Friday, June 30, 2017

Lusting after a Luscious Laundry

After watching a youtube video on organisation, I've started having lustful thoughts regarding laundry rooms. My laundry room is small, dark, dingy, and desperately in need of some love! It would be great to have a clean, tidy, functional and pleasing place to do laundry and store cleaning supplies.

There's a dishwasher in there we don't use. I'd like to see the back of it, and replace it with the dryer which is sitting in the back vestibule. The Belfast sink was improperly plumbed, and isn't usable. The ceiling is a golden yellow. The floor has carpet tiles that are rolling at the edges. It's a place I go into because I have to, and I'm out again in the shortest possible time. It's time to dream!

My new laundry room will re-use the Belfast sink, but lower it. It will be easier to fill the mop bucket at a lower level. New taps will be installed. Next to the sink will be the washing machine and dryer, with a work top over them, making a folding area for laundry. This will probably have to be hinged against the wall as the space is so tight. Above the washer and dryer, wall cabinets with plain, flat, white doors. On the opposite wall will be hanging hooks for the mop, broom, dustpan and brush, vacuum cleaner. The ceiling will be white, a new light fitting installed, and new flooring.

The predominant colours will be white, with few touches of aqua. It will be clean and fresh.

Consolidation of the Foundations

It feels like this week has been a time to consolidate the foundations of decluttering and housekeeping. There's still be decluttering, and the 30 Day Declutter Challenge has been smashed. But I've also been maintaining several room, bathroom, loo, bedroom, sitting room and kitchen. None of them are perfect, but all are clean and 'picked up'. I'm starting to get the hang of the concept of tidying and cleaning 'as you go'.

This morning the bathroom and loo have been cleaned and tidied. A number of months ago the shower in the shower room was not working and we were using a hand held shower that fitted onto the taps in the bath. These were tapped in place to prevent water from skooshing everywhere. The shower was fixed months and months ago, but the hand held shower was not removed. This has now happened!

My decluttering focus today has been to help the Younger Offspring with their stuff. Together we decluttered a wardrobe, three drawers of clothing and a set of drawers containing make up and hair stuff. This wardrobe will be brought down to their bedroom at the weekend. An old small chest of drawers has been removed.

After dinner, the Beloved and I started work on his wardrobe. Everything apart from his sweaters and cardigans has been done! There's two large bin bags, one for recycling and one for donating.

Our rubbish bin was emptied yesterday morning. It was full by the evening, and there's even more things to be disposed of. I suspect a trip to the amenities site and the disposal containers will feature in our weekend.

It feels good to be reclaiming the house!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Just a Minute

Nicholas Parsons host the wonderfully funny radio programme, 'Just a Minute'. The guests are given one minute to talk about a given subject without hesitation, repetition or deviation. One minute can be a very long time under those circumstances!

One of the instructions given by many home organisation/decluttering experts is if a task will take less than one minute, then do it NOW. This might be wiping the bread board of crumbs and putting it away, taking a mug through to the kitchen, picking up a fallen towel, etc. These little tiny tasks can often make a difference out of proportion to the time they take. 

At least a month ago I noticed the pictures in the hall had slipped in their frames. Whilst dusting in the hall I decided to rectify the situation. It took about four minutes to do all three pictures, but I don't begrudge that extra minute. This small change has improved the hall.

It's part of the crazy way of tidying and cleaning where you do a little bit each day. If you make a mess, or get something dirty then you tidy/clean immediately afterwards, but the rest is done incrementally. The advantage is the place looks clean and tidy. The downside is you don't get the 'Wow! Look at the difference I have made!' I'm trying to prefer the former over the latter, but I love 'My goodness, the place looks fantastic now.'

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Mini-declutter in the Bedroom

In the course of the 21 item bedroom declutter, a few crafty bits were unearthed. These have been gathered and will be handed over to Gill. She will use them to make Twiddle Mitts (pictured above).

Gill has a friend who like to knit squares, just squares. Gill takes the squares, sews them together, and add various decorations and twiddle-able bits. These Twiddle Mitts are given to people with dementia. Many people with dementia have 'active fingers'. They keep picking at things, scratching, working away all the time. This can lead to IV drips being removed, cannulas becoming infected, skin scratched and rubbed. The Mitt gives the busy fingers something to do, a distraction. It improves the life of dementia patients, and it uses up little bits and pieces of crafty stuff.


Fourteen things have left my wardrobe, well, maybe twelve. There's a pair of purple shoes I like, but I seem to remember the fastenings were not staying closed. I'll wear them today and see if they work. If they don't, they will be disappearing. Three items have been given a reprieve as they are a smidge too small. Next time I'm in bottom drawer I'll look at them again. There's also three pairs of worn out shoes I shall say goodbye to.

The hair care drawer was the next place to receive my attention. More than 21 items left that drawer alone! Goodbye to a mini CD, some ribbons, a webcam(!), old booklets, random bits of paper, a hairbrush that hurts my head... just lots of little bits of crap.

The Same Message from More Than One Source

Over the last week I have been watching/listening to the Clutterbug, Cassandra Aarssen. She is a professional organiser, youtuber and prodcaster. Her central message is the same as so many others, clutter can't be organised, and 15 minutes of decluttering a day makes a huge difference.

Hearing the same message from different lips has reinforced to me that I need the constant 'drip, drip, drip' of encouragement and prodding. It keeps me focused on the goal (a tidy house where I can find things), and it keeps me feeling positive whilst I get to the goal.

A few years ago I was delighted when my bedroom was decluttered. Over time it became re-cluttered, and now it's decluttered again. Obviously, I don't have problems with decluttering, it's the maintenance I struggle with. The drip-feeding of encouragement helps me with the maintenance. Hearing it from more than once source, the same message in different words and in different voices, stops it from feeling like nagging.

And with that, I'm off to see if there's 21 items in my bedroom I can declutter. (There is.) I'm starting with the wardrobe, and then turning my attention t other areas. The key questions for clothing are: 'do I wear it' and 'do I love it'.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Week 26: Make up and Cosmetics

Monday: Read Organized Home Challenge #26: Make up & Cosmetics
Tuesday: Declutter expired and old make up
Wednesday: Declutter toiletries and skin care products
Thursday: Declutter old toothbrushes and other dental supplies
Friday: Declutter nail polish and perfume
Saturday: Declutter hair styling tools and supplies
Sunday: Declutter travel toiletries and supplies

Some people have many supplies in this category. I have a couple of old toothbrushes that are used to when cleaning to get into tiny spaces. There's a bottle of perfume I need to carry out a sniff test on, but apart from that, I'm good.

My Body is Falling Apart

It was around my current age my Mam was diagnosed with high blood pressure, thyroid problems, diabetes, high cholesterol etc. She is on a cocktail of drugs and looks fine and healthy. My body is currently acting up, and I could be going the same way. I want to do something about this and see if I can avoid the cocktail of drugs, and the perpetuation of bad habits just because a drug is taking up the slack.

Last month was Iron May and it got me moving. The steroids I was given for the major asthma incident changed my taste buds and sent me searching for vegetables and fruit. Both were very good changes to my life. Consumption of fruit and vegetables has reduced, but it's still better than my pre-Easter diet. Sadly, the June weather has caused my joints to be very sore, and I have taken almost no exercise this month.

This is changing. This morning I was back on my bike and I cycled 4 miles. Later today I'll walk a mile. My meals will be around about 50% veggies, 25% protein, and 25% carbohydrates. Snacks will be fruit, and drinks will be water and Earl Grey with lemon.  I need to make this work for my body's sake.  I'd rather like it to last another 50 years.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Messy Shed

not my actual shed
I am so excited! I've been wanting to get the garden shed decluttered for ages. Today, we took a car-load to the amenities site and waved goodbye to some of our clutter. Some of that stuff has been in the shed, waiting to go to the amenities site, for years! It's gone, so long.

Hopefully next weekend we'll take another trip and say arrivederci, auf Wiedersehen, and sayonara to another load of clutter.

Good Morning, World

Totally nailed the sleeping thing last night!

And, now it's time to decide. Shall I use my powers for good, or for ill?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Sleep is for Wimps!

At this time of year, it's very common for me to be awake at 5-5.30 in the morning.  The light levels cause me to be awake early in the morning, and not go to bed until late (11.30pm-ish) at night. In the winter, the dark mornings and evenings result in a sleepy bear.

Goodness knows what happened last night!  I was awake until 3.30am!  I was so worried I would fall asleep and the be awake at 5.30. Thankfully, I managed to get all the way through until 8.30 (with a half-time loo break).  There was a quick nap around lunch time too. And it's only now at gone 11pm I'm starting to yawn. 

About 10 years ago I had shingles. I was exhausted all the time, but sleep was often difficult. This was when I learned that even if you are not able to sleep, then at least take the time to rest. It's so much easier now. A talking book or a Kindle, gives the brain something to react to whilst allowing the body to rest.

(yawn) Right, that's it!  I'm off to bed. (yawn) Night all. Hope you have a good night's sleep.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Decluttered, Clean, Tidy Bedroom

'Tis done!  The bedroom is now decluttered, clean and tidy, all three at once! 

Yesterday there was a fair bit of dusting, and the floor was swept. Today, The Beloved got up high to do the top of the wardrobe and the picture rails. I finished the lower dusting. The bed was drawn out, the suitcases moved from under the bed, and then the whole floor was mopped. 

I'm looking out, and there are a few, a very few items out of place. The dustpan and brush hadn't made it back to the laundry. There's a hair tie by my bed, and a pair of The Beloved's shorts.  That's it. Everything else is where it should be.

I'm sure we could do some more decluttering, especially with books and clothes, but for now, we are done. My intention is to do the 365 Declutter Challenge again next year. The kitchen was done last year, and again this year, and I'm happier with it now. The linen cupboard has also been done twice, and I'm really happy with the set up.  It was an area with a great propensity towards mess. Now the cupboard contains so much less it far easier to keep it tidy. 

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Beloved's Study and the Bathroom

The Beloved has a tendency not to dispose of old computer hardware. He keep the bits, he keeps the boxes, and it piles up. This is not a problem for me as it is all in his study, and I rarely go in there. I would never try to declutter his stuff. (This is not the same as picking up a couple of items lying around and asking 'Do you still need/want this?' That's a genuine question, and if the answer is 'Yes', then it put away.)

About a week ago, The Beloved said if I get him a couple of cardboard boxes he would do some decluttering in his study. True to his word, in less than an hour after I had given him a box it was full. The items have been taken to the amenities site.

Whilst he was off doing this, I was in the bathroom, clearing out the linen cupboard again. It was done in February, and it wasn't looking bad. It is now looking good! It was easy to work out which items hadn't been used since February, and so were neither wanted nor needed.

As I was putting away my clean laundry, I decluttered my undies and pjs drawers.  These clothes, along with the items above, came to about 50! That's a good declutter!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


A lot has been said in social media about 'hygge'. It's a Norwegian/Danish concept that encompasses cosiness, charm, happiness, contentment, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship, and simpleness. It's being at home, snug and warm, with a mug of hot chocolate when the rain is lashing down. It's fun and laughter over dinner when family and friends comes to visit. It's about having a warm, cosy place where you know you belong and are accepted for who you are. And candles.

Yes, candles. Even around the summer solstice when sunset is around 10pm, and there is no true night, only astronomical twilight. The soft flickering light draws you in to the now, draws you into the warm, cosy place. It brings me contentment.

My candles are sitting on a long piece of slate, on top of my dark wooden coffee table/chest. These things bring me joy. (The slate is half a roof slate that was left over from when a neighbour was having their roof replaced. I've used some Velcro dots, the fuzzy sides, not the hooks, on the underside of the slate. This prevents it from scratching the coffee table.)

I'm appreciating more the little things in life, wood, slate, soft light. Too often we are busy, moving from one thing on to the next, and not stopping to enjoy the present moment.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Disadvantages of Decluttering

Search the internet and you will find so many positive things being written or vlogged regarding the advantages of decluttering. It's so much harder to find anything about the disadvantages. I'm totally on board with the advantages. It has been making my life so very much easier in many ways. 

My bedroom is now a calm, tidy, decluttered space. The sitting room is tidy most of the time, and can be returned to tidiness in less than 5 minutes. I love it.

However, there is one major disadvantage, now the stuff has disappeared from a number of places, I can see how many objects are drab and sad. I can see the spider's web on the ceiling, and the dust on the picture rail. My home needs some tender, loving care. It needs a deep clean, and redecorating.

Currently I'm caught in a difficult place. Various rooms have been decluttered, and I want to get them deep cleaned and redecorated, then to maintain them at this level. At the same time, I want to get the whole house decluttered. 

I didn't sleep well last night. I'm tired, and I just want a clean, calm, tidy house. I want a place of rest, relaxation, creativity and welcome.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Gluten-free Baking

Learning how to bake with gluten-free flour can be a bit of trial and error. The flours absorb liquid at different rates and behave differently. When I first tried to make gluten-free scones they did not come out as the light, fluffy morsels eaten with morning coffee or afternoon tea. The family pronounced them 'rock buns'.

This morning I decided to make some rock buns, and use the Be-Ro recipe for scones. There was no way the mixture could be formed into a ball and rolled out. Dollops were put on a baking sheet instead. And, I failed to make rock buns. Today's creation were chocolate chip, free form, gluten-free scones. Light and fluffy, and very tasty. 

The only negative comment was from The Beloved, "There's not enough currants."  Yes, of course there are not enough currants; there are NO currants in the scones!  The dark bits are chocolate. However, the lack of currants did not prevent him enjoying his coffee-time treat.

Week 25: Bathroom

Monday: Read Organized Home Challenge #25: Bathroom

Tuesday: Declutter bathroom sink and counter area

Wednesday: Declutter under bathroom sink

Thursday: Declutter bathtub and shower area

Friday: Declutter bathroom drawers and organize what's left

Saturday: Declutter bathroom cabinets and closet shelves

Sunday: Declutter and organize bath toys


The bathroom was decluttered in February, and I don't think it needs to be decluttered again, but it does need a deep clean and a tidy. The focus this week will be 'clean and tidy'.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

I just want the pretty colours

Creating a pretty quilt top is just one part of the process of making a quilt. After the top has been finished, it is place on top of the batting and backing, and the layers are fixed together.

It struck me yesterday as I was buying 6m of plain white cotton, I don't like buying plain white cotton! I like pretty colours. I like making the tops of quilts. And I sort of object to spending money on the 'boring bits'. However, if the 'boring bits' aren't bought, there is no finished project, there's no quilt.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

What to buy for a decluttering minimalist?

What's a wanna-be minimalist to do at gift receiving times of the year? I like presents. I like gifts. And I don't want to do without them. But, I don't want to accumulate more stuff just because it's time to receive gifts.

My family makes extensive use of the Amazon wishlists. It's the first thing we do when Christmas or birthdays are approaching. It means the gift giver has a pretty decent idea of things the gift receiver might like. It cuts down on the 'what were they thinking' type of gift. However, it does require people to take the time to update their wishlist. This last task has been difficult for me, and doubly difficult now I'm really getting to grips with decluttering and being an intentional buyer.

Over the last few days I've been pondering this whole gift thing. The gifts I would most like to receive are either crafting materials or gift vouchers for craft shops. It's lovely to receive a gift. It's then lovely to create a crafty-thingy, and it's again lovely to give that crafty-thingy away. The gift is not the material object, but the chance to play with it and make it into something different.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Free Form Scones

225g Dove Farm gluten-free SR flour
50g butter
25g sugar
50g choclate chips
1 egg

Heat oven to 220C.

Rub the butter into the flour, and stir in the sugar and chocolate chips. Break the egg into a jug, beat it and then top up to the 150ml mark with milk. Mix the milk/egg mixture into the flour, and bring together into a dough. Place 9 dollops onto a greased baking sheet. (Or, it you would prefer, butter a muffin tray and drop the mixture into the cups.) Bake for about 10 -12 minutes.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Great Jelly Roll Race

Normally when I'm making patchwork I am in control and choosing every aspect of the design. Today, it's a little different; I'm trying my hand at random. And, it's tough.

Jelly Rolls are 2.5" strips cut across the width of the fabric. They often come in colour ways. This is a blue set I was given a while back. I've been pondering what to do with it, and decided on a Jelly Roll Race quilt.  The race quilt was popularised in quilting clubs when people actually had races to see who could finish the top of their quilts the quickest!

The strips are sewn end to end, making a piece of fabric about 1,600" long. Then it's folded in half and a 800" seam is sew. The fold is cut, and the process starts again. The colours can be planned, but most people don't take the mental effort to plan it. I've decided to randomise my work as much as possible, and I've also added a 2.5" square of yellow at the end of each strip.

The yellow squares have been added. A huge long strip has been created, and it's been folded in half twice. Three quarters of the sewing has happened, and I'm taking a break.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

TT Cakes - #feedthefuzz

During the TT Races, the Police work long, long hours keeping residents and visitors safe. The Younger Offspring and I wanted to do a little something to recognise their work, and also to say 'Thank you'. 

Last week, the Younger Offspring and I made around 100 cakes and took them along to Police Head Quarters. We arrived and said we came bearing cakes. The receptionist was puzzled, but we when explained what we were about a huge grin spread across her face. She called up to the break room, and a couple of officers almost ran down the stairs. They were all delighted by the gift. 

It was even added to Tweet Beat IOM.  The text in the image above says "CAKES! Someone very kindly brought cakes to the station! Thank you to the lovely lady - happy cops! #welovecake #thankyou . "

The little things that show appreciation can make all the difference. It's amazing what a few cakes can do. 

Decluttering the Craft/Guest Room

Whilst decluttering in the craft/guest room, I realised I had a number of resources I was no longer using. Today, I said goodbye to various resource book, anthologies and glass tea light candle holders. At least 30 items left the house via good friend. David was delighted with the books and candle holders. He will hang on to the items he can use, and pass on the items he has no use for.

It feels good to be letting these things go, and to know someone else will be able to benefit from them. There's more books to be passed on, but I will hand them over, a dozen or so at a time.

Bye bye, stuff!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Growing veggies

I came across this image whilst searching of 'growing vegetables'. It's so funny. The veggies have been removed from the ground, washed and then nestled in some of the finest growing compound around.  It is so utterly unlike the realities of growing veggies!

A friend and neighbour will be heading off to receive treatment soon. She will be away for over 3 months. She has friends who will house sit, but they are not into gardening. I have asked if I might play in the raised beds in her front garden. 

Today was my first 'play'. I managed about 10 minutes of weeding and light soil turning. Then my back started having a grumble. I thought it best to stop whilst I was still enjoying it, and go back later.  My plan is to get one little section cleared and then plant some very late onion sets and radishes.


In other news, the laundry has been washed and is drying. Dinner prep has begun, and the kitchen has been cleaned.  It's now time to do some sock knitting, and then later decluttering.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Week 22: Email and Digital Information

Monday: Read Organized Home Challenge #24: Email & Digital Information
Tuesday: Declutter email inbox 
Wednesday: Organize email inbox and other email folders
Thursday: Declutter / organize computer files
Friday: Declutter apps / software from computer and phone
Saturday: Set up system to regularly back up computer files
Sunday: Create electronics charging station

I have included these challenges simply for completeness. Email is an already organised area.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Two bookcases done

For weeks I have been saying I'll be clearing the bookcase just outside my bedroom. Finally, finally, it's been done. The area has been decluttered, and the only items left belong to the Elder Offspring. It will be her task to go through the remaining items when she next visits.

There were a couple of craft books, and I took them up to the craft room/guest room to put them away. As I looked at the bookcase I was going to put them in I realised a huge number of the items were no longer needed or wanted. A second bookcase was decluttered. 

This has resulted in 45 items to be decluttered, and an uncounted stack of knitting magazines and patterns. Some of the items being decluttered are destined for charity shops, and others will be recycled (various paper things) or will go straight into the bin (4 year old make up). The "30 Day Declutter Challenge" is going very well.  So far, not much has left the house, but next weekend this will change.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


A friend asked me where I could buy bunting, so I pointed him in the direction of several shops. They had nothing that suited his needs. Being a crafty little bear, I offered to make some. The brief was 'colourful and joyful, and about 3m long'.  Here, I present, colourful, joyful, about three metre long bunting.

Jenny Doane of Missouri Star Quilt Company has a bunting tutorial. Jenny uses a stack of pre-cut 10" squares. I bought 25cm (10") of seven different polycottons, and then cut them into 25cm squares. The fabric was 110cm, and gave 4 squares in each colour. At the end of the tutorial, the extra tab is folded over. Instead, I left a tab of 2cm, folded and ironed it. The raw edge was enclosed when I was sewing on the white tape.

The request was for 'about three metres', and two runs through the rainbow was enough to make about three metres. I've been able to get two sets of bunting from the fabric. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Under Pressure

My blood pressure was rather elevated. Too much weight, and too little exercise, too much salt, and adding a side of order of stress are common causes of high blood pressure.  Into this mix I was able to add the steroids I was give to enable me to breathe properly.

The steroids had changed my taste buds, and the only things that tasted half way decent were veggies. This caused a large increase in my veggie consumption. I finished the course of steroids a month ago. With this step towards healthier eating already in place, I decided to really address the salt in my diet. The last month has seen a serious drop in my salt intake, and I've been eating more potassium rich foods. (This is really good for helping with muscle cramps and also lowering blood pressure.) Iron May has helped with the exercise portion. Resigning from work initially raised my stress levels, but now I am feeling much better. 

The result is my systolic pressure has dropped by 40 points in the last month! The diastolic is still reading a bit high, but we'll see what the next few weeks will bring. I am hoping the change in diet, and maintaining exercise, will cause a change in my weight, and have a knock on effect on my blood pressure. I've already had to take in a couple of pairs of trousers.

The wet, wet weather of the last week has meant my joints have been very sore, and I engaged in some comfort eating of crisps. I didn't enjoy them. After a nap my mouth felt so dry and as if it was coated in something nasty. I craved fruit. As I bit into some raspberries my body shouted out "Yes! This is what I want!" My taste buds really have changed.

As well as having an impact on my waistline and my blood pressure, it's making a difference in my grocery shopping bill. Now, about a half of our shopping is fresh fruit and veggies, and we are saving money.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017


During the TT Races, all leave is cancelled for the Isle of Man Constabulary. The Police work crazy hours. Most people are well behaved and are here to have a good time. Some people take things too far, and the Police have to step in. The number of road traffic incidents drastically increases to. The Police work very hard in the two weeks of TT.

At the weekend, I decided to do something nice for them. Today, the Younger Offspring and I have been in the kitchen. We have made Flapjacks, Snicker Crunch, Lemon Loaves, Banana and Walnut Cakes and Chocolate Brownies. The Brownies have 10 minutes cooking left. Then, we will have over 100 portions of goodies. I hope our officers will like them.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Week 23: Home Office

Monday: Read Organized Home Challenge #23: Home Office

Tuesday: Declutter pens and pencils

Wednesday: Declutter home office supplies

Thursday: Declutter home office desk drawers
No drawers to declutter.

Friday: Declutter home office desk top
No desk to declutter.

Saturday: Declutter old computers, printers and electronic equipment
Ah, now this is the interesting stuff. The Beloved's study is a bit of grave yard for old hardware. However, that is his domain, and I am not decluttering in there. I would be less than impressed (read 'outraged') if someone decluttered my belongings, and there is no way I'm doing that to someone else, especially someone I love.

When I mentioned this challenge to him this morning he laughed and said 'Yeah, right!', but a few moments later replied he would declutter some stuff when I next have a box. As soon as the rain stops I'm going to get a cardboard box for him.

Sunday: Declutter and organize cords and wires
As above. It's the Beloved's domain, and it's his decision if and when this will happen.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The holidays are over

I've now had two weeks at home, providing food and clean clothes, and pretty much doing what I wanted. There was so little structure to my day. Things drifted. In the past, this would have been the norm, but now I want goals. My goal for this week is to deep clean the kitchen.

The ToDo-TaDa! list is back, and goals have been set. So far this morning I have:
  • put away clean laundry
  • washed a load of laundry
  • dried a load of laundry
  • cleaned the microwave
  • defrosting the fridge
  • check fridge contents to see if anything needed to be tossed (nothing)
  • changed our home insurance company
  • started scrubbing the kitchen floor
Another thing I'm doing is the 30 Day Declutter Challenge. On the first day, you declutter one item, two on the second day, etc all the way to the end of the month. This leads to 465 items leaving the house! 

The last few days have been ridiculously easy. I've been able to gather more items than required each day. These items are being squirreled away to bring out when it might be tougher. So far, 15 items are in the 'neither needed nor required pile'.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Buying your way to happiness?

I was re-watching a YouTube video by The Mustards. They asked "What was the last thing you bought that you are still really happy with now? And how many things have you bought since then?" (Food isn't included.) Many people use shopping as therapy, or buy when they are sad, low, or in need of some emotional lift.

My last non-food shopping was at Sweet Ginger Emporium (crafty things for crafty people). I bought fabric, batting and threads to complete the Rainbow Squares en Pointe quilt. I'm very happy with the results, and I'm using up the leftovers. However, crafting supplies are almost in the same category as food for me. The supplies are bought to be used up and turned into other things. The secret is only buying what you need, and not what ever catches your eye. I still have so many crafting supplies.  I am trying to get projects finished to use them up, and also donating other craft items.

My last purchases I really love were at the start of April, in Ikea. We bought two new knives and a sharpening 'steel', and two lamps. We love the look of the lamps! They are functional, and beautiful. The knives are great too. It's utterly brilliant having sharp knives. It makes cooking a pleasure.

I am trying to be much more intentional when I buy, and not buy on the spur of the moment. There's no point in decluttering my home if I'm introducing new stuff at the same rate (or faster) than things are leaving.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

A Collection of Quilts

These are the quilts I have made.

Baby Quilt (2012)

My first quilt! I made so many mistakes in this quilt and was bemoaning the fact when a friend came over and started oohing and aahing over it. She didn't see the mistakes, all she saw was as colourful, useful quilt. I knew if I kept it I would only see the mistakes, so I gave it to her as she could see the beauty.

Denim and fleece quilt (January 2014)

This quilt is unusual in that it has no batting between the top and bottom layer, but with the weight of the denim and the warmth of the fleece it isn't required. It is the underside of the quilt that I like best. It looks so much tidier! No fuzzy, frayed edges.

Autumn Leaves for Mam and Dad (July 2014)

My Mam loves autumnal colours. I wanted to make something special for their Golden Wedding, and this pattern called to me.

Grandma's Flower Garden (October 2015)

At the start of our summer holidays I picked up a rainbow jelly roll and decided to have a go at hand piecing and hand quilting. It's hand sewn and hand quilted, apart from the first line of stitching on the binding, that was done by machine.

Nightmare before Christmas (Christmas 2015)

The bottom of the quilt was machine pieced. Borders were added to the top and bottom, and the quilt was hand quilted. The printed Jack Skellington design was used as a reference for my lines of quilting.

And now, the latest finished quilting project, Rainbow Squares en Pointe, finished today.

I've been trying out different techniques, and the one I have just started is another technique again, quilt-as-you-go. This will be a baby quilt and will use up some of the materials and batting I bought to make Rainbow Squares en Pointe.

Rainbow Squares en Pointe

It's done. The quilt is finished. The photograph shows it on top of my white duvet. The dark purple triangles show the edge of the quilt.  

The pattern is Diamond Patch from the Quilting Digest website. The design is very simple. Me, being me, didn't bother with a pattern, and I just worked from the photograph. In my version, the large squares started out at 6.5", and the small ones at 2.5". This gives a finished block size of 6". The edging triangles started out as 8" squares, then cut in half along the diagonal. This was done for two reasons, it let me square things up well, and also it ensured the tips of the white squares would not be lots in the binding. In engineering terms, I reverse engineered the quilt design.

It is certainly as design I would use again.  It's fantastic to know my quilt fits the top of my bed so perfectly. When I come to make a quilt for that be, I know exactly the size to make for a central panel. I'd extend it up a bit to cover the pillows, and I'll probably use a different style on the sides of the quilt.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Tied in knots

A sharp needle with a large-ish eye makes all of the difference when making a tied quilt! It's so very much easier than with a tapestry needle.

Whilst watching a youtube video on tied quilts I learned about the 'surgeon's knot'. It's very similar to a granny knot or a reef knot (square knot in the US), but it has an extra twist of the yarn. It's designed to be more secure than either of those knots. 

The quilt has been pinned with quilters safety pins (bent), and it has also been bound. Normally, and quilt isn't bound until the quilting has been done. As the quilting can distort the fabric. With a tied quilt, or rather with this tied quilt, I am tying it at the corners of the large squares (6"). This will not distort the quilt. It will still be fine if I decide to tie the centres of the squares as well.

I am loving the combination of the deep purple used for the edging triangles and binding, and the brilliant white squares. It's a beautiful contrast.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Slowing down

This year, I've been making regular posts on my blog. In fact, I'm almost at the stage where I have made more post this year that I have in all the previous years combined!  However, when I resigned from work my focus was turned towards completing all of the tasks I needed to do, and the ones I wanted to finish before handing over my responsibilities. This left little mental capacity for other things, and the little that was left was spent in Iron May. 

I had just typed there had been a massive slow down in the number of posts I have made, but the facts don't match the reality. There have been fewer posts, and I haven't quite managed an average of one post per day.  However, what does it matter?! With the number of people who read this blog, it's effectively a diary I keep on the coffee table. If people read it, that's fine, if people don't read it, that's also fine. It's a way for me to record events and make notes.