Monday, January 30, 2012

DIY Monday - knitting a dishcloth, a beginner's project!

Those who know me will you tell you, I love to knit.

I knit at home, in the car, at the table after dinner, while talking, watching TV, waiting at the doctor's office, in the back of my big, auditorium classes, or (if I ask the prof. beforehand), right down in the front row.  I knit in the park, at the mall, and while we wait for our food at restaurants.  I am almost never without a knitting project in my purse or in my hands.

My mother first taught me when I was about nine.  I remember clumsily moving in the needles in my hands, and eventually abandoned my small project in frustration.  I learned again around age 17, when I really picked it up for good.

Since then, I've learned a few more complicated techniques, like cabling and lacework.  I've made a lot of things for relatives, and quite a few for the Mister and myself as well.

One of the first projects I really started on when we realized we wanted to move toward a simpler life, was knitting dishcloths.
I used the same pattern, over and over, to make over nine dishcloths in a  relatively short period of time.  Just a little square, knit on the bias (that basically means that you're knitting the square diagonally, from corner to corner, rather than side to side).  And then, because we were planning on the Mister going to law school in Washington, D.C. (that's right, my genius husband got accepted to Georgetown), they all got sent there.  And I'm pretty sure that it's there they remain, in a little Korean box with a few other treasures like a small, pink, melamine-handled vintage pancake turner that I so loved.

We need to get that box back, don't we?

So, I don't have any of those particular treasures to show you, only these couple that I found when I was going through my yarnage and then promptly finished in order to present to you here.

To make a long story short, our life plans completely changed one day, somewhat out of the blue, and now we're here in Idaho.  Quite possibly until the end of time.  So, I made another stock of knitted dishcloths (this time, I found a round dishcloth pattern that I love).  The square cloths we have now are for the bathroom, while the round ones reside in the kitchen.  I've heard that some people color coordinate in order to know which cloths belong where.  I, however, was working with yarn my mother had given me for free.  I didn't get to pick the colors, so I chose to work with shape instead.  Honestly, it's easier for the mister to remember, too, when he folds clothes.

This short, easy pattern is for the square.  It's actually the very first thing my mother taught me to knit at age 9, so you know it's easy!  Disregard the fact that I gave up in despair -- I was a fickle child. ;)

The dishcloth on top was knit with a lighter weight (thinner) yarn
from cupidstory's etsy shop (it's positively beautiful and ever so soft).
The dishcloth on the bottom was knit with unbleached Lion Brand cotton,
the kind you can pick up from any Michael's from Jo-Ann's in America.

If you are new to knitting, do not fear this pattern!  It has only 4 rows.  You simply repeat 1 of them, over and over for half of the cloth, and the second one over and over for the second half of the cloth.  Please refer to the key I've placed at the bottom of the pattern if you've never read a pattern or don't know what a certain abbreviation means.  I've also turned each part of the key into a link, so if you have anymore questions, either click the link, or email me, at

It should also be noted for beginners that there are really only two stitches when knitting: the knit stitch, and the purl stitch.  For this pattern, you need only know the knit stitch.  It is generally considered the easiest of the two, so you shouldn't have much of a problem.  However, let me know if you need help!

You can really see here how I try to use up all my last bits of yarn!  You can't really tell, but the blue one has four colors in it: Green, light blue, dark blue, and at the very tip, white, because I ran out of light blue just at the end. 

My Favorite Dish Cloth Pattern

You will need:
Knitting needles - either straight needles or circulars (any length over 16" should do, I suppose), I like size 5 or 6 for mine, but that's because I like the cloth thick and sturdy.  If you want to use a larger needle, your cloth will be done faster, but it will have a looser texture with "holes".
100% cotton yarn - I am still knitting through the stash of cotton my mother gave me upon our arrival back in the states.  Most of it is peaches-n-cream or sugar-n-cream brand, but there's also some lion brand cotton.  When I was in Korea, I bought the loveliest, most scrumptious organic cotton yarn from cupidstory's etsy shop.  It is ever, ever so soft and comes in some fun colors.  This yarn is a little lighter than an American worsted weight, so I used size 3 and 4 needles for it.  Keep in mind, however, that cotton shrinks.  So, even if your cloths end up a little loosely textured, they might tighten up a bit in the wash.
A large-eyed tapestry/yarn needle or crochet hook for weaving in ends
Scissors for cutting yarn


Using the long tail cast on, CO 4 sts.

Row 1: Knit.
Row 2: K2, yo, k to end.

Repeat Row 2 until you have 50-55 sts for a worsted weight yarn, or 60-65 for a lighter/DK weight yarn.  You get to decide when to stop.  This pattern doesn't rely on accurate stitch counts (another reason it's a great beginner's project!).  Remember to take into account that a dish cloth, when wet, tends to stretch and spread, so often, less is more.  A dish cloth that's about the size of your hand or slightly larger will certainly suffice.

When you decide your dish cloth is large enough, begin to decrease:

Row 3: K1, K2tog, yo, K2tog, K to end.

Repeat row 3 until you have just 4 sts left on your needle.

Row 4: Knit.

Now, bind off all sts.

Weave in the ends and you're done!

*Wash before using, as it may not soak up water well if you don't.  In fact, I like to wash mine several times before using, as you might do with a brand new towel.



You should really try this easy pattern.  Knitting can seem complicated and confusing, but often, if you'll just pick up the needles and have a go at it, it can be quickly demystified.

If you're confused by all the linking in the pattern, here is a list of the links to all the videos I gathered:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

What's in My Basket? - Embroidery

I want to make "What's in My Basket?" a weekly feature, but we'll see how that goes...!  I also need to kind of immerse myself in this semester and get a feel for how the week is going to flow before I can set a day for it.  Until then, we're just going to go with the flow.

My basket sits at the side of my bed, and whatever's in it is what I work on during the evening hours, while the Mister and I are winding down, in bed, getting ready to go to sleep.  This is what's been in it lately, and, in fact, is still in it, because I have been ever so busy!  I'm honestly not sure I've touched it again since I took these photos.

This little treasure is going to be a "pajama pillow".  Kind of silly, right?  Well, I figure, once I make two of them, they will help keep our pajamas from laying all over the bedroom.  They'll have a specific, neat little place to go every morning.  And then we'll know where they are at night.

I first read about pajama pillows over at Down to Earth.  I've looked and looked for the post in which they were mentioned, but to no avail.  Oh, well.

This one is a men's bike for the Mister's side of the bed, and I'm going to do a lady's cruiser for my side.    The stitchwork looks black, but it's a really a quite nice shade of brown.

And these are some vintage transfers that have been hanging out in my basket, dreaming of becoming something great.  I love vintage transfers, don't you?  They're just sweet.

That's what's in my basket.  What's in yours?  Share it with us in the comments!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Color Story - Autumn Tractor

I love beautiful things.  Two of my favorite things are beautiful pictures and color combinations.  Simple color stories combine both of those into a happy -- perhaps somewhat useful -- tool.

In the past, I've looked up and used color stories for things like:

  • Our wedding
  • Parties
  • Blog and web design color schemes
  • Knitting
  • Sewing
  • Quilts
  • When needing general creative inspiration

Because I have used them for quite practical things indeed, well, that leads me to believe that, perhaps, color stories, too, are quite practical indeed.

Regardless, I've put a very simple one together, using a picture from my Color/Inspiration board on Pinterest.

Autumn Tractor

It's a humble photo, I'll admit, and perhaps not one you might normally associate with a color story, but it reminded me of the small town I grew up in, where my grandpa used to take us on tractor rides around the field behind our house.  His tractor was gray, not red, but it was old as heck, just like this one.

I love those colors together and, sometimes, I wish I could get married again just so I could choose different colors!  But, of course, that's silly. :D

Here is another color story from the blog Creature Comforts, that I also found on my Color/Inspiration board:

I love this one quite equally as much as I love my own.  Maybe because the picture is more striking.  Either way, I think color stories are such fun, don't you?  Maybe you can use the one I made, or go check out Creature Comforts and use Ez's.  The beautiful color and inspiration is so thick over there, you could cut it with a knife!

If you're not on Pinterest already, you should really check it out.  I'm not sure if you still need a friend to invite you, but if you so, I will certainly invite you!  Just let me know.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mount Yarn - pictures!

Mount Yarn!
This picture is Mount Yarn before it was scaled.

And rest assured that yes, there is an unseen pile of yarn behind the forty gallon clear tub as well.

Where did all this come from?!

Heck if I know, folks.  Well.. I mean, I do know, actually.  In fact, I could probably tell you the origin of each and every skein in that mountain/pile/hoarder's-dream-come-true.  The problem was not in figuring out how the yarn got there, but in figuring out how to get rid of it!

Well, it was a long night.  I took this picture around 8:00pm, because that is when a good night owl like myself gets to work!  And it took me until 1:30am to get two trash bags given away.  Although, I did lovingly package most of the balls and skeins into matching groups, then into ziplocs, and, for R, the Mister's sister's bag, I labeled each one with it's fiber content and how to wash it.  She's a new-ish (but awesome) knitter who, unlike me, has zero stash (those were the days!), so I know all my lovingly packaged skeins will be well loved.

Of course, if you're in the process of chucking a yarn stash, certainly do not feel compelled to go as far as I did in labeling each skein and packaging it in ziplocs with it's yarn kin.  I just found that treating it well and sending it off with love made it a lot easier for me to get rid of it.  I also really liked knowing that it was going to someone who would appreciate it (like R).

If you're having trouble parting with your sewing/knitting/scrapbooky/felt creature/crafty supplies, you might try either or both of these two things:
  • Lovingly packaging - taking care to package your items well, labeling and preparing them for the next owner, and more importantly, in the process, kind of mentally letting it go of your items.
  • Giving your items to someone you know will really appreciate them - either someone who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford your items, or someone you know will just love and appreciate your gift!
They worked for me!

This is my after picture (!!):

I know!!  It doesn't look that different!  But I'm still chippin' away at it.  I've been continuing to unravel more unfinished treasures over the past few days, so a little more yarn than this is accumulating, but a good chunk of the unraveled stuff is going to charity, too.  And I have great and amazing plans to continue the great yarn giveaway until everything -- everything!! -- fits into the big, 40 gallon tub there. That includes all the bits currently strewn about the tiny house either unraveled or patiently waiting to be.  My plan is to continue knitting only from my stash, turning it mostly into items that are useful to people outside of this house, as believe me, we are quite well stocked in the winter woolies, thankyouverymuch,  as well as continuing to cull through and give more yarn away.

This is the smaller tub of yarn (ends and bits) that I may or may not save for making a patchy afghan:

I think I might save it for a set amount of time (say, until June) and see how the potential afghan is progressing (if at all) by the due date, and then decide if an afghan is really feasible for me.

And these are the bags for giveaway:

The one on the left (heart!) is for R.  I stuck some yarn weaving-in needles to the outside with masking tape because I know she needs them and wrote her name on it (so I'd remember which is which - I guess taped-on needles weren't enough?), thus the heart.  Also because I love her!  The other bag is for charity.  Either a thrift shop, or I was thinking I might post it up on Ravelry to see if anyone local wants it for charity knitting.  I'd ship it, but y'know... it's the size of a big bag of trash, soo...

So, that is the current state of my yarn!  If you, or anyone you know lives in Southern Idaho and would like to pick up a mish mash box of mostly wool (some vintage) yarn for free, let me know!  Or if anyone within the US would like to pay for shipping to get free yarn!  Shipping is not extraordinarily cheap (although the box would be lightweight because yarn isn't heavy), so keep that in mind.  Still, the yarn is completely free to you apart from shipping.  I can do surgery on the trash bag and extract some of it's contents (since I'm nearly quite sure no one wants to pay the hundred bucks to ship the whole bag), also I have more to give away that's not even in the bag!

Srsly.  Lemme know.

For now, that's all.  I hope your week is off to a simply splendid start!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Down to Earth, the new book by Rhonda Hetzel

borrowed from: down to earth
One of my favorite bloggers of all time, Rhonda Hetzel from the Down to Earth blog, has a new book coming out!  It's been a long time coming for her and oh, how beautiful it looks.

Her blog is just lovely.  She very thoughtfully writes about how she and her husband have changed their lives to live more simply, and how you might do the same.  Some of my favorite posts from her have been about things like her housekeeping routine, keeping backyard chickens, and how to make cold processed soap.  I specifically remember one post in which she said something like... "There's no need to feel a sense of urgency where your housework is concerned.  You don't need to rush around, trying to get everything done all at once because the fact is that your housework will never be done.  There will always be another dish to wash, another spill on the kitchen floor that requires mopping.  So, just keep working at it and do what you can in a day so you won't get burnt out."

That's a total paraphrase, but it had such an impact on me.  As messy as my house is, I'm a die hard perfectionist and I apply my perfectionism most harshly to my home.  Ironically, I think that's one reason it gets so out of hand.  Because I work really, really hard to make it absolutely perfect and then, the next day, there's more laundry to do and more dishes and more dirt on the floor!  And I end up giving up, because it can never be perfect.

Rhonda has taught me that life isn't perfect.  And I remember her words, so that every day, I just try to keep working at it.  Not to worry that I probably won't get ALL the laundry done and all the floors swept and mopped and vacuumed and the bathroom spotless and every other thing I need to do so that the house looks like a page from Country Living Magazine.  Because, if I'm working, and if I just keep working it will all get done.  It just won't all get done today, and maybe not tomorrow, but possibly by the day after that, or maybe a little later.  But getting it all done at once is no longer the goal.  Accepting the role of continually keeping the house, continually working to make our lives better, that is the goal.

Rhonda, and her blog, are a complete inspiration for me and I find myself, especially on my most down-trodden-of-feelings days, returning there, reading and rereading her posts, and finding that I'm not alone.  And that it's okay to be perfectly normal.

So, you should really, really go check out her post about pre-ordering her new book, "Down to Earth - a guide to simple living".  She gives you a few pictures, tells you where you can pre-order the book, and provides a link to the Penguin website where you can "Look Inside" at the table of contents and the first couple pages of the book.  Oh, it's just beautiful, it really is.  You know how I love pictures and these pictures are truly lovely.

I'm super excited to get my copy when it comes out!  I just know it will be wonderful.  I love Rhonda's simple, concise style of writing and I can't wait to see how it's been applied to a book format.

Check her blog out, too!  You'll fall in love, I promise.  With chickens and gardening, knitting and mending and preserving and baking bread and making soap.....

And if you haven't already, I'll bet you'll even start to ask yourself how these things could be possible for you to do and that's a slippery slope I'm so excited for you to tumble down!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Simple inspiration!

borrowed from: batty kitten
This is my kind of sewing room.

I love getting inspiration from pictures of other people spaces.  As far as this one is concerned, my hopes are certainly not so lofty as the great minimalism contained herein, but I do hope to obtain a space as clear, and clean and decluttered as this.  Whenever I feel like I just cannot give something away (but I know I need to), I come back to this.

I like the white, first of all.  I'm a super huge lover of light wall colors, especially white.  I also like the lighting.  It seems really bright, even though the room appears to be in a basement.

When simplifying our lifestyle (particularly the home and stuff parts of our lifestyle), I love to troll the internet for inspiration.  Not so that my home will look like a page from a magazine.  I'm not sure I'll have be able to achieve such a lofty goal.  But just so that I can feel like other people do this, too!  Other people have homes like the one I'm working toward.  It just makes the whole thing seem more doable, do you know what I mean?

Does anybody else do this?

If you don't and you're someone -- like me -- who thrives on visual inspiration, then you should try it.


Just don't get any ideas in your head and start thinking you can somehow manage to turn your house into the picture.

On the subject of inspiration to simplify, I give you my #1 source of Mt. Yarn inspiration.

That is, my #1 inspiration to donate a good portion Mt.Yarn!

Minimalist Knitter.

She no longer posts to the Minimal Knitter blog, but you can still read the archives and they are great, imo.  Instead she's moved to another location: She Makes Hats and boy, does she!  This lady is busy, busy, busy.

There is so much inspiration information where she's concerned, I'm telling you!  Check out these posts from Minimalist Knitter:

The Minimalist Knitter: The Plan
Ditch the stash: five tricks for getting rid of all that yarn you don't use
On minimalist knitting
How I do what I do
Taking control of my stash
Knitting through 1 bag of yarn
Five tips for when minimalism sucks

I want to talk more about all that I've gleaned from her experience,)along with her Minimalist Knitter Handbook (if you haven't seen it, it's free and I'll give you a link in another post) but I'm saving it for later.  So, that's all for now.  But, seriously, visit her blogs and take some time going over what she has to say.  In a world where a knitter's stash is everything, it was definitely revolutionary to me when I first started reading and thinking about giving up my precious treasure.

I know I promised pictures of Mt. Yarn yesterday, but this post got in the way.  I have found simplifying (minimalism) to be so incredibly rewarding thus far and I'm just so excited to find out what's around the corner next!  So, stay tuned.  Pictures will be coming on Monday, I promise.

In the meantime, I wonder if you might ask yourself: is anything that you, like me, are hoarding in your life?

Yarn, fabric, dishes, clothes, shoes, even bathroom products and toiletries are all common areas where clutter collects(they certainly are for me!).  Does your excess in this/these areas of your life enhance the way you live?  Do they make you happier, and I mean, like, really happier?

Do think about it and get back to me in the comments section.  I'm willing to bet you wouldn't even miss that pair of heels you never wear, or the coconut scented shampoo that's been left unopened for a year.  Consider tossing a few things into a box for charity.  Go through your cookbooks, the shoes that hang out in your closet (full time), or the utensils drawer in your kitchen.

I'll be back on Monday with the promised pictures!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Simple Vintage and tackling Mt.Yarn!

borrowed from: thompson family
Just dropping in!  I have Transnational Lit. in an hour or so, so I simply cannot stay!

I think this picture might be getting close to a sort of simplified vintage, don't you think?  I mean, a way that I might accomplish simple-homey-vintage-love  I love, love, love the color palette!  And the round pillows, but I need more pillows like I need a hole in the head.  Oh well, it's good inspiration.

I've been ripping out old, unfinished knitting projects all morning.  Some of them are actually finished, but the fit is all wrong.  The others I just know I'll never finish.  And I'd love to donate finished, gently used knitted (100% wool) items to somewhere like Afghans for Afghans, but I'm pretty sure they don't take them.  It's a shame really, since I have quite a few and they are genuinely in nice shape.

However, I do remember how people viewed used items in South Korea.  There were thrift shops and secondhand stores, but they weren't really considered clean and people who shopped there were certainly considered a little bit off, maybe even "dirty", which has a connotation all it's own in Asian societies.  So, I wonder if the reason they don't take used items could be something like that.


I tackled Mount Yarn for the first time last night.  I started WAY too late in the day and didn't nearly finish, plus I was tired so my ability to be at all objective or ruthless was significantly impaired.  Still, I got two trash bags filled for give away!  One is going to the Mister's sister, the other is going to charity, or to Saver's (did you know they give you a 20% off coupon when you donate!?  I just found out..).  For now, I still have way too much yarn, but I did what I could.  I'll work on it more, maybe this afternoon after class or tomorrow.

I knew it would be difficult with the yarnage.  More difficult than the fabric was.  For some reason, I'm quite attached to wool.  It's more expensive than fabric, maybe that's why.  Or maybe I'm just a little irrational when it comes to knitting.  That might be closer to the truth.

I still own a forty gallon plastic storage bin, stocked completely full, and then a smaller plastic storage bin (4-5 gallons?) full of small, single balls of yarn.  Bits that I only have bits of.  I've got a mind to start an afghan with them, but I could see that going awry...  Plus even a little more than that, and all the things I'm ripping out (although a portion of that is definitely going to be given to charity).

Anyhow, I need to finish unraveling this capelet thing I have strung out all over me so I can get ready for class.  I did take pictures of the yarn disaster and I'm planning on sharing them tomorrow, though, so pop back in for that!  I'm hoping to do a before and after bit with the giant sewing/knitting/all-things-crafting room, Mount Yarn, and the new little sewing area in the living room.  Once I get it all done, that is.

Have a beautiful Friday!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The problem of vintage

borrowed from: la woman

I love vintage.

Anything vintage, really.

Dishes, tablecloths, sheets (I have several dresses that I've made from vintage sheets), curtains, furniture, artwork, dresses... the list goes on.

And this wouldn't be a problem... except that I just seem to keep piling the vintage on.

It seems to me that many vintage-lovers also tend to be vintage hoarders.  No, not Hoarders-the-TV-show type hoarders, but people who keep-keep-keep just the same.  It's true.

Yes, it is true that I.. may or may not be... one of those people who will buy vintage bits and pieces just because they're pretty, just because they're cute, or even just because they're old.  I'm not usually thinking about where I'll put when I walk out of the store with it in my hand.  Or maybe I'll have every intention of giving it away to someone else, but if I'm honest with myself -- really, really honest -- I know that, a.) I don't need it (even if it's for someone else), and b.) just bringing it into my home makes my life more complicated than it needs to be.

Check out these photos I got from googling, "vintage rooms":

borrowed from: country living

borrowed from: bellz & whistlez

Those are such beautiful rooms, aren't they?  And I know some people (most?), would be fine as far as the stuff factor in each of these rooms.  But for me, beautiful as they are, it just feels like too much.  And that's how so many vintage styled houses and rooms tend to be.  Lots of stuff, cute little things, pictures, and books -- all of them so fun and beautiful to look at.  And all of them there.  Together.  In once small space.

I used to look at pictures online and in magazines, and think some of the same things I think about these two photos: beautiful! So fun, with such inspiring pieces.  And I love how people will mix and match different vintage eras and somehow still come up with a really cohesive room.

Loving this style, as I do, I just assumed that continually adding more and more cute, vintage "stuff" to my home was the only way to achieve it.  That somehow continually layering and layering on new pieces and textures was the only way I could truly be happy.  I'm very visual, and pictures like these have an incredible appeal to me.

But simplifying your home isn't just about the way things look.

Because the way my house looks affects the way I feel.  About my life, about my space, even about my relationships with other people (namely, the Mister!).  Being as visual as I am means that I tie pictures to my emotions and feelings, and vice versa.  And what I came to discover is that even if we had as many beautiful, intriguing bits and pieces layered around the house as one of the above pictures, I was still not going to get the same feeling from my own surroundings as I got from a photo.

No.  Instead, being a naturally messy sort of person, I was going to get the opposite effect!  A disaster!  Because a messy person + too many belongings = a giant mess of too many belongings!

So, a dilemma has arisen.  How to combine my vintage loves with the absolute necessity of paring my lifestyle down (dramatically, for me)?  I don't really have any reference for that look.

I'm decidedly not into stark.  This photo,

borrowed from:

while, indeed, beautiful (that is one of my favorite shades of yellow), is not something I could get behind.  So, the traditional "minimalist" look is out.

I thoroughly understand why other people would want this look, and, of course, to each their own, but it's not for me.  I love the homey feel of soft, pretty curtains, an old (but well kept) couch, a handmade touch, some throw blankets.  I love pictures on the wall, and even a few throw pillows (what kind of simpleton am I?!) for texture.

This may change, of course.  As we continue along the path of simplifying.  I fully expect change, and I'm excited about it.  So, if I do decide, someday, to let go of my last throw pillows and afghans, then that will be that.  In the meantime, however, I still need to keep some of these things that inspire me and make me love our tiny little house and the lives we live within it.

So, what I'm saying is, I think simplifying a home looks different for different people.  For some, that picture above, of the stark house overlooking the ocean just encompasses all their minimalist hopes and dreams.  For me -- and for the mister, too (I think I can speak for him) -- I've got to find a middle ground.  Somewhere between the traditional "vintage" look with lots and lots of layers and the traditional minimalist look -- spare and slick, with plenty of hard, unyielding surfaces.

What does all this mean for us?

We've really just begun to tackle the madness that is our little house, and it's still pretty overwhelming.  While I've mostly got my sewing and general craft supplies under control, my yarn still has a life of it's own.

So, right now I guess it means I need to go start tackling the GINORMOUS Mount Yarn in the former sewing/knitting/all-things-crafting room.  Oh!  And the old wooden box of yarn in the living room.  Mmhm.  And the wicker basket under the blue chair that's full of sock yarn... and don't forget the other wicker basket full of dishcloth cotton beneath the end table and, of course, the one that houses all my odds and ends at the corner of the couch...

And guess what?  About 80% of my yarn is vintage!  Like I said.  A tendency to hoard.

If anybody knows of any charities that will accept 100% wool yarn, puh-leaze let me know ASAP.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Join us as we take our first steps to a simpler lifestyle!

borrowed from: reSPACEd

In late 2009, just 3 weeks after tying the knot, the mister and I packed up everything we owned and put it in storage, moving with only 2 suitcases a piece, to South Korea.  Our original plan was to get rid of a large portion of our belongings (and the portion was large) to keep our storage needs to a minimum, but with a wedding in the works -- and then the post-wedding exhaustion -- combined with living out of family member's houses for the last month of our time in America, things didn't go exactly as planned.

Korea was incredible, though, and arriving with only what we could cram into our four suitcases made us really evaluate our belongings.  We were on a pretty limited income for the first few months, and that, coupled with a higher cost of living than what we were accustomed to at home, meant that we were simply incapable of accumulating more than we needed.  Very, very carefully and thoughtfully, we prioritized a toaster oven over a microwave, a new skillet over new shoes, and blankets over bath towels.  For the first time, I think I really began to realize how much I valued what I had.  We didn't take these simple things for granted anymore, because we'd had to wait so long and save up for them.

Of course, by the end of our time there, we were actually quite comfortable (although we'd paid off all our debt!), having acquired a couch and two chairs, a real, sit-down-on-chairs table, a well equipped kitchen, crockpot and water filter pitcher... but the seed was planted.

When we returned to America last March (2011), the original plan (again) was to go through our stored things with a renewed sense of detachment.  We'd only been gone for 18 months, but it was long enough that we knew we weren't as attached to what we'd left behind.  Also, many of our things had been sold in a yard sale due to an apparently huge miscommunication, but that's another story.  We did do a lot of giving away (which I guess is a testament to how much we actually own/owned), filling the whole back seat and trunk of our car, plus a little more. So, we felt good about it.

Flash forward to almost a year later.

We've moved into a small, cozy two bedroom house.  I like small houses.  I really always have.  And this one is the kind of small, cozy house with built in drawers and shelves, where everything is painted white.  It even has little turquoise knobs on all the cabinets and drawers!  I love this house (apart from the earth worms in the kitchen during summer, and the ants, and the mold... but I do love it!).

At first, our little house was the perfect size!  We even had empty cabinets and drawers leftover in the kitchen when we were done packing.  It was cozy, just as we'd hoped, and not overly furnished.  We picked up a very inexpensive, (pink!!) vintage couch at the thrift store, as well as a couple of living room chairs.  We crammed our king sized bed into the smaller of the two bedrooms and I set up my sewing/knitting/all-things-crafting room in the second, larger bedroom.  It was perfect!

...................but things just kept coming in!

First there were the five or six boxes we forgot we'd left at the mister's parents house.  Then the fabric and yarn my mom found, still in her garage.  Plus more fabric and yarn that she was decluttering (taking it off her hands seemed like such a good idea at the time!).  And we love thrift store shopping.  It's so cheap, right?!  It's such a good deal!!

Oh, take that smug look off your face.  It can be a good deal!

We started school in August.  Mister went back to get a BA in computer science.  I went back to... find myself.  At 28.  Because this is America, okay?  And for other, more complicated reasons.

We had plans to cook at home.  I had plans to finally learn to keep house.

But, I am telling you, the stuff just kept walking in like it owned the place.  Before we knew it, we both felt like we were drowning.

To be perfectly honest, it seemed to be mostly my stuff; sewing/knitting/crafting... but now that that's gone, I guess it's both of us.  Like the two colanders in the kitchen.  And our shared closet, packed full of clothes.

I've felt the urge to completely declutter my life since I was in high school.  I always thought there just had to be a better way.  But as I got older it started to feel like being an adult meant that there would inevitably be more stuff and I just needed to accept it.  So, I tried.

Then Christmas break came this year and I was just sick of it.  My side of the family did what we called, "Homemade/Second-hand Christmas" this year.  Everyone, including extended family, hopped on board and, at the end, everyone agreed it was the best Christmas we'd ever had!  It was tons of fun.  But, by the end of it, our house was a wreck.

I've never been good at keeping things clean.

And this time was no different.  Despite cleaning the house on Christmas Eve-eve (the day before Christmas Eve), stuff was just everywhere.  The sewing pile from the oven mitts I'd made for extended family, the pile of printable Christmas tags that were leftover, packaging from gifts, wrapping paper.  But not all of it was seasonal.  A lot of it was just STUFF.

From a very young age, my room has been a mess.  I'm a sentimental keeper of... all things, really.  Seriously, in one purge, I found this crazy-scary-dagger-knife thingy that had belonged to my grandpa.  So, I had kept it for quite a while.  Because I totally needed a crazy-scary-dagger-knife.  It was my grandpa's!

It's not like this situation was new.  It's just that, this time, I was finished with it being my reality.

I started reading some of the simple living blogs that I google sometimes when I want to gain momentum to organize my clutter (which means shoving stuff I don't need into pretty baskets), but this time I started reading them with a dark sense that they were meant for me.

I read Organized Simplicity, by Tsh Oxenreider.  It was invigorating.  And I dare say, it may have changed everything.

I hope it changed everything.

So far, we've taken one full load of STUFF to the thrift store.  Our back seat is, right now, stuffed to the brim with the next load, waiting to be taken.  Our trunk is, too.  Tomorrow is my first day back at school for the Spring semester and I am actually feeling pretty good about this!  Our house has been STAYING clean!  And it feels like it's been doing it all on it's own.

I always read that decluttering was addictive, that once you got going, you just gained momentum and kept going.  Well, I think I'm addicted.

My sewing/knitting/craft room is almost completely done and I now own about one third of the sewing/crafting supplies I did before.  My yarn and knitting supplies have yet to be purged (I'm terrified of that PILE), but they will be soon.

So, this is the story of me and the mister, living in a tiny house, with aspirations to make it feel less and less tiny.

I am loving the feeling I get from being in a house that keeps itself clean!  I may never be a minimalist, and I'll never be perfect, but I am determined to find out what it means to be me and to live a simpler lifestyle.