Reduce Reuse Recycle Project: Part 4

When we remodelled the kitchen at our old house, the designer made a measurement mistake that made it impossible for us to reuse the old island top on top of the new island base.  We put the countertop in the garage and every once in a while, I would call up our favorite contractor (whose heart is in carpentry) and ask him to build us a base of some sort.  A few years later, we now have a repurposed quartz countertop coffee table!

Basement sitting room

Basement sitting room

He built the base from maple scraps he found at our local Habitat store, and I think it goes beautifully with the dark table top.

We found the auditorium chairs at Wool Hat; the store owners got them from an elementary school somewhere on the eastern plains.  I recovered the seats with fabric from old curtains, and to prevent the chairs from tipping, our contractor gave us some teak slats (saved from a remodelling job at a 1970s house) that we screwed to the base.  The chairs are remarkably comfortable if you are the right size, say a child or a small adult 🙂

And now, the basement really is finished!

Reuse Reduce Recycle Project, Part 3

About a year ago, while waiting for the builders to start construction, I started making curtains for the new house.  I bought UNWASHED linen from Ikea, and after getting them home, understood for the first time why WASHED linen was such a prized commodity.  The linen actually turned into this lovely, mid-weight fabric after laundering, but it was so drapey that I could not for the life of me cut a straight line.  I struggled through 25 yards of material (did I mention all the windows are 7 feet tall and really wide, and I was sewing 100″ x 104″ panels?) and decided that I was never going to make full length linen curtains again.  Ever.  Unfortunately, I still had basement windows left . . . .   but luckily, I also had many fabric scraps left over from various quilt projects: IMG_3283The walkout basement has a very large east-facing window, and in the morning, these panels look like stained glass.  They are of course too long for the windows: the short story is that I thought 9 foot ceilings really meant 9 foot ceilings, but of course I forgot about the various space-occupying plumbing and HVAC elements, one of which runs right into the top of the window so that I cannot hang the curtain rods anywhere except inside the window frame.  Sigh.  And I am just too lazy to shorten the curtains, so for the forseeable future, the bottom of the panels will remain gently folded on the window sill.

I took up quilt-making because like most doctors, I have a touch of OCD in me.  There is something very satisfying in cutting precise geometric shapes, sewing the precise seam, matching the precise points.  A plastic surgeon attending told me once that I was dextrous, and unfortunately for me, I have never forgotten that comment.  These curtains are scrappy, improvised, and obviously imperfect, and I felt so free when I was making them.  I look at them and I smile; they make me happy.

Reuse Reduce Recycle Project

One of those silly online quizzes (you know, something along the line of what color dog were you in a previous life?) tells me I have a “philosophical mind.”  I think what that means is that for more than half my life, I have been wondering what is my purpose in life.  On the down swing of bipolar, my purpose is negative:  I am trying NOT to leave the world in worst shape than it is right now, on a grey maybe-it-will-rain August afternoon.

For the past six weeks or so, I have been on the R³ kick, although what I am actually doing is trying my damnedest to control my environment.  It began because I realized what I most wanted out of my new house is an empty house — but clearly that cannot be, because I need a bed, and clothes, and kitchen stuff, and bathroom stuff, and and and . . .  So the next best thing is to declutter.  We (this includes DH and The Teenager) have been giving away/throwing away at least one item a day, although we tend to count groups of items as one item (a set of towels, a group of figurines, that stack of technical papers from 20 years ago).  The surprise is how easy it has been.  The other surprise is that though we have reduced and recycled so much (well, we think it’s much), it is invisible.  The Teenager’s room is still cluttered, DH’s office looks about the same, I have way too many books and clothes and doodads, and we still have too much furniture.

So what is the Big Picture?

I moved to college with five boxes of belongings.  I moved to graduate school with eight boxes in my little Toyota Corolla (back when the Corolla truly was a compact car).  We now have five dining tables.  Does anyone need five dining tables?  In our defense, three of those tables function as desks, one is a sewing table, and one actually is a dining table.  But still . . .  Then I had a moment of clarity when I was reading an article about a man who bought a 700 square foot house, and immediately started making a list of “cannot live without” things.  As it turned out, there were even more items on the “cannot live without” list that he could in fact live without.

If my purpose is what I think it is, then it should not be easy.  When our neighbor moved out, she rented a dumpster, and managed to empty it twice with all the things she needed during her life in that house.  I am trying to avoid that last-ditch dumpster dump, but not sure if I will succeed.  So everyday, I continue to look at my belongings:  Why are you in my life?  How much “stuff” do I need to remind me of who I am?

Tula, who is pretty sure she does NOT need a ribbon

Tula, who is pretty sure she does NOT need a ribbon

Feeling Virtuous

Sometime during this past summer I lost my quilting mojo  —  which was unfortunate because I left the quilt back I was working on taped to the floor.  5 months later, I had to admit that the quilt was not going to be finished anytime soon . . . .  during those 5 months, the masking tape had left a nice layer of residue on my beautiful hickory floor (note to self: use low residue painter’s tape next time).  DH, noticing that I looked like I was about to start crying, spent the next hour helping me lift off the tape and clean up the residue.  Ah, the wonders of Goo Gone!

Two days ago, I finally took out my trusty Singer and did some crafty sewing:

heating pad
My beloved heating pad, after years of faithful service, was leaking flax seeds from fabric weakness. I figured the seeds were still usable, so I decided to make a new heating pad.  I rehoused the seeds in the Rejuvenation bag, which came originally with a bunch of switch plates.  For the outer cover, I foundation pieced fabric scraps to a piece of muslin (recycled from kitchen curtains), and used some leftover flannel from the chemo quilt I made for a friend for the “warm and fuzzy” side of the cover.  Reuse, reuse, reuse:  I feel so very virtuous 🙂