Wednesday, September 30, 2020

30-Day Minimalism Challenge...

Tomorrow begins my second 30-Day Minimalism Challenge.  I completed this challenge last November and it not only cleared some space in our home, but it was paradigm shifting for me.  In fact, I think the way I began to think about stuff in general was the biggest benefit of doing this and I hope to make it happen again.  As I progressed through the 30 days, I experienced a genuine freedom as I let go of things.  I'm ready to experience that again.  

And we know we need and want less stuff around.  But getting to less stuff can be a challenge and often requires a change in thinking.  This Minimalism Challenge can help jump start that change.

As of this writing, you can click on the tab above titled 30-Day Minimalism Challenge if you want to see how it went last year.  When it was all over, I wrote a post that pretty much summed up what I learned during this process.  Reading that post again (here), I know I'm ready to learn it again.  And this time I know (starting out) how rewarding it's going to be.

As far as I can tell, The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Milburn, and Ryan Nicodemus are the originators of what they call the 30-Day Minimalism Game.  I'll explain it briefly, but if you're truly interested, watch the video at the second link.  And maybe watch other videos on Youtube of people doing this challenge and enjoy seeing how even people who truly live minimalist lifestyles often find they have lots to get rid of that they simply don't need or want anymore.

So how this works is this:  For every day of the month of October, I will (hopefully) find that many items to remove from my home.  On day 1 I'll remove 1 thing; on day 2 I'll remove 2 things, and so on until by the end of the month, I will have removed at least 465 items.  It sounds crazy, but it really is possible.  Last year, I remember becoming so motivated that I told myself to pace myself.  At the end of November last year I had removed far more than 465 items.  I wouldn't be surprised if I removed closer to 1,000 items because I often counted groups of things as one item.

Except for the (minimum) number of items that leave my house each day, I get to decide the rules about what I get rid of, and how I count items.

First off, I do not count stuff I throw away or recycle in the normal course of living.  So, no counting empty bread wrappers or used fabric dryer sheets, or anything broken -- unless that broken thing is something I've been hanging onto for some reason.  Items I count are things I make a conscious decision to not have in my life anymore, or for this time.  It doesn't mean I can never own that item again, but removing it during this month means I've made a decision that I don't need or want that thing taking up space in my home (and head) at this point in my life.

Will I get rid of something that I'll regret?  Possibly, but honestly...  even though I've occasionally thought of something I got rid of last November and may have a fleeting feeling of wishing I had it, I have no serious regrets.  I wouldn't be doing this again, if I did. The greater sense I came away with was that I felt free and just wanted to get freer.   I didn't keep it up and honestly...  due to my MIL's death in June, this past summer has seen way too much stuff come into our house.  It's now time to come to terms with what we truly want to keep and what would be best to remove.  I look forward to the process as well as the end result of working through this 30-Day Minimalism Challenge for the month of October.

While I don't expect anyone reading this to check out my daily posts (necessarily), I have decided I am going to try to post every day.  This is the longest post of this challenge, so each daily post isn't all that time consuming to create (or to read).  I'll just take a picture, create a post, and publish it as my form of accountability.  Sometimes I may editorialize a bit, or even list the items in the picture, but some days I may just post a picture and little else.  My plan is to keep it simple, and as much as it is possible be a minimalist in blogging about this.  

If you'd like to join me, it would be fun to keep up with your progress via your blog.  I will enjoy the camaraderie and any comments anyone wants to share, as well as enjoy encouraging you in your efforts.  

Let the game begin!  

Tomorrow!  😀

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Ivy Beanie & Pumpkins...

Getting back to my crocheting recently, I came across a couple of projects I'd started a long time ago...  I have no idea when.  The time was right so I set myself down to work on them this past week.

I was really glad to see this Ivy Beanie finished, but it's too small for the average adult, I think. Or maybe I just have a big noggin.  I imagine it would fit a preteen or maybe a small adult:

Then again, it could have been off-size because I made it a little differently than the designer did. The designer's instructions were to make the body of the hat first, then create the ribbing - attaching it as you make it.   But I  love the hats that Whistle & Ivy makes and how she creates the ribbing, then grows the hat from there.  So, I made a ribbing that would accommodate the 60 stitches that began the body and worked the hat up from that starting point.   It's a super easy pattern, though I couldn't make heads or tails of the designer's instructions for finishing off the top.  Fortunately, it's not difficult to cinch in a hat after you've made one or two.  And while I'm not intending to give this hat one, a pom pom would sit atop it very nicely.

I really don't mean to make it sound like I didn't like the pattern. My main reason for writing all I did above is to offer a disclaimer in case someone else makes this and wonders why they ended up with a hat that fit their big head when I didn't.  It could have just been the way I made it.  

All of that said, I love the stitch pattern.  It's very clever, and I think it makes a nice hat.  I'll be looking for a head to fit it soon.  😎


And then I pulled out a half-finished crocheted pumpkin I think I might have started two years ago and finally whipped that baby together and then promptly started another: 

I plan to make a few before I attach button stems to them all.

There are numerous free patterns online for making crocheted pumpkins, but here are some to get you started:

Similar crochet pattern here, video tutorials here and here.
Different type of crochet pattern here

Things I do differently from the patterns and tutorials above:  1)  I use a size G hook with worsted weight yarn.  If I use smaller yarn, I use a a hook about 2 sizes smaller than what is called for on the yarn label.  2)  I begin with a magic loop, and 3) I keep a marker on my first stitch of each round and simply crochet in a spiral (this eliminates a join line).  Once you make one or two, you'll probably see how you can make these various sizes.  I'll explain that in next Sunday's post where I'll (hopefully) have some different sized finished pumpkins to show you.


And lastly,  I 've been giving it thought and I've decided to try another month-long 30-Day Minimalism Challenge beginning on October 1st.

If you're curious, here's a video explaining it:

I'm still undecided if I will post daily, but I will plan to take daily pictures for sure.  It was greatly motivating last year when I did this, and part of the motivation was posting a daily progress picture. So we'll see.  It was surprisingly easy for me to successfully complete this challenge last year.  And we've certainly brought stuff into our house this summer that needs a good sorting; whether it's our own old stuff, or our recently acquired old stuff, some things have got to go!

Anyone want to join me?   This doesn't need much planning or forethought.  One will need to have a place to donate or otherwise take decluttered items to, so if your thrift stores are closed, this might not be the time for you, but seriously...  all it takes to begin is the desire.  The motivation will come with the doing.  Or not, possibly.  If motivation doesn't last, there's no harm in having tried.  And there's space in one's home to reclaim for any effort at all.  Let me know in the comment section if you'd like to do this and blog about it. I would love to follow your progress and cheer you on.  👍  

Sunday, September 20, 2020

The Big Sort Is Complete...

First off, for those (like me) who are struggling with the new Booger - I mean, Blogger...  I just today made a discovery.  I don't know if different templates operate differently, but I finally figured out how to get single spacing back on my blog.  If you've lost your single spacing try this:   

To get the formatting to move the curser down just one space (instead of two) when you press [Enter], check the little toolbar at the top of the post you're typing.  Right before the B I ...  check and see if the word Paragraph appears.  Click on that and choose Normal.  That should set things right again.  


Good things have been happening since I was last here two weeks ago.   My mother-in-law's house is finally empty (on September 9th, I believe - the last several large items were taken away by Habitat for Humanity).  Lord, bless them and their truck.

So many people have been blessed by receiving the belongings of a 65+ year marriage, and a home of the last 25 years:  ourselves, our children, friends, a young couple whose oversea's ministry got cut short by COVID, and several local and international ministries that will either use many items donated, or sell them to fund their ministries.  

This past week saw a cleaning crew come in and clean from top to bottom.  MIL's house wasn't really dirty, but a deep clean of a few areas and a full going over has made the place shine.  And this week painters will go in and do mostly touch-up work.  Four months after my mother-in-law's passing, the house should be ready to list for sale. Even the realtor is a friend of the family, so yet another person is blessed with the business of selling it.  While there is a certain amount of sadness with all of this, I think Marcene would be very happy with how it's all gone, and the relief we all feel to be at this stage is so very good. 

Along with celebrating our progress, my sister-in-law's birthday was celebrated last Sunday with brats, burgers and cake.  And we visited her on her actual birthday and took her some yummy eats from a favorite Chinese restaurant near where she lives.  

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before now, but back at home I've visited with friends for an outside "play date" several times this summer.  We switch back and forth between bringing a handcraft to work on while we visit, and playing Taboo.  Taboo was my friend's idea, and while I said yes just because getting together sounded good, playing this game is sharpening my brain after so much time this year spent quietly - mostly with my thoughts.  Have any of the rest of you found in-person conversations challenging since lockdowns began?  I attribute it to COVID Brain.  Anyway...  every other week or so of playing Taboo has gotten the tongue loosened up and the cobwebs cleared a bit from the brain.  I feel sharper every time we play it.  

I have no pictures of all this, of course - me being me, who only considers after the moment has passed what treasures some candid shots of all these things would be someday.


I'm so good at thinking of photos after the fact.

But that is life - and it seems to especially be life right now.  Today, after lunch DH said, "It seems like I should be going up to Mom's today.  I feel like I'm forgetting something."  And then he added, "What a relief to realize there's nothing there to forget."  

But there is much here to do.  This past week has seen a serious (though not finished) sorting through things we've brought home from MIL's over the last three months.  What the last couple of weeks has not seen is any real crafting - well, except for knitted dishcloths that have helped me wind down, and frankly, rest my COVID Brain.  😶

But the crafty wheels have been turning.  I've been looking at projects, buying some yarn here and there, and going to sleep thinking of colors and color combinations. This is my happy place.  And somehow my craft room recently got turned nearly inside out for the second time this summer, so that is on my priority list of spaces to conquer.  With an orderly crafting space, I'll at least have a place to retreat to when other spaces aren't up to snuff, and I'm too tired (in mind or body) to deal with disorder in other rooms.  The other rooms will come together with some time and a more thorough sorting.

I'm seriously thinking of doing another 30 Day Minimalism Challenge.  It's been nearly a year since the last time, and I certainly have enough "stuff" to move out again.

I've weighed whether or not to take pictures of the various projects I have in progress or am thinking of doing.  I enjoy looking at other's pictures of these things, but if I do that this long post will be much longer and it will be dark before I can get all the pictures taken.

So I will leave you with a single photo of my small stack of dishcloths knitted this month and the happy idea that this week begins a new type of week for both hubs and me.  At least a new type of week since June.  

Here's hoping it's the beginning of getting back to not only some overall order here, but more interesting crafting time, too. 

Oh, okay...  one more picture:

This is what's left of a second batch of tomatoes I picked yesterday from a friend's garden while she and her family are on a week's vacation.   The first batch picked a week ago were frozen and some shared with family last Sunday at SIL's birthday gathering.  What's pictured above is about half of yesterday's pickins' (minus a few I dropped off at a friend's).  They're headed for my freezer between tonight and tomorrow.  Looking forward to the pots of Sausage Lentil Soup and Chili these will make - these are probably my two most favorite soups.  Oooh, and maybe even some "fresh" from-scratch pasta sauce.  Mmmmmm...

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Hello, September...

Hello, first Sunday of September!  Last week, for some reason, I thought we were well into the third week of the month (making the month half over), so imagine how happy it made me today to find I've gained over a week!  That's a bonus in this year that just feels like time is slipping away.

First up, I want to show you what came home this week.  Let me introduce you to the Singer sewing machine (purchased in the mid 1950's) that I inherited from my mother-in-law who passed earlier this year:  

I haven't stitched anything on it yet, but I'm feeling the love for this vintage-y machine.  I'm going on faith that all will work well and one of these days I'll be showing something I've actually sewn on it.  Now, if I could just find the owner's manual I put somewhere for safe keeping...  

It will show up, I'm sure.

For now, here are just a few shots of some of the attachments that my MIL used:

A bad-boy buttonholer that looks mighty complicated.

A "Automatic" Zigzagger. 

Looks like about 5 extra steps than the zigzag stitch takes to make
on my "modern" 25 year-old machine.

And I'm curious how many of these pressure feet (below) any of you recognize?  

I'm calling the zipper foot (bottom left hand corner), 
but I have no clue what any of the others are used for.  

And lastly, while this isn't an accessory, it's a might fine feature...  

No wait.  I really need to build up to this...  

When we were getting ready to pack this in the car, I wanted to separate the machine from the cabinet. A friend and I fiddled with screws that held the machine to two hinges that lower it down into the cabinet.  When I say fiddled, I mean we had to find the right size screw driver to unscrew two small set screws, and then one of us held the machine while the other nearly stood on their head to unscrew the thing (we took turns doing that as we could only manage one screw each, upside down).  And then once it was home the process had to be repeated (in reverse) to get the machine back in the cabinet.  Though, I found a way to do it that didn't require standing on my head.  

Yep.  I was determined to be smarter this time.  

At home, I decided to unscrew the hinges from the cabinet, attach the machine's set screws back onto the hinges, then while Hub held the machine upright, I screwed the hinges back onto the cabinet.  Remember, I am the mechanic of the family.  And I was so proud of myself that I had figured out how to get this back into the cabinet without turning myself upside down again.

Now, look at the picture above.  Look at that black curved thing (looks like a lever of some sort) in the top left hand of the picture.  Today, as I was taking this picture above (thinking I'd show the side bobbin - which is new to me), I was curious what that little lever was and I pressed on it. At which point, several parts "came away" and out of curiosity I lifted the machine a bit. I pressed a bit harder (though not hard at all) on the lever and out the whole thing came!!!  LOL!  

I'm not even sure I want to tell Hubs about this.  It's so embarrassing.  On the other hand, I think seeing the look on his face will be worth all the egg on mine.  😄

Anyway... what a lovely feature.    Much easier to get out of the cabinet than my more "modern" 25 year-old machine, that's for sure.

There's another story to someday tell on myself, but I think I need to save it for another day.  I'm already entertained to no end by this little vintage machine.  

Now... to find that manual!


And for my crafty bit today...   A few weeks ago I came across the blog, Snowflower Diaries, and while the blog doesn't appear to have been updated in a while, this cross stitch designer has some sweet designs (both for purchase and many for free).  If one of my fellow blogging buddies linked to her designs and I've forgotten who, I apologize, but I was completely taken with the designs in her Joyful World series.  This link is to the last design of the series.  There doesn't appear to be a link to the whole set, nor are all of the designs tagged (or labeled) so that they can all be pulled up easily.  But anyone interested can scroll through the blog and find each free monthly installment in this collection of cross stitch pictures.

Anyway, my threads and fabric arrived and here's what I accomplished this week:  

I'm thinking of making this a flat-fold to sit on my desk or a shelf.  I've never made a flat fold before, so here's hoping I can be motivated to finish the stitching and the project as a whole by the end of the month so I can enjoy it yet this year. 

We shall see...