11 May 2012

A Minimalish Mom's (Secret) Mother's Day Wish

My mom, with her mom.. and HER mum. The British Blood in me. 
Sunday is Mother's Day.. are you ready???

During lunch today with my dearly beloved and our two beautiful little grumps, I was given the opportunity to share my Mothers' Day wish list... CRUD! Why didn't I think to update that???

Oh yeah, because there's really only one thing on my wish list right now, and I'm a little anxious about letting my husband know about it. He has no trouble dropping cash to buy me gifts, but since we share one checking account, I make sure I REALLY want it before I let him in on my secret wish.

It must be hard to live with someone who's "love language" is gifts, but who doesn't like a lot of stuff. I confess my complicatedness, and I fully embrace it. (Any women who denies being complicated is either a liar or she's living in denial).

So... what would this minimalish momma like for Mother's Day?

A little something from nature:
For eight months of the year, I live on my front porch, so dressing up my front yard with some tulipsdaffodils or a not-so-common ginkgo tree would be quite lovely.  Flowers for my table are nice, but a potted plant that would live well beyond Memorial Day would be even nicer. We don't have pets or indoor plants, so it might liven up our home to add something that breathes - preferably something that breathes CO2, NOT O2! Oh, my world would spin out of control if a puppy showed up!

A little something consumable:
My little getaway is a cup of perfectly steeped tea - Paris Morning Blend or Pomegranite Grape Green tea are my current loves, but every Mom is different, so be be careful here. If you're not sure, how about some German Rock Sugar to compliment any tea without masking the complex flavors. If your mom isn't a tea drinker, you can always go the route of coffee beans, Sonic gift cards, or a bottle of wine (assuming she's not Amish). Do I hear chocolate anyone?

A little something digital:
If my husband could pry my iPhone or my MacBook Air away from me, I'd love to have my iTunes updated with the old school Midnight Oil, Depeche Mode, and Bon Jovi tunes I remember from my junior high dances. If you don't know her dirty-little-secret-music-fantisies, there's always an eBook for her Kindle, Nook, or iPad... WHAT? She doesn't have an eReader??? Why are you still reading this blog - you know what to do!!!

A little something extravagant:
Every mom, minimalish, minimalist, or all-out-retail-therapy-junkie, has at least one thing on her extravagant wish-list. The thing she doesn't want to admit to wanting because it's way too much money for what it's worth. Unless you sign-up for Pinterest and follow her, you may never know. For me, it pains me to admit this, I'd really love a pair of OVERPRICED, but oh-so-lovely ballet flats from Tieks(in a size 8, and either the camel color or the Metallic Gold <- just incase my husband is reading this)

If all else fails, just take her to see Johnny Depp's Dark Shadows, and sneak a little big bag of Peanut M&Ms in her purse while you're at it! What woman doesn't have a thing for a dread-locked Pirate turned Vampire???  

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In honor of Mothers' Day.. a few extra pictures: 

My Mom with my "two little grumps" the day we brought home my youngest. She's 2 1/2 now.

Me and my mom with my oldest the day we brought her home - she's 4 1/2 now!

08 May 2012

A Mother's Prayer

In honor of Mothers' Day this weekend,
I thought I'd post the prayer that's been closest to my heart this week.

Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray my kids don't make a peep.
If they should cry before I wake,
My sanity could be at stake.

Photo courtesy of mirandarush on flickr

25 March 2012

3-2-1 Stop - a Book Review

It's always an honor when someone trusts you with their carefully-crafted words. Lorilee Lippencott recently gave me the privilege of reading and reviewing her latest, 321 Stop - stop running and start living, just released last week. You can read more great reviews at Amazon, but trust me, this is a must read for anyone looking to find an individualized guide to living a more simple life.
Fresh off a trip to the African Bush, I paused at the observation of our society waging a battle against too much stuff while people all over the world suffer from a lack of basic human needs. It’s a cultural war, but each of us has to figure out our own exit strategy. In 3-2-1 Stop, Lorilee Lippencott gently steers you to a life where less truly is more. It’s not just another Minimalist-How-To. It’s a practical, emotional, & spiritual guide to owning a smaller slice of the proverbial American Pie and discovering a more manageable lifestyle. 
Unlike other blogger-turned-writers, I didn’t feel like Lorilee was regurgitating her free blog into a money-making script.  Each chapter is packed with encouragement, inspirational advice and valuable resources. Lorilee’s conversational approach invites you to come sit “in a clean, uncluttered, cozy chair with a cup of something fancy” while you ponder some real questions. It’s a process of self-examination where you have the freedom to make your own assessment of what to keep and what to let out of your life.
Whether or not you agree with Lorilee’s Christian perspective, you’ll be blessed by her guidance as you learn to analyze your life and establish your own goals. If you apply the concepts, you’ll soon be on the path that is right for you – not necessarily a path comfortable for society at large – even if it is the road less trodden. 

If you like the book, you'll love her blog Loving Simple Living

23 March 2012

By Special Request - Mary's Scones

By Special Request... these are the BEST scones I've had outside the mainland. My friend Mary brought these to me and was so gracious to share her recipe. I've posted her version of the recipe as a jpeg, so it might be hard to read, but it's really not mine to share... I didn't feel free to "rewrite" it, so you get it straight from her handwriting :) 

I made these today and forgot to glaze them, but they were still wonderful. I use blueberries, but the other variations are equally wonderful. 

Not Gluten Free, but worth it!
Pre-glazed Blueberry Scones

16 March 2012

Welcome To Front Porch Sittin' Season!

It's Friday.
It's Spring Break.
The girls are playing in the neighbor's dirt pile.
My tea is perfectly steeped and just the right temp for sipping.
It's a beeeeeeeee-you-tea-ful morning.
Yep, it's the official start of Front Porch Sittin' Season!

Crummy phone-pic, but you get the idea

For about 8 months out of the year, our front porch is my favorite room in the house. I'm one of the lucky few that doesn't suffer from seasonal allergies, so unless it's freezing cold or blistering hot, I'll be out ease dropping on my neighbors enjoying my newly landscaped yard.

Our rarely visited living room boasts a set of Salvation Army furniture, but my front porch is dressed in style - well sorta'. Enough wicker seating for three, a small table to rest your tea, and an outdoor rug for your weary feet. Just right for a conversation in the Spring.

11 March 2012

Four Criteria to Avoid Trading Cash for Clutter

Wandering the mall used to be a frequent and expensive after-dinner event for us. Then we discovered the freedom of living debt free.. and later, the freedom of living clutter free. We are enamored by the idea of living off the land in a tiny house, but I'm not exactly the Pioneer Woman, so shopping is still a necessary evil. To avoid trading cash for clutter, before we take anything to the cash register, we measure it against these criteria:

04 March 2012

What Does it Really Cost to Own a Car?

In August 2005, just five short years after promising myself I'd never purchase a brand new car and take a financial hit for depreciation, I brought home "Kitten" - a brand new 2006 VW Golf TDI. I parked her in the garage and her diesel engine puuuuuuuuuuuurred. With a promise of 40+ mpg, Kitten was actually going to save me money and pay for herself in less than a decade.

01 March 2012

Kids Are Minimalists At Heart

Some kids have the beach... Mine have the construction site next door. Either way, I vote sand as one of the Top 100 toys for kids. They are fascinated with it.

My two girls have big wanters. I can't go to any store without at least one of them selecting 100 things she thinks she needs. While they do insist on having a baby doll to clutch at nap-time and bedtime, they don't really play with any of their toys. But dirt, sand, and sticks will entertain them for hours.

Minimalish kids?? I think so.

29 February 2012

My Dumb Brother's Four Elements of Tranquility

As a kid, my room was always a mess. I was a "collector" of all things: stickers, teddy bears, fun pens, friendship bracelets, Mickey Mouse memorabilia, badge-a-mint badges... you name it. I'm pretty sure my stuff multiplied while I was at school, and I never liked living in my space. I didn't know how to control it.

My older brother, on the other hand, had about four prized possessions.

26 February 2012

What West Africa Taught Me About Minimalism

In my last post, I shared that my overseas trips have taught me that all I really need to survive will fit in my backpack. But it's not what I took with me that really taught me the most.. it's what I brought back.

When I left, my backpack was stuffed with clothing, a few accessories, toiletries, American snacks, my journal and my camera.

When I came back, my heart was full of joy, rest, and breathing room - if that even makes any sense. In January, my husband got to go to the same area I visited last fall. He experienced the same thing. We dream of going back together and even living there long term. Sometimes, it feels like a God-calling-thing, but my struggle is to know if it is really just God calling me to live on the bare essentials of life. To experience the freedom from stuff that the people of West Africa don't even know they know.

1. In West Africa, you can cook an entire meal with just one dish.
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... then everyone can eat with just one bowl (okay, two - one for men and one for women)

19 February 2012

What's in My Minimalish Closet

WARNING - this post over-utilizes parenthesis. 
Grammar junkies should proceed with caution!

I read a lot of minimalist blogs, books, and other various articles. It seems listing ones clothing is a popular trend, so I'm hoping onboard.

You can tell a lot about a person's life by the clothing in their closet - church clothes? executive suits? lots of exercise wear? lumberjack flannels? etc, etc... Last year, I took two intercontinental trips - one to South America and one to West Africa. I learned that everything I really need to survive will fit in my backpack. Aside from overseas trips though, I do normally keep a few more items in my closet. I've gone through phases of cleaning it out and then adding a few items back in, but in general, this is what I keep:

12 February 2012

Culling through the Clutter - Paper

If there is one area that is out of control in our house, it's paper clutter. Art projects, junk mail, old journals, user guides, appliance warranties, taxes, bank statements, magazines, you name it! So last week, I took some time to cull through a decade of paper. This wasn't my first pass, so it wasn't terrible, but it did make a huge mess in the living room and resulted in a trash bag of paper that probably should have been shredded. Shhh.. don't tell the identity thieves about my white bag of old bank statements buried somewhere in a heap of dirty diapers somewhere on the outskirts of town.

Here are my guidelines for what to keep and how long to hang on to it:

10 February 2012

Dinner in 6 Ingredients or Less - Moroccan Chicken

If you're ever sick, have a baby, or you're just having a bad day.. I might ask if I can make you dinner. If so, here's what I'm actually offering: Chicken breast marinated in olive oil and Pampered Chef's Moroccan rub, couscous in chicken broth, & steamed broccoli.

Easy peasy and my preschooler even eats it!

05 February 2012

Five Reasons to Go Minimalish

A few weeks ago, Naomi Kendall who blogs over at The Minimal List, asked a question on Twitter.. something about where did you start with minimalism? I responded to her question and said that I started with small spaces..  a spice cabinet, a closet, the space under my sink, and my desk (not all at the same time). It's just enough motivation to keep me going.

This sparked a conversation (as much as you can in 140 characters or less at a time) about the goal of Minimalism. Do I just want less stuff or is there a different plan?

I came up with a few quick reasons to go Minimialish:

  1. I have said this before, I have pack-rat tendencies. What can I say? I'm a sentimental fool (which is why I still have two sets of Grandma's dishes secretly stashed in my attic). Minimalism helps me keep a handle on things. It makes me think about everything that comes into my house - I'm constantly asking myself if I really need this much stuff!

30 January 2012

One Minimalish Room

In my heart, I really want to be a Minimalist, but I watch too much HGTV, so I'm content to be Minimalish when it comes to my home. After almost a year, we have one room that I could call done, although there are two changes I still want to make.

When we first moved in, it truly was a minimalist space. No window treatments, no headboard, and my nightstand was actually two stacked file boxes (with way too much stuff in them!) That ginkgo light fixture is probably my favorite thing in our house. 

Here is today. Almost DONE! 

23 January 2012

DIY Nightstands From An Art Deco Vanity

Disclaimer #1: This is not a unique idea. It is inspired by Mandy at Sugar Bee Crafts, only she used a desk and it required a lot more steps!
Disclaimer #2: As much as I like to think I'm crafty, I'm more of an idea girl. Luckily, my husband is pretty handy when it comes to implementing my brilliant ideas! 

So anyway, I've been looking for the perfect nightstands for our Minimalish Bedroom. I love Mid Century Modern furniture, but it's not so practical in the year 2012 and the age of the California King mattress. If I was a trendy interior designer, I'd insert some guide to scale when it comes to furniture.. but a designer, I am not. I'm just a girl engineer. I just know what I like and what I think looks good. I know that 23" tall night stands would be dwarfed by our big 'ol comfy bed.

Last Wednesday, I picked up this little gem at Precious Cargo in Fayetteville, AR for about $140.

A little sweat from moving the carseats to the front and putting the back seat down, and it fit in my car! My little VW Golf is like a Transformer! It's an around-town-grocery-getter, long trip gas saver (44 mpg!!) and a TRUCK.