Put down that roll of paper towels

gray faucet

Hand towels can be icky even in the best of situations. Drying your hand on a damp towel is counterproductive and let’s face it, even though we love our families, some of them aren’t the best of hand washers. 

I was introduced to the roll of paper towels in the bathroom by a coworker. And I thought it was genius until the sustainability shortfalls hit me, and I realized that using virgin paper to dry my hands and fill the landfill was not exactly aligned to my values. 

Another co-worker introduced me to fingertip towels. She was stylish and particular, and it seemed so *fancy* — I was sold. I also learned from her to have a separate basket in the bathroom seeded with a “used” towel, so guests would know what to do. Remember having people over? That used to be a thing.

I started with some pretty fancy fingertip towels. The problem was I couldn’t amass enough on my budget to get through a week. I eventually bought a bundle of low-cost washcloths and used those for a long time. Two downsides: 1) They didn’t have nicely finished edges, and they frayed; 2) they were also on the small side. 

I finally landed at a nice middle ground: six-packs of higher quality washcloths bought on sale–larger, softer, and finished edges.  We have about 24 for each bathroom. That’s not quite enough to get us through a week, so I will do a mid-week load when needed.

My cleaning routine: warm water with detergent plus vinegar in the bleach dispenser and an extra rinse. Move promptly to the dryer and dry using the sanitize dryer cycle.

Who I am

The Temple of Apollo in Greece surrounded by green mountain and field

Last month, I shared my list of Who I’m Not. I don’t know why it was easier to start there. On the other hand, many a consulting project has started with the phase. “I know what I don’t want” so maybe it’s not a surprise.

There are so many conversations about values, being authentic, and knowing who you are here, here and here. (Plus, Moana.) And “know thyself,” is one of the maxims* inscribed at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. So we’ve been wrestling with this need for knowing for thousands of years. There are no hard and fast answers. It’s a struggle until it’s now. Often it’s a journey we make alone. It seems to be a recurring assignment on the syllabus of life.

Do we even know who we are?

There is so much noise in our lives. These are unprecedented times. It’s hard to be still and know. It’s hard to know who we are separate from what we have been trained/conditioned/socialized to be. Maybe that’s why it’s easier to drop into our bodies and know viscerally what we don’t like and what we don’t want to be.

Who am I?

Jeans-wearing tree lover, plant lover, dog and cat lover, quilter, painter, gardener, strong-willed, soft-hearted, fair, reliable, learner, reader, lover of the commons, fan of economics and economists, vegetarian, daily tofu eater, major coffee BBQ rub fan, reuser, recycler and upcycler, lover of beauty, and egalitarian. COFFEE DRINKER AF.

Who are you?

How do you know? How can you discover and uncover the answers?

P.S. *Good to keep in mind that the other two maxims are “Nothing in excess” and “Surety brings ruin.” We are all works in progress. We are all becoming.

P.P.S. Who I am? What I am? This is exactly the type of nerdy wordy conversations commonplace under my roof.

flat lay photography of eight coffee latte in mugs on round table

Virtual coffee date

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In the studio: September 2020

Tree quilt

I have a ton of beading supplies that have been sitting in a tub for longer than I care to admit. After buying a beaded necklace that I love from the Candy Dance festival in Genoa (yes, that’s a real event and sadly, canceled this year, like so many events), I wanted to make more. I bought the supplies for about 20 necklaces, eventually learned the basics from a friend, made my first necklace, and stopped there. (Insert forehead slap here.)  I’m not proud of this, my friends. It’s a terrible display of lack of grit. Time went by, and I just psyched myself out. I found it impossible to get started.  A couple of months ago, I took an online jewelry class and that planted the seed to try again.

So, I decided to make a beaded hanger for a quilt, this tree quilt that I finished back in January

It turned out so great! I can’t believe I made it! This small success has unleashed my inner beader, and I have completed two quilt hangers and two necklaces this month! Beading is incredibly relaxing, and I use a KLACK serving tray (IKEA) and a flocked bead design board from Michaels to bead in bed. It’s become a regular part of my nighttime routine. 

If you would like to give beading a trying, head over to YouTube University and start your beading adventure today. 

Some tools that I am glad I bought:

  • Wire
  • A basic jewelry making toolset
  • Jump rings in different sizes 
  • Clasps
  • An interesting selection of beads, small and large
  • Sorting trays (but if I need more, I’m going to check out these from Harbor Freight)

Fire and Rain

Fire and rain

It’s been a tough month in the West. A couple of weeks ago I woke up smelling smoke and it was a downward spiral from there. A couple of weeks of fire danger, thick smoke, dangerous air, and devastating fires.

Today it is raining buckets in Olympia, Washington. I don’t know if I have ever been so grateful for the rain.

Whatever we are going through, it doesn’t last – good or bad, everything is always in motion.

Cue J.T.: He was 22 when this recording was made.

Also Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande:

The Laundry Fairy Will See You Now

Laundry secrets from Shout®

This may surprise you: I love doing laundry. I get excited about washing machines the way some people get excited about iPhones. I enjoy the science of laundry and I’m always looking for laundry tips and tools.

Here are two: 

  1. Shout Advanced Ultra-Concentrated Gel Brush for Set-in Stains
    Years ago I got oil-based salad dressing on a favorite silk blouse. I dutifully took it to the dry cleaners and got a note back from them that it was beyond hope.

    As a general rule, I reject the “beyond hope” assessment in laundry and in life. So I tried my go-to stain remover, Shout Advanced Ultra-Concentrated Gel Brush, and washed the silk blouse in the washing machine. Washing silk can go very wrong so it can be an advanced laundry skill, but I decided I really had nothing to lose. And it worked. I got all of the stains out. I wore it for years after that. 
  2. Shout ColorCatcher Dye Trapping Sheets
    I learned about color remover sheets after a devastating laundry incident. I had just completed a Christmas quilt – a very red Christmas quilt – and I washed it to remove the quilt markings. The red ran everywhere. It was devastating. I was sure that I had ruined it. In desperation, I searched the internet for possible remedies and found one that involved Dawn dishwashing soap and Shout ColorCatcher Sheets. It was a long process but my quilt was saved. Now I’m a regular user and will throw a sheet in if there’s ever a chance that one garment might run. 

Also confession: I don’t always sort my laundry by color. I really used to be a purist about this, but after learning about some best practices around washing underwear and socks, I now wash them together as a single load irrespective of color. And they are definitely a mix of white to black and every color in between. I’ve never had a problem with colors running.

Also, a good soundtrack for doing laundry always includes this gem. I may or may not have my own custom lyrics. 🙂

Who I’m not

Knot Photo by Max Saeling on Unsplash

Who am I? Maybe it’s the unending quarantine, maybe it’s just a periodic existential crisis but I’ve been thinking about this a lot. 

Figuring out who I am is an ongoing process. Who I’m not is easier:
Fancy. Ambitious. Talkative. Selfish. Busy. Exclusive. Name brand. Low tech (mostly). A snob. Extroverted (mostly). A traveler. A specialist. Set in my ways. Polished. A dress and skirt person. Gourmet. Perfectionist (recovering). Particular (mostly). A broccoli eater. Lazy. 

How about you? Who are you? Who aren’t you?


Photo by Max Saeling on Unsplash

Goldie turned 20

Gold Toyota Tacoma, AKA Goldie

I am a girl who loves pickup trucks. I drove a Volvo, Toyota Tercel, and VW Rabbit in my younger days, but now it’s all trucks all the time. My first Toyota truck, Black Beauty, is enjoying retirement in Arizona with a friend who just put classic car plates on the old girl. He hopes that will keep people from following him home to see if he wants to sell her. (She’s that great.)

My current truck, Goldie, is still a few years from those plates but that’s her future. About the time that I got Goldie, I had a herniated disk that did a number on me. One of the side effects was a loss of feeling in my left foot, something that made driving a stick shift a little nerve-wracking. So I switched to an automatic: a gold Toyota Tacoma V6 with the extended cab. The power steering, windows, and locks all felt luxurious when I first got her. Do I wish she had 4WD? Why yes, yes I do. When you live in Arizona, V6 is more helpful than 4WD (hello, drive to Flagstaff). In all my other home states, 4WD would have been more helpful.  If you have a choice, go for both 4WD ANDV6! Third option! 

Practical quilts and weaving (!)

Small strip quilt used for a drying mat.

In the past month, I worked on several projects, including a long-planned pair of quilts for our kitchenette. We have two bedrooms with en suite bathrooms, and one has a kitchenette. I decided to upgrade the microfiber drying mat to a quilted version and made a companion quilt to go under the countertop water dispenser. I used varying strip widths on these, something I don’t typically do. I love how they turned out.

I also designed a woven wall hanging! Last month I finished my first weaving via a class through The Crafter’s Box taught by Erin Barrett, owner of Sunwoven. Now that I have a loom, I thought “What else can I make?” Using Mandala Ombré Yarn from Lion as my inspiration, I created a design using Adobe InDesign and pretty much finished in a week doing a little bit after work every day. I am light years away from Erin in terms of ability (follow her on Instagram!), but I had fun, and I learned a lot. 

In My Wake(let)

Boat with a wake. Photo by Shaah Shahidh on Unsplash

Website projects. I love them, and I hate them. The holy grail has always been an easy-to-use platform that delivers good-looking sites. WordPress was a huge step in that direction. Templates and plug-ins make it so much easier to provide a website that looks good and meets project objectives. But, there’s still a steep learning curve for most people.

Enter Wakelet. Wakelet is a tool geared toward the K-12 audience for teaching, portfolios, and team projects. It has a beautiful interface with built-in tools and a searchable Unsplash library of photos, and you can upload videos, PDFs, text, websites. You can arrange curated lists in several ways. Resource lists vault past the text-only link lists that we are used to seeing and creating. 

Because it’s geared toward kids, Wakelet offers user management and access without requiring accounts and logins. It’s genius. Read more

Here’s my Wakelet: https://wakelet.com/@haikupiec

I’ve all but abandoned browser bookmarks in favor of Wakelet boards and bookmarks. 
If you want to try it out, check out their how-to guide: https://help.wakelet.com/hc/en-us.


Photo by Shaah Shahidh on Unsplash

Quilt heroes

Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash

My first quilt was a trip around the world lap quilt. I was asked to fill in as an instructor for a class and thought I should make the quilt before attempting to teach others. Why me? I do not know. Desperation, maybe. I was a long-time sewer at that point, but I had never made a quilt. I was probably a lousy teacher, but I hope that my enthusiasm and encouragement made up for my complete lack of knowledge. My second quilt was also a trip around the world quilt for my boyfriend. It was queen-sized, and I appliqued his name into the border. I went all out for quilt number two, and he was suitably impressed. Looking back, I see it was a turning point in my life as a sewist. Quilts became my primary focus and have been for a long time. I’ve taken many classes and tried all kinds of techniques making many traditional and non-traditional quilt patterns. 

Fast forward about five years, and I started making the quilts that I think of as my quilts. Pieced strip quilts combined with black sashing. The first quilts used every color. Then I did color themes, like blue and green and red and green. Fast forward again, and now my quilts don’t always have black sashing–and sometimes I forego the sashing altogether, especially in my small quilts. I have been experimenting with a close-to-zero waste strategy, sewing tiny bits together to make strips. 

This use-what-you-have strategy connects me to generations of quilters who created quilts for warmth out of what they had. Many quilts are utilitarian, but an extraordinary number of quilts are also works of art. Needle arts were one of the few creative outlets for generations of women, and quilting is now an art form dominated by women.

Last year, I read about an incredible bequest of 3,000+ quilts from the estate of quilt collector Eli Leon. Honestly, I tried to picture having a 3,000 quilt collection in my home. I told my husband I was willing to try it. 😉 Leon built a temperature-controlled addition to house much of his collection. He studied and collected quilts made by African American quilters, and supported and championed the work of quilters like Rosie Lee Tompkins.

Rosie Lee Tompkins is a pseudonym for Effie May Howard. Howard was an extremely private person and sought to remain unknown. Eli Leon suggested that Howard use the name Rosie Lee Tomkins when exhibiting her work. 

Leon donated his quilt collection, the largest private collection of African American quilts, to the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA).

Rosie Lee Tompkins: A Retrospective is currently on exhibit at BAMPFA. Covid-19 has closed down museums worldwide, but the shutdown has inspired many great online museum tours like this one, led by Chief Curator Larry Rinder. 

Tompkins quilts have power and movement, bold colors, whimsical motifs, and unexpected fabrics. She could transform a controlled geometric pattern into something organic, transforming traditional designs and techniques into modern art. Her color combinations glow and pulse. I’ve been thinking about what she might have wanted people to feel when they saw her work: Joy. Energy. Power. Faith. Happiness. 
Read more about the exhibition in this review by Roberta Smith in the New York Times.


Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash