Decluttering by making time for projects: Here’s a cross-stitch portrait of Justin Timberlake

jt hoop

I’m bringing cross-stitch back

Sometimes you keep a “Cross-Stitch Crazy” magazine for 10 years because there’s a pattern in it for a portrait of a celebrity that your sister-in-law is hopelessly devoted to. I think we keep things like this to buy time. We think if we have the things for projects we want to do someday, then that someday will come. We’ll live long enough to find the time to do all the things we’ve ever wanted to do. And when that time comes, by golly, we’ll have the pattern for it.

It was way back in February, during a week my mom was visiting, that I decided to go to Michael’s and pick up the 15 shades of embroidery floss I needed to make this thing a reality. It was so long ago, I honestly don’t remember whether there was something specific that made me finally pull the trigger other than my general drive to “make time for projects” that I’ve been riding ever since reading “The Happiness Project.”

jt close up

The whole thing took about 9 months to complete (yes- like a baby for people who get to have full-term pregnancies…). I worked at it while we did movie nights so I wouldn’t fall asleep 20 minutes into the show like I usually do.  I took it to craft night events. It was ridiculously difficult to not say anything about it on social media. It was the longest and most intensive craft project I’ve ever completed. And I can cross-stitch now! Right after I finished this project, I quickly churned out another SSDGM hoop for my book-club secret Santa. (Bloody alphabet pattern from Starkissed Jade on etsy & flower pattern from this image I found on Pinterest... don’t know where it originated from…) It’s also like I didn’t know what to do with my fingers once the portrait was done… And MFM hoops are SO IN RIGHT NOW.

ssdgm hoop

Cross-stitching is oddly addictive. It’s like checking off a million boxes on a to-do list. I’d always be like- yeah I’ll go to bed once I’m done with this row but then I’d be like OMG I GET TO START A NEW ROW!

A few days before I finished the Justin Timberlake project, my son threw up on the pattern (the pattern in the magazine, not the project). So then I did part with that magazine. I don’t know what I would have done with it if that hadn’t happened… I’m afraid I might have still held onto it for nostalgia’s sake- or maybe I would have cut out the pattern and put it in my art journal…

But anyway- I write about this thing I made and let go of on the day when I’ve acquired so much more stuff, including a sassy little Chromebook I’m writing this post on. (My old computer stopped working with WordPress so I had to abandon blogging even more than I already abandon it.) It was so awesome to be able to give a Christmas present I’ve been meaning to give someone for 10 years (I didn’t actually get to see her open it since she lives like 3,000 miles away. It was still absolutely worth it). If any of you are holding onto something for the same reason, I highly recommend you make like Nike and just do it. “I haven’t done anything with it in 10 years” might not be a good reason to get rid of something. If you think about why you’ve kept it for so long- maybe it’s worth it to you to make the time to use it.  You can declutter by making time for your projects.

smile selfie jt

And Merry Christmas!




Twin Peaks Tuesday: Log Lady Style

It’s a long-term goal I have to cultivate my own spin on Margaret Lanterman’s look. My husband got my first signature piece- the wooden leaf and acorn brooch. This is actual vintage from the nineties (I am crying about how old that just made me feel!!!). The only ones I can find are on Etsy and Ebay. I wore it with my squirrel/mushroom dress from ModCloth which I can’t believe doesn’t also have acorns on it. Also… I guess it’s fall now. The fall is not what it seems here in sunny SoCal.

***picture from Variety who credits ABC

(Almost the same pin, right??)

I got new glasses and I legit tried to find some red-rimmed ones but no luck. Warby Parker doesn’t have any either… Does anyone know of any other online glasses retailers that they trust? I like these but I’m kinda afraid of “” Oh well, I’ll just take my time. The fish aren’t running.

Twin Peaks Tuesday: Elevator Rules

This is not a speech blog, but I am a speech therapist. One of the many things that falls under my scope of practice is “pragmatics” or the functional and social use of language. I very often have to explicitly teach students “hidden social rules” or expected behaviors that most of us seem to learn without trying (like personal space, staying on topic, waiting your turn to talk, facing the person you’re listening to, etc). I usually start with a discussion about which way you face in an elevator. Did anyone ever tell you that, when you walk into an elevator, you’re supposed to turn around and face the door? Of course not- but how do you know to do it? It’s a “hidden” rule.

So I freaked out when Dougie got into an elevator for the first time during season 3 of Twin Peaks, facing the wrong way (and breaking some other social rules too). And then some genius edited 2 elevator scenes together for me and posted it on YouTube. They do say “damn” so I only play this for high schoolers- and even then, I either talk over that part or pause and skip over it. But it’s so much more effective than just talking about an elevator. And I get to watch Twin Peaks for work!

I’m always on the lookout for appropriate-for-school YouTube clips that involve people breaking social rules or using obvious non-verbal communication. I do a whole Elf unit around Christmas time. (The Dabbling Speechie has a blog post with links to several clips all in one place plus sample activities!) So finding a Twin Peaks clip to add to my collection was awesome.

No one wants chicken pudding so just stop it.

America’s Test Kitchen gets it right in their “Slow-Cooker Revolution” book. Avoid putting chicken in a slow-cooker- but if you have to, cook it on low for no more than 4 hours. Chicken breast cooks in an oven between 25-40 minutes so what are you even doing? When I first got a slow-cooker eighty billion years ago (ok maybe 12 years ago…), I think there was a misunderstanding that you couldn’t cook anything on low for less than 6 hours. If you were cooking for only 4 hours, it had to be on high, no matter what. There were other misunderstandings like pasta and rice could be thrown in with the rest of the ingredients and not turn into chicken pudding for dinner time.** Or that vegetables would maintain their color after cooking for hours in brown liquid. Or that anything “slow-cooked” would have a delicious melt-in-your-mouth quality. Or that slow-cookers are for busy people (and require little to no prep/planning).

Anyway- I found a yellow curry chicken recipe for this weekend and I was happy to see it recommending 4-5 hours of cooking on low. But it also recommended putting in bell peppers and letting them cook that whole time. I knew a little better and put them in for the last hour. That’s also too long… they totally disintegrated.

I still ended up with an Instagram-worthyish bowl… but look at those sad pepper bits… poor things.

The only vegetables that belong in a slow-cooker are anything you’d leave on a stove forever in a soup- onions, carrots, celery, potatoes. Anything else is lies (including already-cooked canned beans in chili- that is wrong!!!) Unless you stick it in for the last 15-30 minutes or so- but you’re using a slow-cooker bc you’re out doing important things so who has time for that?

Anyway- there are as many crappy slow-cooker recipes on the internet as there are cat videos. I feel the need to put it out there- slow-cookers can turn the crunchiest carrots into almost-purée so think twice before putting anything less hardy in that pot. Even if your recipe says so.

Also, btw- this is not a food blog.

**I’m going to break my own rule just for history and palate purposes- here’s an actual recipe from a book we used 12 years ago:

Put COOKED RICE in your slow cooker for 6-8 HOURS???!!!! With bell peppers and canned beans…. What is wrong with you?

Here’s the book that you don’t need to buy unless you need kindling:

Crockery indeed.

Also this soup

Make this and love it:

Italian Vegetable Soup from Barefeet in the Kitchen. The link goes to a recipe that doubles the recipe in the fabulous “Weeknight Dinner Cookbook” (buy it now omg you need it if you eat food). I made it tonight with half ground beef and half Italian sausage. We ate it with crusty bread and red wine…. I also added wine to the soup…. I’m freezing half and we’ll eat it again in a few weeks. I like to think I make dinner for myself weeks in advance… OMG SO good. It’s like spaghetti sauce and veggies. Only better than that sounds. It’s awesome and also a freezer meal you actually want to eat. Great for bringing to new moms (who aren’t vegan). I say that mainly bc I would love someone to make this for me (for any reason really- I’m a mom to a four year old- does that count? It should. We should all make each other soup.).

And while I’m here- I refuse to stage my recipe pictures bc it sets up unrealistic expectations. Nobody lives in natural lighting and perfectly clean countertops 24/7. And this isn’t a food blog. And it’s my blog so I can do whatever I want!!

Also- I refuse to type up or copy/paste other people’s recipes onto my blog. Did you know that you can’t copyright a recipe? So people who write recipes are just super vulnerable to all kinds of other people copying their work and claiming it’s theirs! I will only post a recipe if its author has posted it on his or her own website already and I can link to it. Because to do otherwise is douchey. Stay classy, ppl.

Twin Peaks Tuesday: The Secret Planner of Laura Palmer

FOUND: The secret planner of Laura Palmer. We all know Laura had secrets. One of them was that she couldn’t say no and must have found herself way over-committed. But look how cute her drawings are! She understandably had a hard time finding a sticker set to match her unique needs. Even with her busy schedule, she still found time to make her planner pretty.

Being here now with celebrities

Sometimes in Los Angeles you get second chances to say something to famous people who have truly meant something to you. And when that happens you can only hope they are as gracious and authentic as Miss Miranda July. You can also hope that you’re wearing a dress for the first time that you bought that day so it will forever be your Miranda July dress. You can hope that it is black and can be dressed up and dressed down and that it’s comfortable and flattering. Because then your Miranda July dress will become a staple in your wardrobe. And you’ll feel like she’s there with you all the time, reminding you to be present, to create without fear of judgment, to be as honest and authentic as possible, to be as kind to yourself as possible and to collect odd and gorgeous moments with both strangers and loved ones.

(Thank you, Alicia, for making me talk to her.)

Twin Peaks Tuesday: By god, those things will be silent now!

I sometimes get very passionate about something and when I do, I think I might come off like Nadine talking about drapes.

After we visited Snoqualmie, WA this summer, my husband and I felt compelled to watch the entire Twin Peaks again from the pilot on (for the 3rd time? Maybe 4th?). We also wanted to evangelize about it to my mom and sister… they seemed to be into the first 3 episodes but I don’t think it took.

Anyway- I’ve been obsessing about this exchange between Nadine and Norma from episode 2 ever since. Watching TP with people who’ve never seen it before is fun because you get to watch their reactions and remember your own first reactions. Nadine is super creepy at first because you don’t know what her whole deal is. She’s so volatile. You don’t know if you should laugh at her or be terrified.

Norma: Hi, Nadine

Nadine: What are you doing here, Norma?

Norma: I could ask you the same question.

Nadine: And I will tell you. I’ve gotten all new drapes for my house. Ed bought’em for me yesterday at Gentleman Jim’s and we installed’em together. They’re a beige sheer. I was up all last night. Do you know what I was doing?

Norma: No, I don’t.

Nadine: I was inventing a noiseless, completely silent drape runner. And do you know how it works? Do you know what makes it work? The thing I thought of at four this morning when I was waiting for my husband to be released from intensive care? Cotton balls. By god, those things will be silent now.

It makes perfect sense to me that Dr. Jacoby gets to her with his own passionate declarations on the internet in season 3.

By the way- can someone please make me some golden shovel earrings? I couldn’t find them on Etsy!! You crafters are missing an opportunity!

Decluttering by using your stash- or why I wrote a lot of letters

Taking Brooke’s advice, I’ve been decluttering small areas of my apartment. I’ve done the kitchen gadget basket, my desk, the pantry, my sock drawer and our stationery box. Our stationary box started out as one of those sets of greeting cards you get at Michael’s with a few for every purpose. We’ve added and added and added to it over the years and I discovered we had an absurd amount of stuff in there- stuff we didn’t even know we had.

So to thin it out a bit, I put out a call for addresses on the internet for people who wanted some happy mail. Decluttering by using it up. Probably not an effective idea for decluttering an entire apartment but something to consider for those things you’ve held onto because you think you’ll use them someday. Prove it to yourself and use it! Last summer, I did some decluttering reading- actually reading books I’ve kept because I thought I’d read them someday. In my mind, this is a combination of the decluttering philosophies I’ve dabbled in and also an item on the long list of ways to be happy in Gretchen Rubin’s “The Happiness Project”- make time for projects.

Keeping things to use eventually makes you live longer. That’s absolutely not at all true, but it’s something I think we tell ourselves. We buy the coloring books for when we’ll have time to relax, the blank books for when we have time to write, the boogie board for when we’ll have time to go to the beach with other people who can watch our kid, the hiking shoes for when we’ll go spend time in nature like we should… And this kind of clutter makes you anxious because it reminds you of things you want to do that you haven’t been able to make time for. When you go on a trip, you pack based on your expectations of what you’ll spend your time doing- and I almost always overestimate the time I’ll have to do things and end up shaking my head at the second novel I packed or the pair of heels meant for a fancy dinner out. Limiting your stuff can also feel like limiting your time- you’re acknowledging the time you actually have and not the time you want to have.

So anyway- using things I have as a way to declutter makes me feel fantastic not just because it creates space for other things, but it honors the intention I had when I acquired the thing. And it helps me be realistic about the time I’ll have to use other things I see online or in a store.

I got eleven requests for letters and had so much fun using up these things I’ve been holding onto. Here’s some pictures of stuff I made:

I still have an absurd amount of postcards so, internet, feel free to send me your address and I’ll mail you one: I will delete your information once I’ve addressed your postcard.

Have you decluttered by using your stuff? Tell me about it in the comments! Or send me an email. 🙂 Happy living your life with the stuff you meant to use!

P.s. Joy the Baker linked to a BBC article about how there’s a Japanese word for buying reading material and leaving it in unread stacks: tsundoku

P.p.s. I LOVE Joy the Baker. Here recipes are kicka$$ and her “Let it Be Sunday” posts are how I read the internet now if I’m gonna be honest.