Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Book Donation: Cooking in the Nude for Golf Lovers

Sometimes people donate books to the library that are for a very specific set of people. Thank you, Library Patron! 

My favorite is the Amazon description: 


"Combine your favorite game and your favorite partner with these sporty and suggestive romantic recipes. Dishes like "Tees Me" and "Bogey Kabobs" prove golf is more delicious with a twosome. If your partner on the course is also the object of your culinary conquest, you won't want to take a mulligan on this one!"

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Konmari Chronicles: A Month of Decluttering

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Image from

So January has been all about decluttering and appreciating how much I have, and I've been taking my tips from the Konmari Method. I'm focusing on decluttering for my first month-long (or more) resolution this year.
It started when I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, which launched me into a realm of tidying that I hadn't thought myself capable of. If you don't already know about this NYT bestseller, then you're about to find out.

Kondo boasts a 100% success rate for her clients in Japan. What's different about the her style, dubbed "The Konmari Method," is that she focuses on the keeping of things that only "spark joy" rather than disposing of things that you don't need.  It puts a positive spin on the task of decluttering, and takes the headache out of the deciding process. There are no tables or charts to follow that tell you how long is too long to have something without using it, you just have to be honest with yourself and be willing to let stuff go that doesn't make you happy. And most of all, treat your stuff with respect. She sometimes loses people here, because she personifies objects to the point of weirding people out, ascribing feelings to socks, staplers, and what-not.  She talks to her things: thanks her jacket for doing the hard job of keeping her warm, greets her house when she walks in the door, and doesn't ball up her socks because it hurts their feelings.  So, she's a little funny that way. But if you can buy into the idea that some of the basic principles behind her method are genius, then you'll be in for a clutter-free treat.  

Things I came away with that really worked for me:
  1. Declutter by category, not by room.
  2. Don't worry about where to put everything until you've truly decluttered everything.
  3. Declutter in this general order: clothes, books, papers, miscellany, and do things that are dearest to you last.
  4. Do your categories in a big way, not just a little at a time. Kondo calls tidying up an event. Don't get rid of a few things every day - do it as a marathon and make it count. The big changes will spark the real change that you need.
When you declutter, do it this way:
  1. Gather everything from that one category, from all areas of the house and dump them on the floor. This desensitizes you to it. You're more apt to keep it if you declutter them from where they are on the shelf/closet, so this is essential. It's also essential that you do all things from one category at the same time so that you realize how much you have in that category. 
  2. Pick up each thing and decide whether it sparks joy. For clothes, some I knew right off the bat that they did or did not. Many I needed to try on. Keep what you love with confidence.
  3. Let things go if they: don't make you happy, don't feel right, aren't your style, are no longer useful, if you have too many of the same thing and don't use them all.
  4. If you have a hard time letting it go, thank it for its service and move it along to someone who will love it more. It may have helped teach you what wasn't your style, fit once but doesn't anymore, is too worn to be useful, or something you hate to part with because it was a gift or was expensive. Part with the things that make you feel guilty when you look at them, and let them move on so that you can too. 
  5. Declutter everything first and then decide where it's permanent home will be. You can't organize your stuff until everything is decluttered, otherwise you'll keep moving everything around. 
  6. You probably can't get a lot of money for most stuff. Get it out of the house as soon as you can afterward, and don't let anyone in your house de-rail you - if you think they will try to undermine your effort by pulling things back from the curb, do it when they are not around (so long as you aren't getting rid of their stuff!).
What I've accomplished thus far:
  • Clothes/accessories/shoes: This has by far been the best change for me. Everything now fits in my tiny closet and my armoire. Summer and winter wardrobes are all together, giving me the most out of all of my clothes whatever the season. I donated 3-4 garbage bags of clothes, accessories, and shoes, and it made me feel 10 times lighter. Getting dressed, doing laundry, putting things away, and making new outfit combinations -- these are all way easier and less stressful, and my stuff has so much ROOM to breathe. 
  • Books: I thought this would be harder, honestly. I'm a librarian! I should love keeping all these books! But then, I'm a librarian, and why keep so many books when the ones I'm really reading all come from the library? So now I've only kept books that I know that I love, would read again, or that just make me happy. I got rid of about 70% of my books. The books I have that I love actually stand out now, and I have room for funky decorations that always looked cluttered when I tried to put them out before.
  • Papers: So, my filing cabinet was the place of things-stored-and-never-looked-at-again. Receipts, old mail, coupons even got stuffed here and forgotten. So, I got rid of about 50% of that too. I'm no Marie Kondo, who says she prefers to keep no paper whatsoever, but I'm happy enough knowing that I only have things I need and I can now find them at the drop of a dime.  Oh, and now I have a desk top. On which I can work. Without moving piles of stuff around first. Woo!
  • Miscellany (Komono): Linens for beds we no longer have, 36 burned CDs, DVDs that I bought because they were only $2, a zillion wine-glasses from wineries we've visited, cords to I-don't-know-what-anymore, leftover blank wedding invitations I never used, pens that I hated to write with, lotions I've had for years and never use, cosmetics that have been around since the dinosaurs roamed the earth, tupperware without lids... The best thing about this category has been that it includes stuff I use every day and yet never bothered to get in order, so when I cleaned up all these little pockets of crap around my house, it made everything feel so much lighter! 
There is still a good bit left to do, but it doesn't feel overwhelming, it's actually kind of fun. Having no real deadline just makes it a hobby with amazing results. It is already so much easier to put my house back in order when it's messy, because everything has a spot. I can identify very quickly when something doesn't work for me, and I get rid of it automatically. Before, I would hem and haw and think I'd give it another chance. No more!

Last but not least, if you are going to read this book. Remember: this is a guideline, and written for people who probably live in very different houses and in different lifestyles than you might have.  And some of her advice is nutty. She got rid of her hammer and her screwdriver, replacing them with things that in my book are never a substitute. She uses her headphones instead of her speakers. She dries and puts away her shampoo in a cabinet after every shower. For me, that is TOO FAR. But for the most part, this woman is on point.  Besides, who else has an organizing book without pictures make it onto the bestseller list?

The other major part in this month-long de-clutterfest is that I didn't buy anything outside of groceries (and gifts...for others). Whenever I was de-cluttering and thought I needed something, I wrote it down, and decided to buy it later if the need still applied. Not buying anything gave me the chance to see what I could make do with and see how much I really have already. When I finally went shopping, I found that I really only needed a few things, and I had the perfect sense of what those things were (black cardigan for work, and a better belt!).

Now that we are gearing up to move, I'm happy that I won't go through the hassle of boxing up a bunch of junk that I didn't really need or want! Whew!  More to update once we actually move...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Resolutions: Create a scene in 2016

My parents started created a rhyme to live by for the year in question rather than making resolutions. I've decided to "create a scene" this year. Maybe a little of that, too. I usually have a heap of resolutions, and am actually pretty good at keeping them. Last year's went particularly well.  But this year I'm opting for a different approach.

I'll be focusing my many resolutions into monthly challenges so that I can give more attention to each challenge individually rather than trying to stick to 20 resolutions at once. I'm also hoping this might help me build these goals into habits as well. I'm aware it may take longer than 21 days or longer than a month to build a habit, but within a month I'm fairly confident I can tell if a habit is going to be one I'd like to stick to as well. I haven't assigned specific months to my challenges yet, mostly to give myself flexibility on "what I'm in the mood to work on."

My focus months:

  • Decluttering: I'll be starting here, piggy-backing on December's momentum since reading  Marie Kondo's best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  I'll write a post when I make some progress. In addition to this, I won't be shopping this month to make sure I don't invite more clutter into my house before I know what I really need (obviously this excludes groceries, gas, birthday presents, and the like). 
  • Art - The plan is to do art every day for a month. There's no limit to what "art" means - drawing, doodling, mindfully photographing, painting, crafting all count. A stronger focus on drawing, mostly so I can have a drawing journal full of cool stuff by the end of it. The goals? To become more observant of art opportunities every day, to clear space for art in my life - physical and temporal, and to tickle my creative bone every day. Carry (minimal) art supplies with me so that I can do art when/where I'm inspired.
  • Writing - Finish my novel. It doesn't have to be polished, but there has to be a story from start to finish. NaNoWriMo was a huge accomplishment for my writing self in 2015, and while I "won" with 50,000 words, I still want to finish the novel itself. Write 4 new poems (one a week), playing around with different styles or devices. Write one short story. 
  • Mindfulness - Keep a Five Minute Journal every day for 30 days. I stumbled across the Five Minute Journal this past year, and it really helped me keep things in perspective, especially in building gratitude, self-awareness, and positivity. Other goals within this goal: yoga & meditation. It's a bit of a time commitment, so I won't hold myself to it, but I'd like to try 30-Day Yoga Camp with Adriene.  
  • Fitness - Log into MyFitnessPal for 30 days. Get to the gym or play soccer at least 3 times a week. For one week, walk for 15 minutes each day on lunch. Might try this in April or May just as it's starting to get warm and beautiful. At the end of the month, go to the doctor and get you
  • Learning Spanish - I know I've said this for so long, but I am more motivated to do this than before now that I've started using It's easy to stay on track, and you go through short modules that hit on different skills and words. It's like playing a game! Basically, if I can just do this at least 21 times in one month (preferably every day, but let's be realistic), then I think I'll make significant strides. My goal is to be at least 75% fluent in Spanish according to Duolingo's measurements. I'm currently at 41% (HA!). What I'd most like to be able to do is get the basics down so that I can confidently-enough talk to Spanish-speaking families at the library.
Do you get the "create a scene" part yet? I'm actually going to be decluttering, painting, and writing scenes. 


My overseers on this project will be my own fear of failure, my friends and family (read: you), AND my handy-dandy Coach Me app. I started using this about a year ago (when it was called Lift). It's basically a habit-building app, where you "check in" to habits that you set for yourself. It keeps stats for how often you've done something, and you can set yourself goals for how often you want to do something, and reminders to notify you, too. My favorite part? People can ask questions and get support from other users, and the community is so positive and affirming, it's hard not to be motivated.