons all hang neatly in the cupboard instead of all over a drawer.

  • Cleaned out the fridge (maintenance cleaning; the big cleaning job was done a couple weeks ago)
  • Went through three garbage bags of questionable yarn
  • THREW AWAY fiber and yarn that wasn’t salvageable
  • Finished two WIP and made progress on two more
  • Put away three boxes of books
  • Created a prettier switchplate for the craft room (see above!)

These are all small things, but they are progress. It’s ALL progress. Every tiny chore, every bag of bottles, every bit of cleaning is a step closer to a clean and organized house.

January 4, 2015
by Jenny
1 Comment

Cleaning House: A Look Back at Christmas 2014

Just a short post here. I talked about this on Facebook, but not in much detail. One very good thing came out of Christmas 2014, something that buoyed my spirits even on the days during which they flagged the most: I decorated my house for the first time in over ten years.

I know it was that long because the box of decorations I found in the basement had been packed sometime around 2002 or 2003, before we moved out of the apartment we lived in when we got married. To my surprise, most of the ornaments were in very good shape. A few glass balls had shattered, and a few wooden ornaments needed a little glue, but overall they had survived being moved to five apartments, a friend’s basement, and a storage unit over the last decade.

My family always decorated for the winter holidays. Growing up in a big Victorian home, we had the perfect setting for huge trees, greenery, candles, and glass. I made the attempt the year after I got married but by then my house was already in disarray. Full disclosure: we didn’t take down the tree until March. (At least it was a fake one!) By the time the following Christmas rolled around, the mess was worse, and we just sort of gave up on the idea. Why add to the clutter?

So it went each year. I adore lights and baubles, though, which just made me feel guilty about the mess even more. I would see that bin of decorations–always sealed, never used–and sigh.

But this year, the day after Thanksgiving, I opened the bin to see what was inside. I found ornaments that I’d believed lost; I found mementos from family members long gone. And when I looked up from these discoveries, I saw clear spaces in my living room. Because I’d spent the year cleaning, I had made room to do things like put up a tree! It felt like magic. In one evening, I put on my favorite Pandora station of Christmas music (curated over several years and therefore perfect) and made some cocoa, then went to town. I hung lights, wrapped garland around the banister, even put up a mistletoe ball. I found a small $5 fake tree at a local discount store and brought it home, then loaded it down with those beloved ornaments atop the bookcase by my chair. And you know what? The room still didn’t feel cluttered. All that work through all that year paid off in a single moment when I could look around my living room to see those Christmas decorations out in the open.

Now, I may never decorate like my parents do, but those little symbols of festivity made an otherwise dreary holiday season into something bright. Tonight while I packed some of them away (in new bins and proper storage), I felt a sense of peace. There’s no more guilt about unused decorations; now, I have something to look forward to next year when the season comes around again.

January 3, 2015
by Jenny
2 Comments

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
  • Hung up ALL THE ARTWORK, EVERYWHERE
  • Decorated for Christmas for the first time in 10 years (!) (This will be its own post soon)
  • Displayed spinning trophies and some special knickknacks

Kitchen:

  • Exchanged the old microwave cart for a much nicer one from Ikea (from Angie’s mom) to hold our appliances
  • CLEANED THE FRIDGE COMPLETELY
  • 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!

Basement:

  • 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!

January 3, 2015
by Jenny
1 Comment

New Year, New Perspective, New Journey

So two things prompted today’s blog post.

First, it’s been over a month since my last post, and there has been significant progress, which I’ll get into in my next post. December has been a month of ups and downs, which I suppose is life in general, though this last 30 or so days has been particularly rough.

The other thing was a comment that appeared this morning, tagged to my last post in November. I’m going to quote it here in its entirety because it has given me such strength and motivation after that aforementioned rough month. I feel like I should print it out and frame it so I have something to lift my spirits whenever I read it. From Dracoangelica, who found me through Tumblr and UFYH as I began this crazy project:

I started following your blog last year when I was going through my UFYH tag on Tumblr. I was so impressed by how much you had to do and how much you completed, that I became like, just addicted to reading about your progress.

I love those make-over home shows where they go in and in three days have a house going from zero to hero, yet we who live in the real world KNOW that nothing gets that way so quickly. We as viewers off an audience don’t see the dozens of workers that were in and out of a place to get it where it is ‘tv ready’ and I always wondered how people who HAD all those things went from living in total chaos to perfect oasis without backsliding. No habits are formed, no true routines put in place on those shows…so I always wondered if any of those people are able to keep it looking nice afterwards.

What you’re doing isn’t like that at all. Instead of ‘biggest loser’ where you have some professional coach coming in and putting a plan in place, YOU are the one handling it. Daily. Slowly. Tediously, yet so so noticeably.

I know we don’t know one another outside of the internet, but you really are one of my biggest inspirations Jenny. I admire how far you’ve come in a year and I’m glad you’re keeping up the blog for me to see. I hope Dashing feels better soon and that you continue to post the befores/durings/and afters as you reach your goal. If it takes you five years, I’ll still follow and read up on your progress. Happy 2015! Good luck and I can’t wait to see what you post next.

I admit it, I cried a little. I needed to hear this today, and it appeared at one of my lowest moments, which only increased its impact on my mood.

Over the years as I have worked on this blog, I have had some pretty incredible interactions both with people I know and people I don’t. Despite my quiet little corner here, I have had the pleasure of meeting others in my journey to…well, wherever it is that I’m going. So before I launch into a new year and all its possibilities, I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for encouraging ME, for inspiring ME to keep on with my plans and dreams. Today I feel a little less like I’m speaking into the aether and more like I’m just having a very slow conversation with far-away friends. Thank you, thank you.

Next post arriving in the next hour or so…the house cleaning continues with an all-new angle and plan for the New Year 2015!

November 21, 2014
by Jenny
3 Comments

Cleaning House: Progress on Several Fronts

November 2014 has been — well, I’m not sure how to describe it. Dashing is still sick, so that brings its own stress and worry. I picked up some editing work that will help us cope in the meantime, and I’ve applied for a job that could be amazing if I get it. My Nanowrimo project has only moved forward a few hundred words at a time, though I’ve been able to make the writing meetups on Fridays. So while I won’t win this year unless a miracle occurs, I’m content with the progress I’ve made.

The one thing that is definitely going right is the progress on my house. Every day sees a big change in some fashion. I’ve been good about moving things out and putting in at least two or three hours of work every day. If you ever visited me in the past, you probably wouldn’t recognize a lot of the house now.

This project hasn’t been easy. After my last post, I had a day when I felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff that still needed to be done. I was at that point where the cleaning looks worse than the original mess. Feeling a little despair, I took a breath, poured myself some cider, and sat down to make a list of the things that still need to be done. Quantifying the work helped more than I expected. There’s a lot less to do than I thought. With that in mind, I counted up the tasks and the days remaining in November. Even taking two days for Thanksgiving into account, I could do one list item per day and be finished by the 30th. I would love to have Angie all moved in by then, too, so I made the 30th my goal. It’s not a deadline, because I know I’ll procrastinate against it if so. Instead, if I get this house in order by the 30th, I get to reward myself with a day trip to Boston to see a museum’s textile exhibit. So…onward to the 30th!

From this point forward, I’m going to score each section on its level of completeness. To get off to a good start, I’ve already got two areas that are 100% done!

The Entertainment Unit

I found some perfectly-sized fabric-covered bins at Ocean State Job Lot, one of those discount chains, and now all of our movies — Angie’s and ours — are together. We housed them on the “entertainment unit”, which is made up of four sets of wire shelves lined up together. The Wii, PS2, and PS3 are all set up, with all the PS3 and Wii games together in some green fabric bins I already owned. The printer moved to its new home on top of one of the shelves, within reach of both a power outlet and the standing desk that’s going on that wall soon. No more dragging it out when we need it, while it remains tucked out of the way the rest of the time. Since one of the shelf sets included a pair of wire drawers, all the game controllers, extra wires, and memory cards can be stored in there.

Eventually, my dad and I are going to built a single long top to go across all four sets of shelves, unifying them further. I’ll make a curtain to hide the stuff underneath, since they’re all different colors and the wire doesn’t really feel “cozy” as I want the living room to be. But for now, having all the movies and games organized with proper homes is enough. Even if it’s not pretty, it’s organized and easy to live with.

That said, I think this part of the house can be considered: COMPLETED

The Kitchen

Nearly two weeks have passed since my mom and sister helped me organize and clean the kitchen, and it’s still spotless. Everything truly has a home, so when I use it and clean it, it goes back into its home. No more crowded cabinets, no more duplicate items that take up too much space. Today, my dad came over to finish up a few small tasks like fixing my broken lazy susan and installing the last cabinet door hinge. With all the large surplus items like my dehydrator moved to a shelf in the basement, there’s nothing left for me to do. I might rework a few things and I would still like to replace the solid shelves in my pantry cabinet with rolling ones, but that’s all minor stuff that isn’t necessary to make the kitchen run properly.

Therefore, I am happy to declare that the kitchen is now: COMPLETED

The Man Cave

The Man Cave is coming along well, if slowly. On Tuesday, Lisa came over to move shelves and the dining room table to the Man Cave, and when Angie arrived, we moved the rest of the cube shelves. That meant the board games could finally be put into their new home. My living room closet looks so empty now! Throughout the week, I emptied a few boxes of Dashing’s stuff by putting books in order on the shelves. I’ve been trying to give him little tasks that he can do while sitting or lying down, so he went through all his magazines. We’re getting rid of more than we’re keeping — he’s getting the hang of this whole cleaning thing!

I can’t rest on my laurels yet, though. The Man Cave needs quite a bit more work. The video games need to be organized and placed on their shelves, the game systems have to be set up, and the rest of the boxes need to be emptied. There’s also a lot of music to go through. Dashing and I both had large CD collections. It’s time to cut them down and maybe start ripping the CDs into MP3s instead. Until then, the CDs have to find a home.

At this point, the Man Cave is perhaps 50% IN PROGRESS.

The Road Ahead

As I write this, I have seven full days (taking away Wednesday and Thursday next week) to complete this cleaning project. Steady work and a dedication to moving things out of the house quickly have helped me to stay on track without getting overwhelmed too often. My friends and family have been supportive, too — I know for a fact that I would have dissolved under the pressure months ago if it wasn’t for the help of so many other people.

Here’s what’s left on the list:

  • Clear out hallway & set up bookshelves; move books upstairs
  • Set up new studio space
  • Move fabric & fiber to new homes/clear out old studio
  • Cover up A/C opening/Put up crown moulding/Fix baseboard in Angie’s room
  • Hang artwork
  • Mail out packages
  • Go through last boxes of papers
  • Finish putting Man Cave together
  • Put up risers on basement staircase
  • Hang curtains over closets & set up bench in bedroom
  • Finish sorting & donating clothes

Some of these tasks won’t take long, and some will take a whole day to complete, but I can do it all. I will have help for almost all of it. The 30th is on its way, but I want that trip to Boston so badly!

Ever onward!

 

 

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