Category Archives: Enough Time

Middle Son Decluttering Project

I have informed my children of my plans to sell the house this summer. They are in agreement, no one seems too sad about it. Middle son plans to be overseas this summer when the house selling occurs. Because I do not want to have more work than absolutely necessary, I asked him to go through his boxes of stuff, to make sure I did not move twice something that he was just going to get rid of once it made it to it’s final destination. Hoo Boy! What a great idea that was. He and I spent 5 hours, going through his stuff. Here are the items he wanted to go to Goodwill:

2015-12-22 15.25.51

And here’s what he wanted to keep:

2015-12-27 08.17.34.jpg

You can’t see it in the photo, but the boxes are all labeled with his name, making the move easier.

Simplifying Christmas

Simple decoration

Simple decoration

Whoo Boy! For those of us in the cultural extravaganza of December in the United States, there is an overwhelming mish-mash of marketing, family sentimentality, religious holiday, social obligations, marketing, career obligations, style points, cultural obligations and oh, yeah…marketing.

Whatever stories you are telling yourself right this minute, this second day of December….I just want to point out that you can’t do it all. Not only can you not do it all….it is not desirable to even try.

If your family or work culture mandates that you celebrate with them, you have options beyond a vacation in a non-Christian country during the last month of the Roman year.

Here is your mandate: spend a quiet afternoon all by yourself (coffee shops and book stores count, when you need to get away from obligations) and reflect on what, if any, part of the holiday/cultural extravaganza you value. Write it down. This is the only part you have to participate in. Really!

Over the years, I have valued and opted out of different parts of the celebration.

  1. I have attended Christmas church services with my family.  This year I will work for hospice.
  2. I have spent $$ and time creating the perfect Christmas tree, visible from my living room and the street, via a window. I do not now.
  3. I did Secret Santa with my co-workers. I do not now.
  4. Travel through blizzard conditions for four hours to be with biological family who insulted my life choices. Won’t do that again. Ever.
  5. Purchased, addressed, mailed Christmas cards to 300+ friends and relatives when I had 2 children under the age of 2 and was so sleep deprived, that 5 of the cards came back with wrong/insufficient addresses.

Here is h0w I celebrate now:

1) Often, I work Christmas day. This allows my co-workers with small children to spend this precious time with their families.

2)  My one and only Christmas decoration this year is this wreath on my front door. $18.00 and compostable after the holiday.

3) I do love to shower my children with gifts. But I buy one generic paper wrap (any/all occasion–not birthday, not Christmas, not Valentine’s Day) and I use it till it is gone, then I buy another generic wrap. Other years, I have used the comic section of the newspaper as wrap and also, the paper grocery sacks from the store. When they had logos printed on the outside, I turned them inside out.

4) I shop all year long/ And I re-gift. If I find something that I think would be a great gift for a loved one in February or July…I nab it and put it into my secret storage site. I keep track of how much I spend on each child because….

5) I set a dollar amount that I will spend on each person that I plan to give a gift to. When the kids were very young, it was not a dollar amount, but number of gifts. That was how they counted back then, and I did not want anyone to feel slighted or less loved because of the presents. Now they are older, and a bit more sophisticated. So I set a dollar limit for each person and when I have spent that amount, I stop buying gifts for that person. Sometimes a small re-gift will fall into my lap. I do not tend to count them in the dollar amount. I might if it was something spectacular.

So what do you do to manage the excess of the season?


Perhaps you have heard the adage that home construction takes twice as much time and 30% more money that the original estimate. It has been true for this house remodel I am doing.

I haven’t started on the upstairs bathroom yet because I’m still working on the dining room and I don’t want to spread myself to thin. The dining room is almost done. I’m just waiting for the second half of the new chairs. There was a shipping error.

In the meantime, I am keeping myself busy with two other tasks particular to November: the leaf raking and Christmas.

In my town, we have free yard waste pick-up in the month of November, and my neighborhood has many large deciduous trees. I usually devote 2-3 days to the task.

As for Christmas, over the years, I have winnowed the crazy cultural frenzy that goes on here to just the parts that I love and have meaning to me. (I’ll write on the topic a little later.) One of the aspects of Christmas I love, is getting gifts for my kids.

My eldest son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter are coming here for Thanksgiving and will travel to her family for the Christmas holiday. I will send their gifts home with them when they come later this month to save the shipping fees.

Wrapped and ready to go.

Wrapped and ready to go.


My glass carafe broke. This is a poor woman's Keurig.

My glass carafe broke. This is a frugal woman’s Keurig.

Last week, when I ended my workday Friday, I had logged in 48 hours in 4 days work. I was tired and stressed and overwhelmed. Partly because work has been so busy, but also because I haven’t had time to rest and just seem to be getting further behind.

I’ve been spending time with friends, taking my mom (who lives 2 hours away) to the doctor, dealing with the surly teen in the basement, trying to write a novel,  designing my travel trailer, fixing up the house, working to improve my fitness level and trying to keep up with the budget I set to pay for college. Did I mention that I have been feeling stressed and overwhelmed?

This week, I am on vacation to rest and get caught up. (Hmm….do those seem like opposed goals?) But something magical has happened. As I was doing the chores and home improvement projects that needed to get done, I realized that the main reason I’m feeling so stressed is a lack of focus. I’m trying to do too many things….and the perfectionist in me doesn’t like it if I don’t do things to a certain standard.

My most important goal for this year and the next is to pay for college for two students. I don’t make enough money at work to pay for this outright. I have been using my savings, but I can see that it will not get me to the finish line. So, I have given myself the goal of having my house ready to sell for maximum profit by May or June of 2016.

As soon as I set this intention, ideas about how to make it happen began bubbling up in my brain. The financial guru Dave Ramsey calls this kind of focus “gazelle intensity,” describing the energy that a gazelle has in outrunning a predator. Mr. Money Mustache (financial guru and bicycle advocate) calls this focus a “your hair is on fire” emergency. I certainly have been feeling the stress level of being chased by a predator or having my hair on fire. Now I have a plan for a way out.

I’ll take photos for you all as I move through the house projects.

An Abundance of Abundance

We humans tend to measure things by what is nearby. If my neighbors have homes bigger than mine….then mine must be small. Even if people in this location lived 5-10 humans to a room the size of my living room 100 years ago, or do so to this day, in another country.

My middle son says in high school his personality was label “Smart.” Even though, as he points out, “smart” is not a personality characteristic. Now, he goes to a college where most everybody is smart, an he says you can really see the flavors of personality that can be manifest in smart humans.

What I see in my own life (and those in my immediate surroundings) are people living lives rich and overflowing in abundance…but still focused on some small lack. I give you a few examples from this week. I would love it if you would add your own in the comments.

~ I am buying mostly raw ingredients, few carbs and eating only when I am hungry. I thought this would reduce my waist size as well as my grocery bill. So far only the grocery bill is affected. Still too much food.

~A co-worker, who paid for a vacation with the money from her recycled cans (Yeah! Recycling!) But still laments that there is not enough money. She drinks about 12 sodas per week. I calculate that 32 cans=1 pound = 0.50 cents. A 12 pack of Diet Coke is about $3.00. I figure she would save $2.50 just in money (not to mention time and health benefits) each week to forgo this habit. That’s $130 per year. I do not know how long she saved to pay for her vacation.

aluminum money

aluminum money

~ I recently met a woman (fairly organized) who kept her clothing in 18 gallon plastic tubs. She had them labeled, stacked, in her bedroom. There were twenty such tubs in her bedroom and about that many in the dining room. Some of the boxes had not been opened in a decade.

~Another person, I have known for decades reports that “small spaces make me claustrophobic.” She lives in a dwelling with 4,800 square feet. She mostly occupies two rooms with a footprint of 300 square feet. She assures me that to move to a smaller space would be difficult and traumatic for her.

~Another person, who requires public assistance for food and medications has 3 cats, 2 dogs and a pig in a cage (a pet–not planning on eating it, which would be more rational.) I wonder, does she need to give back?

~ Another person, spends more than $1,000 per month on eating out at restaurants. This person has many anxieties about money. Hmmmmm.

~Another person, has a home in this state. A home in a different state. A mobile home (RV), a boat, a golf cart, four cars for 2 people….one of which does not drive anymore.

All of the above persons are entitled to their different entertainments, their diversions…..up to the moment that they complain to me that they do not have enough time or money or….for what they want to spend their time on. But with all this abundance, or excess… do we find balance?

Revisiting the To Do List

About a year ago, I posted about living life without a To-Do list. I want to let you all know how I have done with the only New Year’s Resolution I gave myself this past year. I’d say about a C+. I have had a list some weeks. The list was probably needed because those weeks were busy enough I would have forgotten things otherwise. And I have created this mental To-Do list of thing to fix around the house before next summer. But–I am living the month of December without a list, and have given myself permission to not start the next home project (painting my daughter’s room) until she goes back to school after winter break. What this has meant for the month so far is more naps on the couch and books being read and a much more patient countenance. I am feeling smugly satisfied. satisfied cat

Minimalist Christmas Decorations

One of my co-workers was telling us about the seven [!!!] themed Christmas trees that she puts up each year. She reports that it takes her two weeks to get them all up and three weeks, after the holidays, to get them all taken down and put away. Yikes! I can think of so many, many things I would rather do with that time.

I do decorate. I put up the stockings.

Same stockings we have used for years.

Same stockings we have used for years.

And a fresh wreath on the front door.

Compostable too!

Compostable too!

It took me one minute, fifteen seconds, [middle son timed me] and cost $15.

My kind of holiday cheer.

Cleaning Routines


What follows is a not-all-inclusive list of things I clean and how often I clean them.

Daily or more often: dishes, kitchen counters, cat’s litter box

Couple times per week: laundry

Weekly: sweep floors [mind you when my kids were toddlers, I mopped the kitchen floor daily] clean toilets, clean shower/tub, wash towels

Couple times per month: mop floors, dust, clean the cat hair off the sofa, clean the gunk off the stove

Couple times per year: clean windows

Yearly: clean gutters, wash curtains in basement, clean oven [I don’t roast a lot of meat-it doesn’t get that dirty]

Minimalist at Nursing School

nursing shoes older than me

nursing shoes older than me

Reader Erin asks if minimalism would help while trying to go to nursing school while raising toddlers.

Well ……….Yeah!

As you already know, minimalism helps everything.

When I was in nursing school, I had only one child and I lived in a town far away from family. So I did not have the usual resource of relatives to help. Even my son’s father lived in a different town.

We rented a studio apartment near campus. We shared a fold-out couch for the first couple years, and later someone gave us a toddler bed. There was a table and three chairs, so we could even have company for dinner. The space was small, so it didn’t take much time to clean it. I had a set of four plate and bowls, so it was impossible for the kitchen to overrun with dirty dishes.

My son had eight outfits, and I did the laundry at a laundry-mat weekly. I had two pair of jeans, a week’s worth of tops and the all-white student nursing outfit.

The first two years, we didn’t have a car and we walked where we needed to go. I had a red Radio Flyer wagon that transported groceries and laundry. I typed papers on free typewriters available at the school.

I was able to get work on campus, both as an English tutor and as a model for the art department, so I scheduled work in between classes. Any free time during the day, I studied.

I took my son to day-care in the morning, walked to school/work, picked him up around 5pm and then we would have dinner and play and read books. After my son went to sleep, I would study for 2-3 hours before going to bed.

I didn’t date, I only went shopping when we needed something and my entire focus was on providing the things my son needed and school.

I had a friend with a son abut the same age as mine, and once a month or so, we would go to Chuck E. Cheese and nurse a beer for a couple hours while the boys played.

It was tough at times, but it has allowed the rich and abundant life I now enjoy…so very much worth it.

Listening to My Body


As a single mom, it has been a struggle to take care of my little ones and myself. For years I ignored my tiredness and just pushed through. This summer, it has kind of caught up with me and I have been dealing with a pervasive fatigue. Not to worry, I ‘m not sick, just finally listening to my body.

This is a new skill for me, and I get it right only about half the time. I started two projects this summer that I eventually bowed out of.

Many years ago, when I was a quilter, I vowed that I would not buy any more material until I had used what I already had. This is the same kind of thinking. Don’t take on anything new, until I have finished what is already in the house.

So, I am resting and taking vitamins.