When in doubt, make a list.

I have a big night planned tonight (which you know does not involve watching television, because I’m a big stupid-head).

I have no idea if this is a good idea or a horribly ill conceived one but I’m going to write down everything I would like to buy/do. Stuff I need/want to spend money on basically.  I have in my head that all the things I want to do are way out of reach but if I write them down I might see that, Oh … I could maybe do that.  Or, of course, it could go the completely opposite direction with me staring at my long list of wants and crying because I’ll never, ever be able to afford all of these things.  And then I’ll be a big stupid-head with a snotty nose and runny mascara.

My dining room floor for instance is a mess, I really need an upstairs bathroom and life sure would be nicer if I had something a little larger than a laundry “closet”.  I still need a living room chair because even though the one I found in the garbage is actually quite nice, it’s the least comfortable chair I’ve ever sat on.  I’d like a new table for my front hall and I need new blinds in the whole house.  So these are big ticket things I need to think about, which I never do because they’re big ticket things and I find they’re much easier to deal with when I leave them at the very back of my brain somewhere behind where I store the names of kids I went to school with in Grade 3.

But I figure, I make lists for things I need to get done all the time and it really helps me.  Making lists is what keeps me sane.  Lists of what I have to do, lists of materials I need to do those things, lists of the timeline I have for these things and on and on.

So maybe a list of these big scary things will help too.  I’ll take a look and assess the costs and decide, well I can do this and this, but I can live without this and this.  And this would be doable in 5 years.

Unlike these offerings from my sponsors, which are pretty well doable right now and immediately!



My rolling pins from Cattails are my favourites.  They’re smooth and beautiful.


Photo of Capree Kimball’s beautiful bathroom done with Cement Tile Shop’s Tulum cement tile. Looks SO great.


Red Asymmetrical dress by Belgian designer Maison Margiela (for H&M) at LAB Consignment.

I REALLY love this because a) it’s only $75 and b) it reminds me of the work of one of my favourite designers Issey Miyake.


The 100% Rough Linen bath sheet.  Would be perfect for the bathroom I don’t have yet.


Handmade Wool Dryer balls you can have custom scented.   Whattttt!

Tara has every colour imaginable and even though I lean towards whites, taupes and black if I were going for dryer balls to bounce around my dryer I’d go for these bright coloured ones.  My laundry closet would love them.


Read about the casual chic Stockholm style from Curious Citizen’s Daniela (who happens to be travelling in Sweden right now)

The Swedes have it down in decorating and dressing.


Mola style hawk dish towel from my favourite dish towel maker … Diamond Dust Studio.


Pure black soap.  Magno soap is a soap made famous in Spain because of its unique scent and true black colour that lathers pure white.

Made with the rarest of mineral salts from the island of La Toja in the west of Spain to soothe and soften the skin


  1. Dale Lacina says:

    I need to write a list to keep track of where I put the lists that I’ve written.

    “the least comfortable chair I’ve ever sat on” was in the garbage because it was the least comfortable chair someone else ever sat on.

    By the way, I’m up to 5 Monarchs in my jar. 3 chrysalis and 2 caterpillars. So fun to watch them chow on the milkweed leaf. Like a dairy cow grazing through a pasture.

    Goin’ fishing,

  2. Susan says:

    I love the dryer balls. I bought a static sheet for the dryer at Goodness Me. It works great and chemical free. I assume it works the same as the dryer balls. I just Googled how to make them. Sounds easy. Similar to the felted purse I made. I’m on it.

  3. Dawn says:

    I saw this the other day and of course it reminded me of your blog. Except you probably look better when in the garden.

  4. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I just need a list of everything I would like to buy from your sponsors…and then a list of how to make enough money to order it all…You do have great sponsors Karen!

  5. Patti says:

    The tile is beautiful but that black ceiling makes it wow! Karen, have you tried Issey Miyake fragrance? It’s so light and fresh. Maybe the dryer balls could be scented with it!

  6. Helen Whaley says:

    I do quite a bit of lusting for a tulip table. Last time I checked, they cost over 5,000USD so yearning from a distance is extravagant enough.
    Lists certainly are a wonderful thing! It didn’t occur to me to make a list of seemingly out of reach things/projects.
    Excuse me, I must dash – I have a new list to compile.

  7. Kim says:

    I love lists Karen. I use them for everything and I do mean everything. I’m a textbook Type A over-achiever with a little streak of OCD just to make life interesting LOL.

    I love the other readers suggestions to barter your items for advertising on your site. Don’t they know by now that we follow you religiously and will buy most anything you recommend!

    I’m not sure if you have a version of Craigslist.org in Canada but I love this site. It’s like an online flea market. I have obtained the majority of my furnishings there. I’m a bit of an environmentalist and hate how we, as a society, are so very wasteful.

    It takes a bit of looking but you can usually find gently used and loved pieces that people sell for a fraction of the cost because they are redecorating, relocating or downsizing. With your talent, ingenuity and skill at up-cycling, recycling and restoring; you could turn anything into something fabulous!

    • Karen says:

      Hey Kim! We have Craigslist and we have something that’s even better called Kijiji. I’m not sure why it’s better … it just is. It’s where I was constantly looking for my tulip table and chairs when I wanted them. NOW, all I want is the marble topped tulip table (which is what I’d like in my front hall). I’m eyeing a fake which is still around $900. For a fake. A fake one. But I’ve wanted one and loved them for around 15 years now so I’m not likely to suddenly become sick of it. Hopefully, lol. ~ karen!

  8. Marie says:

    I’ve been making lists since I was 2. Of everything. I love lists, but lately I’ve been getting frustrated that my ‘to do’ list never gets any shorter. I end up feeling as though I’m not getting things done.
    So, I’ve started keeping a second list of things I’ve achieved. It’s getting longer than my to do list very quickly, and very satisfying every time I look at it. Definitely my favorite list;)

  9. IRS says:

    I make lots of lists. Things to buy. Things to do. Room by room projects. Crafts I’d like to try, and the materials required to try them. Health and fitness goals. I like to make these lists while sitting on the couch, and when finished with the lists, I like to ignore the lists, and stay on the couch.

    Those rolling pins look nice. Which one would be best for husband wrangling?

    Interesting red dress. It looks like the fashion statement equivalent of leaving the ladies room with your skirt bunched up in your underwear. Are you supposed to wear the dress with a trail of toilet paper stuck to your shoe?

    • Karen says:

      I’m not sure I can take the fashion criticism of a woman who wears a chicken purse seriously, lol. ~ k!

      • IRS says:

        *sniffs* Hey, that buzzard bag is faboo. I look quite distinguished with it. ;) Actually, I quite like the red dress. I was just expressing a portion of my daily mandated snark. As a designer, I have created quite a few designs that have similar unusual draping, and visible under layers. My main criticism of this dress is that the seam in the lining appears to be stitched the wrong way. Since the lining is meant to be showing, the seam where the lining is joined was sewn inside out. It should have been sewn so that the raw edges of the fabric are hidden when the lining is exposed. Instead, it was sewn as a regular (hidden) lining. I am very particular to detail.

        • Kim says:

          Thank you IRS!!! I couldn’t figure out what seemed off to me about the otherwise fabulous red dress! When I read your post it instantly made sense :-)

        • IRS says:

          You’re welcome Kim. This dress was from a line by a well known, and very upscale designer, but made for the affordable mass market. About a decade ago, Target in the US started to do this with various famous designers, and other chains like H&M followed suit. These designer lines are offered a couple of times a year, in limited quantities, and always quickly sell out. It is a way for fans of these designers to get a dress for about $150 or so, when a dress from the same designer’s regular line would easily cost $3000 or more. For the cheaper price, you get to own a bit of the designer’s design skill and cachet, but the fabrics are mostly synthetic and not the greatest, and the workmanship often leaves a lot to be desired. My OCD inspired attention to detail makes me a good designer (and a fantastic list maker), but it also drives me to the edge of insanity. Which makes me very cranky.

        • Karen says:

          LOL, now I have to go back and look at the dress. I really would buy it but it’d be too big for me. And methinks for $75 we’re lucky the whole thing isn’t just serbed together. ~ k!

        • IRS says:

          I assume you meant “serged”. And what makes you think it wasn’t? :D

        • Karen says:

          No, I meant serbed. You know. By a little Yugoslavian. ~ karen!

        • IRS says:

          ROFL! Ya got me. That was good.

        • Kim from Milwaukee says:

          IRS, I personally need a particular level of snark on a daily basis. You just filled it. Thank you.

        • IRS says:

          I live to serve, Kim. And I have plenty of snark to go around. :D

  10. Dayle says:

    I’d really like to be there when you “look at asses”!!!!! Great typo…..I think!!!!

  11. Erin says:

    Lists are essential. Now with digital lists on my phone, they are never left behind. I keep a list of the obvious things like groceries, but also larger projects around the house and garden. Every winter we review the projects for the year and set our goals – usually too optimistically for our time and budget – but there is something to aim for!

    • IRS says:

      I can attest to the fabulousness of this purse. I bought one a year and a half ago at a fancy schmancy boutique in Miami. I wear it with jeans and a T-shirt and flip flops (my default summer uniform), but it also amuses me to sometimes wear it with a designer dress, heels, and good jewelry. The contrast gets quite a few looks and comments. :D

  12. April Dawn says:

    Hi Karen. I didn’t mean that the type of soap was meant for people of color only but simply what true black soap actually is. It’s only a name. The term obviously is confusing and anyone can use the soap. To be totally correct, I should have actually called it by the true term which is “raw black soap”.

  13. I once made a list like that many moons ago but my ex got angry and made me get rid of it . He said it made him feel like he was supposed to provide it . As the years rolled on I came to realize he had not intentions of doing anything remotely close to that. I felt it gave me something to aspire to.

  14. Kim C says:

    I love making lists! Truth be told, I NEED lists. Helps keep me sane. After reading this post I’m off to start another list…Christmas gift ideas! I will be adding that lovely soap and some fun dryer balls. :)
    Hope you can stick with your list Karen, especially finding a comfy chair! You really do deserve a good spot to curl up with a good book on those very rare days that you allow yourself to relax.

  15. Cindy M says:

    I’m with you…..lists are the only way to go. Except…I forget to make my lists. So you know that I’m not managing my time well.

    Love your list though!

  16. mickey says:

    Lists don’t work for me. I keep losing them.
    Karen…you must buy that red dress. I insist!

  17. Jody says:

    I wanted to switch to dryer balls. The descriptions always mention softnessbut not static. My husband is worried about the fire hazard static causes. Please tell me they also prevent static. I am sick of those little sheets that always end up on the floor.

    • Tara says:

      Hey Jody!

      As the maker of the aforementioned dryer balls, I can assuredly say that they do help with static!

      There’s actually a number of things you can do to eliminate static from your laundry while it makes its journey from dirty to clean!

      The main cause of static is your synthetic fibered items (fleece, nylon, etc.) rubbing up against your natural fibered items (cotton, silk, etc.). So, be sure to keep them separate when washing and drying.

      White vinegar is going to be your best friend – especially in the colder months to keep static at bay! Just add half a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle of your wash as a replacement for fabric softener. I know it sounds crazy but ever since I started doing that years ago, I have zilch static, even in the winter! Thus, when your clothes make it to the dryer, they’ll have significantly less static for the dryer balls to fluff out.

      And lastly – two things: be sure to keep your dryer on its moisture sensitive setting (if your machine has one) – over-drying your clothes can turn a load of static-free clothes into cling city! And be sure not to over-stuff your dryer too, if your dryer balls don’t have room to bounce around, neither do your clothes and that’s just going to increase the static in them.


      • Thank you for posting Tara. I’ve been using dryer balls (not yours, sorry, had mine before I saw you advertising on Karen’s site) and having static problems with a few items. Will definitely try the vinegar rinse and keeping synthetics separate from natural fibres. Appreciate the tips!

  18. Melissa in NC says:

    That Red dress is so you! And I love the blk and white bathroom tiles, so me.

    I am all about lists. I have a couple active lists right now. One, like you, is for projects I want to complete like making ties for my daughter’s boyfriend’s dog and refinishing the dining room table. My other list is items I need to purchase so I can pack for my trip to Switzerland to meet my first grandchild, Oliver. I get tons of satisfaction when I cross off an item, like the upcycled Christmas sweater socks I just made for my daughter and her growing family.

  19. Ev Wilcox says:

    Must have lists. Lists of ingreds for a new recipe to try, lists for groceries for sure, lists of what to get for Christmas for this one and that one, birthday lists, garden seed lists! One of the most used lists for me is what needs done before a family gathering/party at my house. I am the Mom/Grammy of this family, so the really big things are held here. I am ready to abdicate though! Thing is, this is a central location and I have a good sized house, enclosed porch, deck, backyard. Grateful for it, but makes it hard to pass the torch! Bottom line-I would be helpless without lists! Have fun making yours, Karen!

  20. Mary W says:

    The black and white bathroom tiles are GORGEOUS! When I was a kid using the bathroom, the black and white tiles always made my depth perception do crazy things and I loved to sit in there and try to touch the tiles that appeared to be coming closer. One of my favorite escapes. Better than sticking beans up your nose or other strange things kids do.

  21. I make wonderful, detailed, fabulous, doable lists.

    Then, promptly lose them. Every. Damned. Time.

    I think it’s a Freudian thing.

  22. Su says:

    grocery lists…. that’s about it for me…. I lose them otherwise… heck I’ve been known to make the grocery list and then leave it on the counter or in the car so I’m still aimlessly wandering the aisles of the store…..

    I do use the dryer balls….. I love them… one less chemical on my skin…

  23. Tigersmom says:

    I like to make lists of the lists I need to make.

  24. April Dawn says:

    Alright now, those rolling pins are simply the BOMB and I’d love to have one of them when I’m making homemade dumplings or pie crusts. I’m not so sure about that “black” soap though. Yeah it’s black in color but not true black soap at all. And the $, NOT!!!! True black soap is either from Africa or Ghana and is not black at all in color. It’s mainly brown, made of plantain skins and other natural ingredients and has a superb “earthy” scent to it which means no artificial scents are added and lathers up wonderfully too I must add. It actually reminds me of the lye soap my late Aunt Carrie used to make when I was a child. You can find it on Amazon and I usually get a 10 lb. block of it for about $40 which lasts for quite a while. I usually wash my dreads with it. BTW, I love this blog!

    • Karen says:

      Hi April. Well, the soap isn’t for people who are “black”, I don’t think, lol. It’s soap that’s coloured black. Although my friend Noelle, who sells the soap is indeed black. Or actually I guess she’s half black. Which would make her brown, but she’s selling black soap that’s famous and coveted by Spanish people who are neither black or brown but kind of taupe coloured I guess. This is getting confusing. Nevermind, lol. ~ karen!

  25. judy says:

    One thing I have notice about my spending is Duh! the little extravagances do add up. We have too many “Antique Shoppes” in our area-question the use of Antique as applied to their stock but still- all sorts of “stuff” that somehow winds up in my possession. People clean out the homes of those who have retired to a nursing home or Florida or they have passed away and the stuff that cost them thousands of dollars only cost me hundreds so I’m saving lots of money-Right? Except now I have more pretty things to enjoy and admire-also dust and be embarrassed by when younger visitors exclaim at how much stuff I have and isn’t it a pain to dust? I feel like one of those birds that fills its nest with shiny bits and baubles and no earthly use to a bird at all. I think the bird and I have one thing in common-a teeny tiny bird brain. anyhoo the gist of this is me writing to myself to “cut it out! and offering a caution to beware the small indulgence it delays the hearts desire.

  26. Ann says:

    Agree that dryer balls work and agree they are easy to make. Maybe some of us who are rabid knitters/crocheters/fiber artists could all gang up and make some for you and at least you could mark those off the list and save your money for that dress. Well, if it were me, I would never want that dress. Hard to tend chickens and rabbits in it, if you ask me. But I am sure it will look smashing on you.

  27. Monica says:

    Karen – I’ve made my own dryer balls and it’s super easy – I just used old balls of wool that were left over – you wind them tightly and then you put them in an old pantyhose leg and tie knots after each one (looks like sausage links) – then threw them in the washing machine – I found the instructions on the internet – worked great!

    only caveat is that you should NOT use washable wool or the balls won’t felt.

  28. Paula says:

    I was going to buy the soap for $8, but the shipping costs and the handling fee would be $13 +. I will remember it for Xmas presents and perhaps I will buy enough to make it worth my while. But $20 for a bar of soap is out of my league :(

  29. Cynthia Jones says:

    I use white chalk on my walls to make my lists. I leave a big space under each item, so I can put the possibilities under each item.

    I do this with quotes or other life lessons that keep fallling out of my brain. When I have things sorted and the perfect words, then I put the list up with glue-on gold letter stickers.

    If it’s a biggy, I use butchers paper sheets and write with a Sharpie pen.

    Maybe you could find a sponsor who would donate DYI flooring for your dining room floor, in exchange for advertising. A floating timber floor, maybe?

    I approve of lists thoroughly. I think magic happens in the universe when a list is visible. It also helps the to network with the universe if visitors and postmen etc. get to see the list and then you get to talk about the list.

    You dont really need an upstairs bathroom, do you. Surely. I have an old granny’s enamel pee pot I could send you. Okay I guess you want to shower near your bedroom. Fussy monkey you are.

  30. Louise says:

    I can’t get the kitchen towel link or the dryer ball link to work.
    God, those tiles are beautiful!
    But the soap looks interesting too and is a bit more manageable budget-wise.

  31. Grammy says:

    I already have that bathtub. I need that tile floor. NEED it.

  32. Stephanie says:

    Dryer balls link not working for me.

  33. Jaylah says:

    I find lists to be invaluable tools. I actually have two that I’ve kept running for years. One is in a document protector in my “Garden Notebook” 3-ring binder. I have it as a document on my computer and I cross of things I’ve done and add new things I want to do each year. Then, in the winter when the closest I get to gardening is looking at snow-covered beds from my windows, I go into my computer and update the saved list, print out the new one, replace the old one in the binder, and see how many things I can get crossed off the next year.

    The other one I keep in my “House” file in my filing cabinet. Same thing. Print out a fresh, updated copy every year.

    What I find really helps me with these is that, along with what I want, I write down an estimate of what it’s going to cost to do it. Then I try to figure out some way to save some extra money and then figure out how long it would take me to save up enough to do the #1 priority on the list.

    Then when I’m getting ready to go out and do errands in 100+ degree heat in July, I remember that if I fill a water bottle at the sink and take it with me, I won’t be tempted to spend that dollar at Wendy’s getting a big iced tea with a slice of lemon. And that’s $1 towards the cost of whatever my next big project is.

    I also try to put whatever I’ve saved into an envelope and deposit that money into my “House” savings account at the bank from time to time. For example, if I only have a few things to pick up at the grocery store, I’ll ride my bike to the store instead of driving, and then put $1.25 in my envelope. It’s just a tad over 2 miles to the store and the federal mileage rate is currently 57.5-cents per mile. It’s really quite amazing how fast that one or two dollars here and there adds up.

    Being born in June, I’ve always been a “summer girl.” Hated winter. The one thing I really look forward to every winter is re-doing my lists and remembering how good it feels to be able to delete a finished project from the next year’s list.

  34. Karen says:

    For the first time I started the same kind of list today too. It made the ideas rattling in my head feel real and doable. I need to add a Rough Linen pinafore to it.

    • Karen says:

      You really do. I wear mine ALLLLLL the time. ~ karen!

    • Grammy says:

      Put that pinafore at the very top of your list. I saw it here, went to Rough Linen and fell in love with it even more, and got one. I, too, wear mine all the time. It’s one of those things you just smile at your good fortune about every time you put it on.

      • Karen says:

        It’s true! It’s almost weird how happy I feel when I put it on, lol. I use it for gardening, cooking, I wear my black one whenever I’m doing surgery or syringe feeding Cuddles … they’re indispensable. ~ karen!

  35. Kathleen says:

    Oh that red dress!
    And the rolling pins…
    That bathroom… and the tiles of course…

    Dryer balls? What the hell are dryer balls? And why would one NEED dryer balls? In different colours, no less!

    :) Have an awesome day, Karen.

    • Grammy says:

      Dryer balls bounce around in your dryer and keep the clothes fluffed and wrinkle free. I like them because I’ve never once used fabric softener so in any form because I can’t tolerate their scent. Dryer balls do the same thing without the overwhelming smell.

      • nancy says:

        I LOVE fabric softener scent!!

        • Grammy says:

          Then the scented kind are right up your alley, Nancy. Those colorful beauties in Karen’s post look lovely, too.

        • Mary W says:

          Read up on what is in the scent and you may change your mind. I used some used dryer sheets to make a tiny book for fun. Then when I showed a group of women the project most said they would not touch the sheets because they were poisonous. The fumes I was told – but I still use them since I never read up on it. I love the smell while playing ostrich.

      • Gary G from Holland, Michigan says:

        Homemade balls of aluminum foil do the same thing. Make a ball and keep it in your dryer.

    • Karen says:

      LOL! Well they’re balls for your dryer of course. ;) They do the same thing as fabric softener sheets apparently, without the chemicals. They soften and fluff clothes, plus you can have a scent added to the balls. ~ karen!

  36. Pat says:

    Over the years I have found “the list” to be a very grounded way of setting goals. After making my wish list, I then would prioritize. For something like “new bathroom” I would estimate a cost and a time line to reach that goal. The key is to be realistic. I did this every January and then regularly revisited the goals. It worked for me and I have acheived every goal I set.

  37. Missnicoleo says:

    Swoon. That bathroom floor!!!!!

  38. Kathryn says:

    Lists are the best!

    It could be worth evaluating if there are any things on your list that could be done with discounts or free. Something like your new table for your front hall could be something you get for free and sand/polish to save money. Also if you need work done you might be able to find someone on http://www.helpx.net a friend of mine runs a B&B and has saved hundreds of dollars by providing a room in exchange for some help around the house.

    The you can spend your money on all the other fun things!!

    • Karen says:

      All good ideas Kathryn (love the idea of bartering) but these are all things I’d like to spend real money on. :) I’ve put up with the garbage chair in my living room and the on sale table in my front hall for long enough, lol. It’s now time to buy actual good quality pieces of furniture for those spots. I’ll figure it out. It may take a few years to do it all, but I’ll figure it out. :) ~ karen!

  39. Steven says:

    I really need to make a list of things I need to do. But I’m terrible at lists… Maybe “make a lis”t should be the first thing on my list?
    They seem like such a good idea, but I know the things I need to do already! Do I really need a list? Maybe that’s why I put things off. Nothing tangible to reference? Hmmmm.
    I can’t find a pencil that isn’t broken. I should put “sharpen pencils” on my list.

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