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Showing posts from October, 2022

The Kindness of Mrs. Sweetbriar

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Enjoy this excerpt from my Christmas book for children, Fairhaven Christmas Eve ,* available as an e-book and in paperback and hardcover versions. * This blog is reader-supported.  If you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission. It was the late afternoon of Christmas Eve, and everyone in the city of Fairhaven was hurrying to finish their business before the evening's festivities. Shoppers were in more of a hurry than before, and became a little sharp with it.  Apothecaries hastily prepared packets of nutmeg and cloves, bay leaves and peppercorns, and the coffee roaster ground more fresh beans for his impatient customers.  The watchmaker urged platinum fobs and enameled chatelaines on indecisive purchasers, while across the street, stationers sold beaded greeting cards and bright wrapping papers to last-minute gift-givers. Brand had finally finished chopping wood for old Mrs. Witherspoon, and she had given him four eggs, a jar of stewed apricots, and three copper pennies

5 Questions to Answer When You're Trying to Minimize

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It sounds great to "live with less," doesn't it?  Less stuff to clean, store, insure, fuss with .  More time and funds for what you care about.  But what does minimalism actually look like, and how do you start to get that freedom and satisfaction? Minimalism doesn't mean you have to sell everything except what you can fit into the back of a van (or even just a backpack).  Some people choose that lifestyle, but you can stay in your current home and still be a minimalist.  Full disclosure:  My husband and I live in a two-bedroom apartment.  We have a couch, side chairs, lamps, a bookshelf, table and chairs, bed, dresser, a guest room bed, and a useful amount of linens and kitchen items.  There's art on the walls, plants, photos, a TV, and hobby supplies.  We even have some toys for when the grandsons come to visit. We could go a bit smaller if it was necessary, but I don't aspire to live in a van. Minimalism is an intentional choice to turn away from consumeris

Minimalist Furniture to Stand the Test of Time

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Not long ago I sat in a trendy, ultra-minimalist waiting room.  The walls were bright white, the carpet gray, the black-mullioned windows uncovered.  The chairs, made of chrome and black plastic, were angular and sharp.  The wall art featured looping dribbles of black and gray with flecks of metallic gold.  I hated it. Fortunately, it's not necessary to go with uncomfortable, artsy-modern furniture in order to have a minimalist home.  If that's your preferred style, great, but I think a true minimalist opts for high-quality pieces that will last through years of use, moves, and d├ęcor trends. Furniture classics will keep your home minimalist. Investing in furniture for your apartment or anywhere you're not sure you'll live forever can seem like a waste.  Why spend good money on pieces that might not fit or go with your dream home down the road?  So most of us buy cheap stuff that is part of the latest design fad, meant to be replaced every year or two.  This not only cre

How to Be Grateful, Generous, and Ready for Something New

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"It was fun... and now it's done." This quote from an anonymous Girl Scout leader, shared in a comment on Joshua Becker's blog, Becoming Minimalist , caught my attention a while ago. How do you declutter tools and supplies for a hobby that once meant a great deal to you?  You haven't touched the hobby in a year or two (or more), and you don't see yourself keeping fish, making jewelry, skiing, or backpacking again.  But those items represent many absorbing and happy hours, and were once a part of your identity. Besides, maybe at some point you'll want to pick up the hobby again. Related article:  Just in Case You used to be known for your beautiful handmade cards, and you have a collection of rubber stamps, embossing tools, special scissors, beautiful papers, and more.  How can you just get rid of that considerable investment of money and creativity? "It was fun... and now it's done." You enjoyed that creative outlet, and now you have a choic

Why You Should Try Wearing the Same Clothes Every Day

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Wearing the same clothes every day would get boring, wouldn't it? A long time ago, I had a job that required a uniform, and I have to say it did make life easier .  I had three copies of my work outfit, and there was never a question about what to wear.  I never worried whether my clothes were stylish or "right," because everyone else wore the same thing. The same argument has been used in public and private schools in favor of student uniforms.  Rather than constant worries about fashion and comparisons and dress codes, a uniform makes everything simple.  It's one less thing to think about in the complex life of a student. Many people argue that clothes make a statement about who you are.  "I express myself through my clothes" is a comment I've often heard, usually from women.  The idea of a uniform scares them, because how will they make themselves noticeable or unique ? I think we might be imagining some sort of Handmaid's Tale society, where we

How Many Tee Shirts Should a Minimalist Own?

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Here's the thing.  Minimalism doesn't have rules. Does it make sense to experiment with minimalism * in order to get away from the mindless herd mentality of materialism, and then make a bunch of rules you have to follow ?  No, it doesn't. Minimalism is about removing the things that hamper your daily life in order to make room and time for your best, authentic self.  While ads and social media tell you what to buy and who you're supposed to be, minimalism helps you step away from that to build a deeper, more purposeful, and more contented life. While this will require you to be thoughtful, intentional, and counter-cultural, it doesn't include hard-and-fast rules. So when I'm asked questions like the ones that follow, I have to chuckle. * This blog is reader-supported.  If you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission. Common questions of those new to minimalism 1.  Do I have to live in an all-white or all-neutral home? While whites and neutrals do hav

Advice for Reaching Your Goals from Someone Who Isn't Perfect

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Do you want to write?  Save money?  Get out of debt?  Lose weight?  Start a business?  Declutter and live in a beautiful, just-right minimal home? Whatever your goal is, if you're anything like me, you worry that you have to have everything figured out ahead of time.  You think you need to: know the perfect diet for your age and metabolism. create a detailed, bullet-point business plan. work out a perfect book outline and final, life-changing climax. have a step-by-step, foolproof plan for getting uncluttered. You spend so much time grinding on the details that you miss the essential step which every project needs. The step that makes it all happen. The step without which everything becomes impossible . You have to start. It really doesn't matter if you have it all figured out ahead of time.  It helps to have a final goal in mind, because your brain will get busy planning how to get there.  What matters is that you start. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take

How to Uncover Your Treasures by Decluttering Your Keepsakes

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My oldest grandson will be 7 next week, which I can hardly believe.  I can picture him when he was just crawling around – such a cheerful, curious little guy, with a couple of teeth and a lot of drool. I'm so thankful to have photos of him, his younger brothers, his mom and uncle, and the great-grandparents he will only ever know through stories and pictures. I would never agree that in order to be minimalist you must get rid of every keepsake or piece of memorabilia.  I certainly have items that I treasure and hope to pass on to younger generations. But I don't want my house to become a museum, or cluttered with bits and bobs from a bygone time. I definitely don't want my kids to have to clear out 60+ boxes of newspaper clippings, road maps, ticket stubs, church bulletins, receipts, and more, as my husband did at his parents' long-time home.  I don't want them to come across ruined photos, faded negatives, decayed 4-H ribbons, or a trumpet that should have been do

One Surprising Reason to Declutter Half of Your Stuff

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For a long time, I loved clothes.  They were my passion and my weakness.  I went to the mall two or three times a week, and bought something on at least one of those trips.  After all, the more you look, the more you buy! Actually, "clothes" is a catch-all term for "anything I can wear on my body."  I bought plenty of shoes, handbags, belts, scarves, and jewelry too.  Let's face it – clothes can be hard to get just right, but purses and jewelry always fit , don't they? At some point, I realized the jewelry had gotten out of hand.  I had so much it was hard to actually wear all of it.  Most of it sat tangled in boxes and drawers, and I found myself wearing a couple of necklaces, a couple of brooches, and a few pairs of earrings all the time. I discovered that organizing isn't enough .  I could get my jewelry untangled and sorted and pretty yet still not use most of it.  I bought "storage solutions," and the collection looked sort of cool, but di