Decluttering and making a house a home: a family effort!

It is a blessing to have someone on your life who loves you enough to kindly tell you how you could do better…some one who loves you enough–as you already are–to help you grow even better. My big stepsister Dymphny is like that. Totally accepting, yet boldly courageous in proclaiming the truth with love.

She flew down to help me reorganize my home, because we have been fortunate enough to be able to rent the suite below us, and now have the whole house! Instead of 3 bedrooms for 9 people, we have 5 and a den, besides an extra little kitchen and bathroom. One of the most exciting parts is the large living room, which will be our new homeschool room, instead of the tiny, narrow dining room we’ve used for school till now.

Things have been rather quiet on my blog because they’ve been so packed here! The kids and I, with some help from Grandpa, my brother and my lovely landlord Joe, repainted the downstairs…transforming the pale, depressing, hospital-gown green suite into cute Bubblegum Pink bedrooms, a Thai Teal bedroom, and a English Daisy yellow schoolroom! 🙂

Everybody helped…

It was quite the fun project…home renovation and interior decorating 101! My 12 year daughter became an overnight IKEA expert and made a massive list of everything we needed to make our new space beautiful. Since I never usually buy many new things for our home, the list was huge, and we had a rather epic expedition involving a 5 hour shop and a U-Haul. Happily my sister and brother were there to help!

Of course my productivity manager came along as well…

We survived!! IKEA soft ice cream was a definite must in our way out the door.

But besides buying new things to make our space lovely…we had an even more important job to do: purging everything unnecessary, ugly, extra, etc, that was currently making our home cluttered, chaotic and well, rather resembling a ramshackle thrift store instead of a beautiful, intentional space. No more!

My daughter’s new bedroom

This is where having a loving big sister with an objective eye for crap came in so handy. She wasn’t going to let me hang on to anything that didn’t make my life better. Rather, she helped me dig out the precious things hiding under the clutter so I can display and enjoy them instead of having them tucked away and forgotten, like the fancy tea pot I bought for my birthday on my last IKEA trip last Advent…and still haven’t used, less than a month till my next birthday!

It’s a gift to have someone affirm that you’re better than some kind of recycling bin, and that you don’t need to hold on to everything that comes your way. Sometimes when trying to sort stuff alone it’s hard to cut the invisible strings of guilt that make you keep stuff for “one day” or because it’s from “so and so”…or because getting rid of stuff feels wasteful.

Sorting books

The minimalist mom Allie Casazza says that whatever takes up your space, takes up your time. You don’t need to lose time shuffling around odds and ends you don’t need. I’ve done this for years. And what’s really wasteful is harming your relationships because of unnecessary stress….not being able to find things, arriving late, not wanting to have people over because of mess, etc.

It’s so freeing to let go. Chuck those old shampoo bottles and extra creams into the recycling. Take pictures of all those kids drawings and then let them go. Let someone else enjoy those books and clothes you don’t need. Live with a lighter heart and be able to find things. A clear beautiful space is so calming. A study quoted on a Gretchen Rubin’s podcast Happier found that women’s cortisol levels, indicative of stress, were directly related to the amount of clutter in her home. No wonder I’ve been on edge!

I was so grateful to have Big Brothers to pick up our porch full of donations, and Half Price Rubbish Removal to come the next day. Seeing what we don’t need has opened our eyes to see how we could enjoy our home even better. Having space to do so more peacefully and enjoying the presence of family, including our IKEA expert building expert Opa, has been the best gift so far this season!

Earthbound

Tonight my Dad and I were having
one of those great philosophical conversations
over dinner, salad dressing with fresh garlic
and ideas full of flavour
We talked about Pope Francis’ words
about the earth our sister, our mother, our home

Dad remembered the story of the first astronaut
who spent 4 hours out in space
two circles around the earth
and came home sick and depressed 
away from the earth’s heartbeat
the electromagnetic pulse all we require to stay alive
Now spacesuits have this little beat built in
the heart of our home
pulsing close to her children in space

As for me, I have no desire to see
the outside of my mother’s womb
the shining blue roundness of the earth
gleaming against the blackness of space

I am happy to be a child of the earth
bare feet on the dirt
toes in the grass
A humble creature made of dust
and living among the flowers

I know, without seeing the stars up close
that I’ve got a spark of that eternal fire within me
My soul travels to realms afar
within the confines of this blue egg
this delicate haven of life
in the blackness

I have no desire to leave my mother’s house
until I travel to see my Father
A journey without fear
a coming home from home
a further blossoming
into Life.

  

Cuddle-Up Crisp

There’s something special about cuddling-up together on a cold winter evening to share some warm comfort food and maybe watch a favorite show or movie. It just makes all the ‘owies’ of the day melt away…can you tell I spend most of my time with small children? 😉

A hard day at work, a stressful meeting or deadline, or a rough day at school, can all be soothed by the simple, loving act of baking a special treat to share with your husband, child, best friend, or even yourself, with a cup of hot chocolate and a book for company. The smell of warm cinnamon does wonders for the ruffled soul. Somehow it says, “I’m home, and all is well with the world.”

But perhaps you say:
“I don’t feel like baking at the end of a rough day. Are you nuts?”
“Yes, of course; this is Crazyland remember?”

But it is precisely doing this loving thing, while not feeling like it, but to bring joy to the one you love, that makes a noble, romantic thing out of throwing together some flour, sugar, butter and cinnamon on top of berries and sticking them in the oven.

Having said all that, maximum effect with minimum effort is helpful when you’re sleepy, so here’s a super easy recipe for blueberry crisp that’s a sure winner of any husband’s heart. It was the first dessert the author of The Kitchen Confidant made for hers! Happy cuddling!

http://kitchenconfidante.com/the-scent-of-cinnamon-and-blueberries

The only change I’ve made is to drizzle a little lemon on the blueberries, when mixing them with flour and sugar, and to use raw sugar, which gives a nice little crunch. Simple and sweet!

20131213-220153.jpg