My absence and Project Simplicity

I wanted to provide a brief explanation for my recent absence and lack of additional posts toward Project Simplicity. I have had to temporarily postpone Project Simplicity due to some personal and health problems we have been facing. I hope to pick it up again as soon as I’m able. Until then, I would encourage you to follow the progress of others via Simplemom.net.

Last Friday, (when I should have been finishing up week 3 of Project Simplicity), during a routine prenatal appointment, I was told that my 10 week pregnancy had likely ended at 8 weeks and my baby no longer had a detectable heart beat. I was devastated. We had kept our pregnancy relatively private and were about to begin sharing our happy news with extended family and friends. On Tuesday I was taken into the hospital for a D&E procedure and I am now recovering at home with the help of family and friends.

This whole experience is still very surreal. The physical healing process is promised to be relatively quick. Though I know the emotional healing may take much longer.

For that reason I do not know when I will have the opportunity to pick up Project Simplicity again and begin posting regularly on other topics. My apologies for temporarily discontinuing this important home organization series. I hope to begin posting about my Square Foot Garden soon as well.

Hopefully I will be back posting regularly again in the next few weeks.

 

Project Simplicity Week #2 – Paper Clutter

This particular project surprised me a little, mostly because it wasn’t a particular area. But since my downstairs is often plagued by excess paper I took the project on with a vengeance. As a brief aside I must note that I did not include the filing cabinets in our upstairs back bedroom in this project. These file drawers need to be reorganized along with the entire room they are in. But that is a much larger project that requires more than the few days I had to accomplish this one. I mostly dealt with the random paper floats around the first floor of our home. We do need to find a long term first floor filing solution. Our current file drawers are too large and filing cabinets are rather expensive and unattractive to be taking up space in my dining room. The back bedroom that currently houses our filing is going to become my almost 2 year old daughter’s bedroom sometime this summer, so all of the current roles that room fulfills, such as filing and linen storage, need to be reassigned elsewhere.

Receipt Drawer Before

I began by dealing with the loose receipts in the top drawer of our secretary desk. The storage unit itself is relatively organized but the top drawer contained several months of receipts. I store receipts by the month for a one year period and then I shred them. This is to expedite returns and help with budgeting. The amounts get inputted into our financial Excel spreadsheet and then filed, ideally. But I got lazy and this large, disorganized pile ensued.

Drawer After

The next task was the tackle the dining room table. Ever since we got a small kitchen table, we rarely eat in the dining room. As a result the table becomes a magnet for clutter of all kinds including mail and other random papers. Now that the table is clear of clutter it does have a new occupant, my sewing machine. One of my next personal tasks is to empty the bottom of my dining room hutch and I’m hoping I can store the machine there for easy access. If not, perhaps I can find room for it in my secretary desk, as Simple Mom suggests in her post.

Dining Room Table Before
Dining Room Table After

Overall, this wasn’t an overly taxing project, since I didn’t include the disastrous back bedroom paper clutter, since the room itself is so cluttered it would have taken hours of work just to reach the piles of paper. But I will be forced to deal with it in the next few months as we prepare for our daughter to take up residence in that room.

So two weeks down, it’s on to Week #3.

 

Bringing Back the Art of Sewing or Discovering New Realms of Intimidation and Frustration: Adventures with my New Sewing Machine

Pretty soon my friends and family are going to think I’ve become a house wife of the 1900’s. I now officially own a sewing machine. I have wanted to learn to sew for a while, mostly because I hate getting a rid of an essentially valuable piece of clothing because of a repairable flaw. How many shirts have I thrown away because of a tear that I didn’t know how to fix even if I had the proper tools? A few survived with poorly executed hand sewn repairs, but not many.

So this year, for my birthday, I asked for a sewing machine. I will admit it is a beautiful Brother model with 50 different stitches. Of course, herein lies the problem. How am I ever going to learn how to use it? Unfortunately, most sewing machine manuals seem to assume you already know what you are doing and that the terms are self explanatory. Sorry, but terms like feed dogs and throat plate don’t make much sense to a sewing newbie. My husband bought me a great book on learning to sew, so I’m going to give it my best shot. If nothing else, I’d at least like to be able to repair clothes and do a few basic sewing projects with scraps. I’ve been planning to make some draft blockers out of old jeans and replace the Velcro on my daughter’s bumGenius pocket diapers.

After nearly an hour of reading the manual my husband was able to get the machine set up. I would have been hopeless. Who knew you had to be mechanically minded to use a sewing machine? I attempted a few easy stitches and practiced getting used to the foot pedal. So far, so good. Chapter two of my sewing book is titled “You and Your Machine: A Love Story.” While hardly love at first sight, I still hope this may be true. I fell in love with knitting and cross stitching with just a how to book and a few basic tools. But I don’t get the feeling sewing may be as easy. Hopefully this will be a love that lasts a lifetime and not a short passionate affair that ends in pain and violence. (I can see the headline now: Local woman throws sewing machine from second story window) Seriously though, I’m both excited and totally intimidated by this new piece of machinery. The sewing gene doesn’t run in my family so I’m hoping my own efforts can overcome my natural abilities. Wish me luck.

 

Project Simplicity Week #1: Closet/Wardrobe

Closet Before

Ok, so I know that I’m a bit late to post about my first week of Project Simplicity. Today is supposed to be the first day of week #2 but I’m running a bit behind schedule due to health issues.

This project was interesting for me mostly because I had actually done it rather recently. I’ve always had trouble with this because of changes in my life situation. Before I had my daughter I worked a fulltime job and had a business casual work wardrobe. Now that I’m a stay at home mom I don’t wear many of those clothes. But I also hesitate to get rid of them. What if I have to go back to work? The circumstances under which I would go back to work include extreme financial need, when I wouldn’t have money to buy new clothes. But yet I rarely wear these items. I also have several favorite dresses which I also rarely wear, mostly because my daily living doesn’t make dresses practical, but it is also hard to part with them.

In the end, I actually parted with a large trash bag worth of clothes. Half will go to the thrift store and some will end up at city textile recycling because they are too worn to give away. There were a few items I had difficulty with and ended up keeping, such as the red dress I wore the day my husband proposed to me. It hasn’t fit in years and probably won’t ever again, but he couldn’t bear to let me get rid of it. In the future maybe I’ll find a way to transform it into something else so it actually gets seen.

Closet After

Unfortunately, my before and after pictures aren’t very impressive looking. They look virtually identical. Now mind you, the bottom of the closet is my husband’s and while I did purge his clothes recently, he still has a lot. He is also responsible for replacing the left hand door which is currently sitting in our hallway. I didn’t do a desperate “I can only escape my home with one bag, what do I take?” kind of purge. I focused on getting rid of items not worn since before my daughter, now 21 months, was born. I’ve lost the baby weight, but if the item doesn’t fit it isn’t going to, and if I don’t wear it, there must be a reason. I held onto most of my work clothes that are still in good condition as back up in case I have to re-enter the work force at any point. I disposed of items I loved that are far too worn and organized my closet more seasonally. I routinely move my current season clothes to the center of the closet. Because I’m short and our closet bar is so high I need a step stool to reach my clothing, so it’s easier if the clothes I regularly access are in the center.

So week #1’s project has been completed; though not entirely to my own satisfaction. Hopefully I’ll finish week #2 on time.

Introduction to Project Simplicity: Tackle Your Home With Purpose

As a pre-assignment to Project Simplicity, Tsh of Simplemom.net proposed that we each work on a family purpose statement. Having already begun her book Organized Simplicity, I was familiar with the concept, but I kind of figured it was a step I could skip. But wanting to give this project a chance I plowed forward using suggested questions in the book to try and formulate a statement.

What adjectives describe your home? What are your families’ top priorities? How would you describe how you would like to see your home in 20 year? Etc. It was a little overwhelming and a tad abstract, but eventually I was able to come up with something that I thought worked. Then I discussed it with my husband. It had been an exhausting Saturday of errands and he wasn’t terribly receptive but he listened. His first response was dislike for the phrase “family purpose statement.” It sounded too formal, too much like a corporation business plan. But I tried to explain it as a set of priorities or standards that allow us to simplify our lives by deciding if items or activities support those priorities. So we compromised by calling it our highest family priorities.

This is what we came up with.

Our home should be a place of peace and contentment. We value quality family time, creativity, simplicity and faith.

This is perhaps simpler than ideal, but it works for us. I don’t know that I’m ready to paint it on a plate or hang it on my wall, but it’s a start. I look forward to continuing on with this project and see where it takes me.