A Taste of Minimalism

We are finally getting our upstairs carpet replaced as I write this.   Ever have flooring done while you are living in a home? It’s a huge pain and a big disruption and a lot of work.

Ten days prior to the install date I started moving books, pictures and knickknacks. So I had a few days of an empty-ish bedroom. All the furniture was still in it but the shelves and tops were bare. It felt weird.

Then on Sunday we moved out all the smaller furniture and I got a taste of what my bedroom would be like with only a bed and a nightstand.  I thought I might like it.  My room is pretty small (10’x11′ I think) so I thought having some empty space would feel nice. Turns out I didn’t love it.  I felt like I was in a very small hotel room or a hospital room.  Bare isn’t for me.

I like having stuff.  My dream for my forever home is to have one full wall of shelves filled with books and a few knickknacks.  I like having a decent pile of clothes to choose from. I don’t want to wear a “uniform” and frankly I don’t find it hard to get dressed in the morning.

My hang up with stuff (specifically with spouse and small child) is that it has to have a “home”.  A place where it needs to be when not in use.  Apparently I am the only one of us three that knows how to put things away when I am done. Clutter just lying around drives me nuts. My son leaves his library books everywhere: on couches, chairs, the floor etc. Other than the book I am actually reading my library books are on a specific shelf in the living room bookcase. I always know where to find them and never have to spend time running around looking for books that have come due.

I don’t like it when there are too many things for a space.  And I agree with getting rid of things you don’t use or like or need. But I think there is too much extremism going on right now. The choice doesn’t have to be a 4000′ mansion or a 400′ tiny house.  You don’t have to limit your clothes to 33 items or having a closet so stuffed you can’t get things out.

Me?  I am shooting for a forever home that is probably around 800′ to 1200′ depending on the layout. I want to be surrounded by my books and mementos from my travels. I want a kitchen that I can cook and bake in with all the pans and bowls I need. I want a front porch and space for a few flowers, maybe a tomato plant and a spot to grow a pumpkin.  Nothing teeny and nothing humongous.  I want a life that is sized just right for me.

* The picture is of the Redwoods in California. I don’t think you can have too many trees or that they can be too big.  🙂

Epiphany

Epiphany – a sudden striking of understanding something

As I get older I do indeed feel like I am getting wiser, I keep having epiphanies. Having an epiphany sounds smart as opposed to admitting to having a “Duh” moment.  I have decided to be kinder to myself so we are going with epiphanies, okay?

So I have been working on being a healthier self and I was looking through my kitchen cabinets and realized “man, we really have a lot of food”.   Many different flavors of syrup and salad dressing and different kinds of chips.  Boxes of granola bars and cereal and cans of soups and pastas for my son.

How did this happen?  Well, I know how.  When small child started school in addition to making him a lunch he needed a mid-morning snack and then an after school snack.  And the morning snack needed to be something that would withstand the desert heat and a small boy being responsible for it. And for some reason I thought he needed a different snack each day.  Plus different stuff to put in his lunch or for after school.  That explains the cereal, granola bars and chips.

The syrups happened because every time we went to Apple Annie’s I felt like we needed a seasonal flavor of syrup.  I wanted apple in the fall and peach in the summer and strawberry at the beginning of summer.  Ooh, mixed berry, that sounds yummy. But we really don’t eat that much syrup and the stockpile began.

And honestly I do not know what is going on with the rest of the condiments.

So now we come to today and my quest to stop snacking and eat healthier. And that is when I had my epiphany:  I need to shop differently!  Since I do 99.5% of the grocery shopping it is up to me what comes into the house.  Duh! 🙂

After some thought I realized what I had to do.  First, say nothing.  Second, shop smarter.  And third just continue serving all the normal junk until it is gone.  And then gradually and secretly change small child’s eating habits along with my own.  Not completely for him.  There will still be cereal in the cupboard and one type of healthier granola bars.  After school snacks will be fruit or carrots or yogurt and a homemade cookie or two.  He probably won’t even notice the change.

I am looking forward to some empty cupboard space and less temptation in the house. A person only has so much willpower. It’s true, we only have so much.  I read a book about it.  Made total sense.

Completely unrelated pictures:

The largest of three scorpions I scooped out of the pool.
I don’t know if this is poisonous but it looks evil.

The scary thing is I fished these all out of the pool the same morning.  Honestly I was a little scared to get in and kept peering around to see if I missed anything.  Desert life is not for the faint of heart.

Everything Else

While it feels like all Whole30 all the time I do still have a life outside of eating healthy. (Not much of one, but still.)

Swimming is on hiatus due to a slightly green murky pool now full of chemicals.  High heat combined with just enough rain make it hard to keep the pool clear. The spouse is trying but the pool just isn’t appealing these days.

New carpet!  Yeah!  It was an item on the to do list that I have longed for yet been avoiding because of having to move so much stuff!  So for about 10 days I will be spending time each day moving stacks of book, knickknacks and eventually smaller items of furniture either downstairs or into my office, making my office unusable for a while.  😦  I don’t even want to think about it.

Photography class.  Remember when I signed up for that class in June that was unexpectedly cancelled?  I am signed up for it again this Saturday.  Let’s hope it happens this time.  In pretend preparation I am reading an Ansel Adam’s biography and enjoying it immensely.

I came up with a great solution to stop myself from mindlessly checking my phone for e-mail when it is lying on the kitchen counter.  I hung it up on the wall!  I put a little hook on the back (an IGripz) and then a hook on the wall.  Voila…

Conveniently located right next to an outlet for easy charging.

This would also work well for people always losing their phones in the house.

And finally my ob/gyn appointment.  I really liked the Doctor.  We had a good discussion about all my peri-menopausal symptoms and options. My uterine fibroids are cherry and blueberry sized (fruit makes such a good visual for size) and apparently 70% of all women have some.  The location is not problematic so for now they stay.

I did have my IUD removed. It wasn’t actually necessary but may help ease the heaviness of my periods. If my periods remain crazy long, frequent and/or heavy then I am thinking about taking some progesterone.  But for now I am going to give it two or three months and see what happens with my body.  I am not surprised that so far I am sticking with my original thought that menopause is a natural phase of life and it is best to let it run it’s course on it’s own.  Either way I feel better having a doctor that listens and provides multiple options.

My latest finished coloring project. Makes me happy 🙂 I would love to have that blue door on my house but it would kill the HOA board members.

I think that about wraps things up.  The next two weeks will remain devoted to the Whole30 and prepping for carpet installation.  But that’s okay because after that football season starts and camping and hiking return.  And Halloween…whoooo!  Let’s hear it for autumn…rah rah rah!

Happy 4th of July!

The last few days of the red, white and blue decorations.  Then I switch to a beach theme!

Teeny bird houses.

 

Leading the parade.

 

All kinds of flags.                                                                                       

I would like to thank our founding fathers for all their wisdom, patience and effort in establishing our wonderful country.  Have a wonderful (and safe) 4th of July everyone!

Like Yourself Day

Today you just need to be yourself and be happy about it. (No more being Tigger if that’s not you!) Celebrate being exactly who you are.

Well, that was easy. Guess I’ll put some photos in all this blank space. Because that is who I am, a woman who enjoys taking photos even though I haven’t yet mastered details like f-stop and shutter speed. Taking photos makes me happy and I like that about myself.

Saguaro cactus buds.

 

The flowers open one to three at a time and only last a day or two.

 

Our mandarine orange tree is heavy with fruit.

 

First swim of the season.  This is me being “artistic”. 

 

My birthday heirloom flower seeds mix are growing like weeds (I crack myself up!) but where are the flowers?

Line Dry Your Laundry Day

Note the rack in the lower left corner.

I have written about this before and I am still a fan of drying laundry outdoors. Here in the desert sun clothes dry faster outdoors than they do in the dryer.

Not only do I like that this is good for the environment but I have to confess I rather enjoy it. Every week I get to channel my Ma Ingalls admiration through laundry. I am doing a task like she would have done it! (But how happy am I to have a washing machine and not have to use a washboard, whew.)

And you don’t even need a clothesline.  For you apartment dwellers get a folding rack. No balcony, no problem.  Just sit the rack in front of a window and let the sun and breeze work it’s magic. (No window?  Then I really feel for you because that is sad.)

And for the record I almost made today “Love Your Lawnmower Day”.  If you really aren’t feeling the laundry then feel free to clean up the lawnmower. Maybe change the oil and the spark plugs.  It’s okay. My feelings won’t be hurt.

Enjoy Your Calendar Day

That would be enjoy the picture on the calendar hanging on the wall. If you are like me you spent quite a bit of time looking through all the calendars at the kiosk at the mall last December.  Agonizing over picking just the right one for the kitchen.  Why does there always have to be one month where the picture is just not pleasing?  One month that makes you hesitate and then look through all the calendars again.  Of course you get the first one anyway telling yourself it will have to do.

And of course it does do because you never really look at the pictures again.  Except for today.  Today you will look at the pictures and be glad you took such care in picking out this particular calendar. You will enjoy the colors and the composition and the feeling of joy such a wonderful picture brings.

Here are my April calendar pictures:

My office calendar and my favorite of the three. A local artist, Zinnia Sky Studio, I bought it at an arts and crafts festival last Thanksgiving. 

 

My bedroom calendar. I like something inspirational and peaceful.

 

The kitchen calendar. I like something that reflects the seasons. This would be my least favorite month on this calendar!

 

You are welcome.

 

Winter Part I: Slug Mode

I had been thinking I have nothing to write about.  I am deep in menopausal winter.  Okay okay, peri-menopausal winter. Whatever.  All I really want to do is sit on the couch, eat just about anything and watch television.  Here is a list of what I have been watching:

  1. “Victoria” on PBS.   A pain to record.  I set it up as a series but realized I missed the second episode for some reason (the naming perhaps?) so now I have to check each week to see if I need to add it manually.  Luckily I caught a rerun of the second episode.
  2. “The Great British Bake-off”  on PBS.  Also set up to record as a series from the last time it was on.  Since I missed some episodes the first time around  I am just watching them all again.
  3. “This is Us”.  I seldom watch network series but I kept hearing about it so I started watching the past episodes on-line and now I am hooked.  And only two more episodes until I am caught up.
  4.  Miami Heat basketball.  Eight wins in a row, woo-hoo! I broke down and ordered NBA league pass.  I am totally worth it.
  5. University of Arizona Wildcat basketball!  The team is on a roll.
  6. The usual assortment of classic movies DVR’d off of TCM.

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Tune in tomorrow for Winter Part II.  One does not stay in slug mode all the time.

That’s enough typing and walking on the treadmill, back to the couch!

2017 Ambitions

Ambition: desire to achieve a particular end (Merriam-Webster)

The first three weeks of this year have been busy and exhausting,  leaving me with little resources to work on a list of goals. Months ago I started jotting down ideas and actually thinking about how I want this year to look. (I may not be getting smarter with age but I do seem to be using my brain more!)

I have been waiting for a block of quiet time to go through my notes and solidify which direction I want to go in 2017.  This week is perfect for contemplation and just in time for the Chinese New Year, the 28th of January.  The year of the rooster in case you were wondering.

This year I am shooting for contentment at home and on the health side menopause survival with minimal long term damage.

Starting with ambitions for my home life:

Last year I had 12 areas to clean and it worked pretty well.  I only got ten done so cleaning out the file cabinet and shredding the discards have carried over to this year.  I didn’t shoot for a specific number this year but made a list of areas/things that bother me and ways to improve them.

Home Ambitions:

  1. In the kitchen I want to sort out the pantry (again) with more of an eye to getting rid of things we don’t use.  (And most likely discovering things I forgot we had.)  Ditto with our lazy-susan corner cupboard.
  2. New, larger memory box for my son, and repurpose the current bankers box into a memory box for me (of things he has made for me).  I have file folders for each school year and I put select papers, drawings, awards etc into it.  I am finding it is not quite large enough plus I like the idea of using a plastic tote to provide a bit more protection from the elements.  Not that there are currently any elements going on in the closet but in case of a leak or something.
  3. Replace the stairwell, hallway, upstairs carpeting.  A big project that I don’t want to think about (or pay for for) but that really needs to be done.
  4. Sort through my clothes and shoes (again) trying to keep only the things that I really love, that fit well and make me feel good,  and freeing up some space to buy a few new items.
  5. Now that I am the big 5-0 I need to take a look at my investment portfolio and see if I need to make any adjustments. (By this I mean call the broker dude and see what he thinks.)
  6. Okay and the file cabinet and subsequent shred is back on the list. Sigh.

I am excited about getting some of these items done and out of my brain where they have been bugging me for some time!

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My son gave me this little decorated pot for Mother’s Day in first grade. He made it at school and there were some unidentified seeds planted in it.  It has been growing oh so slowly and poorly these last one and a half years but I can’t bear to pull the plants out.
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This week  both stems have developed little tiny buds.  Be still my heart.

Health Ambitions

  1. Reduce my sugar intake to no more than 25 grams per day.  That’s added sugar only, not natural sugar like found in fruit.
  2. Work on my strength training with push ups and tai chi.
  3. Eat more like the French which means more fruit and veggies and single helpings on a regular basis.  Eat more mindfully, stop and ask myself why I am eating.  But nothing is off limits in moderation and for special occasions.
  4. I really want to get back in my weight window.  I have been about three pounds over for months now and I don’t want to continue the weight gain trend.
  5. Do yoga once a week.
  6. Continue with my coloring meditation, a minimum of ten minutes a day.
  7. Spend 10 to 30 minutes a day doing some sort of inspirational reading.
  8. Continue with my 10k steps a day. (I am actually pretty good with this during the week, it’s the weekends that get me off track.)

Some of these items may end up being too ambitious  but I am not planning on starting them all at once.  I want to add one good habit at a time and maybe some won’t work out.  But I at least want to give them all an honest try.  I can already tell you the sugar one is going to be really tough.  I was also wondering how long it would take to do all these good habits everyday.  Does anyone have enough time to be this healthy?

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My current coloring meditation project.

 

Happy 2017 Ambitions to All!

 

Epiphany

Today is the last day of Christmas for my family. Tomorrow the tree comes down and we start packing up all the decorations. I thought I would feel sad but instead I feel a great contentment.  I spent time this morning sitting on the couch drinking a mug of tea while looking at the Christmas tree and nativity scene.  One last respite before the hustle and bustle of real life returns tomorrow.

My son’s second full week of winter break has been busy and satisfying.  I relished all the time we spent together even if it has left me feeling exhausted.  While I will not mind when peace and quiet descends on Monday that doesn’t stop me from embracing our one last outing today.

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Cool wisps of clouds!

In honor of the Wisemen’s journey to Bethlehem my son and I took our own hike.  We  went across the street to Sabino Canyon Recreation Area and meandered around for two hours.  The weather: absolutely perfect.  I think the pictures say it all.

 

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Our own “forest” of cacti.

 

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Sabino Creek really flowing with snow melt.

 

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Sabino Dam

Cheers to the end of a Delightful holiday season!