Book Organizing

Last week a winter storm kept me house bound, and it gave me the opportunity to re-organize my bookshelves.

The winterscape was lovely for a bit, until white-out conditions made my windows hard to see through.

So I started pulling out the books that graced my shelves, to give them a thorough dusting and get them realigned. My collection includes books about nature, a lot of historical and map-making books, biographies of strong women, art books, books for the spirit, including goddess and bellydance books. I also have books about language and writing, along with my own words in print.

With various reference books being used often, and others shipped to me, things get crowded and mis-aligned over time.

So I systematically cleared each shelf, dusted off the books, and considered which ones to give away.

While I love my silent companions, sometimes it is time to let go of the books that no longer get used.

My childhood authors still have a hold on me, and I do re-read their lovely tales on occasion. I have a shelf-full of cookbooks I hardly use, but gave them another year to gather dust. There is also a shelf of vintage books I cannot bring myself to tear up yet.

The bottom shelves hold binders with paperwork that I needed to sort through. The binders had not been updated since 2014.

So a shredding session ensued the next day as I reorganized papers and let go of what could be thrown out.

I have about 3 bags to donate to the library, but also still need to give these two bookshelves a whirl, which is a task for another week.

Space clearing feels good, and lifts up the energy of the home.

The snow is now melting, and chirping birds indicate Spring might return.

How do you re-align your home and your belongings?

Claiming my closets

When I first got my built-ins created my second bedroom was still a guest room that would function as a craft room. I was focused on greeting cards at the time, and that wall was ample space for all my supplies. Then I left my career and my plans as a small business owner morphed from greeting cards to wall art to then becoming more focused on jewelry making, adding more tools and confining my workspace.


Meanwhile, I only house guests twice a year max. So I started storing larger art boards and canvases in the his and hers clothes closets, and added display items that I balanced on a shoe rack. Shipping boxes gained importance, and over time the two large closets became rather inefficient.


In November I met Sandy Spatz of Step By Step by Sandy, and I blurted out that I wanted to organize my studio after the holiday season. Once out, the words became reality, and Sandy followed up with me in January. We soon set a date for her to assess the damage, and she was very understanding of how my studio functions for me.


I had picked up some books from the library for inspiration, but knew I needed closet overhaul rather than drool over vintage architect drawers and other items hard to find and get up stairs.


Sandy sent me links to various elfa shelving examples, and I started measuring out what I wanted stored and how it could get laid out with the new system.


I also moved things around the house and did some purging as I cleared the closets.


It did feel good to get things cleared out and dusted off.


The upheaval was not for the fainthearted.


I did a visual exercise of how the art books might fit.


I also measured lengths and widths and depths of items I wanted to store.


We then met at the Container Store to get the actual design mapped out and pick up the shelving. However, due to the January sale, most parts were on back order, so we only left with the top tracks and hanging standards. I did get to take home a modified version of the elfa utility Gift Packaging Door & Wall Rack Solution, though.


I live in a historic building, so I knew my walls might be problematic, but we did not anticipate spending almost an hour trying to drill holes into the wall.


We resorted to drywall anchors for the majority of the hanging system.


With one closet an inch wider than the other, the allowance for the wooden inserts had been forgotten about, and the top track was too long to install in the other closet (it was an easy re-cut when I went back to the store).

too long

So all we could do was install the tracks on one side, and I started playing with the over-the-door organizer.


It was nice to have one thing installed at least.


In the middle of that Friday night I decided the closets were boring, and got all my paint samples out. With a crappy brush and a limited supply of years-old paint I started painting one closet with a dry brush effect (to make the half pint stretch).


The next morning I swung by ACE hardware to get better equipment, and painted the other closet walls.


I went by swatch when I had the color mixed, only to find out out after the fact that the color name is “Happy Endings” : ) .


I pulled an inspiration card that affirmed my decision.


I set up my jeweler’s bench as well, and then waited the long week until I could pick the shelving up.


After some stairmastering and weightlifting exercising, I got all the components into the room.



It took a Youtube video for me to figure out how to snap in the shelving, but once I learned it was easy to set up the closet.


The other closet also had wonky walls, but the anchors did the trick.


I measured the brackets out based on the shelf heights I had allotted.


Soon the installation was complete, and my love for power tools had been re-affirmed.


Then I started pulling in everything from the closet explosion, and rearranged some shelving based on the actual feel in the space itself.


There was a moment of trepidation as I closed the door organizer, but the door still closes.


Did the Cat in the Hat’s cleaning machine help a lot? It did not!


Now I have storage for my art fair display pieces, my shipping supplies, art boards, collage ingredients, drawing supplies, and a bit of room for growth to expand my creativity.


There are still photos to organize, so one shelf may be filled with archival boxes soon (unless I go into a scrapbooking frenzy).


Meanwhile, my Manufakturen shop is on display.


With everything in place I felt compelled to tackle my collage work area, which had been in perpetual chaos from being both a jewelry and a wall art station.


Beads and jewelry supplies moved over to their new space, and soon I could wrap the table in fresh wax paper.


Now it is fully dedicated to the encaustic art work.


My encaustic palette got streamlined as well.


I also scraped the floor to get rid off a bunch of wax, not realizing what a difference that elbow grease would make-or I would have done before and after pictures!


On to creating more wall art for the Creative Coworking exhibit in March!


My built-ins will need some light straightening up, but I do have everything in its designated drawer still.


The ‘bead boards’ are my favorite.I bought more hooks and ribbon holders to round out that design.


It is so lovely to view the color array and gems at a glance.


It felt very empowering to dedicate the closets to my art, and to truly claim them as my own with the paint color. Guests can store their clothes over the doors, and I can always repaint when it comes to selling this place.


While my bank account is in slight shock at this mega-splurge, it also is a very important investment in my business, in my art and in myself. I can now be more productive by having two work stations and by having things in their place rather than sliding various bins around the floor and moving trays around the sofa.


There is a lightness of being that comes with repurposing cluttered spaces and thinking about how to make it more functional for oneself. The organizing frenzy will spill over into other parts of the house, but for now I need to focus on the upcoming pop-up February 18 and get moving on the pieces for March.

Progress is measured in small doses

Last week I hunkered down and got my 2013 bookkeeping in order. Taxes have a way of doing that, don’t they?

I had finally gotten around to purchasing accordion envelopes to get my receipts situated, and that system works like a charm. 2013 was easy to sort out through its compartments and then put in chronological order without sifting through a pile. 2014 will be much easier to reference in retrospect as well.


The number of receipts has increased dramatically since 2012, which is why I suddenly needed the accordion file. It is interesting how receipts become a marker of how the business has grown and evolved, even if monetarily it all seems so miniscule.

Looking back through my financial reports on Etsy, Square and Paypal was also enlightening. We need to step back sometimes and look at the larger time frame rather than focusing on the month-to-month or week-by-week. A lot of things weren’t in place in Q2 2013 that have now become routine in the business.


My acceptance rate to shows was high, as was productivity. All good things to realize.

It also felt good to put on my bookkeeper hat and think about streamlining some of these tracking mechanisms so next year’s tax preparation is easier. Selling goods is far different from operating a service-oriented business, so the learning curve cannot be denied.


All in all, I am grateful we have to file taxes so you can get a bit of numerical perspective that I would otherwise have pushed until summer.

As a reward, I perused Ayla’s Originals’ annual bead show on Sunday and got some inspirational strands of loveliness that will soon be incorporated into collars, bracelets, earrings and pendants.



Last month I had an inspiring online marketing consultation with that is energizing me to get my rear in gear.


So I’ve been sifting through my Etsy listings to see what is at Stella and Aurora Rose Boutiques and what can be re-listed, needs uploading, or might be donated to a good cause.


My tracker sheet is a bit overwhelming now that I have so much more inventory compared to last year (from inventory number 55 to 317!), so I am also trying to figure out a better way to code where my pieces are. Colors don’t work when your toner runs out and everything is in shades of pink instead.


Paperwork is slowly progressing as I consolidate the sales from last year among the various venues…


Meanwhile I also splurged on a springy shower curtain since my old one was tattered after 6 years of good use.


I’m excited about getting my online presence more optimized and look forward to all the opportunities this year holds.


Nothing but optimism ahead!


Studio clearing

I picked up some inspiring books from the yarn-bombed library the other day, and that prompted me to head into my studio and clear some things out.


My studio had become a chaos of Holiday production followed by the dump site of all my fair display items.


Creating 43 Ornaments and 35 pieces of jewelry between November and December took all the creative juice out of me for a while.


But a gift from a friend gave me the motivation to give those supplies a neat home, and has me reviewing all the ideas I have in my head.


So I decluttered


and rearranged.



I am taking a chocolate break this Thursday with NEW to celebrate the feng shui flow.


Join us from 6 to 8 pm at Anna Shea’s Chocolate Lounge in Barrington.


Stay tuned for more Etsy inventory on my site!



So I started organizing my home in December, and it is taking much longer than anticipated.

“The ability to simplify means
to eliminate the unnecessary
so that the necessary may speak.”
Hans Hofmann 

This year the physical de-cluttering is also a very intense emotional and mental process. I wonder at the energetic pull of objects I no longer need or haven’t used in years, yet still have a hard time letting go of. I have bursts of resoluteness where I put a lot in the give-away pile, but then find myself needing a break away from that space to process whatever I just yanked out of myself, figuratively speaking.


Everybody on the (dance) floor!

I know part of it comes with the shifts in my thinking over the past year as it relates to other life events. Letting go of old mantras and conditioning that the Radvent process clued me into since 2011. There have been paradigm shifts with regard to aging (round birthday coming up), productivity, value (as an artist as well as from a material perspective), traditions, and my role in this world.

“Three Rules of Work:
Out of clutter find simplicity;
From discord find harmony;
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
Albert Einstein

In shedding those old ideas, there are symbols I’ve accumulated in my home that need to go as well. After de-cluttering my living room for Christmas decorations, I just went through the sofa table again, because things were piling on yet again.

un-piling the pile-on

My studio has me wondering whether I am hoarder or if I will really implement those projects that I have lovely materials for. Like the to-read-in-2013 (or dump it)-bookshelf, some of my drawers will get time stamps, and whatever hasn’t been touched in a year (or maybe two) will need to find its way to someone else’s studio. Quilters joke about UFOs-UnFinished Objects-and I think a lot of us creative people are guilty of that.

So many scraps, so many ideas!

I really want my home to serve me as my life is now. Not as an aspiration for what it might be someday. That’s been another big shift in my thoughts. What if ‘someday’ never happens?

“People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness.
Just because they’re not on your road
doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.”
~ H. Jackson Brown

What if this home is my final home, and my relationship status remains the way it is right now? (Thanks, Mayan calendar!) No someday cottage (in a fairy-tale forest with magical helpers shoveling snow and providing maintenance). What if this is it? Same home, same neighborhood, same car, same life. Do I have to strive for something ‘bigger’?

The shelves are feng shui’d 

There is still room for nostalgia. My ruthlessness does not extend to throwing out childhood books and comics. The photo-box I’ve been meaning to convert to scrapbooks for years will eventually become an actionable project.

“Do not spoil what you have
by desiring what you have not;
remember that what you now have
was once among the things you only hoped for.”
~ Epicurus

But I am more conscious of whether other items reflect my values and lifestyle. I’m more aware of the energy I have in my sanctuary (which is what a home ultimately should be) and the energy I wish to exude on to the world.

Some boxes to tackle later

So as I process through all that, I’m extending the re-organizing project into February. My clothes will be a huge exercise in letting go of body aspirations, and there’s some real life to get back to prior to opening that can of worms.

“If you want to be happy, be.”
Leo Tolstoy

Soul-work cannot be checked off or catalogued the way a bookshelf or set of drawers can. The concept of Qi is certainly making itself known to me this month. Even though right now the process is difficult, the results will be worth it. Letting go is never easy, but unloading those bags of un-needed things to a charitable organization will feel very rewarding.


many bags full…

On that note, as I was having a bit of an existentialist crisis, Enlighten Up! did help me lighten up. We tend to put spiritualists on a pedestal for having figured out the ‘true meaning of life’ and this movie puts that in perspective quite well.


no regrets-or no rugrats?

What a wonderful life I’ve had!
I only wish I’d realized it sooner.

Radvent 2012 8: Expression

“See your surroundings as a channel for self-expression.
What can you do to love where you are?”
~ Princess Lasertron

I decided to weed out my book cases this week, and it has me on a mad organizing bender. Basically I’ll be pulling everything down on the floor and then re-arranging the books. Prior to this though, I need to declutter the dining table, and that is much more work.


So enter Princess Lasertron’s Radvent post on expression, in which she writes: “Think about the spaces where you spend the most time, and how you can make them more meaningful.”

I’ve decided that my dining room will now be dubbed the library, because I never dine in there. The table functions as a desk during freelance projects, and a paper-catcher for most of the year.  When I moved in I had visions of entertaining, but I’ve only hosted one party in 7 years, while out-of-town visitors want to see the city instead of staying in.

It’s an interesting shift to realize that I don’t have to host parties, nor insist on using the dining table to dine on. After spending time in the studio my creative juices are too sapped to cook a meal, so I tend to whip up something easy or grab a pre-cooked meal out of the freezer. These are consumed in the living room, which is relaxing after sitting at the studio table most of the afternoon. For a nice meal I tend to make an occasion of it and have a restaurant cook for me.

So I look forward to thinking about the flow of the room in terms of a true library, where I keep my favorite books and also have a good system in place to keep the paper accumulation at bay. With pillows the radiator cover could serve as a cozy reading nook.


Un-used books will be donated to a local resale shop, where they can inspire others. A few titles I feel I should read will go on a designated 2013 shelf. If after all these years I still haven’t touched them in 2013, they’ll become part of the 2014 donation pile.

While I enjoy being a bibliophile and there are some books I’m genuinely attached to, the public library is a fabulous place to check things out from and not bring more things into one’s space. Fascinating passages get recorded in my quote book, and if I find myself jotting down a lot I put the book on my wishlist for later. Borrowing books can also be a lovely bonding experience. One friendship is bound by the love of Anne of Green Gables, whom we quote to each other to this day.

My place will never be truly streamlined (I know myself well enough by now) but I do enjoy taking cues from “Move your stuff, change your life” on occasion.

“Try using a different space in your house for a few days
and see what feelings come to you.
Even just a photo or a candle can help make you feel more grounded,
connected, and grateful for what you have.”
~ Princess Lasertron

Radvent 2012 4: Decorate

Radvent 5 is about decorating, and for the first few days of December I wasn’t feeling it. I looked at all my clutter and knew that would have to be cleared before I could even attempt to get festive. But I did notice the cute little ‘table-top’ trees at Whole Foods, and after years of tree-lessness, I was feeling an inclination to buy one.

“Take care today.
Nobody has time to redecorate their whole house in December–
just be realistic, be gentle to yourself,
and be proud of what you’ve already done.”
~ Princess Lasertron

Usually I buy a wreath for the Christmas scent, but knowing I could carry a 3-foot tree up three storeys by myself changed the game. So when Princess Lasertron wrote about decorating one section of a room at a time, I decided to make a checklist of my entire home, and then space out in chunks which areas would be tackled over the next month.

Trying to take care of an entire home at once is just too much when you have other priorities. Yet having clutter in every area was making me restless too. So I went to Home Depot to price compare, and found a cute little tree there that was a perfect passenger in my car.

This gave me the incentive to clear my living room first. Everything that didn’t belong there got moved to its proper room, but I refrained from starting to straighten up in that other space. I literally dumped piles and went straight back to the living room, so that at least one area would be done by evening (Flylady has great tips on that, if you need them). After sweeping and dusting and organizing, I rewarded myself with getting the Holiday decorations out.

Like Princess Lasertron, my house got decorated over time, with IKEA furniture graduating to more solid, timeless pieces I saved up for. Now that my mattress has hit the 12-year mark the bedroom is on the list for a make-over, but since I want to invest in a higher-end mattress, the timing is to be determined.

“I choose the furniture and art I have in my house carefully
because I have limited space and limited money.
Building a space I love gradually is exciting
because each increment is such a simple pleasure in itself–
adding a new candle, painting a picture frame, rearranging a room.
If my space was perfect
there’d be nothing left to add, and that’s no fun.”
~ Princess Lasertron

Likewise, my Christmas decor grew over time, so imagine my surprise at the Willow Tree boxes being stowed away for a full year. I actually forgot that I have over the past few years collected the Nativity Scene by Susan Lordi after years of wishlisting it for Christmas. So it was a joy to unpack each box—just like Christmas!— and adorn my fireplace sill with the lovely scene.

The tree ornament box had been closed for years, since I only bought a wreath the past couple of years, and a rosemary tree on occasion. My large ornaments were too big for this little fir, but it was fun to go down memory lane with each whimsical wall-tree character. Here’s the Christmas tree I used to make when I rented.

It’s a different feeling to decorate a tree by yourself rather than with family, but since I am spending it solo this year after seeing my family several times in 2012, it felt right to make my home festive for the month, even if I stick only to the Living Room. Oh, and if you are also spending Christmas solo, I recommend watching Noel anytime other than December 24 and 25. It is a powerful movie, but I am glad I watched it well in advance of the actual holiday.

The rest of my home will get sorted out gradually over the coming weeks, possibly into the New Year, but I like this one room of respite and peace to relax in.

It is easy to stage things on Instagram, and I myself have photographed a room corner by corner, where piles of clutter just got moved out of the frame with each shutter click. I wish I could be more organized and have a model home, but that would mean weeding out a lot of stuff that is still dear to me, and I honestly think it might be too sterile for me.

Being surrounded by things inspires me. Each piece in my home holds meaning or a memory. While I agree with professional organizers that letting go of the thing doesn’t mean we lose the memory, there is something comforting about seeing a tangible piece of that memory.

Seen at PerficalSense Studio

Without household help, my home reflects my priorities, which have lately been outside the home or busy creating things. Since I hardly ever have company, I don’t feel bad if things haven’t been dusted for the past few weeks. Nothing smells and the garbage still gets taken out regularly. 😉

So go make yourself a happy corner, and don’t feel bad that the rest of the home is still a mess. There will always be time to clean, but saying yes to living is another matter.

There are some fabulous tips on Princess Lasertron’s blog about decorating when you get into that mindset. So pop on over to her link and see what you can take away from her words of wisdom. If you keep tabs I skipped over her Radvent 4 post. I may or may not come back to that later, so give her words on Sincerity a read as well.

“Some things we have are so beautiful
that we don’t even let ourselves enjoy them.
Let go of the fear that you will ruin something by using it.
Don’t deny yourself the pleasure!”
~ Princess Lasertron


I am processing the chapters of my library books in thought and deed. Last week I had a great conversation with my accountant that is helping me with the business planning. But in order to move forward, we must let go of the old, and “create space” in our lives as Kathy Freston puts it.

Ironically, it has been 7 years since my last business shut down (do entrepreneurs have a seven-year-itch?), and I was able to let go of some of that paperwork. Then I took it to the next level and evaluated other files I have. With everything going ‘paperless,’ I went on a shredding spree.

My hardworking shredder taught me an interesting lesson: “Take breaks!” As I fed it stash after stash, it would at some point just stop and not budge for about 20 minutes. I figured out its rhythm, and realized that I too, must honor my rhythm. Make some progress, take a break, make some progress, take a break.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it still captivates people today!

This week I declared freedom from the Blackberry (too much of a corporate reminder) with a new phone. Then I set out to organize all the books I own (900-ish). The various Feng Shui diagrams didn’t work for me (not putting a bookcase in front of a window!), so I decided to organize the titles in my own way of inviting the creative in and dusting off the stagnant air.

Going through my photo albums and school projects was quite a walk down memory lane. As old bills brought back flashbacks I realized that most memories are fond ones with the distance of years. What was once a struggle now is a milepost of achievement. Hardships (like car troubles) were overcome, student loans were paid off, furniture was purchased and happily used (and some eventually passed on to new happy recipients), trips were made. The scrambling of planning, pinching pennies and extra work all paid off several years later.

The realization that struggles or resistance do serve a purpose is crystallizing more for me.  In The Wishing Year Noelle Oxenhandler gets her head around that we don’t necessarily have to struggle to ‘earn’ or ‘deserve’ what we ask for (something I’m working on myself!) but I still think that these (perceived) trials and tribulations help us grow and prepare us for the next phase in life—either for perspective or to know what to do in the future.

“This is what the past is for! Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.”

Corrie ten Boom (The Hiding Place-yes, that’s in my library next to Anne Frank)

I also realize that all the worrying I did a decade ago only “robbed today of its strength” The big fears never came about, and with a decade of perspective, it all worked out just fine in the end. I’m hoping that that realization stays with me through the next decades to come. That regardless of what comes my way, there is a solution. The Universe does take care of everything, as I can see from my own life journey.

And so my thoughts swirl on with each day. I’m quite curious what the next week will bring!

I wish you a lovely weekend, with fondness for the days past, and much joy in the present.