Julie Bowersett


Blog Writing Course Alumni

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Use What You Have

Recently, I was working on some plans for a project, writing down my ideas in a notebook.  I was getting a little carried away, listing all sorts of possibilities.  Then I had an epiphany:  I wrote in large capital letters at the top of the page USE WHAT YOU HAVE.  This has become a sort of mantra for me in the last few weeks, one I find applies to so many aspects of my life.

Take the meatballs, for instance.  I needed to take a batch to an event at my church and had planned to use that old faithful recipe that combines grape jelly with chili sauce.  I had neither, but I did have a jar of apricot preserves and a bottle of barbeque sauce.  Those meatballs turned out better than the originals.  I plan to make this my go-to recipe from now on, unless, of course, I am out of apricot preserves and then I might use the orange marmalade in my pantry.

My sewing space has been undergoing a serious overhaul in the last few weeks (which is why I don’t have a lot of pictures to share today).  I am almost finished (thank goodness for Space Bags).  Only the truly hard part remains (sorting through and finding a home for a big box of cotton quilting fabric inherited when my mom downsized.)  I found that I was able to apply the USE WHAT YOU HAVE philosophy during this project, too, repurposing many items and storage containers for better use.  I’ve lived in my current house for almost 6 years now and have been meaning to do something about the window in my sewing room closet for all that time.  (Why do builders put windows in closets?  The sun is not kind to textiles).  While packing away some fabric I had hanging in the closet I noticed some sun fading and decided it was (finally!) time to put a covering on the window.  I contemplated finding some fabric in my stash and making a curtain but then I remembered UWYH!  A brief look around the house turned up a Roman shade that I had used in my boys’ nursery (rolled up and languishing under the dresser in my bedroom).  It took me less than five minutes to remove the slats in the shade and hang it on a tension rod in the closet.

You see, UWYH also applies to time.  Maybe you don’t have time to start a major sewing project tonight but I bet you do have a few minutes to straighten up your space so it’s ready when you are, or to make that small improvement you’ve been meaning to accomplish, like my curtain.  Or how about trading in some of that surfing (dare I say “blog reading”) time and do a little hand work or mending.  This is an area where I need to practice my UWYH mentality a lot more.

Of course, UWYH can, and should, also be applied to your talents.  Find ways to share your talents with others.  Find a community service event and volunteer your time (my Sewing Guild is sponsoring one on June 2 in the DC area if you are interested).  There is no shortage of organizations looking for help.

These are just a few examples of how this apparently random thought has really started to change the way I think.  It fits in with my goal of living a more sustainable life and will help me to stop contributing to the clutter that is weighing me down and draining some of my creativity.  I think my pocketbook will like it, too.  I’d love to hear ways you are incorporating UWYH into your life.

We’ll be celebrating Memorial Day here in the States this weekend, the official beginning of summer.  Happy holiday and safe travels to all.

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