Tuesday, June 22, 2021

A Green Armoire, Finally!

Years ago, I bought an armoire from the Spiegel catalog. The assemble-it-yourself kit was made by American Moulding & Millwork and was a joy to put together. The accomplishment made me aware of my ability for DIY. 

This cabinet has served me well over the years, storing books, sewing fabrics, and supplies. But, almost from the beginning, I knew I wanted to paint it green.

While debating on the exact shade, I sealed it with a clear finish. Well, it ended up wearing that for years! I chose different shades over the years, even buying one twelve years ago that went bad. Yes, paint can go bad, horribly bad, even if it has never been opened. The smell was disgusting, nauseating!

Last year, I bought a new shade, a small 8-ounce tester pot of Clover Green in satin by Benjamin Moore, and finally got around to painting it a few weeks ago.

I had to wipe the piece down with prepaint cleaner Krud Kutter and give it a good sanding. I first attempted to paint without primer but thought it might take too many coats, so the rest received a coat of Kilz 2 primer.

I have to admit, I took a somewhat lazier approach to paint this piece than I usually do. I didn't sand between the paint layers and probably should have painted the inside, especially those doors. I didn't think of it at the time, was limited on the amount of paint, and I was very impatient to finally have it done. So, so many excuses! 

So there will be no open door photos in this blog post; 1) because I didn't paint the interior doors, and 2) it still hides a mass of stuff and materials despite my very thorough decluttering.

It is what it is.

But check it out? I even refolded all of the fabric for my "near-future" projects using a tutorial pinned from Pinterest. It is so much neater and easier to comb through to see what I have. The first thing I noticed is how neutral the fabric within is compared to the cabinet itself, It is all white, cream, gray, black, and navy blue. So, I guess I'll have to change that!

Monday, June 07, 2021

KonMari Method Part 5 : Komono Sewing/Crafting/DIY

This entry is for all the makers working in garment sewing, crafting, and home DIY projects. How do WE declutter?

This particular category was not given significant focus by Ms. Kondo. Supposedly it is a part of the Komono/Miscellaneous group. I didn't even realize that fact until I had my latest stack of plastic bins in front of me. These five small bins were just my crafting supplies, but I realized I also had my heavy-duty DIY tools, plus loads of garment fabric and sewing patterns. Luckily, I had done the first pass on those last two categories pre-KonMari, and I did not revisit those now. Note: When I decluttered that time, my only criteria was 'could use the fabric in the future?' I am now aware I will need to go through them again with "Do they spark joy?" in mind.

One of the difficulties with this category and the KonMari method is the whole concept of "sparking joy." When you work with craft and sewing supplies, you want some surplus materials or a "stash." These items will come in handy at some point but do they necessarily spark joy?


I had multiple cardboard boxes and plastic containers that held all of this stuff. I needed to organize, consolidate, and label everything that I had. I ended up with four specific containers:

  1. Paint Prep: A small portable tub with my pre-painting gear such as nitrile gloves, assorted paintbrushes, foam brushes, sanding blocks, latex caulk, spackle, Frog tape, some blue painter's tape, a paint can opener, plastic drop cloths, and a concentrated degreaser and cleaner for prepping all surfaces before painting.

  2. Primary Paint: A plastic tub holds the plastic paint trays the I line with aluminum foil, my handy paint pail (if you use latex paint, you can let it dry out and later lift the entire pail shaped paint thing out, it's so freaky cool!), extra foam rollers (in two sizes), paint edging tool, plastic cups, and painter tripods to support drying objects, small portions of leftover paint, Kilz 2 primer, and my must-have supply of Minwax Polycrylic in Satin. 

  3. Electric Tools: Another container holds my products which just happen to be Black + Decker products; a BullsEye auto-leveling laser level with stud sensor (BDL190S), 7.2-volt cordless screwdriver (PD600), and a 1.2 Amp corded Mouse detail sander (BDEMS600). Because there was room leftover, it also holds the tile leftover from the kitchen makeover (Yup, I know, potential future clutter!)

  4. Manual Tools: These live in a plastic toolbox with multiple-sized screwdrivers, wire cutters, two box cutters, two types of old school levels, a complete set of sanding files, two sets of pliers, and .


IKEA Misi table (No longer available)

I have an old IKEA Misi table with four convenient drawers that I use to store my most used notions.

  1. This drawer holds all of my old Coats & Clark's threads. I now have a separate container for the Gutermann thread that I use now.

  2. Sewing and machine needles, sewing scissors, my rotary cutter, walking foot, seam pickers, and my marking chalk all live in this drawer.

  3. This one holds my sewing labels, pinking shears, fabric swatches, 

  4. My Babyloc sewing machine manual, tracing paper, tracing wheel, tape measure, my bobbin thread box, and the-all important not-for-fabric scissors live in the last drawer.

In addition, my sewing cabinet (a former Spiegel Catalog armoire) holds even more. Inside, it has several similar-sized plastic totes, each with a different purpose.

  • Notions: One container holds all my interfacings, Pellon Easy Pattern paper, seam bindings, elastics, ribbons, velcro fasteners. To simplify things, they are all in individual clear plastic zip bags, so I can easily see what I have.

  • Knit Scraps: This one holds all the good knit remnants, fold-over elastics, and salvaged findings that could be made into underwear, tank tops, or turban headbands.

  • Office: A little bit different, this tote holds tape, rubberbands, envelopes, pens, plastic sheet protectors for my PDF patterns, and archival envelopes I use to protect my vintage patterns.

  • Soft toys: Leftover fleece, juvenile print fabrics, and felt that I can use to make things for my grandniece and two grandnephews.

  • Crafts: See below.
  • Paints: See below.


For me, craft supplies meant: older unopened acrylic paint tubes, newer acrylic paint for small projects, assorted paint brushes, sandpaper, pipe cleaners, hot glue gun, a staple gun with staples, rulers, several different types of tape, oil pastels, chalks, drawing pencils, stencils, unused origami paper, watercolor paper, sheets of vellum, metal knitting needles, and even a set of circular bamboo knitting needles.

I also had a small jewelry supply stash of jewelry findings, leather and suede cords, beading wire, some leftover elements from older jewelry pieces, plus packages of metal and wooden beads.

I took my time going through these, thinking of the likelihood that I would ever use each one or if it would be more useful to someone else, i.e., could it spark joy in someone else? If so, they were moved to another tub destined for the ScrapRVA reuse organization in Richmond.

An in-progress donation tote


I love the idea of oil pastels (I bought them for a college course in 2010), but I never used them after that, so it was time for them to go. Once I started thinking about it, more things made their way into the ScrapRVA donation box. So, could I see myself needing and then using it in the foreseeable future? That was the main question I asked myself. The effortless donations were any items that I had in multiples, or I had no idea that I even owned it. I ended up with a healthy group of things; many were never used.


At one point, I found myself trying to justify keeping items that could still bring me joy. You know, you can always use paint, pencils, hot glue... I had to revisit the contents of a few containers several times to remove things that I knew would continue to sit around unused. Because that was the same attitude that filled those boxes in the first place. Perhaps I was having a more difficult time because I took longer with the KonMari process than I was meant to. Ideally, you do it in one continuous session, not over several months as I did.

For now, the box of donations, my box of 100+ sewing patterns, and any other goods for ScrapRVA are living in my car's trunk until I drive to Richmond to hand them over. That's good enough for me.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

KonMari Method Part 4: Continued Komono/Miscellany

I am continuing with decluttering this huge Komono category. These are the categories that took up most of my storage space. It's so good to have these handled. Finally!

Electrical Equipment and Appliances:

Mine no longer looks as good as this one!

My Crosley Traveler CR-49TW turntable had been in storage for five years, and there was nowhere to set it up. I knew better than to store the actual albums outside, so I had stacked them vertically in my room. However, the turntable was out in storage, and when unpacking it, I noticed there was the start of mold on the leather case. Searching the internet, I wiped it down with a diluted alcohol solution outside, then soapy water, and let it air dry. It turned out good as new! 

I had a Dell desktop computer that I hadn't used in five years, but I let it continue to take up valuable desk space. I donated it to Goodwill, along with a Kodak photo printer that I had not used for the same amount of time. I had the long ago busted camera that went with it too! Why did I keep all these things that were of no use to me?

I will be selling the Yashica FX-3 Super 2000 manual camera that I haven't used since my Sophomore year of art school in 1990! Oh, Lisa.

I had accumulated two boxes of mystery cords, old phone chargers (of course, I still had the phones too!), laptop adapters, phone cables, and an old cordless phone. 

CDs, DVDs, and Vinyl Records:

I went through my records, keeping all my new wave and trip-hop records from my high school and college days. I will also evaluate my vintage movie soundtrack albums; if they are in decent condition, they will be cleaned and properly stored.

When looking for album storage ideas, I read this article and am inspired to take care of my albums properly. I haven't clicked Buy Now yet, but I have two combinations of supplies saved; one through Vinyl Storage Solutions and another cobbled together from separate companies on Amazon. Unlike serious collectors, I only have fifty albums and six 45s, so I don't need as much.  I don't expect to buy any more records so finding the right combo is essential. Update: In another storage box, I discovered 14 more 45s that I completely forgot I had!

By the way, I learned four things from my research that I need to do (or buy) for my records: 

  1. I may need to wash my thrifted vinyl and will need to do it correctly.
  2. Brush each disc with a carbon fiber brush before every use.
  3. Store the vinyl records in anti-static liners.
  4. Store the album covers in polypropylene covers.

I rescued all of my CDs and tapes too. I will need to find a way to have them in my room where I'll easily access them for use. I've started a rotating group of CDs and tapes for car travel, so I'll have chances to hear them all. I will have music back in my life!

Household Equipment and Supplies:

The following items have FINALLY left my house:*

  • Dell Dimension 2350 desktop computer, keyboard, and two speakers
  • Microsoft Office XP 2002 software (why was I keeping this?)
  • One unused Westell VersaLink 327W modem
  • One Netgear N300 wireless USB adapter
  • HP Pavilion Entertainment PC laptop and cords (going to a friend in IT for parts)
  • One laptop power adapter
  • Laptop carrying bag
  • Two cameras (Kodak EasyShare C310, Yashica FX-3 Super 2000- to be sold)
  • Kodak Easyshare Series 3 Printer Dock
  • Ziploc bag of dead batteries (saved for proper disposal?)
  • Two phones (Samsung Galaxy Ace Style, LG Cosmos)
  • Three phone chargers
  • Assorted earbuds
  • Three telephone cords
  • Aiwa CA-DW630 portable "boombox" stereo
  • Emerson 13" color television (TC1379) Update: This was too old for Goodwill to take but they offered to dispose of it for me.
  • Samsung DVD-V5500 combo DVD/VCR

Final large Goodwill haul

Final Observation:

This one was deep.

I realized that I was keeping everything that had ever cost me money. In all my years of struggling with financial insecurity, I apparently could not part with anything without first trying to recoup my investment. The plan for most of these was to sell them on Etsy, eBay, or Craigslist. However, I always procrastinated because of the hassle or something else, which created stress, shame, and clutter. Now, I don't even care about that hypothetical money because it feels so better already to let these things go! Honestly, the KonMari process has proved therapeutic. 

Update #2: Two weeks later I found a completely forgotten box of cassette tapes in storage! 

* This detailed list lets me acknowledge the items that had served some purpose in my life in the past. As instructed by the process, I thanked them before I discarded them. Also, having this list means I never have to wonder, "do I still own such-n-such"?

Sunday, March 28, 2021

KonMari Method Part 3: Clothing and Komono (Miscellaneous Items)

In an earlier post, I discussed decluttering my clothes and shoes using the KonMari Method. That went well. My clothing items have more room in my closet; everything in there is something that I want to wear and that I feel good wearing. There were so many items that I wore but felt uncomfortable in or thought made me look frumpy. Now I love my entire wardrobe.

This time, I tackled the last component of the clothing category; my jewelry. 


It was easier to do this group because a lot of my jewelry never got worn. Over the years, I had accumulated a lot of cheap jewelry; nothing has been more than $12 for a pair of earrings. 

As you can see above, I didn't have one dedicated jewelry box; instead, I had things in multiple opaque containers. I rotated and wore a small selection of my earrings because they were convenient to get to instead of searching for other options. My goal is to wear my favorites more often.

When it came to discarding items, the first things to go were the three lone earrings (seen at the top middle above) since I never found their mates, then any pairs that were missing stones or pieces, and then any gifted ones that were never my style. Why keep things you don't wear?

The next step was the items that I appreciated but never wore, like bracelets. I love the idea (and mine were lovely), but if they're not the ones that slip on, no deal. I have no patience for tricky clasps.

Donations to Goodwill

Note that there are bar hair clips in the donation box; my hair has been too short for those since 2002.

I will probably paint the base at some point.

I ended up with ten pairs of earrings that I love and most of my necklaces. I have all my necklaces displayed hanging on my bulletin boards. I bought an earring display rack online, so now I can see all my choices every day and make a point of putting them back right after wearing them.

Komomo (Miscellaneous Items)

These last two groups technically belong to Komono, the KonMari miscellaneous category, but they were right there while working on my closet, and I couldn't wait!

Marie defines Komono as "small articles, accessories, small tools, spare parts." Things such as spare batteries, novelty keychains, conference lanyards, leftover medicines, that stuff that seems to stay around even after it has served its purpose. Things in this category include such varied sub-categories as Accessories, Cosmetics, Toiletries, CDs, DVDs, Electrical Equipment and Appliances, Valuables, Household Equipment, Kitchen Goods, and Others.


As part of my apparent "keep ALL The Things forever" collection, I have all my unused and broken eyeglasses since 2002, including those missing lenses or a temple arm. Oh, why, Lisa, why

I found that I can drop off the working pairs for recycling at any Walmart Vision Center, but they will not take the broken ones.


Another quick and easy category to complete was cosmetics. I threw away any old makeup and the slow-moving and dried-out nail polishes. I rounded up my empty MAC lipsticks, hoping for enough to take advantage of their free lipstick recycling program, but I need to have six. 

I had stored my cosmetics in one tiny overstuffed zippered pouch and several clear Ziploc bags for years, and it was messy and unorganized. I now have my makeup contained in this new organizer I bought from Target.



It turns out that I also had a problem with "self-care" items. I had masses of Shout wipes, throat lozenges, Q-tips, opened makeup sponge packages, shampoo samples from magazines, and "just-in-case" medicines such as nasal allergy spray, gas pain medication, and prescription pain relief. As usual, I stored everything in multiple containers in several locations.

Expired products and medications

Because so many things were separated and boxed away, I never used them. For example, the dried-out Shout pen and wipes and the expired medications; I found things five years and more past expiration!

I moved most of these to the bathroom cabinet where they belong and the rest to a clear storage container that I can easily access.

Final Observations

If I can't see something, I will forget that I have it. That was true in a crowded closet when I had more than one item stacked on a hanger. It was also true with shoes or jewelry stored in covered boxes or containers.

Therefore, my storage strategy for everything in. the future will involve less packaging, increased visibility, and easy accessibility for all my declutter categories.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Konmari Method Part 2: Books and Papers

Books are the next category to tackle in the KonMari method.

All of my books arranged on the floor


This category surprised me. If you asked me how many fiction books I owned, I would say around 10, and I would be correct. I strongly believe in the public library system, so I rarely buy books. The ones that I do own are ones that I have read more than once: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the novels of Jane Austen, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Devil in the White City, Perfume, Auntie Mame, etc.

However, when it comes to my nonfiction and instructional books, the number shocked me. Now, I knew that I owned A LOT of sewing books, more than twenty-five. Also, several books on historical fashion, fashion designers, Hollywood costume design, and one book on "female etiquette and charm" from the 1960s. Whoa.

But I had also held onto old art and historical preservation textbooks, books I had received in exchange for book reviews on my blogs, and of course, any books given as gifts. There were so many books! It never occurred to me how many I had because they were in several places; some had been in storage since I moved six years ago. As Marie says in her book, it IS crucial to see what you own to keep track of it. 

A stack of books I chose to give away.

Well, I was able to get rid of quite a few of them:

  • The fiction books that I would not be reading again.
  • Woefully outdated job search books.
  • Fussy cookbooks that I never used.
  • Self-help books that others had given me to be "helpful."

I also kept three books that I will offer to specific friends I think might like them.

Moving on to Category three, it was time to gather all the paper documents I had around the house.


Wow, this category for me was immense. I believe in paper ephemera of all kinds! I also seem to love documenting occasions with facts and dated material. However, there were many things that I kept for far too long: 

  • Copies of filed tax documents. (I had my very first 1040EZ form from 1989!).
  • Pay stubs from jobs going back to the 1990s. 
  • My essays and research papers from junior high and college.
  • College class report cards.
  • Performance reviews from all my past jobs!
  • Old credit reports 
  • Checkbooks registers from 1998 till the present.
I found a U-Haul contract from a storage space I had for only four months in 2004!  For years, I would keep track of my monthly bill paying with my statements and receipts in several 13-pocket check file folders. Each year I would fill up another one, only throwing out stuff when I needed an empty one for a new year. I should have been throwing away each year's contents once I did my taxes for that year.

The big question is, why was I holding on to all this stuff, year after year? Even the IRS suggests keeping only seven years of documents for possible audits. However, I was keeping THIRTY years' worth!

I stashed a lot of documents in several mismatched containers; however, the three black file cases were my "official" repositories and held the rest:

  1. Product warranties, apartment leases, car insurance documents, auto maintenance, and health records
  2. All clippings about fashion, movies, home decor, and planning details from the weddings I helped plan, basically, my hard copy Pinterest. There were clippings in there from high school in the late 1980s.

I ended up shredding five full trash bags worth of stuff! Most of these things were many years past their value to me. I was shocked and a bit disgusted. Don't let this happen to you, do not tie yourself down like this.

This fireproof safe held critical documents like the title to my car, my passport, social security card, and birth certificate. However, there were also disposable things, like the afore-mentioned check registers and paperwork from the car I sold over two years ago. Yup, again, "What you don't see, you don't keep track of."

Check registers are OUT, and a handmade book I made in eighth grade is IN.

Much more space is available, and I kept the me-made book.

Marie's belief on paper is to Discard Everything! After my shredding chronicles, I may agree. As she said, short of personal cards and letters, you should discard most paper documents. I agree that you can remove most financial papers after a year. When it comes to taxes, those medical receipts you added up for health expenses can go in the trash the second you add that total to your taxes.

View of all the paper found in my house.

Last but not least is a picture of how I stored all the paper in my house. These multiple types of storage boxes held various documents, articles, college admission and loan paperwork, financial records, examples of event and conference materials from old jobs, correspondence, greeting cards, and loose photographs. I now have these pared down to the three portable file boxes, the fireproof safe, two dedicated boxes for photos, stationery, and another one for personal letters and cards (which I will deal with in the last category, Sentimental Items.)

Thursday, March 11, 2021

The 2019 Bathroom Makeover Update

After writing up and documenting the kitchen project, I decided to do the same for the first house project I did, the guest bathroom. 

My initial goal was to paint over the loud tangerine paint that practically screamed at you from the walls. I found a warm white paint that coordinated with the unusual taupe wall tile. I also primed and painted the outdated builder's grade oak vanity cabinet and mirror. After first searching for a darker taupe or driftwood color, I instead chose a gorgeous, rich green to make it the room's focal point. The last step was painting some of the picture frames to hide that they were not in the best condition.

The wall paint had matched the orange border in this artwork.