My transition from cluttered to simple living.

Monday, August 31, 2009 not read.

I have been asked again why I bog, and what is its purpose. It is difficult to put that sort of thing into words... but I will give it a go.

My reasons are many... There is always the thrill of meeting other like-minded people, but my blog is also a diary of sorts where I share my life, my story, my interests and my philosophy. I find, for reasons unknown, that I just have to put "it" out there, and often there is no one who is interested, or who has the time to listen.... Once in a while, someone will happen across this site who shares the same challenges, concerns or interests and we connect.

Life is a journey. I believe that many lessons can learned along the way that help us develop strength of character and help us in our quest to perfect our spirit.

Did you ever hear that expression "I wish I knew then what I know now?" Of course you have. Too many of us express that feeling of regret when the opportunity has long ago passed to do things differently... and I have to say I wish I knew then what I know now.

Over the years my greatest lessons were learned from the mistakes I made. In the past, I was careless with things of great value... like relationships. I judged people too harshly. I have been guilty of overlooking the good and have focused on faults. I have not nurtured relationships, nor have I given others the opportunity to prove their worth...and I have learned that it ended up being my loss.

I was also careless of how I treated our gentle and beautiful planet. I had no idea of the damage that we were doing, without awareness, in our every day lives. We have used harsh chemicals in our homes and in our fields that have made us sick and have poisoned our streams and wildlife. I had no idea of the corrupt practices that exist because of the desire for monetary gain. I know better now, and so I do better, and I want to talk to people who feel the same way.

I want to do things differently and I want to chart my progress. My journey began long before I discovered blogging but I am thankful for this means of communication.

Over the years I have developed interests in gardening, art and simple living. Those interests bring me great joy, peace and contentment.

My relationships with others also bring me great happiness now. I have wonderful children who are talented in many different ways, and who have never disappointed me in their choices of profession or partners. Although I watch them struggle at times and I have to resist interfering and giving advice, it is my hope that something they read here might interest them.

So..those are my reasons for blogging.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

And they all lived happily ever after...

Sometimes circumstance can alter the course of our lives, and then that unseen hand intervenes and we are given a second chance.......

Shannon and her Dad, (My brother)

Shannon and her poppy.

The groom, Jamie, Shannon's little sister, Megan, and the beautiful bride.

A dance with dad...

A hug from big brother, Buddy... (She really DOES like it!)

And the one who made it happen... Cousin Mandi (who never forgot her playmate) Shannon and Jamie. Thanks, Mandi.

...and we WILL live happily ever after.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Horses in need of homes....

These horses are from South Dakota and are now in Georgetown, Ontario. they are destined to be slaughtered for meat if they do not find regular owners. Most of them are young and not in great condition, but nothing that a little TLC won't fix. ...

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Happy Birthday, Dad!

With much love, and great respect....  Muff  xoxoxo


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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Yet another post...

I am entering a period of night shifts and am not sure when I will get on to blog again, and I wanted to write about my month of "buy nothing new." How did I do? HORRIBLY! What did I learn? MUCH!

I discovered that I have a conscience that really can nag at me when I am breaking my own set of rules. I discovered that it is hard to provide for those who don't think like I do.

The first crack in my resolve occurred when hubby approached me and announced that we needed a new lawnmower. Ours had been out of commission for two summers and we had borrowed from neighbours and family. I told him that I did not want to talk about it. (He reads my blog!) So off he went and came home with a beauty. He rationalized its purchase by saying..."Look, honey.... it does not run on gas and is rechargeable." (He knows how to get to me.) I am pleased with it. It is quiet and has cut the lawn twice on one charge.

The second purchase was a stroller for baby #2 for son #1. His MIL asked me to split the cost and I did. Hopefully someone else will benefit from this purchase down the road.

My third and last purchase was for a new outfit for my niece's wedding. This is the one purchase I regret the most, however... I will wear it again to my step-daughter's wedding. Why do I regret it? Had I more time I could have spent less money at Value Village. I have learned that to make this work I need to plan better.

I have also learned that I want to try this again. I am not sure that I will announce my intentions to blog world....then again...maybe I will. It annoys me that I can not get it all right at the same time. Since starting this blog I have made so many changes in our home. It seems as if personal changes are the hardest to make. (Amber... I admire year without buying....)

So ends this confession. (Perhaps I should call this a "flogging" rather than blogging.) Till next time...

A much simpler way to blog...

As I mentioned in my last post, hubby has discovered an easier way for me to post to my blog. He found and now all I have to do is pick the pictures I want to use, add captions and mail it to my blog account at Posterous. Try will be surprised at how easy it is!

For the past several years I have tried to grow these beauties in a planter box. I always lose them mid summer.

I understand that you need to water them more when they are in pots. I am glad that I was able to capture these pictures before they died off.

I think there may be a painting here....

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Trying out a New System of Posting....

Hubby has discovered, what he thinks is an easier way to post pics and narrative.  So.. what follows is an experiment.  

On Saturday, hubby, Alexia and I visited the local Alpaca farm.  Have you ever seen Alpaca?  They have the most beautiful faces attached to very long necks.  They also have the softest fur known to man.  Their coats come in several different shades....tan, brown, black and grey.  Their fur is used in the same way as other wools.  It is cleaned, carded and spun into a luxurious fiber.  Alexia was very interested in these strange-looking creatures, which are becoming more common on Canadian farms.  

These Alpaca appear to have been sheared recently.

 Notice the different colours?  This fellow is wearing my next pair of socks!

 You don't need an awful lot of land to have a herd.  These animals are well cared for and have lots of room to roam.

 You may occasionally see Llama in with an Alpaca herd.  They act as sentry protecting the herd.

If you are a knitter, try using this fiber.  It is soooo soft to work with!

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Thursday, August 20, 2009


I discovered kayaking almost 10 years ago now. I had seen brochures in our local post office about a group of women who were offering their time to guide kayaking expeditions on the Great Lakes to raise money for Breast Cancer Research. I jumped at the opportunity to participate, as I had just lost a cousin to the disease, and I needed a way to channel my grief into some productive endeavour that would honour "Kitty."

Kitty...I need to speak about her for a minute. Kitty and I grew up sharing the same grandmother. Kitty's parents arrived in this country from Scotland, and had neither family nor friends here. My Nana "adopted" this family as her own, and as she was from Scotland herself, I am sure that she understood the challenges that they would face in this new country. George and Mary went on to raise a family of two...Georgie and Kitty. and they both ended up calling my Nana, "Gram." I remember asking Nana if Kitty and I were cousins, and she replied that we were "kissing cousins." ( How often do you hear that expression nowadays?) We were cousins from that moment on.

Anyhow, Kitty was afflicted with breast cancer in her 40's. It was a voracious disease. She fought it gallantly but during her struggle, her youngest daughter was stricken with Leukemia. She and Nat battled together and Kitty held on until she knew her daughter was safely in remission, and then left us.

So... shortly afterward, I found Paddle to a Cure, and signed up. I raised the mandatory $2500.00 and added another $1700.00 to that sum. We paddled and camped on Georgian Bay for 4 days, and I returned home knowing that I had discovered a great love that would heal the loss of my other Great Love.

I was blessed to have been able to participate in two more week-long trips. I learned paddling skills. and met wonderful women and men who shared a common desire to eradicate this disease. Camping under the stars made me feel closer to the heavens where I know Kitty, and fellow paddler Kathy, now reside.

My last trip was also the last expedition of Paddle to a Cure. It was launched in Atlantic Canada and was more challenging than any I had been on. My DIL and daughter were along for that trip and I know that this was an experience that my daughter will never forget. Vegetarian meals, icy and rough waters, a vicious thunderstorm, incredible scenery and no trace camping. (Did I mention no toilets?)

I find it difficult to get on the water as often as I would like to now but when I do, I am taken to a place that I cannot find at any other time.

My painting to the right is dedicated to the memory of Kitty Wilson, Kathy Reid, and Paddle to a Cure.

I really hope that I thanked our leaders and guides for donating their time and expertise over those five summers. You will NEVER know what this opportunity has given me and my family.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Off to work

This will be a short post as I am on afternoon shift for the next three days. It promises to be a difficult shift. Along with dealing with staffing issues, two of our staff members have experienced tragedies over the past several days. One staff member lost her grandson in a car vs pedestrian accident. The other staff member is sitting with her 10 year old son at Sick Kids in Toronto while he recovers from a very serious accident involving an ATV. Life for both families is changed forever.

Death is a part of living. We all know that, however, no one ever expects to bury a child. There are many who read this blog that have experienced this, and to them I apologize for opening an old wound.

It is at times like this, that we are reminded to cherish our children, our grandson and each other. We must remember how very fragile, and how brief, that life is.

Take care of yourselves. Take care of each other.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Good News

I am having a hard time getting the link to show on my blog, but I have discovered just what the doctor ordered... a news site that only delivers happy news. It is just what a body needs to start and end a day!

Go to and enjoy your day!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Harvest Helper

Who, you are asking, could THAT be? Well..."Dustinwithtatoos" visited this weekend, and I wanted him to experience the joy of picking food from our own backyard. It was quite the production. He donned sunscreen and sunhat and with 4 quart in hand, went out to the beds and picked carrots, beans, onions and peas for a stir fry. Unfortunately, he was not able to stay for supper, but that will be our next adventure... eating the fresh produce he has picked. I want him to learn where our food comes from and why day... he should choose organic, local food.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Crisis of Another Kind

I spent the last two nights at work in a small Home for the Aged in our community. Many of those who work there are in our 50's. Our resident are as young as 60 and as old as 100. Frail elders are being cared for by aging caregivers.

Few students will choose Geriatrics as a line of work that they wish to pursue. I can hardly blame them. This work can become mundane and repetitive. Residents who are forced to live in such an environment will attest to the fact that life inside the walls of these facilities is hardly desirable. They will tell you that life is very different from before they became ill enough to need care.

Individuality is non existent. Conformity is the rule. (That is how order is kept when dealing with such a large number of people. )

The biggest challenge is staffing. As workers age, so does the frequency of injury. There are never enough workers to provide the care that is so deserving of our elders. Those workers that do show up to work are quickly approaching "burnout' from the stress of constantly running short of staff and having to make up the difference. Management seldom show their faces on the floor. The workload expectation never changes, regardless of the staffing issues.

The nursing crisis is here. How then is it that the "powers to be" can close hospital beds and lay off nursing staff??? My best friend who is a nurse, recently was told that she will be getting her "pink slip." She is talented and young. WHAT are they thinking???

Climate change...Global warming...poverty...war....disease....hunger...escalating population and nurse shortage....unemployment....crime... It is all so discouraging. What can an individual do? Lobbying for change is a start. Pressure your politicians. Become informed. Take small steps to work towards a better world for us all.

Sorry if this post is a little dark. Sometimes it all seems a little overwhelming.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

First Harvest

Yesterday I picked yellow and green beans from my little plot... my first harvest! How thrilling it was to pick something that I had planted from seed!

My little garden has been an experiment of sorts this year. Everything has done well with the exception of the beets, carrots and squash. Both root vegetables have long , spindly growth. The leaves are healthy and green but its fruit is almost useless, although I will make a salad from what is there.

Green beans, yellow beans, leeks, onions and peas are enough to supply a few meals and I look forward to letting my grandson pick the next batch of fresh beans. It is always nice to do things that become memories of time spent with Nana, and I look forward to the day that my granddaughter feels more comfortable leaving her mommy and daddy for a visit here so that she can share these memories.

Next year I will fill my gardens with a crop each (with the exception of carrots and beets!) I know what does well now. I shall soon start visiting the local farmers and farmer's markets and begin preserving for winter. I am systematically using from the freezer to make room.

My children are great fans of the peaches that I preserve. I use very little sugar and they know that the product produced is clean, preservative free and fresh. I would rather jar than freeze but a few vegetables I prefer frozen. I am looking forward to using my pressure canner but am going to enlist my hubby's help and support for the first few attempts.

My grandmother used a pressure cooker. Her son does too, but frankly, they scare the daylights out of me. I will never forget the imprint of a lid on Nana's ceiling. How that happened, I can only guess, but I have acquired a healthy respect for these tools now.

I must apologize for the short post yesterday. I spent several hours outside yesterday and the sun was a little warm. The remainder of the afternoon was spent nursing a headache.

Today I am grateful for my little garden plot that provides and pleases.


Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Albert Schweitzer:

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.

Today I gardened. I love it!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Decluttering... The saga continues...

Today I am taking a "Wendy" day. I am screening calls. I am filling my day with those things I need that make me happy, as I have come to the conclusion that it is not only our houses that need to be de-cluttered... It is our selves.

Sure...I have chores to do. Doing chores has never made me unhappy. Working towards a goal of less clutter takes muscle and discipline, but the rewards are great. I have also found that the physical changes that I need to make require less effort than the mental de-cluttering I MUST do.

So... happy is the word of the day, and happy is the way. My agenda will develop as the day progresses, and I plan on posting again later. Blogging makes me happy. Reading my favourite blogs makes me feel happy.

Have a great day! Strive to be happy!

Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others.... Buddha

Thursday, August 6, 2009

News From the Garden...

I have been checking my garden several times daily and neglecting to post about its progress. It is amazing to see what a few days of sunlight can accomplish! I have tomatoes ripening as well as yellow and green beans, peppers, peas and onions. The squash is not doing as well... all blooms and no bud... so I tried a new tact this morning and used a Q Tip to fertilize several of the blooms.

None of the root vegetables I planted did well. Perhaps they did not like the soil in their new beds! Both the turnips and carrots are long, thin and spindly.

My garden is small and we will, undoubtedly enjoy a few meals from it this year. Next year, knowing what has done well, I will plant a crop a bed. Of course, you know what that means... I have to talk hubby into making a few more.

My garden beds were a birthday gift that continues to please me. Thanks, Wayne!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Joy of blogging (and is there something missing?)

A fellow blogger visited today and mentioned how much we have in common. We do share a lot of the same interests, and some of the same problems. I think that many of us during these times, share common concerns and desires. There are many of us who also recognize that something is missing, and want to do things differently.

Think back to a time when you were most happy. I bet that you didn't have nearly what you have now.... I bet things were a lot simpler then. Somehow, along the way, we all got swept up in the belief that stuff would make us happy. We may have more than what we need now, but there is also a feeling of scarcity.

We have lost the ability to do for ourselves... to produce our own food, or make our own clothing or coverings. We live in large towns and cities but have lost our sense of community. We don't know our neighbours, and don't care to know them.

We spend more time at work than we do with our children. We entrust our children's education to strangers. Television entertains our youngsters, even when we are home and able to give them quality time.

Perhaps it is time to rethink all that we are involved in, and to ask ourselves one simple question. Ask this... Is this is really the way you want to spend the rest of your life?

I am not suggesting that we all give up our comfortable homes for a cabin in the woods. What I am proposing is that we reevaluate our present circumstance. Is there something that we need to do to enhance the quality of our lives, our children's lives and that of our neighbours?

Perhaps we really do not need what we have been convinced that we do. Perhaps all we really need is the the love of family and friends, and just enough to get by. Perhaps we need to relearn some of the skills of our grandparents. Do you remember how they managed when times were tough?

I am glad that I have connected with so many like-minded people through blogging. Somehow it makes the journey... and the search...easier knowing that there are many walking the same path.

Please take a minute...

... to say hello. I see that I have had people visit this blog. I would love to know a little more about YOU. Please drop a line! Where do you live? What do you do? what are YOUR dreams and aspirations?

Thank you.

Monday, August 3, 2009

More Difficult than I Thought...

August 3rd. I am three days into my challenge of buying nothing new for the month, and I am failing miserably. What I find so difficult, is dealing with others who are not of the same mindset. I can not go into details here as the item that I have bought is a joint gift for our DIL, and the cost is shared with her mother. "New" is what is expected, and as the gift is for a newborn, I can understand the hesitancy to accept anything that isn't new for hygienic reasons. If it is of any consolation, the gift will be used often and much money and energy will be saved by its purchase, and as a thought in line with compromise, our newest arrival will wear hand-me-downs from her sister.

As I look ahead to the rest of the month, I can't see any occasions that I should not be able to handle. I think the secret to success with any endeavour, is careful planning. Dad is aware that his birthday may be a little different this year. My anniversary is at the end of the month, and my husband is aware of what I am trying to accomplish. It will be fun to come up with a unique gift for both occasions.

We went away for the weekend and I bought nothing (YAY me!) so I suppose that all is not lost. I am actually enjoying the thought that goes into a project of this sort. Shopping is now for necessities only. I actually go out less often and save gas in the process. Having a shopping list helps too. Shopping trips are quicker.

So...onward and upward. Good luck to all who have joined me!