Posts Tagged ‘organizing’

Sometimes the Universe Listens

August 27, 2018

Last Monday, I sang the praises of notes-to-self on scraps of paper. That very week, my husband gave me a card:

While the advice is sound, it is the card itself that is important. That clipboard is functional.

Now I have a device for keeping notes that I will actually use. I’m taking this as a sign from the universe that this will be a good writing week. Yes, I am indulging in magical thinking. When the universe is listening to my unspoken pleas, who am I to insist on cold, hard logic?

Waiting for the House Elf

August 22, 2018

This is why I would really love to have a house elf.

Yes, I’m getting lots of work done in the sewing room. Okay, I’m getting some work done in the sewing room. Better yet, every so often a project leaves the house, meaning I don’t have to find a place to store it. I do the happy dance, then realize I need to get busy with clean-up. I suck at clean-up.

If you ever find the spell for summoning a house elf, send me the link.

Luck and wisdom!

Fun with Finite Space

April 11, 2018

I think I may have created – at least temporarily – a partial TARDIS in my sewing room, because at least one of my fabric containers must be bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside. I took out my pink and brown collection to work on quilts that will probably be donated to charity through the guild’s Community Quilts program. I was looking forward to filling that space on the shelf with something else. That’s when the fun with finite space started. This is the collection I removed from a blue container on my shelf.

This stack is about a foot high

That’s a lot of fabric. You would think there would be lots of space, but no. In fact, there wasn’t any extra room. This is what was left in the container.

The fabric expanded to fill the space available

I have no idea how I managed to cram all that fabric together. While I would love to have my own personal private TARDIS in the sewing room, I’m not betting the farm on that explanation. I am a little worried now about what else I’m going to find on the shelves once I take the stuff in front down, or how long it’s going to be before something explodes and I have fabric scraps everywhere. Of course, in my sewing room, would I really even notice?

Luck and wisdom!

Projects For Fidgety Fingers

February 8, 2017

Last month I attended an all-day writing workshop with some friends. I filled my tote bag with notebooks and pens. Then, for reasons I barely understand myself, I threw in a beading project.

So far, this is untitled with pearls

So far, this is untitled with pearls

My friends asked what the project was for. I said I wasn’t sure, but the truth is I knew my fingers would get fidgety. The workshop included a lot of time for discussion, and we all know that quilters/beaders/knitters/needleworkers can run both the mouth and the fingers at the same time. Sure enough, by the afternoon I was desperate for something to do with my hands when we weren’t actually writing.

When I got home, I noticed once again all the little boxes and bags I’ve collected over the years for portable projects. I opened a few and discovered that while I had indeed used all of them at one time or another, I had never cleaned out a single one.

A darning box for socks I no longer own

A darning box for socks I no longer own

Some of the boxes are big enough to hold several projects. This plastic stacking bin is a good example.

Lani Longshore small tote

I have no idea why I didn’t put another project in the bin. Heaven knows I have enough work in various stages of completion.

A cupcake container makes a wonderful sorting tool

A cupcake container makes a wonderful sorting tool

I’ve collected fabrics that I think would work well together so that when the need arises for a quick gift I can grab a bag and get started. This year, one of my goals will be to clean out the bring-along boxes, and have projects ready to pick and go when I suspect I’ll get a case of fidgety fingers.

Lani Longshore fabric collections

Luck and wisdom!

An Abundance of Bins

December 9, 2015

I have reached a point in consolidating my stuff that I’m accumulating empty bins, boxes and crates.

Free agent bins, waiting for a better offer

Free agent bins, waiting for a better offer

The good news is organizing is getting easier. I’m seeing how I work in a different light, and how to store things so I will remember where I put them (even the things that don’t get used often). The bad news is I’ve collected a boatload of bins over the years.

One advantage to having empty bins is cleaning the table for the holidays this year will be a snap. My husband made me a beautiful desk, which is filled with stuff, which is why I collect the mail on the kitchen table, and other items that need to find someplace else to live. As you can imagine, it takes longer for me to clear off my end of the table than it does to cook a holiday dinner. After Thanksgiving, I decided to get a head start on a New Year resolution to keep up with the mail. “Self,” I said, “You already keep up with the bills, so why can’t you keep up with the rest?” So far, I’ve put almost everything in this one little bin.

Lani Longshore kitchen bin

A lovely consequence of my resolution to keep on top of things was deciding to get my Progressive project done now. I already knew the quilt only needed a simple border on the top, bottom and right because the last person did the fabulous applique of monkeys and bananas in the jungle. Now if only I can keep this momentum going throughout the holidays.

Lani Longshore Progressive quilt

Luck and wisdom!

Muddle in the Middle

November 18, 2015

Writers are familiar with the term “muddle in the middle.” It means the hash you’ve made of your story while you were getting from the grab-them-by-the-throat beginning to the eye-popping ending. This week, I created a visual for that phenomenon in my sewing room.

My messy, muddled middle of the room

My messy, muddled middle of the room

I’ve made great progress organizing my two walls of shelves, but in the process I’ve pushed everything to the center of the room. This is a bad thing – not the Cuban Missile Crisis bad, but still not good. I have a project with a deadline, so I have to sort enough stuff to make space at the sewing machine to work on it. More important, I have to avoid the impulse to pile things up in front of my newly organized shelves.

What I cleared out while organizing the other shelves

What I cleared out while organizing the other shelves

All of this happened because I was able to open up some space on the shelves pictured above. I decided to be sensible about filling the holes, and put all of the like things together. That’s when I discovered that the bead collection I thought I had consolidated somehow grew. A lot. It now takes up nearly an entire shelf all on its own.

The second row holds my bead collection

The second row holds my bead collection

Even with the muddle in the middle, I consider my efforts a win. This is the most floor space I’ve had in ages. I’m not saying being able to vacuum the carpet will help my creativity, but it might cut down on the sneezing.

Luck and wisdom!

Remembering a Lost Empire

November 11, 2015

Today is Veteran’s Day, which used to be Armistice Day, which got me thinking about lost empires, which is why I’m going to compare my sewing room to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. My husband’s to-do list and mine hit a rare convergence, where he wanted to install shelves in my sewing room just when I was considering how I could persuade him to let me pull out the various bins and bags to re-organize them. This is certainly more positive than the inciting incident of World War I, the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, but equally as unexpected. It also resulted in a total restructuring of the sewing room as significant (to me at least) as what happened in Central Europe. This was the shape of my Empire of Piles on the eve of the great change.

Chaos

Chaos

I moved bins and stacks and bags and piles and heaven only knows what into the living room, then attacked the dust. The battle was long and fierce. Seriously, I think some of those dust bunnies were on the verge of developing language skills. When the battlefield was clean, we imposed the new structure.

New borders

New borders

Once the shelves were up, I had to reorganize. My bins were supposed to resolve themselves into autonomous units, but as with the fallen empire the reality proved far different. Some bins were practically empty, hollow cases that I imagined held treasure but which ended up being filled with something else. The mixing in the bins and bags surprised me. Labels meant nothing. I found florals with the stripes, orphan blocks hiding under fat quarters, beads where you would never expect them. Eventually, I managed to set up several sovereign states.

Accurately labeled bins

Accurately labeled bins

Even better, I managed to clear a corridor for easy navigation to the sewing machine.

Now I can move my chair with ease

Now I can move my chair with ease

Of course, there were some casualties – and some refugees. Although I grieved over every scrap, some fabrics could not be saved. Other items have found their way into a holding bin, and I hope to relocate them soon.

Luck and wisdom!

Is There Joy In Organizing?

April 29, 2015

The bathroom remodel is finally done. The last trim pieces were installed, and the varnish on the vanity (and isn’t that a great name for a novel?) has cured long enough to organize the drawers and cupboard.

The vanity that Stewart built

The vanity that Stewart built

I should be thrilled, but I’m not. Storage in the old bathroom was minimal, so now that we have more room I’ll be moving items from other cabinets into the new bathroom. That means there will be holes on shelves all around the house. The sensible part of my brain tells me to look at the new-found space with a view to better efficiency. The selfish part of my brain says, “Stuff the shelves with overflow from the sewing room!”

The sewing room is looking pretty bad these days. The projects I left before heading out to Art Quilt Santa Fe did not magically make themselves. Also, I came back with more treasures.

Lani Longshore deer pin

This pin depicts deer in the desert, but I’m seeing reindeer that can go with my Space Viking series (don’t ask about the connection – it makes sense to me).

Thanks, Betty!

Thanks, Betty!

This is a piece of hand-painted silk Betty Busby gave me. I have many ideas, and some new silk batting to use.

Lani Longshore bird toy

This is a toy that Gale Oppenheim-Pietrzak gave me. It flashes different colors when you squeeze it. I had hoped to post a video of the light show, but technology has thwarted me. My ancient phone and camera aren’t compatible with the systems on our Linux-based computers. Perhaps someday I’ll be able to post it. And my sewing room will be tidy. And my projects will finish themselves. And pigs will fly.

Luck and wisdom!

Labels

January 14, 2015

Labels for people are rarely useful, unless you are planning a potluck. In that case, making sure you invite the people known for their signature dishes – The Fruit Salad Lady (my mom) and The Deviled Egg Lady (my friend Ann), for example – guarantees the rest of your guests are happy. Aside from that, save the labels for your boxes. It should go without saying that you should use the labels you save, but here’s the evidence that I don’t always follow my own advice.

Manufacturer's labels - useless after you've bought the item

Manufacturer’s labels – useless after you’ve bought the item

When I cleared away the piles in front of these bins, I realized I had no idea what was in them. Worse, I couldn’t remember when I had put those bins at the bottom of the stack (which I removed before I took this picture). Clearly, whenever it was I had already decided I didn’t need to get to the bins in a timely fashion.

So, I bit the bullet, pulled out the bins and filled that hole with fabric that I hope to use in the near future.

The box holds pillow forms, the crate fabric - both are open to view

The box holds pillow forms, the crate fabric – both are open to view

The bins held a pleasing variety of treasure and trash. I’ve put the treasure in bins with like items and tossed most of the trash (well, you never know when you’re going to need something to embellish a trashy quilt).

A side benefit of pulling out the bins was I managed to unearth some forgotten fabric collections.

Lani Longshore fabric

It is possible that I collected these black-and-gold fabrics for high school quilts for my kids. Given that my youngest graduated in 2005, I’m guessing I can use the fabric for something else.

There were several other fabric collections that had outlived their project deadlines, but I’m certain I’ll find something to do with them. If all else fails, I’ve got stuff to make backs.

Luck and wisdom!

Blessings

August 27, 2014

I was going to call this week’s blog Rewards, but to be honest I didn’t do enough to earn the good fortune that came my way. Blessings fits much better.

I'm not a Viking, but I make up stories about them

I’m not a Viking, but I make up stories about them

These beads are a thank-you gift from my friend Maya Madhavan. They are based on Viking patterns. I’m writing a sci fi novel about space Vikings. Not only am I thrilled to receive such lovely beads, I’m doubly thrilled she remembered my work-in-progress.

Available in October

This is the cover of the anthology that includes one of my horror stories. There are no space Vikings, but there are Norwegians in Minnesota and a really scary tree. Getting published at all is a blessing for a writer, and getting published in a cool book with a cool cover is even better. Eve’s Requiem is from Spider Road Press, and will be available in October.

This space was empty for at least a week

This space was empty for at least a week

This bit of empty space is where Abby’s kennel used to be. Now, I have a bunch of stuff that could go in this space, but I didn’t want to be greedy. However, my daughter left us some storage bins and my husband agreed that they would fit the corner.

Not empty space, but still tidy

Not empty space, but still tidy

Best of all, I get to use the big blue box to stash Christmas gifts. This will be the first time in donkey’s years that I’ll be able to keep the presents together without having to find room in the studio (which usually means stuffing them under the least unstable pile and crawling around it for five months).

May your week be equally blessed.

Luck and wisdom!