Downsizing and Decluttering

A while ago, I met a guy, fell in love and got married. We moved into our first home, and my desire to keep it beautiful was in overdrive.

Believe it or not, as a single woman living in her parent’s home, I owned more stuff than would fit in a two bedroom apartment. Still do, actually, but it’s getting better. When we got engaged, it looked like we’d be moving to a different state and probably to a one bedroom or studio apartment. I looked around me at my collection of 2,000 books, shelves of art supplies, dresser, closet, and six totes full of seasonal/various size clothing and heaps of boxes of my ‘”hope-chest” that had been stashed in the garage attic since I was 16. I knew it wasn’t okay. If I was moving next door into a big ol’ farmhouse and could stay home and be a housewife… mayyyyyyybe it would have been okay. And you know what? The irony is that I hate clutter. I love open spaces and clean surfaces. I was constantly cleaning and weeding out stuff I didn’t want, re-organizing so all of my stuff was more efficient, and always frustrated.

                                                                    Moving in

I set to work right away. I had to downsize, and knew that being sentimental about stuff was not going to work for me. I donated bags and bags of clothes that didn’t fit, boxes of books went to the library sale, years of gardening magazines went (sadly) to be recycled. I had a lawn sale, and the twenty remaining boxes of stuff (I kid you not) were donated to a local share shop.

A HUGE thing that really helped was the actual act of packing and moving. I’d lived in the same house my whole life, and my material life piled up around me, as it does after nearly 30 years in one spot. I pictured unpacking in my new home… would I be happy to see this item? Would it be worth the space it would take up in a small apartment, when I already knew that clutter frustrates me? Do I NEED it? The idea that we should ask ourselves if an item is either useful or beautiful stuck in my head years ago, but I had to change that around for my own situation. Some things I had were very useful… but would have no place to go, and would be more useful for someone else. Some items were beautiful… but a huge collection of beautiful things is called clutter.

BOOKS, for goodness sake, were the hardest thing to figure out what to do with! I love my books, and there are some I’ll hang onto forever, but possessing thousands things that sit on a shelf collecting dust 360 days out of the year, and keeping me from having a place to put what I actually NEED to have, well… that doesn’t make sense when there’s a public library right down the road. I could walk there in 5 minutes. I didn’t want to just throw them in the trash, and recycling them is a huge laborious task. Selling them online was tempting, but in my experience, they sit around for months and years waiting to sell, which is just… clutter.Finally, one local library welcomed about 200 of them. I have two book cases in my apartment now, but the rest… they are still boxed up at my parents’ house. I even asked social media for suggestions on what to do with so many books, but I got very few suggestions… most people felt it was more helpful to tell me that books are friends, and I shouldn’t get rid of them. Thaaaaanks for that.

                                                     Nice and tidy… never lasts.

Moving in, I brought with me just the stuff I wanted. I knew the remnants of things left at my parents’ would be a challenge. A lot of the things that got left behind I really did want… we just didn’t have the space. Lately, every time we visit my parents, more and more of that stuff ends up in a box or bag thrust into my hands to take with me, haha! I can’t really blame them. Now it’s time to make more decisions. Clutter is piling up in my spare rooms/office. At first it was my favorite room in the apartment. It’s just so pretty and the lighting in there is perfect. But yeah, it’s now the “What do I so with this thing?” room. Also the “We don’t have a shed or garage so let’s store motor oil and air conditioners in here.’ room.

But just so you know, it’s not all dismal despair… I’m not just another first world problem child. (Or am I?) I have found that with the help of videos by ClutterBug on Youtube (I found the 30 day decluttering series to be life changing. And yes I did binge watch them all in two days.) and listening to A Slob Comes Clean podcasts, there is still hope for me. A few more emotional attachments to overcome, yes. But I’ll get there. I’ll never be a minimalist, and I don’t think you have to be in order to be happy. But clutter is like a material manifestation of brain fog to me, and that’s something to battle against!


Where has she been?

She (myself) has had one whirlwind after another over the summer and fall.

First, my brother got married. If you’ve ever had a wedding in your family (and I assume you have) you know what that entails.


I had the privilege of being the florist for his wedding….

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February Reading

I substitute-worked at our local library today. The director is out with a bad cold. I spent the whole, very long, rather quiet day just poking around, shelving books, straightening shelves, singed up one new patron and… read almost an entire book. Hey, I had 8 hours! And only like… 15 people came in during the entire day. And since I’m a sub and not an official employee, there’s not a whole lot that I can do when it’s quiet. 😉 I haven’t been to the library in a few months, mostly because I have an overabundance of my own books, plus a Kindle which already has close to 80 (mostly free!) books on it (AND I just discovered how to borrow eBooks from the area ILL system. Sweet.) So anyway, I’m never short of reading material. But when I spend the whole day in the library, I inevitable come home with a stack of books. Today, I kept my stack very small. I was proud of myself for that. It typically would be more like 10 books, but I can never finish them before they have to go back.


Yup, I have a strong, unabashed preference for JF and YA. I don’t think I’ve borrowed an AF book in … years. They tend not to be fun and full of filth, unless they are “Inspirational”, a genre which I’ve had more than my fill of. I overflowed with it in my early teens and ruined my taste for it. Anyhoo. I’m nearly finished with the Snicket. Hitchhiker’s Guide is next.


The Book Thief


Coming to a theater near you…. hopefully. Markus Zusak announced it to Facebook this morning. His book is finally officially going to be made into a film, and when I saw it, there were a few moments that I stopped breathing. You see, I read The Book Thief for the first time last summer, and… to sum up, it was one of those books that, when you close the cover at the end and wipe the tears out of your eyes, you just know that you will never forget this story.

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The Lizzy Bennet Diaries. If you haven’t you must.

Are you a fan of Pride and Prejudice? Then go watch the Lizzy Bennet Diaries. But wait, maybe you aren’t a fan… it’s so old fashioned, there’s too much dancing, and who TALKS like that, anyway? If that’s your take, then… go watch the Lizzy Bennet Diaries. If you haven’t heard of them, it’s a YouTube series in vlog format, re-telling P&P in a modern setting. Let me tell you it’s freaking brilliant. I’m a hard-core Austen girl, and I am having so much fun anticipating the modern twist they put on each event from the story. At it’s center, it’s still P&P, but so much of what happens has to be updated to make sense in today’s world. I keep waiting for them to do something that messes it up beyond repair, but so far, it works. Really, really well. So, what are you hanging around here for? Go! Watch! Subscribe! Wait for the moment when Darcy arrives on the scene! And even in Lydia drives you nuts at first, watch her videos too, they give you more back-story.

My Christmas season

I have several friends who are attempting the 365 thing this year… you know, where you post a picture of something from your day every day for a year. It is so much fun to keep up with when someone actually does it. I know a few who have; I love the idea, but we all know by now that I’m not good with staying true to a course like that. I might last a week, maybe. So I decided, hey, I can still put up pictures when I feel like it, of whatever I’d like to share with you.  Duh.

So, to start with, here are some highlights from my Christmas season.


I made sugared rose petals for our Christmas dessert. It was Jubilee Cake, in honor for the Queen’s Jubilee. Two layers of s moist almond cake with clotted cream and raspberries in between. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the right kind of cream to make clotted cream, so I ended up with sorta-thickish but still runny, lumpy cream. Hey, it still tasted good. But it did make me angry at the FDA or whoever it is that thinks we need to have everything ultra-pasteurized. But that’s a different topic…

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Just Do Something



The other day I was in my sister’s room for undisclosed and most likely sinister reasons, and in passing I snatched this book from her shelf. Finding God’s will for my life has been a topic of much pondering lately, and Josh Harris’ introduction cracked me up, so I decided  to give it a try. Now, I have a shelf 3′ long full of Spiritual/Inspirations/theology/apologetics type of books, so I really don’t need another book to read right now, but um, let’s just say it’s God’s will for me to be reading this. (If you’ve read this book you should now be giggling by my reference to one type of the meaning will.) I’m only a quarter of the way through, so it’s good. So very, very good. I want to quote everything as facebook statuses. Instead, I thought maybe I’d do a small series of quote-and-discuss posts here. We’ll see how many I actually accomplish.

In chapter 3, he’s discussing why so many Christians are desperate to find God’s will in their lives. In breaking down a number of reasons, he states this:

The… reason some of us seek God’s will of direction is because we are, by nature, quite timid. The entrepreneurial go-getter type may be less inclined to fret over God’s will than the deliberate, cautious type. Some Christians need encouragement to think before they act. Others need encouragement to act after they think… They refuse to make decisions without all the facts and an almost complete assurance that everything will turn out fine… These may be the sort of Christians Paul had in mind when he told the Thessalonians to “Admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” Some Christians have the best intentions in seeking out God’s will. They are just too cautious and a little fainthearted. Such Christians need admonishing, but they also deserve out patience and help.


Anyone else in the room raising their hand? No? Just me? Come now, let’s be honest. When I read that, I could see my life splattered all over the page. And I’m not trying to beat a dead horse here, but I couldn’t help but think about the difference between myself and my younger sister, the true go-getter. She went and got. And everything scares me unless I’m sure of the outcome, and that’s why I’m where I am in life right now. Not that my life is bad; my life is very good. But it is also full of wonderings and a few what-ifs and a lot of oh-dear-what-nows, etc. So many times I think to myself that I’m comfy and happy, but how do I know that I’m not too comfy and happy, and that I should be out there making leaps of faith and staring eye-to-eye at life’s scary choices.*sigh* See? I need to read this book. So, I’m signing off and diving in for another half hour of reading before bed.

G’night, bloggy-world.

Ten in a Bucket

Inspired by my friend Anne. Oops, I mean Ann. Without an e. I don’t know why. She wrote a post about the ten most important things on her Bucket List. Do you have a Bucket List? I’m sure you have. I have never seen the movie, but I have one; it’s a “Before I die, I want to…” sort of thing. Ann’s got me thinking. There are always, constantly, forever things that I casually say ‘someday I’ll do that’, but… will I? Will I even care next week? What are the things that have endured on my list for years, and will stay there until accomplished? Things I’m quite sure I won’t change my mind about. Ever. Until I kick the Bucket. Bwaha.

1) Hang-gliding. The closest man has come to actually flying. This has been on my list since I was just 3 years old and my family visited my Aunt in Georgia. We took a trip to Lookout Mountain TN, and I watched the hang-gliders launching from the top of the mountain and fly down to the valley below. (There are even pictures of me watching, but there’s a baby sleeping in my lap so I can’t go look for them right now.)  It is magical. I can imagine how absolutely free you feel.

2) Visit Scotland in general, and Foulis Castle in Particular.   It’s not a huge, romantic, fairy-tale castle. But it’s very real. And it’s the seat of my family’s clan. So… that’s a no-brainer. 🙂

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Things I’ve Never Understood.

There are certain things, common amongst most humans, which I have not shared in and have a hard time understanding. These are things which, in a crowd, one person mentions and everyone else automatically agrees is the WORST EVER or BEST EVER or WHAT EVER, while I simple fidget in my chair because… I don’t agree/haven’t felt that way.

Berserk freak-out panicking over spiders. Of course, I don’t live in an area where spiders grow to be the size of my face, and none of them are man-eating and won’t look down on me from a tree as prey to be pounced upon. If I did, yeah, I’d probably freak out. Around here, the larger common house spiders are about span of a quarter, and barn-spiders can be three or four times that. I honestly still have never freaked out over a spider. In fact, when my younger sister would refuse to enter the barn every summer so I HAD TO DO HER CHORES, or when she would scream and try to climb me like a tree to get away from the spider in the corner of our bedroom, I had very little sympathy for her and would try to convince he she really needed to get over it.

Eating cantaloupe. On purpose.  Ew. Just ew. I will eat it in a fruit salad to be polite, but given the choice, never.

Math. Well obviously, basic math I am fine with. As long as I can have paper for multiplication and division… because, you know that horrible moment when your computer just freezes for no apparent reason, it makes these awful roaring noises and you can’t get ANYTHING to function? That’s what happens to my brain on math. I’m pretty sure if I could process math I would be a brilliant person.

The Zombie Thing. Seriously, people? I’ll admit that I once read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for a giggle, and I did giggle, but I also gagged and got goosebumps and that was the first and hopefully last of my zombie experiences. I don’t get the fascination with undead anything. Rotting corpses… walking around… lookin’ for brains to eat. Yeah. Let’s watch THAT movie. NOT.

Also, Sci-Fi. This one is huge. SO many people love Star Wars dearly. And Star Trek. And now, Dr. Who. There’s a quote from a children’s book, I can’t remember which one, but a father says to his children, and I misquote, “There’s no such thing as aliens. And if there are, I don’t want to know about it.” Exactly. Aliens completely creep me out, and I’ve been known to gag and look away while watching Sci-Fi as a child. This past summer I watched Men in Black for the first time in my life, and it was kinda torture. Parts were hilarious, but I was really glad when it was over. Sci-Fi is just the stuff of nightmares, and I don’t enjoy putting myself intentionally through a nightmare. Other nightmare themes are creepy monkeys (think flying moneys from Wizard of Oz and Planet of the Apes. *shivers* And crazy viscous bears, like on Brave… I seriously could not watch the battle with that huge murderous beast.

And finally, hairless cats. Ew, ew, ew, and whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?????????

Planting Garlic

Every summer when I see local farm stands advertising fresh garlic, I wonder why I didn’t grow any myself. It’s supposed to be easy. The thing is, I’ve been told to plant it in late fall, and I don’t typically plant anything but tulips that time of year, so I simply forget. This year, I managed to remember in time! Sadly, all of my efforts to find local garlic came up empty, and I ended up buying a few heads of garlic at the grocery store. I know that some garlic is treated with some chemical to delay it’s sprouting, so I’m just hoping that this is not that garlic. Whenever we buy it for cooking it certainly doesn’t seem like it has a problem sprouting. 😉
I’m not a garlic expert, so I’m not going to pretend I am and tell you just how to grow it. I will fill you in on what I did, according to what I gleaned from books and friends.*

I found an area among my herbs that was the perfect size (planting it in the middle of your regular garden is a bad idea when your dad’s favorite thing about gardening is hooking the plow up to the tractor and obliterating everything.), and using a potato fork I cleared all the weeds and roots and broke the soil up, since it hadn’t been tilled in a couple of years. Then, using the corner of a hoe -a la my grandpa- I scratched 3″ deep trenches about 4″ apart.

Forgot to take my camera with me, so I’m reduced to internet thievery. This is not my picture, but it gives a good idea of what I did. And honestly, a blog post with no pictures is boring. 😉

My foster siblings had all discovered me outdoors by this time, so with my directions they planted the cloves 3-4″ apart, sprinkled a light layer of dry cow manure over them, and pushed the loose soil back over the rows. Then we shook hay loosely over the rows to mulch (I know from other crops that a good layer of hay keep the ground warm, and the root vegetables keep growing, or at least keep from freezing, even with a foot of snow over them. Digging carrots in January, people. Think about it.) And that was it! I was really pleased that the kids all wanted to help, hopefully it’s just the beginning of an interest in gardening for them. And we shall see what my grocery-store garlic does over the winter months! Hopefully by spring I’ll see signs of life.

*Something that occurred to me recently is how our source of knowledge on every topic is becoming more and more reliant on the internet. I have two shelves full of gardening book, so this is completely silly. I’ve pledged to myself that when I have questions, I will check my books first. And if there’s time, I will also ask experienced friends; after all, a huge part of the pleasure in friendship is discussing things like that. The internet is an amazing and useful resource, but I want to keep my sense of ‘real life’ wide awake.