Monday, December 30, 2013

My Idea of Minimalism

I've started Spring cleaning already.
I absolutely couldn't wait to start tearing into everything and smell the Murphy's Oil Soap. 
I just finished the bathroom, and have moved on to the kitchen.

Christmas all came down the day after Christmas - don't hate.  I know we are still in 'the season' etc - but if you had had (that seriously seems wrong) the kind of year I've had, you'd understand.

I'm quite ready to move on.

As I was taking Christmas down, I done did a lot of pondering.
Do I do all of this decorating for me?  The family?  The friends that stop by?
Would I do it if I were the only one to see it?
I do believe I do the decorating for me, cause I love it so - but I don't believe I need to do so much.
I culled about 1/3 to 1/2 of my decorations and they are ready to load up to the resale shop.

One of the things I needed to do in my journey to minimalism was to watch out for my all or nothing personality.
I will either have 49 mugs or I will have 1.
I will have a house that looks like a gift shop or I will live like a monk.
I had to define what minimalism is to me, just as you do for yourself.
It's not for everyone - and I sure hope I'm not coming across as you should live the way I do.
God forbid.  
It just seems to me that almost everyone I talk to anymore is rather done with 'stuff' - and spends a goodly amount of time complaining about wanting to pare down, clean out - but usually doesn't move on it.

It's overwhelming, that's why.
Where to start?
What if I need this again?
But 'so and so' got this for me and I'd feel bad to pass it on.

I certainly have a lot of regrets in my almost 52 years, but so far, I've not regretted one single thing I've gotten rid of.

Let's take a peek at my kitchen.  I do not regret whatsoever getting rid of my upper cabinets.  It opened the room up and just makes me feel better mentally.

If you'll notice - most of this is just decoration. And, it's really not that minimal is it?  I still like the cozy feel that 'stuff' offers, and most of these things are pretty sentimental - let me rephrase that - most of this is crap from the thrift store, and some of of it is pretty sentimental. I could get rid of half of this and not care - but then it would look like Cindy Lou Who's living room after the Grinch visited.  My lower cabinets?  Just about empty.

There's not a whole lot there that is really functional.  A toaster, a blender, the coffee pot.  I try to have here the things that are really used.  I have three plates y'all.  Three.  This is the 'everyday area'.  I do have plates and glasses for company tucked away in my buffet.  I don't need to see them everyday.  When I see these pics, I don't like it too much - it looks oh so much better in person.  If I had the time I would have taken more 'blog worthy' photos.  I won't get in any decorating magazines with a kitchen like this, but I don't care.  It's what works for me.  

Where is my food you ask?

Here is it. It's a single shelf in my office/sewing room.  This is all I have.  90% of what I eat is in the fridge.
Food that you should be eating is food that should need to be kept under refrigeration.

Change is hard, change is scary, change is wonderful, change is worth it.

It's not really about 'losing', it's about gaining. 
Losing weight = gaining health, vitality, energy.
Losing stuff = less time spent cleaning, moving things, being distracted by thing.  More time focusing on what you really want out of life.

Win win if'n ya ask me.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lessons From My East Window

This is where I spend a bit of time each day.
Ok, a lot - perhaps too much.
Blogging, emailing, planning menus, finding recipes, etc.

It's also where I sew, craft, sit when I'm on the phone - it's also the room the cats are fed in, the pantry shelves are behind me here, a catch all room if you would.

After living 26 years in Chicago with views of either a wall or the traffic on Route 41, I feel fortunate to have this window.

When I came in to feed the cats this morning, and saw that gorgeous morning light, I had the following thoughts.

What I've learned from this east facing window:

God is faithful - the sun comes up every.danged.morning.

 Every day is new, clean, and really can be a fresh start.  Give yourself permission to start over.

Change is constant.  Rain, snow, ice, sun, morning light, moon light - spring, summer, winter, fall - the scene is always changing.  Always.  Learn to see the beauty in each day.  Learn to realize that winter passes and spring kicks ass. 

There are times to open yourself, and times to close yourself off.  Sometimes, you even need to insulate yourself from certain things or people.  It's just natural.  It's healthy.

You rarely see the full picture.  This window is about 3'x4'.  I can't see the top of the tree out there, nor can I see the west side of the house.  This is the perspective the window offers me.  Open your mind to the possibility that you don't know the full story on most of what is going on around you.  Especially with people.  

Things are much clearer when looking out of clean glass - or a clean heart.

We are all fragile.  Realize that about yourself and others.  Don't throw stones.

Stop what you are doing and look up often.  
There's a lot going on right outside your window.
Don't miss it!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

January Fever

photo from a Jim Palmer Facebook status : -)

“I do believe in simplicity. It is astonishing as well as sad, how many trivial affairs even the wisest thinks he must attend to in a day." 
― Henry David Thoreau

I have a bit of a fever.
Physically and metaphorically speaking.

I am ready.
I am so flipping ready.

It's taking everything in me today to leave the Christmas decorations up.

But I'm that way every year, now aren't?  This year, even more so.  I'm so done with 2013.  If you've been around the blog at all this year, you know what an off year it's been for me.  I can't thank you enough for sticking around.  A bit like a train wreck, eh?  Can't look away, can you?  

Christmas Eve ended with my head in the toilet.
After the wretching stopped, I had to laugh and think to myself - 'Really 2013??  THIS is how you are going to end?"  
It seemed fitting.

In watching today's sunrise there seemed to be a glimmer of light.
2014 is going to be different.
2014 will be the year that I come to appreciate all the lessons that 2013 offered.
I don't know why I pin such importance on the beginning of a new year.  Every day is fresh with no mistakes in it, as our dear Anne Shirley says - but a new year?  That's like a fresh start on steroids.

2014 will be the year that my quiver is full of crazy plans like selling everything and moving into a tiny house somewhere a wee bit warmer and closer to the Appalachian Trail.  

But for now - it's tea and gluten free toast to calm my stomach, and intentional thoughts to calm my mind so that I enjoy the last few days of 2013.
It's living right now and taking the time to pause and see the long shadows in the house cast by winter's sun. It's about appreciating the ordinary.  It's about plotting how to house more chickens....oh, no..wait...that's for 2014.

What about you?  
What intentions and hopes do you have for 2014?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmases Past

I'm reposting this from 2009.  
Two Zero Zero Nine.
Unreal!  I remember this like yesterday.
What are the holidays for, if not for looking back - remembering those we miss, treasuring those we have and looking forward to new and wonderful times.
How I still miss Helen.
There shan't be another bird like her.

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the coop,
not a chicken was stirring, except to go poop;

The stockings were hung by the roost box with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The chickens were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of mealy worms danced in their heads;

Glenco in his boxers, and I in my cap,
had just settled down for a long winters nap;

When out in the coop there rose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter;

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
tore open the shutters and threw up the sash;

The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
gave a luster of midday to objects below;

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a stinkin' raccoon and a whole lotta fear;

With my double barreled shot gun so lively and quick,
I thought for a moment, "I'm gonna be sick";

More rapid than eagles to the coop I came,
whistling and shouting and calling them by name;

Now Helen, Now Fifi, Now Scarlett , now Stubs, now Scooter,
now Pittypat, now Puffington and Plums!

To the top of the coop to the top of the wall!
Now dash away, dash away, dash away all!

So up to the coop top and roost box they flew,
I stood there and pondered, 'Oh my, what to do';

And just as I put the gun to my eye,
I heard from that coon a soft little sigh;

"I've come to make peace and say that we're sorry,
since the attack this past summer, we've done nothing but worry";

"You see we've repented and make an oath to you,
to not harm your chickens...this we promise you."

I peered at the coon with my gun still half cocked, could this be true?
Oh my, what a shock;

When down from the roost box limped poor little Helen,
what she was up to ...there's just no tellin';

With her one good eye, she looked square at that coon,
and said "I forgive you, God bless you real soon";

In all my born days, I've seen nothing like this -
that dear little Helen gave the raccoon a sweet kiss;

Back to her roost pole she flew without haste,
and said 'True repentance is a sad thing to waste";

"Please tell all your readers this most important part -
Christ was born, so we all could have a fresh start";

For a moment we stood there in the soft glow of moonlight,
I marveled at Helen and said 'You're so right';

I bent over and patted the coons little head,
"Mr Coon" I said, without any dread;

"It's been quite a day, and a miraculous night,
coons visiting chickens without as much as one bite."

I heard him exclaim as he scampered out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Sunday, December 8, 2013

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

A hot mess.

Am I the only one that destroys the entire house to decorate for Christmas?
It all comes together in the the meantime - good luck finding clean underwear and something to eat.

I'm just about done though - not doing anything new or out of the ordinary this year. A tree of some sort in every room, snowflakes all over the ceiling - Charlie Brown lights on the camper and chicken coop. 
As you know - I live for the vignette.

Honestly, I'm just not feeling super creative this year.  I toyed around with the idea of only putting up a tree in the living room and calling it a day. I fear that if I do that once, I'll just keep doing it, and then ten years from now I'll think 'what have I done!?
 I'll think that I missed out on something wonderful.  

I swear I just put all this stuff away!
96% of my Christmas lights didn't work this year.
I mistakenly bought one small strand of LED warm white lights.
My eyeballs now feel like Swiss cheese.
What's up with those things?
They are much too brilliant.

 I like the large solid color, old fashioned bulbs on the tree.  
It's a great source of heat in this cold weather.  
All the heat does dry the tree up pretty quick, but there's nothing like it to me.  I need a real tree, with Charlie Brown lights, vintage ornaments, tinsel,  popcorn and cranberries. 
 I think the most perfect tree is in the movie The Bishop's Wife

I can't decide for the life of me if I like that movie or not.  I bought it - thought it was one of my 'must have Christmas movies to watch' - and now - I can't bring myself to watch it.
I adored it for two years, now I'm indifferent to it.
I haven't a clue why.

Oh...before I go on - thanks for the compliments on my coat.
No, it isn't vintage, but that's the reason I bought it.  It looks vintage.  The collar is removable.  I got it at Target for $60 last winter.  It's a size small - which tickles me to no end...and still fits somewhat even though my body has decidedly settled into a size M over the last year.  

Me and my sisters - circa 1965

As far as baking goes this year, I've decided to bake three things.
Otherwise, my S coat will need to be L - and that ain't happening.
I'll make my traditional gingerbread men, and the peanut kiss cookies that Aaron adores - and I just want to make one other cookie - 

What would you suggest?  If you would - could you add a link in the comment to it?  Might give us all some new ideas for Christmas baking!

Til soon,

be well, choose happy, live slow

Friday, December 6, 2013

Update on the BoyChild

It is finished.

It's hard to believe how the years fly, isn't it?
Well, technically - it was only one year but it still flew.

I, even I, am at a loss for words of what it felt like to see Aaron 'clap out' from 
Paul Mitchell - The School for Hair.

A clap out isn't his true graduation, that's next month, a clap out is the last day he's at the school.  His hours are complete and he is punching out of school for the last time.  All of his friends and teachers are there and they form an aisle for him to walk through as they clap and cheer for him.

I just stood there and wept openly.  
I've never felt so proud.
All I could think of is how just barely a year ago we visited the school for the first time, and I saw the light in his eyes.  How everything was so new and confusing.  
Now, here he was - embracing friends and teachers, crying, excited - done.

By the time he got through the line of people, and got to me - I was toast, so was he.
He cried and thanked me.  I told him how proud I was of him - well, I tried to - I was crying so much.

What particularly touched me was all the people that came up to me and told me how much they loved Aaron, and how special he was.  One teacher said through tears that he was the son she'd never had.  He seemed so beloved at the school - and that just means the world to me.

He's beloved here too, and shall ever remain so!
Press the pillowcases and fry the bacon.
Aaron is home.

Isn't it crazy?
Just when you think you've reached your limits of love for someone - they roam around in your heart and find a door that's never been opened before - lo and behold - there's more square footage there for them to move into.

And so it has been wiith Aaron all along.

Such a gift to my soul this child was.  I'm so thankful my sister birthed him.
: -)
For those of you fortunate ones that have a few of these banging around your house now - how blessed are you!  I can't imagine feeling this times two or three or four!

Aaron's immediate plans?
Take his state boards.

He's looking into getting a job on a cruise ship salon.
Said he'd like to the see the world for a few years.
I told him it's a great idea as long as he can make it home every weekend.
: -)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

7 Solid Reasons to Ask Santa for Chickens

Perhaps I'm a bit biased on my opinion, but I think everyone should raise chickens - at least once, even if it's just a few hens.  I personally shan't live without chickens again.  Even though right now I'm not too thrilled about going out on these cold mornings and dealing with frozen poo and water, I just can't imagine not having them.   

 These are my personal reasons for loving chickens.
If you've been extra good this year, and need help penning your letter to Santa, 
please feel free to use these reasons!

 Yard Ornamentation 

There is nothing more bucolic than a handful of hens and a proud rooster strutting about your property.  You'll pause as you're doing the dishes and look out the window - and consider yourself  the luckiest gal alive to have such a sight in your yard.  With a touch of OCD working in your favor - you can select breeds that complement the colors of your home and flowers.  Not that I'd know a thing about that.

They Make Breakfast For You 

Ok, this might be pushing it a bit - they don't actually scramble the eggs, but they do lay them.  Again, you will feel like the richest, luckiest gal around as you meander out to the chicken coop, basket in hand (or in my case a pocket - a bra works in a pinch) to collect the days eggs.  Each one such a treasure.  Lovely in color, still warm at times, fresher than fresh.  It don't get no better.  If you do collect eggs in your pockets or bra - a word of caution here - don't get distracted on the way back to the house and forget they are there.  Again - I don't speak from experience here : -).

Poo - And Lots of It

 Gardener's gold - chicken poo.  High in nitrogen - perfect for growing your greens, which in turn you give to the chickens.  In your moments of deep introspection you realize what a perfect circle life is and you are thrilled to be a part of it - witnessing it all in such a tangible way.  Frozen poo is not fun - but hey - it's the yin to the yang of chicken keeping.  Get over it.


 Say goodbye to your compost pile, or piles of peels sullying up your kitchen trash.  Chickens are recycling machines.  Your trash is truly their treasure.


Chickens are hilarious.  It's something that you wouldn't imagine until you keep them for a bit.  Each chicken truly has it's own personality.  Some you'll adore, others you'll flat out not like.  There's always yard drama.  You'll laugh, you'll cry.  You'll get mad and run after them with flailing dishtowel in hand - or so I've heard.

Mental Health

Time spent with chickens is never wasted.  Feeling anxious?  Go out to the hen yard with a handful of treats.  You'll feel better toot sweet.  Having troubles?  Spill your guts to the chickens.  They'll look at you and seem to understand.  Feeling depressed?  Chickens don't feed and water themselves.  You've got to get up and tend them.  

They Open Doors

You never know what can happen when you get chickens.  Next thing you know - you are getting fabulous ducks, and even consider - wait for it - a goat.  A pig.  A milk cow. Anything is possible!

 Truly, chickens are the gateway livestock that open the doors for others.  You might even start blogging about your chickens and meet terrific people from all over the world - or become obsessed with chickens and buy purses in their likeness, you'll learn so much too - like how to doctor up a pasty butt, how to set traps, or even how to shoot a gun.

I ask you - isn't it high time you got yourself a flock?
I think so too.