The year is coming to a close. It's time for reflection on the accomplishments of the year's goals and unexpected happenings. The single most important change has been in my diet.

This way of eating has been good. REALLY good. The food is beautiful, tasty, filling and surprisingly easy to stick to in all situations. 

Yesterday, on a nice forest trail walk, I got a little choked up about how good I felt! This sounds strange, but I had resigned myself to feeling "old" in my joints and muscles. Now, suddenly I feel so much better. My body feels like it did 10 years ago (Not young exactly, but it's still early in the game on this way of feeding myself). The parking brakes are off my range of motion, the minor constant aches are not in my way anymore. My breathing is easier and my pants fit the same in the morning as they do at night (that's a big deal for me). The "balanced" diet I had been eating my whole life was making me slow, and I get teared up from joy and a little bit sad and sometimes even angry that I wasted this much time feeling old when it was so EASY to fix!

I'm not being antisocial with it. If there is a special reason to eat a certain food that's not normally on my menu, I take enough to participate. It's rare enough that my health is still improving even with all the Christmas feasting going on. 

On the topic of simplifying...

I have faith that this path of healthy eating is 100% sustainable, therefore I can confidently remove the clothes that fit 10 pounds heavier. 

5 pairs of pants, 12 tops, some sports bras are all off to the thrift store.


Outerwear outa here!

 Sorry for the terrible picture, it's dark this time of year. 

3 decent coats that no one fits and 3 pairs of dressy boots. 

I love the dressy boots look, but I realized that have my favourites and these aren't them, so off they go to a new home. Since I always buy them second hand, I don't feel like I have wasted money.... I just "rented" them for a year from the charity thrift shop for a very reasonable price!

That wasn't a bad purge for a 5 minute look in the front closet! It's amazing what can be lingering neglected behind closed doors. Now these things are off to a worthy cause and maybe a new home, that's a nice feeling.


Pantry clean out: revisited

This new way of eating that we have adopted - whole real foods - has resulting in very very good things in my family. Not only are we leaner, we just plain FEEL better! Physically and mentally clearer, more energy, a better sense of being ALIVE!

With results like that, I really can't see us returning to our eating habits, so I revisited the fridge and dry goods to get rid of even more processed and sugar or flour based foods.

My sister is adopting most of the open packages, and there is some unopened foods for charity too.

As I do more and more research, I see that there is a word for this kind of eating. 
We have adopted Paleo as our choice for feeling good. 

At first I heavily resisted giving up some of the grains, legumes and beans... And the sugar withdrawal was not fun. But as I read the medical arguments (there are a ridiculous number of medical studies) I appreciate that it might be worth it to at least see if I can live without these things I am just used to. 

Of course I can! Just trying to figure out what to eat each meal was the hard part at first. My go-to recipes and snacks were in question after all. So I am retraining myself to cook without these things thanks to ample blogs and recipe books! - the Paleo recipes are amazing! Full of colour, flavour and texture (all the things I love about cooking and food), this is a really diverse and bountiful way to eat and I have the pictures to prove it! 

And that's just a "taste" of the meals we have been enjoying lately.


Different Perspectives

Recently I found out that my husband doesn't think our 3 bedroom, 2 bath home is big enough!

I was shocked. Honestly for the life of me I can't figure out what he would want more space for! It's so far beyond my goals, that I can't think of anything to say about it. I always thought when the children left home that we would move into something smaller like a cottage in the back yard, then rent out the main house to supplement our old age income, but my husband says this house is as small as he wants. Gobsmacked how we could be so far apart in our vision of the future. I guess we both make compromises at every life-step.

Functionally, I think this is far more house than we need, but apparently he wishes it had a full basement as well. We are a family of 4, but our kids are getting older (17 and 13), less toys are coming in (yay!) and their interests are primarily outdoors or digital. So you would think this 1800 sqft rancher house would be more than ample!

Our oldest is anxious to start a life of his own within the next couple years, and will likely move hundreds of miles away for the best employment opportunities (and take his stuff with him). When that happens his room at the end of the hall has so much potential!

I could move the home office from the front room to there (not my favourite option because I like being in the big room next to the front door), or make a small TV room with hide-a-bed sofa to get the noisy video games out of earshot and double as a guest room that our oldest son could stay in when he visits, or a gym, or a craft/sewing room, or, or, or....

We have never had a "spare" room before! The potential is mind boggling (in a good way).

And our son has loads of outdoor gear that he would be encouraged to take too... bicycles, camping gear, tools, and other boy-interest paraphernalia. It would clear out gobs of garage space and a shed! ( I will love tearing those sheds down one day. Handy for now, but eye sores.)

Once again it makes me wonder why our house isn't "big enough" in my husband's eyes. It's only going to feel bigger from here on out. Especially as the purging continues daily bit by bit.

pretty serving dish.... unitasker whose function can be met by other dishes

hand painted pitcher (and 6 matching goblets not pictured) it is heavy and poorly balanced. A gift that I was hanging onto and using out of respect for the gifter

digital camera, charger and battery that was replaced by a newer faster version some time ago

box of miscellaneous cables, books and too-small-boots

... and more clothing and books and toys not pictured!


The fabulous Tea drawer

Drawers are a wonderful thing! Easy access to all sorts of random items, tidily tucked away with a gentle push. Of course this fantastic organizational tool can get terribly messy very quickly so diligence is needed to keep it all working well.

I have a few designated drawers in the kitchen. Items of one category and ONLY that category.
Plastic containers
Kitchen cloths

The drawer defines how much of that category I can store practically. I could have more than the drawer can handle, but that only leads to frustration and clutter (trust me, I know from years of experience). Some of the other drawers are less organized/defined. The chaos drawers!

Dry pantry goods like pasta and random bagged foods
Chef knives/measuring cups and spoons/ awkward utensils (like whisk)
Snack drawer

This drawers wax and wane with degrees of chaos and states of fullness. Works in progress...

But the defined drawers work VERY well as long as I stick to the one-in-one-out and respect the physical limits.

(I am particularly proud of my tea set up, it's a rainbow of tea options!)


Pantry clean out: dry goods edition

Eating better and making better choices while grocery shopping has left some items in my pantry that no longer fit my current lifestyle.

So off to the food bank bin they go.... I do feel a little bit of mixed emotions about this. After all, if I don't think it's good for me, why would I give it to someone else? On the other hand, it's completely edible and a loathe wasting food! So I will donate it and hope that the person actually wants these foods in their life. Who am I to sensor other people's diets, right? It's not total crap after all, just stuff I am choosing not to eat right now.

 There will be more to add to the donations as I tackle other cupboards....

In the fridge, I already got rid of the sugar laden condiments (except ketchup) and store bought salad dressings. I draw the line at the homemade jams, they are staying (to be used in moderation). Sure they are full of sugar, but I know exactly what is in them, nothing fake added! It wasn't fun putting the various types of goo down the sink, but it isn't suitable for the chicken or the compost (bears and raccoons would love that action). Oh I loathe wasting food even if it is just a few half empty bottles of things like nasty, processed, brand name ranch dressing!


gone gone gone

As summer leaves us and the leaves fall down and fall creeps in with cool nights and pretty smelling days, the sun peaks lower and the mountain peaks look clearer (and closer) and my clothes get their season change over.

The best mantra I have ever come up with above all others to make a decision about letting something go is this:


Anything I truly love or find genuinely useful could never accidentally get tossed, and the things that go are consciously devalued before going.

Honestly there are so many things in the average house that serve no real purpose, or could be so much better served with someone else! Sometimes its just a matter of timing, maybe the enjoyment has run it's course, or even the usefulness has served it's purpose in a different phase of life. Thats the thing about stuff, no decision to keep has to be permanent!

Even sentimental items. There are objects I clung to desperately in my young adult life that I find are more nuisance than joy now. Happy Shiny Me Solution: Take a lovely photo of it with good lighting and then release it to the next person that may appreciate it. Sometimes when I wonder "whatever happened to..." I scroll through the file that holds all those images and smile. No regrets with any of it so far.

As you can probably tell by the intro, this has been a great week for donations!

Pared down my jackets -I found SIX trench coats of different lengths and colours, but really, why?! I kept 1 long/light and 1 short/dark
Streamlined my dresses (asking my husband which were his favourites and boxing the rest)
Summer shoes that didn't get worn all season
Winter boots that I couldn't bear the thought of wearing again at for the upcoming season
Some tattered items got repurposed as garage rags
A small amount of office supplies I no longer use - donated
A few of my son's cute stuffed animals in perfect condition (he's 13 now)

In total: 2 decent sized boxes of stuff that won't be taking up space here anymore!

Not a bad start to fall!


Out Out Out!

I little bit early, but a change of season is a great opportunity to put my wardrobe on trial
Do I love it?
Did I wear it this year?
Does it flatter me?

I took away some unneeded/unloved summer clothes, a box of sandals that I didn't wear (thanks Toms for reliably simplifying my shoes), some books that I read and don't need to re-visit and some odd brick-a -brack that served no function (why was it still here?!)

A big bag, and 2 heavy boxes OUT OUT OUT!


Something to lose

I have a friend that is in distress. Her life is beyond her control and her coping mechanism to to control her "stuff" instead. Her need to hang on to too much has paralyzed her to the point of despair. She hates her home because it is too crowded and "too small" (it is crammed to the rafters with things she can't use because it's too crammed in).

She confessed she hasn't used the family dining room table in well over a year, but she continues to care for THREE full formal dinnerware sets in hopes that one day she can entertain. She has mountains of sturdy matching totes all carefully labeled and stacked full of toy sets that her growing children don't play with anymore. She has several shining steel baker's racks as room dividers artfully clothed in tailored fabrics used as pantries and wardrobes full of many types of multiples of food, cookware and linens (and more totes). Bookshelves in the narrow hallway, multiple dressers in each room, she even raised her bed to epic heights to accommodate more storage underneath.  her mantle is crammed full of her green glass collection to the point of some items being stacked. She claims that she loves every single piece and wants more.

It may be organized, but it is suffocatingly dense.

She ran out of room a long time ago, but refuses to get rid of anything no matter how long it's been since anyone has used it. She is so stressed out about it all that she has anxiety attacks on a daily basis. She has been hospitalized for stress related symptoms and her blood pressure is now serious enough for her to be medicated. I feel for her!

The writing is on the wall. No quick fix though, I think if her stuff was taken or destroyed it might send her over the edge. But, you know what, it's not her stuff - that's just a symptom - it's her relationships that are killing her. She doesn't trust that she can rely on the one she pledged to rely on, and the relationship is toxic in so many ways. He blames her and the stuff for his trouble, and she insulates herself with more stuff to protect herself from harmful events. The kids are living in a cluttered world of micro-managed stuff and parents that are stressed to breaking. It's brutal, and I am helpless to help her except by saying that I am there for her no matter what.

It's easy to blame the stuff.
It's easy to say "we just need more space/storage".
And that's what she always says... "It would be okay if I just had a proper place for everything, then we wouldn't argue and I wouldn't be so stressed all the time"

She is vehement that all of her things are useful and needed... even when I suggest she sell the items or give them to someone that needs them more to make more space. She desperately wants more space (hyperventilating and tense when she looks around) but ironically her home wouldn't be listable for sale in it's current density. And like most people, she couldn't afford to upgrade before selling.

Her home is the same size as mine and we have the same number of kids and pets and hobbies. My family eats together at table every night and host large family dinners at least 4 times a year (she says they eat in shifts at the crowded breakfast bar and haven't eaten together except at restaurants in months). The only real and meaningful difference is that I trust my life will provide what I need even if I get rid of stuff. I feel safe in my life.

I am not a minimalist, not even close. And my home is not a tidy show home either. But I have a happy life and am surrounded by love. Most importantly, I trust my life not to leave me stranded. (Not to say crap can't happen, it all could be taken away in an instant, but I'm loving NOW and genuinely believe I am safe NOW)

Her uncertainty and feeling of insecurity has eaten her reasonable mind. Like water eroding a stone. I've known her for 20 years now (before changeable career, chaotic kids, and untrustworthy husband) and when I met her she was in control of her finances, and hopeful of the future. Her home was a lovely display of good taste and light. She is intelligent and logical in all other things except this, and because I love and respect her as a longtime friend I can talk to her when she wants to talk and encourage any movement she is willing to make (or admit needs to be made).

I'm uncomfortable writing all that down. Just because it's an invasion into her personal life and I feel like I'm making sweeping assumptions. Know that this came from a place of love and respect for the woman I know she wants to be. I'm no professional on these matters, and I can NOT judge her for her choices that were all made with nothing but the very best hope for a loving future. Like I said, she is intelligent and I respect her very much even if I am worried that she is a little lost right now.


Every Day

Every day is full of new challenges and adventures.

Every day I am finding something to declutter from the house and a healthy something to eat from the garden, so every day I find something to be happy about!

Some days are mundane (full of answering work emails) and some are full of small thrills (like harvesting the 24th zucchini) - note just because the thrill is small doesn't make it any less fun!

I have never enjoyed gardening so much! There is something completely wonderful about eating something scratched out of the earth from your own efforts. Sure the lettuce may be a bit "intense" compared to grocery store stuff (more vitamins?) and everything has to be checked over for bug-damage... but that's just proof that it's got no pesticides. I love it.


Pantry Challenge

It's Pantry Challenge time again!

With the garden in full giving of many beautiful veggies, it's time to clear out some space in the freezer in anticipation of more harvests.

We've been very mindful about processed foods since April, so no ugly ingredients have been in the pantry for a while (amazingly easier to shop!), food is eaten more regularly and it's REAL food!

The freezer is fairly full, again, but it's all good stuff.  No "convenience" meals.... have you ever noticed how so-called convenience entrees take just as long to bake as fresh meals that are simply better in every way? The only challenge is being sure that the ingredients are at hand.... mindful shopping and menu planning easily take care of that.

My number one tip for better meals every night of the week:
- Look at the weekly flyer and plan meals around the local, seasonal foods that are on sale.
(I plan for 5 dinners and make enough for leftovers to take for lunches - 2 spontaneous dinners a week either from opportunities provided by meat discounts or other unplanned invitations or cravings)

Little food is spoiled and between the wonders of homemade soups, stir fries and our chickens eating the scraps.

But for now, dinner plans with be made around the freezer's inventory and my garden's yield instead.


Today's Small Victory

Time to go through the closet again. Like brushing teeth, it's a chore that has the best preventative effects when done more often.

Sometimes the best line of attack is to remove EVERYTHING from the drawer or rod and start from scratch. When everything is cleared out, it only takes a moment to give the emptied space a quick vacuum or wipe, then a nice, clean place to put back only the BEST stuff.

Be HONEST about what should go back so that the wardrobe is full of good feelings.

Is this in the right place?
Does it fit?
Is it flattering?
Is it out of date?
Has it seen better days? (Is it worth repairing?)
When is the last time I wore it?
Do I like it?

Another thing to keep in mind its whether your lifestyle has had any significant changes. For example: when I changed from the full-time professional office environment to a freelance-from-home work life, it took me YEARS to admit that I only needed enough slacks and blazers for the very occasional meeting instead of every day. As a result I was able to purge all but the VERY BEST of this category of professional clothes and give the rest away. Now when I do have a meeting it's very easy to put together a nice outfit and I freed up a significant amount of closet space.  Moving to a different climate would be a similar opportunity to purge.

Today's small victory:

And from my youngest son's shirt drawer:
some are rags, most are off to another family


Body Clutter Update.

It was month of no wheat (though I once accidentally tested the the kid's pasta for done-ness out of habit) and my refined sugar intake was ALMOST completely removed too. Though I binged on chocolate one day - about 75g of milk chocolate, and felt icky for many hours afterwards.

Unfortunately I have not seen much in the way of success. The initial carb-flu whoas were followed by a bright clarity that was nice, and I thought I might be losing some weight and water retention. But it was different from day to day and I haven't nailed down why. Some days were slim, light and perky, others were puffy, heavy and achy!

The bulk of the experiment is over, 4 weeks was enough for me to get into a habit of whole foods. I will continue to choose real foods and avoiding processed. But I'm not going to be super-stringent about gluten anymore, though I will choose other options if they are available.  Sugar is still a struggle for me, and I will continue to fight that addiction.

Thinking ahead, I will stick with my original plan... real, whole, healthy foods. It can't hurt, right?

Maybe I have it all wrong and it's not food, but some other environmental trigger?

Meanwhile my meals will continue to be beautifully colourful and interesting!


It must be Spring

I am a decluttering queen these past few days!

Bedding, books, clothes, computers, tools, toys, toys and more toys

It's the Spring Fling!

Flinging it all onto the internet classifieds and out the door.

(not the chair though... I still love the chair)


Feeling Good

No surprise here, but eating all that pretty, healthy food has given me more energy... that's after the initial ten day long carb-flu/hangover/withdrawal (complete with achy joints, mood swings, weak muscles, acne break-outs and raging headaches). That's all over now and I feel brand new.

I am trying to "go with it" and get as much moving around in as I can, but I am finding it difficult to stay on task with desk-work. Also hard to stay in bed after 5 am... I don't want to wake the whole house at that hour, so I lay there.... I will have to find a QUIET outlet if this persists.

The brain fog is slowly clearing too. I feel inspired to declutter, clean, go for walks, garden, chat up my friends, and actually STAND at my standing desk (instead of perch on a stool). Now that I think of it, I haven't watched a whole TV program in days (very uncharacteristic).

Best part is I can't even stand the thought of eating sugar right now. The smell of a cookie is enough for me to think "that smells too sweet" and move on. Because it is getting appealing to live like this, and feel like this, it is getting easier to ignore so many of the aisles in the grocery store.

Here are the rules (and there are 2 sets because I'm not enforcing my choices on the whole family):

No fake ingredients
Real, living food with every meal (fruits, veg)
No refined sugars (occasionally agave, honey, or stevia leaf)
No juices unless they are part of the whole fruit
No wheat (I may try re-introducing whole grains much later)
Limited white starches (white rice, white potatoes, "gluten free" flours, quick oats, corn meal)
Occasional dairy (cream, and cheeses)
Protein with every meal

GROCERY CART for home:
No fake ingredients
Limited sugar
Limited juice - only 100% juice
Whole grain choices for breads, pastas, etc
Real, living food with every meal (fruits, veg)

We are still working through the pantry items that aren't ideal, but there is no junk food in there anymore. The kids are real sports about the slow switch and hubby is over the moon about it (he hates junk food in the house and always has).

A few books and piles of clothes have left the building

Also... to test the out-of-sight-out-of-mind theory, I am packing beloved items that I'm not quite ready to lose yet into sealed boxes. I will see how I feel about them 6 months from now.


Decluttering Body

Through this journey of letting go, piece by piece, step by step I have discovered a lot about who I really want to be.  It's not exactly what I expected, but that's not all bad.

What is in my immediate surroundings is gradually being pared down to the useful and meaningful. Things that are in the NOW have taken a higher priority than things in the past (with a few exceptions). Liberating!

And as I evaluate and streamline what is on the outside, I have become more reflective and discerning about what goes on the INSIDE as well.

Part of my personal 2014 resolutions is to eat less processed foods. But that is only part of it nowadays. Since having a chest/head/cold/flu thing in February I became acutely aware of the ill effects sugar has on my metabolism. Oh sugar! I love the stuff. Sweet dairy hurts me now and bloat is a daily, constant annoyance making me feel older than I should.

After that flu shed the light on what I could be (my sense of taste was retarded while I was sick so sugar held no power over me... I lost 6 pounds of "water" in a week!) When I recovered I went straight back into old habits and gained it all back in a couple days. Then I made a pact with myself not to buy anymore of it. No more cookies, cakes (except birthdays), chocolate bars, etc... none of it has entered my shopping cart since March. We are still working through the stash I had built up. But not me or my husband, just the kids for lunch treats so it will trickle down slowly.

I'm finally past the point of being tempted by them. A little sniff and I get enough. We were even stuck out on the road well past dinner time and stopped at the national donut coffee shop chain and I found I didn't want a single thing in that whole shop! I was hungry all right, but I wanted a big handful of nuts, not a pastry.

Keeping myself accountable, I have been sending photos of my meals to my sister since April 1. She is trying the same thing.... here is what has been on my plate lately:

You may notice another ingredient that's missing other than refined sugar.... wheat!
Just an experiment at this point, but it has been surprisingly easy to stay away from.... except pasta, pasta is my go-to base for a lot of quick dinner items....

Having priorities shifted away from acquiring stuff has opened up the possibility of being a healthier me.


More Time

One incredible side effect of having less stuff is the time that I seem to be regaining.

It was very subtle at first, but now I am really recognizing the results of these decluttering efforts. It takes less time to put laundry away with less laundry to be washed and stored, there are less piles and trinkets to shift and clean when company is coming.

There is a small hazard though... I recognized this change when I realized I seemed to be spending more and more time watching the TV and searching interesting items on the internet, but the house is not any messier. More time spent, but not less time cleaning?

My newly reclaimed seconds/minutes were being stealthily absorbed by recreation!

Not entirely bad, but not in-line with my fundamental goals for simplifying. My goals are to have a cleaner home and more time for the family... not more time with electronic screens!

I won't share how much time I've been spending wasting in gawking at glowing boxes, but it's a lot longer than is probably healthy.

(Disclaimer: I'm not talking about work time at the computer, I'm talking pure self-indulgence)

Now that I am AWARE of this bonus time, I will be making a conscience effort to keep it for things that I value: home harmony and nurturing relationships.


Open Season

Spring is coming!

A time for rebirth, renewal and new life. A thaw that inspires action after the long, cold months.

I may be jumping the gun a little here, but I feel ready to declare open season - on winter clutter.

All those bits and bobs that accumulated over halloween, thanksgiving, Christmas, new year's, Valentine's day and many birthdays hosted over the dark months. I am officially giving them their notice!

It won't be hard... when coming across an outdated/themed item that doesn't belong, a quick pick-up and decision can be made. Since there is now an ever-present "DONATE" box in the hall closet and easy access to a the trash can for worthless stuff, there is no excuse to politely ignore any item's existence.

How many winter items have been outgrown or worn out (I can think of a ruined sled and ripped mittens off the top of my head)? How many handy gifted gadgets (given with the best of intentions) aren't living up to their promises of convenience? Likewise, how many pretty presents are just not your cuppa tea?  If you still have them hanging around out of obligation, maybe a full turn of the season is enough to show the thought was appreciated? What winter clothes did you not choose to wear this season? Don't fit or simply not favourites. LET GO.

I will try to remember to take photos as I go...


One Step More

With every step I get closer to my goals

I loaded 2 more boxes into the trunk for the charity shop yesterday: an ugly sweater and some bulky kitchen items that I no longer use.

Also, a small bag of non-perishable foods for the food bank of gift "gourmet" foods that aren't to our family's taste.... too many man-made unpronounceable ingredients for us. I feel slightly guilty about donating those items because I don't think they ever should have been made in the first place. But hopefully, someone will actually want them and be thankful for something different in the food hamper?

There is a bag of semi-valuable items set aside for my dear, charitable re-seller friend (she takes items and sells them online to raise funds for the education of a poor family she knows in Tibet - a wonderful cause that I love being able to contribute to in some small part).

And there is the pile of games/puzzles I have set aside for a neighbour friend with young kids.

One more area of success.... cleaning supplies. I went into all the areas where they hide and figured out which ones were in the wrong spot for the job they are supposed to do. This is a category where the "use it up challenge" is ongoing. Once I have used up most of these chemical supplies, I will not be replacing them. Vinegar, Baking Soda, Lemon and other simple ingredients do a good job when you know how to use them... there are loads of tips online to help me transition!

Always more work to be done... but with every item I release, I find that much more room to breathe, that is my motivation to keep at it.


A fresh year

I had a birthday yesterday. And I feel good about it.

Sure I have been sick for half of 2014 so far (2nd round of antibiotics now) but the end of the cough is within sight. The weather is crazy around here (surprise snowfall time and time again in a place that rarely gets snow) it's certainly not BORING.

But now I am 42 and "42 is the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything" (according to Douglas Adams)! What an awesome excuse to have a terrific year!

What is the plan?

Be accountable.

I truly believe a lot of society's problems these days stem from people not taking accountability for their own outcomes. I have fallen into complacency, letting things happen TO me instead of making things happen FOR me. A big no-no in my books.

Two easy questions to ask:

Are my actions in line with my values?
Are the steps I take leading towards my goals?

If the answer is "no" at any point, do a course correction before it gets too late. The trick is to ask the key questions at the right points! BEFORE the chocolate bar,  BEFORE the hours are wasted at TV, BEFORE thrift shopping, BEFORE tempers are lost.... you get the idea.

I know the right things to do. I just have been lazy, really lazy.
NO MORE! 42 is the magic number for me!


Still sick, (when will it END?!) but I had to leave the house yesterday for the pharmacy (which is next to the thrift store), so I pulled up my bootstraps and cleared out a box of books that have been lingering too long.

The house is a pigsty because everyone is sick.

But at least there is one LESS box of stuff to deal with around here.



NOTHING exciting going on here. No decluttering, no cleaning, nothing.

I have a brutal head cold which has rendered me nearly useless.

In my heart I am pining for perfect simplicity, but all my body can handle is convenient food to feed the family and the bare minimum of cleaning duties before I curl back up with my pile of tissues and warm cuppa.

Small detour on my goals thanks to a persistant cold.

Thanks a lot immune system for tackling this so aggressively, can I breathe through my nose again soon please? PLEASE?


To find a balance

What do I have to do to find a balance?

Work <> Home
Family <> Friends
Future Security <> Fun Now
Possessions <> Breathing Space

I start all Gung-Ho to clear it out, clean the house, win the war on clutter... then I get hung-up on each item as I sort, and the accumulating grit and grime and then get interrupted before I even get a good start by clients, family, friends or my daily chores that can't be ignored.

As much as I want MEASURABLE IMPROVEMENT every day, sometimes I just have to find peace in the knowledge that life is good. REALLY GOOD even with the clutter, even with the dirt and chores and even with the endless interruptions and distractions.

Now less take time to put it into perspective:

I have family that is close enough to ask for my time
I have clients that pay me to help them
I have friends that want me around
I have a house to clean
I have food to eat, people to cook for, clothes to wash, and more things than I even want!

As I look at these roadblocks to my perfectly decluttered life, I must see them for what they are.
These distractions are truly blessings. And that is the balance I am looking for.


Clean Living

January is traditionally a time for resetting the calendar and making promises to be a better person.

I am no exception. After the excess of the holiday I usually suffer a hangover of sorts from the buying frenzy, excess socializing and big foods. I don't want to sound like Scrooge here… I do enjoy it all -- in moderation.

I am keeping a food diary again….   It is a revealing exercise into my habits and encourages me to make better choices if I'm writing it down!

Focussing on the evening family meal, this is what we've done lately:

Moroccan rice stuffed tomatoes
Marinara Spaghetti
Cauliflower Cheese Soup (original Moosewood Cookbook version)
Pork Stirfry on noodles with LOADS of bright veggies)
Homemade Chili
BLT's with tomato soup and green salad
Fish tacos (soft)
Easy Quiche with cheddar, bacon, peppers, tomatoes (affectionate nicknamed "egg pie")
Stinging Nettle Basil Gnocchi
Calamari rings sauteed in garlic lemon served on wilted spinach with a side of brown rice

Sunday was a special event, my Father in Law brought dinner over: Braised lamb shanks with an amazing pureed vegetable sauce, sheeps-cheese & parsley mashed potatoes, herbed cauliflower and greek style green salad.

I prefer to look at my favourite grocery store sales flyer and make meal plans. But often to save a bit of money I will pick up on-date discounted meat and throw it right into the freezer and integrate those items into the menu too. So I have bought and tried some interesting things over the years. Good thing there are no picky eaters in this house!

The grocery store is like travelling the world! Products from around the globe to explore. A few inspirational ingredients and a quick search on the internet for the best recipe is my idea of a good time in the kitchen!


Bath time

Confession : I have 3 bathrobes.
A winter weight terry cloth one, a light short summer one and a modest between season one.
They.   Are.   All.  Hand-Me-downs. (from my sister)

The winter one was black with gold trim, it surely was elegant when it was new, but the black has faded and pilled and the gold is a bit frayed. It is so COMFY and very modest for lounging around with the kids so I have ignored its shortcomings - until now. I was suffering the stores out getting a pair of jeans for my growing teen and happened past a clearance rack with bathrobes. I found one that was ridiculously soft and cozy for under $15 at a store that I feel good about.

Long story short I have a new winter robe, brand new.

The old winter one is off to a different life as super-absorbent garage rags.

PS I did a deep sort of my youngest son's room yesterday and removed 2 grocery bags of broken bits and paper, as well as 2 decent boxes of forgotten toys that will be going to charity. His room functions better, and the dust rhinoceroses have been slain for now.