Quick Clean Challenge #1

Hello, and welcome back!  Are you ready for the first Quick Clean Challenge?  I hope you are! 

The first challenge sounds very easy and, in theory, it really is.  The challenge comes, at least for me in just remembering to DO it.   So, here it is:

Challenge #1: When moving from one room or area of your home to another, stop and take a quick visual inventory before you leave that area.  Is there something that belongs in another room?  Are you going to that room?  Is it something that can be put in it's proper place quickly?  Then DO it. Is there something else that needs to be done before you leave that room that can be done quickly?  Then DO it.  

Its as simple as that. 

Let me know how it goes for you and I'll check back with you all in a week to relate my own progress.  

Quick Clean Challenges... Who's With Me?

If you read my most recent post, you know that I struggle with finding the right balance between rest, play and work.  I firmly believe that if we free our minds from the little stresses, the bigger ones may not seem as big.  One of my ambitions in writing this blog is to inspire creativity, but to be our best creative selves, we need to have the freedom to create without being distracted by all the little issues that perpetually surround us.  Things like clutter, dirty dishes, things out of place, those spots on the bathroom mirror... all the little things that clutter our minds with "I should be doing" guilt.

I know I'm not alone in this struggle, so I thought I'd propose a challenge. One challenge a month.  It will involve finding simple tasks, things that can be done simply and quickly.  Hopefully they will be things that will establish better habits for all of us.   

If you read the last blog post, you also know that I started imposing the "one minute rule" on myself.  If it can be done in a minute or less and you have that minute right now then just DO it.  Slowly I have seen this start to become a habit for me.  I still have to be conscious about it, but I'm telling you folks... it works.  

The idea behind the Quick Clean Challenge is that, most likely, if you have one minute, you probably have two, maybe even five.  I'm interested to see how much of a difference that just tidying up for a few minutes at a time can make.

From my last post you also know that I'm very much an "obliger".  When someone else is counting on me to complete a task, I'm much more likely to accomplish it than I am if the only one counting on it is me. This is where you all come in.  I'm hoping you will join me in these challenges.  I'll post one on the first Monday of each month. Some will be Two Minute Challenges, some may be Five Minute Challenges.  We will see as time goes on and I get more ideas.  I'll ask you to join and post your successes and progress in the comments.  Feel free to link to your blog if you have a post about it.  We will check back every Monday and see how things are going. 

So, who's with me?  I hope you will post in the comments if you plan to join along.  The first challenge will be posted on Monday, November 2.  In the meantime, I'd love to hear about what challenges YOU face in finding balance in your life between work, play and rest and what strategies you employ to try and overcome those challenges.  

Let's Get Real, Shall We?

Hey all,
Can we get real for a bit in here today?  Most of my posts are about sewing or creative projects or what's going on with my pattern designs.  This post is not going to be one of those.

It's been a while since I posted anything in here and it's because I simply just haven't had the energy to write posts and edit them and take pictures and all of the things that go along with documenting a creative project.  Life has just been too exhausting.  I have completed a few projects and I hope to eventually get to writing posts about them as well as some other post ideas, but the past few weeks I have just felt too overwhelmed.

I think too often in blog land, we project our "ideal selves" in our posts.  It makes it seem like life is perfect and every project is beautiful and all the world is rosey. Sometimes reality just isn't that way.  Sometimes reality is messy.  Sometimes reality is exhausting. Stresses from our full time jobs, or our spouse's job and other outside commitments sometimes get the better of us and it's all we can do to just get through the day keeping our head above water.  That's kind of where I have been lately.  I try and escape to some creative activity when I get the chance, but sometimes I'm even too mentally or emotionally drained for that.  Then the thought of taking the extra effort to blog about it, well, it just doesn't happen.

Days when I get up early to try and accomplish something and my cats are fighting all morning or they are being otherwise naughty, or even both, and I spend half the morning shushing them.  Days when I have something planned for dinner and I get home from work at 4:30 and have no energy or desire to cook it because I've had a crazy busy day at work and have been on my feet since 6:30 or 7AM and going non-stop all day.  I'm sure we all have those days that are taxing and we all can relate to that.  I just seem to have had a lot of them lately.

The past few years have brought a lot of changes to my daily routine and I have fallen into some really bad habits.  Habits like ordering out for dinner... 3-4 days a week, sometimes more.  Not getting the right exercise, or any exercise, really.  Spending way too much time vegging on Facebook or Pinterest or in front of the TV.  Completely ignoring housework, some of it for weeks at a time. I'm hoping I'm not the only one who has been there.

I've recently been listening to some podcasts and I have found them to be very encouraging and uplifting.  The "Happier" podcasts at gretchenrubin.com feature practical ideas about how to incorporate better habits into your daily life.  Most of the episodes last approximately 30 minutes.   Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth Craft just converse about different ideas for establishing healthier, happier daily habits.  There is often a segment on getting to know yourself better which ultimately helps you learn what works best for you in changing your habits.  I love that most of the ideas that they have are really simple, and very actionable.  Some have really struck a chord with me.

One that I am beginning to incorporate is the "one minute rule".  Instead of kicking my shoes off when I come in the door and just leaving them in the floor in the entryway, I pick them up and put them in the shoe cubby that is literally 2 feet away.  Mail is sorted right at the recycling bin before it even enters the house.  Anything that can be done in less than a minute, I am no longer allowing myself to be lazy and put off until later.  If I see it needs to be done and it can be done in less than a minute and I have that minute to spare, it gets done.  Right now I still have to be very conscious about it, but hopefully it will become second nature at some point.

Another thing that I read on someone else's blog, was to do something immediately when you get up in the morning before you allow yourself to even eat breakfast or start your morning routine.  This person recommended keeping just a simple notebook and thinking ahead the day before or the night before and writing down things that can be done in that few minutes.  It can be something super simple, but just do something.  So I'm getting up and taking my medications immediately, but before I allow myself my one cup of coffee for the day, I make myself find one simple task that takes no more than 5-10 minutes to complete.  I have the added challenge that it needs to be something silent since my husband is still sleeping.  It might be to wipe down the outside of my cabinets or appliances in the kitchen, or dust, or swiffer the floor in my kitchen and dining room.  Something simple, easy and quick.

Guess what?  Just these two things, as simple as they may seem, are helping.  I'm beginning to see the clutter disappearing and order beginning to return.  I know it will take a while, but it is encouraging to see progress and to feel like I'm beginning to get back to having a better handle on things.  I'm curious to see what other gems await me in the podcasts that I haven't listened to yet as well as in future episodes.

I've also realized that I'm what Gretchen calls an "Obliger".  I find it much easier to meet goals and to do tasks when I'm doing it to meet other's expectations, but when the goals are inner expectations that I have for myself, I'm much more likely to not meet those expectations.  Basically, "no one cares about this but me, so why bother?" Yet, I have goals and expectations of myself that I truly want to fulfill.  It sounds crazy doesn't it?  Yet it is SO true of me.  So, I need others to hold me accountable for those expectations as well.  I hope that those of you who read will reply occasionally and ask me how a project is going and where I am with such and such and so and so.  Or "did you finish...? "

And so I'm curious.  What motivates you when you fall into those days that are stressful and hard and seem like they just come one after the other, after the other?

How to Create a Faux Madeira Applique Collar- Guest Post at the Swhetty Betties Blog

Today I'm honored to have written a tutorial post for the Swhetty Betties blog.  I hope that you will come and join us as I show you how to create a faux madeira appliqué collar for your Trumpet Flower dress.  This is a great technique that really can be applied to a multitude of different patterns with just a little ingenuity.  It was a fun and simple project and I am totally in love with the results.

Finished Scrap Attack Quilt

Hello everyone!
I wanted to share with you my latest quilt finish.  Here is the Scrap Attack quilt that I made for a friend's baby shower.  I can finally share it because the shower was yesterday.  I didn't want to spoil the surprise, you know?

It finished at only 36 x 36 inches, but it's a nice size for a baby.  Each block took about a hour to complete and there are at least 10 years worth of scraps in the mix.  The great thing is that I am finally beginning to see a dent in my scrap pile.  Woo hoo!  It has only taken me all summer to do.

I toyed around with several ideas for the quilting, but in the end settled on simple stippling.  I love how it softened the lines.  I even didn't cross any of my lines... well, almost.  There's at least one tiny one, but I'm not telling where it is, if I could even find it.  It's probably my best stippling job yet.

I bound it in red polka dot fabric and backed it with a print I have had in my stash for a long time.  It's a bright colored print with happy little mushrooms.

The happy bright colors just make me smile every time I look at it.  I hope it makes baby smile too.

In other news, I have been slowly working on the next pattern which I hope to have ready sometime in the fall.  I have been taking my time really thinking through the design.  Just a little hint as to the idea... think princess seams and 1940's inspiration.

I hope you are having a great week creating pretty things.  I'd love to hear about any projects you are working on.

Until next time,
Happy Sewing!

Love Bird Dress Pattern Review

This morning I'm glad to announce that Amanda Kaufman of Mandy K Designs has sewn up one of my patterns and written a review.  It's posted on the Betties Blog today.  I hope that you will stop over and check it out. I don't want to spill the beans too much, but Amanda put her own unique twist on her finished dress and I love the results!