Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Nature is the best gift.

Found this in a funny blog called passive aggressive notes.

It is a post about an eight year old girl who wrote a note to her dad who kept putting her off from going to the beach because he was watching a game on television.
When I was lucky enough to stay home with my kids, we often went outside to "mess up nature" by walking trails,  building forts out of sticks, and collecting rain water.  I imagine if one lived in a small house, more time would be spent outside.
During the holidays we are going to cross country ski to Glacier Hut in the Yosemite National park. Nature has never let me down and I have yet to get a letter from my kids warning me of burnt feelings.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Are there downsides to downsizing?

Downsides to downsizing
It is always good to get a dose of reality or a different perspective to what seems like a simple life. This article was in The Journal Report today. The title, "Everybody Says You Should Downsize.  Everybody May Be Wrong". I am going to include the things my husband highlighted in the article. 

Downsizers dominate.
"Dominated by "the many baby boomers who delayed retirement during the recession," prospective downsizers exceed would-be "upsizers" by nearly 3 to 1, says Louise Keely, chief research officer at the Demand Institute."

Mine is all documented..including the squeaky bread machine.
"Marcia Ramsland, a professional organizer and author in San Diego, suggests taking pictures of a home before dismantling it. "You save the memories and don't have to save all the stuff," she says."

He gets half the space.
"In recent years, new breeds of professionals have sprung up to help people declutter, organize and move their possessions. Among their recommendations: sort your belongings a little at a time so you don't get overwhelmed; don't make judgments about what your spouse should or should not keep; and take only what fits your current lifestyle"

Your talking to someone who sold their dining room table.
"Among homeowners age 60-plus, 60% recently told researchers from the University of Michigan's Health and Retirement Study that they have "more things than they need," according to David Ekerdt, director of the Gerontology Center at the University of Kansas, who crunched the numbers. Three-quarters said the sheer volume of their possessions has made them "somewhat" or "very" reluctant to move."

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Clutter Enablers

This week I have found two forms of clutter enablers. My definition of enabling is someTHING that aids in my self-destructive behavior by providing excuses.

Haven't we all bought organizers to put our stuff in? I believed if there was a system, then the clutter automatically had a purpose. Don't even get me started on plastic storage bins. Below is a IKEA sweater holder and magazine rack, a shoe organizer and a CD stand. I threw in the butterfly wings and holiday hat for color. I am now NOT one of those people who own something with the tag still on.

This clutter enabler invaded our life because it is funny.  I bet a frustrated engineer created it in his basement after years of doing spreadsheets. Here it is for you to enjoy and then it is time to say goodbye.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Closet SPACE

Not considering the keyboard, two aucoustic guitars, electric guitar, piano, flute, clarinet, bag pipes, accordion, harmonica, and drum set... (thank goodness we got rid of the organ), I would nominate my sons for my minimalist club.  Other than the things at college or in their suitcases, both of them have successfully contained the majority of their belongings into one closet each. 

During Thanksgiving break, one proceeded to weed things out. The next morning there were piles and piles of donations in the hallway and when I went into his room and opened his closet, this is what remained.
Empty closet with a few items
The water bottle that traveled along with him on his couchsurfing adventure bike ride from Mpls to Chicago.
89.3 the current metal water bottle

A hat a friend had left at our house that my son adopted.
It was worn hiking to the bottom of the grand canyon and back, during our last family vacation.

The denim pants leg was a gift I made for him years ago.
For the elementary school spelling bee I  reminded my son to wear anything EXCEPT the jeans with the huge hole in the front.  When they called his name I shrunk with embarrassment as the shark bite hole was on display for every one in school to see.  He was eliminated from the competition for the word "defeat". When he arrived home that day I grabbed a scissors and chopped off the pant leg and had a saying embroidered on it for his Christmas gift. "You learn more from defeat than victory."
you learn more from defeat than victory

Finally the green robe. This article of clothing was well worn by the time my son was ready to head off to college three years ago. When asked if he wanted a new one, he said no and asked if I had any material to add on the bottom.  I suggested a lego towel he won as a child. Periodically it would arrive home  with serious gashes down the back in need of repairs.
Green terry cloth robe
The robe, along with a pair of sports goggles he wore for 8th grade basketball are now going to be part of his new DJ outfit.  As much as I want to give him credit for this original thought, I can't help think that DEVO may have entered his subconscious.

Devo with plastic glasses

What has taken me years to go through, he was able to accomplish overnite.
If I come to the end of this journey with a handful of meaningful items as my son, I would be so lucky.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

It's a Wonderful Life

It's a wonder life quote of "All you can take with you is that which you've given away

On the wall underneath the photo of George Bailey's father was a sign that read:

All you can take with you is that which you've given away.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Collect moments not things

collect moments not things

Ethnoteck is a company that makes cool bags. I saw this image on Facebook. Nice message, but maybe not for a company selling "things".

Monday, November 26, 2012

Rule of Reciprocation

I was fascinated this morning as I listened to a report on NPR about the "rule of reciprocation". The story starts out with Phillip Kunz who randomly picked out 600 names from a directory to send Christmas cards to. His experiment was to discover how many felt the need to reciprocate with a card, even though they were strangers. He received over 200 cards!

The report also talked about address labels that charities mail and how that doubles the response of donations. This address label sculpture was done at the Minnesota State Fair two years back by Mary Zubrzycki. I wonder if she donated any money.
Mary Zubrzycki address label art a Minnesota State Fair

Mary Zubrzycki address label art a Minnesota State Fair
Mary Zubrzycki address label art a Minnesota State Fair
 Just last week this HUGE calculator arrived on our doorstep from the Children's Cancer Research Fund with a huge printed padded envelope and a request for a donation inside it. The monsterous calculator didn't even work.

Children's cancer research fund pro bono calculator

I need to stay vigilant to what keeps arriving at our door each day uninvited. That includes you too, you wasteful and archaic yellow pages...
archaic yellow pages
...and the magnet attached to the cover that won't stick to any modern chrome refrigerator.
magnet for plumber

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Hotel or Rocket Ship?

This is a good message to reflect on for the eve of Black Friday.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Diaries of a teenager

I've always been a big fan of keeping a journal, maybe that is why blogging come naturally. I accumulated notebook after notebook from big adventures to the shopping mall to the awkward high school years. They are just plum full of painful pages of a shy girl. I went through the majority of them and pulled out bits of clippings or photos that I could share with the original owners.  Right then my teenage daughter walked into the room and I told her she could sit in front of me and read anything she wanted. Shrieks of laughter flowed from her. She doesn't know about a time before facebook and texting when one wrote letters and had to TALK on the phone. As she is in her first relationship, I complimented how mature and proud I am of her...... I mean she can actually talk to boys.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Am I a "zipster"?

Zip out of the bored room everyone, there is a service called "zipcar".  For a monthly fee you can use a car anywhere in the world, from a zipvans to bmws. The reservation comes with 180 miles, gas and insurance included. In Minnesota, there is a branch out of the University of Minnesota.

What intrigued me was a story someone told about a neighborhood having one car they all share like a company car. I've always thought neighborhoods should have some type of swap system. Have a computer system to track where the three lawnmowers and two snowblowers are and everyone pays into a community fund to share them. I am idealistic. What if someone destroys three lawnmowers by going over a rock bed? As much as I am excited about this zipcar service, I wonder what is the difference between this service and just renting a car?

We own three cars. There, I said it.
One car has 200,000 miles that my daughter drives to school. One is the Honda my husband drives to work and has the better gas milage and lastly there is the family mini-van that sits in out garage for when we need to go to the cabin or move out kids to and from college. I know we could live with two cars. The van is the least used and least utilized. Could we exist in the suburbs without a van? Stay tuned.....

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dirty weather and how if effects "things"

While I toss out the dining room table, and continue to eliminate things in my path, guilt sets in as the dumpster is offered up each week. I contemplate our underground sprinklers and using so many resources to heat and cool our large house. 

The following  30 minute video hit a chord with me as a designer from doing something meaningful to making a difference in the world. The guest Larry Olson is working on branding climate reality to make it "cool" to the younger generation. If you can get past the ten minute introduction chat, then the conversation gets more interesting.

This downsizing process is not just about attaining an economically smart existence, but also a holistic lifestyle.

Video streaming by Ustream

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

John Lennon and Gary Larson had a vision

John Lennon quote for peace
For many years our family did not own a T.V. We traveled around the world with no access to English stations or our accommodations didn't provide one. When we returned home to the U.S, we had no desire to rush out and buy one for many years. My kids benefited from that period of time resorting to creative activities such as reading books and playing outside. The 1998 Olympics compelled us to buy our first television.

This cartoon still hangs on our fridge.
Gary Larson comic about no television
Today I look at my digital T.V and find it hard to re-consider that lifestyle. I certainly know how to live without one and we rarely watch anything on it. Part of me wonders if there will be missed opportunities for the family to gather.  I think about tossing it a lot...but I just think about it.

I would much rather have this on the wall so we could play Wheel of Fortune.
life size scrabble letters on wall

Friday, November 9, 2012

Bread maker gone bad

Here is my bread maker that has been making wonderful loaves for over 20 years, 
including a loaf today.

bread inside bread maker

Here is why I am tossing the bread maker today.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Philip Giordano

Illustrator Philip Giordano created this for a picture book called, "Big Wave" by Davide Cali.

To me the hand is all the stuff holding me back from that lovely house.
Follow the yellow light....

See more of Philip Giordano beautiful illustrations here.

Philip Giordano illustration of big hand looming over small house

Monday, November 5, 2012

A series of fortunate events

Halloween started a whole series of events. My son got rid of his terry cloth robe, 
which gave me the idea that our family could dress like Olympic swimmers.
White terry cloth robes
I then found the medal I won in high school at a track meet. It was rare to get a medal or trophy unless you were at a huge event with lots of competition. I don't remember the race, I don't remember my time, it has no more memories with it and so it will be worn one last time impersonating Ryan Lohcte.
Medal with patriotic ribbon from a relay race
These flaming torches have NEVER been used. If I don't use it, I lose it.
flaming torch decoration
I bought them in my clearance-holic days years ago. One of the reasons I never used them is that it has a honking big adapter plug.
adapter plug
The other is that it makes a loud fan noise and I never know where to hang them. As I looked into the second box I noticed the adapter plug was missing. What? Had I never noticed this? That's it, they are leaving now.
Flaming torches in the box

I went into the closet where I thought the adapter would be and found these candle tiers.
 Having thought I already donated them, I didn't even notice them gone this year. 
metal candle holders
I gathered a collection of the candles I used with them and added them to the box.. I am going to give the unopened tea lights to the yoga teacher next week to burn in class next week. There has to be really, really good karma when you donate to the buddah through a yoga teacher.
candle offerings to buddah
These string of ghost lights stay, my daughter says so.
string of ghost lights
Which led me to toss the three strobe lights and halloween table cloth.
battery operated strobe lights and halloween tablecloth
Which led me to toss some Halloween kid books and face painting, a few scream masks, Jason, Austin powers and the Thing 1 and Thing 2 costumes.
halloween decoration donation
Which leads me to another nice donation pile.
Did I mention the winter mittens?
The table plastic protector?
The outdated scanner from an upgrade?
The ironing board holder.
The roll of chicken wire?
and more clothes?
donation pile

All we need is less.


All we need is less.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Excessive garbage

excessive garbage left when moving from house
I watched this house go up for sale and each week, couches, tables and 'free' possessions would emerge on the corner. Just yesterday the entire lawn was full of stuff like the house exploded. Today it appears the house is completely cleared for sale and that the last remaining garbage filled 19 bins. It was disgusting. Perhaps it takes moving to make me pick up everything and look inside every shelf and box to realize the majority of my "possessions" are actually "garbage".

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dog crates off to good homes

I am all for boxing up my stuff and letting donation trucks doing the hauling, but sometimes I find enjoyment on knowing things go to a good home.  Both our dogs are too old to do steps and I have not found a way to make dog crates attractive in a living room, so I decided to sell them. I listed them on Craigs list this weekend for a cheap price with the footnote that if anyone wanted to rake a few bags of leaves they could walk home with them for free.  

Here is Iris, a beautiful bloodhound. 
She just got her papers last week so the grey crate is going to a champion home.

The black one is going to a family who was looking for a large cage for their kitty. I reminded them the raking offer still stands, and with 4 people they could be done in 10 minutes. He quickly gave me the $20 and they were off. I know, I know...leaves are scary.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Matt Duffin's "In the hole"

Fine artist Matt Duffin's piece called "in the hole",  reminds me of my weekly routine. wash...go shopping and buy stuff that I later store and then donate to the big hole.

See more of Matt Duffin's work.

Matt Duffin illustration of "in the hole"

Monday, October 22, 2012

Small house drive-by

I had a dentist appointment in the cities today. Found myself driving by this little beauty.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Abandoned chair

"You see an abandoned chair on the street and you think it has the potential to be something beautiful"
(Headline from a Raising the Roof" campaign.)

Both the photo and the headline for this campaign from Leo Burnett in Toronto made me think of the many times I have "rescued"items from curbsides or thrift stores.

I still stop for treasure sales more commonly called garage sales.
Instead of buying, I just enjoy seeing a person's life laid out on tables in a garage.

Abandoned chair photo by frank hodel

See the ad campaign here done by Leo Burnett in Toronto for "Raising the Roof" client.
Nice photography done by Frank Hoedl.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

1600 ft home made from a barn

A few things stood out as I read this article about Barbara Garfield designing her unique home.
She sold everything and found potential in a barn.

Here is her list of design principles when remodeling:

1). Keep it small.
2). Design for the volume of the space, not the square footage.
3). Paint small spaces in shades of white. Add color in accent pieces and furnishings.
4). Use exposed beams and tons of mullioned paned windows for light.
5). Mix in modern elements in the architecture.
6) Pay attention to architectural detailing.
7). Use recycled materials whenever possible.
8) Design rooms with more than one use in mind.

See whole article here.

Look at how she has a mirror behind the stove.

I've been debating whether to toss this mirror of mine.
I call it a clutter-combo.
I bought the handmade star ornament at a craft fair.
Then came the small frame. 
Finally I glued the little frame into the larger frame.
I painted a saying around the green frame that read:
"Dreams come in a size too big so we can grow into them"

What if I saved it for the back of my future stove?
I'm pulling off the star ornament right now.

I know someone I can swap voodoo dolls with, or.... will  now be an ornament on the Christmas tree.

"Dreams come in a tiny home that I can downsize to."