31 Days of William Morris

This is it, the big project I committed to do for the month of October. I’m participating in Nester’s 3rd annual 31 days series, which is open this year to anyone who would like to join the fun. I knew I wanted to participate and have spent the last month month waffling on the subject matter. I debated 31 days of writing tips, 31 days important rules of grammar I always screw up, and seriously considered Nester’s suggestion to write 31 days of Unstyled Life posts but realized that was a lot like agreeing to 31 days of chiffonading my soul for public consumption. There’s a reason those posts come only once a week.

I held tight and waited for inspiration to hit me. The older I get, the easier it is for a practical girl like me to swallow the concept of letting go and letting God. Sometimes you have to trust that everything will fall into place if it is meant to be and that I have better things to do than worry about something I can’t control. If that seems like an overly philosophical way to discuss my decision to write a completely voluntary blog series, you may be right. Also: Welcome! You must be new here.

In April I wrote about my home project list, a list of simple home improvements for in and around the house. Most of them remain incomplete, naturally. Last week I wrote about what was left behind when my friend’s parents suddenly passed away in June. (Cliffnotes: a lot.) I wrote about my friend’s frustration with what she feels was frivolous spending and the overwhelming sense of dread and motivation I get every time I visit. I wrote about William Morris and his quote that we should have nothing in our homes that we don’t know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

Then I sat back and frowned.

There is a time to write and a time to act. This is my time to act. For 31 days in October I will live like William Morris. I will systematically go through the house and upend those closets, cabinets, and cupboards and discard that which is not useful. I will tackle my old project list and bring in beauty where I can, even if that means something as simple as touching up the scuffed paint on the toe kick trim edging my kitchen cabinets.  I will donate that address book and I will blog about it every day in October.

I will also buy stock in Bayer because something tells me I will pop Aleve like jelly beans on Easter morning.

Update: I did it! You can read the entire 31 days here.


Comments
30 Responses to “31 Days of William Morris”
  1. Kathryn Humphreys says:

    Welcome! You must be new here. Awesome. Happy beautifying. I’m engaged in the same, as clutter and ugliness in the Chicago winter drives me batty.

  2. kylydia says:

    October is such a crazy month for me, but this sounds like a project that I need to take on as well. It won’t happen in October, but I need to revisit it sometime like January.

    Good luck and happy de-stashing.

  3. Good luck!

    It seems like October is a particularly project-inspiring month. All kinds of challenges going on that look interesting. I’m sitting them all out this year, though. Perhaps next year?

    • Jules says:

      I think your very recent wedding has you all projected out–or at least it would me! You more than earned to sit them out this year. Don’t you normally do a money freeze in February or October?

  4. celeste says:

    oh, you are ambitious. i will be cheering you on from the sidelines.

  5. MrsK says:

    You’re probably already aware of it, but you might find Make Under My Life, inspirational as you work your way through the 31 days!

  6. Monica says:

    Cool. I thought about your William Morris post all weekend. Stuff has been in my mind since my grandmother died two years ago and we spent a year clearing out her house on weekends. I started many post, but could never get it right. Thanks.

    • Monica says:

      I of course meant “Stuff has been on my mind..” and “I started many posts, but could never get them right”. Ugh. No. Double Ugh.
      Anyway, I just wanted to say I will be so following this series. Maybe it will get me to re-start my weekly column about clearing out. I started it in March and it soon fizzled.

  7. kimberly says:

    oooh…I am so interested to be along for the journey…I am currently cleaning out my bedroom closets and have found 8 good-sized bags to donate, and I still think I might be holding on to a few too many things (I dream of selling a couple of things on ebay but we’ll see…) Maybe your posts will inspire me to just do it already :) Your “left behind” post made me think a lot about myself, and my parents and my grandma (we all have hoarding tendencies)…there is a lot to explore & learn in this area for me, especially since most bloggers seem to be encouraging buying these days ;)

  8. Yeah! You can totally do it, and it will be SO freeing. You’re going to get headaches along the way, but you will be so happy you did it.

  9. Sally says:

    I would like to do the same, but let’s just say i will watch you to see how it goes. My thing is what do I do with all those inherited tchotchkes that are neither beautiful nor useful but remind me of my grandmother…oh can i say that makes them beautiful?

    • Jules says:

      I have a some (expensive) tchotchkes my parents have gifted us over the years and while they are not perfectly my style, I am keeping them because the sentimental attachment I have to them makes them beautiful to me. It’s a fine line, but I have so few of these pieces that I think it’s okay. Also, I told my parents a couple of years ago that they really can’t buy us anymore since we don’t have the room to display the ones we have!

  10. Julie says:

    Jules, I’ve cleaned out 3 houses in the last few years because of deaths in the family. :-( But most of the stuff that we were too sentimental about to part with right away (emotional attachment and all that) somehow has ended up in my house now. And it’s making me feel claustrophobic. And I keep thinking about my kids and how they’ll have to go through our house someday – so, I’m on board with you. Clean out & donate is going to be my motto for the month! (and maybe a little Craigslist thrown in for good measure) :-)

  11. This is a great subject Jules. People always ask us how we live in such a small house with a child and a dog and I always tell them the same thing “I get rid of stuff”. A one month project is an awesome way to jump-start. I would love to do that.

    In my house to keep things under control once a week I pick one drawer/box of stuff/area and clean it out. It helps keep things under control and I’m always amazed at how much stuff I have to throw away/give away from just one drawer.

  12. Nan says:

    Me too, me too. Best of luck.

    And then maybe you can do 30 days of grammar in November because I know I would love that also.

  13. Jen says:

    I’ve done this over the last 2 months (only my closet remains — and the dreaded kitchen junk drawer which I try not to think about. Holding off on the closet since I am finally loosing weight!! 9 pounds so far!). I cannot express how good it feels to drop bags off to the goodwill and have a clutter free house. Liberating! Why do we feel so compelled to buy so much stuff that just ends up weighing us down?

  14. Querencia says:

    I am really looking forward to being allowed a glimpse of how you go about applying the William Morris quote. It’s much talked about but I think the living of it is something that is intensely personal. Looking forward to seeing a month long consistent application of it. cheers to you. Maybe I will find my livingroom under the pile of sewing stuff as I meander along too. ;)

  15. Dorothy says:

    Getting those projects started is the hardest part for me! Once I get started though, I can’t stop and tend to go a teensy bit overboard. “Hmm, I think I’ll clean out this closet. Well, now the rest of the room is a mess. You know, its been awhile since we steam cleaned the carpets…”

  16. Vanessa says:

    oooh…I am so interested to be along for the journey…I am currently cleaning out my bedroom closets and have found 8 good-sized bags to donate, and I still think I might be holding on to a few too many things (I dream of selling a couple of things on ebay but we’ll see…) Maybe your posts will inspire me to just do it already Your “left behind” post made me think a lot about myself, and my parents and my grandma (we all have hoarding tendencies)…there is a lot to explore & learn in this area for me, especially since most bloggers seem to be encouraging buying these days
    +1

  17. Amy says:

    Well you realize, don’t you, if you fail miserably, all our hopes and dreams will be dashed to the ground … then we’ll have no choice but to become hoarders, which will lead to agoraphobia. So, no pressure or anything …

    I kid! It may seem daunting at first–where do you start, and all that. But you’ll no doubt an inspiration, as always. Not mention, once you get started, you’ll probably inspire yourself … it’s going to be awesome!

  18. oh amanda says:

    I love your title! Makes people wanna click! And oh, I need to do the same thing! Can’t wait to take these 31 days with you!

  19. Lisa says:

    Just found your blog and inspired by your challenge – need this in our house , I’m going to follow – might help with getting my declutter mojo going!

  20. Dana Lynne says:

    I really really love your theme! I am blogging my 31 days on Simply Living which is very similar, and today…I CLEANED MY DESK DRAWERS! Glad to have found a companion in blogging and purging!

  21. ellen says:

    that’s an awesome 31 days series…I really like the William Morris quote and am trying to live it in our household as well. We are on a life-plan to s.i.m.p.l.i.f.y……

    good luck with your journey!
    I am also doing the 31 series — mine is 31 Days to my Green Gables :)

  22. Jeen-Marie says:

    Good luck! You can do it because once you start, it’ll be hard to stop.
    My folks just came for a visit & it was a great motivation to clean & do all those projects!
    Looking forward to your 31 days of writing.

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  1. [...] also started reading the wonderfully named Pancakes and French Fries, firstly because of her 31 Days of William Morris series — her attempt to reorganise her house to have nothing in it that was not useful or [...]



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Hi! I’m Jules.

I used to be an attorney, but it made me grumpy. Now I write about life, sweet and savory, as a wife and mother to two small boys. My knowledge of dinosaurs knows no bounds.

You can read more, including the meaning behind the name Pancakes and French Fries here. And, yes, I really am phenomenally indecisive.