Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Countdown!

I tried, really I did.

I started brainstorming handmade Christmas ideas in August. Attempted to get going on them in September. Now here I am, December 1st and all I have are a few pieces of fabric cut out.

Somethings never change, huh?

A friend of mine has a friend who follows this little mantra for Christmas:

Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.

I love it. Love it.

We're sort of adopting it this year. It's perfect - especially with my decluttering attempts. No sense in bringing in unneeded things!

It's not as catchy or as simple, but I'm adding a couple of things in there.

Something they want,
something to do, something they need,  something to wear, something handmade and something to read.

Since Santa still comes here, we won't be down to just one of each thing, but we hope to keep it reasonably close.  

elving in '09

For the first time in our home, the boys have been instructed to make something for each other, instead of buying. They've both come up with wonderful ideas and I'm pretty excited to see how it'll play out!

I plan on doing a couple of fun holiday/craft round ups in addition to handmade holiday posts - let the countdown begin!

Tomorrow: deck the halls!



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

36 to go - eek!

The bag project has been a little slow going, due to the holiday last week. More time spent out and about than in and bagging.

I've managed to get all of the 'comfortable' stuff packed up. The easy stuff. The surface clutter. Things that don't fit. Paper clutter. Old clothes.

Now it's time to dig deeper. To start getting uncomfortable. I have a couple of easy spots left. The basement (easily 5 bags), the crawl space (hello size 5's that I haven't worn in 8 years. Hello size 2's that haven't been worn in almost a decade! Oh, my.)

I do have two very large bags of kids clothes and 3 medium boxes of baby clothes that I'm not yet counting since they are still in the house. Can't count it until it's gone ('cause sometimes those things have a way of sticking around for quite a while).

I have a couple of overwhelming areas too. Namely, sewing stuff. I have a very hard time parting with craft items. I have much too much for the space in our home though. If I haven't used it in a couple of years, I won't be using it and it's time to go.

I feel like I should cull my cookbooks even further, but I've already gotten rid of a couple dozen (yes, couple dozen!) and I'm having a very hard time finding any that I am ok with letting go of. As I get closer to the end of this project, I may need to come back to them though.

funny, cause it's true

And board games. Our cabinet is full, full, full. And we're getting more. But I love the ones we have! We have weekly board game night, so these things get used. I may need to assess these more at the end. If I keep them all, then something else somewhere else has to go in it's place.

The house is feeling breathable again. I already feel like I'm cleaning less. Giving the cranky eye to less clutter. But it's just comfortable enough. I feel like it's teetering and one extra item will send it back spinning into clutter chaos.

What is lovely is that my oldest seems to have joined in, on his own. He spent last week working on his room and cleared out one bag of his own!

I think that with just a couple weeks to go, it's time to start some hot spots. I plan on doing these in parts, since they can be overwhelming and I'm attached to many of the things. My sewing area and the kitchen get started this week.

Have you been bagging up too? How's your progress?

Monday, November 28, 2011

on the fritz

Computer is misbehaving, pictures are lost in a stuck  drive and I'm recuperating!

I'll be back in a day or two with updates on bags and a handmade holiday 2011 countdown.

Hoping your holiday was wonderful and filling in many ways.
See you soon!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

a week in gratitude:: day three

Following along with Earth Mama this week in sharing just a little gratitude each day

today I am grateful for:

:dishes in the sink
:laundry in the hampers
:toys on the floor
:groceries to put away
:beds to be made
:diapers to change
:homework to check
:dinner to make
:wood to stack

because it means that we have so much. We have food to eat, and blankets to keep us warm. Toys to play with, books to read, clothes to wear. We are so very blessed.

“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” 
— William Arthur Ward

a week in gratitude:: day two

Following along with Earth Mama this week in expressing a little gratitude each day

today I am grateful for

: wood and the fire that keeps us warm
: slippers knit by a nana who love us
: frost on the ground, but no snow yet
: a child who still believes in magic, and who lets us sprinkle magic just a little bit longer
: opportunities we have been given
: people who believe in us
: the generosity of others

“You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.” 

— Sarah Ban Breathnach

Monday, November 21, 2011

a week in gratitude:: day one

I'm going to put on pause some of the posts I had planned for this week and instead join in with Earth Mamas week in gratitude

I am grateful for

: sweet baby smiles
: a teenager that still hugs his mama once in a while
: the spirit and energy of an eight year old boy
: time to enjoy the change of the seasons, of noticing the change in the crisp autumn air
: a good cup of coffee in the morning

“Gratitude should not be just a reaction to getting what you want, but an all-the-time gratitude, the kind where you notice the little things and where you constantly look for the good, even in unpleasant situations. Start bringing gratitude to your experiences, instead of waiting for a positive experience in order to feel grateful.” 

— Marelisa Fábrega

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

and the winner is . . .

The winner of both Radical Homemakers: Reclaiming Domesticity from a Consumer Culture and The Rhythm of Family: Discovering a Sense of Wonder through the Seasons is . . .

with the comment:  I love this picture with the hill and trees in the background. The only thing I miss about not going to work is my drive in the fall. I would drive past hills and cows just like this!

shoot me an e-mail at with your address and I'll send them on their way!

I hope you enjoy both of them as much as I have!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

it ain't easy

I always thought that if I wasn't working, I'd finally have all the time I needed to get everything done. I would stop feeling like I was barely keeping afloat each day and actually make progress.

Instead, I pretty much feel like I'm sinking everyday. Somehow there seems to be less time in everyday. Of course, I do happen to have a certain beautiful baby boy taking up a fair amount of my time.

                                                        sporting some new mama made pants

 I still haven't quite embraced the art of letting go (of just a few things, each day). I'm starting to have faith that I'll get there though. I'm beginning to believe that it's simply an adjustment period and I'll get just where I want to be.

I'm not home just to keep a clean house, though that is certainly part of it. My goal in being home is to enrich our lives in non-monetary ways. To snuggle with babies who grow impossibly fast, to finally play that game of Stratego promised to an 8 year old (a year ago!), to guide a moody, confused, in-between childhood and adulthood teenager. To grow and preserve and cook food, because it's important to me. To create beautiful and useful things for our home and for our family.  To, yes, keep a neat house - but more-so a happy, comfortable, cozy home. A home that we want to be in and that we look forward to coming back to.

I think as long as I can keep those end goals in mind, everything will be just fine.

Don't forget today is the last day to enter the giveaway - you have until mid-night tonight, and you can enter up to six times!

Monday, November 14, 2011

43 to go

Off to a very slow start on my 47 bags project.

It's a bit overwhelming, honestly. This week I started on very small projects and cleared most of the paper clutter out of the house. Two brown bags full of paper, and two bags of books.

I've been feeling very crabby and I really don't know if it's the clutter, or the removal of the clutter that's making me cranky.

I'm stuck in a spot of being sentimental, of liking things - even those I have no use for. But I also get anxious around a lot of clutter and I definitely get cranky when I'm picking up the same things over and over and over - or washing clothes I know haven't been worn. That's absolutely a sign of too.much.stuff.

For the record, other peoples clutter rarely makes me cranky. I don't judge other peoples homes or their clutter usually. It's just the kind that I have to look at everyday that makes my eye twitchy.

You'd think that I'd feel refreshed after the weekend. I spent several hours out at a concert Friday evening, for the first time since the baby was born. I took some time to sew yesterday. I should be feeling relaxed and ready for the week.

But I'm not.

Part of me feels like I need to stay in today. To bag up more stuff. Clearly it's getting to me and I should push through it and be done with it and feel better, yeah?

I don't think I'm going to do that though. Because, following my attempt at being more mindful of how I'm living, I think what I really need is to get out of the house. To step out, step away and recharge some more. I'm pretty sure, if I'm being honest with myself and paying attention to what my body is telling me, spending a day inside cleaning is only going to make this cranky attitude worse.

I'm off to visit a friend for coffee. I'll do a little grocery shopping and I'm thinking I just might stop by a favorite used bookstore with a cup of coffee. Just for browsing, of course!

Are you following along on 47 bags? Working on your own piles of clutter? How are you doing? How does it make you feel?

Don't forget to enter the giveaway  - just one more day to enter!

Friday, November 11, 2011

{this moment}

inspired by soulemama

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

worth talking about

I started blogging in part to help me take notice of all the little moments in life, the ones that have a way of getting buried in the busy-ness of each day.

Yet, yesterday I had nothing to say.

Today I was going to post on meal planning, but then I got to thinking - how is it I did nothing worth talking about yesterday? I did things after all - stacked wood, went for a walk, household chores, nursed a baby 1000 times - and then somehow the day was over ( when I tumbled into bed at 9pm totally drained!) and there was really nothing worth mentioning. How is that? What kind of life is it when you have entire days just go by and not one thing is "worth" sharing? Not the sort of life I want to be living, though I feel I often am.

There's nothing wrong with spending a lazy day, nothing wrong with talking about homemaking, or meal planning - I enjoy doing those things (usually) and enjoy talking about them. But I've fallen back into the bad habit of letting my days float by without noticing those little things - those moments worth remembering- or with getting so caught up in what has to be done that I rarely get done what I want to get done.

So today, I'm scrapping my  to-do list. I'm grabbing my camera, and I'm headed into the woods to enjoy this gorgeous day with my gorgeous baby.

don't forget! 6 more days to enter the giveaway!

Monday, November 7, 2011

47 bags in 47 days

We have too much stuff.

It kind of just sneaks on in. My love of thrift stores, old books and good deals, generous grandparents, school work and paperwork, 5 people and their veryimportantthings, saving odds and ends for future crafts, kitchen gadgets . . .

It's incredibly easy to end up with stuff just spilling out of everywhere.

And now that I am home all day I am noticing it more. And cleaning it more. And it's just got to go. In my efforts to be more mindful of how I live my life - unnecessary clutter is a huge problem.

There are 47 days until Christmas - at which point we will get more stuff (though we have, and our families have done an amazing job of paring down the last few years)

So my plan is to get 47 bags of stuff out of the house in 47 days (or less) it can be trashed, or donated or sold - but it has to be gone.

That sounds like a sickening amount, but I bet it adds up easy. I know of many hings hanging around our basement that we don't use or need. At the end it might be a little painful to get rid of some things, but I've got to be ruthless - if I don't love it or need it, it's gone.

I'm going to start easy this week and do the obvious things. Clothes and shoes that don't fit and surface clutter in each room.

I plan on posting progress each Monday. If you are inspired to do the same please comment or link to your blog in the comments, so we can support each other!

 don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

quote for the week

Fewer and fewer Americans possess objects that have a patina, old furniture, grandparents' pots and pans, the used things, warm with generations of human touch, essential to a human landscape.  Instead, we have our paper phantoms, transistorized landscapes.  A featherweight portable museum.  ~Susan Sontag

Friday, November 4, 2011

{this moment}

inspired by soulemama

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Thursday, November 3, 2011


After yesterdays post - the ideas of balance and rhythm were bouncing around my head for the rest of the day. I was thinking of ways to best find these things  - like a list of several things to do each day: fresh air, clean, etc . .  .and while the thoughts tumbled around my head I realized that the more I tried to simplify these ideas, the more complicated they became. Should I have a day for meal planning? For mopping? I know at the very least I want to make the beds every day. If there is nothing else I get done, the beds should get made every morning because then no matter what the rest of the day brings, there will be an inviting, comforting, cozy place to retreat to at the end of the day.

Lots of great thoughts. Lots of great ideas. But that's the problem. Lots.

Maybe it's more simple than that. Maybe all I need to do is simply be mindful of how I want to live my life. Just spend a few minutes once a day, or twice, or as many times as needed - paying attention to how I'm living my life and how I want to be living my life. Are those two things in harmony?

Maybe if I just keep in mind the life I want, eventually that will be the life I have, as I slowly and naturally make the changes to get there.

I think that for everyone, it's easy to lose sight of the little everyday moments that make up a fulfilling life. I know for me, time online steals time from other areas of my life on a daily basis. If I'm really being mindful of how I want to spend my moments, my days, my life - online time will naturally be cut significantly. I'll spend less time cleaning if I simply stay mindful of unnecessary clutter in my life - get rid of the things we don't need or don't love and take the same approach to bringing things into our home.

So, instead of many tiny goals - I'm going to try and keep it simple and see if things won't balance out sort of on their own.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

balancing act (a giveaway)

Before yesterday, it appears I haven't posted at all since August. Oops.

Since then, Colin has wrapped up soccer, Evan has finished his first year of cross country, Andrew has gotten huge (19.5 lbs and 27 1/2inches at 16 weeks!) aaaaaaaaaaaaand I quit my job.

I still can't really believe it. I don't feel unemployed yet. And I certainly don't feel the way I thought I would. I feel . . . lazy.

I was always searching for a way to find my rhythm before, almost certain that if only I didn't have to work I would find it. That often work was in the way of my real life. Yet here I am - 2 weeks into what I've always wanted - and I'm lost.

And it occurs to me that maybe it wasn't just rhythm that I was looking for, that I needed. But balance. Rhythm too, for sure - but balance first.

Balance in the things I do. The foods I eat. The way I spend the moments that seem to be moving ever quicker.

I've never been good at creating balance in my life. There is always one thing that wins out over the others - and one thing that loses. Like the fabric I bought for a quilt for Andrew about 10 months ago? Still sitting on the sewing table.

I don't know that finding balance in my life means all things need to be equal. Certainly an infant will take up a larger piece of the day, and rightfully should. But that means that other things will have to be adjusted too. Less canning. Less cleaning. Finding time for more crafting to keep mama feeling centered. Give and take, finding what works for each day.

I really thought I could do it all, once I wasn't working. I came pretty close while I was working. Clean house, homecooked meals and . . . that was it. Even on days I was doing the right dance, feeling calm and peaceful - it wasn't long before something was lacking. Something was pushed away for too long.

I'm always tempted to write lists. To make plans. To be organized. And I have been jotting a list down, every day. But learning that it's ok to cross things off that haven't been done. To add things that should be done, simply because they are enjoyable. And to learn to let go - let go of clutter, of unnecessary tasks, of things I can not control and of the guilt that I somehow always feel when I can't do it all.

One book I have been re-reading, along this line of though, is Radical Homemakers by Shannon Hayes. I loved the book when I first read it, long before the reality of staying home was anywhere near and I'm reading it today with a new perspective.

In celebration of me quitting my job (haha) I'm doing a giveaway of Radical Homemakers, as well as The Rhythm of Family by Amanda Blake Soule.

The giveaway will run until 11/15 - you'll receive one entry for every new post commented on from now until then, and one entry for every old post that is commented on - up to a total of 6 entries per person.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Hope your All Hallows Eve was enchanted!

Head on over to Handy Hooker to see their amazing Halloween tradition!