- Strange Practice (A Dr. Greta Helsing Novel 1) by Vivian Shaw
[ Dr. Greta Helsing (yes, as in Van Helsing) specializes in treating monsters, vampires, demons and such. The monsters in London are being murdered, Greta works with her friends, human and otherwise, to get to the bottom of the killings. Unique idea and great writing! ]
- Miss Kopp’s Midnight Confessions (Kopp Sisters Series 3) by Amy Stewart
[ Constance Amelie Kopps is now an official, budge bearring deputy sheriff. She tries to girls that might fall into the unfair treatment under the law of the time while worrying about her own sisters. I love that I learned how the women were treated back then and gain even more application with all the privileges I have today. ]
- The Question of the Absentee Father (An Asperger’s Mystery 4) by E. J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen
[ Samuel accepts his mother’s case and go on to look for a stranger, his own father. He also makes a few breakthroughs in the proces, reminds me to be more brave in my daily life. ]
- Life of Lies by Sharon Sala
[ If there wasn’t as much romance parts in this (This IS a romance novel), it would be one of the better thrillers I’ve read. Fun read! ]
- The Color of Fear (A Sharon McCone Mystery) by Marcia Muller
[ This McCone Mystery is a bit thin though the social issue and investigation process are still intriguing. If you read most of this series, you might be a bit bored reading about how relevant characters came into Sharon’s life (or a quick refresher) ]
- Before the Devil Breaks You (The Diviners 3) by Libba Bray
[ The 3rd Diviners book takes you deeper into the characters and their histories while finguring out how they can best use their powers and fighting against an evil entity. Once you get started you couldn’t stop. For people who can’t handle waiting years to know what’s next, I recommand waiting for the whole series are done. If you can wait that long, that is… ]
- Scientific Qi Gong (科學氣功) (in Chinese) by Prof. Si-Chen Lee (李嗣涔) [ I only wanted to understand more about Qi Gong but ended up totally facinated with the science. And by serendipity, many things I was learning about Nicola Tesla’s technologies are connected to Prof. Lee’s finding. ]
- The Book of Truth (The Mastery Trilogy 2) channeled by Paul Selig (non-fiction) [ I don’t feel the frequency that some readers seemed to have felt but the teaching is stil very helpful. ]
- The Fortune Teller by Gwendolyn Womack 2017 #1 Pick!
[ A seer from thousands of years ago writing to Semele, warning her with precise timing while she translate it. Time travel in a different way, that is. I’d read it in one go if I had nothing else going on. Great read! ]
- Too Lucky to Live (A Somebody’s Bound to Wind Up Dead Mystery 1) by Annie Hogsett
[ Allie rescues a blind professer who ends up winning the Lotto jackpot for an underprivilaged child, then working together against money hungry bad guys. I love how the voice is a perfect reflection of Allie and the how Hogsett gives us an admirable well-rounded blind character. ]
- The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn 2017 #2 Pick!
[ Jane Austen + Time Travel?!!! Too fantastic I had to read it. Though not a fan of Austen, I love how this book reminds me so much of Austen’s stories. And her solutions to the usual time travel issues are also unique to other time travel stories I’ve read. ]
- The Book of Mastery (The Mastery Trilogy 1) channeled by Paul Selig (non-fiction)
[ The language of the channeled being took some getting use to, but I read the whole thing. Since it’s explaining how the universe works relating to human, it often read like Buddhism made simple. I might go read all of Paul’s channeled books. ]
- Brooklyn on Fire (A Mary Handley Mystery 2) by Lawrence H. Levy
[ Mary now runs her own PI office from the bookstore she works at. Her lastest client’s request brings her more danger, advantures, and romance. ]
- Second Street Station (A Mary Handley Mystery 1) by Lawrence H. Levy
[ Mary Handley was a real person (reminds me of the Constance Amelie Kopps books, also a cop.) I like that Levy weaves in historic figures and events while the story shows twists, it also shows the social conditions. Good read! ]
- Zodiac: A Novel by Sam Wilson
[ Coming from film/TV, Wilson presents his story as movie scenes. This murder mystery is based on a society where the star signs are treated as races. People live with this “star” caste system and what happens in the book is the result of this social condition. Unique and exciting read. ]
- The Secret Language of Stones (The Daughters of La Lune) by M. J. Rose
[ I’m sure it’s a good read for people who have deep love fine and literary arts. I like the progression of the story well enough though. ]
- The Burning Page (The Invisible Library Novel 3) by Genevieve Cogman
[ This series just gets better! ]
- The Masked City (The Invisible Library Novel 2) by Genevieve Cogman
[ Genevieve is great at keeping the pace up, it’s hard to find a break to take a breath. ]
- The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library Novel 1) by Genevieve Cogman
[ This is the first fantasy book that was easy enough for me to read at normal speed. I love the writing style that fits both the story, the worlds, and the characters. There are a lot more to explore than just the plot, reading the 2nd book already. ]
- Dead, Bath, and Beyond (Victoria Square Mystery) by Lorraine Bartlett and Laurie Cass
[ Katie, the owner of an arts and crafts collective shop, tried to solve the murder of her much hated ex-boss. Many suspects, interesting interpersonal interactions and dynamics. ]
- The Dangerous Ladies Affair (Book 5 of Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery) by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini
[ Two detectives, two indivisual cases. One is a mystery of threat and murder. The other is the chase of the devious criminal. ]
- The Question of the Unfamiliar Husband (An Asperger’s Mystery 2) by E. J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen
[ This is the better than book 1 and 3. I had a feeling who were involved in the murder but I didn’t expect the how and the mastermind. Fun read! ]
- The Question of the Missing Head (An Asperger’s Mystery 1) by E. J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen
[ Samuel who turns his Asperger’s personality into a business of answering questions. Also highly recommand The Rosie Project for understanding more about Asperger’s. This book kept me guessing while enjoy the quarks and growth of Samuel. ]
Cleaning after Konmari Process
Now that I’m Konmari Clean, it was time to put my things in their permanent homes and cleaning their new homes was the first step.
Using the older style microfiber cloth was very frustrating. The small dust balls it gathers are very hard to wash off and surfaces often need more wiping. Even after I dusted with Swiffer, I still have trouble with it.
I started looking on Amazon for newer, greener technology. It seems Nano cloth is the talk of the town. It only needs water, not chemical, to use.
Made in USA
The top seller was not made in USA and I didn’t like that it has long fibers. I can just imagine the towel trapping all kinds of particles. The thicker material would dry slower after hand washing and would smell after a while.
Then I found the paper like Spiff Cloth, made in USA!
Amazing results on smooth surfaces
Just add water–it works! No chemical necessary.
Not so good for
Sticky residue from strong tapes or thick old kitchen grimes (thin grimes are easy to wipe away without much elbow grease. See the before and after photo of my old stereo.)
What else do I like about it?
- Easy to wash clean by hand (use soap and warm water)
- Dries fast
- Cut your own size (I cut the 16″x16″ sheet in half)
- Sturdy (we’ve even cleaned outside windows with it, no damage to the cloth at all)
More to know
- For maximun result, be sure to wring it as dry as you can
- For thick dust layer, dusting or vaccumming before wiping makes it easier, faster
- For soaking up spills, I recommend Trader Joe’s Kitchen Cloth at their stores for the best price. (also easy to wash clean by hand; if not found in one, try other Tader Joe’s.)
- If it looks a bit dirty after washing, it still clean just fine.
- Buy direct from Lawrence and Berit Hines
- Or buy from Amazon
Where to Buy
Spiff Cloth Bonus Coupon
From time to time The Hines would run a speical. When they do I put it up in the comment section, be sure to look for it! FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS, please!
The USA Made T-Shirt Search Requirements
- made in USA, of course
- traditional unisex cut, short sleeves
- not too thin/see-through
- not too long
- not form fitting
SOS from Texas Is The Winner
- American Apparel
$18 each, can’t tell where their cotton/fabrics are from. Don’t think I’m their target consumer… I decided not to buy from them.
- All American Clothing Co.
$11.99 each, I believe the cotton/fabrics are from USA
I bought both unisex and women’s plus few pairs of jeans (Can’t help it, they have petite length.) Thought the material is nice, the shirts don’t fit me right and too long for me. Kept the jeans, LOVE them! (not vanity sizing, be sure to consult their sizing chart)
- American Giant
$24.50 each, I believe the cotton/fabrics are all made in USA here, too.
They are famous for their hoodies, I bought 1 hoodies and a few unisex and women’s t-shirts. Same fitting issues as before, the material for women’s premium t-shirt is lovely and fashionable but too see-through for me. I kept the hoody, LOVE this, too.
- SOS from Texas <<< The Winner! >>>
- $12.50 each. Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Good price and ORGANIC!
- “From Dirt to Shirt”–Sold by the actual organic farmers
- The fit is what I wanted/expected (like the blank t-shirt from the craft shops)
- I kept all but one (I did expected the fit might not work), donated it to my local 100% volunteer thrift shop
- Then I ordered long-sleeve t-shirts for the fall and winter
Softest T-Shirt I Have
When I first touched it, I knew I love it. The t-shirt has a cushiony feel, a different kind of soft from the Supima t-shirts on the market but SOS shirts feel so much better against the body.
For the softest, go with “Natural”
White shirt is the next softest. The colored shirts are closer to the white t-shirt out there.
I called SOS from Texas to get help on size and color. The lovely lady actually pulled and measured a t-shirt for me. You might not get them on the first try (I’m guessing it’s a smaller outfit then the others) but don’t give up, it’s worth it!
Their site mentioned “Items may be returned for refund if they have not been washed or worn. If returning for an exchange, please include $6.50 for return shipping.”
Cheaper Means Cheaper
Been buying sheets on sales at department and other stores. They were cheaper but some smelled, some had pills after one wash (i.e. not going to last long), some only had weak elastic on the corners of the fitted sheets. And of course, none of those were made in the USA.
One side effect of my “Konmari Cleanup” is to simplify my life, including owning fewer quality things that last a long time. That also means, reduce waste and be green!
Authenticity 50, 100% “seed-to-stitch” Made in USA
US made products still means quality and safety.
When I found Authenticity 50, I couldn’t believe it.
- California Supima cotton:Supima cotton produces stronger and softer fabric.
- Georgia spun yarn
- Carolinas woven fabric
- Family-own factory hand sewn sheets
- Georgia made elastics
- Even the duvet cover’s corner ties and buttons are made in USA!
Trying It Out
To test them out, I got the A50 Duvet Set because I never use the flat sheet anyway. (They come with 100-night sleep trial.)
Minimal Yet Sufficient Packaging
The set came in a plastic bag inside a sturdy paper bag (good for recuse/recycle). And from the condition it arrived in, you don’t need more packaging than this. And it translates to reduced cost and less enviornmental impact.
360 Degree Elastic
I love that the elastic for the fitted sheet is 360 degree, not just in the corners. The elastic is wider and thicker than the other ones I’ve had. You can feel the quality by holding it in your fist.
Using it, Loving it
I’ve also washed it a few times, still good as new, no pills. The 250 thread-count seems to mean more than the 300+ ones I had before.
I believe we are going to have a healthy long-term relationship.
Tips with Fitted Sheets
The fitted sheets made for 14″ pocket. But do remember to include the extra paddings you have on your mattress.
White Only!? Consider The Costs
Some reviewer wished for colored sheets but think of the extra cost and the problem of not being able to sell less popular colors. The founders want to provide quality sheets at reasonable prices, I totally support having only white sheets.
Besides, I found color sheets tend to take over the room. If you want color, decorate with colorful pillows or a small throw. It’s cheaper and easier to switch up your themes this way, too.
UPDATE (Aug. 2017): Authenticity 50 now has Carolina Gray for people who don’t want white beddings.
$15 Coupon with My Referral Link
If you are looking for the coupon, sorry it has expired. But if you can still save by signing up at Authenticity 50, they do have amazing sales from time to time!
My #1 Pick for 2016!
I couldn’t put down. I haven’t done that since the Harry Potter days. My urge to know what the main characters will do and if there will be a happily-ever-after overrode my biological needs. If I were a faster reader, I’d finish it in one shot.
Unlike many time travel tales, all the time-related rules/issues where intertwined with the story itself, not explained by breaking the flow of the story. (The other no-questions-left unanswered time-travel novels are Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis.)
I also like that there wasn’t any graphic scenes some romance novels have, it’s healthy to leave room for the imagination. Also, the ways Ivy and Harrison act and think (i.e. not jumping into bed the first chance they got) reinforces their backgrounds, eras, and personalities well.
Besides the romance, I learned some history of South Africa and what it would’ve been like in the early 1900s.
The story resolution was surprising and satisfying, no blazing time-travel story black holes.
If you like The First Time because of the science aspect, I also recommand her earlier works, Professor Bradshaw Mystery series. Bradshow is a professer of electrial engineering at the University of Washington in the early 1900s (when common folks didn’t know much about electricity). He investages many electricity related cases.
Quiet on the outside
From this picture, you see mostly solid colors and no small clusters of stuff. This create the visual tidiness like folding with Konmari method.
- This Aqua metal 5-drawer cabinet was the seed of my vision. I’ve always wanted one, now I have a good reason. When I saw the actual color in The Container Store, sparks of joy flew. I’m still happy every time I see it!
But I needed two to hold up the stereo and other things (unknown at this point), so I ordered one in yellow, a color I also like.
I also joined their POP membership to save on possible future purchases.
- At the bottom I need something strong to support everything on top. After measuring, searching, and comparing, I ended up with BESTA shelving frame from IKEA.
To be honest, I wasn’t so sure about the white but the other two colors just shout blah. Once I put it in, it actually brightened things up just the right amount.
By the way, a few weeks after I bought it, it went on sale. Being an IKEA Family member gave me a 90-day price protection. And I got $8 back from my IKEA store.
- While waiting form my metal cabinets, I kept visiting The Container Store just for fun. By accident, I wondered to the clearance rack, saw a bit of yellow that matched the cabinet peaking out of an discountinued item for $13.
When I opened it, it was a metal storage cube I had considered but thought it was too expensive. Right then, another part of the vision puzzle fell into place.
I bought it then ordered a white one to help support the shelving plank above it. FYI, the doors and inside shelves come separately!
- Free shelf covers! These are actually packaging lids for the 5-drawer metal cabinets. They are effective in hiding the “noisy” contents thought they don’t cover the whole opening. However, that’s what makes them easy to remove. I thought making something wider myself but none would look as nice.
I’ve this arrangment for 3 months now and haven’t changed a thing.
Party on the inside
Looking inside drawer 2, you see the turquoise and white trays are lined. I used the color paper I have on hand to add vibrance and protection to the trays.
I also carry the idea to other drawers. Each drawer, according to its contents get a different treatment. Keep in mind that I also made my own insert when I did not like anything fitting on the market.
Function + form = spark of joy
Drawer 2 holds the most used items. I might have use drawer 1 but it doesn’t like to be opened all the way, even after I fixed the inside structure. And after months of using it, I realized drawer 2 is at the perfect height.
So, as you put your items in order, remember your sprak will go away if it’s a pain to use.
Do I have enough pens and pencils?
Once you are Konmari Clean, you can save money and avoid new clutter. As you see in my drawers that it’s obvious that I don’t ever need to buy more pen and pencil. And that’s the whole point of working by categories.
(Re)Locate with logic
Consider these with storage containers, cabinets, and individual items alike:
- Keep these near where they were before? Is there another location that would be more efficient?
- How often will you use it? Think ease of access.
- Are these items where you might be looking if you don’t really remember exactly?
Officially Konmari Clean
One last thing, I do have a deal-with-it-later shelf but it’s obvious enough I won’t forget it and not prominent enough to bother me.
Oh, one more last thing, less stuff = easier to clean = clean more often.
I believe, as Marie promised, I don’t think I will ever clog up my space again.
Visual tidiness = tranquility
What’s the point of all the KonMari work? Why fold and store clothing Konmari way? I first tried folding things my way then her way, the difference–much lower visual noise.
I was amazed how well visual tidiness brings tranquility to my life. I am more relaxed when I am in my room and in general. Then I applied the same principle to other categories.
Window shopping = energy to go on
Again, this started with my vision of a tidy built-in bookshelf. I didn’t know the exact items to buy but I know how they must work:
- Must be able to hold heaver weight. The tiny stubs can’t hold much more than the shelf planks, not useful.
- Must hold all I kept after Konmari sorting–mostly items from this bookshelf and the meditation corner (formally the clutter blackhole).
- Must have colors that brings me joy.
It was 5 months into the process, since I needed a break, I measured my shelf, armed with a tape measure, then visited various stores and web site for inspiration. Boy, that was fun and productive. Building this vision also pumped me up to finish the office supplies and smalls categories.
Then it was finally time to make my vision come true. (See the continuing post)
Vision that sparked action
If you read Marie’s first book, you know before you even sort a thing, you must envision the end result.
Mine was simple–have a meditation corner in my room, perhaps with a comfy chair. And if I have the desire and energy, I will put up my own oversized Zentangle art in turquoise blue, black, and white.
That vision powered me through to the end of the Konmari process. And trust me, this end vision is crucial to the process, even if the vision might change on the way, and the end result might be different.
Vision is not carved in stone
After 7 months of tidying up, I got my clean corner.
Sorry, no before picture, all I cared at the time was getting rid of the corner clutter–dusty black metal shelves, an IKEA double hamper, and a bunch of this-might-com-in-handy-someday stuff. Trust me, no one needs to see that.
I also swapped out the comfy chair idea with two Made In USA toy chests because:
- A decent comfy chair is expensive
- The chair is bulky and permanent
- I wanted something modern with clean lines
Instead, I bought some yoga gears on sale to fulfill the vision of the meditation corner.
This works so much better for me than my original vision.
Tips on vision and decorating
- Figure out the essence of your original vision. In my case, I just wanted my own quiet, uncluttered space.
- Be flexible and creative. Would following your original idea really spark joy? If not, look around, get ideas, change it. To suit my needs, I often find myself using/buying things that have different original purposes.
- Be okay to wait and buy what you need. Only after I knew what I need to make a new home for the items in each category, I start looking for their “home”, starting with what you already have. If that doesn’t spark any joy, then start searching to buy.
- To save money, use the boxes and trays you are not using/recycling for organizing things that will be inside drawers or closets. The point is to have a clean visual environment.
- Listen to your inner voice–“Yes, this definitely sparks my joy”
More on the Sprout toy chests
- If you put it next to a wall, you can prop up the lid as if there were hinges.
- I used a plastic container (and I managed to sneak turquoise blue in there) to separate my backpack from my clothing since it’s more dirty.
- For assembly, it’s easier to have 2 people and a rubber mallet (I folded corrugated cardboard into a thick stack and used that with a regular hammer). And if you are a perfectionist, a level would be great, too.
- Once assemble correctly, they are very sturdy.
- The toy box come in many colors.
- Sprout uses safe and recycled material. 100% Made In USA, from design to manufacturing. They offer good variety of kid’s furniture.
Been bothered by the slow draining issue for our bathtub for a while.
We’ve always used an extra mesh catch (very cheap with varies sizes at Daiso stores, place it upside down for bathtubs.) to stop hair and junk from getting into the pipes but tiny things that got down there do accumulate.
Chemical, homemade, or eco ready-made?
During my research, I learned that some plumbers don’t like the chemical solutions because they create particles that are harmful to your septic tank.
Then I read some homemade solutions but didn’t trust them because how varied and inconsistant they are. I wanted something that just works and not having to spend time testing all the formulas and run the risk of clogging up the pipes.
When I found this eco drain, septic cleaner, Plumb Clear, on Amazon.com, I didn’t believe it will work well like many eco-friendly products. Since the reviews were so positive and it’s made in USA, I bought it anyway.
Since I wasn’t expecting much, I didn’t video my experiment. And I trust you’d understand that I won’t wait for my pipe to clog up again to record that it works.
First try with AMAZING result
After reading the instructions, I used the [Septic Tank ratio]–2 scoops with 2 cups of warm water, waited 2-4 hours as asked. Then I accidentally spilled it into the tub, only some got into the drain. I didn’t want to leave any solution in the tub so I rinsed the tub right away.
At this point, I thought, it’s not going to work, I washed it away. That night when I took a shower, I was amazed how well it drained.
Second try with a toilet
For this slow draining toilet, I used the [Septic/Drains ratio]–2 scoops with 5 cups of water. I wanted to make sure the enzyme and friendly bacteria had a chance to eat the built-up in the outlet path of the toilet so I dump 1 cup of the solution into the toilet bowl without flushing for an hour.
When I finally flashed it, it drained so quickly. I was very happy!
Tricks and Tips
- When you first open the container, you need to fish out the scoop and the plastic snake.
- To help you mix the solution and apply with more precision:
- Find an old sports bottle similar to this (the point is to not spend any money while using something that’s just taking up space)
- Measure and draw the lines at 1 cup increments, this allows you adjust the mix to only the volume needed.
- IMPORTANT!!! Remember to also mark the bottle “NOT FOR DRINKING”.
- Don’t wait too long to clean the pipes. According to the seller, Alson Enterprises, it works not as well for fully clogged pipe. The solution needs to come in contact with the organic built-up to digest the gunk in the pipes.
- For the opening of the sink/tub drain, pull the stopper, pour in the solution (I used the more diluted ratio) until it overflows a little, let it sit for a while (I waited 15 minutes), then unstop it.
Cherish the empty spaces
After donating, recycling, and throwing away the rest of what I no longer need or love, I was surprised that I actually have shelves and drawers left empty. And I have to remind myself that empty spaces are the best medicine for my sanity.
Now I’ve lived with my KonMari-ed room, I am proud to not pile things up again. One empty shelf is now the holding place for things to be give away, either going to friends or for donation.
Reclaiming the joy of paper crafting
For my desk, I have two metal boxes from IKEA, holding the most used items. The boxes come with cork lids but bits of cork fall out all the time. So, I decided to make lids my way:
- Instead of having to remove the lid, the new lid act as a hinged cover. It’s much easier to open and shut.
- No more holes in the lids for dust to get in the boxes.
- Have my own design: I wanted white cover but found the contrast too sharp for my desk. I added a stripe of real cherry wood veneer. (By Arc Crafts on Amazon.com.)
- This process also helped me reduce my specialty paper collections. My collections are my sentimental items. I figured the more I used now, the less volume (i.e. pain) I would have parting with them.
- I had great fun making and designing the lids, therapeutic while productive, exactly how I roll.
- Since white dirties easily, I also made inserts to line the boxes. See the bright yellow poking out from the bottom of the black insert? Sparks joy everytime I raise the cover.
Repurposing & make it yours
You may not be a paper nut like me but try repurposing what you do collect. Marie did suggest to use what you have on hand to save money as you reorganize your items. You can’t buy read-made items to fit your every need anyway, why not make them your own?