creative habit · Home · Sewing

On Washing Fabric + Just Getting Started


gray buffalo check curtains

I hit a slump a few weeks ago.

My motivation has been low.

My to-do list is multiplying like rabbits.

My neck and back got tweaked after dragging a treadmill down the street and then trying to carry a giant bag of potting soil by myself. (Why do I think I still have the strength of a 20 year old??)

I just wasn’t getting much done.

I thought back to a few bigger projects I’ve worked on recently, trying to figure out what I did exactly to get started.

For my recent PTA audit, I started by sharpening my pencils and printing out spreadsheets.

For a bunch of mending projects I needed to get done, I made a pile of things and placed them next to my sewing box.

Even for writing a blog post, just adding a title to a post and listing a few ideas is often enough to get me started.

Right after I started thinking about big projects in tiny steps, I came across this article about the Ivy Lee Method. It struck me, not because any single project is the most important thing I could do on a particular day (one of the big ideas behind this method), but because of the idea of overcoming the “friction of starting” by focusing on just one single step.

So, for my project today – curtains for BB’s room, something that’s been on my list for TWO YEARS – I started small.

I washed the fabric.

(And yes, I actually wrote “wash fabric” on my to-do list.)

You may recall that we did a few projects in his room a couple of summers ago. I ordered gray buffalo check fabric then to make him some coordinating curtains.

But I just haven’t gotten around to it. It’s shown up on my to-do list every couple of months, but I knew it was going to take a long time (I’m not a very fast seamstress). The thought of making these curtains start-to-finish was overwhelming.

gray buffalo check curtains

But just getting started with the smallest possible step – washing the fabric – was easy.

gray buffalo check curtains

After that, I broke it down into tiny steps that I could do in little bits of time – measure and pin the panels, iron the hems, sew the hems, install the curtain rods, attach the clips, hang the curtains.

gray buffalo check curtains

And then, just like that, it was finished!gray buffalo check curtains


BB got this awesome microscope for his birthday from the Fake Adopted California Grandparents. It’s been SO much fun to look at anything and everything we’ve come across over the last few weeks!

(Confession: Our kids clean their own rooms, but I did some deep cleaning for these photos. It NEVER, I mean NEVER EVER looks like this. He came home and said, “Whoa, Mom! What happened to my room? It looks amazing!” Yeah, don’t get used to it, buddy.)

gray buffalo check curtains

gray buffalo check curtains

Every time I walk by his door, I smile. (Even with the piles of LEGOs back on the floor.)

I LOVE how much brighter and put-together his room looks with the curtains, and I appreciate the daily reminder to break big projects into the next tiny step.

(Next on my list? “Fix finials” – because these mismatched ones on BB’s curtain rods are driving me bonkers!)





creative habit · etsy shop · Jewelry

Doing the Work

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately. Not a sad funk or a discouraged funk or it’s-rained-for-three-weeks-and-I-just-need-some-sunshine funk. I’ve been in a busy funk. Which might be a weird thing to say, because when you’re busy, you’re usually moving and active and getting things done and in sort of the opposite of a funk.

I haven’t felt inspired. Inspired to make things or start projects or even write in my journal. I haven’t felt like I had anything to tell. And I haven’t really had space to tell it if I did. It’s been days and days of drop offs and pick ups and baseball and karate and Target and grocery shopping and taking this here and picking that up there. Most days are go-go-go until I crash at the end of the day.

But then I read a couple of things that made a difference.

The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst came on the hold shelf for me at the library. The subtitle is “Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands” – sound familiar? I am not even halfway through it, but I’m loving this book and making so many notes in my journal from what I’m reading. Here’s one:

“The decisions we make dictate the schedules we keep. The schedules we keep determine the lives we live. The lives we live determine how we spend our souls.”

If I just keep going with the errands and the to-dos and the trying to get ahead, I will never find time to do what I love and what my soul needs – making things, writing, and connecting with my people.

Then, as I was reading Shauna Niequist’s Savor devotional on April 25:

“Get up. Create like you’re training for a marathon, methodically, day by day.”

And this:

“Discipline is not antithetical to creativity; it’s vital to it.”

Discipline! Not waiting around for inspiration. Not getting my other tasks done in order to find time to create. Make time to create and DO IT.

So that Tuesday morning, the day of the week where I have the biggest chunk of time to get things done, instead of tackling my to-do list and running here and there trying to squeeze in more productivity, I blocked off my calendar for “create”. I started Pandora, sat down at my workspace, and made stuff for two hours.

rainbow earrings

It was awesome. I made some pretty things, I got lots of new ideas, and I felt the funk begin to slide away. Instead of waiting to be inspired to get to work, I got to work and was inspired.

The thing is, this isn’t a new revelation for me. I KNOW this, really. (I did a whole 31 Days Series on it a few years ago.) But when life gets busy (or even just funk-y), I can’t figure out why I’m not doing the things I want to do. I lose focus. I get sidetracked. I forget.

So I made a tiny little life hack: I added “Create” to the calendar on my phone and I set it to repeat. So I will have a reminder that pops up to spend some DISCIPLINED time doing the work I want to do. And I will schedule the other life stuff at other times. Even if it’s just 15 minutes, or even if I have to move it to a different time slot, it’s the beginning of a practice that will help me remember to do things that feed my soul.

And my hope is that by feeding my soul, I will be keeping the funk away, too.

new earring photos

PS – I’ve added the earrings I made last Tuesday to my shop. Click here to see them in all their rainbow-color-ordered glory!

creative habit · five things · Food · Home

Five Things

Hello! Happy Friday!

Not to sound like a broken record, but guess what – illness struck Casa de Beautiful once again. Woohoo! Forget that it’s April, forget that it’s 80 degrees and sunny and we’re wearing shorts and sandals. Bring on the stuffy noses and coughs! (I was thinking maybe it was just allergies – I’ve been struggling for weeks – so I sent BG to school, and she kept telling her teachers, “My mom says I have allergies.” Imagine my surprise when both kiddos woke the next morning with full-blown colds. Whoops!) So on Wednesday, everyone stayed home, got lots of rest, watched movies, slurped soup, and relaxed. It was pretty lovely, and then everyone was ready to go back to school on Thursday. Now we’re cruising into the weekend, ready for some fun! Here are a few things on my mind this week:

rita ortloff

1.Abstract Paintings. So, confession. We’ve lived in our house for almost 3 years, and only BB and BG have any sort of art on their walls. The rest of the house remains bare.  SHAME! I want to start a BIG art project that allows all of us to collaborate – something fun with lots of color. I love this piece by Rita Ortloff – check out her story here and here. (Also loving this piece by Kristy Gammill and this project by Kimberly Duran.)

Only practicing

2. This quote. I found it via A Cup of Jo  (check out the entire post – great inspiring words here), and when I read it, I stopped in my tracks. This is exactly what my brain would have wanted to say here if I were as eloquent as Dani Shapiro. (The quote is from a book, Still Writing. I’m waiting for a copy from the library.)

3. Running. First of all, I am NOT a runner. There was a brief period of my life when I ran (brief as in a few months). And I LIKED it. I liked how calm I was after a run, I liked how strong my body felt, I liked being outside alone in the quiet of the early morning. I even ran a 5K. (Husband likes to tell the story of how, just before the finish line, I turned to him and said, “I’m going to finish! I’m really going to finish!”) But then I stopped. I got a cold and stopped and never started again. Recently, though, I’ve been having warm thoughts about running again. And then I read this article. I’m not making any promises, but I think it might be time to give it another try. Maybe.

cookies 4 3

4. These cookies. Ever since my little ER visit last week, my sweet tooth is back. I cut added sugar from my diet years ago, and I haven’t really missed dessert much. This week, I did. (I’m blaming the antibiotics.) So I went in search of some “paleo-ish” (read: minimal sugar) recipes to help. First, I made these. They were good, but they prompted Husband to say, “Can’t you just add sugar to stuff? These taste so HEALTHY.” (I liked them, and the kids did, too, although maybe more as a “snack” than a “treat”.) Then I made these “milkshakes”. BB and BG are big fans of PB Chocolate Love at Jamba Juice, so I was hoping this would come close. It was pretty good – Husband liked it (“But couldn’t we just add milk? And maybe some chocolate chips?”). Finally, two nights ago, I tried these. OH. MY. GOSH. The BEST gluten-free cookie I’ve had, hands down. I gave Husband a couple to try. His reaction? “Amazing! This is it. This is THE recipe. What’s in them?” Yea! We considered eating the whole pan while the kids slumbered away, but we resisted and saved some for them to try the next day. (I substituted butter for coconut oil, but I’m sure they are amazing either way.)

5. Made me laugh really hard. While Husband attempted to sleep beside me. If laughing is like jogging for your insides, my insides ran a marathon.

What are you up to this weekend? I’m planning a walk with a friend early Saturday morning before we rent a U-Haul to go pick up a chicken coop. That’s right! We aren’t homesteading yet, but the day is coming. A friend is generously giving us their coop, and Husband has cleared out the space in the back yard. I guess it’s time to start researching. Cluck cluck! Hope you have a fun weekend! Thanks for reading.