Monday, February 1, 2016

How to Tidy and Spark Joy: The Life Changing Magic of KonMari

Hi! In case you haven't read them yet, I thought might like to know about some of the most helpful books that I have read:
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,
and the follow up, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, both by Marie Kondo.


This method worked for me!

 Marie Kondo is a wonder, a princess of order and great good sense, and a magical spirit who can lead you to handle the Herculean hurdle of housekeeping so that your home becomes a joy and any sense of overwhelm magically leaves the building for good.
I know this is true because her method worked wonders for me.  I'm not usually one to read best sellers or hop on the hottest trend, but this book is a bestseller for good reason and has changed many lives besides my own.

In my case, I felt like Sisyphus in that I could never get ahead of the housework!  I was always cleaning, yet my house seemed always in a constant state of disorder! I hated it and felt way too much stress over stuff!  We were stuck to the house because of the task of tending to messes; I repeatedly had to turn down invitations for fun things to do like swimming with friends and parties, because I felt it was irresponsible to run off for fun when there were things to be done.

Who wants to live like that?  Not me, which is why I latched onto the concepts in this book like the lifesaver they were!  The "tidying festival" recommended by Ms. Kondo is quite an undertaking, but the results will absolutely be worth every minute of your effort.  She estimates that the process may take six months.  I wanted to have order much sooner, so worked through my categories as quickly as I could.  I made a huge difference and was practically finished in approximately a month of steady work. Actually, I made a huge difference in our home in the first day or weekend of working this method, and I rode the momentum of magic happening in my home to stay focused and complete the task as quickly as I could.

The Life Changing Magical Method: KonMari

I know you are wondering what is so special about Marie Kondo's method.  I want you to buy her books and let her tell you all about it; you don't want to miss the magic she imparts.  But I'll tell you that the title of her second book is the heart of her method.  When you look at all your stuff, you will choose what to keep- those items that "spark joy" for you- and donate, sell, or discard the rest.

 It's not about "what to get rid of," but rather, what to keep!

 This shift in thinking is incredibly helpful.

Once you have handled all of the items in your home and determined which ones spark joy and eliminated the rest, your home will be a haven of happiness, peace, and order.  Having your clutter finally cleared and everything in its place will clear so much space not only in your home, but also your head, your heart, your life, leaving glorious space.  And I bet you will be amazed at the new experiences and endeavors and yes, things, that begin to come into your life once you clear the space for them.

A few notes regarding items sparking joy:

We shouldn't throw out our toilet plungers or trash cans or other necessary things that we don't feel spark joy!  An example from my process would be my towels.  The ones we have are not beautiful, luxurious, matching, or joy sparkers.  I got rid of any with holes or ridiculously threadbare, and kept a good amount for us to use.  My well worn bath towels do not spark joy as individual items, but having them neatly folded and lined up on the shelf does for me. And always having plenty of clean towels and washrags available for showering now, does bring joy to my family for sure.

Our shower curtain was the single item I replaced in our home.  We have found joy in the happy feng shui of having a Spring Tree reflected in our bathroom mirror. 

Regarding owning many things that you do not love however, the point really is to get rid of these things. If you do not have many things you love or that spark joy, get rid of what is cluttering your home or your life and does not bring joy and is not essential.  The biggest joy sparker I found in the entire process was SPACE and clearing this space will enable things that will spark joy to enter your life.  That is a big part of the "magic" found here.

I also found lots of joy in passing along items that I felt would spark joy for others.   I was delighted to be able to donate usable and beautiful things that were not needed in my life, so that these items could bless someone else, and hopefully, spark joy anew.

It is respectful to those items to do so in my opinion, and also according to Ms. Kondo.  A part of the charm in her writing is her beliefs regarding objects.  She thanks her socks and recommends thanking items for their service in your parting with them.  Remember, she is Japanese, and she spent time working or serving in a Shinto shrine; animism seems to be a spiritual belief for her.  You certainly don't need to believe your socks have a spirit to treat them with respect or just to fold and to wear them, but it is interesting to see things held in such a high regard.

Which Book Should You Order?  

In her useful books, Marie Kondo explains exactly, step by step, how to "tidy up" everything, all in one go, for once and for all.  Her first book took the world by storm, first in Japan, and then here in the U.S. and all over the world.  You should start with this book, as she simply and clearly lays out her whole method and tells you what (and what not) to do.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a quick, easy read; here she sums her method up briefly, so you can begin to make order in your house immediately.  It is a complete method and much different from other organizing or cleaning books you may have read before.  Those of us who read it and ran with it found it to be more than adequate to tidy our lives.

 However, the wonderful new companion volume, Spark Joy, now published, truly is a helpful mate to the first book.

In this illustrated guide, Ms. Kondo goes into detail on exactly how to fold various items of different shapes, for example.  Folding is a key tenet in the practice of "KonMari," and every dresser in my house breathes in relief now that I have learned the perfect way to fold and store clothing.

While the first book clearly explained her method, there was not room there for step by step explanations for every category, item, and room in your house, but she does get into much of these details in Spark Joy.  I found that all the questions and issues remaining in my mind after reading the first book were clearly and cleverly answered in the equally concise companion volume.  So I definitely recommend that you get both of these handy guides and finally put your house in perfect order and eliminate the problem of clutter and mess in your home for once and for all.

I cannot stress enough how much these books have helped me.  Gone are the days when folks get out of the shower searching for something to wear (or a towel)!  Getting dressed is a joy for everyone in my home because everything is nicely folded and in its proper place.  We used to spend so much time looking for things, but not anymore now that EVERYTHING in our home has a place.  Sure I still have to clean, and with kids, things do still get left out of place, but these chores are now completed in a fraction of the time they used to take and are done with joy.  Now I am overwhelmed with happiness to finally have time for the things I want to do, like blogging!

Good Luck and Enjoy!

Friday, January 29, 2016

How to Make Quick and Easy "Loaded" Lasagna Soup

Several years ago, I saw the words Lasagna Soup and HAD to read more.  I found Nicole Morrissey's recipe on her lovely blog, Prevention RD, and we probably tried it out the same night, if not the next.

I made variations from the first time I tried this, and I have continued to improve and vary my version of this for a few years now.

I LOVE lasagna and mine is fantastic, but since I have discovered lasagna soup, I don't think I have made real lasagna once.  That's because lasagna is time consuming and makes a real mess by using lots of bowls and dishes, while this is a one pot meal that cooks quickly and is just as delicious.

This soup is definitely one of my family's favorite meals.

The first variation I immediately made to this recipe was to use ground beef.  I prefer this soup with ground beef (chuck, actually), but have made an amazing meatless version of this using farro cooked in stock.  I have also used a combo of lean beef and ground turkey, and last night this soup pictured in photos was made using a 50/50 mixture of chuck and ground pork.  I did not like this near as much and won't add pork into the mix again.

I also added a ton of veggies into the original recipe, to make this more like my lasagna which is also vegetable heavy.  This can certainly be widely varied, depending on what you have that is appropriate on hand.

I brown my meat (or cook farro if I am preparing this without meat) first, and then drain and set that aside.  Then I wipe my pan and add a tablespoon or two of good butter or heat safe oil and gently saute an onion and a bell pepper or two.

 So many delicious dinners begin like this!

You can also use red and/or green onions and any color bells.  Roasted red peppers are delicious in this soup as well.

Once these have cooked and softened a bit, I add a couple of chopped zucchini.

You could also add chopped mushrooms at this point.  I recommend this, for sure, but some silly people in my family refuse to eat mushrooms, so I usually have to leave them out.

After these have softened for a few minutes, I add a lot of minced garlic, about six to ten cloves chopped.  I quickly add salt and spices. I always use my favorite all-purpose seasoning,  Cavender's All Purpose Salt Free Greek Seasoning 7 oz (NO MSG), Himalayan Pink Salt, and I might use ground oregano, ground coriander, and ground cayenne or red pepper flakes.

Then I add in two cans of fire roasted tomatoes.  Last night, I forgot to thaw the frozen spinach so I added it in at this point too.  I had to take a picture, because my soup hadn't looked this pretty at this point before (usually I add spinach later, once I have added stock).

Then I add the browned meat and about two and a half tablespoons of tomato paste, and stir this well.  Then I add two quarts of stock, either beef or chicken or vegetable works well.

After this has simmered for some time, I add fresh chopped herbs if I have them- oregano and/or marjoram, and/or basil if I have that.

Once the soup has simmered for fifteen to twenty minutes, I add twelve ounces of bowtie pasta noodles.  This cooks for ten to fifteen minutes,and then the soup's done.

But don't forget the cheesy goodness!  I mix equal parts whole milk ricotta and shredded cheese.  You can use mozzarella, mozzarella and parmesan, or an italian blend, and lots of black pepper.   Mix well and spoon this at the bottom of the bowls, before ladling soup, or just put a spoonful on top to garnish. Stir the cheesy mix into the soup before eating, and enjoy!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Easy Craft Project: Dragonfly Clothespin Clips

Hi, how are ya'll doing?  It has been YEARS since I have posted here, but I thought this easy project would fit nicely here and interest ya'll too.  These dragonfly clips are an easy-peasy, quick, and cute project.  My kids were interested in helping make these, and they loved the results.

These dragonflies work as ornaments for a Christmas or other seasonal tree, happy unexpected decor (I clipped mine to the curtain in my sewing room), fridge magnets, or as a whimsical air freshener for your car, if you add essential oil and clip it to your air vent.  I'm sure you can think of even more clever uses for these cuties.

We made these on the spur of the moment with items we had on hand.  The idea came about quickly when we wanted something pretty to dress up small wrapped gifts for our holiday giving.  I wrapped beautiful small blank books and tiny boxes of chocolates in white paper, tied with gold ribbon, and clipped one of these on top of each package.  All the recipients seemed to really like these cute dragonflies as much as the actual gifts, and they really did make pretty packages.

Dragonfly Clothespin Clips

You will need:
These couldn't be any simpler to make!  Just follow these steps:
  1. Paint your clothespins.  Be sure to paint the inside front and backs, too.  Let dry.
  2. Lay pairs of turquoise, green, and purple colored craft sticks on newspaper or outside. Spray with adhesive, then gently sprinkle glitter to cover.  Let dry
  3. Using a paintbrush, apply wood glue to the center of one of each pair of craft sticks.  Press the other on top of this at perpendicular angles, so that the two wings make an "X" shape.  Let dry.
  4. Use another dab of wood glue atop the clothespin, just behind the spring, and gently affix the pair of wings to the top of the clip.
  5. Attach sequins or googly eyes to the top front of the clothespin with paintbrush and glue. Let dry.
  6. (optional) Glue a small magnet to the underside of the clip.

We have found so many uses for the colored craft sticks that ours are almost all gone!  We used lots of the green ones in various holiday projects, and so I didn't have any green left for illustrating this project here.  I used a pair of yellow, but I don't love the way the yellow looks.  I think the turquoise, purple, and green craft sticks work most nicely for this project.  I gave away all of these that I made with green wings, so I don't have any pictured with green- they were my favorites though!

Be sure to make lots of these because they are perfect on packages and you'll also want some for yourself.  We made a dozen for Christmas and these weren't enough!  My mother-in-law admired the ones we made for my sisters-in-law, and I was sorry that I hadn't made any to adorn her larger package.  So that is why we made these just now, as a gift for her birthday this weekend.  I hope that she will be glad that we did!

Let me know if you make them, and what new uses you find for these happy little friends.  I hope to post more projects here soon.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Easy I-Spy Scrap Quilt

It's been a long time since I posted something new here, and this twin bed quilt seems like a good project to share.  I had been saving fabrics to make an I spy quilt for my son, and when we ordered his first twin mattress, I needed to make a twin bed quilt quick.  I didn't want to just sew square after plain square of random novelty fabrics; I wanted to do something to unify the quilt.  I am very happy with how this turned out, and I think the primary colored frames around the different I-spy prints work well to unify both the fabrics and the random collection of colorful toys that often litter my son's room!  I looked online a few times and couldn't find a design for an I spy quilt like this, but I finally found something on google images that inspired me.  That was this quilt, at Don't Call Me Betsy, which was the very first quilt she ever made!  It's an easy idea and I decided to use it in order to both unify and speed along the construction of my bed sized quilt, which I needed to sew quickly!

I finished this quilt so quickly that it was done before hubby has even started building the bed!

I used 6 inch squares for the block centers and 3 inch strips to frame them, and then trimmed each block to 11 inches square.  My son chose many of his I-spy fabrics, and some were such large prints that I used a few 11 inch square blocks without borders.  He was insistent about that Thomas the Tank Engine fabric, and this one didn't work well in 6 inch squares.  I used scrap and stash fabrics in primary colors to make the "frames," although for a few squares I used strips of the novelty I spy fabrics, when the print was small enough.

I used 2 of each fabric so he can also look for matches, as he likes matching games a lot right now.  To make this twin quilt takes 35 blocks, in 7 rows of 5, so you need 2 each of 17 different fabrics, one of which you will use 3 times.  To make this quilt harmonious, I stuck with a palette of mostly primary colors in the prints, and enhanced this by using reds, blues, and greens for the framing strips.

This is an easy, quick, I-spy quilt to sew that uses scraps but has a coherent quality that brings the diverse prints together in a fun way.

I am feeling quite quilt-y lately; I just finished a new top which I will quilt soon and I have a lot of quilt ideas swirling in my head, so I hope to make more posts again here soon.  I hope you and yours enjoy a beautiful day today and that you all have a beautiful tomorrow, too!  Happy Sewing!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Instant Consciousness Doubler


I have had it on my heart for some time to include posts here on the topic of personal growth.  This first post on the topic is not my writing, but is an incredibly helpful nugget of wisdom found in the book the Handbook to Higher Consciousness    I think that you can read this book as a free pdf online and it is well worth your time; this is only a tiny percent of the wisdom shared in this classic book.

Whether you do take the time to read the whole book or not, please read the following excerpt, which is like a shortcut to world peace.  I say this because we will not see world peace until we can all get along in a loving and peaceful manner with our own loved ones and those people we meet on our paths.  Peace be with you today and always!.

-=-The Instant Consciousness Doubler

Most of the time a major expansion of your consciousness requires a lot of continuous inner work, but there is one shortcut through the woods which may be called an Instant Consciousness Doubler.  Since consciousness and Love are synonymous, you might also consider this an Instant Love Doubler.

Here are the directions for making a significant instant expansion of your consciousness:

Expand your Love, your Consciousness, and your loving compassion by experiencing everything that everyone does or says as if you had done or said it.

When you use this Instant Consciousness Doubler, you will bring into play a certain programming in your biocomputer that may not consciously use now in responding to the actions and words of other people.  You are usually aware of some of the inside reasons and feelings that account for what you do.  But when you perceive similar behavior in another person, you usually interpret it with different programming than you use for experiencing your own thoughts and actions.

This leads us into such psychological conjugations as, "I am firm, you are obstinate, he is pigheaded."  "I am frank, you are blunt, he is rude."  "I enjoy my food, you overeat, he is a glutton."  "I occasionally correct people for their own good, you are quite argumentative, he has a terrible temper."  In all of the above situations, the external actions could have been the same, but the programming that you use to interpret the situation is entirely different.

The purpose of the Instant Consciousness Doubler is to remind you to use the same programming in perceiving and interpreting the actions and words of other people that you use in understanding your own actions and words.  If you simply delay your response to each situation long enough to run it through the programming you reserve for yourself, you may find that your ability to understand and love other people will instantly double.  You may be able to simply bypass the old programming and let it gradually wither away from disuse.  You begin to realize that you would probably feel and say the same things that other people are doing and saying if you could just stand in their shoes and see things from their point of view.-=-

reprinted from Handbook to Higher Consciousness, by Ken Keyes, Jr., Fifth Edition, copyright 1975 by the Living Love Center.

 This advice has been so helpful to me in my life and I wanted to share it with you.

from the flickr creative commons free photo pool, by chsh/ii
2006, Akeno, Yamanashi