Archive for the ‘Simple Living’ Category

Day 9: Less is more (except when it’s less)

Yesterday I talked about what it means to “taz my house“. Today I wanted to show you why this is possible.

Here is my 18m old’s toy stash. And yep, that’s pretty much it. She does have a little table in her room and a few other books scattered about. We also keep a small box of toys put away that we rotate through. And, actually, it would be nice if she had a few more to play with. We are going to concentrate this Christmas on getting her “little helper” toys as she LOVES to do what mama does. A small broom, a “cleaning basket” her size, and possibly this pretty awesome learning tower (hoping to find it for sale somewhere…this guys is not cheap!). I would also love to start really expanding her “dress-up” clothes (via Goodwill) as she really enjoys putting on hats, etc. And I have dreams of a small play kitchen. But I can promise we will also do a little downsizing with some of the less-played-with toys.

I have mentioned the book “Simplicity Parenting” before, and it is one of my all-time favorite books about how to help you learn this important principle – less is more.

When making a home – less is more. Except of course, for when less is just less and it causes frustration. Sometimes you really do just need “more” of something. But in our society? That is very, very, very rare.
The really crazy thing about stuff is that it just accumulates. Seriously! Without you even trying, I promise you will have more stuff this time next year than you do now. Stuff shows up.

In order to be able to pick up my house quickly; to make my home a place of peace and rest – I have to get rid of excess. Less stuff helps to bring peace to your home.

And even though it was only 2 years ago that I went on a “less is more” rampage, I am already culling through our possessions once again in an effort to simplify. Things we needed or wanted two years ago we don’t need or want now. Looking to yard sale in the spring & excited for less!

What about you? Do you need to declutter? Tomorrow I am going to be talking about a famous quote that can help you in that process.

Until then,
~ Melissa

Yep, one of my daughter’s toys is a mail tube. It came stuffed with small rubber ducks that she likes to “count” while she puts them in the tube. Just keepin’ it real. 

Click here to see a list of all previous 31 Days of Making a Home posts


Day 7: Live in your home (and a quilting update!)

In this world where “going out” can be the thing to do, one of the most important ways to make a home is to be in it. Instead of meeting friends out for dinner, invite them to your home.  Rather than watching the big game at the local “pub”, break out the rabbit ears and make some homemade guacamole. Have a game night with family. Welcome friends over. Spend TIME in your home.

If your home is only a place to grab a few winks and change clothes, it will never be home. No matter how beautiful or organized. Your home needs memories. So go make some 🙂

Tucked in safe on this cold day,
~ Melissa

Click here to see a list of all previous 31 Days of Making a Home posts

P.S. I made the decision about the kind of quilt I am going to attempt. It will be a charm pack quilt, with lots of colorful squares. I picked these two packs & will mix and match the patches. I ordered this & my backing fabric, as well as a few tools I will need. Should have it all by mid-week! Woot!

Here is the backing. Which color do you like better? I am leaning towards the greener one.

Day 5: The Homemade Touch

So I am about to really put myself out there and get very, very brave.

One of the things that I love MOST about the homes I see and love is when their home feels “handmade”. There is something so special to me about a home that has touches that you can’t buy at Pier One. Here are a few examples of homes I love:

Soule Mama
Sew Liberated

Each of  these homes has a wonderful, personal feel to it. One of the things I really don’t like about my house is that there isn’t very much handmade. Of course, in the case of AshleyAnn, much of her homemade comes from vintage store finds! I think that this is a perfectly acceptable way to get handmade into your home 🙂

picture credit

One of the things I have recently began to dream of is making a quilt for my oldest little. The days are turning cold here, and I am having trouble finding blankets that are the right size and warmth. So I am challenging myself this month to pull out my sewing machine and make her a simple quilt. And by simple, I mean it won’t look anything like the one pictured above. Ha!
Whew! I am nervous 🙂 And excited.

I have been looking online & plan to purchase a quilt kit soon. A quilt kit (for those who don’t know) is a kit where so much of the hard work has been done for you. You receive all your material precut and ironed, and it will often come with all additional supplies needed. Do any of you have suggestions where I can find a simple & cute quilt kit?

So here I am, stating my intentions to sew a quilt during my 31 Days of Making a Home.

I am so brave.
~ Melissa

Click here to see a list of all previous 31 Days of Making a Home posts

31 Days of Making a Home

One of my favorite bloggers has a tradition. Each year during October she chooses a topic and blogs about it for 31 days. It is a challenge to write, and a challenge to think. I have thought about it for the last few years, but never followed through. This year I feel compelled.

I will be joining The Nester in my own 31 days…the topic?

We recently moved into a new house. This is the sixth house we have lived in since we got married 6.5 years ago. With each house I find myself lacking the motivation more and more to create a home. But part of who I am as a woman is creating spaces of nurturing and warmth.

This year I am challenging myself to take the month of October to make this house a home. Not only physically, but emotionally. I have lots of ideas up my sleeve, and I can’t wait to share them with you!

I hope you will come along for the journey,

~ Melissa

Day 1: What is a Home?
Day 2: Make a Plan
Day 3: The smell of home
Day 4: Tackle the monster
Day 5: The Homemade Touch
Day 6: Worth fighting for
Day 7: Live in your home
Day 8: Taz the House
Day 9: Less is more
Day 10: A little William Morris
Day 11: One small thing
Day 12: A very personal touch
Day 13: A safe place
Day 14, 15 & 16: A welcome & the present
Day 17: Safe to be
Day 18: It doesn’t have to be perfect
Day 19: Find inspiration
Day 20: Ignore others
Day 21 & 22: The heart of your home
Day 23: Tackle the master
Day 24: To tomes, with love
Day 25,26 & 27: A message in it’s season
Day 28: A homemaking binder
Day 29: A homemaking binder, pt. II
Day 30: A homemaking binder, pt.III

Goodbye, Internet

The Wisest Man said, “..If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.”
I have been pondering this as I have gone through my Simple September. While my finances and food choices have seen a lot of good from the month, it has become very apparent to me that the Internet is a place where I am, dare I say, addicted. I have very little self-control. Bored? Internet. Lonely? Internet. Frustrated? Internet. It is my escape from the realities of life. A few weekends ago my sister came into town and I was talking with her about how much I struggle with the “siren call” of the Internet. She said that she had observed several times throughout the weekend where I was sitting on the couch with my Ipad instead of interacting with my sweet girl. She said it had made her said because she wanted to tell me, “You are missing this!” It was such a heart reality check. I don’t want to miss out on my girls sweet years because I am distracted by trivial sludge. I want to “enter life”.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Last weekend we moved to a new house. This meant making a decision about the Internet in our new home. I had originally asked my husband if he would be willing to consider not having it installed. He readily agreed, and we went about trying to figure out how life would work without Internet. We realized it wouldn’t.

As a resident, my husband always has patient charts to complete. He has 72 hours after seeing a patient to record his thoughts, their conversation and the treatment plan. He averages 35 charts a week (~15 hours of additonal work per week). We discussed him staying at the hospital until he finished them, but that would mean a 7-730p arrival time from work about three days a week. Which would mean he would really only see the girls on the weekend (since he already has evening responsibilities about twice a week). So we really need a way for him to work from home if he is going to see the girls at all. And then there is my blog, which I feel called to do. I could possibly go to places that have free wifi, but trying to bring a toddler and a 3month old to such places could be straight insanity.

So we decided to have the Internet installed. I wasn’t very happy with this plan, because I don’t want the Internet! Be gone foul beast! The solution? Evidently you can set your router to turn off the Internet during particular times of the day. We are setting ours to be on from 5am-8:30am and then 7p-midnight. This will allow my husband the time he needs to work on charts and allow me time to upload to my blog and catch up on other Interney things (financial updating, reading the blogs I love, emails, etc). However, it is only on during times the girls are asleep, which will be great for helping me to focus on them.

I need to detox. I need lots of quiet space for my heart to be still. I need to be forced to create. Forced to read (REAL books). I need to connect with real people. Maybe even have a real conversation with them, and not just send a quick email.

The Internet is not sin. But it is often the catalyst for sin. The sin of discontent, jealousy, laziness, acedia. It can cause my heart to foster impatience, comparision and materialism.

Less of this.

More of this.

Yes, more kissing my husband in trees…we are doing far, far too little of that lately.

So goodbye, Internet…

Hello, real life.

~ Melissa

What about you? Is there something in your life that has you under it’s control? What do you need to do to change it? Something drastic?


Simple September, Weeks 2 & 3

Weeks 2 & 3 of Simple September have gone well in some regards and rather poorly in others. Just to remind you, I have challenged myself to operate my house off of $300 for the month (for food, gas and any spending outside of bills). Click here to read my goals for my finances, my food intake & the Internet.

Here is the update.

Week #2 I spent $46.99 on food. Another late week run for milk was $3.79. Gas this week was $20 for 1/2 a tank. The BIG splurge this week was $14.92 for a few samosas and naan from an Indian restaurant. That was fun 🙂 Total: $85.70
Week #3 I spent $52.83 on food. A mid-week run for a forgotten item (oops!) was $4.66, and I did spend another $3.24 on milk (unfortunantly it was a late night emergency run…that $3.24 was for HALF a gallon rather than a whole! Whew!). Note to self: must figure out this milk thing…it always seems to run out the day before I go shopping. That brings my grand total of finances spent for the first three weeks to only $201.43! Wahoo! That’s awesome. I am on my last week, so we will see how it all ends, but I have to say I am SUPER proud of myself in this regard.

Market Fruit

I have done a lot better at taking care of myself as I have been forced to really think about what I am buying. I have been proud of my increased water take recently 🙂 However, I still get lazy. A pretty huge catalyst happenned this week though so I am excited to share that when I review it on Saturday.

This has been AWFUL. Pretty much a total fail in my goal of 2 hours three times a week. In fact, Simple September has helped me to see how much help I need in this area. Drastic measures are to be taken. Look out for a blog post regarding that in the next day or two!

Well, short & sweet 🙂 Weeks 2&3. I am really proud of myself.

Just a few days left in September, and it has been GOOD.
I already have plans for October, so stay tuned for that!

~ Melissa

Click here to read the review of Week #1
Click here to read what Simple September is, or here to read what my game plan has been

P.S. I thought I would post a quick menu of the two weeks so you can see how we are eating on the money we have spent. (I don’t have Week #1 menu plan anymore, sorry!)


Either oatmeal, cream of wheat, cold cereal, or frozen waffles (from the freezer before September)

Either a ham sandwich (no cheese), PB&J, an egg-in-a-hole, or leftovers

Pasta Salad (twice)
Scalloped Potatoes with Ham (twice)
Zuchinni Spaghetti (still has meat, just less), homemade rolls & salad
Homemade Pizza
Chicken Curry (w/samosas & naan from an Indian Restuarant)
Tacos (twice)
Chicken Korma

We also had two dinner brought by amazing & sweet friends since we moved. However, I hadn’t planned on those dinners so I still bought all the ingrediants for the following meals (which are now sitting in my freezer, etc.)
– Turkey Chilli & Cornbread
– Cranberry Chicken & Couscous

There might have been a few nights we had cereal or a sandwich if I was too tired from packing my house to cook 🙂

I also always have had at least two types of fruit in the house (usually bannanas and grapes).

My heart abhors a vacuum

I recently wrote about how time abhors a vacuum. As I have pondered this, I realize that my soul abhors a vacuum as well. In this technologically driven world, I am constantly surrounded by distraction. And I welcome it. I welcome it because my heart is afraid. “Entering a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we imediately shut out all our inner doubts, anxieties, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distraction, we often find that our inner distractions manifest themselves to us in full force. We often use the outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important.” – Henri Nouwen

I recently read something that struck home to me on this point. “…we have become, as Kierkegaard said, tranquilized by the trivial. When the tranquilizer wears off and the analgesics of busyness and distraction lie beyond our reach, we have no other option than to face our inner worlds. In the twenty-first century there is no task more difficult, no spiritual discipline more painful, than learning to be still. But there is none more rewarding.”

As I shut off the Internet and choose how to fill my time, I find that my soul squirms at the quiet. It doesn’t want to face the interior noises. The practice of quiet that has been so central to the teachings of the Church, has largely been lost today. Indeed, I fear that I have never learned how to be quiet. Or, perhaps, I have forgotten it. I don’t want empty space and so I fill it with noise. With Facebook or Pinterest, or even my precious blogging.

This is why technology is so dangerous. It can lure us away from the things that are truly important to the things that are merely urgent, or (even worse) completely trivial. I heard John Piper say this: “We have a curse on human nature called triviality. The big problems with television and movies [and the Internet, and video games] aren’t sex and violence. It’s banality. It’s living every day as though TV [Internet, video games, movies] mattered.”

In Henri Nouwen’s book “The Way of the Heart“, he talks about solitude, silence and prayer. He quotes a woman names Mother Theodora who says “…you should realize that as soon as you intend to live in peace, at once evil comes and weighs down your soul through accidie (sense of boredom), faintheartedness, and evil thoughts. It also attacks your body through sickness, debility, weakening of the knees and all the members. It dissapates the strenth of soul and body, so that one believes one is ill and no longer able to pray. But if we are vigilant, all these temptations will fall away.”

I see in myself in these words. As Paul wrote, “I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15)
I want to sit down and peer into my heart. I want to allow myself to face the interior noise and find Peace. But instead I continue to find myself distracted. I find new ways to tranqualize my soul. I can echo Paul completely when he said, “Wretched [woman] that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24)

What I have found is that our souls hold deep wounds. Pain from many years. And so we start to run. We fill our lives with things that will squelch the silence (even good things). The problem is that once we cut ourselves off from the noise, we must first face the pain in ourselves before we can see the joy.

For me, facing the noise has meant a return to counseling. Every time I quiet myself, I find tears and hurts. Some new, some old. But I cannot sort through them on my own. So I am back with a trusted counselor who is helping me to see Truth and light. Who is helping me to face what comes when I grow silent. And it is a journey towards good.

What about you? Does your heart abhor a vacuum? Do you fill your life with the tranquelizors of the world? I hope and pray you will join me on the journey of life.

~ Melissa