More on the De-cluttering

My most recent efforts on the de-cluttering task has been centered around finishing projects. I started by sitting in my rocking chair in my bedroom and making a mental list of works in progress. I had 16 items before I even paused to look around the room from container to tub to box and figure out what was inside. Let’s see if I can recreate that list here: 1. yellow and green afghan, 2. multicolored afghan, 3. blue and white beanie, 4. giraffe dishtowel, 5. calf dishtowel, 6. cat dishtowel, 7. pig dishtowel, 8. knit blanket, 9. kid pj’s, 10. pile of torn pants, 11. Christmas welcome crewel, 12. stack of baby blankets, 13. stack of blankets (Vic. material), 14. Smurf crewel, 15. t-shirt rug, 16. fix doll–make clothing….and the list goes on.

broken doll

Fixed doll

I ended up completing #9 and #16 except for the clothing part. I am still trying to make wearable patterns, but I found an unfinished pillow that will turn into a bed for the doll and found some blocks from that fleece blanket project which is not even on the list that can be used to make a doll blanket. I have changed my attitude from completing projects to eliminating clutter. While I was finishing up the pj’s, I realized that since I already had black thread in the machine, it would be a good time to fix up James’ wind pants. The sewing let loose on the zippers at the bottom of the legs, and the hems were a mess because they were too long. The result is that he now has another pair of pants for his morning workout and I don’t have to figure out where to store those pants while cutting them up for something useful.

pajama pants finished

Drawstring

I want to show the pajama pants separately. These were started two or three Christmas breaks ago, but we never got them finished. I was trying to help Victoria with a few things she had started, but did not know how to finish. She was never taught how to read a pattern and some things did not make sense. Pants can be difficult, I even had myself off at one point here. They were already cut and the inseam was finished, but they were packed away all this time. Before I finished off the waist band, I realized that without someone to measure, I didn’t know how tight to make the elastic. I ended up putting two small button holes in the front facing of the waistband, which was just the top folded over. The pants now have elastic and a drawstring. I am really excited. Now I know how to do this and can do it again and again. Maybe….

The best part of this story for me is the de-clutter part. With the work of this day besides the pj’s and doll that will go to two children, I was able to put a pair of pants back in the drawer, empty two spools of thread (two black spools were really near the end), eliminate a piece of elastic and one shoe string from my stash. And, I will eventually get a few more items out the door with the doll accessories, more on that later. All in all Tuesday was a great day. Besides that I have made a few rows of progress on those afghans. Hopefully they will get finished yet. Ya!!!

De-cluttering My Way

I am so excited about the work I finally did last week in my bedroom/craft room and in my office. It happened because Jessica was coming home with the twins for a weekend, and we were not really sure where to put them. OK, so that is not really true. We had planned to put them in my room because it is the largest, but I had it so messy that it was actually hard for me to function there. And if you need to see any proof of all that scroll back to October 17, 2017 to the post titled: Declaring War on Clutter, sort of!

So, everything is put into a can or a box or a tote, and they are even labeled so that I know where to find things without opening up everything. I fixed, as in sewed the stack of items without buttons or torn and returned them to the drawers and closets where they belonged. That was a good feeling. I have also been working on my Works in Progress items in the crochet department. Hopefully I will get to the sewing on the “to do” list by Monday or Tuesday. I even threw away the scraps of yarn that were too small to use for anything. In the past I saved them and set them out for the birds to use in their nests, but they never took them, so into the landfill they go.

So, the cleaning was thought up because of the pending visit, but it was not the actual trigger of my de-cluttering frenzy, which is still going on, Hurrah!!!

Baptism display

What actually happened is that I thought I was scheduled to sub on Thursday and Friday of last week. I got up on Thursday morning, got dressed and ready, and went along with James to school only to see the lady I was covering for in the building. I had the right day but the wrong week; I am subbing today. Instead of being super upset, I took it as the gift of a free day to do whatever I wanted to do. I went home, went to my office and began to sort. I sorted books into a spot in the bookshelf. I put items into the file cabinet and the desk drawers where they should have been in the first place. I sorted so much that I even put up the pictures of the twins’ baptism and Ana’s baptism on the top of the bookshelf. Those are the three children that I have baptized since beginning in ministry…well since ever. Duh!

Angels

I also cleared off all the items from the top of the computer desk and put up my display of Christmas angels. At first I was wondering why I put them there, and then it hit me that what better inspiration to write my messages than a bunch of angels. These angels have either been gifts from family or friends for Christmas or were things that I picked up at auction sales in $1. boxes. I think that the only one I bought for myself is the one on the far right in the back. Both the blue one and the green one belong to a daughter and the two little reindeer don’t really fit the theme, but they match in color and are staying with the angels rather than moving them to the Santa display.

The plant stand in my office.

Mostly I sorted and tossed little sticky notes of paper and sheets of things that were no longer relevant. I also found an empty shoe box and filled it with the Christmas, birthday and cards of congratulations from my installation. That was set aside to make myself a scrap-book later. I was really happy to fill the garbage so full. I got so excited that I even cleared out a stack of old magazines and reduced that by nearly half. I also found a pile of old manuals for nearly every appliance around. We even found the one for the washer and dryer that we had to toss this summer. They were given to us by James’ parents on our wedding. I wish they were still with us. That set worked far better than what I have now. Oh well… So, this is all for now. All I know is that I am happy about what I was able to clear out, and that I only tossed out the items that really had no further value for me. I refuse to toss just to toss, but it is time to go. Hope you are having a great day!!

Message on Sunday, Nov. 5: Our dedication Sunday

The scriptures used were: Matthew 23:1-12, I Thessalonians 2:9-13 and Micah 3:5-12. The title of the message was, “Humble Service.” Again, this was my written script, but probably not exactly what was said.Those of you who know me very well know that one of my favorite television shows is The Voice. It might be because I like listening to music, and it might be because it was a show that James and Paulina and I watched together during that time when we were living in Linton, and it reminds me of what was a much simpler time in our lives.

One of the mainstays of that series is Blake Sheldon, and he has recently come out with a new album. He was on the Today Show on Halloween as a surprise concert singer, and he sang one, of his new songs, which is about thinking back in time to a simpler life, and the underlying issue was that the speaker of the song was really talking about being poor. I don’t know if he wrote it, or if someone wrote it for him, but before he sang it, he told the audience to listen closely to the words. Later that day I read the Upper Room devotional, and it was about a woman whose family had been homeless, and she wrote about how she was so ashamed of being around people because she was afraid they would recognize that she had once stood on a street corner begging for food.

It made me stop to think of all the stories, especially the frontier and the immigrant stores, which I have read over the years about people who struggled financially and eventually made it through to better times. Maybe I noticed these things more this week because I have been binging on those Hallmark Christmas movies, but it seems that at this time of year, those stories of tough times are just so much more in your face, so much more poignant, and maybe for me, so much more special. Maybe it is because I can relate to those stories with some of my own experiences, at different times in my life. OK, so not the homelessness part, but there have been times that have been struggles. Of course it could be because I, at least, am anticipating the coming weeks when we begin to reread, relearn, relive that very special story about a couple who went to Bethlehem with only a donkey for transportation then had to sleep in a stable where the oh so young woman delivered a baby on a bed of hay.

I think that tendency of mine to dwell on the specialness of those times drives some of my family members, especially my children crazy. I just can’t get over the idea that Christmas gifts shouldn’t be all about how much you spend and who gets the fanciest, newest thing. I do think that I read the Laura Ingalls Wilder books about how they survived Christmas way too many times, especially the parts about how their father would make something in the barn as a surprise for their mother, or she would sew the girls a rag doll from fabric scraps with button eyes as a treat. Of course if I would have ever gotten one of those sort of things finished, I think my girls might have appreciated it, but with me it is always on the “to do” list and never quite wrapped up finished and under the tree by the time we open gifts.

Humble times might make for better stories, for fonder memories for some of us. I think it is because the things we earned or were given during those times came with more sweat and more work on our part, and that is why they are cherished more. I just believe that things that come too easily are not appreciated quite as much. Maybe I am off base, but that is how my brain works and that is why it makes me think that part of what Jesus was telling the Pharisees is that they need to be more humble in their attitudes. And especially they need to do more for what they have and expect a little less from those around them. It seems they have this sickening air of entitlement around them.

We have talked about this passage before, about how the Pharisees were so interested in their place in society, and how much they earned both in terms of monetary compensation and in terms of status and respect and ability to wield power over others that they failed to fulfill the position that they had been granted as the spiritual leaders of the people. It reminds me of the favorite saying of my aunt’s father who used to say, “They are so religious, they forgot God.” Hopefully none of us knows anyone like that, or that none of us ever becomes like that. In verse 5 of Matthew 23 that we read today, Jesus is quoted as saying, “They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long.”

So, I couldn’t stand it anymore, I did an image search for a phylactery, and it is this little square thing that looks like a toy box. It is worn on the top of the head and held on with a strap sort of like putting a little box on a leather strap that you wear as a headband. The fringes are the tassels that come out of your scarf, which they put over their head and it is long enough to come down onto their shoulders. At this point I put on a visual aid to give a better idea of what I meant. I am guessing that the longer fringes and the larger phylacteries were a little more spendy, and so it showed that they had more money and status, they were better than the other poorer people. They could afford more. It reminds me a little of A Christmas Carol when Bob Cratchit’s family had to settle for a stuffed goose for Christmas until old Scrooge opened up his purse strings and bought them a magnificent turkey.

Matthew ends this passage by giving us Jesus’ words, “All who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Today I can’t help but think of just how much the Pharisees had. I don’t just mean in status or money or power, but in learning. They had the manuscripts, they had the law, and the words passed down from Moses. They had the temple with all of its; what we would today call artifacts, they were rich if not by their monetary standards alone, but they were rich in the history and the academics of their faith. They had it all, and yet they ignored it for their own self importance. They had so much to share with the people who came to the temple and all they were concerned about was if the people who came there were giving enough money to the coffers. The Pharisees were only thinking about how the people could benefit them.

I guess that is where the reading from Micah fits. He warns of the ruin that will come on the people of Jerusalem as he speaks of the prophets who do not carry out the directions that God gives to them. Instead they only pretend to do their duty when they are compensated or bribed, and there is nothing just or fair about what they do.

Paul is careful in his letter to the Thessalonians to remind the church there that when he was with them, he did not expect compensation for teaching them the gospel or about the love of Christ, but instead worked with them to earn the food they ate and the shelter they shared. That is a theme we read often in the letters of Paul, that the leaders are not to lift themselves up above the status of the people, but instead are to be teachers that work with the people in learning about the love and sacrifice that Christ offers up in order for us all to be brothers and sisters in God’s kingdom. Before his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul was likely one of those Pharisees, who wore phylacteries and long fringes, but because of God’s call and revelation to him, he was changed and understood the truth about how he acted and how he needed to act. Paul was humbled.

Quilts completed in 2017

Today as we offer up the quilts that we have finished off with our hands to be given to those in need, and as we dedicate the door that has been newly purchased and those that have been repainted, we offer them not in the spirit of our own goodness and status, but in humility that God would look on us as participating in the spirit of being “the church.” As we go through the rest of this month, Mission Fest and Thanksgiving in a couple of weeks then Advent and the Christmas Season right around the corner, may we enter this time in a spirit of humble service for our God.

I have been trying to think of fresh new ways to celebrate the upcoming holidays, and I believe the scripture lessons of today may have helped me understand better which direction or at least how to look at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. The story should not be about how many presents are piled under the tree or how much food is piled on top of the table. The real meaning of the season is sharing the love that God has bestowed on us with all of those around us. And sometimes that sharing means a smile, and sometimes it means a meal or a blanket. Mostly it means that we walk humbly with God and share the love that Christ has for us all. Let’s remember to add that to our list of things to do this upcoming holiday season. Amen!

Declaring war on clutter, sort of!

The view from my bed of the east side of the room.

Looking at the southwest corner from the sewing machine

I am a little hesitant to add the pictures that go with this particular post. Frankly I am embarrassed at the way certain rooms in my house look. I have always said our house is for living, not for show, but I am not so sure that I have not slipped into existence rather than living. It is time to move closer to the issue of functional and enjoyable living. Now that you have this as the background, I will show you the “before” pictures of my bedroom, without the bedroom part in the picture. Just know this room should have been a family room instead of a bedroom. It is really large and I believe that is why it has become such a dumping ground.

I refuse to do a total an irreparable purge of all that I own, let’s just get that out there front and center. I refuse to throw everything that I have accumulated throughout my life. If it was valuable once, it is worth considering before it goes out the door. And, let’s be even clearer on the matter, nothing is going into the landfill unless it is absolute junk.

I am sharing this as a way to motivate myself. I hope to be able to update weekly or when something major is accomplished. I have a long list of what to do to get this in order. Yesterday I began by locating my tub of winter clothing. I thought that I had all my sweaters in the drawer until I was shopping and remembered what was missing. As I emptied all of the winter clothes, I went through my closet and put all the completely summer items into the tub including all my cropped pants and sleeveless shirts. I also took out all of the sleeveless dresses and re-hung the skirts so that it all looks neater. I also found the scarves that I bought this summer in Baltimore. I will have to figure out how to wear them. I think my next step in the closet is to identify which items need to be removed permanently. I just need to figure out where they are going, then they can be gone. Ya!!!

My next issue besides getting rid of all the produce in the kitchen/dining room and garage is doing some cleaning around here. I eliminated several of the dust bunnies hiding under the bed and tables and even did all the laundry and bedding. It was nice enough outside that I could hang out the bedding, and oh was it wonderful to snuggle under sheets that have the fresh smell of outdoors. I have not touched the windows. My sisters and I plan to do a little cleaning in our joint houses later this week. One of the things on their agenda is windows. I told them that I have never done windows and at my age I am unable to learn anything new. I hope that works for me through the weekend. Maybe I will end up cooking for the group, but that will be fine. I am working on bread again today, but that will be another post.

Well, I will get off the computer and get to work; Happy Fall to all of you!!!

Rain clouds

Clouds to the south over the trees.

Looking north

I took these pictures a few days ago, but the sky isn’t much different tonight. I went to check the garden (found a cucumber) and James went to dump the kitchen compost container, and we both barely made it into the house before the rain began to smatter against the windows. It was not much rain this evening, but enough to keep the pool closed. Paulina will not be getting much of a final check at this rate. Either no children come, or the weather sets in and they have to leave after an hour or two this whole week. It sounds like next week will pretty much be the end because the other guards are leaving to return to school, and they really have not had anyone there. It was plenty hot and busy in June, so I guess that is just how this summer is going.

It is good that we are getting this rain now, at least some of the crops will be salvaged, and perhaps there will be a little moisture going into the ground for hope of something better next spring. James talked to his brothers and it sounds like the row crops will be a little less than a great crop, but at least it is better than if the heat would have continues. Also, I am hopeful that this means the pastures will be ok. Half of what we own is pasture land, and I am always concerned for how that holds up.

James and I were in Bismarck today to pick up my aunt from the airport as she came back from Phoenix. She had been there since the middle of July or so. It was just a little less than a month, and I think time for her to get home. Ha!! I don’t know how many times this past week, I wanted to pick up the phone and ask her to come over for coffee or just sit on the porch, and then I remembered she wasn’t here yet.

One of the best things about the trip to Bismarck was that we really didn’t have much time to shop, so it was plan what we needed and get to it. I liked the idea because not buying is my new best way to eliminate clutter. We did purchase a few needed items, and then we browsed the canning area where I picked up some lids and both powdered and liquid pectin for making jelly. I need to get at those choke cherries tomorrow afternoon, no excuses. I also bought a larger embroidery hoop to do those towels that I stamped yesterday. I put a new bulb in the light beside my rocking chair, now I have no excuse for not doing those towels as I watch television at night. Hmmmm.

I learned that I won’t need to start my long-term substitute job on the first day of school because they are going to have the students stay with the regular classroom teachers on the first week until they get the schedules all in place. I will be starting on the last Monday in August and stay until the teacher is back. Ya!! I enjoy that room and am looking forward to being there. I know most of the students and the other teachers, and it is one of those really small schools that just feels like home.

Well, enough for tonight. I am supposed to be finishing my message, and I just can’t get to it even though I pretty well know what I want to say. These are the times, I would love to use note cards and a few key words and just talk. I am always afraid to do that because I might never get to the point and end it. I already carry on too long for some people in the audience (mostly family, Ha ha!!). Catch you later.

De-Clutter: One project done

Finally I can report on a project finished. I, apparently, work better on a deadline. Tomorrow is a baby shower for a girl who grew up across the street from us. I made one of my signature flannel blankets and I think it turned out pretty well. There were some issues with the bobbin and the tension on the first side, but after I had it adjusted correctly everything went pretty well. The biggest thing with this “pattern” is to be sure to press the seams. Basically you purchase to swatches of flannel. I used to get 1 yard of each usually a pattern and a matching solid. This time I took 1 and 1/4 yards because that makes the blanket more of a square. Also I was not happy with the solid colors that would match and chose a polka dot for the backside. I am really pleased with the result. I think that I will use polka dots or strips in the future rather than solid.

So, why did I put this under the title of de-clutter? Yesterday I spent the better part of the day trying to organize on paper this mess in my room. I finally came to the conclusion that this stuff is not leaving because I am not willing to let go of it in its present state. In other words, I am not willing to throw out my yard or my material or any of the other things that I have piled up. But, on the other hand, if I can turn them into something useful then I can let them go. So, this material is now a baby blanket and well, maybe I will get started on a few other things. I did drag out the stencils this morning when the iron was hot and stamped a couple of dish towels to embroider. That puts about five in the bag and three more to stamp. I need to put a deadline on them and maybe I can get them out of here too. Eventually I will have this place cleaned out.

Let’s see, perhaps a goal of reducing the piles by 10 percent each month might be a reasonable goal. I read a pin this past week that makes the most sense of any clutter free/organizing post I have ever seen. It wasn’t so much about how to throw things out as it was about not bringing more clutter into the mix. I think that is where I need to start. Nothing new until 10 things have been removed. So, the baby blanket you see on top of this post is item 1. Now I only have 9 more to go. Now if I can follow that rule for my craft items, I better do the same for my house plants. I really want to reduce those for this winter. Hmmm what about the canned items?

The getting organized bug

Now that the big sale is over, and we have taken two of the left over boxes out of the house, I have the “bug” to start digging out more and more, but I am not really willing to live in the midst of junk like we had to last week when we were setting up for the sale. I would like to do the rest of the clearing away in a more methodical and organized way. I stopped in at an antique store in Eureka today and mentioned that I have the old wedding dress of a former resident and I would be willing to give it to them if they would take it. The owner said she would take it and check if the museum would like it and if not they would be happy to have it in their store. One more item gone. Now where to start with the rest. I think the first thing I need to do is begin with an itinerary and a list and mostly a deadline. And, I need to just keep picking at it.

Stack of projects in progress

One exciting issue is that James and I have decided to turn the small back bedroom into my sewing/crafting room. We actually discussed taking out the wall between that room and the office, but neither one of us has carried the sledge-hammer up the steps yet. On the other hand, we have agreed that it won’t happen until there is a replacement bedroom in the basement area, so it will probably be about a year before I get that room. My real motivation for switching out that room is so that no one ever has to sleep on those old beds ever again. I found out the hard way this week that they are terrible. They have served their purpose, but really need to go.

Bag of Vic’s material

In the meantime, I will need to do a little better job of organizing the space in my bedroom to house the stuff I have. Actually I am starting to see the best idea would be to get started at completing a few of the projects and moving them on, as in out of the house. The other thing that I need to stop doing is allowing new items in. Since I still have Victoria’s sewing machine, she decided it would be a good idea to bring me her material for me to use in the projects she had planned. Like I need anymore ideas. Perhaps the best place to start would be a totally complete list of everything here. Yikes, that alone could take two months to complete.

Perhaps my plans for tomorrow after laundry, dishes, start the Sunday message and weed in the garden will be an inventory of material and items in progress. Right after that I will map out a plan for world peace because if I can get that list finished, I should be able to accomplish anything.

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