Friday, January 7, 2022

The (annual) January tea towel post...


If you've been a reader for a long time you'll remember that every January I share a new tea towel pattern with everyone, because freshening my kitchen and other living spaces in January sets my year off to a good start. 
Along with seasonal decluttering, I find one of my biggest clear-out and refresher motivations comes around like clockwork right after New Year. I look through my home with fresh eyes, walking each room and taking notes on what I'd like to change, tidy, replace, remove or organise.

So far this month I've cleared out our bedroom wardrobe, filled two bags with items which have already been donated, and re-organised the very limited storage space in there so that it functions well for our needs. I also pulled everything out of the linen cupboard and was able to donate another few bags of excess sheets, towels, rugs, unused tea towels, table runners and cushion covers. 

Choosing Better Quality

You may be thinking 'why' donate all those items? Maybe one day we'll need them?

The thing is, I have had a big reality check this past year, and accepting that we live in a small home with minimal storage spurred me on to making better choices for what we purchased and ultimately meant I was able to replace old worn items with items of superior quality which will last us for at least a decade or longer.
All through 2021 I slowly took advantage of the seasonal sales for pure linen sheets because they are much cooler in our heat and the quality is superior. Every time there was a 40% discount offer I'd buy a set of sheets and two pillowcases. Linen bedding is very pricey and I couldn't afford to buy a lot at once, so it was slow and steady until by early December we had four sets of lovely linen bedding and all of our cotton pieces could be either donated or put to use in other ways around the house. 
In fact, as our couches are wool they are incredibly hot in this tropical heat so I cut two of the old cotton queen bed sheets in half and made them into covers for the single couches - life is far more comfortable sitting on cotton instead of wool now. The rest of the sheets have been donated as they had no holes and were still serviceable.

I also replaced our bath and toilet mats with better quality ones, and then moved on to tea towels.
Tea you know I simply love them and honestly, I've been collecting them for many many years so half an entire shelf in one side of the linen cupboard was overflowing with tea towels, most of them never used. 
But something happened back in November. It occurred to me that washing between 4 and 6 tea towels every day wasn't evidence of good absorbent towels - quite the opposite.
All my pretty kitchen towels are cotton, and all are fairly thin when you come to think of it, so naturally through the course of a day I regularly place one in the washing basket and pull a fresh one from the drawer - over and over and over again. 
One day I was watching a homemaker online and she opened her kitchen towel drawer and I saw pretty terry towelling tea towels, rolled and sitting side by side, looking lovely and thick. Light bulb moment for me, I must say! The next day I was out shopping for similar tea towels and found some pink and grey ones, nice and thick, which I can tell you quite honestly have been a game changer for me. I only use one a day now, and they are the best tea towels I have ever owned. 

BUT...I do like to have one pretty tea towel hanging over the handle of the oven all the time, because it's part of the overall decoration of a kitchen. So I have kept about eight pretty towels just for decoration (some were delightful gifts from friends) and also made a new one for 2022...which I'm sharing with you today. Use the link below...

We will never be minimalists, but being content with less is very important to our plans moving forward. One thing that matters though, is choosing to buy the best quality we can afford when something needs replacing or if to helps life to run smoother and more efficiently now. 

Saving for what we want and watching for the sales in order to take advantage when the opportunity presents itself has become our new normal, and by removing excess, room by room, we've been able to make space for more important things such as pantry items with a long shelf life.

There are still rooms to work with - my sewing room, hubby's study, the kitchen, living/dining room and laundry - but I get so excited thinking about how they will change for the better now that I am taking time, slow time, to consider what's best, what is wise and what is important, before doing anything.

Walk the Room 

If you haven't heard of Walking the Room, it's a ritual I do every year and I have a free download sheet you can use. Print one for every room in the house, and even for your outdoor areas.
Just go back to this post from 2020 and you can read how to use them and what inspired me to create them.
Or you can simply download them HERE if you already know about them. 

Down Time

One of the gifts we gave Blossom for Christmas was a jigsaw puzzle. She has loved them all her life, but with three little ones aged 1, 3 and 5, her life is very busy so she'd all but forgotten her childhood hobby - until Christmas night, after tucking her babies into bed.
Off to her sewing room she went, with a mug of hot chocolate and a leftover caramel tart from our lunch that day, and for the next few hours she got lost in the simple delight of bringing tiny pieces together and creating a beautiful picture.
The next night she went hunting through her cupboards for old jigsaws she may have kept and found a few, so each night afterwards she'd settle down for an hour or two and work on one.

When I was dropping off our donations to the op-shop it occurred to me that they might have jigsaws, and in I went to take a look. There were two op-shops right near each other so after scouring both I came home with ten jigsaws at $2 each - bargain! I only chose the ones I knew we'd enjoy because I too decided to spend a little time re-acquainting myself with this childhood pastime.
I dropped seven of the jigsaw puzzles to Blossom (there was a lovely Ravensburger one for the children as well), and kept three for hubby and I. A train one for him as he comes from a long line of railway workers and train drivers, and these two for me...

I'd love to know what you plan to do this year in and around your home, and if there's an old hobby you're keen to take up again?

I intend to keep my heart focused and settled on being content, and being intentionally slower with changes and choices. Somehow I think jigsaws will be good for slowing...after all, you can't rush them.

May the Lord above, who gave us the priceless gift of His Son, watch over you and bring you peace today and every day in the weeks ahead. 


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Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
There has been a bit of sorting out here as well :) Putting away the Christmas decorations leads to many other finds and reorganising of spaces for making more room for what we love.
Enjoy the weekend !
hugs, take care,

Little Quiltsong said...

I love making puzzles - and especially love the ones you show here. I received two new puzzles at Christmas - and so enjoy making one or two each Christmas holiday. Thank you again, for the lovely embroidery - yes, the heart of home was always important to me. Enjoy your tropical weather, Jennifer. We have had a milder winter so far, but the beginning of this week, Winter started with a vengeance - snowy, blowy and blizzardy. I always think of everyone on the roads then, we have had such awful experiences over the years. Stay safe - and enjoy your puzzle making :)!

Cathy B. said...

I too love thick kitchen towels, and have found Ikea (Canada at least) has nice ones in their bath section. A flat-ish waffle weave on the front with terry on the back, so they are great for embellishing with embroidery or applique as the terry loops are only on the reverse side. No affiliation - just a fan! Limited basic neutral colours. Since the towels are thick you can't see to trace directly onto them so I use the Press 'n Seal method.
Been following you for years but never comment. Thanks for all you share, and a happy new year to you & yours!

Tammy said...

Good day Dearest Jennifer. I am finally got all Christmas décor packed up just awaiting husband to take the totes to the attic storage as they are too heavy for me to manage on the stairs. I am looking for ward to husband and I working in our yard and garden when Spring arrives as we have had most of the trees removed to make more room for using the yards to better benefit us by putting in more gardening space to hopefully save enough to get it fenced in eventually to keep the deer and wildlife from eating my garden to the ground every year and also to allow more sunlight which is more conducive to gardening here. Thank you for the beautiful kitchen towel pattern Dear. I hope your new year will be a great one in all ways.

Jenny said...

I'm thinking about doing the 'walk the room' & use my journal. I don't have access to a printer but I think this is such a good idea.

I was just talking to a friend this morning about the joy of jigsaw puzzles. I have not done one in ages but I think I'll get one out this weekend. My friend made a puzzle board using thin plywood & quarter-round trim to edge it. She put felt on the bottom so it wouldn't scratch her table. She sets it up on the dining room table for her family to sit together & work puzzles, then carries the board to a spare room & sets it on the bed when they need the table for meals. They keep puzzles going all the time this way.

Remembrances said...

I love the tea towel embroidery! I, too, am a jigsaw puzzle lover and usually have one ready to go. I would love to find The Toy Makers Shed. I buy used ones too and hope that all of the pieces are there - but if they're not, it makes things quite interesting and I just carry on! LOL!!

Sharm said...

Hello my dear Friend, For the 4th year running now I find myself in another home - finding new places for things to live so doing the Walk the House will likely happen a couple of times this year ......... I love the idea of saving for some decent sheets!! And funnily I started to change my toilet mats just last year not long before we were moving (we are back down south now, very close to where we were intitially). I've also started blogging again as being here I'm only part time and much less stress at work! Take care, big hugs, Sharm

Anonymous said...

I did a little reorganizing in December when I brought out the Christmas decorations. They are beginning to be hard to get to for me, so I gave some to my daughter that I know she wanted, and I threw away a lot of Christmas wrapping odds and ends that I no longer use because gift bags are so much easier. So there was a little reduction made, but for some reason, it didn't result in extra space! Go figure!! And as for jigsaw puzzles, yes, every January I like to set one up after all the decorations are put away, and I work on it little by little. According to your comments here, I see we are a big group of puzzle people!
Kathleen - kakingsbury at verizon dot net

Lorrie said...

Dear Jennifer,
I'm in the process of tidying up from Christmas and re-ordering a couple of areas of our home. Linen bedding is something I've considered for a couple of years, but as you've said, the cost is quite high. I like linen tea towels for drying dishes, and terry cloth towels for drying of hands in the kitchen. That's what my mom did and I keep up the tradition.
I am hoping to finish off a number of projects during the first part of this year - embroideries that are tucked away and not framed or made useful, quilts not yet quilted, etc.
Jigsaw puzzles are fun, and I like to do them, but just one or two a year. Reading or stitching comes first.

Mimi said...

Hello Jennifer. Seems so long since I have been able to comment. So much has changed in two years, and yet so much remains the same. I love that you spin a web of contentment around your family, and as always, your embroidery is beyond exquisite. I'm looking forward to catching up with my blogging friends this year. Happy 2022. Mimi

Julie said...

Another beautiful post Jennifer. I always think of you at the start of the New Year as I make myself a new ironing board cover because I know you will be making fresh new teatowels for yourself 😊 I love these repetitive tasks as a new year rolls in.
I had forgotten my love of jigsaw puzzles too until Alec came to stay last year & he bought a couple with him. I was able to climb up into the rafters at Mums & retrieve my childhood puzzles - all Walt Disney ones ... & I have enjoyed doing them again but will certainly be looking out for some Adult ones for myself too. Your purchases look wonderful!

Lace Faerie said...

As soon as I finish a Sew Together Bag for my dear sister’s birthday, I am planning on reacquainting myself with counted cross stitch. I took it up during my first pregnancy in 1984 and enjoyed it so very much! My HH opening clerk for the post office and had to be at work at 4:15a six days a week. I used to stay up past his bedtime (and eventually, the kids’ too) to watch tv and cross stitch. I probably stitched every day until 1991. Nine months after our third child was born we built our home. Literally built our home with our own two hands. A grueling seven months later we moved in. Going from a tiny two bedroom apartment to a small home with a yard and garden to put in definitely increased my daily workload but I loved every minute of being a young mother with three under 5!

Cross stitch is enjoying a resurgence in popularity! Check out Pinterest and Floss Tube on YouTube! I am looking forward to picking it up again, this time as Granny of five!

Allie said...

Quality over quantity every time! And you save more in the end. For instance, my shoes cost $350, but they last 7 years. They're the only shoes I can actually walk in, so that's important - saving me thousands in doctor and physical therapy visits for my back.
Thank you for the lovely tea towel design, I just love it!!!!!! I have a pretty towel hanging on my oven as well.
I actually don't have the patience for doing actual puzzles - I do them on my phone, lol! They're rather quick, and very relaxing at the end of the day. Crosswords as well. Don't have the patience to do them on paper.

Ondrea said...

Another sweet tea towel. You are so creative. Good quality certainly saves more $$ in the long run. Puzzles are fun but I currently do them on my tablet. I have one real one incomplete on the floor in my bedroom that I was doing with my grandson. I am hapoy to help him with his jigsaws at his place where I can leave it lol. Really nice ones can be framed. Thanks again for another beautiful project.

Sherry said...

Thank you, Jennifer for the new tea towel pattern! It's so pretty! I'm trying to start cross stitching again along with quilting. It's a little difficult as I have trouble holding the needle and seeing the stitches but I'm still trying. We've lived in our small townhouse for 11 years now and it needs some freshening up. My husband has started by painting the dining area a nice , fresh, bright white. It looks so much better. We plan to do more painting and freshening up. In the meantime, I have been doing as you have been. Cleaning out closets and cupboards and trying to be a little more minimal and intentional. Now that I'm getting older it's time to cut back on STUFF.

Enjoy your puzzles and take care of yourself. Praying for many blessings for you and your beautiful family!

Sherry in NC, USA

Deb E said...

As we are retired now so we are home each day. We bought this home late summer last year and are gradually getting the projects done that weren't kept up with by previous owners. Tomorrow are new windows & 2 patio doors for the back of the house (the 3 front windows were already done). I am so looking forward to spring & summer now - we'll have the heat filtered out by special window glass & special screening (it gets 110 - 112 here every summer). We weeded out before moving here, and didn't have much in the way of furnishings & had to buy a few things. Bless our children, who pointed out an online site to look for used wood furniture, decorative items, etc & we finished up spending so little. But our sofa was purchased new, very expensive but we bought quality as it will be our last. As we are putting things away all are organized, containers & shelves labeled. The yards will be our focus in the coming months, planting trees & drought tolerant plants, etc. Our focus is making this place easy to care for as we age & for whoever is left in the end. Thank you for such a lovely blog & all the planning and hard work you put into it to make it so wonderful...its very appreciated!

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Hi Deb :-)
I loved hearing about the plans you have for your new home, and also about the organisation of your shelves. I hope and pray you have a wonderful first spring and summer there.