I’ve been a member of Amazon Prime for years—well over a decade, I’m sure. I first joined when pretty much the only benefit was free two-day shipping (and it cost $79 annually). Now the price is up to $99 but to me it’s an amazing bargain. The free shipping is great. But they have added some benefits that make the $99 expenditure well worth it, even you never have a thing shipped.
I’m a big advocate of giving gifts that won’t create clutter and Amazon Prime fits the bill. (Except, of course, that it would make it easy for the recipient to acquire more physical stuff…but at least that stuff wouldn’t be a hard-to-part-with gift.)
In case you’re not aware, I’ll spell out the Amazon Prime benefits. It provides so many options for accessing information and entertainment, all for $99 a year.
In the past, you couldn’t give Amazon Prime as a gift. But in 2013 that changed. Click here to purchase Amazon Prime as a gift. Of course, one downside to purchasing a subscription as a gift is that the recipient has to re-up (or you choose to keep giving the gift). If your recipient is using the benefits of Amazon Prime, though, they may be more than happy to renew their subscription.
I see a whole lot of gift wrap in my clients’ homes. Christmas wrap, in particular, seems to take on a life of its own in my clients’ basements near their holiday decorations.
Storing gift wrap seems to be a perennial challenge for people. Here are some ideas for making it easier:
I love a beautifully wrapped gift as much as the next guy. But I try hard not to accumulate a large collection of wrap. With gift wrap (as in other items, like cosmetics), the more you have, the harder it is to use.
One of my refrains around any holiday is urging folks to give the gift of experiences, not stuff. I see how gifts can so easily become clutter, because people tend to resist discarding anything they received as a gift.
So I was really pleased to get an email from SpareFoot about their recent study that found that most people don’t use the gifts they receive and that 81% would rather receive experiences.
Here’s an infographic summarizing the study results:
For the nitty-gritty details, you can read the complete results of the SpareFoot Holiday and New Year Survey conducted by Wakefield Research.
The study comes from SpareFoot.com, the place to find the best deals on self-storage and full-service storage via their blog post, This holiday season, Americans want experiences, not stuff.
These are tumultuous times for many people in the U.S. I think that no matter what is going on around us, we benefit from focusing on the things that we can be grateful for. My brother, Larry, is visiting me from Brisbane, Australia, and he and I were discussing how science shows that a gratitude practice leads to a longer life. Here’s an article that details some of the benefits of gratitude.
Toward that end, I thought I’d continue my tradition of writing a Thanksgiving post about the things that I am grateful for:
There is always so much in life to be grateful for, if we’re looking for it. Sometimes I have to remind myself to step back and take stock of those things. For the rest of the year, I’m going to redouble my efforts to write a daily gratitude list. I know it will help me meet whatever challenges might be ahead.
On Monday, I reposted a 2009 post about the patchwork quilt I started knitting ten years ago. It took me two years to finish knitting the 63 squares. A year later, with the help of friends, I figured out a pretty layout for the squares and seamed them together. (I used only 48 of the 63 squares.) I started a knitting a binding around the edge. And that’s where the project stalled.
I bet I hadn’t touched the afghan since 2010. That’s when I placed it in a bag and put it in the closet because (a) knitting the applied i-cord binding was unbearably tedious and (b) I didn’t even know what I was going to do with the afghan when I was finished.
All that changed about a month ago. My knitting group now meets at the City Sewing Room a wonderful place for people who sew to use sewing machines (and other sewing accoutrements) and get advice. You can also have alterations and special projects sewn for you there. On October 19 when I was there, I saw that Anne, the owner, was sewing a flannel backing to a knitted baby blanket. My antennae immediately went up.
With the encouragement of my crafty friends who were there—and who helped me lay the afghan out way back in 2009—I talked with Anne about the possibility of her sewing a flannel backing on my much larger afghan. She said that wouldn’t be a problem. When I lamented that I still needed to finish knitting the binding, she mentioned that she could sew a flannel binding on. Sold! In no time, I ripped out the binding I’d already knitted. It felt great.
Two weeks later, I’d purchased and washed flannel and brought it to Anne, along with the clean and blocked afghan. I now have a beautiful, cozy afghan I can sleep under in bed or lie under on the couch. Last evening I used it as a lap blanket.
Here are a couple of photos. It feels like a miracle.
I got to thinking about how this happened and realized the key:
Impossible projects become possible when you enlist the help of experts.
For me, binding that afghan and then figuring out how to make is useful (it’s wool and too itchy to use without some sort of backing) was an insurmountable hurdle. For Anne, it was no big deal, just a few hours work.
The same is true for clutter or all sorts of other projects. My team comes in and, in a few hours, helps clients transform spaces in their home that had felt impossible to tackle on their own.
I am so happy to have this project completed and so glad I found an expert to help me. And I’m very grateful to Anne and my craft sisters for helping me make it happen!
This post was originally published on July 9, 2009. It came to mind because this weekend, when the afghan in question was actually finished. That’s right, seven years later. Check back on Thursday for a post about that, complete with photos of the finished blanket. And don’t let the seven year delay detract from the message of this post!
It’s the rare knitter who enjoys the finishing aspects of their knitting projects. That’s the weaving in of ends, the blocking (soaking or steaming the knit fabric to size), the seaming.
Finishing is the bane of existence for most knitters. And it seems to be real problem for folks who are tackling organizing projects as well. (I count myself in both groups.) I can think of a few reasons:
But the flip side of the coin is the thrill when a project that has gone well is finished. And the time freed up to work on something else (another knitting project, another organizing project, or maybe just something fun).
I’m experiencing the combined tedium and joy of finishing a giant knitting project. As I’ve blogged about before, I started knitting Barbara Walker’s Learn-To-Knit Afghan back in early 2006. It’s comprised of 63 8×8-inch squares, each knit in a different stitch pattern. By the time you’ve finished it, you’ve tasted many different types of knitting.
I got about 48 of the squares done, hit a wall in the Lace section, then put the project down. I picked it up again about a year later when I participated in the Ravelympics, where my goal was to finish the Lace section during the days of the summer Olympics. I actually finished the rest of the squares in that time.
For more than 10 months, those finished squares sat in a stack waiting for me to do something with them. The next step was to lay them out, so that I could seam them into a blanket. I had absolutely no idea how to go about doing that well and lacked the confidence to do it myself. I didn’t want a poor layout to result in an ugly blanket. Plus, I was a little afraid that the seaming itself would be difficult or just plain unenjoyable.
Finally, last month, I sought the help I needed to get past that barrier. I took all 63 squares with me to Michigan on my R&R trip with my crafty girlfriends. And I got some of them to help me layout the afghan. They weren’t daunted at all.
Here’s a photo of the laying out process. It was like putting together a puzzle!
I decided to seam only 48 of the 63 squares, to make a smaller blanket to use on the couch. Once those squares were selected and laid out, I started seaming. I had six columns and eight rows. I started seaming columns, then I sewed columns together.
Here are two of the first squares seamed together:
Here’s a photo of the first column:
And the first pair of columns seamed together:
And the whole thing seamed together:
The next step is weaving in all those ends. Then I’m going to put an applied i-cord border around it. Then I’ll back it with soft fabric, so it’s cozy for using on the couch. And when I’m finished, you can count on my posting a photo!
A finishing job this big somehow seems more than finishing. I’m kind of glad I didn’t consider the enormity of what would have to be done after I’d completed the squares.
This is a great metaphor for all projects, isn’t it? Do it one square at a time. When you’re finished with all the squares, do the next task. Ask for help if you get stymied. Finish that task and then the next. Keep plugging away (even if you take months-long breaks!) and eventually you’ll finish. And, trust me, that’s a thrill and a half.
Ten years ago today, I published my first blog post, called What is organized? It feels like I’ve been blogging forever, but at the same time, those ten years went by quickly!
Since that day, I’ve written 1,155 blog posts. They’re of varying lengths, but I’d say they average 450 words. That’s 517,500 words. The equivalent of four or five books.
That’s interesting—I would have said I didn’t have time over the past ten years to write five organizing books. But clearly I did. That right there, ladies and gentlemen, is the value of doing things a little at a time.
I took a glance at my Google Analytics to see what my most popular blog post is. Hands down, it’s the one called Are you interested in becoming a professional organizer? with 120,000 page views since I wrote in in 2011 (including a staggering 54,000 page views in the last year alone). Clearly plenty of people are interested in becoming professional organizers.
I want to thank the readers of this blog. I appreciate your encouragement and kind words. If you have topics you’d like to see me cover on this blog, please post a comment or send me an email.
In the meantime, I’ll keep trying to publish those two blog posts a week (Mondays and Thursdays). And if you have any interest in genealogy, please check out my other blog, Organize Your Family History, where I try to post Tuesdays and Fridays.