My transition from cluttered to simple living.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Countdown Has Begun!

I have pledged to buy nothing new in the month of August. Poppy reminded me, when he visited this week, that he has a birthday at the end of August. He also commented that since I have chosen to buy nothing new in August, that he knows what he will not be getting this year... "new". I agreed. Birthday gifts will take more thought, and as he does read this blog, I cannot tell you what I have in mind for his special day. But this I know. Whatever I come up with will please him. He is just that kind of guy. He asks for nothing... and appreciates everything.

I am looking forward to the challenges that will present themselves over the next month. I don't feel that I am a big spender, but I do purchase more than I need to. My biggest problem is the number of trips I make to the grocery store, and because I haven't made a list, my grocery spending takes a big chunk out of our income. So I am also going to challenge myself on another level. I am going to shop once a week, make a list and budget. Not only will I save money, but gas too.

We are going to attempt to use what is in our freezer, which should be emptied, anyway, in preparation for the new produce I will be putting down this season. Hubby is great at making interesting meals, and has jumped on board, welcoming the challenge of using up our frozen foods.

I visited my garden today. The tomatoes are doing great but everything seems slower than usual. Perhaps it is due to the amount of rain we have had. However, the peas and beans are in blossom. The leeks and carrots are coming along. I don't see anything on the squash vines other than the odd bloom. Perhaps I shouldn't check it out as often. I have to admit that it is discouraging, especially when I see what is being harvested from the Mennonite farms down the road but I have heard many gardeners complain about the rain this year. At least I have a garden this year. It has given me much pleasure.

So... three days to go until my challenge officially begins. I invite each and every one of you to join in!

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Day Off...

How shall I fill it? Well...there are endless chores that could fill my day, or I could forego the mundane and do something fulfilling. I have projects galore on the go...quilts, and wall hangings, paintings sketched and waiting for colour.... I also have grand babies to see and dote upon....

I think I will choose the latter. There is no contest and if there were, the babies win hands down!

My grandchildren number three now... all under the age of six. Some have teeth and some don't. Grandson #1 has just lost his top front teeth. "Dustin" is 6 years old. He is all-boy and is full of life and curiosity. He is shared by his mom and dad and a new step-mom. He is loved by a huge number of family-fans. He has just acquired a little brother who is now 10 weeks of age, and whom we call, "Halen" (As in "Van...")

Alexia is three and is Dustin's cousin. She still has all of her teeth and talks up a storm. She is warming up to her Nana and Papa now and we are looking forward to many visits in the future. Alexia already has a wicked sense of humour and a cute little laugh. She is wrestling with her "L's" ( as in..."Nana, I wuved that wittle hat" ) She, too, is looking forward to a visit from the stork, and a new baby sister this fall.

I am pleased to hear that MY D.I.L. wants to try using cloth diapers this time around. (Pleased is a mild word!) I always cheer when my children announce their intention to do something that is not-so-popular. I cringe when I consider my contribution to the landfill site.

So, I will end this and prepare for my visit. After all, what better way to spend a day off?

Friday, July 24, 2009

Buy Nothing New Month Challenge....

Okay... I think that I am ready to get serious and take the plunge. I am going to jump right in and commit to buy nothing new for the month of August. (Why does this thought send a chill down my spine?!?)

Now... there are a few exceptions to this rule. Groceries, toiletries, and car maintenance is exempt. AND... I am adding another exemption. If I need to buy materials for a gift that I am making, I will endeavor to use the stash I have or buy that case I do reserve the right to buy new material if all else fails.

I have cut down on my spending over the past few months. I have allowed magazine subscriptions to lapse, I have been completing projects that I started eons ago. We travelled and for the first time, I did little souvenir shopping.

So... would anyone like to join me along the way? Jump right in! (Misery loves company...)

In conclusion...a note to my dad who religiously reads this blog... Please do not make comment on any slip-ups. Please do not ask "why?" and please do not attempt to sabotage my efforts. (For all who don't know him, my dad (poppy) is my pal, and traveling buddy.) He is my biggest support, but also has a wicked sense of humor, and since my biggest challenge this month will be keeping motivated, I will need all the encouragement I can get.

Now... I realize that a few people follow this blog, and a few more drop in. I invite you to stop in and comment. Say hello and tell me where you are from. Do you blog? What are your experiences, if any, with spending less? I am looking forward to learning of your experiences!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

We all know of the plight of the orphaned AIDS children in Africa. We all are painfully aware that there are babies being cared for by babies in most households. What I was not aware of is that aside from the reality of having very little to eat, these poor children sleep huddled together and uncovered at night, and there are times in Africa when it is bitterly cold.

Have you ever wished that you could do something...anything... to ease their discomfort? Well... you can! Go to to find out how. these volunteers don't want money. they are looking for donations of knitted or crocheted squares to make blankets for these children.

"A dollar a day lasts a day but a blanket lasts a lifetime."

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Last night I woke at 2 usual time for sorting out the world's problems. Usually, it is a time when I struggle with relationship issues, but last night was different. I blogged. Had I been wiser, I would have got up and put my thoughts to paper and then let them go until morning. I didn't, and spent the next two hours thinking about why I blog, is my title appropriate and have I made any gains. So...for those who happen upon this site, the following may not interest you...or maybe you wrestle with some of the same issues I do at 2 am, and maybe it will.

When I was in my teens, I wrestled with questions that went unanswered... questions like "Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? What next?" Along came my children, and my mind was busied with raising them and dealing with their many questions. Alas, they are on their own now, and again, I ponder those same questions that haunted my teens. For the most part, I thought I knew who I was. I was a mom raising three children on my own. That was my purpose in life, I felt. With their absence from the nest, I have to ask myself, "What's next?"

Not too long ago I was asked why I blog. Well.. for one, I like to write and I now have time... The second reason ties in with the title of this blog. My life is cluttered, both internally and externally, and in order to find a new direction, I have to sort out and dispose of, and find a new way. I blog therefore to give voice to the thoughts that at times, disturb my sleep. I blog to experiment with a more mindful way of living. I blog to commune with people who are on the same new path. I blog to document my journey.

I read the news. I know about peak oil, water shortages, consumerism and air pollution. I know that by returning to those ways of our grandparents much of those problems will be alleviated. And so, I strive to do my best to walk lightly and be more conscious of my footprint.

What have I gained? I have met many wonderful like- minded people through blogging. I have slowed down...a little. I spend less and am disposing of more. I am mindful of what I eat, and the cost of putting what I eat on my plate. I am becoming more self reliant and I find I am returning to the simple life.

I was raised when things were less complicated, and more easily understood... a time when priorities were not difficult to recognize, and a time when people were more important than things. These are my roots and to this way of thinking and living, I journey.

So please understand when I don't seem to have a direction or a purpose in my blog. I AM heading in the right direction...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

When I was little...

When I was little we lived simply and thoughtfully. We had close connections with our extended family. We spent a great deal of time with our grandparents. It was during those times that memories of simplicity were borne. It is to those memories that I retreat when I need the comforting thoughts of recall of a time too distant now.

It was a time of make, make-do, wear-out and reuse. These were skills born of necessity. We were by no means poor people. We were rich beyond imagination in love. If we were lacking in other material things, I was not aware. We were protected from all but what we needed to know.

Our was an idealistic childhood... days full of exploring and discovering...sunny days of summer that never seemed to end. We watched very little Television. Our meals came from the kitchen, and very little in the way of groceries (other than staples) were brought into the house. We spent a lot of time near the kitchen where my grandmother seemed to spend all of her time. I cannot recall a time when we arrived at her home that she hadn't prepared a HUGE pan of homemade goodies... just for us. We were always made to feel welcome, as if we were long awaited special company. Of course we knew that we were more than just that.

When I was little I was expected to entertain myself in the mornings when my Nana did most of her chores. It was cooler then and she knew to use that time to her advantage. I suspect that she was up for long hours before the calling of the train in the distance woke my brother and I. At noon we marched off to the beach with Nana and a lunch... the same every day...jam filled sandwiches. We sat on a blanket and swam in Lake Ontario, dug holes to China and listened to the grown-ups share news of family and friends.

Mid afternoon we returned home but were expected again, to amuse ourselves quietly on the screened-in porch, while Nana and her sisters watched their "story" on television. I think I recall that it was "The Days of Our lives" but that memory is sketchy. I only remember in detail, the knowing feeling that we had better be quiet during that hour. Nana never disciplined us, but we loved her so much, we wanted to please her.

Our evening meal consisted of meat, potatoes, vegetables and gravy. Always. As twilight approached we were brought inside and spent an hour or so playing "Snap" or Checkers with grandpa. Nana served us Tea and toast and then were were off to bed to sleep and dream on sheets, fresh and stiffened from being hung outside.

My ardent desire is to create memories of this sort for my grandchildren.. and so at every opportunity, I will welcome them into our home, as if they are long awaited special guests. Of course they will know that they are much more.

Friday, July 17, 2009

What Have I done!?!

I have created a monster! I discovered Laura Bush's recipe for chocolate chip cookies...and in sharing them with family and neighbours, have discovered that they are quickly becoming a favorite. This in itself is not a bad thing, however, this is the third time I have made them in the past two weeks. I am attempting to transition from fat and frumpy to sleek and sexy and making these cookies has hampered my progress. Surely one must taste the cookies before passing them on?? I need a live in cookie tester... is now Friday, and what have I accomplished this week? Precious little. I occupied myself with grand-babies until Tuesday and went into work on night shift on Wednesday and thursday night. I did gather for a yard sale which my daughter is having tomorrow. I have baked another batch of cookies. I managed a bike ride and have weeded my garden. That is it. Working night shift robs me of of sleep and ambition.

If intention counts for anything, I do have great plans. I hope to find the time to complete two quilts before summer is out. I hope to make my granddaughter a pillowcase dress from a vintage pillowcase. I hope to complete a pair of socks for my girlfriend's grandbaby and find the adult ones I started and did not finish.

My garden is doing well which is surprising as our weather has been on the cool side. I have not harvested anything yet but will soon be traveling to the local farmer's market to start putting down for the coming winter.

I am off now to pick up my grandson who loves to visit with his Nana and Papa. I hope that everyone has a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Quieter than I like....

I have had three bliss-filled days surrounded by grand babies. They have all gone home now, and although at times during their visit, I yearned for an hour of quiet, I am rediscovering how empty that stillness can be. I am busying myself with preparing for a yard sale and fooling around on this computer, but somehow I miss the constant chatter.

We visited the beach yesterday and the day was perfect in all ways. The sun shone. The water was warm. There were many happy voices, and the laughter of many children. It reminded me of times I had spent at the beach with my own three. We were fortunate that we had a family cottage, and many happy hours were spent there.

For those of us who suffer from empty nest syndrome...or rather....empty arm syndrome, it can be a challenge to rediscover things to fill our days. I love producing things, so my art work, crafts and my garden help in that regard. I still work part time, and although I struggle with job satisfaction, it is a diversion, and I am lucky, given the state of the economy, that I am employed.

I am more than fortunate, that I have grandchildren that like to come and visit their Nana and Papa. My grandson crawled into bed with me on his first morning here and cooed, "I love you, Nana." What more could one want? What more could one need?

I am off now to wash linens and towels in preparation for the next visit which promises to be soon. Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Back to Home Sweet Home

We arrived home on Sunday after covering many miles and seeing so much. PEI is a beautiful piece of Canada. The weather was cold and rainy most of the week but that did not deter us from getting out and sight-seeing. One of my favourite towns was "Rustico," but it would be hard to choose as every town was beautiful.

The highlight of my visit to the Island was visiting the Great Canadian Goat Co. where I purchased MANY bars of soap made from goats milk. I learned that only a small percentage of "soap" on the market is truly soap, and that most is detergent made from harsh chemicals. My husband and I have been using this soap exclusively since getting back (and while we were on the road). I am sold on its quality, and I will be passing on my unopened bars of "soap" (from the grocery store) to anyone who is not interested in a quality product.

For years we have been purchasing anti-dandruff shampoo for hubby, and he still had problems with itchy and flaky scalp. He now uses the goats milk soap and has had no further problem with dandruff. The dry skin has disappeared from the back of my arms. I am very impressed! I will be posting a link to the site by the weekend.

My gardens were quite overgrown with weeds when we got back. The rabbits had also found my beets. Everything is doing well, however, and I am pleased to say that the apply fly traps are working! I actually have some apples that are not pock-marked this year!

The biggest challenge when traveling is continuing our practice of recycling. PEI, however, has a great recycling system and we were able to keep our waste down to one small grocery bagful for the week we were there. We reused our sheets and towels and refrained from using the courtesy bottles of shampoo offered by the hotels we stayed in.

All in all, we had a great trip, but we are also glad to be home. I guess that is why people they can return to what is familiar and loved with a new vision.