Clear that Clutter!

I’ve been on a (very slow) decluttering/simplifying kick for a year or two now. It isn’t that I haven’t bought anything in that time (boy, have I!) but I have been trying to look at what I own critically. Our condo is 900 square feet, which isn’t anything to sneeze at, but it feels crowded.

I’ve been taking things to various resale places fairly regularly, and I keep a bag by the front hall closet that is just for stuff to be donated. I generally take books to Fairs Fair, because they’ll give you store credit, I take my nicer clothes to Rewind Consignment (although they refused an awesome pair of boots a couple weeks ago), and everything else, plus the stuff the first two places didn’t take, goes to Value Village. Oh, and I list yarn and fibre in my for-sale-stash on Ravelry!

I had a few things that I thought were worth something to people, more than I’d get at the bookstore, so I decided to dust off my old eBay account!

For the knitters, I’m destashing 3 Rowan magazines, #34, 38, and 40.

For the paper crafters, I’m destashing 3 Magnolia Ink Magazines (the very first 3, I believe).

For Trollbeads fans (or fans-to-be) I’ve got a plain sterling silver bracelet including the basic lock!

Does getting these 7 things out of my house make it feel any less cluttered? Not really, they don’t add up to much total space, but knowing that 7 (more) things are out/on the way out makes me think of knitting – each tiny stitch adds up to a sweater. Maybe in a few more months it’ll be more noticeable!

And do any Calgary friends know if there is any consignment place for home items? Mixing bowls and the like?

Canning Gear – Second Hand!

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If you think you want to get in to canning your own jams, jellies and salsas, or if that’s your bag already, try checking out second-hand stores! I got the entire haul above for $21. That’s 20 jars, plus a giant canning pot complete with jar lifter inside! Each jar was only $0.29 at Value Village. I’m never buying new again!

All the jars are currently running through my dishwasher, along with the ring halves of the lids.

I’ve written about canning a few times, all those posts are here.

!IMPORTANT CANNING INFO!

If you are going to buy jars second-hand, never use the flat half of the lid to can your jams. The disc part only seals once, and if you’re buying used, you don’t know what it was used for before it became yours. After it’s been opened it won’t seal properly again. If you want to keep dry goods (rice, spices, paperclips), feel free to use them, but never use them to can again. I save mine so I can store stuff in jars if I want to, but I make sure to mark all used ones with an X in Sharpie so I don’t mix them up with the fresh lids.

All I need is a pack or two of lids and I’m ready for the summer canning season! P already complains about the number of jars we have in our pantry…. he’ll thank me when they’re full of plum sauce and mango chutney though.

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There was only on of my very favourite pattern – the quilted diamonds. Any jam that goes in the few of those jars that I have stays here.

I already had a pot I use for the boiling-the-jars part of canning, but this one is huge, plus it has the lifter. My old canning pot may turn into a dye pot sometime soon, so it isn’t a waste! Not that a pot that size for $12.99 is a waste either way.

Do you can? You should!

Thrift-a-phobia

I love thrift stores. I love them because they are cheaper, kitschier versions of antique stores, which I also love. I go into thrift stores and I browse the housewares, the furniture, and the books. Notice that clothing never comes in to this equation at all.

Thrifted Sweater Vest

(press the auto-timer button BEFORE the shutter button, and it will work better)

Part of it is the whole ‘used’ thing. Yes, I realize that clothes can be washed, I do it myself a few times a week, but it’s different when it’s my own dirt. For another thing I hate poking through unorganized racks. Just like I love Anthropologie, but the sale rooms intimidate me. My main strategy for shopping at Anthro is to try on things when they’re full price and nicely displayed with coordinating things, and then buy them when they hit the sale room. It’s all just too crammed in together and you have to look through every.single.thing to make sure you haven’t missed anything. The ‘everything crammed together’ reason is one of the main reasons I avoid thrift store clothing. Now, give me a bookstore with books crammed to the rafters 3 rows deep, and I will sit on the floor and sift through every.single.one to make sure I haven’t missed a gem!

It makes me sad that I feel this way about thrift stores because I know so many fashionable people in real life and in blog land that are always wearing awesome outfits, and saying ‘this old thing? Thrift store for $3!’. I love the Anthropologie style, but it isn’t exactly easy on the pocket book, and so many of their pieces are vintage-inspired, I believe that you can dress like an Anthro model entirely from a thrift store, if you have the fortitude.

Neuroses aside, I went to a thrift store the other day with the express purpose of looking through the clothing – to be more exact, the sweaters. I needed sweaters for this sweater scarf I made myself, and the place to get them was the thrift store. I went, took a deep breath, and browsed the ladies’ sweaters. I managed to pick 5 as candidates to be turned into scarves, and I found this awesome sweater-vest. I love a good sweater-vest!

Thrifted Sweater Vest

It was my size, Esprit, and only cost $4.99! And chevrons are all over Pinterest right now, so it must be cool, right?

I found that I could look through the big long racks, and that they weren’t as intimidating as I thought they were. Everything was at least organized by size, and mostly by colour within those sizes. I could walk slowly along the racks and see at least the sleeves/shoulder of each garment, and only pull out the ones with fabrics I liked. This one vest has me excited to go thrifting for clothes. Specifically, I really wanted to do something kicky and Anthro-y and pair it with a cool skirt or patterned blouse, but none of my current skirts went with it (too summery, apart from the one satin one which was too satin-y), and I don’t own any cool printed blouses (we’ll talk about my obsession with Emma Pillsbury’s wardrobe another day).

What’s your favourite thing that you’ve ever thrifted?

Thrifting With Purpose

I love going to thrift stores, junk shops, and antique malls. I love browsing all the STUFF. I could dig through piles of plates and jars and cutlery and buttons and records and all of it all day long. But I shop much much better when I have a project in mind to make with my finds, or an object our house needs. The other day I had a list of a few things I wanted to find, so I went on a tour of 3 thrift stores one morning.

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All this stuff was $14 at the first store I stopped at.

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This group was $5.50 at the next place! And, that spiral-y candleholder in the back was $2 of the $5.50. I know where I’m going first next time.

What was my purpose in buying all these things? Well, it starts with ‘I saw this thing on Pinterest….’ as most craft adventures seem to do nowadays. Here’s a hint:

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Tiered storage trays! Like those china tea cake stands but bigger and more patchwork-y. This is the photo that inspired me so much on Pinterest:

It’s from a fun blog called {a} my world.

I knew I wanted to make one to hold all my glimmer mist sprays on the bottom, and my Stickles glue on the top at least, maybe more. I found way more tart tins than I had planned, and I just kept buying them. One night I was brushing my teeth, thinking about what to do with all the extras, when I realized that our bathroom counter is always cluttered with toothpaste, shaving cream, deodorants, hair gels…. if only we had a little caddy to corral everything!

There is some painting and sanding and scraping that needs to happen before I have finished projects, so I’ll post about them when they’re all done.

Oh, and those wire bail jars aren’t for the storage stands… they’re for sauerkraut, which is a whole other post.

Got a brand ‘new’ bag

I went to a craft fair on Friday. I love craft fairs. I grew up around them, as my mum made teddy bears (and later table linens and Christmas ornaments) and I got to go with her. This fair was one of the big ones, the one held in a huge conference centre, with vendors from all over the country. Some of the people I remember from my childhood are still going, which I find gives a great full-circle feeling to the whole thing.

I bought two things for myself while I was out there, and I am so happy with them, I want to point you guys to the online stores. Today’s item has been used every day since I bought it.

New favourite purse!

I bought this handbag from mined reCreations. I absolutely love it! All the handbags at this booth were made from recycled materials. Mine is an old wool blanket (complete with label!), an old leather jacket, and a tooled leather belt for the strap. The belt is still functional, so you can lengthen and shorten the strap! With it on the biggest size I can wear the bag across my body, which I like doing.

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Seeing the amazing work this lady has done made me think about the pitiful attempts I made at felted sweater purses. I really need to get better at that whole sewing machine thing. I think I donated all those purses to the Goodwill earlier this year when I was having a simplifying fit.

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I am going to love this purse a lot. It feels just right for the winters here too, being a wool blanket. I love that patch pocket on the front, and the leather bottom. Oh, and this lovely detail:

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A gorgeous vintage button on the back! The link way up at the top of post goes to the website, so you can order online. I highly recommend it, this bag feels so well made, and I feel like I’ll have it a long time. This style is the Shearer style.

One of these pictures contains a hint as to what the next post will be about. Another one of my newest favourite things.