My Costume Jewelry, A Collage, A Laugh… and Two Organizational Tips

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Organizational Tip # 1:

As a formerly messy person who (long ago) decluttered her home and became quite organized, I have learned a lot over the years about how to stay organized.  One simple thing I’ve noticed that really helps me keep my space (at work and at home) looking good is this: wherever little pockets of clutter build up, that’s exactly where there is a storage need that has to be addressed.

Whenever I start to notice that there is an area in the house, or in my workspace, where “stuff” starts to build up, I pay attention.  What kind of stuff is it?  Do I need it?  If yes, what would be the easiest way to keep it organized?

Usually, the place where that clutter builds up is also the most logical place to create the storage solution.  Maybe this is really obvious to some people, but it took me a while to figure this out.  And boy does it have its benefits.

The (Unexpected) Benefits of Organizing My Costume Jewelry:

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Recently, I noticed that my jewelry was collecting messily on top of my dresser.  My old system was clearly not working anymore, so I decided to reorganize it.  I wasn’t particularly creative about my new system, and maybe at some point I will beautify it more, but I will give myself credit – I sure was practical.

I bought an elegant black jewelry tree for 15.00$ (What a deal!  And I wound up buying a second one, too, when I realized just how much jewelry was stored in my boxes on a shelf).  I spent quite a few hours sorting through all of my old jewelry, but when I was done, I had a real sense of satisfaction.


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First, there were the obvious benefits:

– I’ve cleared out more space on my shelves.

– The top of my dresser now feels oh-so-zen.

– It is easy to find the jewelry that I want to wear.  Bonus:  It isn’t tangled up in a big knot!

Usually, I don’t wear much jewelry.  I just have a couple of earrings that I like, a couple of necklaces, and I wear them on shuffle and repeat. But after organizing all of my old jewelry, I discovered the following…

unexpected benefits:

– I found some fun pieces that I had completely forgotten about.

– I found some cool thrift store finds from my university days that I had never even worn.

– Most surprisingly, it is amazing to me how by adding one accessory, I can tie together an outfit that might not have worked without it.  Having all of these forgotten pieces of jewelry out in the open where I can remember I have them has made dressing in the mornings way more fun!

– I’ve saved money!  I have more outfit combinations, and I don’t need to buy much jewelry!

As you can see, organizing something as simple as my jewelry has helped change the way I feel about my bedroom, and it’s helped me get more creative… and not only with my wardrobe.

Another unexpected benefit:

–  There was also a small portion of jewelry that was not wearable (broken in a small way), but still had fun designs and colours. Those pieces went into a plastic ziplock bag, and into my studio.  On the day after I decluttered, I used some of that old, damaged jewelry to make a collage.  It wasn’t the first time I’ve used old jewelry in my art, but it sure was fun.

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By the way, I called my little collage “The Tragic Transformation”.  Can you guess why?  It’s a bit of a statement on our culture of consumption. The comedy stand-up routine by Seinfeld (below) actually explains my thinking behind the piece.  It’s a pretty funny bit, but the message is quite thought-provoking.

Organizational tip # 2: 

Seinfeld says in the stand-up routine linked below, “All things on earth only exist in different stages of becoming garbage.  [Our] homes are a garbage processing centre where [we] buy new things, bring them into our houses, and slowly ‘crappify’ them over time…”.

That is part of the reason why, whenever I declutter and organize, I am reminded of the most important tip for keeping clutter to a minimum:  It’s a good idea to be aware of what I bring into my house in the first place, and buy less stuff to begin with.  

The less stuff we buy, the less resources from nature that we use and the less garbage we create.  

A Laugh…

 

My Favourite Clutter: The Patina in These Spoons

Years ago, I de-cluttered my home. I discovered that the process was more about celebrating what you choose to keep than mourning what you decide to discard.

Home…Hurrah’s series My Favourite Clutter is all about celebrating those special items – the ones that share our stories and express something unique about who we are.  The clutter that we love for whatever reason!

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I have noticed, over the last few years, that a lot of the meaningful clutter in our home winds up in my workshop.  Simple items like my son’s first running shoes; the satiny, cream coloured shoes that I wore on my wedding day almost 19 years ago; lovingly home-made cards that we’ve received.  I store these things in boxes or place them on shelves.  I have no intention of throwing them away, and this type of clutter seems to feed my creativity.

The workshop is where I also used to keep these 9 spoons and a tea sieve.  They have travelled over miles, continents, and time to find their way into my possession.  They were given to my mother by my paternal grandfather’s grandparents. (Yup. Pretty old.  My mom figures that some of the spoons are probably from the mid 1800’s.)  If these spoons could tell their story, they would probably need a whole book to say it.

These spoons have developed a natural, worn beauty over time, the kind that cannot be replicated, charming and imperfect with age.

I mean, look at the first spoon below.  How many meals does it take to wear a spoon down like this?  It was clearly someone’s favourite soup spoon!  Do most of the things made in our modern day and age even last long enough to show that kind of wear?

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How many conversations were had over the meals that wore this spoon down?
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I love the patina that these spoons have developed over the years.
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Engraved flowers and a bird infused tea time with a sense of family history.

Last year,  before storing them in a safety deposit box, I decided to have a bit of fun and draw one of them.  No plan.  I just picked up a spoon and started to draw it in the middle of a large paper.

Eventually, I added other things to the drawing: a piece of wood that I picked up while walking at a park with my mom, tassels from (the same) great-great grandparents’ table runner.  The background drawing was mostly from my imagination, and has a lot of symbolism.  The Rosemary branches are from my husband’s plant that we keep in my workshop.

My drawing skills are a bit rusty, but the only way to deal with that is to practice, so this was a useful exercise.   Maybe I would have done a few things differently if I had sat down and planned the drawing in advance, but allowing it to develop spontaneously was part of the fun.  Anyhow, hopefully this is just one of many drawings to come.

I think I am starting to understand why I am collecting “clutter” in my studio.  I may not be able to get to it for a while, but I think I have plans for it all.  Vague, incubating sort of plans.

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Some of the colour and detail are lost in the photo, but it still gives you a good idea of what the drawing looks like.

I would love to hear about your favourite clutter!  Please feel free to join in the fun and link it back here so I can check it out!

Thanks so much for popping by.  Have a wonderful week!image

Letting Go

Working in the backyard, I notice again the bike leaning in a corner, up against the large wooden play structure.  It’s starting to look rusty, sitting there all of this time.

My son has outgrown this bike, I think to myself. Somehow I keep it here, waiting to make a decision about it.

Donate it? It’s not in good enough shape at this point.  Sell it on Kijiji?  The amount of effort that would take is hardly worth the 10$ I might get for it.

I roll it over past the front gate, onto the boulevard.  It’s later in the day, the sun is getting lower in the sky.  Using my cell phone, I take a few snapshots.

The neighbours’ daughter stops on her way to get the mail, asks me about the bike.  It’s a special bike, I tell her.  I inwardly notice that she looks more like a young lady now, rather than the girl she was three years ago when we first moved into this home.  She moves on.  I take a few more pictures.

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I turn around, start walking towards the gate, and haven’t even reached it when I hear a car stop on the street behind me.  A woman is already putting the bicycle into her mini-van.  “It’s free?”, she confirms.

“Yes.  Just needs some oil.”

She nods confidently, “Oh, we’ll be able to fix it.” Adding, “My son is 8”.  We smile at each other.

“Enjoy.”  I wave and slowly start walking toward the gate again.

That bike looked so big when we first got it.  I am astounded at how quickly and permanently time has passed to change my perspective.  Today, that same bike looks small.

And now, another eight year old boy will be excited to get it, excited to ride it through the neighbourhood and park.

Much better than watching those memories rust in the backyard.

 

 

My Favorite Clutter

Several years ago, I de-cluttered my home. I discovered that the process was more about celebrating what you choose to keep than mourning what you decide to discard.

It turned out to be an exciting undertaking with joyful results. Our home felt relaxing, spacious and revived by a new energy.

I was so glad that others could benefit from the many items that we no longer needed, and thrilled to have re-discovered items that I had abandoned in my own basement.

My home was transformed. One treasure at a time, one change inspiring the next.  Our house became a place that celebrated our life and nourished us in new ways.

We have moved to a different house since then, and the experience of decluttering my previous home has profoundly affected how I am setting up my current home.

It has also inspired the new series I am introducing at home…hurrah!  It’s called My Favourite Clutter!  This series is about celebrating those special items – the ones that share our stories and express something unique about who we are.  The clutter that we love for whatever reason!

 

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My Favourite Clutter 

A Mysterious Lakeside Treasure

When my son was about six years old, my husband and I took him on a drive out in the country, along a lake-side road.  Stopping here and there to explore,  we wound up finding a quiet, narrow, little beach, lined on one side with trees and bush. We stayed for a while, enjoying the air and peaceful view, while our son played in the rocky sand.  At one point, he stopped and ran excitedly toward us holding this object he’d found in the shoreline, where the water meets the rocky sand.

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It was made of a heavy metal, and had clearly been around for a long time – deeply encrusted with rocks, and so rusted that it had an organic appearance.

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On our way home, we had fun guessing what this object might be, and imagining what unusual circumstances could have brought it to its current state.

How long would it have taken for rocks to become so deeply embedded into the metal?

Any ideas?

My son was so proud to have found such a unique souvenir.   Now it happily adorns my studio, on a shelf amongst my plants, reminding me of a beautiful afternoon that is suddenly 5 years away; reminding me to pay attention to life as it happens.

 

 

 

February’s Fabulous Free Book Feast!

Post written by Carina Spring.

I Love to Read month and Valentines Day have combined serendipitously this year to bring plenty of joy and ideas around here.

In a recent post, I resolved to read more BOOKS at bedtime. Just as I was wondering which books to stack by my bedside, the library at my work announced a free book give away.  I wasn’t overly optimistic as I approached the 5 carts and a table of dusty old books, but was I ever glad that I gave them a chance!  In fact, I have not been able to walk past that library since without taking another free book!

First of all, the highlights!!

Creative Gifts for Valentines Day!

In those piles of books, I found the best Valentines Day present for my husband.  (Never mind that I already gave it to him last Friday, February 6th!)

He loves to cook, and has been patiently collecting a series of cookbooks (“Foods of the World”, from the 1960’s).  I found a whole bunch of cookbooks from that series – many of the titles he didn’t even know existed!  I put two of them in a gift bag and he was thrilled to get them.  He said this present was right up there with the ukelele I bought him several years ago for his birthday.  On Feb 14th, I will surprise him with a few more books from the series!

For my son, I found a big book about tropical fish with a cover picture of a Beta that looks just like his fish. He loved the gift, and was enthusiastically reading it at bedtime.

And for me?  A happy pile of books is now sitting by my bedside, and I’ve been enjoying them all week!

Why The Best Gifts are Free! (Sometimes)

Surprising family or friends with a free book (or some other unique find) is a great way to connect with them. Why?

1) It shows that you thought about that person as you were carrying about your day, wherever you might have been.

2)  It shows that you care enough to notice and remember what interests him or her.

3)  As a parent, I am subtly sharing my values with my son: frugality, a love for knowledge and reading, and environmentalism (reuse).  As a wife, I am supporting my husband in doing the cooking he loves.  😉

4)  It’s fun AND it’s free!  If they don’t like it, just donate it right away!

Hoarding Disclaimer!

The one thing that made me nervous, as I carried armfuls of books into my car, was my aversion to needless clutter.  (Though I love the nice kind of “clutter” that is visually appealing and shares a story and history.)  As I have mentioned in other posts, I am careful about what I bring into my house.  I don’t care about the price.  Free clutter is almost as annoying as the expensive kind.  Here, I will quickly share how I keep these books from becoming an organizational “problem”.

1) First of all, I rarely buy books.  I use the library instead, so that I can return them.  If I LOVE a book, or if it is a very useful reference, then I buy.

2)  I pass books along once I have read them.  From this pile of free books, I will only keep the ones that are special.  The rest, I will donate or give to a friend.

3) I keep sturdy bookcases in the areas of the house where we like to read.  For example, I love to read in bed, so I have a small stack of books that I keep on my night table or in a little stack on the floor beside me.  Inside the closet near my bed, I have a short bookshelf where I keep a bedside collection of books or magazines that I plan to read at some point.  Every now and then, I reconsider what I am keeping and donate what is no longer of interest.

4) I keep books in my studio, too.  I like a bit of meaningful clutter in that space.  It feeds my creativity.

What are you reading these days?  (You may find this hard to believe, based on my posts, but I do enjoy new books, too!)  I’d love to hear some suggesions!

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Take care, and I can’t wait to share my next post with you!

Photo by Apolonia, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

Ways to Declutter, Organize, and Celebrate Your Home! Part 2

How I Transformed My Home Without Spending (almost any) Money

Some years ago, I decided to declutter my basement by getting rid of the baby items that my son had outgrown.  This should only take a few hours, I had thought.  Ha!  Was I wrong!  The project gained momentum.

You see, as I got rid of “junk”, I began to rediscover forgotten items – imperfect treasures with patina,  character, and personal stories.   Suddenly,  I wanted to display these things that I had once abandoned in basement storage.

A New MindSet

Up until that point, I hadn’t focused on the full potential a home “set-up” has to nourish our experiences and personalities.  I started to see that my set-up didn’t make certain activities that I valued  – like  drawing  or painting-  very convenient.  Also,  I wanted my space to be more authentic; to be an expression of who I was.  In my diary, I wrote:

“Rethink the living room. Transform it into a room where the living includes creativity.”

“Add new things, get rid of some things, make it organic, open, welcoming and comfortable.”

And so it began: I put pictures up in old frames and displayed them in groupings. I put cool keepsakes on my shelves, and brought up old lamps that I had relegated to our basement storage.

I got rid of things that I didn’t really enjoy, or that didn’t serve a purpose, and I completely shifted my furniture around.

I painted my porch and furnished it with a couch, coffee table, and shelf that were no longer needed inside the house.

Most importantly, I created a small work station, right in my living room, where I could paint, draw and write, while spending time with my family. It was basically a desk with good lighting, tucked into a corner.  We mounted a funky cork bulletin board on the wall beside it, where I pinned pictures, drawings and quotes. It became what I affectionately referred to as the “evolving (because I was open to continually adjusting the space to better suit our needs) creative centre of our home”. It inspired my son to join me in creative activities, and added life to our space.

It took some hard work, but when I was done the whole process, I couldn’t believe how our home had changed. It was so satisfying, and it enhanced our quality of life as well.

7 Tips That Helped Me Set Up My Home.

These are the ideas that helped us set up a space we really enjoy. Maybe some of them can be useful to you:

1) When organizing a space, first ask yourself:  What do I love to do? How do I want to spend my time, on a regular basis, in this space?  What activities do I want to do easily in this space? Make a list. Let your interests (and those of your family) guide your decisions, and then make room for those activities: make them a priority. That can be challenging, especially in a smaller space, I know. It might mean that you have to make some unconventional choices, and get a bit creative with your use of space. Why not try it, though? It is your life! You can make your space what you need it to be!

2) As a general guideline, surround yourself with things that you enjoy, that hold positive associations or special meaning .  This helps you feel good in the space. (See the next point.)

3) When decluttering, look at each item, and ask yourself the following two questions:

Does it serve a purpose?

Does it have special meaning? (For example: maybe it’s a collectable, it’s beautiful, it’s a keepsake from a trip, or a special gift…)

If it doesn’t serve a purpose, and it doesn’t have any special meaning, is there another reason to keep it? Would someone else benefit more from having it? Use your judgment. It’s your choice to make.

This tip gets easier and easier with practice, so do it regularly!

Keep a  box handy, and put “maybe” items in there for a while, and see if you miss them. When you are ready, drive down to a thrift store and drop them off.

4) Don’t get overwhelmed. I got a bit carried away when I rearranged my house, but it was a lot of hard work – both physical, and mental (I was making so many decisions about what to keep, and what to throw, where things should go, how to arrange things…).  Usually,  it is a good idea to reorganize one area at a time.  For example, change your bedroom around this season.  If you enjoyed the way that worked out, focus  on the dining room next summer.  It doesn’t all have to be done at once.

5)  Same thing goes for decluttering!  It’s a good idea to do a small section at a time: a drawer one weekend, a closet next month.  Be patient, and recognize when you are feeling tired.  Get rest, and start fresh again later.

6) Be aware of what you bring into the house. For me, it’s not just about getting rid of things. I try to avoid buying things that will soon become unwanted clutter.  The added bonus: this tip can save you a lot of money.  Give yourself time before purchasing items: if in doubt, just go home and think about it.  I’ve been doing this most of my adult life, and it has probably saved me a fortune.

7)  Above all, have fun with itexperiment with different ideas, and arrange things in a way that works for you and your family.  Only you can decide what is the “right”  set-up for your home!

Editor’s Note:  We have since moved to a new home, and I have used those 7 ideas to help me set up and keep a space where we love to live!

Photograph by Tungphoto, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net.

Thanks for stopping by homehurrah.com, and I can’t wait to share my next post with you!

 

 

Ways to Declutter, Organize, and Celebrate Your Home! Part 1

“At worst, a house unkept cannot be so distressing as a life unlived.”

–Dame Rose Macaulay

A Great Read!

Today’s quote is from one of my favourite books on the subject of home: “A Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of a Misspent Life”, by Mary Randolph Carter.  It’s a great book filled with wonderful photographs and interesting ideas on “how to live creatively with collections, clutter, work, kids, pets, art, etc… and stop worrying about everything being perfectly in its place”.

Reconsidering Clutter: An Opportunity to Share and Express!

It’s true that an uncluttered space has a certain appeal – it can be calming and efficient. But it’s also important to recognize that purposeful “clutter” can express our personality and our history,  and can create warmth and visual appeal.

When I first found  Carter’s book, it was a great source of inspiration for me. It was a period in my life when, more than ever before, I started to focus on how to set up my home in a way that celebrated our life and nourished our interests.

I liked Carter’s take on clutter:

“Embrace it, make peace with it, take control of it, share it, reorganize it, and when the time seems right, bid it farewell.”

“Clutter is the grand parade that follows us all our days from a playpen of toys… to the places we call home.”

“Find solace and a little beauty in the clutter of the things we cherish in our everyday lives at home and at work.”

A Home Is For Living!

Part of the reason that I connected with this book, I think, is  that I was raised in an unpretentious home where living life was the priority.   What was surprising, though, is that this book about embracing clutter inspired me to  start a process of decluttering. 

It was a big job. I began to go through all of our stuff, starting with our basement, which we basically used for storage.  I got rid of countless things: I donated tonnes of stuff, and threw out or recycled what was not fit for giving.

In the process, I rediscovered mementos that were real treasures; imperfect, and full of personal history and interesting stories.  These items didn’t belong in storage. It was time for them to add some character to my home!

It was during this period of time that my personal philosophy of home “organization” really started to evolve.

ClutterFree With a Twist!

In some ways, my philosophy is somewhat minimalist. I enjoy living in a space that is not overly or needlessly cluttered.   At the same time, I find it joyful to be surrounded by the things that I love – books, pictures, and keepsakes.  My home is lived in, not perfect;  but it’s bright, clean, and welcoming

So my home has become a  combination of an uncluttered calm space, mixed with meaningful, useful and comforting objects that enhance my life.  It is all about about enjoying the things that you love, in a functional space that enables you to do the things that you love!

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Part 2:

How I Transformed My Home Without Spending (almost any) Money!

 

The above image is by Adam, courtesy of freerangestock.com