Archive for the ‘simplifying’ Category

a new season – a new space

In simplifying, things pondered, toddler activities on 09/23/2010 at 6:26 pm

When I wrote my last post, I had no intention of it being the last one for such a very long season. I honestly can not even explain my lengthy absence from this space other than to say that life got the best of me (in a very good way) and I’ve spent the past months living more and blogging less. I know many of you can relate. Seasons – especially with little ones underfoot – change without warning and one day I just woke up and found myself doing other things that needed doing and there you have it. But I do apologize for disappearing altogether. Week after week I meant to pop in and never did. I beg your pardon.

Much has changed since our last chat. Mainly, she has changed. My brown-eyed little wren is quickly blossoming from a roly-poly toddler into a lanky preschooler with more questions than I’ve got answers. Our days are taking on a more structured form, necessarily, and it’s been a fairly smooth transition into her own active exploration of this great wide world. I spend a great deal of time searching out our next adventure among your pages, pictures, and words. Thankfully there is a wealth of help for a bumbling mother who has forgotten how to play in the dirt and catch crickets and I need fresh eyes to see all that lies just beyond the front step. And while I don’t have time for meandering words on this wide open white space, I am finding it helpful to catalog my findings by making little lists between catching critters and snuggling with good books…ever so small collections of ideas for exploration. The new space is a bit minimalistic. Clean and simplistic. Just the bare necessities. Most of the lists will contain only three items for consideration, although there will be many lists filed under each heading. Gathered bits of goodness, sized for little people. If you find it to be a helpful resource, I’ll hope you’ll visit and submit your own suggestions. Tapping the collective wisdom of so many is a gift. Thank you for your inspiration.


one choice at a time

In homesteading, simplifying on 03/29/2010 at 11:02 am

While I feel compelled to share this season of our home with you, I find the act of doing so more than a bit intimidating. Namely because I am sure there will be plenty of occasion for failure, and well, that’s not pretty. But I’ve decided to step out anyway and hope that you’ll be gracious and allow a bit of floundering from time to time as lessons are learned and adjustments are made.

On that first crisp day of Autumn more than two years ago, I brought my weary body and a tiny wriggling bundle home from the hospital and something in me stirred in a way I have yet to articulate. My heart turned toward home. Suddenly the four walls and the creaky floor nestled beneath the oak became a canvas for memories…a binding for the pages of the story of us. We spoke many times in hushed voices over a sleeping babe of simplifying. Of editing our hours and days, months and years to allow space for living. Really living.

We talk and dream about land. We have an imaginary house on rolling green acres. But today, our family home is on a small suburban plot, just outside the city limits. We can throw stones at the neighbor’s houses (we don’t!) and be at the mall in five minutes. And really, we can’t complain. It’s the sort of neighborhood where neighbors call each other by their first names and children sell lemonade and cut flowers at your doorstep. It’s a wonderful place to grow up and for now, it’s where God has us. Still, we dream.

Over the past days and weeks, I’ve been pondering what it is about this imaginary place that enchants me so. And I’ve come to realize that it is not one grand thing, but a smattering of small, simple pleasures that I look forward to sharing with these dear ones entrusted to me. 

Gathering around a lump of dough…

a block of wood…

a fireside…

a table…

a whirring sewing machine…

a plot of freshly turned earth…

Breathing fresh life into the tales entrusted to us by grandfathers and aunts and cousins and passing them on for yet another retelling when we are gone.

The warm earth in our hands and fresh bread on our table.

And then the question comes: Why not now? Right now, on this very (small) plot of land, these things are not beyond reach. But I have to choose them. There is enough sunlight that I can plant beans and harvest squash and cook with herbs from pots in my window. I can stitch summer dresses and sacks. I can feed the birds and start a compost pile. I can catch rain for watering and stir up potions for scrubbing and scouring. And while we’re waiting for that dreamy plot of land I can curl up with words and pictures about chicken coops and the like. Learning. Tucking away.

But today I have time to learn and grow and play in the dirt with this little one at my heels. And as we make small, deliberate choices to simplify and savour, I hope you’ll offer your wisdom in that gentle way I’ve grown to love. And perhaps, one day we’ll look back and see a homestead built one day, one choice, at a time.

Right now I’ve got my nose buried in these…

Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces

p.s. Thank you for all of the WONDERFUL gardening advice. I love it! Keep it coming!!!

simplify your kitchen: two tips

In simplifying on 03/24/2010 at 12:12 pm


Perhaps you already implement these in your kitchen, but they were new ones for me and I wanted to share.
 Tip #1: Line your refrigerator shelves with tea towels to catch drips and spills.
When they’re soiled, just toss them in the wash. 

Tip #2: If you’re having guests for ice cream (or your family just likes to eat a lot of it), as soon as you get home from the market, while it is still soft, scoop balls of ice cream into muffin tins and freeze. Then transfer the frozen balls to a large Ziploc bag for quick and easy serving later.  

  tips via podcast by Donna Otto  


simplifying: the kitchen

In simplifying on 03/17/2010 at 11:16 am

Finally have a baking “closet” – everything at my fingertips. Bliss.
Kitchen counters are cleared of everything but the necessities.
Everything for making lunches is stored in the same cabinet.
Top shelf of the fridge holds leftovers ONLY.

Time Saver: When I’m making muffins, I mix up extra batches of the dry ingredients and store in clearly labeled Ziploc bags. Next time we get a hankering for apple pumpkin spice, all I have to do is add the liquid ingredients and toss them in the oven.

How do you save time, space, and sanity in your kitchen?

p.s. Layout changes are coming to this space over the next couple of days…in the spirit of simplifying, of course! So please bear with me. It might get a bit messy around here.

simplifying: the laundry

In simplifying on 03/14/2010 at 4:07 pm

If the laundry room descends into perpetual chaos, the daily tasks become more tedious. This week I spent several hours purging, clearing, and organizing. The biggest change – two $8 laundry sorters side by side along one wall. Each one has three easily removable mesh bags. I have one for towels/socks, darks, lights, jeans, khakis and reds. We also have hampers in our bathrooms. Each morning, I sort the previous day’s garments into these bins right beside the washer. It’s much easier to see what load needs to be done next and it’s easier to start a load in a few spare minutes when I don’t have to dump out the contents of an entire hamper on the other end of the house to sort out the loads. I also routinely collect empty hangers from the closets and relocate them to pegs on the laundry room wall. Transferring freshly laundered clothes from the dryer directly onto hangers keeps them wrinkle-free and eliminates the temptation to leave them piled in baskets for days before putting them away. Have a laundry tip to share or a laundry problem that needs solving?