Around My Neck (and on the wall)

I have been following the KonMari method to declutter my house and the main tenet is to only keep the things that bring you joy. I have a rather large collection of dragonfly necklaces that my daughter and husband have bought me over the years and they definitely bring me joy! I wanted a way to display them on the wall so I could see them all, but after shopping for a week, I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for. As I was drifting off to sleep last night, I had a brilliant idea to frame them but have them still be accessible.

It was easy, too. I used a cheap wooden frame from IKEA, a piece of cardboard cut from an Amazon box, and a scrap of scrapbooking paper that matches my bedding. I started by removing the glass then used it to trace out the size on the cardboard and paper.


Some double tape glued the paper to the cardboard. I measured across the top and marked in 1/6 of the way from each edge, then cut down half an inch at each mark. I put it inside the frame, cardboard side up, and traced across the top on the inside.


Cut across the line between the marks and flip it over.

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Put the chain into the slits created from the downward cuts and adjust it so the pendant is centered.

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Pop it into the frame without the glass and done!

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I was so excited to try this out, I did it before I even repainted the frames so just ignore the chippy bits. Now I have beautiful and meaningful art for my bedroom walls and I get to see my favorite necklaces and enjoy them all, even when I’m not wearing them!

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Except What I Remember And Believe

One of my favorite David Wilcox songs is about losing everything and realizing that the important things are always carried with you. Between two divorces and moving like a gypsy, I know all about starting from what fits in your car. But being married for 13 years and settled for 15 means that I’ve accumulated a ton of crap. I mean literally a ton, as in at least 2000 lbs of crap.

Every year, just like everyone else, I make resolutions to clean up my clutter, clear out the sheds, and be a better version of me. Normally I’m a complete failure by the time February comes around, but considering I’ve been on this self-improvement journey since September with huge leaps and bounds of progress made, I’m feeling pretty damned good about this year’s prospects.

Like thousands of other people, I became fascinated by the Marie Kondo book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I’ve said for a while now that I kinda wish my house would catch fire, taking everything I hate with it. I would grab my computer, camera, phone, and three bins of luxury knitting yarn. Everything else could go and I wouldn’t be devastated, as our Christmas ornaments are the only other thing I would miss and they’re stored in the shed. A book dedicated to getting rid of everything in my house that doesn’t “spark joy” speaks directly to my heart.

For the last few months, I’ve purged what I thought was a lot. I mean I can move my hangers in my closet now, so that’s huge progress. But I still hung onto a ridiculous amount of shamefully shabby underwear, pajamas that are literally falling off me, and an entire underbed storage bin of painting clothes. Keep in mind the last time I painted was September, 2014. I’m almost positive I really only need one set of painting clothes, maybe two in case of big jobs like the craft room.

Every room in the house, both big sheds, and the laundry room have gone through a first level purge, or what Aubrey used to call the painless purge; that’s the stuff that you know you don’t want, or stuff that’s obvious garbage. Now we’re starting the second level purge, which is a little bit harder. This is the stuff that makes you say, “But I might need that if/when…” or “My best friend from 3rd grade gave me that and I haven’t spoken to her in 30 years but she was my BEST friend…” or the worst of all, “That cost me a fortune and I haven’t even used it yet!”

On top of reading Kondo’s book, I’ve joined a handful of facebook groups that are dedicated to the Konmari Method for additional inspiration. Seeing pictures of people’s homes and closets that have gone from looking like mine to something worthy of a catalog photo shoot gives me hope.

Ron’s being incredibly supportive, as he said he’s noticed that I’ve stopped buying crap I don’t need (which is way more important to the process than purging!!!) and picking up roadside bits for projects that I’ll never complete. Having his support means a lot to me, as I’m not physically able to do this on my own. While Matt is here, I’ve made a great start, but once he’s gone, there will still be more to do. Of course, the hope is that once it is all done, I will physically be able to keep up with the house as there will be nothing to dust or clean other than the basics.

In an alignment of the universe, our bulky trash pickup is this Monday. That gave me great motivation to clear out the sheds, get rid of broken furniture, and ditch various other large trash things that I’ve been keeping for insane reasons. Matt has helped without question mainly because I’m paying him, so it’s working out well for both of us.

While our trash pile grows, all my non-consumerism is helping our debt to go down. I was able to do all our Christmas shopping with a net lowering of our credit card balance, and that’s with some rather generously large gifts, like a new phone for Aubrey and a plane ticket for Matt.

For so long, I’ve worked to “organize and store” but Kondo’s approach is to get rid of it. I went to Target on Friday to get a particular ornament storage box (which I did end up buying from Amazon), and planned to get another half dozen large plastic bins in order to store our Christmas stuff. I didn’t get the bins because I realized I honestly had no idea what was going to be left. I came home and Matt and I tackled the Christmas stuff. I ended up with a box of lights and three half-empty bins that I will consolidate into two before they go back into the shed. Once the tree is down, we’ll have that, the ornament box, and a bin of wrapping paper to add to the lights and other bins. Anything I didn’t use this year either got pitched or went into the garage sale pile. I ended up with a large pile of empty bins, so I was glad I didn’t buy any new ones!

As for the garage sale, I’ve promised everyone that if it doesn’t happen by the end of January, I’ll just donate everything. I also promised to donate anything that doesn’t sell. Nothing is to come back into the house or sheds once it goes out for the sale.

I’m feeling confident, excited, and yes, joyful. Every box that goes out means more room to breathe and I feel lighter. However, this is an exercise in patience, as it is meant to take about six months for the average house. I have a tendency to want it all done RIGHT NOW!!!!! and thinking about everything all at once can be overwhelming. So I’m sticking to the 26 week plan.

Most importantly, I promise myself that it is okay if I don’t do it perfectly, as long as I just DO it.


The Great Clutter Clear Out Day 2

One of the worst things about fibromyalgia is the lack of consistency. I might feel great one day then feel like crap the next. In fact, that’s pretty much guaranteed. So while I managed to get a lot done yesterday, I got very little done today. However, what matters is that I at least did *something*. Even if I only manage to get rid of two things a day, that’s still 730 things in a year, right?

I thought for sure I would sleep like the dead last night, but I was oh so wrong. I slept for a little less than four hours. I managed to grab another couple of hours this morning, but I finally gave up and got moving at 9:30am. I tackled more coffee cups and the two drawers of spatulas and spoons. I assigned a shelf for the wine glasses and got them washed and put away. I loaded up the dishwasher, washed a few pans, then left for knitting. My 15 minutes was more than up, so I didn’t feel at all guilty.

I’ve been having major sensory overload issues since I’ve come back from Leigh’s. I love love love my knitting groups, but both Sunday and today left me with light and sound sensitive headaches. As part of “doing things differently,” I decided to be happy with what did get done instead of running myself into the ground and not being able to do anything at all tomorrow.

As Scarlett said, “Tomorrow is another day.”

On A Clear Day

I spent the last couple of weeks up in New England with my BFF, Leigh. Leigh’s house is magazine-worthy gorgeous. She does everything herself (with all the labor supplied by her wonderfully willing husband, Bill), from kitchen and furniture design to decorating. She is an amazing little fireball of energy and creativity. I love being up there, because it’s a retreat from my cluttered house of chaos.

While I was gone, I realized that if I came home and everything was gone (besides my luxury yarn…people would die if anything happened to my luxury yarn!!!), I would have no idea what was missing. Matt had joked that he was going to throw everything away while I was off at Leigh’s. Next time, I might take him up on that.

A few days ago, I somehow got sucked into Pinterest; not sure how that happened, as I try to avoid it. It’s sort of like that scene in Interstellar where every hour they spend on the planet is seven years on earth because of the gravity well. Every minute on Pinterest is an hour lost in real life, or at least that’s how it seems. Anyway, I was browsing through my “Pins For You” page and found a link to Home Storage Solutions 101. It is a life altering page that I highly recommend.

As anyone with clutter can tell you, the hardest part is knowing where to start. Looking at a room of disaster is overwhelming. It causes me to immediately shut down, close the door, and retreat to my knitting chair. Yes, I have a knitting chair, don’t you?? However, HSS101 truly is a solution for people like me. She breaks everything down into daily and weekly challenges. Even better, Monday challenges are just reading assignments to prepare you for the challenges of that week, because who the hell wants to clean on a Monday? No one! Daily challenges are a max of 15 minutes (unless you have serious hoarder level issues), so even the busiest person has no excuse.

Obviously, you can do more than one challenge a day, should you so choose. Today is my first day, but I wanted to get the first week of February done anyway. Since today’s challenge is reading, I figured I would take on Feb 1-8. I bribed Matt with breakfast tacos and since he’s still not working, he helped me git ‘er done. Most of those challenges have to do with recipes, although Feb 1 was to clean off the tops of the kitchen cabinets. OMG, what a mess! I tossed a ton of foil pans that I’ve had for over a decade and never used. I found a valentine cookie pop pan, just in time. I put all my melamine Christmas dishes in a garage sale box, along with various vases, pitchers, and teapots I don’t like. I also decluttered and cleaned my kitchen hutch and the top of my fridge while I was at it. Go me!

The challenge for Feb 3 & 4 is to gather, sort, and organize recipes. Feb 5 is to declutter cookbooks. That one was easily done, as I owned exactly three small ones, of which I used exactly zero. All three went into the garage sale box. I use for just about everything that I haven’t come up with on my own, and even though I tend to modify the recipes from the site, I do refer to it for the basics of various recipes. I keep promising my kids that I will write my recipes down so they can have them, so maybe that will be my personal challenge for February.

We got everything done in about 45 minutes. I put off dusting the cabinet tops until the counters are cleared, otherwise I’ll have a big muddy mess that will make for more work. I stuck a pin in it though, so I know to go back to that part of the task. This evening, I’ll sit down and type in the few paper recipes that I have floating around in my junk drawer. I think the only thing in there that we use is for flourless peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.

Although my kitchen is still quite the disaster, it’s only noon! I had to rest for a bit and I have an appointment with my rheumy this afternoon, but Matt will continue while I’m gone. Our goal is to get the kitchen completely emptied so we can do a deep cleaning. I desperately need a plumber to come replace the pipes under the sink and install a new garbage disposal, but I’m too embarrassed to have anyone come stick their head in that scary spot even if I am paying them. Fortunately, I have a great plumber, so I don’t have to research for that. I promised my husband that I would have all the kitchen repairs done by the end of next week. That and a clean kitchen is his valentine and anniversary present (12 years on Friday, the 13th!).

The weekly challenge is to create a home recycling center and devise a routine to deal with trash. The first part of that is easy, as our city has a recycling program. Everything recyclable goes into a brown bin and trash goes in a blue one. We have two large bins in our kitchen; a black one for trash, a white one for recycling. They get emptied into the city bins every other day or so.

Devising a routine to deal with trash is the hardest out of all the current challenges for me. I am terrible about throwing away mail. One friend suggested keeping a trash bin on the front porch so the mail never comes in the house. That may be the solution, but I am going to work on putting it directly in the recycling bin the instant I bring it in the house, rather than setting it on the table to go through it later. As for the rest of the house, I just need to remind Matt to empty ALL the trash cans every other day, not just the kitchen trash.

Some of you may remember that last year at this time, Ron and I were on the verge of divorce, yet here we are a year later, more happily married than ever. Once we started communicating, he said that one of his issues was how messy and cluttered the house was. Over the last year, I’ve decluttered a lot and we’ve all gotten a LOT better at day to day stuff. But it’s still not CLEAN clean. He’s much happier with the way it is now, but I know it could be a million times better. My goal this year is to get it to the best it can be. We’re about to have our house to ourselves (just a few more months and then Matt is moving to the Seattle area!), and I want it to be fabulous.

Will my house ever look like Leigh’s? I doubt it. For one thing, she has access to things I don’t, since she regularly gets an influx of furniture for free (Bill owns a moving company and gets free stuff all the time). For another, she has skills I don’t have. She is an artist in every sense of the word. I have an eye for color. My hands don’t cooperate with my eyes the way hers do. That being said, I do have one resource…Leigh herself! So while I may never make it onto the cover of Good Housekeeping, I have hopes that this hideous crap shack will eventually be transformed into a super cute cottage with a functional kitchen and a second bathroom. Wish me luck!