Posts Tagged ‘minimalism’

Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish. ~ John Quincy Adams

Our family has really focused this month on getting our Christmas hygge on.  One of the most obvious things we’ve done is that we’ve bailed on most of our regular social routines.  I didn’t know we were needing at first, but we just started creeping away from the busy, and bailing on things that weren’t directly related to quality family time together.  Even projects got stuck on the back burner.  Cuz, meh!  January will be filled with endless days – heck, up through April… sometimes the coming months go a little slow.  So we may as well really hunker down and *delve* into this one without extra nonsense that can be saved for ‘boring’ months ahead.  Eh?

Scott has split up a week of vacation to take 3- and 4-day weekends all month, giving us the opportunity to really focus on slowing down, be it making candies at home, hunt down Christmas lights, hit lots of holiday performances, or spontaneously drive to the Olympic Penninsula to crab.  The latter was such a lovely experience!  We had the car loaded and out the driveway in 2 hours time from when the decision was made.  The drive was perfectly scrumptious.  Music and chat – it slipped by so quickly and then we were there!  At a quaint, safe-looking, funky strip motel that sported a fish cleaning, fire-burning gazebo and all!  The room was perfect.  We got us some pizza and brewery-made root beer in a growler and plopped down for a late-night Christmas flick.  Aury is a man of routine, so tho’ he loved the entertainment, was not too keen on a long night sleep, so we got up early (crazy early for our night owl family!) and bundled up for a day on the docks with a thermos full of hot cocoa.

Everyone was so friendly and helpful.  Everywhere we went folks freely gave advice – good advice!  So unlike the fishing environment down here in SW WA, where everyone holds their secrets tightly.  The town was clearly a crab-town, and quiet of tourists, so we felt like part of the community.  We had a commercial crab pot and a set of rings that kept us checking and catching. Lots of cute crawly crabs in the traps kept us feeling successful, even tho’ we had to give the many wee ones back.

We had to be careful, as a mama sea lion and her pup were hanging around the docks as well.  Mama was perfectly fine letting us know that we were in her space, and she would be watching us.  We did the same.  Things can go south quickly in this scenario, so we moved pot-throwing to the raised boardwalk, where our littles could play more freely and safely.  We had such a wonderful time.  The weather was perfect.  Overcast but not windy, chilly but bearable.  Peaceful but energy-filled.

Investing in more memories, less stuff.

A lot of times I’m the one who hunts adventure.  Scott is always up for the fun, but not always the instigator.  But this trip was all him.  My heart just melts seeing him so enthusiastic about it.  Even better, the trip was a success instead of the typical “learning curve” that a first attempt often is.  And another new hobby that we can do as a family, and doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.  AND concludes with good eats.  Perfect!

In November, we both separately felt the pull to step away from some of our “busy” and to hone in on our wee family.  Perhaps it was because he’d been working long hours for just a smidge too long.  Perhaps it was because we were struggling to find much time as a family during the week without other needs calling louder, keeping us focused elsewhere.  Perhaps it’s because we had to cancel our Christmas travel plans because – for the first time – we had to consider our kids’ schedule which conflicted with Scott’s potential days off, leaving us traveling without our family intact if we left.  One night I was crying and sharing with him how I had a sudden realization that our time is so very limited with our little people, and that I wanted to cherish and prioritize our little bits together just a bit more.  He said he was so glad I said it, because he was feeling the same.

It’s just so easy to get caught up in things.  Things that matter a lot!  Each season requires something different from us, I’m certain, and this one seems to be pulling us to our family first, everything else after that, no matter how much we’re tugged at.  We’re not a family that is big on going separate ways, and knowing the time is coming soon enough for this, we’re just soaking each other up this Christmas season.  Even bailing on other things that perhaps we wouldn’t usually.  And we’re okay with that.

Another thing that was unspoken but we’ve all sort of implemented somewhat subconsciously this year: Less presents.  If something doesn’t jump out at us for someone, we just haven’t bought it.  So friends, tho’ last year we got something for each and every one of you pretty much – and may again next year – or heck, even midyear randomly because we love gifting – don’t expect much in the way of wrapped goods in the next week or two.  But I guarantee you’ll get holiday cheer and love from us when we see you.  Because we adore you.  We’re so thankful for the people we are surrounded by.  We are so very blessed by our village.

We’d rather people than things any day of the week.

A sign of welcome, inviting all to enter in… a reminder of Christ’s invitation for all to come to Him. – Holly Gerth #heisthereason #reminderseverywhere #allarewelcome #noturningback

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Not doing weekly deliveries for 3+ years (which provided us a wonderful plethora of ease of access for wonderful wholesome foods), and not growing as much ourselves, we have changed some things about how we peruse food.  Let’s face it: We got lazy.  For the last couple of years, I’ve tried hard to make a routine for our family’s groceries.  Though we generally avoid the middle aisles of processed food, and shop at some of the facier ones, we definitely have been taking lots of shortcuts, and not doing things the way we’d rather.

In an effort to pep up the experience, I have even tried some of the hypes.  Heck, just this week I got all involved in seeing if I could make our towns big box grocery delivery program (and touted amazing online couponing) work for us.  But let’s face it: it’s not the food we’re looking for.  And it’s not an area I want to do as cheaply as we can.  The cost is too high.

I have been really disappointed in grocery stores.  Grocers don’t meet our needs. They’re so full, and yet lack so much. Every time I go, I’m sad. I’m discouraged. I’m disgusted. Where is the real food?! Where are the flavors, the freshness?!  This isn’t working for us.  And so I’m leaving them. I’m kissing them goodbye. Again. With newly found inspiration and goals for my family. I want more for them. Time to get back on track to this aspect of being a good steward with our food – our time, money, health, and human-growing responsibilities.

I’m so filled with peace (and anticipation!) just making this decision!  It’s such a RELIEF!

First step: Stop by Matt’s Custom Meats tomorrow to pick up our portion of a steer that was raised 3 miles down the road from me by people I love.

Second: Ordering a grain and legume restock from Azure Standard for next delivery.  Moving away from stored ground flours to whole berries that I can cook, sprout or grind fresh for use instead.  Exponentially more nutritious.  And can choose heirloom grains that are lower in gluten and higher in all good things.

Third: Sign up for an autumn share of one of the several awesome Autumn CSA share options (fresh produce from local farmers!).  In fact, here’s Hunters Greens ad in case you’re interested:

Hunters’ Greens will offer its “Winter Storage Vegetable Share” on Saturday, November 18 and Sunday,  November 19, 2017. Customers may sign up by calling or texting Diane at 1 (360) 218-8280. Payment is due on the day of pick up, and the cost is $150.

The winter storage vegetable share is an opportunity to stock up on storable produce for the winter season. The share is anchored by such storables as winter squash, potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic. In addition, we offer a selection of winter greens with a shorter shelf life. You will be proud to offer many of these farm fresh items on your Thanksgiving dinner table and are able to tell your guests precisely where they were lovingly grown.

Some time between sign up and pick up we will contact you to schedule an appointment on Saturday or Sunday afternoon. We will provide you in advance with a list of the available items, their prices and the amount available to each customer. You will bring your list, select your items, pack them in your car, pay us, and be on your way. The process takes less than a half hour.

Hunters Greens advert photo

With a basement of herbs and the plethora of autumn wild greens and nuts, these steps alone cover meal after meal already.  And at a very affordable price, for those watching their tab or think it can’t be done.  I bought an Instant Pot recently after a year and a half of resisting – despite my girlfriend Bethann’s continual praise and adoration of it – and now I am using it almost daily.  It sure makes food prep a breeze.  Solid, gelatinous bone broth in 240 minutes?  Easy to peel fresh homegrown boiled eggs? Game changers.

I ordered fertile quail eggs for more meat & egg production at minimal work/feed output. We dispatched of our older ones this spring and committed to waiting until fall to replace them.  I love them – and their cricket-like sounds!  They take 6 weeks from hatch to maturity for harvest, or to begin egg-laying.  Their eggs, darling and petite, are 5+ times more nutritious than chicken (tho’ we have chickens laying for us now as well – and our geese have surprised us with 2 eggs a day these last few weeks!).  The nice thing about quail is they take little space, require hardly any labor, and are very inexpensive to feed compared to other egg-layers.  This project goes hand in hand with our homeschooling, giving us a great science project as we hatch them!  We’ll sell chicks to cover the cost of the initial eggs and the first bag of feed (which should last 90+ days after hatch).  Free food.  Better food.  Saving money, time, health.  Beat that Big-Box Grocery – and all of your bells & whistles!

I’ve purchased a Carey (Chard) electric pressure canner that will arrive soonly. This is also Bethann’s fault.  Though I suspect, like the pressure cooker, I’ll thank her instead of curse her.  I really love what she told me recently: A jar full takes as much room as a jar empty.  This keeps my purge-everything, minimalism desires out of that section of storage – and moves my jar-hoarding issues to actually work for me and our family.  This canner does only a few jars at a time, making it less daunting with potential prep-work, and allows small batch left-overs to be canned up for quick meals later – freeing up precious (and pricey!) freezer space.  Since I’m so familiar with my pressure cooker now, I also think my fears of this style of pressure canning will not hold me back.  I’m even considering selling my larger pressure canner since I’m motivated to have less stuff, and focus on what I actually use. And I think the Carey will become a very often-used, somewhat alternative, pressure canner.  Though it cans less in quantity, I suspect I’ll preserve much more than I ever would have with the large-batch canners.  Just part of weighing what works for us.

I’m excited to leave grocers – once again – to the birds.

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A few things we’ve incorporated immediately upon return from 6+ weeks of living in an RV, piggybacking on the post I wrote a year ago called What I Learned From Leaving:

Purge – we took a truck full to the thrift store.  It turns out that living with two drawers and about 6″ of hang up space was ample clothing for each of us.  We never wanted for more, from summertime temps to chilly nights.  All six of us took up less than an average armoire’s space for clothes.  It was perfect.  I committed to sending at least one Large Size Flat Rate USPS Priority Mail box per month to my Alaskan cousins since we can wear the same gear.  I sent two on arriving home out of excitement.  For years, we’ve already incorporated the rule: for every bag/item that comes in, one of equal size leaves.

No More Food Waste – we literally threw away zero food.  That’s nuts.  Around this house, we feed the chickens at least one day’s worth of food for them per week, or 1/7th of their entire diet.  It’s mind-numbingly-frustrating to me, the waste that goes on in (err, out) of our refrigerator.  We ate great on our trip, eating out only once in a while.  We grocery’d every 4-5 days for fresh items.  We ate more nuts and fresh veg than we do at home.  We ate less white flour and refined sugars than we do at home.  Well, other than our ice cream stops.  That’s another story.

Less Trash – Though we threw away more than we expected to (about two plastic grocery bags per day), it has kept me in the mode of trying to throw away less.  We have been keeping a small plastic bag hanging from a hook in the kitchen to monitor our trash, and have notably decreased what goes into the black hole.  A rather dramatic – but effective! – trash sign we saw in a restaurant along the way: “Landfill.” in white words on black paper right above a trash can.  Yipes.  Definitely made me sweat a little. And if you know me, you know we’re not usually on top of being recyclers.  But even without recycling, we have limited ALL of our personal throw-aways significantly.

Lastly, it inspired me to work on our skoolie.  We had budgeted a chunk of change to it this year, and haven’t touched it.  So we ordered new lights, are in the middle of getting sheet metal to re-do the over-the-windows, then will paint the exterior.  Those three will about eat up our set aside money ’til February, BUT we also have a small stash of cash that is in the bus fund from selling things.  If it works out, we’ll put it toward getting a flushing toilet back in there*, and all that entails.  We’d love it to be fully use-ful again asap.

*we pulled the residential porcelain toilet out when we got the bus to replace it with a more efficient toilet.

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Once upon a time I blamed genetics on my “thriving on chaos.”  My family has a long line of go-getters, and have come a very long way in their lives.  I respect that, I do!  But some have used their wandering spirit in misguided ways.  I know, because I’m one of them.  I spent years investing in things that I suspected would not yield a return.  Things that ate up our resources quicker than they replenished them.  I did it anyway.  I have lots of speculation about why: the feeling of being useful or needed, seeking approval, lack of clear direction or listening to God’s call, plain stupidity, etc… But rather than dwell on those things, I want to delve into how we’ve changed our life to reflect ourselves in a more true way.  For what it’s worth, we learned a lot along the way, and tho’ retrospectively we would make different decisions, we are who we are today because of our past, and I’m thankful for the ways God used those situations for His glory – and has blessed us greatly through the process.

The nagging itch I used to try to scratch has softened.  Though the yearning still lingers, it has been redirected.  Now I know that it is a gift, not a curse.  It’s a longing for a life after this one.  Nothing here can quench the thirst to eternal life with Christ.  But here’s the hitch: we  live with Christ not only later on, but today.  Every day.  Every moment.  And that is what I truly believe became clear to me, calming the need to create my own false paradise.

This multi-generational quality* continues to be apparent.  I still am motivated by many things, and always have goals.  Let’s be real, life is a work in progress that will never be complete.  We are not supposed to sit around lolly gagging but should use our resources wisely and productively.  And so we press on with new adventures in business, family, home & education.  We seek to ‘better’ our lives in ways that we can, but with contentment.

And there is the key: contentment.

Since the day we listened to God’s call and decided to let our old farm go, God has blessed us exponentially.  Our discontent turned into bigger blessings than we could have reached for in all of our trying.  For one, peace reigns.

A few short weeks after we moved to our current farm, Scott ended up in the hospital for some time.  We saw this as a clear blessing from God, orchestrating timing so perfectly for what could have easily been a fatal blow had we still been at the old property.  Almost losing him – over and over while he was in the ICU – left our whole family with a lot more contentedness.  We value every day more.  We also let things roll off our shoulders that would have been big deals before.  We learned how to let go in a way we never knew before.  The freedom we sought in doing came by not doing.  It’s a shame how we all seem to have to learn through experience instead of the wisdom of others.  Makes me extra prayerful for our children.  As much as I would never wish hardships on them, it is often the refining moments that are the most powerful and life-altering.

So this all sounds honky dory and all, but I wanted to share specifically some practical ways we have learned to curb discontentment.  Cuz let’s face it: it rears it’s ugly head in the mundane.

When we’re feeling discontent, we go to action:

If we want something, we figure out what we can get rid of (sell) to buy it.  Even the kids do this with us.  While waiting in the process,  it allows the desire to wane, or makes it all the more worth it.  It also keeps our goal of living more minimally in check as we do not add to our stuff without eliminating things first.

If we want to do something, we make plans that fit our family and budget and lifestyle.  Vacation can be simple to be gratifying (for us anyway).  We also love road trips, which helps.  Our family of 7 can travel via road much more affordably than fly.  That said, we’ve let Adyn know we’re banking on him for private flights when he’s certified.  Ha!  There are also several buddy programs that allow affordable access to local attractions, friends with fun toys, etc.  There’s never a lack of something we could do and have fun doing!

If we’re discontent with our lot in life and try comparing it to others’, we try to spend more time with them.  We learn quickly that they, too, don’t have a perfect life.  Everyone has flaws.  We can grow together instead of separate ourselves into levels of “coolness.”

If we are not content in a circumstance (relationship, place of work, church, school, etc) we try to change it starting in our homes first.  Our lives should be a testament of what we believe.  Whether or not other places reflect our values 100%.  I’ve found that when I’m content with our personal lives and home, it’s easy to be content outside of it.

These are a few ways that we have personally harnessed discontentment and turned it into something positive. I can think of oodles of examples that we’ve put these to work, and with prayer, God has been faithful to turn our attitudes around every time. Sometimes it took a while, no thanks to my impatience and stubbornness.  😮

Which leads to one of the biggest ways I have personally combated discontentment: Seek advice/counsel and find a prayer partner.  Sounds like a big sister club, yeah – but really, I’m incredibly thankful for the brothers & sisters in Christ who are particular prayer warriors in my life that I can ask anytime, anyhow, without being discouraged. Find someone you know who you trust to understand your heart, and encourage and walk along them as you work your way through things. I cannot share how much the value of solid transparent christian relationships has been in our hard (or bad attitude) times.

Ha! A perfect opportunity happened just now. A youngster was fussing that we ran out of white chocolate syrup for coffee (ridiculous. we don’t usually have this.) and said we need to buy more, so we Googled and made more with a few pennies worth of 3 measly ingredients.  All the while talking about how often we have what we need for what we want if we’re willing to work a little at using our noggins. Why buy when you can make?!  Oh, and now we have semi sweet chocolate syrup, marshmallow cream and caramel sauce.  Great.  We’re all going to get fat.

*or is it just “the American dream/er” in us all?

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One of our young friends was embarking on an extended road trip, which aroused a lot of family discussion. Among the several questions, the one that held the most conversation time was: why might this be a good use of one’s time?  It led us into the several-week long discussion about gaining perspective.  Life permitting, everyone could benefit from a retreat.  A rest.  A time to focus on few things; things that matter.  To reflect on life, and what matters.

You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything. – John Maxwell

We discussed how almost every year that I went to Idaho in the summertime for our family reunion (a tradition that carries on still) as a younger girl, I learned something new that impacted my life significantly.  Things that I’ve carried with me into adulthood.

Our last road trip was to Arizona for a couple of weeks with our whole little family.  Getting out of our comfort and familiar zones, we were able to experience new things and – most importantly – learn together.  How to be flexible, adaptable, to see from others’ perspectives – to serve.  To be reminded that our wee little life bubble is simply that: a bubble.  That life is much larger than our wee bitty (seemingly huge sometimes) issues.  This can clear a lot of fog.

Here are some things that we all spoke about on our return from holidays in Arizona, true to many’a times we’ve taken a reprieve:

Road tripping and vacationing make me realize how little we want.


We live in a culture of consumerism.  It’s not something I want to be a part of.  And so, with renewed energy, we see our things differently on our return.  We realize that the bulk of our things are non-essentials.  That they are easily replaced or shared or borrowed.  And that sometimes they take more space visually, mentally and resourcefully than they’re worth.  We also realize that our time may not always be managed well, and extra activities also may need to be reconsidered & some purged.  Knowing when to gracefully say “no” is a good thing.

Road trips & vacationing made me realize we always end up sleeping in the same space.


Sure, we visited lots of places that sported beds for all, but still we’d end up squashed together – usually spending the late night dark hours talking about the day.  When camping, we always end up sardines in our rig or tent.  Even in the bus, all four kiddo’s end up crammed on the wee futon to sleep instead of the double bunks when they pull an all-nighter out there.  Every morning at home, for at least a half hour, everyone’s piled in our bed.  It’s time we cherish.  And recognize there is little need for so many mattresses.  It’s a luxury we’ve noted unnecessary but handy from time to time.

Road tripping and vacationing make me realize how very not-real Facebook is.  It also reminded me not to take it too seriously. And that friendship/communication (or lack of it) on it doesn’t count for diddly. 


I have learned to be very comfortably using the “do not follow” button, restrict button, and [less often] the “block” button.  Because folks can pursue me in real life, not glean in a false world without investment.

We’re pretty old school with our phones.  Our family currently shares one non-smart flip phone (one that has better coverage than any of our smart-phone-friends, I might add).  That means that when the kids and I are in town (and Scott’s got the phone at work with him) – or when the family’s on vacation – we don’t really give a rip what’s happening on social networks.  The drama of people’s opinions – and my incessant need to respond just as excitedly – now come out in face-to-face communication.  Our conversations, in turn, tend to be more civil as we practice manners and listening skills.  Our differences (or similarities) are more productive and beneficial to relationship and life.

The adverse affect is that it makes us want to have a little too much “fun” when we get back to posting on social networks.  Because it just isn’t real.  It’s entertainment, at best.

Road tripping and vacationing make me realize I should not be afraid of people.


We are faced with this conundrum daily as we face ‘superiors’ and ‘inferiors’ in our workplace, business, schools, church… heck, even the grocery store – despite knowing what God’s Word says about who we “follow” or to think less of, even subconsciously.  Always comparing.  Our culture defines value based on position, instead of recognizing the wholeness of each individual together in community.  As we walk away from familiar politics and social circles, we are free to be just us together.  In all of our mistakes, our smarts, our stupid, and our yearning-to-grow-ness.  There are fewer expectations and pedestals, and there is a lot more humility, raw reality, and growing on all our parts.  A lot of lovin’.  It fosters an environment of regeneration.  And it’s our natural inclination to bring that home with us, reminding us to pursue that perpetual ideal within our community.

What we need is not “sustainable,” but regenerative. – A Simpler Way

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