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Week 8: Uncluttered

The theme for week 8 was ‘Stay Uncluttered’. I’m going to make this post short and sweet and bullet point the habits that I am working on developing.

1. Don’t buy it in the first place.

Find a way to stay out of stores, I did this by not shopping for the entire month of June, with the exception of milk and some coffee. I mean, let’s be reasonable folks. Today, I had to run to the store… and I was tempted to purchase pinto beans. That’s not a huge deal, is it? Well, no, but I already have black beans at home. So, why add something to my life when I really don’t need to? I want to be less of a consumer and more mindful.

2. Let it go.

I keep finding little things I meant to do something with, or something that broke that I meant to fix. I’m letting go of the

‘meant to’s’ and seriously, getting this stuff out. I threw away a necklace yesterday that my daughter broke. I was actually kinda glad she did.

These two things are an every day, hour by hour way of thinking. By the way, I have much more uncluttering to do, I have not arrived at some sort of magical fairy land maintenance. No, I’m still trudging through the junk.

How’s your minimizing going?


Week 7: Uncluttered

In week 7 I experienced an amazing victory, which coincided perfectly with this weeks lesson, Uncluttering as a family.

My 11 yr old daughter came to me with lists of items she felt needed to be reduced. I gave her reign to do it and she accomplished these tasks, among them, the kitchen large utensil drawer (we worked on this together, but she prepared it by laying it all out) and the toothbrushes (who needs 4??).

A couple of afternoons later, she walked down with a full, large basket or clothing. After going through the basket with her, I agreed that 90% of it needed to be passed on. Then, she said something insightful.

“It stresses me out when my drawers are crammed with stuff and my clothes don’t fit in them”.

This was music to my ears!! It is my goal, as my children develop, that they to begin the process of knowing themselves. With each of our two older kids I have heard glimpses of understanding as they get to know themselves. Knowledge of what triggers stress in our daily lives is essential to being a healthy human.

My older daughter has become by ally in this journey and I am pleased as pie to see her work so hard. I am imagining that her first job will likely be as a mothers helper, she’s great at organizing and cleaning projects and with children. She is a gift.

Here are her freshly organized drawers, where everything fits!



I also had a victory with my 4 yr old hoarder. He has quite the ‘collection’ of items, every one he considers to be precious, every one he put there on purpose. It has been a process to reduce this huge pile of treasures, but we are making weekly progress. There have been many reducing sessions. I have found with him, as with the others, it is important to have a gentle, but firm approach. Allowing them to decide through questions and conversation what can go and stay (and of course, I admit that I will stash things I am sure they will never miss and throw them away on the down low). So, let’s say, gentle, firm and when necessary… covert. :)

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The box that went bye bye.


Week 6: Uncluttered, the kitchen

The kitchen seemed like a pretty obvious place to start, so, I actually started that many weeks ago.

However, my lovely daughter helped me go through a drawer and find some nonsense that needed to go. image (14)


In addition, we are not grocery shopping for the month of June. We are eating out of the pantry, garden and freezer. It’s working quite well. We have made exceptions for milk, half and half and coffee (I mean let’s not get carried away…). (We have also purchased non food items as needed and some bulk homegrown meat that we ordered awhile ago and happened to be ready this month). I really love not grocery shopping.

While my kitchen did not need a massive overhaul, I will say, it is teaching me that this is a lifestyle, it is never done once and for all. Every room, though overhauled once, will need a revisiting every so often. It’s never over, but it is better and better every time.

Where are you at in this? Are you still overhauling? or have you found a happy maintenance?



the vine borer: or ‘how to do plant surgery’.

I have always wanted to do surgery, so I won’t lie when I say that I kind of enjoy this process.


Vine borers are a bunch of jerks, so I’m happy to eliminate them. You can tell it’s vine borers by the sawdust like grossness they leave on the outside of the stem, but you can also tell simply by closely watching your plants. Are they not setting fruit? Is it withering instead of growing? It’s important to catch them before they totally fatally damage the plant.



The strategy is simple, get them out of there! I cut a slit and open the stem, or I cut a long chunk out and replace it.


Pull that sucker out of there! There may be a few, you can tell sometimes with how badly the plant is damaged. This one above had one, the plant in the first photo had 4!




This one had a lot of damage and I’m not sure if the vine can be saved. The protocol is to then cover it with dirt. The vine will produce more roots and recover in about a week. This is much better than starting over! I have had many plants recover from this and go on to produce lots and lots of squash.

So, here is the step by step for you.

1. identify sick plants

2. slice into plant

3. remove borers, make sure you get a good look and find them all!

4. cover vine with dirt and water

5. plant more squash! I plant squash plants every couple of weeks and this keeps me ahead of the pests.


Was this helpful? I hope so!

What is your worst garden pest? I’m dealing with japanese beatles right now…. maybe I’ll post on that next time!



Farm Update

This year our little farm is taking off. The two older kids each have their own 4H gardens and are working hard at maintaining them.

Neil built me a great new chicken coop pretty much entirely from salvaged materials. We plant to put siding on it, but in the meantime, the chickens are enjoying it.

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We are experimenting with pigs for the first time and have welcomed a litter of piglets.


Pim is successfully raising 5 and they are amazingly cute and chubby. Almost all of them are spoken for. It’s a blessing to have them find new homes! The sale of the piglets helps us pay for other things around the farm, and offsets the feed costs. People often ask us if we are making money with what we are doing. Well, no. We are not making money, that’s not the point, but we eat like kings!

We are not losing money either, and the benefits to our children are many. I love watching each of them take ownership over a project, whether it’s an animal, or a garden plot.

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We are waiting for our dairy goat Martha to have her babies and we will have cute photos, but in the meantime enjoy these.

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Week 5: Uncluttered

Week 5 of the Uncluttered course was focused on wardrobe. However, my wardrobe is an area that I had already minimized and is currently in maintenance mode.

There is another area in my life that needs work.

We have a sunroom… shoe room… mud room. It’s a mess. I don’t mean that it is always messy, although it often is. I mean it in the ‘I’m a mess’ sort of way. This room is unfocused, a dumping ground for anything that doesn’t have it’s own place, and a swirling lava of shoes. The items that are/were located in that space?


a fridge

a table

a pottery wheel, kiln and supplies

a bookshelf

a trunk I purchased at a yard sale full of really old pictures

more shoes and racks

bee keeping


This room has caused me to think about a couple of things…

1. If a space has no designated purpose, anything will move in.

2. Sometimes we need to admit that we made a bad purchase and let it go. This part of the path, letting regret go and learning to focus on the destination. Regret is a distraction.


Last year I bought a pottery wheel and while at this persons home I also purchased a trunk. The truck itself was pretty neat, but inside was a treasure chest of old pictures and memorabilia… a whole life time worth. There were births, deaths, a collection of bills, vintage postcards and more. For some reason I grew emotionally attached to this trunk. I didn’t think it was right for someones whole life in pictures to go decompose at the dump.

However, it wasn’t my life, nor anyone that I loved… So, I grew weary of it sitting in my shoe room.

I had to be decisive. I made a purchase, it was not a good one, no reason to continue in this error.

I emptied the contents into our fire pit and lit them on fire.

I thought it more appropriate to burn it all than to have it scattered at a land fill. And so, I let it go.

What needs to be let go of in your life?

What little item fills you with regret? or has an emotional tug when you look at it?

What needs to be in your bonfire?


(More later on what this room is very slowly transforming into… it’s going to take a few more weeks).



Week 4: Uncluttered

So, let’s talk about reality.

Week four of uncluttered was a challenge for me… a sick child, doctors appointments, piglets arriving 10 days early in a rain storm (of course…), catch up after vacation, commitments that couldn’t be rescheduled and general family stress.

Rough. 20140528-124236.jpg

I was supposed to have my bedroom done this week. I managed to continue with the reduction, but I have not yet finished. Our Baby Love takes two naps a day, meaning he monopolizes our room for 4 hours a day. Those four house happen to be some of my best and most productive, because he is sleeping. See where this is going?

My goal is to have more empty drawers. That might sound crazy, but I actually really like it. I will also be giving away the armchair that sits in the corner of our room. We rarely use it and it seems to just collect stuff, mostly laundry.

So, after a rough week, I rallied. Monday, going into week 5, I established a way forward. Often I find myself wrapped up in, and overwhelmed by something and I’ve realized that if I can simply outline a way forward,  then, I can find success.

So, my tips for this week aren’t so much about decluttering as they are about getting unstuck.

Tips for a way forward

  1. Recenter yourself. Get a quiet spot and breathe for a few minutes, pray, ask for guidance, release your worries and stress. Realize that is is never to late to get back on track, the best time is always right now.
  2. Pick one thing to accomplish. If you have kids, pick one thing for each of them to accomplish before they can move on. Don’t do a whole room… just do one drawer or one shelf. Take a manageable bite and then bask in your accomplishment. (Because sometimes getting simple things done is really, really, hard.)
  3. Have an accountability buddy you can vent to, give encouragement to and receive from. My friend and I have taken turns with the ‘help I’m so overwhelmed and stressed’ texts and we help each other refocus.

So, there is week 4 for you. Nothing major moved out, but continuing forward, and that is what matters.

And here is a picture of the baby piggies.


Weeks 2-3: Uncluttered

For week 3, I was delightfully at the beach. This post will contain things accomplished in week 2 and reflections from week 3.

Week 2…

More bags were taken to the Goodwill and when we left for the beach at the end of week 2, the house was not only clean (a usual habit prior to leaving so we can come home to peace), but it also felt amazingly open.

Minimalism leaves room for the things we love. I love canning. This doesn’t look like a minimalist space, but it is. I will use every single one of these jars by summers end, filling them with tasty pears, apples, peaches, meats, broths and stews. This gives me joy.

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I also gave away a few cookbooks that I have not used in a long time. I kept the cookbooks I wanted my kids to learn from. What about the internet? Can’t we get it all there? Sure! But, I like it when we can have something in life that doesn’t require the interwebs.

My thoughts for week 3….

  • It’s important to be realistic about what I can handle. When I got home, I sold 10 ducklings we were not prepared to raise. This was always the plan, but it’s just an example of a stewardship paradigm, don’t have more than we can steward.
  • Keep out of the grocery store and stores in general! Every time I step in there I spend at least $30…  and I usually went in for 2 small items. If you don’t want to buy more junk, food etc than you need, stay home. If staying home doesn’t float your boat, then have a fun outing. Go on a walk, watch the sun set, go for a swim… you get the picture.

Have you started to minimize yet? Are you on a road to make sure that you have room for what really matters?




Week One Uncluttered

In week one of a renewed minimizing effort through the Joshua Becker course ‘Uncluttered’ I established my purpose statement and began the unloading of the superfluous. I started with Me.

  • My wardrobe… among the too large and too small, maternity, postpartum and just in case, I also got rid of really gorgeous pair of heels that inflict so much pain, I’d need an epidural to wear them again. Two trash bags gone!
  • Kids clothes and extras. Just asking them to bring down what they weren’t using was surprisingly successful! One entire bin was eliminated from our home.

Two trash bags and one bin, that’s not too bad.

In case you are thinking about joining me, a couple tips for you.

  • Some stuff- it’s just trash. The t-shirt with too many holes in it, or the kids pants with so many stains you thought they were camo. It’s just trash.
  • That thing you haven’t worn or used in over a year… but somehow when you look at it, you are filled with regret or even renewed hope (THIS Year you WILL use it!!). Just give it away. You will not remember it, and someone else could make good use of it. I promise, you won’t regret it

My purpose statement is:

“I desire to own less so that I can have more mental and physical room for the projects that we enjoy as a family.”

When we left the house Saturday, it felt lighter, I felt lighter.

And what is the project at hand?

to Relax.

Yes, thank you, I will.

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‘Uncluttered’ a further step into minimalism

5 years ago when we moved back from France, we moved into a home with 17 bins and the clothes on our backs.

We walked into a home. No, not a house, a home… Friends and family had furnished and provided for almost every single thing we needed, and more.

We began to unpack the bins… I think back now on what we brought back with us, and what we didn’t. I shouldn’t have included as much memorabilia from the kids French preschool. I definitely should have packed more foi gras and wine.

As we settled into our new home and increased space, we sought to further furnish our home with the things we felt we needed. However, we also had the items that had been given to us. I felt overcome with the goodness that had been shown to us, but the things also overwhelmed me. A sorter by nature, I was paralyzed, just stuck. I didn’t know where everything had come from, who had given it to us? Would they be offended if we no longer needed it? What if they saw it at the consignment shop we both shop at? What if it was missing when they stopped in next time? If I got rid of the things that reminded me of France, was I letting go of France?

Stuck and completely emotionally underwater, I articulated these things to my sister and she introduced me to the Minimalists. Suddenly, I had a paradigm from which to act. If my items did not bring me joy, or no longer added value to my life, I would release them.


I opened the linen closet that I had sealed with emotional nails and began the process of removing the stuff and making room, not just on my shelves, but in my mind.

Since then, I have progressed step by step further into the minimalist lifetsyle. There have been setbacks… Sometimes, life might sneak up on you and shazam a few speed bumps at your here and there.

I am currently in the process of decluttering, yet again, for the umpteenth time (and it will not be the last, I’m sure). I started a 12 week course called ‘Uncluttered’ by Joshua Becker as a companion to his book The More of Less. 

I will be updating my blog weekly with my progress. I enjoy the accountability and I plan to look back after the 12 weeks and be quite content with my progress. This isn’t an all or nothing, it’s a change of mind, a step forward, a way to increase my daily joy and decrease my daily stress.

In the meantime I want to leave you with a few little nuggets that have been huge game changers for me.

1. Set your reasons for change. Mine:

I desire to own less so that I can have more mental and physical room for the projects that we enjoy as a family.

We will never reduce to nothing. It turns out that we are a houseful of creators, we love to make things! (And we love to give them away as well).

2. Start with me. I started by reducing my wardrobe (I’ll never go back!). Then, I worked on the kids clothing. Start with you, then with your sphere of influence. (Although, I would not suggest minimizing any teen or adults clothing for them! Yikes-o-rama!)

3. Realize that minimalism doesn’t look the same for everyone. We have a micro farm… there is only so much downsizing we can do it we desire to continue to enjoy this. We also have 5 kids, it’s just not going to look the same as it does for a smaller family.

How about you? Have you ever felt underwater in your home? Do you have a sense of having too much junk?

Do you want to be set free?  (If so, I would encourage you to start reading those two blogs I mentioned… it might just change your life).


Moving Forward

img_5022-2The other night I tucked my little, red headed, 4 yr old into his bed. We sang the songs, prayed the prayers and finished little chats about things running through his mind at the end of his busy day. Every day is busy for him. His little body barely stops moving, his mind seems to process at 10,000 miles a minute, coming up with new ideas, stories and questions, firing one after the other.

But, that night he lay in his bed and after meticulously fixing his covers, he merely sighed.

“Mom” he started slowly

“Why aren’t things the way they are supposed to be?”

Lights out, I paused at his door… that question hit me in the gut, but I simply asked,

“What do you mean?”

He continued “I just want things to be the way I want them.”

Ahhhhhhhh….. Yes.
He gets something, he understands something about life. I explained to him about the brokenness of the world, about how things don’t always happen or work the way they are supposed to, how we must try our best to deal with it, how we must be patient.

He understands the very core of our human situation, he feels the frustration of imperfection and hardship (whatever that may be at his 4 yr old level).

The past year has been a foggy bog of health problems that I never anticipated. The list is long and some are here to stay… and the basic struggle my 4 year old has is also alive and real for me.

Time and time again, the thought passes through
“This is not how it’s supposed to be.”
It’s just not, and I have had a hard time accepting it. But…


It has kicked me in the shins, pushed me down, and held me there.

The fact is, this IS life, but there is only moving forward, there is no undoing, no sense in resentment or bitterness, just moving forward.

Thankfully, God has given me this 4 year old to empathize with. Somehow, it helps.

I’m coming out of something, or maybe just muddling my way through it, but in any case I’m moving forward.

I think often about the phrase ‘God’s kingdom is now and yet to come’. While I am here now, I am in and working for His kingdom, it’s in the daily ‘not how it’s supposed to be’ that I am to bring His kingdom.
But, one day there will be His kingdom that is yet to come! Then, we will will no longer ask that question, we will no longer feel that angst, it will be…

I anticipate it more now, but am also somehow more content that I have been in a long time.

Dear Jude,

Hey Jude, Don’t make it bad. Take a sad song and make it better. (Remember when a group of 5 women sang this to you on new years eve to help you sleep?)

No seriously my little love, this is what your life has been since you were born.

At two weeks we took you to see Dr. Durtest, the singing, wild eye-browed pediatrician who talks with his eyes closed. We mentioned the funny noises you were making, the wet hiccups, the difficulty getting to sleep and the total lack of intestinal movement (poor little guy). He prescribed something for you that had to be taken to cut the acid off in your stomach. Boy did it help! We were so thankful that when you took your medicine you could eat and sleep, even if it was upright on me.

Sometimes I would forget your dose and when I did you would scream and cry. It hurt so bad. You cried a lot. You slept little and you cuddled as much as you could.  When you nursed you would often begin to weeze and gasp, it scared me. We found out that it was probably just you aspirating small amounts while trying to breathe and nurse at the same time from the reflux. It sounded horrible.

I tried everything to make you happy, but you weren’t like the other babies. Your older sister Ana had something similar, but if I fed her twice as often and half as much she did just fine. She was a happy and joyful baby.

Not you… you were tired and sad. We propped your bed up, we fed you less, we fed you more, we fed you less acidic food, I even quit coffee. Yes I did. (I have since taken that up again, unfortunately).

When you were a couple months old a friend of ours (remember Gretta? you were born in the same hospital just a day apart!) gave us an Ergo baby carrier. You lived in that miracle from heaven, you took your naps in it and you nursed in it. When you weren’t in the Ergo you were in your bouncy seat, sometimes you would fall asleep in it and wake up, and keep on bouncing. You were hilarious.

You leaned on me, you leaned hard. Sometimes I thought I wouldn’t make it. You had such a hard time sleeping that you woke up every two hours for comfort. You needed me to care for you, to comfort you, to love you, to provide for you to be patient with you. Sometimes I cried. I was exhausted and beside myself.

But, I don’t want you to think that this is a letter to you telling you about how hard you were, or how crazy I was. Not at all. This letter is to tell you that I am so thankful for you. The things in life that we do not plan, do not expect, do not prepare for are sometimes the biggest blessings of all.

Every time you leaned into me as your mom, I had to lean somewhere… and I did. I learned to lean into my Father, I leaned and leaned and sometimes I collapsed, just the way you fell asleep, heavy and secure in my arms because I could hold you upright. I became broken and shattered, my heart was wet with tears, fatigue buried deep inside at a level that could not be easily be excavated.

But because of you, I leaned into prayer, I leaned into the Spirit. I became less self sufficient, more flexible, more bendable, more bent maybe, but reliant. Together, you and I learned something.

Together we learned to Trust.

I am so thankful for you Jude… that because of your beautiful arrival in my life, I have walked a little further on a path of trust.

I am so thankful for you Mc Noodle and I can’t wait to see who you develop into.
With much love,

Summer spending money game

  Today I am trying something new. 

1. Write out a chore (this is an extra chore, not on the list of everyday chores).

2. Wrap it up in a dollar bill 

3. Allow the child to pick the dollar randomly. 

4. Child must accept the chore as written and accomplish. After all, they have already been paid! 

All cash earned this way is free to spend, saving not required! (We usually have a pretty strict saving/spending/giving policy!)

Maybe I’m nesting, or maybe it’s just pre baby panic… But this is one way to have a little fun while getting some extra things done around the house! 

Farmelette update June

The critters around here are just getting cuter and cuter! 

Little Baby emerged from under the shed with 12 sweet babies! We will sell 8 and keep 4. Each child can pick one to keep. I’m tempted to keep one myself!


Our sweet goat Martha had her babies yesterday. She gave birth to a doeling and a buckling. They both look healthy. That doeling looks just like her mother, and the buckling looks just like his dad. We are all so taken with them. Martha is absolutely in love, is that a smile on her face?



The roosters are coming along and will be ready for processing at the end of the month. This guy did us the favor of catching and eating a mole. That made my day!


We found this little nest of eggs in the goat pen. Can’t wait to see what kind of bird is hatching these out!

My garden is coming along after a nice week of rain. The potatoes are blooming, we have harvested some green beans, the tomato plants are setting fruit, I’m excited to see where it will be in a month.   

 We use manure soup to fertilize the plants. We have plenty of that around here!


Elijah has a project going. He hatched out some sex linked chickens and will be selling those as his small business. 


Our favorite reading incentive programs for this year.

Earn money for reading with TD Bank.

Earn pizza for reading with the  Book It program.

If your kids are feeling philanthropic…. Try the Read To Feed program. 

One of my children is an avid reader, the other needs some encouragement. This is a great way to motivate them to continue!

Dates and more dates…

IMG_2327.JPG  The first date… July 14, the day little guy is supposed to be done cooking.

I don’t mind going a little over, it seems to be my M.O.

However, three times I’ve been over enough to have that nasty ‘induction’ word spoken… Which is very stressful for me. Once my babies hear that word, they seem to stay put on principle. The wait is killer.

So, now, MORE dates! Yes! DATES! I’m talking about eating about 1lb a week. According to this study dates could help… So among all the things one could be doing, (and there are tons of crazy things out there!!!) eating dates seems like a pretty great idea.

So, have any great date recipes??

RFarmlette Update

 The best thing on our property is the presence of our happy children. Digging in the dirt and playing in their fort keeps them going for hours. 

 Our duck Daisy hatched out 18 beautiful ducklings.  What a joy!
 Within two days a predator got 15 of them within an hour. We don’t know what, but it made us all so sad. 

  Our meat chickens are growing fat and hopefully quite tasty.

 My friend Hilary has been helping me in the garden. She is a gift!

  I’ve been putting in seedlings. This is a mystery pack I got… Any idea what it is??

Homemade mayo hack

This was super cool and it worked! And it is so, so good!!  Super fresh and tasty. I used a guinea egg, lemon, salt and half olive oil, half grape seed oil.  


Here is the original link

‘I’m so glad I watched 7,000 movies.”

What would you do with $1,000? or 1,000 hours?
There are so so many good things to do! I’ve been thinking about this since I watched this by Francis Chan. I never ever hear guilt in his exhortation, I hear a mindfulness of living in eternity with a King. I hear Life.

Are we living for the red part of the rope? This is a question I am having to ask myself every day.  I ask it in my marriage, in my relationships, in my parenting, in how I spend my time.

It’s a question worth asking, again and again.

Have you asked it lately?

Farmlette update

We are so excited that spring has sprung!

I have put in about 1/4 of our total garden space and have planted







Swiss chard

I have started tomatoes and peppers and it looks like I have a volunteer squash plant from last year. I’ll put in russet potatoes this week.
Elijah has started his own bed of carrots. 

In addition we are a excited to have a broody muscovy duck. Her babies should hatch May 4, 5. 

Our milk goat Martha should be delivering the first week of June. 

I’ve been hatching and selling black sex linked chickens and Elijah has quite the business selling his Rhode Island Red pulets. He only has 3 left out of 50!

We are also growing out 25 roosters for the freezer. They will be ready in June.

We have the guineas working to keep our yard tick free and the hens providing delicious eggs. 

I may have gone overboard with the lavender… I think I’ve put in over 20 plants and of course had to add some climbing roses to the front of the house. I love beauty and fruitfullness, so there seems to be no way around growing edibles and ornamentals. 

I love spring, it’s my favorite!

What are you growing?