Here’s what happened when I KonMari-d my life: Part 2

Get the whole story by reading part one first!

If you aren’t familiar with the KonMari method, it boils down to a few basic ideas which I’m sharing again:

  1. Finish discarding everything before you start tidying. Do it all at once, intensely and completely.
  2. Keep only those things which spark joy. Visualize the life you want after you tidy and instead of focusing on what to get rid of, focus on what you want to keep.
  3. Tidy by category, not by location. Go in order: clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous, sentimental.
  4. Treasure who you are now and thank the possessions you are discarding for getting out there. I didin’t thank everything individually but as I let go of certain items I am trying to thank them for the purpose they served before moving on.
  5. Store like with like. This should be obvious but it’s been a game changer as I’ve started moving all of my clothing, shoes, etc. into designated spaces. In this vein I’d also add: put things back where they belong the moment you finish with them.
  6. Vertical storage is key. You can find things at a glance and everything is easier to get to.
  7. Follow your intuition. There’s no right answer for how much to keep or discard, focus on what you love and when you hit that sweet spot that’s “just right” you’ll know you have enough.
  8. Appreciate your possessions. This goes back to thanking that which you discard and also treating items with respect.

Last weekend I tackled part two in my KonMari project. It wasn’t easy . . .


Books:

KonMari has a couple of specific pieces of advice for dealing with books. Like everything else Kondo recommends putting everything on the floor in a pile and working from there so you can touch everything and really make the most of your joy meter.

I hate doing this for books because a couple of my shelves are incredibly precarious and I don’t like going up and down the step stool while watching the shelf wobble around. I was going to still try this method but wound up getting sidetracked when my mom decided to keep my company. (That was partly my own fault because I am still tweaking my jewelry storage and was in the middle of that when she came in.) I think the process still worked even without everything ending up off the shelves all at once.

Obviously the main factor is still finding the books that spark joy. Again, as I was being more attentive to the process it was fascinating to realize that I really could tell when a book did or did not spark joy. It was especially clear while going through my old picture books and classic editions I received from relatives. It turns out I don’t need every book Chris Van Allsburg wrote nor do I need a giant phonebook sized edition of A Little Princess. In talking through some of the books Mom and I both realized we don’t particularly like Andersen’s or Grimm’s fairy tales. Yet I had three copies of them on my shelves.

All told I sorted out about forty books to give away including some picture books, novels, and duplicate copies. I was able to move a lot books so that they authors and genres were grouped together. As with everything except my clothes (speaking of which I still have to tackle my sweaters) I am still tweaking the exact storage method. But I’m feeling a lot better about how many books I’m keeping.

I am also happy to say I didn’t have any issues except for a low moment when I went and rescued five books I had already set aside to give away. It happens.

According to KonMari, “sometime” can mean never when it comes to rereading books. I’m trying to keep this in mind but a lot of my books are from signings and author events so they also have sentimental value attached. I think the solution might be to go back and look at them again when it’s time for my sentimental item sweep.

Another KonMari tenet is that the best time to read a book is when you first encounter it. I didn’t always think this was true but I’m starting to see the light. I’m working on a multi-pronged system to read through the books I have in a timely manner and especially to read advance copies I have before the books come out. I used to be better at that, but I also used to receive fewer ARCs so I’m not going to stress too much.

Regardless of if you are going to read the books again or when you encounter them, you should only keep those which you truly love. I’ve realized part of this ties directly to having easy access to books (to remove them or not) which I don’t have because all of my shelves are in ridiculous spots. I don’t want to dedicate another weekend to the process (I have to start taking down Christmas decorations) but with a day’s distance I’m realizing there are still some books on my read shelves that I don’t truly love and can definitely part with. As for the books to read–I’m trying to search my heart and only keep those which I truly want to read for myself and not for the hype.

I will be blogging about the rest of my KonMari process as I get to it, so stay tuned!

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Here’s what happened when I KonMari-d my life: Part 1

I’m a big fan of Marie Kondo and her KonMari method of organization. In December I re-read all of Marie Kondo’s books and I am in the process of using the KonMari method to get my life in order. If you are a longtime reader, you might know that I did this once already. You are right. It didn’t stick as well as I had hoped.

If you aren’t familiar with the KonMari method, it boils down to a few basic ideas:

  1. Finish discarding everything before you start tidying. Do it all at once, intensely and completely.
  2. Keep only those things which spark joy. Visualize the life you want after you tidy and instead of focusing on what to get rid of, focus on what you want to keep.
  3. Tidy by category, not by location. Go in order: clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous, sentimental.
  4. Treasure who you are now and thank the possessions you are discarding for getting out there. I didin’t thank everything individually but as I let go of certain items I am trying to thank them for the purpose they served before moving on.
  5. Store like with like. This should be obvious but it’s been a game changer as I’ve started moving all of my clothing, shoes, etc. into designated spaces. In this vein I’d also add: put things back where they belong the moment you finish with them.
  6. Vertical storage is key. You can find things at a glance and everything is easier to get to.
  7. Follow your intuition. There’s no right answer for how much to keep or discard, focus on what you love and when you hit that sweet spot that’s “just right” you’ll know you have enough.
  8. Appreciate your possessions. This goes back to thanking that which you discard and also treating items with respect.

In re-reading her books (I’d recommend starting with the original The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or the manga adaptation rather than going for Spark Joy which feels very superfluous.) I realized I had been doing KonMari completely wrong in my previous attempts. I stopped midway through. I never finished discarding. I didn’t think about who I wanted to be once I was tidier. These were my mistakes.

So now I’m doing it all again.


The lifestyle I want:

My goal is pretty simple. I want to have more space in my storage areas in the apartment. I want to be able to find everything in one go. I want to think less about finding things and more about if I want to start yoga or sitting down to write or craft.

Clothes:

Last weekend in a fit of hubris I got the process started and KonMari’d all of my clothes, shoes, and handbags. It was a lot.

But something amazing happened as I started with my shirts. I got to one and realized I felt nothing. It did not, in fact, spark joy. It sparked no emotion at all. It went right into a bag of things to donate along with a lot of other stuff. All told I donated four bags of clothes and one suitcase that I knew in my heart I didn’t need anymore.

When I started sorting my dresses I found two that I had bought spares of to save because I knew they’d wear out quickly. I let go of the older, worn dresses and was shocked when I realized how much happier the new dresses felt as hung them in my closet. I even made a subtle change to store my shoes and they all actually fit in one place now.

KonMari recommends waiting to figure out storage, but my options are pretty set since I’m not buying new furniture or anything so i decided to finish up clothing storage before moving on. KonMari recommends arranging a closet from light to dark with things moving up (in length and lightness of color) and to the right. I never thought this mattered and instead arranged my closet according to the ROYGBIV color spectrum because I am that person. This time, since I am all in, I followed Kondo’s advice.

I still hang more than she recommends because I hate folding and am very bad at it (and don’t have storage space for it) but I arranged my hanging tops, dress and skirts with an up and to the right mindset. I can’t believe how well it’s working. I am finding things more easily and I am actually happier every time I reach into my closet now. Also, even though I felt like I hadn’t made a ton of progress after I reorganized and hanged everything I realized I had reduced the space I was using by half.

I had a few things that I wanted to wait and try on but as if the clothing sensed what was coming, these decisions have become very easy. The boots I kept because they were so warm hurt my feet, the pants I saved for the dead of winter ripped when I went to put them on. It’s as if my wardrobe is helping me to finish these last decisions.

Things I still have to do: My sweater storage is a mess. Vertical folding storage (KonMari approved) is hard with bulky sweaters and I’m still figuring out how to deal with that. I think my next step is making one drawer in my dress for pullovers and lighter things I can actually fold and then leaving the heavier button downs elsewhere. I have been wearing so many of my sweaters lately (it’s freezing here) that this has become low priority for now especially while I decide what to do.

I have covered all aspects of clothing now except for jewelry and hair accessories. I’m hoping to tackle both of those this weekend–maybe even as you’re reading this post–with the help of a new jewelry box and some freshly acquired insight in the form of my joy radar.

My plan is to try and tackle one area every weekend until I’m done (sentimental might be quick because I’m just not discarding photos–it’s not who I am) but this might end up running a little longer with having to take down holiday decorations and some other family obligations.

I will be blogging about the entire process though so stay tuned!

 

This One Time My Tweet Went Viral . . .

If you follow me on Twitter you may have noticed something interesting happen on August 9. I like hearing about what books people love and one night when I was not sleeping, I figured out the best way to ask would be for a top five (because honestly, what bookish person can pick only one?) After forgetting for most of the day, I remembered to post the tweet on Wednesday during a break at work. I also happened to post it on National Book Lovers Day which may be part of what happened next.

Here’s the original tweet and one of the first replies (so many props to some of the earlier respondents because they got so many comments as the tweet moved around):

From there I started seeing a few replies from twitter friends, book blogger types, and some authors who saw the tweet early either from me or friends of friends.

Here are some of the earliest replies. If these authors aren’t on your to read list yet, be sure to check out their books!

Then it kept going.

Replies trickled in for the rest of the afternoon and into that evening. I RTd as they came in, commented, and got on with the rest of my day.

Around nine o’clock, I noticed I was getting a lot more notifications than usual. A lot more.

While I was still able to sort through comments, I realized some authors with a significant reach on Twitter were also sharing their top five books.

As far as I can tell, it was Sam Sykes sharing that really set things off.

From there the replies started coming in faster and faster.

Then my phone started to break down under the sheer volume of notifications as people quoted my original tweet to share their faves, replied to me or to others on the tweet thread, and started other quote conversations talking about books. Twitter froze up and my phone started to overheat every time I checked what was happening.

It got so intense that Twitter prompted me to set up filters for my notifications.

Even now, months later, I haven’t been able to sift through all of the replies, shares, and comments. There are just too many.

Here’s look at some of the analytics when it started blowing up:

As I started writing up this post at the beginning of October, people were still sharing and RTing their favorite books. Since August the total impressions have jumped to 389,408 with 73,862 engagements. I gained almost 1000 new followers in the first couple of days.

Some people, including a favorite author, thought picking just five books was asking too much.

As with most sudden moments of fame, things quieted down after that first week and I was able to go back and catch a couple of the more surprising replies that didn’t register in the initial haze of going viral.

I’m not going to lie, I felt like had to lay down when I saw some of the people who had shared or replied. It was a very “is this real life?” moment for me.

In the thick of the initial madness some people were even doing other variants based on “my” top 5 books idea.

I’ll be the first to admit having anything go viral is not the same as fame. But for a week or so, it felt very similar. The support and love for this tweet was overwhelming and I got so many wonderful thank yous and compliments from people who found me because of it. (I only got one creepy message from a male identifying account but honestly, I get those without doing anything online so hardly shocking.) Still, I was hyper aware of the act of being followed on Twitter and people seeing my content. Was I being witty enough? Was I staying on brand? Was I expected to keep up this level of engagement moving forward? Just considering all of the questions was exhausting.

Things have settled down now and minus a few more followers and new replies here and there, things seem to have gone back to normal.I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to really sort through the data–Twitter isn’t kind to older tweets or tweets with thousands of replies–and this is both. If you have any ideas on digging into the data (or even finding it at this point) let me know in the comments

If you’re on Twitter and you haven’t yet, I’d love to see your own top five favorite books of all time. If you don’t feel like tweeting, let me know in the comments or just talk to me about what it means to have five minutes of Twitter fame.

Here are some of my own favorite books:

  1. All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin
  2. Ella, Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
  3. Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones
  4. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
  5. Sabriel by Garth Nix
  6. Emily of New Moon by L. M. Montgomery
  7. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
  8. The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton
  9. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
  10. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  11. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  12. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
  13. The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
  14. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Hosting a Cookie Swap (with help from Paperless Post e-vites)

A table setting from Tiffany’s miniature holiday windows. Also: table setting goals.

When Paperless Post approached me to write a post about the services they have to offer, I knew it was the perfect time to share some tips for hosting my favorite type of party: a cookie swap. It’s still too warm here to really maximize my baking time but while I wait for the weather to cool, here’s my step-by-step guide to hosting a cookie swap of your own.

  • WHAT: A cookie swap is exactly what it sounds like. Guests come with a large stock of cookies and before the party ends everyone samples cookies and shares what they have brought. Everyone leaves with different kinds of cookies to try and share.
  • WHEN: Any time is a good time for cookies! While I host my cookie swap near the holidays but you can really host a cookie swap any time of year as long as it’s cool enough for baking.
  • WHO: Because there’s so much baking involved, I usually keep the cookie swap invitation list small. If I invite five people that means everyone is making five to six dozen cookies so that there are cookies to taste and for people to take home. I also give wiggle room saying people will leave with as many cookies as they bring. Because everyone has to make time to bake in addition to usual party planning I always try to send invitations out roughly a month in advance. I always send out e-invites because they make it so easy to send and to track RSVPs. Paperless Post has tons of invitation options whether you want to go with an e-invite or send physical invitations. I’ve got my eye on one from Kate Spade or one from Peppermint Patio for this year’s invites. But don’t tell anyone, it’s a surprise!
  • You can check out all of Paperless Post’s invitations here: https://www.paperlesspost.com/cards/section/invitations 

Now that you know what a cookie swap is and have some options for invitations, here’s what I always have on hand to put my party together:

  • Food: While everyone arrives expecting cookies, I serve some light food too. Since I usually have my party start in the early afternoon I like to go with brunch options like bagels or rolls with cream cheese, butter, or jam. Egg salad, tuna salad, and chicken salad are also good options. Just be sure to check if your guests have any allergies or dietary restrictions (if this is the case you should let everyone know ahead of time and be mindful of that with cookies as well).
  • Tableware: I host my party near Christmas so my holiday decorations always serve as part of the decor. I also spruce up the dining table with tablecloth and matching place mats. (I’ve never met a print I didn’t like so you’ll note that these are all red plaid designs.)
  • Utensils: I try to keep this party low key and simple so I go with plastic silverware and paper plates to serve everything. I also have plastic trays and serving utensils that I pull out every year to serve sandwiches and condiments during the party.
  • Storage: I always pre-package my cookies for friends. It makes it easier to keep track of how many I need to bake and it helps keep the cookies fresh if I decide to bake them a few days ahead of time. My favorite packaging method has been cellophane food bags. The standard size is perfect to hold 12-24 cookies and they can be found with cute designs or decorated with curling ribbon to tie them closed. Plastic bowls with lids are also great to store any cookies you receive.

I hope these tips inspire you to host your own cookie swap soon.

To get you started I will also give you one of the simplest and tastiest cookie recipes I’ve found: Easy Oreo Truffles (as seen on AllRecipes.com)

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package OREO Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, divided
  • 1 (8 ounce) package PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted

Directions

Crush 9 of the cookies to fine crumbs in food processor; reserve for later use. (Cookies can also be finely crushed in a resealable plastic bag using a rolling pin.) Crush remaining 36 cookies to fine crumbs; place in medium bowl. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. Roll cookie mixture into 42 balls, about 1-inch in diameter.

Dip balls in chocolate; place on wax paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover chocolate can be stored at room temperature for another use.) Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs.

Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover truffles, covered, in refrigerator.

You can also buy a cookie press to make simple but stunning spritz cookies. (This link goes to the model I have–I use the butter cookie recipe on the box, add food coloring, and stamp out the cookies using different dies to up my cookie game.)

heart shaped spritz cookies

If you’re looking for more recipes, be sure to check out my Pinterest boards for more recipes.

*This post was created in cooperation with Paperless Post to review and publicize their services*

Uppercase July 2017 Box Review

After experimenting with Owlcrate for a few months last year, I decided to give Uppercase a shot this year when I wanted to check out a new bookish subscription box.

Uppercase is a monthly book subscription box.

You have two options when subscribing: You can purchase the Book Exclusive Plan for $17/month which includes a new hardcover YA novel (signed or with a bookplate), a reading experience content (this includes a bookmark with links to special content to check out while you read the book), and a handwritten note about the contents of the box. The Expert Plan is $23/month and includes all of the Book Exclusive items plus one or two bookish items which can be anything from notebooks to wearables. Both plans adds $6.50 for shipping.

What I really like about Uppercase is you have options for buying as well. You can subscribe monthly with the typical automatic renewals (and option to cancel) OR you can pre-pay for a certain amount of boxes from 1 to 12 months. I decided to pre-pay for three months and got my second package in July.

I already shared about the box on Instagram but I decided I could do a full review on here too.

Here’s what I found in my July 2017 Uppercase which comes in the signature Uppercase pouch (and is mailed in a Priority Mail padded envelope):

  • Words on Bathroom Walls by Julia Walton: Unlike the June package, July’s box had a book I’ve never heard of. That almost never happens to me! I probably wouldn’t have picked this one up on my own because it sounds sad but I’m game to see what it has in store and excited for the reading experience content.
  • Experience Bookmark: This is a special feature unique to Uppercase. The bookmark features page numbers and codes readers can enter online to unlock special content.
  • Sticker: The oversized cat sticker says “I love books.” It’s very cute but I have to admit I’m super not a cat person so this will probably be finding another home.
  • Socks: I always need new socks and I’m pretty happy with these Alice in Wonderland ones. They are a nice quality and look large enough to fit my big feet.
  • Postcard: It’s silly, but the postcard for Words in Deep Blue is one of my favorite things in this box. Cath Crowley is a long time favorite and I really enjoyed this book. I’m thrilled to have quote art from it.
  • Print: This print is an exclusive item with embossed artwork and fun lettering for Stephen King’s famous quote. I don’t have a lot of wall space right now but I might eventually get this and the postcard framed because I like them so much.

All in all I’m pretty happy with this book. The novelty of finding a completely new to me book was pretty great and I’m happy with the items. I really appreciate the option to pre-pay and may even order more boxes in the future. I like that it includes some extras without being overwhelming and I think it’s great that the books are signed. This is definitely a subscription box to consider for yourself or your bookish friends. Keep watching the blog for my review of my final Uppercase Box when it arrives in August!

Blog 10th Birthday (and Giveaway!)

Ten years ago, at this exact moment, I started Miss Print. It’s been a crazy ride and I’m so happy to have had this blog and the people I have met because of it as constants in my life over the last decade.

(If you’re only here for the giveaway just scroll down.)

Last year I talked about books I found because I started blogging. This feels like a very full circle moment for me. Ten years ago I was 21 years old, finishing college, and getting ready to apply to grad school–all factors that led to the creation of this blog. Now, ten years later, I’m a full-time librarian and have been able to parlay so many of the skills I learned and developed as a blogger into my professional life. I have made some of my best friends because of this blog and connected with so many wonderful authors and readers. Truly, I can’t imagine what my life would look like now if I hadn’t created this blog ten years ago. It’s unimaginable.

And what’s a big birthday without gifts? This year I’m giving away three prizes.

One winner will receive a bookish tote bag with this stack of ten of my all-time favorite books.

Two other winners will receive a personalized list of ten book recommendations from me based on what they tell me about likes/dislikes/owned books/etc. (This is something I do as part of my work too so again, full circle!)

THE DETAILS:

  • One winner will win a bookish tote of ten of my favorite books.
  • Two winners will receive a personalized list of ten book recommendations created by me.
  • Giveaway will run from August 12 to August 31. (Winners will be notified September 1. If I don’t hear back from the winners by September 3, I will pick a new winner from the entry pool as needed.)

ENTER HERE

Spread the word, share the love, and head over to Rafflecopter to enter my giveaway.

Uppercase June 2017 Box Review

After experimenting with Owlcrate for a few months last year, I decided to give Uppercase a shot this year when I wanted to check out a new bookish subscription box.

Uppercase is a monthly book subscription box.

You have two options when subscribing: You can purchase the Book Exclusive Plan for $17/month which includes a new hardcover YA novel (signed or with a bookplate), a reading experience content (this includes a bookmark with links to special content to check out while you read the book), and a handwritten note about the contents of the box. The Expert Plan is $23/month and includes all of the Book Exclusive items plus one or two bookish items which can be anything from notebooks to wearables. Both plans adds $6.50 for shipping.

What I really like about Uppercase is you have options for buying as well. You can subscribe monthly with the typical automatic renewals (and option to cancel) OR you can pre-pay for a certain amount of boxes from 1 to 12 months. I decided to pre-pay for three months and got my first package in June.

I already shared about the box on Instagram but I’m so excited about it I wanted to do a full review on here too.

Here’s what I found in my June 2017 Uppercase which comes in the signature Uppercase pouch (and is mailed in a Priority Mail padded envelope):

  • Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser: This release from Bloomsbury has been on my radar since one of my best friends Becky reviewed it for School Library Journal. I am ready for this fantasy novel with pirates and adventure and I am delighted to know that Becky’s review was quoted on the back cover of this book. The book was also signed by the author.
  • Map: Inside the book is a pull out printed map for Song of the Current on glossy paper. I like that it’s a larger size that what would have been included if the map was in the actual book.
  • Experience Bookmark: This is a special feature unique to Uppercase. The bookmark features page numbers and codes readers can enter online to unlock special content. I am super excited to see what kind of things will be revealed as I read!
  • Tote Bag: This box featured an exclusive tote bag designed by Allison Cole Illustrations. The tote says “Reading is the Ultimate Adventure” and features a hot air balloon with a cat riding inside reading a book, of course. The tote bag is a nice quality with printing that isn’t likely to wear off and sturdy construction. I do wish the straps were a bit longer but I think they’ll stretch and anticipate this bag getting a lot of use.
  • Enamel Pin: The last item in the box is another exclusive. The Book Nerd pin is from Jubly-Umph and features a book with a ribbon across it reading “Book Nerd” along with some decorative flowers. I love Jubly-Umph but because they’re an Australian company it’s sometimes hard to find their jewelry in the US. I have a couple of necklaces from them (and after looking at the site I want almost everything they sell) and am very excited to add this pin to my collection. It’s too cute to put away so I have it pinned to a board I fill with artwork and other ephemera near my desk.

All in all I’m very happy with my first Uppercase. I really appreciate the option to pre-pay and may even order more boxes in the future. I like that it includes some extras without being overwhelming and I think it’s great that the books are signed. This is definitely a subscription box to consider for yourself or your bookish friends.