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Just popping in to update anyone who has been following my minimalism posts . . .

I have NOT stopped, but I have slowed down.  When last I posted, we were moving into Kids’ Rooms Week.

We recently minimized Lorelei’s bedroom in a BIG way–because Jake moved out and we moved Lorelei to a new room!  It doesn’t need minimizing yet.  At some point I will share pictures of her big girl room, and show you what I did with the room she vacated.

As for William’s room, we have done work there in the past and while it does need more I decided it could wait till the next go round, because I had something far more challenging to tackle:  THE PLAYROOM.

Up until recently, Lorelei spent a lot of time in this room, even sleeping here because she had developed a fear of sleeping in her own bedroom.  Since she moved, this space sits vacant for days at a time–vacant of people anyway, not stuff.  I thought if we could make it nicer Lorelei might start spending more time up there, and especially that it might be a good place for her to do her homework as she moves from homeschool to public school in just a few days.

Well, we started.  But we have not finished.  Here’s a preview to give you an idea of what we are dealing with:

playroom 2playroom 3playroom 4playroom 1We have made a lot of progress, but we are not finished.  Given the pressures and time constraints inherent in working at home, delivering on promised summer fun, and getting ready to start school very shortly, we have not been able to work on this every day.

Following the schedule, after Kids’ Rooms came Catch-up week, then Office Week, and now it’s Living Room week.  I wasn’t planning on doing Office Week (the office is a mess, but most of it is out of my control!), but I do want to do some things in the living room, and I still wanted to go back to some of the kitchen cabinets.  I don’t want to wait six months until the next challenge to get to those things!

So, I am going to continue working on this in a sort of mixed up way for the next few weeks, even after the challenge is officially over.  I am determined to finish the playroom once and for all (this is far from being the first time we have tried to tackle it but it gets easier each time, especially since Lorelei is finally able to let go of things.).

I’ll post pictures when the playroom is complete, and I by then I should have an idea of how I plan to proceed.

For more adventures in minimalism, read on:

My explanation of Catholic Minimalism.

Week One

Week Two

Week Three

Week One Redux

Week Two Redux

Week Three Redux

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Week two of the Catholic Minimalism challenge is bathrooms.  We have four of them!  Last time around, I thoroughly minimized the two upstairs.  In the time since, the one on the main floor was repurposed when Emily moved all her things to the basement bathroom, which I won’t be dealing with at this moment as she is sharing it with her brother and his wife, who are moving out soon.

So . . . all this is to say that I did a quick go-over of the bathrooms on the first day and then devoted the rest of the week to the upstairs hallway, including the linen closet and the laundry room, all of which have been long-time disaster areas.  Here are some before pictures:

upstairs hallway 8

This is the hallway at the top of our stairs, which leads to three bedrooms, a bathroom, the laundry room, the playroom, and the linen closet.

upstairs hallway 3upstairs hallway 4

These are pictures of the terrible laundry room with the ridiculous amounts of tablecloths I needed to go through as well as things we actually use but never put away.

I did not take any before pictures of the linen closet because it had been minimized already and did not really look that bad.

Here’s what I did:  First I bought four new laundry baskets from the Dollar General Store and organized all that laundry (clean!) from the first picture.  All that belongs to my son and daughter-in-law, who are only here temporarily.  There is nowhere to put it, and it’s not mine to minimize, but it looks much better coralled.  I also got William to carry all those boxes down to Lorelei’s room, because she was too lazy to do it and they have been sitting there for weeks.

Next I got Emily for moral support and we went through all the tablecloths and placemats in the laundry room plus all the towels and bedding in the linen closet and got rid of SO MUCH and put the rest away.  Everyone has their own towels already, and I only kept three extra emergency towels.    I was able to get rid of things I had held on to last time we did this, and I am sure that I will be able to let go of more tablecloths especially next time around.  Minimizing is an ongoing process and a mindset and you don’t have to everything all at once!

We will be going to Goodwill later this afternoon with three kitchen garbage bags full of towels, bedding, and table linens in good condition that someone else can enjoy!

The last step was to get Lorelei to help me go through the clothes that she never puts away in the laundry room.  We got rid of some and sent the rest downstairs to her room.  I also purchased two additional laundry baskets to keep her and William’s clothes organized as they leave the dryer and make it easier for them to be transported to their real home.

Here are the linen closets, the laundry room, and the hallway now:

upstairs hallway 2

upstairs hallway 1

upstairs hallway 7upstairs hallway 9

upstairs hallway 10

A little Catholic decor to finish things off

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Next Week:  Kitchen!

For more adventures in minimalism, read on:

My explanation of Catholic Minimalism.

Week One

Week Two

Week Three

Week One Redux

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Back in my high school days, the Drama Club was one of my favorite extra-curricular activities.  I participated in every production that occurred while I was a student.

My all-time favorite role was Penelope (Penny) Sycamore, the mother in You Can’t Take It with You.  This wacky woman, the matriarch of an eccentric clan of characters, was always at her typewriter, writing plays.

As the climax of the action nears, we learn WHY Penny writes plays–because eight years ago, a typewriter was delivered to the house by mistake!

I think about his whenever I talk about the peacocks in my house.

We moved here nearly seven years ago, after our previous home burned down.  For three weeks John and I and the “little kids” lived at my sister’s house, the big boys stayed with friends, and our dog hung out at my other sister’s (Emily was away at college).  We needed somewhere to move quickly, somewhere that would accommodate our large family and our need for an in-home office.

We ended up in a home that had been customized by the prior renter, who apparently had a thing about peacocks.  There’s a peacock stepping stone in the garden and a statue just outside the front door.  There are peacocks painted on either side of the front entry and another in the breakfast nook.  There’s even a tiny one in their family coat of arms which we’ve chosen not to paint over in order to give this very new house a little bit of history.

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Now we could have asked our landlady to paint over all the peacocks.  (We did ask her to paint over the red tree on the living room wall which was encircled by the words “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one, single, solitary step.“)  Or we could have just tolerated the peacocks.

Instead, like Penelope Sycamore did with her misdelivered typewriter, we embraced the unexpected.  Searching for meaning, I found that peacocks have been a Christian symbol of resurrection, which seemed fitting as we left our old lives more or less in ashes and started all over with a new home and new possessions.

And, as it happens, Cracker Barrel has a collection of peacock decor items which have over the years put me in serious danger of becoming a crazy peacock lady.  I have a peacock lamp and a variety of decorative items like candle holders and vases in peacock colors.  I bought throw pillows to match the theme and eventually plan to paint one wall a peacock blue.  I even have peacock shoes!

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As I wrote the above, I realized that maybe there’s a reason why the role of Penelope Sycamore meant so much to me.  I don’t know whether I absorbed something from her, or if the casting was foreshadowing, but there is more of Penny in me than I ever knew.

Like her, I’m the mother in a houseful of rowdy people who may or may not be related to me at any given time.  Penny welcomed a Russian ballet teacher, an expat grand duchess, a drunken actress, and the mailman (who never left) with unfailing hospitality and good humor.  When my boys were younger it was not unusual for our house to be filled with people I had never seen before.

Penny didn’t let her family responsibilities get in the way of her personal pursuits, and neither do I.  Like Penny, painting or typing with the chaos all around her, I’ve learned to tune out all but the loudest screams while I blog or read.  I ignore the shenanigans in my basement just like Penny remained unfazed by the sounds of exploding fireworks in hers.

Like her, I’ve learned not to care about being conventional but rather to follow my heart and allow my family members to do the same.  Penny equally applauded her husband’s fireworks, her son-in-law’s printing, her older daughter’s dancing, her younger daughter’s engagement, and her father’s snake-collecting.  It never occurred to her to worry about what others would think of the family’s lifestyle.

Penelope Sycamore was completely secure in herself and her family.  She didn’t even think about whether other people would like her or not.  She was able to put worry aside, fully inhabit her days, and enjoy life as it came.  I’m not there yet, but I’m trying.

I will not die an unlived life . . . I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid . . .

~ Dawna Markova

Thank you, Penny.  Now bring on the peacocks!

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Remember back at the beginning of the year when I was participating in the Catholic Minimalism Challenge, and making all kinds of progress, and posting impressive updates?

Well, along about week three, we got the flu.  For the second time.  As you might expect, that derailed basically everything except survival.

But a new challenge started last week, and I jumped at the chance to pick up where I left off.

Week One is supposed to be the Master Bedroom, which I did thoroughly in January.  In addition, I have kept up with it in the months since, and have even gotten rid of more things.  So I only needed to devote one day.  I went through the closet and drawers, and got rid of two small bags of clothes and a stack of books.  I did not go through all the jewelry and the sentimental things–I think once a year is enough for that.

I don’t have any pictures from the first day as there just isn’t that much change to show.  For the rest of the week, I worked on the hallway outside my office  I was SO EXCITED to tackle this area!  Here’s before:

 

What a mess, right?  Things were constantly getting knocked off  the top and on to the floor, and every time I walked by all that mess it made me sad.

This was the perfect time to tackle this area, because most of this is homeschooling material, and my homeschooling days have ended.  Lorelei will enter 8th grade at the local public school in August.

So I went through all of the homeschooling books, and got rid of some of them.  I probably should get rid of a lot more, and I admit that putting them in boxes and moving them into the garage, which will be the VERY LAST THING that ever gets minimalized, is just punting the problem down the road.  But let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, right?

Lorelei is spending some time dog-sitting for my sister with Emily, so I did not have her much-needed assistance with this project.  Therefore there is another box filled with things that she will need to go through.  Not my box, not my problem!

I’ll show you what it looks like now, and then I will explain what I’ve put there.

 

This shelf and this area now mostly belong to me.  I am feeling happy that as my children grow and sort of leave, I am able to claim more space in this house for myself.

I love that the top is currently bare.  I hope it can stay that way.  I might consider putting some pictures or decorative items there, but the space is crowded and things might get knocked off.

The top shelf is primarily books I have received in exchange for my honest review thereof, or have won via social media giveaways.  I probably don’t need to keep them all; that’s something I will revisit next time I go through the challenge.  At least I want to keep a list of them.  I am also keeping whatever books I am currently reading on that shelf, and my extra journals.  Most of these books were previously stacked in a dusty heap on the bottom shelf, and some were sitting in a cardboard box in my office, a space that has now been freed up!

Second shelf are Catholic project items.  For example, I have a binder for the Catholic Minimalism Challenge, and it lives there.  My prayer journal is there.  My binder with various Advent and Lent and other liturgical year tools is there.

The bottom shelf is a work in progress.  It currently contains homeschool materials that I borrowed from others and need to return, and extra folders, notebooks, and such that may be needed when school begins.  I’m thinking that we will need space for extra paper and school supplies for use in doing homework and I am willing to use the bottom shelf for that if need be.  I will have a better idea how I will use that space by the next Challenge.

Finally, in the corner you will see a couple of totes.  Yes, I found a use for some of the many totes that were taking up space in my bedroom!  One of them is holding a lot of prayer journaling supplies–scissors, glue stick, colored pens and pencils and markers, Catholic coloring book, prayers, prayer cards.  The tote keeps them contained, and if I want to go elsewhere to journal everything is ready!  The other tote is holding a special Christmas gift from my husband–a monthly subscription to a mystery to solve.  It’s really fun but also takes time we don’t seem to have, so I am keeping it all organized here so that when we devote an evening to working on it, everything is ready to go.

So there you have it! Next week is bathrooms.  Again I expect to spend one day on them, and then I am planning on working on the laundry room and the upstairs hallway for the rest of the week.

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I’ll be honest–it’s getting harder to come up with something to do every day, and now I am laboring under Lorelei and William’s expectations as well.  It’s not that I don’t have plenty of ideas–I have a page-long list, in fact–it’s having ideas that fit in with the weather, our finances, my energy level, and whatever else I have to accomplish on a given day.  So here’s what we did this week:

On Monday, we went to the Knoxville Botanical Gardens and Arboretum, which I have written about before.  This place is one of Knoxville’s best-kept secrets, a true treasure.

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There are lots of new paths since I was last year and although the spring flowers are gone, there were wild flowers, trees (with identifying markers, too, so you can learn something while you walk), and, most exciting to me because I’ve never seen one, a small wheat field!

Tuesday I had to scrap my original plans because something came up, so I took the kids to Wild Love Bakehouse for a treat.  I kid you not, this place in nationally renowned and if you come to Knoxville you will want to pay it a visit.

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After our treat, which we shared with friendly sparrows on the porch, we walked down the steps to investigate one of my favorite places–Mid Mod Collective.  I cannot afford one stick of the restored vintage furniture they sell here but boy do I wish I could.  They also have retro knickknacks and even vintage clothing.  Mostly it’s just fun to browse and feel like you’ve gone back in time.

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Mid Mod Collective shares space with The Book Eddy, a vintage book store that’s occupied various spaces in Knoxville over the past 20 years or so.  We had a great time browsing there.  My big finds were a board game from my high school years and a 1945 edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette.

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These places are all located in the Old North Knoxville historical district so our last activity was to spend a little time driving around the nearby neighborhoods and talking architecture (Victorian and Craftsman, for the most part).  Lorelei is obsessed with House Hunters recently and had asked me about Mid-century Modern, which gave me the idea for these activities in the first place.  Who says television can’t be educational?

We visited the Knoxville Museum of Art on Wednesday.  The museum is free, there is abundant free parking, and besides their permanent collection and the local artists they showcase there is always a new exhibit to see.

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The KMA Gardens

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Lorelei playing with a giant Lite-Brite

summer 22

Posing with one of their favorite pictures, a painting of the Grand Canyon by Daingerfield

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Looking at one of the Thorne Miniatures

Take special note of that last picture.  The Thorne Miniatures are absolutely amazing and the KMA is fortunate to have nine of them.  They were housed in the Dulin Gallery, predecessor to the KMA, when I was a child, and I am not the only one to have fond memories of them judging by the reaction when I shared pictures of them on Facebook.

I don’t have any pictures of our Thursday jaunt, which had to be a short one due to a dentist appointment.  I took the kids to Starbucks for Frappucinos, using up some gift cards I’d been carrying around!  They had never set foot in one before, so this was actually more exciting than I thought it would be.  Then we went to the Dollar Tree, which is always a hit.

Friday’s fun consisted of our drive to Beech Mountain, North Carolina, where we are vacationing with friends.  I couldn’t take any pictures since I was driving but WOW was it a beautiful trip.  I’m sure I’ll have lots to share when I write this up next week.

Catch up on our other summer adventures here, here, and here!

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This week was Kitchen Week, but my kitchen is far from finished for a couple of reasons.

One, I never planned to do the whole thing this week because there weren’t enough days/categories for me to go through everything (I have a lot of dish ware I want to go through).

Two, John has been watching me, y’all.  He was inspired and asked me to help him go through his half of the closet and bedroom.  I had to strike while the iron was hot, so three day of Kitchen Week I was actually back in the bedroom helping him.  We still need to minimize his part of the bathroom and then maybe I will post pictures of the whole thing.  It looks wonderful!

We made a trip to Goodwill this week to drop off the fruits of our labors:

kitchen 14.jpgI already have another bag ready to go!

Now I’ll show you what we (that is Lorelei and I) did manage to do in the kitchen this week.  On the first day, we did the pantry.  We have a closet we call a pantry, and then a cabinet where we keep food, so we did both of those.

We got rid of a lot of things in the pantry and rehomed others.  There wasn’t really a lot to get rid of in the cabinet but at least we straightened it up!

The next day we did refrigerators.  Yes, that was plural.  Is it crazy that we have THREE?  Two were given us when the house burned down, and then when my father upgraded and gave me his nice one, I moved one of them to the garage.

I got rid of a few things from each fridge, but more importantly I relocated things in a way that made more sense to me.  So the one in the kitchen has things we use every day, and the freezer has as much of the meat and vegetables and such as it will fit, which is sadly not too much.

The garage refrigerator is near the kitchen, so I like to keep extras of things there, like second bottles of ketchup or steak sauce.  I also keep baking things I don’t need every day there, like vegetable shortening and stone ground corn meal.  And right now there is a bunch of beer and sodas left over from our Christmas party there.

I don’t seem to have gotten a good picture of the freezer but what I have put in there is mostly ice packs. 🙂

Finally, the downstairs refrigerator is mostly used for its freezer capacity.  That’s where I put bulk meats, which means right now it’s full of steak.  Emily keeps a few things in the fridge because her room is down there, but mostly when I stash something down there to make room upstairs, I forget what I’ve done and whatever it was goes bad.  As you can see, I also put some of the leftover party beer down there.

On the third day, it was time to tackle the junk drawer.  I don’t know what I thought was going to be so hard about that.  We ended up throwing out almost everything in it!  I did have Lorelei go around the house testing out all the keys we found.  We labeled the ones that fit something and threw the rest away!

I am pretty proud of that! Isn’t it awesome?

Last day was spent cleaning out under the sink.  We got rid of several vases, and discovered a leak requiring the assistance of a plumber!  If it hadn’t been for minimalizing who knows when I would have found it!

We will be coming back to the kitchen eventually to do the cabinets we didn’t get to this time.

Want to see more?  Here is Week One, here is Week Two, and here is my explanation of Catholic Minimalism.

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Well, it’s been a WEEK, y’all.  And what a week it has been.  Three of us (including me) had the flu, and school was closed three days for snow and super-cold (for Tennessee) weather.  Staying on task under such circumstances was challenging.

But it’s supposed to be a Challenge, right?  So I persevered, with Lorelei’s (somewhat less enthusiastic) assistance.

This week was bathrooms, of which we have FOUR. However, one of those belongs to Emily (that is to say, it’s the one she uses and it’s full of her stuff, even though it’s also the one on the main level that gets the most use overall).  I can’t minimize someone else’s stuff (at least, not an adult someone’s).  I hope she will be inspired by my efforts and do it herself some time soon.  The other bathroom is in the basement, and was Jake’s domain before he moved out, which means all the drawers are still full of his stuff.

So we worked on the two upstairs bathrooms, the master bath and what we call the kids’ (i.e. Lorelei and William) bath.

It was super time-consuming to make all those before-and-after pictures I used last time.  So I’m not doing it, especially since I am already behind posting this.

KIDS’ BATHROOM

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Well, that’s the overview and I don’t blame you for being confused because not much happened there except rearranging things.  I wish I could have convinced Lorelei that we don’t need that Christmas bear to remain on display at all times but “it has always been there” is hard to argue with.  Anyway, the meat of this project was the drawers and cabinets, which I had been wanting to tackle forever but had avoided thinking it would be such a pain and take SO LONG.

Y’all, that took 15 MINUTES, tops.

We threw almost everything away.  I’ll bet we had 20 packages of unopened dental floss in there, just for starters.  (What that says about Lorelei’s dental hygiene shall go unremarked upon.)  Anyway, what wasn’t garbage was either relocated or organized and then it was on to the master bathroom.

MASTER BATHROOM

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Right away you are going to notice two things:  one, there’s not a huge difference; and two, I’m only showing you half of the bathroom.  I’m already fairly organized about my bathroom and all that stuff on the counter is more-or-less regularly used.  I like it out there where I can see it and don’t have to worry about putting it away all the time.  So the biggest change was getting rid of the coffee maker, which was purely aspirational as I have not used it ONCE in the six years it has been sitting there.

As for the other side of the sink, that is John’s side, and it desperately needs minimizing, believe me!  But he is going to have to buy in, and we are still working on that.  However, drawers and cabinets are ALL MINE, so see below:

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There is another cabinet and three more drawers but as you can tell from the picture above I am already pretty organized about the bathroom so there just wasn’t much of a change–not enough to justify pictures, anyway.  Am I oversharing by letting y’all see all that motel lotion I have collected?

I’m really pleased with this last little bit–the area around the bath, which required a little trip to Target. 🙂

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A little more detail:

bathroom 9

And that’s a wrap!  Next up, the kitchen!

Read about Week One: Master Bedroom

Read about Catholic Minimalism

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