Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Joy List

Have you ever thought about making a Joy List?
It occurred to me all of the sudden
that I was feeling oh-so-content in so many arenas
that I had to make a mental note of what was happening.
I've been laughing more as well,
right out loud!

 Part of it comes from downsizing my belongings.
By finding new homes for all but the necessities,
my world opens up to new opportunities.
Keeping only what I truly love
or what has the deepest meaning for me
allows me to make space for new experiences, new vistas.
Organization has always been a natural affinity,
and using it in my everyday life validates my very being. 
I am being true to myself in every way.

Another aspect of this newfound inner contentment
comes from the realization that what I do is important,
even though there is no paycheck.
Keeping this family organized, feeding my people,
and nurturing them in any way I can
is the most vital position I could ever have.
It doesn't matter what one does for a living,
as long as it holds a significant place in the heart.

I realized there were so many nuances of joy
showing themselves to me.
Things that might not ring true for everyone (or anyone),
but just make my heart sing.
Compiling this list helps me reflect on 
just how much God is helping me on my way.

These are some of the items that currently ice my cupcake!

The Joy List 

~ Snow
~ Experiencing the awakening of each season
~  Heeding the voice that whispers, "Talk Less, Listen More"
~  My morning cup of percolated joe
~  Being able to pay bills on time
~  Watching the birds eat our offerings, build nests and enjoy our yard
~  Creating something useful with repurposed items
~  Using my organizational skills to help my family and others
~  Watching seeds sprouting 
~  Being able to see the sunrise every morning
~  Having a home where I feel nurtured and safe
~  Being able to use cash for our day-to-day expenses
~  My daily morning hugs from C
~ Fostering nature by caring for our homestead
~  My dream (paid) job presenting itself to me

For these, and so many other things,
I am truly grateful.

What's on your Joy List these days?

Friday, February 23, 2018

Garden Friday

It's Garden Friday!
Signs of spring are poppin' up all over the place! 
Just look at this sweet daff that graces one of our front beds.
It makes me smile every time I come up the drive.

We're updating the progress on the seedlings from last week.
Both types of kale were the first to emerge
and are still going strong.

This is the Vates variety that is still growing strong.
It was planted last fall. 

What a thrill to see the green beans showing themselves yesterday!
This is the Slenderette variety, which is a bush bean
and has the most tender pods you could ever sample.

The Buttercrunch and Red Salad Bowl lettuces are jumping for the sun.
These will be transplanted into bigger pots when the time is right.
Some thinning may be necessary as well,
and I've learned to simply snip off the extra shoots instead of pulling them out.
This disturbs the remaining seedlings a bit less.
Lettuce will be sown every few weeks
to keep the good stuff growing.

 Broccoli has begun germinating
and I'm hoping that warmer temperatures don't come before we can harvest some.

I may be taking a chance,
but I went ahead and sowed some flowers as well.
I found some bagged gravel by the side of the house
and used it for drainage in this terra cotta pot.
Allyssum and Johnny Jump-Ups were planted here.

This bed in the front of the porch is a work in progress.
We will be creating a butterfly garden here,
using staggered planting to replace all the tall bushes
that are currently in place.
The bush on the far left will be relocated,
as it attracts pollinators.
I'm so looking forward to making this transformation.

 This week we were able to wear shorts and t-shirts again!
Wow, what a drastic change from just a couple of weeks ago.
Mother Nature may still have a few surprises in store for us.
For now, I'm just stoked about getting to sow some magical seeds!

 What's happening with your spring garden prep?


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Independent Living Skills-Making Laundry Basic

Before we moved, our (then 16-year old) son, C, 
had recently started doing his own laundry,
as part of his training for independent living.
When we moved to a rental in North Carolina,
there were no laundry facilities,
so I was visiting the laundromat and C had  
Mom's Laundry Service 
doing the job.

After we moved in to our new home,
it took a good 6 months or so to feel settled,
and we were busy with projects that needed attention,
so we let the laundry issue slide.
In this smaller home,
we have a laundry closet in the main hallway to the bedrooms.
It's an adjustment,
but we're so grateful to have laundry facilities.
 (We have plans to renovate it to make it more efficient.)

Having accomplished a few of the bigger projects in the house,
it was time to get back to teaching living skills to C.
The decision was made that each person will do his/her own laundry.
It's been my sole responsibility for almost 2 decades (WHAT?)
and it feels a bit strange to let it go.
Knowing it's all in the best interest of our boy's future,
I relinquished the task.

The first thing we did was create these visual instructions.
Folks on the autism spectrum usually learn visually,
so the straightforward steps are accompanied by pictures
to help him assimilate the process.
We're still getting used to the idea of self-serve laundry,
but I think in a few weeks' time, it'll become routine.

The items for doing laundry are all in plain sight.
I'm using Soap Nuts instead of traditional detergent,
but C will most likely stick to store-bought, like his dad.
(The second photo shows our stash of liquid detergent for the boys.) 
The Soap Nuts are there if he wants to try them,
as we are always trying to expand his options,
so that he learns to deal with changes.

Homemade stain remover is fairly easy to make,
and with the ingredients right on the bottle,
he should be able to mix up his own whenever he needs it.
He uses A LOT of stain remover!

The wool dryer balls remain in the dryer,
so there is not much for him to remember when it comes to drying clothes.
We are happy with the results of these little orbs,
noticing that our drying time is decreased
and some of the static electricity is removed.
I do use my drying rack outside or in front of the fireplace when I can,
but C doesn't get the same charge out of hanging up his clothes to dry.
So, the dryer is what he needs to practice using.
Again, the option of line drying is there should he want to use it,
or if he needs an alternative
(if his dryer is on the fritz or the power goes out).

These simple steps will help him ease into 
doing one more thing for himself.
He is taking pride in being able to do things independently.
I'm proud of all the strides he has made.

Love to Learn blog hop

Friday, February 16, 2018

Garden Friday

Hey there!
It's Garden Friday!
It's lookin' more like spring every day
here in the Piedmont of North Carolina.

Things are starting to pop up!
I spied the first daffodils in the neighborhood
on one of my walks earlier in the week.
I'm not sure what kind of bulbs these are,
but they decided to show themselves in our front bed.
This is the first spring we are spending at our new home,
so I am looking forward to seeing what surprises there are in store.

With the onset of warmer temperatures (60's/70's),
it seemed like a good time to start some seedlings.
The supplies were gathered
and I got to work on the front porch,
where there was lots of sun to keep me company.

My seed stash is in pretty good shape.
I'll need to order a few things for summer planting,
but for now, I think I have everything I want to grow right in here.
This enamelware tin is the perfect fit for all of my treasures.

A little station was set up with the containers I had been using for growing lettuce.
Stacking them made it a bit easier to seed comfortably.
I don't have a potting bench, so I improvised.

There are at least 6 varieties of lettuce being started in these cells.
Tags saved from plants bought in the past were reused as markers,
as well as old canning lids that were too rusty to use on jars.
These are saved through the year for just this purpose.
Why buy new if you can repurpose something that works?

Here we have 2 types of kale,
as well as parsley and spinach.
There is also a 6-pack of broccoli seeded.
It may be too late to start broccoli anew,
but it's just seed, so it's worth a shot.

After the seeds were sown,
I used the icing bucket lids to cover the pots.
This will keep them nice and warm until they germinate.
Seeds don't need sunlight until they pop out of the containers,
so they should be snug as a bug in there.
Bricks placed on top keep the lids in place.

A neighbor with whom I'm working,
gave me this brand new package of peat pots with the greenhouse container.
Ooooooh, can I tell you how thrilled I was with that?
I can't wait to sow some sweet little things in here.
I may save them for the summer crops,
as I've already got a good start on the spring plantings.

These may be used in a science experiment before we actually plant in them.
These are cool to watch come to life,
the way they swell and mushroom in size.
These make gardening fun for kids and adults alike.

Can you see them?
I checked on these just yesterday
and the Dino kale is already coming up!
Every day I will check the pots to make sure they are moist
and if all goes well, they will respond.
It's magical, I tell ya.
It's God's way of telling me that He always provides.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Organizing for Others

I've recently been doing some organizing for others.
We have a local online resource 
where folks can post all types of things.
I placed an ad on there for my specific neighborhood
to offer my services for organizing.
One of my sweet neighbors called me
and we have worked on a couple of projects together.
It felt good to be of service,
but even more meaningful,
was that I was using the talents God gave me to help someone else.
Whether you are working with a stranger
or a family member, it's important to see the exercise from their perspective.

Here are a few considerations when you are helping others get organized:

*First and foremost,
clarify the intention for the space.
Have the client name what the space will be used for,
how they want to feel in the space,
and what they hope to accomplish there.
If they can articulate the vision,
it will make it easier to purge
so that they can see their ideas come to fruition. 

*Keep in mind the person's age or health condition.
Someone who is older or has physical limitations
may not be able to work at the same pace as you.
Use breaks as needed,
or consider dividing the job up into several visits.
This is also relevant for young kids,
or those with trouble focusing on one task for any length of time.
This will ensure that the experience is a rewarding one,
with small improvements easily being identified. 

*Decipher the client's storage style.
Does it make more sense to them to have their things hidden away,
or do they want to be able to see what they have at a glance?
 This would help in the decision to use open or closed shelving,
cabinets or baskets.
It may depend on the room itself as well.
In the bathroom (or any smaller room),
items which are left out may make the room feel even smaller or cluttered.
In a craft or sewing room, a garage or playroom,
it might be more efficient to be able to see your materials.

*Bring everything you'll need with you to the job.
Clients can supply bags or boxes
in which to place items when sorting,
but be ready to contribute them if necessary.
Storage bins should be provided by the client,
and I try to reuse what they already have.
Once the purging is complete,
many times the bins they already have can be reused
for the new categories.

*Labeling needs may vary.
I adore our label maker
and use it on a variety of items.
It helps things get put back where they belong
because you don't have to guess where they go.
Sometimes though, the size of the font won't be big enough.
The client may have vision issues,
or the items may be stored up high,
so labels would be more difficult to read.
In this case,
I simply use masking tape (or even pieces of paper) and a marker
and write as big and bold as is needed.

*When finishing up the sorting,
offer resources for picking up purged items.
Many thrift stores and charities will collect items
right at the front door,
so there is no need to deliver them.
This makes it that much easier for folks to donate,
and they can feel good about purging what they don't need.

I can't tell you how good it feels to help others
get their lives more organized.
Knowing that I am aiding them in reaching their goals
makes me feel like I am part of the bigger picture.
I am so grateful that I can be of service
doing something I truly love to do.

With spring around the corner,
it's a great time to get organized!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Garden Friday

On this Garden Friday,
the garden is in a state of transition.
As temperatures are getting a bit more tolerable,
we are excitedly awaiting the onset of the spring garden.

Here is what remains of the fall/winter crops.
The cold weather has taken its toll on some plants,
while others just seemed to go along for the ride.

 The shallots are still doing just fine.
These weren't phased in the least by the cold,
snow or ice!
Amazing how something can still be green after all of that.

 The remaining broccoli head doesn't look like
it wants to do anything but wrap itself up in its leaves.
I'm thinking of starting some new seeds for spring,
but not sure how well it will do if its gets warm quickly.
I guess it's just seed, so why not try?

In the wooded area of our property,
I've had a couple of projects going.
One was to tidy up this leaf bed.
I'm hoping that I can use what's under here
to lay down a foundation of good, loose compost.
It's so great having a spot on the property just for dried leaves.
Goodness knows, we get our share!

This is the area we call "Old Man Kelsey's Woods".
If you are an Andy Griffith fan,
you'll know where the name comes from.
(Hint:  Ernest T. Bass)
See the green compost bin in the center of the picture?
We've been using that since we moved in here last summer,
so it will soon be dumped and examined to see what goodies might lie in wait.
The leaf pile is just to the left of the bin.
When the trees start leafing out,
this area is so private,
no neighbors in sight.

 Here is Kelsey's Woods from the street side,
facing the side of our house.
C and I have been working on clearing out the dead wood
and tidying it up in there.
With most of the trees being deciduous,
it has made it much easier to tackle this job.
We still have a way to go,
but the new Saw-zall that Big K picked up
has made it a breeze.
I think it's my favorite new toy.

I don't know what this nasty varmint is,
but it is certainly a nuisance.
This stuff grows up from the ground
and wraps itself all through the branches.
The thorns are razor-sharp,
so long sleeves and long pants are a necessity.

This is one of the piles of this obnoxious invader.
I may add vinegar to the sites where I cut it off at the quick
because I surely don't want to have to fight this off again.

We have a full week of rain in the forecast ahead,
so I am hoping to get out this weekend and start some seeds.
I'm still a bit unsure of how the spring garden will look.
I'm vacillating between sticking with containers,
or creating some raised beds for growing our spring veggies.
The organizer in me prefers the tidy look of a bed,
without the mismatched pots to look at.
We're also planning to restart the straw bale garden.
If the weather continues to warm up,
I imagine I'll be feeling a bit more ambitious,
so perhaps I may create some raised beds,
and maybe I can even rope C into helping me.

How's your spring garden planning coming along?