Living Small

It’s interesting how with intention comes purpose. Our intention was always just to make this house work for us because, well, honestly, it was all we could afford. Now with California prices for houses, rentals, and condos, thru the roof, we are grateful for this place we call home. Our mortgage is less than any rental would be in this area. Most rentals for 2 bedroom 1 bath run around $2200. That’s a lot of money and with only living on SS, it wouldn’t be possible. We have had the very occasional thought to sell and we could get a decent amount for this place, but we couldn’t buy again with the proceeds and then the rental cost would be very high. This August we will have lived here 27 years so I think that this is it for us.

So with intention, we plan to live here until we die and make this work. That gives us the purpose to make this place ‘aging in place’ friendly. We have a step at the front door which could be changed to a ramp if necessary/ and or a rail for support. The house is just one level except for the stairs in my office /catio area. That couldn’t be changed but I suppose some creative solution could be found or I/ we wouldn’t go down to the office area. We plan to change to a propane “wood stove” in the next few years so there would be no wood burning or for B processing wood. All of these things would simplify things and I think as we age we either can’t do what we once did or we don’t want to. I certainly don’t want Barclay using a chain saw when he’s 80!!!

Living in a small house has forced us to be creative and look at things differently. We’ve had to find creative storage solutions and declutter to make this house function. There are still ideas I have about rearranging things but for now, the way things are arranged works.

Probably the biggest asset for me is the outside space. Living in a small house is fine but if there was no outside space, personally, I would find it hard. I need to have outside space and some expansion around me. The main draw to this property was NOT the house which as I’ve said was in terrible condition but the land was amazing even though it was overgrown and had huge piles of crap EVERYWHERE. Being on top of the hill we have sky 360 degrees around( not views but sky thru the trees.)There were multiple buildings that the ‘old man’ had built for his assayer business and we had to tear these down. There was also the barn. This is not really a ‘cool’ barn but a barn he must have put up in the early 50s for his mining equipment. Barclay and my son have worked hard to make the barn more stable and usable. My son has lots of his tools for art and video production out there and it does give us the storage we don’t have in the house for camping equipment, seasonal stuff,etc. Since we’ve decluttered out there so much we don’t have a lot( us meaning B and I) out there. My son is a bit of a hoarder and does have a lot. I’m okay with that since it’s his stuff and he’s an adult and can make those decisions for himself. Plus he sleeps/works in the Tuff Shed Studio that was our original home school. So that’s cool. He likes to build things and has all kinds of tools to do that.

Living small has:

  • made life simpler
  • helped us focus on what’s important
  • made us be creative with our space
  • allowed(forced) us to accept that the house has limits(no, a baby grand piano DOES NOT FIT!!!!!
  • showed us decluttering non- essentials is ESSENTIAL
  • helped us become minimalists( to some degree)

Is minimalism gone as a trend??

There are quite a few Youtubers doing vlogs about this right now. Has the trend of minimalism died down or is it over? Most agree that it’s not but with a few caveats. During the pandemic with lots of people working from home the decluttering bug really hit many people. Everyone was trying to make their homes more comfortable and enjoyable. Just look at what happened to Ikea’s stock. There are items that I’ve been trying to get for almost 2 years. ( the shoe cabinet).

Trends do come and go and minimalism has definitely been over done by youtubers and bloggers. Yet, having been on this journey almost 10 years now, I think it is an evolving concept. Certainly, I started out needing to create space in my very small house. I shudder to think about the stuff I had jammed into an under 900 sq ft house. Actually our official house square footage with the county is under 700 sq feet. But since we’ve closed in two porches we have added space. Both had concrete patios so we built on that. Still it’s a small house and it was packed. When I started Flylady in 2012 (approx), it was to get a schedule down with homemaking and declutter. But what has emerged is a deeper understanding of what works for me and what I need around me.

Some of this was triggered by relapsing in 2010, 4 years after my transplant. I think I felt out of control and needed to control something so I started with the Flylady zones. Honestly, it was a life saver for me. There’s quite a bit with FL I don’t use or particularly like but the zone cleaning has been a lifesaver and to this day I still do it weekly. Especially, at first, the 15 minute timed sessions. I did this with all the zones until I had cleared out most things.

As all the bloggers and youtubers agreed that minimalism is not just a one way thing. There’s no ‘right ‘way to be a minimalist. My house does not look empty of things but I have only what I use, love or need. And that is always changing. I know there’s more to release, because it is no longer needed/wanted, but, it’s not huge amounts. For instance, I found in the bin under the bed the Beatrix Potter dishes that were both my daughters and sons. They don’t want them( I asked) so off to Cancer Thrift they will go. I checked Ebay and they sell for maybe $20 so not worth selling and when someone finds them in the Cancer Thrift, be excited.

Further minimizing…

So, as you know I’ve been going thru more things and getting rid of more things. Sometimes hidden or just in a box or vintage suitcase in my case. I’ve also sold some Waldorf toys.

First off, a few miscellaneous.

So random things in the Heywood, nobody has used. The two candle holders are Hearth and Home and they were cute but they take a small candle and I generally never have them. The glass is probably my son’s but it hasn’t been used so it’s going. ( update, B said it was his from some trip to LOng beach and he didnt care).The hurricane top was because I bought 2 for when power went out and then I bought a spare top. Who knows when I’ll need that so it’s going. The pyrex is going because I have too many.

The Waldorf things include:

Goose girl, oak tree and pond with bridge.

That kangaroo and baby retail for $40.

Both of these sets I sold for $100. Ostheimer toys are all out of stock everywhere and very desirable. But they only took up room in my Heywood drawer so I’m glad that they are going to a good home with young children.

So what have I discovered? Getting rid of things and clearing any space feels great and opens up that space. Even if it’s only one or two things. I love space more than things.

Minimalism is certainly a journey as is decluttering. I think there is a point where it feels just right but I still have things to get rid of. It’s really layers of things and when I get to the next layer, things I didn’t see before, are more visible and I don’t care about them anymore.

Case in point. I bought an Instant Pot airfryer about 2 years ago, maybe 18 months. We had lots of fun with it the first 6 months and then slowly nobody wanted to get it out and use it. If we had a choice we used our toaster oven, which we love. ( Breville). So I decided to donate it and now it’s in the pile to get dropped off at Goodwill. That opens up that whole area under the Heywood. I don’t have anything in there at the moment and plan to only put something there if it fits and the space works.

The thing about decluttering is just start and then just keep going. Little by little, inch by inch, row by row….

Velcade, Round 6, shot #3.

Done!! 6 months of Velcade. 3 weeks on one week off.

I get labs Friday and then see Dr. L next week. Where it goes, who knows.

Tonight I have leftover vegetarian chili and IP polenta.

Tomorrow is Dex Thursday and I don’t walk. I’ll tidy the house and continue to do this next layer of decluttering. This round is sponsored by Ann Patchett whose New Yorker article really hit home. I’m getting rid of all my Fiesta Ware except the red. I like the red and we use it at Christmas and Valentines day. I plan on giving it all to Cancer Thrift Store not Goodwill. I just feel better giving it to them as the money stays local. Anyway, it’s a lot. The other thing is all my kids Waldorf toys( ok, not all of them:), but quite a bit. If they don’t sell on our local facebook they will go too. We have the Live oak Waldorf school here in Applegate( about 3 miles away). So far no one is interested. It’s interesting to go to another level when I’ve decluttered so much and so much was valuable. navajo rugs, vintage fans, dishes, books etc, antique silver( yes, silver).

But this is what I want:

I want our small home to be a true reflection of minimalism and where we are at this point in our life. Even though what I’m getting rid of was only on 3 different shelves,that’s 3 too many. I’m not interested in making a buck off Fiesta Ware. So what?? It’s nice but that’s it.

What about you??? Are you deciding who you are in your life right now?? And what you have reflects that.!!!

Simple Sunday and Christmas is over.

It was a really nice simple christmas.

Everyone got some nice things. I got my son a Pendleton National Park wool blanket from Goodwill Seattle. It’s the Glacier one that is white with color stripes. Very nice and a fraction of the cost new. He also got a used copy of Easton Press” A Tale of Two Cities”. B got a new Leatherman knife since a few years ago when he went to board a plane he had is quite expensive Leatherman in his pocket and they took it away. My daughter got 2 pairs of pruning shears, an Easton Press Grimm Fairy tales and some other stuff including these made in Japan Sound Collection plates… I discovered these by accident about 2 years ago at Goodwill when I found a bowl and fell in love with it. They are quite hard to find and the only place apart from Japan ,I guess, is Ebay.

I got a lovely sweater, a Kitchen Aid hand mixer( I asked for this), and some great gifts from my son, artisan flour, and a scone mix.

All in all a really nice and somewhat minimalist Christmas. It could have been scaled back even a little more but in the end I think it was perfect.

I made a NYT recipe called the Big Lasagna.

This is just the first page of the recipe, there are 2 more pages if you’re interested you can google it. It actually was huge and must have weighed 5 pounds. Lasagna is always our Christmas dinner. Not sure quite when this started but I remember when we were first married making lasagna since it was vegetarian.

It really was delicious.

I took all the Christmas stuff down and put away. I start to feel it looks a little cluttered up after 3 weeks of decorations. So now it’s all tidy and things put back in place.

I’m cooking up the scone mix this morning. It’s a ginger cranberry and it was a nice mix. I’m thinking scones are a nice easy thing to bake so maybe I’ll do this more often. This mix was from the Vermont Store but King Arthur has some lovely ones to choose from.

Our walk was lovely at 6:10am this morning. Still dark, but by 7am we’re getting a nice light and the park is all frosty.( well, it’s frosty before that but then we can see it!).

If you follow FL, we’re in the Living room zone. That was one reason I wanted to put Christmas stuff away. I’ll wash the inside windows and dust everything.

Well, this is the week I go to Sacramento to meet with my oncologist. My first question is going to be” when can I get the Covid vaccine? the second will be when do we start treatment.” ūüė¶ Really, I’d rather start than have myeloma cells multiplying and then risking fractures or worse.

A few more random thoughts on creating a minimalist home space.

I was still thinking about this yesterday, as we drove up to Tahoe! It was stunning up there and I shall post a blog about it tomorrow.

Keeping as many surfaces clear off things is essential. I keep my kitchen counters mostly clear. I have a toaster oven, a Britta water pitcher, and my kitchen aid mixer(in the corner) and that’s it. I work at it all day to clean up after I cook or do anything so it remains clear. If I put things on a side table, I limit it to 1-3 things. Such as on the side small dresser in the living room, I only keep the mini google play and lamp on it. In the bedroom, I keep the dresser clear except for a candle or infuser. Of course, there are times I use the dresser as a landing for things( like right now, I have mylar bags of flour) until I move them to their future location. Usually, I keep the dining room table clear except for my beeswax tapers, but right now I have fall items there too. A jar of fall flowers from the garden, some acorns, and the small pumpkins from the garden.

It’s absolutely true, that clutter attracts clutter. It’s a slippery slope of putting one thing on a counter and pretty soon there’s a pile:(

Have a designated place for everything. Also, know where you put things and as I like to say” where they live”. For instance, we have one drawer for batteries. That’s where they live. The same is true for dishes, pots, utensils, etc. It does make your life way simpler than trying to remember where you put something.

Keep like with like. It goes without saying, it just makes life easier to keep things that are similar together. I keep my office stuff( envelopes, pens, post-its, etc) all in one drawer.

Keep pictures on the walls to a minimum or designate one wall for art. Again, too much visual clutter is distracting. In my office room, I have one wall with our most colorful art. A Bob Dylan poster by Glasner, framed Grateful dead records, my favorite Star Trek Poster, and our Woodstock Life magazines. In other rooms, I try not to have a lot of art on the walls. When I did Feng Shui, one thing to always look at in art/wall items, is what message is it sending? Is it a weird picture of ancient relatives, art that is disturbing? It’s things like that to keep in mind. I remember one time doing a consultation with a woman who had very large framed photos of “old” relatives( like from the late 1800″s and early 1900s, all down her hall. It was very scary having those eyes watching every time she walked down her hall. I don’t think she ever took my recommendation, to take them down.

Finally, if you live in a small house, keep yours walls painted the same color( I use Benjamin Moore’s Simple White) to create a homogenous flow from room to room. It really does make a difference, as I can attest too. The onlyroom that is different is my daughters which is lovely light sage green( very wabi- sabi) and the bathroom which is a very pale grey blue, also very wabi sabi.

Everyone’s journey is different. The reasons you want to declutter and have a more minimalist home are different from mine. But do try is create a more simple clutter free space to enjoy, you will be happier for it.

A certain feeling…

I’ve been working on letting go of even more things that are just not essential.

When I was in Sacramento for those 2 1/2 almost 3 weeks, I had only what was most important and essential. There was the Mr. Coffee I bought for the RV, 2 cups, a sharp knife from Ikea, and a few other things.

I’m a sensory/visual person which is why I’m so attracted to minimalism. I get anxiety if there is too much stuff around me or on shelves. So down at the RV, visually it was very simple and undecorated.

And I had a FEELING about it. It was something I could tell was a subtle elusive thing. When I got home, with everything going on, it took a few weeks to get back to routines. Then I had that elusive feeling pop up. It was very fleeting and then I stopped and really examined what I was feeling.

It was to have around you only those things you love or use.

Some things Minimalism has taught me

A little departure from Fugal/Five things Friday. Although I may do a separate post on that.

But I was making the bed when it struck me how by becoming more minimalist what it has taught me about myself.

  • I know that lots of visual busyness makes me anxious and I need mostly monotones.
  • I know I need white space around me to function better. Since our house is very small there aren’t a lot of open places, but there are a few where I just have a plant.
  • From even in my 30’s I knew not to ever over schedule or I felt out of control. Even when my children were in school I didn’t over schedule play dates, activities, etc.
  • As I’ve decluttered, my house works well for us even though it is quite small.
  • For the most part, I know where everything is or where to find it although on occasion I can’t quite remember where I put something. ( I’m looking at you brown envelopes I can’t find)….oops, just found them right where they should be…Ha ha…
  • I need a decluttered space with clear surfaces
  • I do need a structure(like Flylady) to focus on what the daily chores need to be.
  • I function way better without decision fatigue which is why I have a very specific wardrobe and a very limited one. I don’t want to worry about what to wear. I don’t own a dress, skirt or anything dressy.
  • Over the years, since discovering less is more, I feel more joy and contentment. Plus since I ‘ve never like to shop it made it easier.

well, as you can see, minimalism really helps to define or really refine who you are.

Decorating with houseplants, ‚Äčminimalist style.

I didn’t¬†even have a houseplant a few years ago. ¬†Then after watching some You -tubers on minimalism and their flats or apartments decorated with greenery, I was sold. ¬†I added a few here and there and now, well, they’re all over and I love the varying shades of green. ¬†I also saw that a lot of these same people used white or muted pots because the pot blends in with the surroundings and the plants stand out. Wow, this is so cool and totally true.

But finding whitish pots is actually not easy. ¬†Home Depot doesn’t have one except¬†for this white bamboo one, which is the one I’ve bought the most of.

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This spider plant was quite root bound and loves its new pot( it told me so)! I’ll have to see if it likes this spot.

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This Boston fern likes where it is.

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I moved this spider plant a while ago as it wasn’t happy where it was and now it is VERY happy!!

IMG_1407.jpgThis is in my office/dog area. It’s the new plant ladder B built and all the plants love it .

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This is in my office area too near the french doors that go out to the sun room. Sounds fancy, but really it hippy built and loved and a little wonky, but I love French doors( we got these free years and years ago when the newspapers( laugh at that one) listed for free items. This is pre-Craigs list!!!

I am loving having house plants again after years of not and I think they really add to the color in a room plus personality.

When there’s no knick-knacks or other clutter ,plants act as decor for the minimalist. I do have some things around such as 3 vintage clocks that I love, and I have one Roseville piece that is the Zephyr¬†Lily which I’d love to collect as Zephyr is my son’s name. But you don’t see Roseville Pottery around thrift stores much so…

 

The journey of minimalism!

My daughter found this picture on one of her CDs and I was honestly like ” WHAAAATTTT”!!

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The cats are cute, and the Waldorf stuffs ok but the rest?? What in the world was I thinking or better yet, NOT thinking of?

The cats,, Ollie and Finwe, are just maybe a year old or less so this would be maybe 2005??? I was diagnosed in June 2005, so I know nothing minimalist¬†wasn’t happening then or even 2006 after my Stem Cell Transplant. My recollection is that it was when I relapsed in 2010. It gained speed and momentum by 2012.

I think it was at that point I started feeling closed in and all the clutter was too much. Except for the 2 cats, all that was gotten rid of. Even all the Waldorf play silks. I gave them to some Waldorf family. The desk is gone, and the TV under the silk. I use the wishbone chair as my office chair. It’s a Heywood Wakefield.

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Here’s what it looks like today. You can see my¬†Pinecone ware, a few Catherine Holm pieces. Both, of which if I found reasonably priced today, I would buy.IMG_0480.JPG

This is one of new ‘friends’. It’s just the sweetest fern. Keeping with a minimalist style I ‘m trying to add plants as the decor. ¬†I just love this little plant. I’m not sure if it’ll be happy there as there is not a lot of indirect light.

So one of my¬†strongest suggestions is to take photos of your spaces. I’m truly amazed how I see it differently if I take a photo.

Another is to really remove tchotchkes. ¬†You really don’t need every shelf¬†filled to the brim with useless crap. What I try to do is keep most shelves only half full. In our one teak bookcase that holds our Easton press, there are 3 shelves that are full, no spaces. But as a rule, I try and actually keep one empty shelf.

Another thing that helped so much was getting over ” well, I paid a lot¬†for that Waldorf silk or that Waldorf doll”. It’s past its usefulness. LET IT GO!! ¬†I gave away lots of quite valuable things to friends¬†and thrift shops. Sterling silver, vintage cloths, vintage toys, and so much that I just didn’t have space for and I didn’t want stuffed in bins. ¬†I can’t even remember the number of van loads I took to thrift stores. But it is and was so freeing.

Your space is meant to be calm and healing. With excess furniture, things, dishes ( my weakness), you just can’t find that balance.

I recently redid where I was keeping DVDs that we still want but don’t watch but once a year. The original Star Trek Series, Next Generation, Narnia, Forsythe Saga, and more. ¬†I put the Star Trek in a small bin and put in the laundry room on a shelf. Then the others I removed from¬†2 drawers and repacked into 2 cute little crates I found at the Goodwill. They’re in a cabinet in the Heywood.

Right now one of my projects is working on photos. I’ve thrown away tons of repeats and just fuzzy or boring ones. But we still have a lot of our younger years that I’d like to get organized. That will take a while. I have scanned some but that really takes time.

One more thing, just start somewhere, then just keep going. It will and does get easier. Plus things are easier to clean and tidying up goes so much quicker.

 

Addendum:

 

So my daughter checked the date and it was Nov/Dec 2013.

This was the worst time in my life( up to that point) as this was when I had the compression fracture which was caused by the myeloma. It was misdiagnosed and then discovered 1 1/2 years later. So that happened around Thanksgiving of 2003. The reason at least superficially was that I had been lifting boxes. You see, I had just been to my first big estate sale and bought an almost complete collection of Life magazines. It was 40 boxes weighing at least 50 lbs a piece. ¬†So I lugged them to my van , then to the barn, then to the studio. It was the next day was when I felt a pop. But it wasn’t till the next morning when I literally couldn’t get up. Why do you ask did I not go to the Er. That’s a good question but answerable. We never hardly ever went to doctors. We used herbs, natural remedies, blah, blah blah. So, when I did go to the NP and she said it was just a sprain, I should have been more proactive. ¬†Hindsight is 20/20.

So that’s the back story….