Day 1: 31 Days of William Morris | 2012

Welcome to the 2nd annual 31 Days of William Morris, inspired by Nester’s 31 Days series! I’ll give a little background for those who might be visiting from Nesting Place.

In 1991 I met my friend Helena while attending college at one of the Claremont Colleges. We had mutual friends who thought we might get along because we were from the same city in the Inland Empire. We met and quickly became friends. As it turns out, our fathers had been friends and colleagues since the 70s, and we lived down the street from each other since the mid-80s. Small world!

Over the decades, we supported each other through graduate degrees, marriages, babies, divorces, and layoffs–the usual up and downs of life. We enjoyed life, enjoyed each other, and commiserated over our similarly odd parents. Then, in May of 2011, Helena called to tell me her dad had pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is a death sentence. In rare cases patients can live another 6 years, but you are usually looking at 18-20 with tumor resection (surgical removal). Helena’s father had an aggressive type of pancreatic cancer, so surgery was not an option. We prayed for six months.

When Helena’s mother heard this, she became despondent and took to her bed. She refused to eat, refused to drink, refused to move. She died 10 days later of many things, but chiefly a broken heart.

At the end of the memorial service, Helena’s father turned to her and said he would stay until he signed the last piece of paper. After that, he was going home to be with her mother. True to his word, he died 24 hours after signing the last document–18 days after her mother and twenty eight days after his initial diagnosis. We were crazy to pray for six months.

I don’t share all this to glean pity. Rather, it’s to emphasize the point that Helena (and the friends and family who later helped her) had no time to prepare for what was to come. Her parents had no time. One minute they were living ordinary lives, and the next they were in hospice. After 40+ years of marriage, most of it in the same home, they left behind an enormity of possessions. Going through those things–the broken waffle iron that never made it to the trash, clothing still with tags, linen closets full of sheets and blankets–was overwhelming and depressing. It completely changed my life, absolutely and forever.

I wrote about that feeling of despair here, not yet realizing everything had changed for me.

In October Nester invited everyone to participate in a 31 days series. I think it was September 28 or 29 that I decided to do 31 Days of William Morris, and somehow I finished the month with 31 projects under my belt! Since then, I have continued to live by that famous William Morris quote almost weekly. A bunch of us link up on Thursdays to share what we’ve done, and we’ll continue to do that during the next 31 days. You’re welcome to link to your projects. The more, the merrier.

During the next 31 days, I will continue to do what I have done this past year. Since I have been decluttering with some regularity for almost 12 months, my projects are becoming less about purging and organizing. My William Morris goals are bigger and require more time and money to complete. As much as it pains me, I’m going to have to tackle the wallpaper in the laundry room. Good grief, that’s going to take days to remove. I think they used super glue for wallpaper paste! My point is, while last year I had a different project every single day, this year I may spend three days on the laundry room and four days moving the boys into a shared bedroom.

Then again, I really don’t want to remove that wallpaper. I might have to invent some projects around here! (Kidding.)

No matter what I do, I will look at each project under the same lens: is it useful? do I believe it is beautiful? If so, full steam ahead.

Ready? Here we go! I typically work on each project the day before it posts. If your impatient, like me, you can see sneak peeks at what I am doing by following me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (I’m @pancakesfries).

Day 2: Organizing the Media Cabinet;
Day 3: Organize the Fish Cabinet;
Day 4: Create Homework Drawers;
Day 5: Organize Shoe Cubbies;
Day 6: Nico’s Closet;
Day 7: Dryer Maintenance;
Day 8: Mikey’s Closet;
Day 9: Tall & Skinny Cabinets in the Kitchen;
Day 10: Cabinet Over the Oven;
Day 11: Kitchen Mania;
Day 12: It’s the Little Things;
Day 13: The Mom Drawer;
Day 14: We Will Never Have a Garage Sale;
Day 12: It’s the Little Things;
Day 15: The Laundry Room, No, 1;
Day 16: The Broom Closet;
Day 17: The Bedroom Cupboard;
Day 18: The Boys’ Bathroom, Revisited;
Day 19: Creating Nudges;
Day 20: The Laundry Room | No. 2;
Day 21: The Laundry Room | No. 3;
Day 22: A Rug, But Not in The Laundry Room, Which is Where We Were;
Day 23: The Dresser and the Cost of Cheap Clothing;
Day 24: Storing Homework;
Day 25: Linen Closet Handles (How to Unscrew a Stripped Screw);
Day 26: Actions Speak Louder Than Words;
Day 27: Memories in the Kitchen;
Day 28: The Laundry Room | No. 4;
Day 29: The Laundry Room | No. 5;
Day 30: The Pantry;
Day 31: Finish What You Start.

Join the List


    • I’ve edited the post for clarity–Nester put her link up 3 hours early, so I wrote the post in an hour without editing! (Thanks, Zakary, for letting me know!) It’s just my dream list of stuff that I’ve been working off for the last year. No way will I complete everything.

  1. Oh my goodness. Just looking at your list is giving me anxiety! I think I shall live vicariously through you for 31 days. I can’t wait to see what you accomplish:)

  2. I’m so proud of you! I have been needing to get back on that wagon for several months now, but literally haven’t had any extra time. Maybe I’ll start thinking about moving. My family of 6. Across several state lines. That usually gets me going again. πŸ˜‰

  3. Geesh, so here it is that infamous date – Oct 1st. I can hardly believe that it has been a year! To mark this special occasion I conditioned my purse today. The result wasn’t quite as dramatic (it looks the same) as with yours, but I know I did it. Wishing you all the best (and sanity) for your project.

  4. I printed my list last Friday and hung it in the one room in the house that needs the most work – the one we rarely enter except to put the dog to bed or get an off-season article of clothing, LOL

    Starting tonight, I will enter that room once every day for the next 31 days and come away with some project that will give our house more intention, beauty, or use. If nothing else, some clarity.

    I am terrified but I love a good challenge. I will not likely post every day, because I’m not as gifted with words as you are and my decluttering of a junk drawer would be a junk post. I think a good Sunday “Weekly Wrap Up” post sounds like a good way to tackle the documentation of these little mundane things. I’m looking forward to the years ahead when I can be in your situation of not having as much purging and organizing to do because I’ve taken care of it already.

    • Purge and declutter weekly for almost a year, and you start to see a light at the end of the tunnel. But don’t talk to me about our garage. That is a nightmare. Our neighbors must think we are hoarders.

      • OMG I feel the same way about our garage. Our garage is not where we park a car. It is where we drop off the freebies we pick up from Craigslist with intention to morph into some wonderful project. It’s also where electronics stack up in wait for a trip to the recycling center. At the very least, there is a walking path because we have to take the trash and weekly recycling out through that door, LOL

    • No way. That’s my Intentional Home list that I copied and pasted from another post. I edited the post to make that more clear, but it probably isn’t any more clear because my mind is on the 3 foot pile of DVDs at my feet. :-/

  5. That’s a mighty fine list. Need to get back on the posting wagon. Life’s been rushing by all too quickly this grant season.
    Have been knee-high in dust the last three weekends doing the most inglorious and crappy job of insulating the crawl space/floor joists under the house. All I want to do is write in expletives …can’t even take a photo of this one, it is too awful, but so hopeful that my feet won’t feel like frozen salmon slapping across the ice-like floors this winter.
    Will do something fun tonight, cross a small thing off the larger list πŸ™‚
    Good luck! October is going to be a great ride.

  6. Thank you for sharing again your inspiration for this project. I read your post about the cleaning out of your friend’s parent home last year, but I didn’t realize that their passing was so sudden. I understand how hard it can be to see the “stuff” accumulated over years and how sufficating it can be. In many of the same ways the accumulation of 40 years worth of things my in laws have, and a four year process of moving from one home to another, I have seen first hand how “things” can paralyze.

    You inspired me last year and continue to do so weekly. Llittle by little I am paring down to what is really important (which I am finding is not material) and creating a home filled with what is important.

    Thank you

  7. I was so glad to see your button on Nester’s linky list! Absolutely loved your series last year and always enjoy your writing. The link actually did not take me to this page though.

  8. I didn’t think I’d be able to do something like this, but your topic has inspired mine, 31 days of unfinished projects. I told one of my friends and now she’s checking up on me, to make sure I’m doing it. I think my craft room might be a much more creative space, with a lot more space to be creative in, by the end of the month.

  9. Reading your list exhausts me! You amaze me with your energy.
    I decided to go on a 31 Day Personal Pursuit of Happiness for my overall theme; but I want you to know that Wm. Morris plays a big part in that. Thank you for that!

  10. Just stumbled across your blog from Young House Love and I just love this idea and quote and how each room has a “goal/description” of what it should be. Sorry for the run-on sentence! I’ll be back to see your progress and hope to do something similar one day when I own my own home! ….Although I will probably start the organizing/decluttering/purging ASAP in my rented apartment!

  11. I just am popping in here for the first time. When I saw your theme is the William Morris project I just had to come look! I LOVE LOVE LOVE that statement and it has freed me many times from the ‘hold’ my stuff can have on me. I’m blogging 31 Days of Pinspiration and just yesterday one of my projects was not going how I had hoped. I keep pouring time and energy into it not wanting to give up but finally I was reminded of this quote and let go. Ahhh, so freeing. Now I’m really looking forward to catching up on your posts.

    What a great topic.


  12. I LOVE this series! I downsized quite a bit when we moved but I need to get a little more organized. I have got to get a handle on the nursery closet. I am somehow shocked with how much stuff a tiny baby comes with!

  13. Oh, Mama! That is an impressive list! It’s fun to click through and see how much you’ve accomplished. I love the idea of the Wiiliam Morris project. I realized a few years ago how demoralizing it was to spend so much of my time putting away stuff, cleaning stuff, fixing stuff… Now that we have a lot less stuff, I think I’ll follow your lead and pretty up the bones of our home. Thank goodness we don’t have any wallpaper!

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