2020 30-Day Minimalism Challenge

Saturday, January 29, 2022

One new thing...

 ... or maybe a couple of new things.

This "new thing" challenge is kind of surprising me.   In a week that didn't amount to much  - it was terribly cold and except for one outing early in the week (I'll share in a moment), I only poked my nose out the door a couple of times.  And yet, new things showed up!  It's actually been really nice to not have anything much to do - especially when it snowed yesterday and I spent hours enjoying winter nature from inside a cozy den.

This week's first new thing is actually something I've done twice now, but this week it occurred to me that it counts as a new thing in this new year.

My friend, Dory (she and her husband are our small group leaders at church) has opened her home the last few weeks (and I'm thinking the open invitation is indefinite) to come by during a set time on a set day to craft, work on a puzzle, or just sit and chat I'm guessing because that's what we mostly did the first time I came by.  It was fun, and a sweet time to get to know a friend better.  

This past week, the time was just as sweet, and two other people came (our associate pastor and his wife).  We spent several hours pouring over a jigsaw puzzle and felt such satisfaction finishing it.

But the greater satisfaction was getting to know one another better.  Sweet hearts all around the table, being honest and vulnerable, and I hope building real friendship.  It's such a simple, yet wonderful idea, and I'm thankful that Dory has opened herself and her home up to whoever shows up for this time.  I hope to enjoy many more times around her table (literally or figuratively, depending on how large the gathering grows).

Dory is also a wonderful wordsmith, deeply spiritual, and is open and honest about challenges in her life.  I'll let her tell you about it.  I have an updating link in my sidebar, but here's a link to make it super easy for you to check out her blog.  I've only recently become acquainted with her blog, but I'm now soaking it up for all it's worth.  I consider it priceless.  

Okay, I've given you the link.  Why are you still here?!?


Hoping you'll come back (or maybe you're going to check out Dory's blog later), let me share some pictures of the other new thing - our first accumulating snowfall at our new home.   It's so tempting for me to pick the photos apart.  While there are a couple I'm super pleased with, I'm thinking some are a bit overexposed because they looked much better against a dark background on my computer.  And there's "fuzzy" happening too often.   I can only blame my injured hand for so much, but it is challenging to hold even a cell phone camera still for minutes on end, and one-handedly turning the focus ring on the heavy DSLR camera - I probably did myself no favors doing that.   

With my excuses out of the way, I hope there is something to enjoy below.  I'll mostly let the pictures speak for themselves...

That hump in the center of the picture and in front of those evergreens 
is a pile of leaves waiting to be burned.  
Hopefully, this will be a garden this summer.

Is it just me, or does that bird look angry?

In case, you're unacquainted, above is Mrs. Downy 
and below is Mr. Downy.

And that's 7 new things in 2022!

Saturday, January 22, 2022

One new thing...

Ever since I thought of this idea of documenting new things, it seems that new things just keep presenting themselves.  I've started writing things down in a notebook so I can remember to share them here.

I expect many of these "new thing" posts to be short, and most to only cover one thing, but to make way for more new things, I’m going to be making some posts, especially here at the beginning, mentioning more than just one.

One of the Christmas gifts I received this year was a Chronological Bible from youngest son.  I’ve always thought it would be interesting to read through the Bible chronologically, and watching Hub read through one last year (and I think he’s doing it again), I decided to I’d like to have my own copy.  So I put this one on my wish list and got it:
I may be making another One new thing post on it when I finish reading it.  ;^)

I'm just realizing the glasses are also new.  I got them just last week, and I am enjoying something a little different than I’ve worn in years.  They’re bigger than anything I’ve worn since the 1980’s and I’m finding I like the extra space in the reading portion of the lenses.  

Ok, next...

When I was shopping last, I picked up some collard greens.  These are such a new thing to me that right there in the store, I got out my phone and googled how to cook them in case I needed to pick anything else up.  I know my mother used to cook greens when I was young, and they looked like the nastiest thing on earth and I’m sure I never even tasted them.  I decided it was time to change that.  So tonight I turned these:


Into this:


My apologies if that doesn't look very good.  I can't say this looks all that appetizing to me, but if you like greens, maybe it looks delicious.  I don't know.  I'm just documenting it.

Most recipes I found called for bacon, or ham hocks.  Well, I wasn’t willing to sacrifice expensive bacon in something I wasn’t even sure I would end up wanting to eat, and I didn’t want to sacrifice ham bones I have in the freezer (that I’m saving for ham and beans) for the same reason.  So I just pulled out a baggy of frozen ham chunks and cooked the greens with those.   It worked great, but I will say I should have not added salt when I was cooking.   It was all pretty tasty, but no one needs that much salt.

The verdict.  I’m glad I made them, but I don’t know why anyone loves them (like the many recipes I came across attest to).  Hubs, I could tell, is hoping I don’t feature them too regularly – if ever again.   Anyway… one new thing, easy to cook, and now I know we won't starve if collard greens are the only vegetables we're allowed to eat in the new world order...

And lastly…  who reading this knew that the IRS wants people to let them know when they change their address – and that they created a form for the purpose?

Of course they have a form for this...

I don't remember why this came across my path, but as I’m starting to worry about being on top of everything I’ll need for a fiduciary tax return for my brother’s estate, I came across this information online. 

I've asked a few people who I know have moved in recent years if they knew this form existed, and not a single person knew this.  So...  while I'm guessing most people don't know about this, and I'm not telling you you need to fill one of these out if you move,  the consensus of advisors online is that you should. 

I'm having to do extra things this year with taxes on my brother's estate, so I thought it a good idea to fill this form out since our new address is what we'll use for both our joint tax return and I'll use for my brother's estate tax return.

And since I think it would be a sad thing to leave you with an IRS form as my last thing, let me show you just one other new thing.

As hubs was leaving the house this morning he noticed a hawk on some bricks by the side of our house (forgive the fuzzy pictures):

Right after he took the picture, it flew to the top of the woodpile  behind it in the top picture.  I then spent 15 or so minutes trying to take a picture of it from the sun room, but my pictures were even blurrier, so I'll not trouble you with one of those, but when it flew off again, I went outside looking for it and found it on the other side of the white detached garage, sitting on the edge of a strawberry patch (which is one other new thing for me):

I know the pictures are terrible, but that was a most exciting thing today.  After hubs asked some birding friends to look at the pictures, getting different opinions, then after doing a bit of research online, I'm thinking it may be a juvenile Cooper's Hawk.  I don't know if we'll see it again, but it was pretty exciting to see it today!

Catch ya' later!

I think I've got 5 new things here...  Better start keeping track.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

One new thing...

This post is inspired by several things…
  • artist and maker bloggers I enjoy following who regularly share about new things they're learning or making, 

  • moving to a new home that has required creating new patterns for moving through our days and spaces, giving me opportunities to experience and learn some new things.
  • receiving Christmas gifts from sons that inspired me to explore new things,
  • injuring my hand somehow that makes my old stand-by crafts too difficult to do right now,
  • and finally, repeatedly finding grocery shelves empty of some basic things I normally buy…
It's hitting me recently how life requires me in various ways to try new things, learn new things, find new ways of doing things...   more than I want to.  Or so it feels in the moment.
Thinking about it, I suspect this is a reality in most of our lives.  Change happens so fast we are often forced to adapt and learn or be left behind.  I do my fair share of grumbling when someone sees fit to fix that which isn’t broken, but eventually I get with the program and often find out this old gal can still learn new tricks. 
Sometimes learning new things comes out of necessity, or a decision to make life changes.  Or world events...  like a pandemic?
When shopping last week and finding prices of beef continuing to climb, and the chicken section empty for the second week in a row, I began to consider that I’d do well to explore some new recipes.  While I have no intention of giving up meat, if I can’t even count on buying chicken when I stop for groceries, it’s definitely time to find more meatless meals we’ll be happy to eat.  Don’t get me wrong.  I can totally enjoy spaghetti without meatballs, or a veggie sub, or a mushroom pizza.  I often order just a salad when eating out, and I can be happy with a bowl of cereal at the end of a tiring day.  And I'm a tad proud that for Christmas dinner I made a meatless lasagna (as well as a traditional lasagna) because middle son’s girlfriend is vegetarian, and honestly…  I almost preferred the meatless one. 
Let’s say I could get used to it.

Anyway, thinking about exploring new recipes got me to thinking about challenging myself to buy a new-to-me food item every time I grocery shop.  And then I got to thinking… it’s all well and good to respond to things changing around me, but why not be intentional about exploring new things – just for the sake of learning or experiencing something new?  Why not once a week, challenge myself to interact with one new thing?  A new food, a new activity, a new person, a new idea to explore, a new skill to learn…  just for starters.   Hence the title of this post: One new thing…
So I’ve decided to do that.  And share about it once a week (if possible) here.   I’m not going to set goals or make rules.  I want this to be a discovery process, not a to-do list.   Actually, the challenge may be better worded this way:   I’m simply challenging myself to record here one new thing I explore, or learn about, or interact with… each week. 

These new things may be easy things, or they may be hard things.  These things can be spontaneous, or even imposed on me by external circumstances. Or they can be things I purpose to do.  It doesn’t matter.  I don’t actually think it will be all that difficult.  I think this challenge will more often be about recognizing new things than creating new experiences.  What I think will be interesting (to me) is to look back and (hopefully) see at least 52 new things I did, or that happened to me, or that I learned…  and be surprised at how often the opportunity to do something new in a year’s time happens. 
I imagine new things happen in your life fairly frequently, too.  I didn’t begin this challenge, or even this post with the thought of asking others to join me, but wouldn’t that be fun?  I would love to have company on this year-long journey if anyone wants to join me. 
From the outset I intend to not express any sense of oughtness that something actually needs to be posted every week.  There’s no “keeping up”, or “getting behind”.  I won’t make apologies or excuses if I don’t post something every week.  After the last two years I think most of us recognize that much in this life is out of our control. 
I’m also giving myself freedom in how/when these new things happen and when I record them.  For example, I may have two new things happen in one week and chose to write about them on two different weeks.  I may or may not tell you that if it happens, but I mention it in case that idea makes the challenge sound more doable to someone considering joining me.  The timeline of exploring and discovering new things is not what is important.  But rather, the process of growing, and taking note of things going on in my life that might have previously gone unnoticed is the real value of the challenge.
So anyway…  join me if you want.  Feel free to grab my graphic below and use it on your blog.  Or make your own, if you want.  Or don't use a graphic at all.  If you do join me, or even if you’re just following me, please comment on my blog from time to time to let me know you are.  I’ll enjoy checking in on you, too. 
Since this post is already long enough, I’ll write another post later in the week with some new things I’ve already done in these early weeks of 2022.  Hopefully my examples will give you a better idea of how simple and fun this idea can be.  I hope it will be fun.  And enlightening.
The challenge is on!   Are you in?

Sunday, January 16, 2022

He Knew Me Then...

If you've visited me for any length of time, you know that amongst the somewhat trivial posts about moving or crafting, or tending to my aching joints, I sometimes I feel compelled to share things of a spiritual nature here.  When that happens I do wonder if it looks like I compartmentalize the spiritual from the physical, even "worldly" aspects of life.  If you knew me in person, I think you would come to know I don't tend to compartmentalize these things.  Now worries, problems, cares of life... yeah, I can be a world-class compartmentalizer of those things for the sake of coping and moving through my responsibilities, but in terms of who and what I am, I don't tend to separate the spiritual from the physical aspects of this life.

All that is to say that today's thoughts are fairly normal in my daily existence and like I sometimes do, I've decided to invite you into those thoughts.   

A few days ago I came upon a song, He Knew Me Then, sung by Dallas Holm (in the mid-70's).  I became familiar with Dallas Holm's music when I was a young adult in the 80's, but I'd never heard this simple, beautiful song.  I was so touched by it, and my heart filled and lifted, that I decided to share it here - in case someone else could benefit from its message.  I encourage you to take four minutes and listen to it:

Being raised in the Christian faith, I'm no stranger to the message of God's love.  His love for the whole world.  For you personally, and for me personally.   But while I've been a baptized believer since I was 14, I'll admit sometimes I struggle to fully receive God's love and forgiveness.  Those times are almost always when I come face to face with my failures.  My sins.  Especially my failures and sins that affect others.

I'm not the only one.  In the second and third chapters of Genesis we read about Adam and Eve.  Before they ate the "forbidden fruit", they apparently enjoyed a happy, burden-free relationship with each other, and with God.  But after they ate fruit from the one tree they were forbidden to eat from - the tree of the knowledge of good and evil - their eyes were suddenly opened.  And in their nakedness, which prior to eating the forbidden fruit they were happily unconcerned about, they were overcome by shame.  In their shame and fear, they covered themselves and hid from God.

They were literally and figurative exposed.  They had no excuses, though they tried desperately to make their case, each in turn, for why they had done the very thing they were told not to do.  I don't know why their nakedness suddenly caused them to feel ashamed, when that wasn't an issue before their "fall", but whether you believe Genesis is a true account or not, who doesn't understand the shame these two would have felt when their sin was exposed?

It is part of the human experience that when our sin finds us out, we are ashamed.  In the case of wrong-doing, shame is a good thing.  It's where conscience is awakened and we suddenly see parts of ourselves that are downright awful.  Sometimes we want to hide and cover our wrong-doing.  When the wrong-doing is exposed, we're sometimes compelled to lie or make excuses for it.  The better part of us is usually motivated to come clean and make it right.  To make restitution.  To ask for forgiveness from someone we've wronged.  

I'll take the idea further and say that this is all a good thing.  Because from this place of wrong-doing, earned shame, and wanting to make it right... we may not only become instruments of healing the wounds we inflicted, but we also grow in compassion for others when they are in the same shoes - and we can choose to act on that compassion with understanding and forgiveness. 

Do we bear God's image more than when we have compassion and forgiveness towards others when they fail? 

There's more to all of this, of course.  Ultimate forgiveness comes through Jesus' paying the penalty for our sins through His laying down His life for us - "while we were yet sinners" according to the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:8. 

And 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John are filled with some truly encouraging words about how much God loves us, and Jesus being our advocate when we sin.  I have needed that message so often - over the past year, especially.

If these thoughts seem a ways off from the message of Holm's simple song above, they're not.  I think this is exactly what Holm's song is about.  God knew Adam and Eve would sin.  It's tempting, I know, to be indignant, thinking He set them up for their fall.  Clearly, I am not God. I don't know why the whole garden of Eden drama had to happen, but one thing that seems very clear to me is that God created Adam and Eve (and you and me) knowing we were going to fail.  Knowing when we had achieved our full faculties and became fully responsible for our actions, we were going to sin.  But He created us anyway.  In His image!   He knew us then, and loved us.  And He loves us still. 

Boggles the mind.  

And clears the heart of shame if we let it.   

Thursday, January 6, 2022

The den...

We've been settling in - busy with unpacking, then Christmas with our boys home and sister-in-law visiting (celebrated on Christmas Eve), and then a lovely meal at just about the only restaurant in Indianapolis open on Christmas Day (with brother-in-law and sister-in-law).  And then with the holiday behind us, more unpacking.  

It's all been complicated (and slowed down a bit) by a sore knee (that started the weekend after we were totally moved in) and a sore thumb joint that's plagued me off and on for a few years, but it got much worse with all the packing and unpacking.  They both get to feeling better with ibuprofen and ice and braces, so I keep hoping they'll heal up on their own, and then I do something to strain them again and I feel like I'm back to square one.  If they don't start to get to noticeably better soon, I suppose I should have them looked at.  Sigh.  I really didn't want to start a new year with new reasons to see doctors. 

Anyway...  now that some of the rooms here are looking presentable, I feel better about sharing some pictures of our new place.  At least spaces here that inspire me, delight me, or maybe even need some help.    

To bring anyone who might be in dark up to speed, here's the background...  Hubs and I had been talking for several years about looking for a one-story home that would be easier to grow old in than our tri-level of 23 years would be.  A fire was lit this summer when I was visiting a friend and she told me there were two houses behind her that were for sale.  They were lovely homes, in a quiet neighborhood, and we did go to see them, but as much fun as it might have been to have a built-in friend as a backdoor neighbor, we just weren't ready to jump at that point.  

But the fire was lit.  We got our heads into the game, figured out the financial part, started talking about what we wanted in our next home, and the search began.  Last summer I didn't write much at all about the search, but we often joked that meeting our realtors (they were a couple team) at new houses every weekend, was some of the best socialization we had during those four months.  

We really liked our realtors - both professionally, and as people.  Never pushy, they knew we wouldn't jump to make an offer unless we were both confident in buying a house, and that house needed to check some important boxes we both had.  They seemed perfectly content with that arrangement.

Near the end of October, we bought (closed on) a 30 year-old house in a small country neighborhood just a couple miles outside the town we've lived in for the past 23 years.  Thirty year-old houses come with issues (some we knew from the outset), but overall, it's a very pleasant house and property.  

My decorating style is pretty simple, and it could be many months before we start hanging anything on walls, but today let me invite you into our favorite room at the moment - our den:  

Pictures were taken on different mornings - just to see if I could get better pictures in different light:

It's challenging to get both the window and it's view, and the inside of the room to show well together, so your first glimpse of this room, unfortunately, makes it look very dark in here.   But it's actually the lightest/brightest room of the house when the shades are open on those three large east-facing windows.  

The reason this is our favorite room is, any time of the day, but especially in the morning, we enjoy sitting in the recliner (we take turns) sipping a cup of coffee (hubs) or tea (me) and watching the birds flitter around eating up birdseed like it's their last meal.  

Even on a drizzly cold day, the birds need to eat!

The previous owners left behind this large bird feeder hanger thing, and some of the bird feeders.  It is proving to be great entertainment - as long as we can afford to buy bird seed.  You can't tell from these pictures, but normally each feeder has multiple birds on it, and the birds go through the buffet of seeds like crazy.

While there are at least two downy woodpeckers who like to regularly visit the suet feeder, I think we may have either a red-bellied woodpecker or a yellow-bellied sap sucker, too.  It's more elusive, and I haven't had long to look at it when it's shown up, but it has a distinctly different red cap than the downy woodpeckers.  Honestly, when looking in a bird book, I thought it looked like a ladder-back woodpecker, but Indiana doesn't appear to be in their range.  So I have to just wait patiently and get a few more good looks at him to be more certain.   I only know it's a couple inches larger than the downy, has a beautiful red cap, and black and white wings.  And has shown up exactly twice for me.  

I look forward to removing the window screens this upcoming weekend when it warms up a tad, so hopefully, there will be some clearer bird pictures in the future.  We also have some beautiful blue jays, cardinals, nuthatches and finches of various colors - along with a mob of sparrows.  Who knows what spring and summer will bring.

The past owners called this room a sunroom - which the room probably was originally, but once upon a time someone enclosed the back patio/porch, and with two walls of windows we're calling that the sunroom.  Perhaps a nice picture of that room will come closer to spring time.  At the moment, what we're calling the sunroom is serving as overflow space as we still try to figure out where everything goes.  

Oh, okay..  since I imagine you'll appreciate me keepin' it real, here's a peek into the sunroom: 

That view, at the moment, isn't very pretty, so usually the blinds are closed.  One of these days we'll either figure out where the stuff in those boxes go, or maybe decide we don't actually need that stuff.  Sad to think we had to move it here to realize that, but such is life.

Back to the den before we leave:

That couch above, we brought home (in 2020) after hub's mother passed.  It was his parents' formal living room sofa for years - hardly ever sat upon, though we have pictures of us (pre-children) sitting on it nearly 40 years ago - it's that old.  After bringing it home, I said, "that would look great in a sunroom", but it sat in our living room for over a year, looking very old-fashioned and too small, hoping against hope we'd someday live in a house with a sunroom so it could prove me right.  It may make its way out to the sunroom come spring, but for the winter it makes a nice cozy spot to take a nap on.   And that blue crocheted blanket looks like it was made for it!

Ceramic wolf's head painted by middle son when he was a teen.  Gorgeous dry-brushing.

And that, dear reader is our den.  I can't believe I made a whole post about one room.   Little by little, I'll show you around more.  Some rooms still are in process.  I do hope to soon be crafting again.  In fact, I'm thinking about inviting you into my craft room for some organizing and maybe downsizing of supplies.  But as for actual crafting, I need to give my hand a bit of a rest - not sure when crocheting or knitting or stitching will resume.  Crafting is beginning to feel like something I used to do - a long time ago.  'Till I get back in that saddle, I'm enjoying crafts vicariously through other's blogs.

Thank you for visiting! And please come back again for another visit.  Now that life has resumed some normalcy, I'm going to try to find ways to not be so scarce.  😊

Happy New Year to you, and I hope you have a healthy and happy 2022.