My best tip for organizing your house in one weekend

Genevieve Howard and Creative Hands
Getting inspired by the Creative Hands book. Photo by Derek Howard.
Getting inspired by the Creative Hands book. Photo by Derek Howard.

Fall is a great time to get organized. Soon we’ll be spending more time indoors. Isn’t a clean spacious house that smells of apples and cinnamon welcoming?

My Get Organized in One Weekend to-do list included:

  • Purge clothes
  • Purge my homemade knitted and crochet items
  • Trim dog nails

I started my weekend organizing with a trip to Goodwill on Friday. Maybe I would find something to help me organize, like bins or baskets.

Instead I found a fantastic vintage craft book called Greystone’s Creative Hands. It offered valuable advice like, “Remember, you will need to buy more yarn if you want to make the scarf longer.” (Italics mine. Note the use of the word, need.)

At home, I went through my collection of homemade scarves. I realized I only had 17. I didn’t have a single one that was six feet long, red and based on a pattern from 1974, as shown in my new (old) book.

I start the six-foot red scarf. Photo by Derek Howard.
I start the six-foot red scarf. Photo by Derek Howard.

I knew I immediately needed to get to work on it. I could use up my scrap yarn. I had two partial skeins of red. Perfect! I cast on and started knitting.

In between knitting, I went through my clothes. I decided I would no more than five of anything, with the exception of homemade scarves. Five dress shirts, five dress pants, five long-sleeve V-necks. My closet and drawers now only have clothes that meet the criteria (“Does it make me look and feel good? Would I buy it today?”) from this handy list from White House Black Shutters.

Uh-oh…yarn crisis!

Two partial skeins would be nowhere near enough. After church on Sunday, I stopped by the craft store. I knew if I was going to make a six-foot scarf, I would need to get more yarn.

Of course, I got two jumbo-sized skeins. I wouldn’t want to run out mid-project, would I?

Back home. Back to work on the six-foot scarf. I heard the dog nails click as I knitted. But this scarf isn’t going to knit itself.

My top tip for getting your house organized in a weekend? Start a project that uses your scrap yarn like I did!

I’m starting the week feeling really proud of my organizing skills. Good luck with your fall cleaning—hope it goes as well as mine did.

PS–check out my very special knitting assistant


Lord, help us to know and accept ourselves as we are.
Bless our hands to your service and our homes to your glory.

Tell me your thoughts!

What would you like to accomplish this fall? Any home organizing plans? Or six-foot red scarf making in your future?


Laugh a little more

friends laughing

laughingIt will get you through hours at the hospital, days of hospice and months of hard times. It can diffuse fights and lighten your mood.

It can even help you deal with cranky people. What is it?

A sense of humor!

The $100 Band-Aid

In my family, we have jokes that have been distilled into one phrase. With an injury, we can look at the hurt person and say, “Do we need to take you to the ER for a Band-Aid?”

This refers to the time my son cut his hand on a painting canvas. He was about nine years old. He showed me the wound. By wound, I mean geyser of gushing blood. I couldn’t tell how bad the cut was but based on quantity of blood, I thought it needed stitches. It was Sunday evening and the walk-in clinics were closed. The hospital was our only choice.

We prepared to go to the hospital. We let the dogs out, put on our shoes and got in the car.

We live in the country. A trip to the closest gas station is 15 minutes. The hospital is 40 minutes away with no traffic. By the time we got to the ER to check in, it had been more than an hour since the cut.

We waited 45 minutes for our turn. The nurse led us back to a bed. He asked to see my son’s hand. It had been about two hours since the injury. The nurse peeled back the bloodied bandages. He wiped it and peered at my son’s palm. Our heads formed a circle as we all leaned in to look.

There, near the pad of his thumb, was a cut the same length as a grain of rice.

“Looks OK now,” he said.

“It seemed worse when it happened,” I said. “It was bleeding a lot. I thought he would need stitches.”

“I don’t think there’s enough of a cut to fit a stitch. I can put on a Band-Aid.”

He unwrapped the package and stuck it on.

We walked out, $100 poorer, brand new bandage attached, laughing. Who brings their kid to the ER for a Band-Aid? Us, apparently!

You’ll have times where you make mistakes. It’s clear I lack the ability to diagnose wound severity. But a sense of humor will let you off the hook of dwelling and self-judgment.

Humor for hard times

We need humor more than ever when we have to go through something hard.

You’ll have situations that you don’t know how to deal with. Things like a friend fighting with her ex-husband, a parent dying, a coworker losing a job, a child in intensive care.

Laughter can be a moment of relief, a way to lighten the situation. A joke about the hospital’s terrible pudding or the ridiculous way the ex-husband writes emails can ease the tension.

Our family’s sense of humor gave us the ability to survive hundreds of hours in hospitals (for things more serious than microscopic cuts) with our sanity intact. Laughter warms up the most sterile of rooms and fills up a heart.

Having a hard moment, hard day, seemingly hard life? Look for the ironic, the nonsensical, the cheesiest thing around. Rejoice in the life you have—imperfect, difficult and confusing.

Find a way to laugh more and get through it!

What tough things has humor helped you through? Tell me about it in the comments!