Monthly Archives: July 2010

Stuff

Simplicity Button

Stuff. It’s the first thing most people think of when they think of simplifying. While that’s not the only thing, I do think it’s a great place to start. It’s hard to have a clear mind and find that sense of rhythm when you’re surrounded by clutter.

In order to find calmness, you need some space to think, some room to breathe…..

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I started with clothes, toys and books back in June and to be very honest, I’m still working on them. But I’ve learned quite a few things in the process that I wanted to share:

  • Don’t try to do too much at once. Honestly, I thought I would get through all the toys and books in the house, sorted, organized and donated in a week or so. That was in June. I’m still working on it.
  • Pick a category and work with it for awhile. Books? Toys? Clothing? Your own knitting/sewing supplies? Maybe you want to start with something big. Maybe you just want to get through a quicker category so you feel like you’ve made some headway. Either way, pick an area and stick to it. Ignore the rest until you’re done.
  • Work in stages and don’t just get rid of a ton of stuff right away unless that’s what you really want to do. I have a hard time time giving things away as I get too sentimental. So in my case, I divided things into three categories: definitely get rid of, pack away for now, and keep. This cleared out a lot of the immediate clutter and has given me time to sort through the middle stuff, asking myself more questions to decide what I should keep.
  • Choose the high quality stuff. Go for the well written books, the toys that spark imagination and thought. If it does nothing but beep,you might want to  say goodbye to it.
  • Ask yourself “How and with what do my children play?” “What do we love the most?” Really take the time to consider what you and your children actually use and enjoy. We had a beautiful wooden ball roller that I loved, but the boys only used it as a step ladder and threw the (very hard!) wooden balls around the house. So as much as I loved that toy, I found a mama with a baby just the right age to sit there and play with it rather than use it to possibly break a window.
  • Consider how many items in each category you really need. After counting, I realized that Spinner had nearly 30 pairs of shorts that fit him. (I took in way too many hand-me-downs). I decided that ten was plenty and found a new home for the rest. And now I can actually close his dresser drawer.
  • Put things into rotation. You’ll see in the pictures that I actually don’t have much out. I’ve gotten rid of about a third of the toys we had, mostly things that were outgrown. Another third are in storage downstairs and the rest around the house. As I get the storage toys better organized, I’ll rotate things in and out. It keeps the clutter down, makes the pick up easier, and it means I can always find something new and interesting for them when I need it.
  • If you can make some money, great, but don’t spend all your time trying to sell everything. You can spend a lot of time taking pictures, posting ads and responding to e-mails. It’s great when you can sell some stuff but just donating it is a lot faster.
  • Lastly, go easy on yourself. This is not easy to do and I figure it will be a good year until I’m in the place where I want to be. Take your time and try not to stress it. This is supposed to make life easier, not give you a headache.

So where am I at after two months of this?

The living room now sports a simplified bookshelf, with just enough books for browsing but not so many that they just throw them all over the place. More books are in their bedroom, but the majority of them are downstairs. I’m trying to switch them out as soon as I notice they are tiring of these. There is also a special stack for our weekly library trips.

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All the excess stuff was cleared out so that the dress-up basket is just for dress-up. No more random dinosaurs or trains hiding in here. Playsilks, armor and capes….this stuff gets used all the time.

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In the sunroom we have….

a cart full of building material,
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trains and animals,
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(these two buckets used to be so overflowing I couldn’t fit them on the shelves)
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musical instruments,
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and fort making supplies. (The cardboard blocks hide behind the chair).

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Overall, cleanup is much easier. The kids know aren’t so overwhelmed anymore, and they actually play with their toys rather than just throwing them all around. It feels like a nice playroom now rather than a room full of junk.

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Lastly, to be a realist I do need to show the basement closet, which still needs to be dealt with. Here hide the other toys, the toys that were scattered in random pieces all over the house. This is the stuff I need to sort through next, organizing it so it can easily be brought upstairs and used or realizing that it’s just not something the kids play with and finding it a new home.

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So yeah, more work to do but I feel as if I’ve finally taken some control back in the house. Now if only I could keep those legos in the boys room from migrating throughout the entire house life would be good!

Next up in my Simple series I’ll share my attempt at simplifying MY own stuff, yarn included!

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Summer Studio Tour

So I know I promised the first post in my Simple series, but today was one of those days, which means the photos I wanted to take weren’t taken. Poor Spinner was having a rough morning and was only happy when seated next to me reading books. The alternative was to let him follow me around, screaming “read” at full volume while trying to bite my leg. He is the king tantrum thrower of all three boys and I’ve learned over the years that when your toddler is in such a mood it’s best to just cuddle up. So Simple will follow, but I still have a bit of a preface to it by joining up with the Summer Studio Tour over at Beauty That Moves. (I’m a bit late but couldn’t resist).


There is a neglected (and nearly finished!) quilt sadly lounging on the table, but the real work in this room is the studio itself.  See the cracks?

This is what happens when your house get’s a nice shove by a tornado. We’ve let the place settle over the winter and in a few weeks we will be visited by the plasterers/painters who will be giving our place a makeover. Studio included.

New fabric for new curtains awaits:

Any guesses on the paint color I’m going with? No more green, that’s for certain.

I have big plans for this room. Simplification is not just about the kids, it’s about making my life better as well. I often feel lately when I go into this room that I can’t get any work done because there is too much stuff all over the place. My sewing table is usually a mess, the ironing board covered with fabric, baskets of yarn and fiber everywhere, as well as whatever junk the boys dragged in. So I’ll be rearranging, adding more shelves and figuring out what I can let go of…the toughest part. It’s easy for me to get rid of toys, not so easy for me to get rid of MY stuff. So we’ll see where it goes with this room. My hope is that I’ll be able to just come in and work, rather than spend half my time moving around clutter and feeling overwhelmed by project ideas.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a smoother day and I can get back to the post I promised!

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Care to join me?

As you’ve probably guessed, the book Simplicity Parenting has really changed how I’m viewing our home and family life. The subtitle says “Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids” and I truly do believe it. It’s been a long time since a parenting book has influenced me so much. And even if you’re not a parent, I believe that the ideas put forth in blogs such as Zen Habits can make a profound difference in the quality of a person’s life.

There will still be plenty of knitting, sewing and spinning around here, but I’ll also be adding a post each Monday on how I’m using the ideas put forth in Simplicity Parenting to improve life around our household. And I really hope you’d like to join me!

So, if you’d love to create some calm in your life, please grab a button and leave a comment to let me know. Blog about it and share what ideas you have to add some rhythm and some simplicity to your life.

Simplicity Button

You can dive in head on or take it in baby steps. Either way is fine. Maybe you want to simplify things for your entire family, maybe you need to simplify your creative life so you can be more focused on what you do. Just don’t be afraid to give it a try. I think you’ll find it’s worth it!

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Super Motorcycle Gloves!!!

Need a quick project?

Grab and old t-shirt. Cut off the bottom and wrap it around your favorite small persons hand with about a half inch extra. Cut a match. Stitch it up the side and cut a hole for the thumb about 1.5 inches down. Grab some fabric paint (I like Jaquard) and paint your design on the top.

Now the hard part. Try and convince your small person that no, they cannot wear them yet because they are not dry. Hang them on the line for a whole five minutes before your small person can’t bear the wait any longer and finally retrieve them, hoping the paint will not smear on anything. (It didn’t).

Now go feel like the coolest mom/grownup in the world and watch your small person at their make-believe finest!

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Simpler?

I’m sorry, did I say the end of June? Because I really meant sometime in July. I’ve just been enjoying the blissful simple life so much that I just couldn’t take the time to post.

And now those of you who are regular readers around here are splitting your sides because you know there is no simple around this house! Despite my efforts at Simplicity Parenting these last couple of months, we are still living on the wild side. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have much to share; I have a lot to share! I’ve learned so much, but I’m also realizing that although some of these changes can be done overnight, others will take months, and some I will likely struggle with for a long time. But the big change is in attitude. I feel like taking this blog break (both writing and reading, I miss seeing what you all are up too!) has helped me clear me head a bit and focus more on the things that matter the most for me.

I’m excited to pass this on to all of you, and I’m looking forward to seeing what changes you might be inspired to make as well. I’ll be posting every week with some basic information about the book and sharing what changes we’ve been making.  I’m going to try for posting on simplicity every Monday.

And let me know if you’d like to join me. I’d love to have some fellow companions on this journey. (Maybe I’ll even make a button).

Until then, I’ll leave you with a few before shots:
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(Don’t get too excited about that kitchen yet. We’re not even close on that one!)

And no worries to my knitting and sewing friends. I’ve got lots to share with you as well!

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