Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Taming paper monsters! (digital vs physical)

One area I've tamed pretty successfully over the years is the amount of paper in my life. There was a day when I had a wall of bookshelves, loaded to overflowing. I subscribed to several magazines and had file boxes for all those papers I "had" to keep.

Going almost paper-free is easy now! Technology has advanced and nearly everything is available digitally. These days, my bookshelves consist of two shelves... and shrinking.

These shelves have already lost another couple of titles since the big culling. The few non-reference type books I kept, I kept with the thought that if they hadn't been read in a set amount of time, they'd be donated as well so I'm working my way through these and adding them to the donate box as I finish each one. That second shelf is all craft-related books - patterns, references. I really need to take another look through those. My crafting has changed over time and even though these made the cut recently, I'm thinking there are still many more than I need to have on hand. Why not let the library store them for me?

One that came off the shelves permanently this week is this one:

The book, not the cat. ;-) 52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust [Hardcover] [2010] (Author) William Alexander Very enjoyable read! The last few pages are recipes that I'd like to try. Do I need to keep the entire book for these few pages? No. I scanned the couple of recipes (for my own personal use, of course) and can now donate the book for someone else to enjoy. =) The scanner is your paper-free friend!

I scan and shred all documents I may need for later. It's always a good idea to back these up and keep the backup separate from your computer just in case. Anything I know I'll have access to online, I just shred. There are a few things that you will need to keep the physical copies. I have a thin accordion file (maybe an inch thick) that holds vehicle titles and the few other necessary paper documents.

Magazines? There's only one I subscribe to and I so wish it was available digitally! I oddly started receiving a few magazines in the past several months out of the blue. None are ones I'd ever pick up on my own and everyone I asked said they weren't gift subscriptions from them. With a little research, I discovered sometimes publishers will send free subscriptions due to needing a minimum number for advertisers and of course they hope that once you've gotten it for awhile you'll then choose to keep getting it and pay. I've already stopped delivery on all but one. That was one that just started showing up recently. I get enough junk mail without surprise magazines too.

I rarely purchase a paper book these days, choosing digital format or borrowing whenever I can. I love my local libary! Borrowing a book also means I can quit reading if I'm not enjoying it (or just never actually read it) and have no guilt over money wasted. There are so many ways to find free or inexpensive media. Here's what I've found handy:

  • Your local library! If you don't have a library card, get one! They're free! =) I have two - one from my city and one from my county library system. A card will give you access to books, movies, magazines, ebooks, audiobooks and music. I especially love the digital products since it doesn't require a special trip and no worries over late fees.
  • Borrow from friends! Looking for something your library doesn't have? Maybe a friend has it and will loan it to you to read.
  • Hoopla - Your local library will need to be affiliated with Hoopla to borrow (just check the site to see), but if it is, borrowing is free and they have audiobooks, movies, tv shows, music and have recently added ebooks and comics as well. Some libraries have a set number you can borrow per month (mine is 10).
  • eReaderIQ - This is an awesome site for finding deals on ebooks! You can even sign up for alerts on specific titles or anything by a specific author and the site emails you when the price drops. I've found a lot of freebies from the daily emails.
  • BookBub - Sign up for free and fill out the survey about your preferences and you'll receive a daily email with freebies and deals.
  • Amazon's Kindle Best Seller Top 100 Free Books - These are constantly changing. I check every now and then, but don't usually think to regularly.
  • Used book stores (local or online) and thrift stores - Yes, I do occasionally still buy a physical book if it's not available in a digital format or from my library or if the digital price is insanely high and I can get a used copy for next to nothing and then donate it afterward.
Do you have any other great ways of finding free or inexpensive books, ebooks, audiobooks and/or magazines?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Do you love it? or How Marie Kondo helped me take decluttering to a new level

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”- William Morris

Yes, the quote everyone refers to when simplifying their possessions, but it's such a perfect fit for what I'm aiming for. For anyone who was around when I started this blog a few years ago (the day after Christmas 2011, to be exact), you'll remember I've undertaken a huge decluttering mission before.

In 2011/2012, my goal was to drastically downsize, which I did. I donated load after load, sold some larger ticket items and gave things to friends. I reduced my possessions down to a 5'x10' storage unit and what fit into my newly acquired 28' RV, sold my mobile home and moved into the RV where I lived pretty happily for over a year. I learned a lot about what I needed (and didn't need) day to day while in the RV, but ultimately made the decision to buy a standard home in October 2013. I moved in, reclaimed the items from my storage unit, slowly bought furniture for my new home and started to settle in. Everything fit just fine. 

My home is smaller than average at a hair over 900 sq ft (plus basement and small garage), but thanks to the massive culling I'd already done, space has never been an issue here. My basement has stayed mostly empty since day 1. So why refresh my decluttering mission if space isn't an issue? I realized I still had more than I needed, more than I wanted. A few weeks ago, I checked out The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing after waiting a couple months on my library's wait list. Yes, the book you've probably seen mentioned everywhere. I honestly didn't expect it to live up to the hype. I've read a few books on clearing out clutter and organizing and didn't expect anything new here other than a bit of inspiration to sort through all my stuff once again. What I wasn't expecting was for this book to trigger an urge to let go of all my excess, taking it further than I have in the past. Last time, decluttering was a means to an end, a way to fit into a smaller living space. This time? It was all about letting go. Letting go of anything and everything I don't love. 

The process Marie Kondo recommends is similar to the one I'd always used. Pull out everything from one category and determine the keepers, discarding (mostly donating for me) the rest. What's different? You keep only what brings you joy. Clothes are first! I ended up with 4 trash bags full of clothing I didn't love or that didn't fit or just weren't quite right. My closet is now roomy, my drawers are neat (yes, her folding style works!) and I even had a completely empty drawer in my dresser! Most of my fabric moved into the empty bottom drawer for easy access.

Next up, books! My bookshelves were a far cry from what they once were, but I still managed to cut their numbers by half, leaving me with just two shelves of books remaining. My spinning fiber moved into the empty bookcase on the other side of the fireplace.

I'd already gone through and shredded most of my papers, so I moved on to miscellaneous categories, purging most of the stuff in my bathroom and donating the no-longer-needed storage cart that was in there. Then I tackled the kitchen. This has always been a tough area for me, but this time around? It was easy letting go of the extraneous items. I even donated at least half of my baking pans. I still have a nice variety of those including the bundt pans that decorate my kitchen walls, but now I only have the ones I love and use

I've laid my hands on nearly everything I own now. I put a good amount of my yarn stash up for sale along with my floor loom that I didn't end up using as much as I'd hoped. This past weekend, I sold my spinning wheel. I love to spin, but I use my eSpinner and the one I sold just sat in my living room collecting dust and trapping dust bunnies with a vengeance. The young couple who bought it seemed really excited to get such a deal and that definitely made me feel good about letting it go. =)

The key for me really has been pulling everything out and handling each item. It's just too easy to look at a shelf full of items and decide they all stay. Move them and it's becomes much more obvious what doesn't belong. Also? A point Marie Kondo makes in the book really hit home with me. She discusses letting things go once they've served their purpose with us, whatever that purpose happens to be. Maybe it's an item we once loved but no longer suits our style or needs. Maybe it's an item we bought with grand plans for wearing/using it and never did. At least we learned what suits us and what we don't need or love. Take the lesson and let it go. Let your excess bless someone else instead of weighing you down any longer than it already has.

But do you know the best part of all of this? I'm learning to let go of other things. I'm learning to better recognize when habits and beliefs are serving me and when they need to be let go as well. I'm finding a better balance in my life and it feels amazing.

Are you looking to do some decluttering yourself? Need to cut something out of your life that isn't serving you any longer? Try asking yourself if it brings you joy. I think we all could use a little more joy in our lives. =)

Friday, April 10, 2015

stashless podcast episode 52: sew much?!

Out of the Stash (FOs):
  • 4, count them, FOUR project bags! 3 are monthly prizes for the Shrink My Stash CAL and 1 is a birthday gift.
  • Sewed up a pieced and lined cover for my work computer. Much nicer to look at in my craft room on my days off!
  • Quilted doggie blanket for a friend – This wasn’t my first go at piecing, but it was my first actual quilted project!

On their way out (WIPs):
  • Still plugging away on the cabled border on my Aquamarine shawl. Slowly but steadily making progress. =)

  • Just thread for specific sewing projects using stash fabric and a shirt to repurpose. =)

Future plans:
  • I’m planning to try my first skirt soon, but first, lined curtains for my kitchen before it starts heating up outside and repurposing a shirt from Goodwill to make a purse.

It’s Easy Being Green…
  • Make your own cashew milk! I’ll show you just how quick and simple it is.

Winner for March Shrink My Stash thread on Ravelry drawn. I did random number generator for entries 1-45 and the winner is #16 CatStraight for her Clapo-Ktus shawl! PM me your address! =)

New to me podcast:

Also check out the 3 seasons of The Great British Sewing Bee on YouTube if you’re at all interested in sewing!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

stashless podcast ep 51: slow is not bad

Out of the Stash (FO):

On the way out of the Stash (WIPs):
  • Meta Mittens pattern - won from the Bluegrass Spinners Podcast - planning to spin for these!
  • Schacht bobbin winder, shuttle, book and bobbins - previously loved and awesome!
Check out a cool Kickstarter I found:
Spun Fiber Company - Ethically and locally sourced breed-specific wools hand-dyed! 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

stashless podcast episode 50: the dragon slayer

Out of the Stash (FOs):

On their way out (WIPs):

  • Something crafty is coming in the mail!

Future plans:
  • Sewing… lots of sewing! =)

On my mind…
Live in the moment. Do you feel distracted all the time? Have you tried being fully present? Next time you’re chatting with a friend, put your phone away and really listen. 

The winner for the February Shrink My Stash thread on Ravelry was drawn. Was it you?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

National Craft Month - Craftsy Sale!

Happy National Craft Month!

Full disclosure: I am a Craftsy affiliate and using the link above or the banner on the page will result in a small percentage coming to me, but will cost you nothing extra. Any and all proceeds are used to cover shipping and/or purchases of prizes won on the Stash.less Podcast. Big thanks to anyone who has used the links in the past and to those who may use them in the future! =)