Thursday, March 29, 2012

Decluttering and purging ‘the good stuff’

Getting rid of stuff has always been easy for me. I do not packrat stuff away or think I am going to use stuff that has been sitting in a box for years… but what about when you are down to the stuff that you love and there still isn’t room? There is no more ‘easy weeding’ in the shelves and it’s now more about efficiency. I have had to adjust myself from doing things like just keeping the ‘good’ sheets, to only keeping two sets of sheets per bed, regardless of whether the ones I am giving away are in perfect shape or not. Being industrious, this is a bit harder for me to do than simple purging.  It’s pretty simple to think of how I could use an extra sheet, or how I should save those baby food jars for art projects later this summer…

It’s taking some time. But I think my efforts have been worth it. 

Our garage was the biggest storage spot in the house and it was a disaster!  It’s a 8ft tall, single car space built (along with our house) in the late 1950’s.  No car has or will ever fit there.  The walls are made of drywall with exposed beams most places. There were some shelves in there, but many were falling apart and couldn’t hold the things that were already on them, much less more. I refused to show the following pictures, even on Facebook, until the ‘afters’ could be shown along with them.  I was embarrassed about how bad it had gotten.  I spent many days cleaning spaces in the house only to put things that didn’t have an immediate home in a box in the garage.  And I am the one who will be remembered by my kids as saying (daily!)Don’t put it down, put it away!”. 

Sigh.  Such is the life of a mama of a toddler. 

It took 4 sets of shelves to get all set right, but now I have a functional space that I love.  Take a look:

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Before

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After

This space now holds all things homeschool.  From paperclips, to curriculum, it’s in here somewhere.  Most is labeled (LOVE my label maker!) and put together with like items now.  This shelf is just inside the garage door to the right… just feet from the school room and the kids workboxes!

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Before

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After

This space now holds all things canning.  All my empty jars, and just above the picture is my canner, pressure canner, huge bowls I use for canning, etc.  I even have a box with pectin and my food preservation binder there.  Under it are both the deep freeze (for meat) and the upright (for berries and veggies).  

Here is a few more ‘afters’ of spaces I couldn’t even get into the garage to take ‘befores’: 

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This is from the open garage door.  The first row holds the car and house stuff.  The second rows and a few more in are sewing, felting, and beading supplies.

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This is the pantry shelf.  Yes, both of these ones got bolted to the wallSmile

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Having this space in which my things that I do not use daily are stored is making my mind turn to all the other things that could use a bit more organization.  I think I’ve awakened the decluttering beast!  Winking smile

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Growth and Spring Cleaning

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Spring has come at last.  Although there is still very little evidence of it outside.  We get rain, sleet, hail, and/or snow every single day (and they say that WA always has the same weather).   But you can feel it in the air.  My peas are starting to push their heads through the soil in the garden and I have started many other things out there as well that are sitting and waiting for the soil to be warm enough. 

I am, however, taking some time off here.  It wasn’t intentional.  But I have been having a little blog break.  The reasons are many and it’s hard to get into some of them right now, but the main one is that sitting for any length of time is impossible for me right now.  Luke has entered a phase I lovingly refer to as “destructobaby”.  His favorite hobbies include pulling things down, knocking things over, pushing buttons, and dumping things out.  It’s hard to do anything with him not strapped to my back via the Ergo, and even then, he is often pulling on my hair while I weed, cook, and clean in his wake.  And still, he is the sweetest kid.  He doesn’t want to hurt things, he just is exploring his territory and discovering what his body can do.  How quickly this phase has come and my baby has disappeared leaves me breathless with bittersweet emotions.  Of course, it’s hard not to revel in any part of babyhood, but the truth is, a vast majority of his babyhood is already over.  He is mobile, eating real food, expressing clear and adamant opinions on blankets, food, and his quick ability to get back to his VERY important destructobaby work after changing time. 

Once Luke entered “destructobaby phase 2012” I realized that my house, although completely functional, was not very organized.  When something takes you 5 minutes to find and you have three children over 3 then it’s not a big deal.  Throw a toddler into the mix and those 5 minutes could mean the difference between having a Pyrex collection, and not.  (And yes, a whole stack of them have landed on the floor already.)  Time to simplify.  Time to organize.  Time to put a lot of effort and a little money into making my spaces simple and easy to use.  And THAT has been where my ‘freetime’ has been focused these last few weeks.

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I hope you all are doing well!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Handcrafted Holiday - Last Minute St Patrick’s Day links/ideas/fun!!!

St Patrick’s Day was a favorite of my mom’s when I was little.  Up until I was 23, March 17th was the ONLY time I ate meat.  I looked forward to my mom’s annual corned beef feed and goodness, was it good!  Roasted parsnips along side boiled new potatoes with corned beef that fell apart in your mouth, perfectly cooked cabbage, and good beer (or root beer)!  YUM!  Cyan and I are making that meal on Saturday for not only St Patty’s but also the grand finale of her study of Ireland. 

Here are some of the ideas that I have been bouncing around:

#1: Totally off-color, but how much fun would THIS be for a 5 yr old boy to wake up to St Patrick’s Day morning???

With all our talks of stinky pee (it’s the magic way to get a little boy to eat a boatload of asparagus, btw) he would think it was funny!

#2: I also think this would be an awesome trick to play on my teen as he does the breakfast dishes! 

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(Now you know what I really use food dye for most of the time!  Winking smile )

#3: There are several St Patty’s Day scavenger hunts going around Pinterest these days, but this one is my favorite! 

I printed them out and will be waiting with a bag of organic chocolate gold coins to hand out on Saturday morning.

#4: Pandora has some cool Irish music playlists that we have been listening to for the past week.  Our favorite search is “Irish Pub Rock” but “Riverdance” and “Celtic Music” was fun too.  (If you have really young ones that really love to sing along with the music you are playing, avoid the song “The Wearing of the Green”.  It’s historically accurate, but terribly morbid.)

[St+Pat]

#5: Cute idea for a St Patrick’s Day lunch over at My Mix of Six.  For more natural food ideas, I am removing the jello, green frosting cookie, and chips and inserting a lettuce wrap or green tortilla wrap sandwich and perhaps some rainbow fruit kebabs

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#6: Being a mama of very few wardrobe colors I love this idea from Ellinee Blog for being able to pin on your green!

Printable Shamrock for St. Patricks Day

These cute little pins are printed on cardstock and folded up for our homeschool co-op party tomorrow!

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland

#7: Homeschool peeps.  This book and this website are awesome for looking into and finding out what St Patrick’s Day is all about!

Hope you all have a wonderful St Patty’s Day!

Today - 8:36am

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I see: a baby following a large blue ball, a girl in pigtails, a boy in a bicycle shirt, birds out the window at the feeder we just filled, and a man-child getting ready to go get his drivers permit.

I hear: wind chimes going crazy outside and quietly in the background is this song:

I smell: Cooking oatmeal and fresh coffee.  Perfection!

I feel: warm cup in my hands, Charlotte Mason book on my lap, and laptop keys under my fingertips.

I taste: a hot almond milk latte

I am getting ready to: plan our school week while Don takes the kids to the zoo aquarium and then the dentist.

Outside: is stormy.  Wind is blowing hard.  The garden gate keeps slamming open and shut and it can shake the whole house.  Roses are scraping the walls outside our bedroom.

Hope you all have a blessed and simple day!

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Whole foods are for babies too!

My children are 15, 10, 5 and 1.  This means that I have spaced out my need for baby things by 4 or 5 years at a time.  The breaks in between my need for baby items has made the rise in baby marketing very clear for me to see.  Babies actually need very little that is different than the rest of the whole foods family but every time I have had another baby I have noticed more and more completely unnecessary products. 

  Baby oatmeal is the one I will tackle today.  This is how I make it… 

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I have added freeze dried strawberries, peaches, and bananas. Peaches are Luke’s favorite. I have also added a bit of vanilla almond milk, which he loves.  Smile But many times I have just fed him this.   No extra packaging or preservative ingredients are needed so he will eat and love it.  It’s just food.  Real, whole, good for you (and for baby) food.  Nothing is required for the sweetness to shine through!

(BTW, this is great for instant oatmeal for camping trips too!  You can add dried milk and a little superfine sugar if you want it exactly like store bought.)

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Spontaneous Gratitude for a snowy March day

This month has been interesting already. That saying ‘in like a lion, out like a lamb’… well it’s been a lion’s month so far!  Pouring down rain, wind storms, sunny mornings only to break into afternoons of hail and this morning we woke to about an inch and a half of snow!  Crazy!  By the time I got out there to take pictures an hour later it had started to melt and it’s now, (at 10:36am), it’s almost gone.  It’s moments like this that I am just in awe at the power of nature and her immense ability to be temperamental. 

I am so amazingly and immensely grateful for:

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The most awesome mail ever!

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Moments of the last snowfall.

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In which signs of Spring shine through.

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Bunnies who are being sweet and wanting to be petted.

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Pancakes made by boys, who’s future family will get the benefit of him learning to cook fun things slathered in maple syrup.

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New babies!!

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And a whole season’s worth of potential… in a flat of dirt.

Hope the lion’s month is treating you all well!

History of Spontaneous Gratitude found here.

Friday, March 02, 2012

{this moment} - Run free with your animal friends

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{this moment} - A Friday ritual. 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.

{Inspired by SouleMama}

Thursday, March 01, 2012

My little laundry room grow-op

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Haha… You thought I was a good girl?  Little did you know… 

Nah.  Just kidding.  I didn’t get my medical ganja license or anything… it’s just these:

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I am pretty much the most impatient gardener ever.  My organic seed order is in, my garden is in decent repair, my yard is clean of debris from this winter’s storms and yet Spring still hasn’t sprung!   I went to the store and saw that the seeds were stuck behind a construction area where they were building BBQ grills and the peat pots were all stuck on the top shelf, stored away for winter… well I snapped a little bit.  It is MARCH.  Time to plant!  Where are the broccoli starts?  And all the cold weather veggies like Bok Choy?  Sigh…  not ready yet?  Nothing to put in my dirt that I have been aching to get my hands in?  Well fine.  I’ll do it myself then.

I got a bag of Jiffy Organic Seed Sprouting Mix and a few peat pots and I decided to try my hand again at growing tomatoes from seed.  Then my dear friends Sarah and Heather just happened to have an extra shop light which I fitted with grow bulbs and my ‘little laundry grow-op’ was born.

I started by filling the bag of Jiffy Seed Starting Mix with enough water to get it damp and clump together, but not enough to make it drip.

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Like this:

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Then I filled as many peat pots as my trays would hold and put the damp dirt in them.  I tucked the tomato seeds into the tops of the peat pots and watered them in well. 

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Then I started searching for more seeds to fill them with.  Tomatoes were only the gateway drug.  Winking smile

I now have broccoli, cabbage, bok choy and pak choy, corn (I found organic!), yellow squash and delicata winter squash all starting along side my tomatoes in my laundry room.  (For seed planting, I follow this general guide and the back of the package.)

I can confess to STILL being impatient.  I have been in there at least 20 times in the last two days just watching them… even though I know it will be next week before any of these little seeds poke their heads out of the ground.

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Sigh.  Still, even if it’s fabricated… I watch vigilantly for the signs of Spring.