Thursday, August 10, 2017

Minimizing Board Games and DVDs

So I recently decided to tackle our 2 DVD shelves' worth of DVDs and the crazy amount of nearly empty board game boxes we have at our house. This has become extra important, since we made the decision to move back to the Midwest at the end of the month. And I only booked a 16' truck, for a 2 bedroom house with basement (I refuse to believe that that's not enough).

In the interest of fitting into said truck, I've had to make some decisions. One, get rid of the dining room table and chairs. They are falling apart anyway and the table is too big for the space. Really sort through my books. So far I've dropped off 1 large laundry basket full for donation, have a second almost full, and plenty more behind that. Get rid of our daybed and get a pull out couch for guests once we find a place to live, potentially get rid of our current couch as well.

I bought a 300+ DVD binder from CaseLogic and ruthlessly purged the cases and the paper covers. The only thing I kept were the actual discs and any inserts. The inserts I put in the front of the case, the DVDs I organized roughly by letter and made myself a list in OneNote of what we have in there. The only ones I didn't get rid of were the collector's edition extended version LOTR discs, since they are super pretty to look at and there are three of them. I also got rid of the rest of our TV shows by consolidating the TV Show DVD binder we already had and sticking the last two seasons that didn't fit in with the movies until such time as I can order another binder. We had an entire large recycling container full of DVD cases when I was done, and two empty shelves. The only other DVDs that were spared (for now) were my hubby's Disney movies (yes, my hubby's, not my kids') until such time as he decides what he'd like to do with them. His options are 1) keep them as is (luckily there aren't that many of them), 2) put them in the Movies binder, or 3) get a smaller binder just for the Disney movies. I'm kind of liking this option for those.

That brings me to today's project. My BitBox arrived in time! With 8-12 days shipping, I was a little worried it wouldn't arrive before our move. The BitBox is a heavy, cardboard box with 4 drawers that have 1 medium and 2 small boxes each, and 2 board/instruction sleeves. It's supposed to fit in one compartment of one of those cube shelves.

I went through our collection of board games and sorted out those games that I knew we would want to keep forever (anything we might want to sell down the road stays in its box) and that also had a massive amount of wasted space in the box.

Here is what fit in the box:
  • Tokaido with one expansion (1 medium box with room for more expansions)
  • Five Tribes (1 medium and 1 small, would love to upgrade to 1 large at some point)
  • Netrunner (2 small boxes, should upgrade it to 1 medium box once I get that large box for Five Tribes)
  • Maharani (1 small box, it was a very tight squeeze, but I don't see any expansions coming out for this one)
  • Seasons (1 medium with room for more expansions)
  • Betrayal at House on the Hill (1 medium with room to grow)
  • Ascension (1 small, but it's pretty full, so would need another box for any expansions)
  • Patchwork (1 small)
  • Codenames (1 small, with room for more)
  • Morels, Set, Five Crowns (sharing 1 small)
That was a total of 12 games! And our recycling bin is once again overflowing with boxes and plastic box inserts.
I took pictures of all the boxes and if the front didn't have the age, number of players, and playing time, I took a picture of that as well. My plan is to eventually make stickers for the front of the drawers with the covers on them and for the tops of the boxes with the cover and playing info on them.
Overall, I'm quite pleased with the progress I've made thus far on both the decluttering and minimizing the space the items we do want to keep actually take up.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Declutter Challenge - Update

I did not finish out Declutter Like a Mother as planned, but it just seemed a little impossible to keep up at that late stage of my pregnancy. However, I did continue to declutter a little here, a little there. Mainly, I've been pulling books off my laden bookshelves that I either have in duplicate (this has mainly been an issue with the children's books, and not too many of those), ones that I have started and know I have no interest in finishing, ones that I have not even started reading and know I probably never will, ones I have read but just weren't good enough to re-read or keep for my kiddos/hubby to read, and old textbooks that I kept as "reference materials" but haven't touched since college (I'm actually having the most problems with this category).

So far, I have managed to put all my favorite books properly on their shelves, because I've cleaned out the stuff around them. I have also managed to free up an entire second shelf for our children's books, so they are no longer stuffed into one shelf. That has made a big difference in how often they end up on the floor, because although my kiddo still occasionally pulls out an entire shelf full of books, he's yet to do both at once, and each shelf only has about half the books.

Yesterday I went through our tablecloths and sorted out all the ones we've never used and don't plan to use (round ones, even though we got rid of our round table, and a few of the square ones that just never got pulled out). I put the rest back and they all fit neatly in their shelf. I also got rid of the silk napkins that just don't soak up any liquids and kept just the good cloth ones that do a much better job.

I've also been slowly sorting through my paperwork, getting rid of everything I can, taking pictures of stuff I've held onto for scrapbooking purposes, and then I'll figure out how to file/sort the rest once I've whittled it down more. I also desperately need a new shredder. My son managed to break mine somehow. It only goes in reverse, which is pretty worthless for actually shredding anything.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Granny Square Banner Quilt

Final Stats
Name: Granny Square Banner Quilt
Dimensions: 84" x 84"
Pieces: Front - 441
Pattern: Variation on the Banner Plus Block 
Technique: Patchwork
Materials: 100% Quilting Cottons
Quilting: Machine quilted on my Juki
So this quilt started out as part of my DCMQG 2016 QAL (which will get finished at some point, when I'm not wrangling a newborn). I loved this particular variation on Block 7 so much, that I wanted to turn it into a quilt. So when one of my best friends, and college room mate, told me she'd gotten some bad news about her health, I decided to make a quilt for her to cheer her up and wrap her in some love, like quilters tend to do. I asked her what her favorite colors were, and the answer was blue and purple. So I pulled every fabric scrap I had in those colors, plus my low volumes, and proceeded to bang out 9 28" blocks, while my hubby and son were visiting family in Michigan.
The very center square is black and all the other center squares are a dark blue. I guess there's supposed to be some symbolism there about coming out of darkness and what not. I spent some time arranging the various pieces to my satisfaction and then also spent some time moving around the finished blocks. I had bought a bunch of purple backing, because I was making this quilt and another quilt (post coming soon), and both were blue and purple. And because I was trying to finish this quilt rather quickly, I also just wanted something easy. For the quilting, I did a free motion box-in-box pattern, which is more "boxy" in parts than in others. The benefits of the pattern are that its fast and I don't really have to worry about accidentally running over already quilted portions, because I just turn it into yet another box.
For the binding I used some of the leftover blue bike path fabric from Eric's Pixel Michigan quilt. I machine bound it, because well, it's faster and I hate hand binding. Generally by the time I get to the binding, I just want to be done already and get the quilt out of my house (or on my bed). One load of laundry and lots of Shout color catchers later, and I had a finished, folded quilt to gift to my friend. All told, this quilt took me just under two weeks. I finished it right before my guild's March 2016 quilting retreat.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Space Baby Quilt

Final Stats
Name: Space Quilt
Dimensions: 40" x 60"
Pieces: Front - so many
Pattern: Various 
Technique: Patchwork, paper piecing
Materials: 100% Quilting Cottons
Quilting: Machine quilted on my Juki 

So the couple whom I made my second ever quilt for, the Circles Quilt, had a second kid and I wanted to make their son a quilt as well. As per usual, I asked my question about nursery themes and colors. Then the wheels started turning and I found this great paper piecing rocket pattern. I also found an amazing new (at the time) fabric line, Night Sky by Robert Kaufman, and took my color inspiration for the stars from one of the fabrics in the line that I ended up buying for the backing of the quilt. I also bought the more neutral black stars fabric for the background on the front.
I started looking for various star patterns and found some paper piecing patterns and also just dove in and made a few up as I went along (the wonky star, the QST star, and the star with the flying geese blocks, for example). I honestly don't remember where I found all of them, and I apologize for that. I do know that the Basketweave Star that I'd used for my Red, White and Blue Star Quilt was one.
I decided to stick to mostly monochromatic stars using the colors from the constellation fabric: green, blue, yellow, orange, and red. I only deviated from that with one of the stars and that was to make sure it had enough contrast to really make the pattern shine through. Once I had what I decided was enough stars, I spent quite a while deciding on the best placement for everything. Then I started filling in the background to make all of the blocks 12" square. And in between squares, I added 2.5" sashing to give everything a bit of breathing room.
I free motion quilted it with my favorite star pattern. It seemed rather appropriate. And I managed to finish the quilt just in time for our friends to come to DC with their two kids and have dinner with us.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Life Update

So life has been crazy. I was just starting to figure out the stay-at-home mom thing when we found out that I may be in the beginning stages of pre-eclampsia at 38 weeks pregnant. And so with a diagnosis of gestational hypertension, I was admitted to the hospital to be induced. Several hours later, which included 2.5 hours of labor and my husband literally catching our child after one push before she fell in the toilet (there was no one in the room with us at the time), and we had a perfect daughter. She's now just over 2 weeks old and my husband goes back to work tomorrow.

So that's the big news. In smaller news, I have been working on the decluttering challenge at my own pace. It was really difficult in the late stages of pregnancy, because I pretty much had to do the decluttering mentally and then expend as little energy as possible to get up and pull out the stuff I wanted to get rid of. I have continued pulling stuff off bookshelves and other places as I see things that we don't actually need. So while it's not going very quickly, things are moving along. I was able to remove enough books from my bookshelves to move some stuff around and put some of our baby books on a different shelf, where they seem to be existing largely undisturbed so far, while the board books that our son still loves for us to read to him, he has easy access to.

Finally, I tackled the kid's room for my dream house. I knew that I didn't want it any bigger than would fit a bed, a bedside table, a shelf, a desk and chair, and a closet. Since we have two kids, I would just do mirror image rooms for them and they'll look the same. With a good organizer system in the closet, they won't need a dresser either.

So first I figured out roughly how much space I needed for each item I wanted in the room. Then I started drawing. I wasn't satisfied with the extra space left in the first drawing (left), so I tried again. I think I like the layout of the second drawing (right) and that ends up at roughly 10 feet by 6.66 feet, or a total of 67 square feet per child, 134 square feet for both rooms.

I want the bed to be built in, either as a loft bed, or an alcove bed with storage underneath. I could see the desk, shelving unit and bedside table to be built ins as well, so that there is floor to ceiling storage in every square inch of the room. Not that my kids should need that much space for their stuff, but if they do, they'll have it. Hopefully they'll enjoy reading too, so they'll need some space for their books. One window at the end of the room, the bigger the better to let in lots of light.

So far that brings the total square footage of our house to about 218 square feet.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Declutter Challenge - Kitchen

So this week has been focused on the kitchen. So far I've only managed one day, but I emptied out our pantry cupboard, threw out some stuff, and then rearranged.


I removed the rice cooker and several other things that did not belong in there. Threw out all the expired cat treats leaving all of one bag, threw out all the Chinese condiment packets that were sitting in two separate containers, and only then restocked. Everything is now accessible and I even managed to get a few things off the counter and into the cupboard where they belong. After that I looked through our mugs and sorted out 4 or 5 that we never use and that I have no sentimental attachments to. Continuing to feel pretty good about this purge and hope to tackle some stuff on our counters next. I'm hoping to get rid of our jars of sugar, flour, etc. that we hardly ever use but are taking up a ton of counter space in our galley kitchen and the rotating spice rack.

I ordered Tupperware spice containers from Amazon today and once they arrive, I will empty out the spices from the spice rack that we actually use, dump the rest, and then donate the rack. Then I will do the same with our spice bottles and random assorted spices we keep getting from a friend from her travels, label the containers, and stack them in a single row in the cabinet above the stove. That is the plan. We'll see how well that works in practice.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Dream House - Study

So over the years my dream house has evolved. For the most part in a size reduction sort of way. I've been trying to figure out the minimum amount of space we would need to be truly comfortable and have space for all the things that are important to us: gaming, reading, entertaining (mostly dinner parties), crafting (in my case), etc. Some of these things require flexibility in space, some things require dedicated space, and some require a decent amount of space (a craft room for example). I'm not sure what the finished product is going to look like, but I have been scaling back the amount of space to a bare minimum and went through that exercise with the study first.

This is the plan I came up with. It includes two sitting/standing desks, with file drawers and room for the printer in between. And on the other side a door to keep the tiny humans away from the cables and computers, in between two built-in bookshelves/cabinets. The door would ideally either be a Dutch door, or one with window panes, or a combination of the two, so that we can throw an eye on the tiny humans occasionally. Currently we share one larger desk, but too often hubby's dirty dishes end up directly in front of my computer, or his clutter drifts over to my side and vice versa. So it would be really nice to have defined spaces for each of us.

I wanted to go with standard sized desks, according to this Houzz article, that would be about 30x60 inches. This should give us plenty of room underneath the desks to store our computer towers and maybe a trash can or recycling bin. Above the desks, I'd want built in shelves, and in between the desks, I'd want two file drawers on the bottom, then a cubby for the printer, and then more shelves above that, potentially with a door.

The built-in bookshelves on the other side would have cabinets on the bottom, then a row or two of drawers for smaller items, and then open shelves. One more shelf above the door would round out the built-ins. I would want a window on one end of the office and a wall to hang up a large white/pin board on the other side.

Based on my calculations, this room would have to be about 12 feet wide by 7 feet deep. Not super tiny, but definitely efficient.

I envision storing the following in the office:

Open Shelves: books related to computers and coding, maybe our roleplaying books, binders, journals, yearbooks, photo albums, first edition books that we don't want the tiny humans to have access to, magazines

Cabinets: spare paper, shredder, briefcases/computer bags, games (unless there is a better place for these, because we have a lot), computer game discs, misc. boxes with things like computer game manuals

Drawers: pens, pencils, markers, scissors, cords and accessories, spare batteries, hole punch, ruler, stapler, tape, etc.

File Cabinets: all the paper files waiting to be put into binders

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Declutter Challenge

So I decided not to create a new blog for purposes of my sanity. Instead I will just continue to post to this one, and I apologize to anyone who wants to see mostly craft-related posts. You can skip these.

So if you're interested in joining, you can join at any time. Sign ups are here. The whole idea behind this challenge is to spend 30 minutes a day over 30 days getting rid of clutter in your house. The organizer encourages people who join after May 1 to start where everyone else is currently, so that you can ride that wave of momentum, instead of stressing yourself out starting at the beginning.

Week 1 is bathrooms and closets. Until today, I haven't had much time to actually work on this every day, between my kiddo not napping, appointments, and pregnancy exhaustion. However, today was my "day off." So not only did I get to sleep in this morning (by which I mean, I got out of bed at noon) and then do whatever I wanted with my day. One of the things I actually wanted to do was to get caught up. So first I tackled our bathroom, which has one single medicine cabinet in it. While I was taking things out, I also cleaned the inside of the cabinet, which gets done infrequently at best, and then put everything back that I actually wanted to leave in there. Here are the results:


Some of the things I threw out or removed: expired medication (to be disposed of properly), empty perfume containers, things that don't actually belong in the bathroom (namely medications which don't do well in the fluctuating temperatures and moisture that is found in any bathroom), back up floss containers, and things we don't use anymore.

Then, because I was feeling pretty good about myself, I decided to tackle the linen closet as well. I spent quite a bit of time organizing the inside of the linen closet a while ago and even bought storage containers for our hair accessories, first aid kit, my makeup, the bathroom cleaning supplies, etc. Here are the pictures:


I got rid of an entire plastic shopping bag's worth of expired contact lens solution. It expired in 2008/2009! I also consolidated several items, got rid of things that I never use (most of my nail polish, hair products, even some lotion I haven't touched in ages), put away stuff in the first aid kit after removing expired meds from there. I'm also looking forward to getting rid of some post-pregnancy items once this kid arrives in June, but until then, that sitz bath and inflatable ring, etc. will just have to continue to live in there.

The expired meds still need to be taken care of, so they are living in the trunk of my car for now, until I have time to take them to a disposal site (address is printed out and in the cup holder of the car). I figure that's the safest place to keep them out of reach of my toddler. And I also need to figure out what to do about the few things I found to donate, including a never-opened, non-expired pregnancy stick with instructions that I have corralled together in a Ziploc bag.

All-in-all I'm feeling great about my progress so far. Up next will likely be our coat closet. We have so many unnecessary pairs of shoes and coats in there, it's pretty crazy. Now that I've started, I actually look forward to doing more purging. I've always considered myself to be a hoarder, and in many ways I still am, but it felt great to drop that bag of trash in the trash can and the recyclables in the recycling container without even a hint of guilt.

Monday, May 1, 2017

New Blog?

I've been playing with the idea of starting a new blog (in addition to this one), about my plans for our future dream house and household stuff in general. I'm starting a 30 day declutter challenge today (if you're interested, you can sign up here), so I wanted to have a place to post about that, but also about stuff that I've been dreaming about for a while now. I just don't think I keep up well enough with this blog to start a new one, so since the title of this one includes "Life" in the title, maybe I'll just stick with posting to this one about all that stuff. So look for a post sometime soon, either about my vision for our dream house or one with a link to my new blog.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Feeling Lost

I haven't sewn anything in my house in over a month. I'm feeling a bit lost and frazzled and there's lots of reasons for that. The biggest is that I'm officially a stay-at-home mom right now to a very active 2-year-old, and have been for the past three weeks. My husband works at least 11 hours a day, 5 to 6 days a week, so I see him only briefly and I have to get up with our son almost every day, so by the time his day(s) off come around, I'm physically and mentally exhausted. Of course, the whole being 33 weeks pregnant thing isn't helping there either.

The other problem is that my husband and our friend helped me move most of my crafting stuff down into the basement, but it's still a pretty big mess and every time I go down there to try and put stuff away, I realize that I just don't have the space for everything, but don't know what to get rid of, and I feel defeated and just sit on the bed and stare at it all. My machine is sitting on my sewing table, but isn't plugged in. I haven't worked on my commission quilts, even though both tops are done and I know what I want to do quilting wise for at least one of them. I've got ideas for the other one. And I think the worst part is that I know I need a creative outlet in my life, but I can't make myself do anything.

On top of that, I miss our families. It's like a great gaping hole in my chest. We managed to get two Michigan trips in the past two months while we've both been looking for work. It was so nice to be near family, to drop our son off at his grandparents for a night or two and actually both get to sleep in, to bring dinner over to my sister who is dealing with a newborn and an active toddler, or just congregate at her place to eat dinner together. To be there to support my father-in-law through the recovery for his eye surgery and give him something to take his mind off having to be face down and just generally let our son run around with his cousins. We have a pretty good support system here as well, but it's not the same.