Christmas Wrap

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The ladybug came off a bar of soap I bought. I have been saving it all year just for this application.

I know it seems a bit early for a post about wrapping Christmas gifts, but my family is travelling here for Thanksgiving and I won’t see many of them near the Christmas holiday. We have developed a family tradition of sending the wrapped gifts home with each other when we gather at Thanksgiving to save on shipping costs.

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The wrap and gift tags.

I use the same paper for gifts all year long. I just dress it up differently according to the occasion. I bought this large roll of cream drawing paper at IKEA from the children’s section. Here. I’ve been working on this roll for a couple years. The brown paper is reused from a framing job I had done. The gift tags were all cut from an 87 cent piece of cardstock. I’m still working through a large stash of ribbons and string that my mom collected over decades and passed on to me. I usually color on the gift tags in colors that coordinate with my ribbon or string.

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I think the pile of presents makes a charming vignette in the corner for now.

My cost this year was just the cardstock. Everything else I had on hand. The paper can be reused and recycled. The fabric string and ribbon can be reused and composted.

Frugal Wall Art

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My daughter took this photo on a trip to the northwest states.

I printed it at a local office supply store in the 18″ x 24″ size, which cost $18 USD. I framed it with a frame purchased at the local craft store for $20 USD. I probably could have found something less expensive at the charity shops if I had been a bit more patient.

A Serene Home

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My closet today.

A few years back, when I was getting ready to sell my home of 15 years, my mother lamented– “But you have created such an oasis of calm and peace here. How can you even think of leaving it?”

I replied, “I have that calm and peace within. I carry it with me. I can recreate it anywhere.

That said, the past year has not been calm or peaceful. But I still carry those feelings within me. And it is time to recreate it here.

As I have written before, I love the location of this apartment in a walkable city. I love being on the second floor up in the tree canopy. We are three blocks from the Metro train, which my son takes to school.

What I do not love is that the building manager smokes cigarettes in his workshop in the basement and the hallways smell like an ashtray. Also, the lady in the apartment below me is hard of hearing and in the evening I can hear her TV blaring. Ever the minimalist, I have solved two problems with one appliance: the air purifier. It cleans the air and the white noise of the fan cancels out the TV noise.

So how do we create “serene?” First we declutter. Then we clean. Then we add some nature elements.

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Here is the floor of the northeast corner of my bedroom. See the paint and scuff marks?

As a sometime renter, I have noted that most folks do not have the same standards for cleanliness that I do. To be fair, none of my roommates or husbands did either. So, I have always understood that cleaning to my standards was a beauty requirement that I needed, but others have not. No judgement. I’m just taking care of my own needs here.

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Same corner after a couple scrubbings and a wood restore product.

I’m not going to lie to you, this was a significant time investment. But I had recently attended an art show with a friend and we both loved a particular piece that had been created with a 24″ x 18″ piece of paper and a sewing needle. The needle had been used to poke holes in the handmade paper in a complex and beautiful pattern. I estimate that it took hundreds of hours of human labor to create.

And I asked myself, “What beautiful thing do I want to create this week?” And the answer was, “A serene home.”

You may see more serene home post in the coming weeks as I manifest that calm and peace from my heart to the apartment.

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Close up of His Royal Highness. He is made of jade and sits atop my dresser for now. I am told that he is a Feng Shui prosperity toad. I think that he is adorable, and if he increases my prosperity or romantic prospects…well then, Yeah!

This Week’s Linen Project

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I bought this 100% linen dress at a discount store for $16 USD.
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Yeah, it had these weird trumpet sleeves and yeah, there was a stain like someone had dropped the dress in a snow puddle.

But let me remind you from the previous post that 1 yard of new linen is $26 USD and this is a complete garment (read 3-4 yards of linen) for $16 USD.

So, let’s get creative!

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So I cut those weird sleeves off and hemmed them in a way I found interesting.
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Sleeve hem detail
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And I took the extra sleeve fabric and made a pocket. Because…well….pockets!!

But I have to say that I love the embellishments on this pocket and you will likely see similar details in future projects.

And after I lose 20#, I will model the garments rather than hanging them on a wall hook.

 

Countertop for the Fridge

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Apologies for the blurry photo. My camera was not working the week we moved in.

Some of you may remember that this side of the kitchen, when we moved in, had this claustrophobic arrangement of pantry-stove-refrigerator. I had the building manager remove the refrigerator and I replaced it with a small one, and topped it with our microwave.

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Still small, but at least there is room to swing a skillet.

I wanted to add a wood counter on top of the fridge for the following reasons: fewer food bits on the floor between the two appliances, expanded work surface and the kitchen could use the warmth of a natural element. Plus, I had an idea to do it inexpensively.

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I used this piece of wood, this saw and glue and some sand paper that was hanging about from previous projects.
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This wood was sourced from sustainable European forests, and measured 1″ x 24″ x 36″ before I got my hands on it. It was about $20 USD from a big box store.

I live in an apartment, so my wood shop is my dining area.

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Here you can see that I used dining chairs protected by my son’s towels as sawhorses.

I cut the board to 28″ in length. Then I used the leftover piece to create a base, as the fridge door hinge projects up a bit from the top of the fridge and I didn’t want the microwave to wobble or the counter to slope.

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I glued the scrap-base on in this particular configuration because the microwave sits toward the back of the counter. [Also, you can see that the edge I cut is not straight. What can I say? That perfection is the enemy of “good enough?”]
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Then, since I did not have any C clamps to hold the glued bits together, I set it where I wanted it to go and weighted it with the microwave.

Then, as the glue was drying, I vacuumed up all the sawdust I had left in the dining area and went off to the gym and the library.

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Ta-Da!

When I came home from errands, I finished the wood with a coat of olive oil. After the first coat soaks in, I may need to add more.

And yes, I did get a new water kettle.

 

2019 Count

Beloved readers- I know that many of you wait eagerly all year for this post. And most years I have been equally eager to post it. But this year? Meh. Let me explain.

While I stand by my previous statement that minimalism makes almost everything easier, this has been a difficult year by any standard. I have moved. Twice. My youngest son has been hospitalized. Twice. And he has moved in with me, as he is currently unable to work or attend school. That makes three moves this year. He is undergoing treatment and we have high hopes of his disability being temporary.

So while my decades-long minimalism made all that moving a lot easier, I haven’t been excited about minimalism, like before. Just grateful for it during this challenging year.

But my dear readers have reminded me about how much fun minimalism can be and encouraged me to post the yearly count of stuff. So here it is:

Clothing (59 items total)

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Winter coat. This will likely be replaced this fall.
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Outfit 1.
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Outfit 2.
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Outfit 3.
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Outfit 4.
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Outfit 5.
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Outfit 6.
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2 yardwork outfits.
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The same black dress you have been looking at for 5+ years and a sparkly sweater. (counting this as 2 items)
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The swimsuit and cover up. (counting this as 2 items)
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Holy Moly! How did I accumulate 7 pairs of shoes!
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From top, going clockwise: belt, 3 sweaters, necklace and earrings, headband, 3 exercise outfits, gloves, hairclip.

Add to the count 9 hangers seen in previous photos and 18 undergarments.

Miscellaneous Items (item count 16)

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Nine years, 209,000 miles and still going strong!
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Clockwise: laundry basket, file box, purse, wallet, glasses/sunglasses/case, lap top, tote bag, To-go cup, coffee carafe, memory box, sewing kit, towel. Not pictured: cell phone.
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Bed. While I am NOT a fan of decorative pillows that must be removed before the humans can get in the bed, this one doubles as a meditation cushion.
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Dresser.

Personal Care (total items #7)

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Toiletry bag, comb, nail clippers, grooming scissors, razor, pencil sharpener, toothbrush.

I’m not counting the 4 items of make-up which are consumables, but included them in the photo, for those curious about my make-up requirements. Just these 4 items: foundation, eyebrow pencil, mascara and hair tamer.

Also not included in the count this year: furniture and kitchen stuff that I share with my son. We combined households and there is some duplication, but I am not sorting it out until we determine the length of our rooming together.

I am ever so grateful for you all, my readers, and I will answer any questions you have about the count or my process of deciding on objects.

Swim Cover-Up

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Thrift shop 100% cotton scarf

Take one $3 designer scarf, stitch up the sides, leaving 8 inches for the arm holes and then cut a triangular head opening. Hem the raw edges. Ta-Da! A swim suit cover-up for going to the pool.

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It’s about knee length.