Here is my holiday décor for December. When the rest of your space is simple, it doesn’t take over-the-top flash to make it feel cared about and fresh.
The plate was in my kitchen. The cedar branches with berries came from a tree in the apartment complex’s yard. I was careful to trim from a side where the branches were not desirable (rubbing on cars in the parking lot.) The candle was .99 USD at IKEA.
After the holidays, the plate will go back into the kitchen, the cedar will be composted and the candle will either make it’s way to my meditation space or to the household emergency kit. Frugal, stylish and sustainable. Exactly what QuakerStylist is all about.
And I need a dose of restrained style, because this is our front door for the next two weeks.
My stash of home-made cards was getting pretty low, but I have been waiting to make more. The librarian at our local library told me that she clears out the circulating magazines at the end of the year and they are offered first come, first served to the general public. She even offered to reserve a few for me!
And they did not disappoint! I cut out any photo or illustration that appealed to me. I had purchased a package of 25 blank note cards with envelopes from the local craft store. They were on sale for $5 USD. Based on the size of the note cards, I created a cardboard template from a empty cereal box. I used the template to crop and frame the pictures I liked in a way that appealed to me.
Any two dimensional image can be used. For past cards I have used antique photos, old calendars, used greeting cards, magazines, interesting tags that came on purchased clothing, parts of a playbill, a politically incorrect children’s book that the library was giving away.
I have a file folder where I collect interesting images for this purpose. When I have enough, I buy the blank note cards and get busy!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I live in an apartment, so my wood shop is my dining area.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Add to the count 9 hangers seen in previous photos and 18 undergarments.
Miscellaneous Items (item count 16)
Personal Care (total items #7)
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.