Archive for the ‘minimalism’ Category

It’s dead, Jim.


Sweet Potato Vines


Brussels that didn’t sprout

Gourd Vines

I am giving up on much of the garden for the next few weeks. Isn’t it nice that when there is a drought I can just run to the grocery store instead of worrying about how I’ll live until spring on a few gourds?

Yes, I am done watering everything except two of my four tomatoes, and MAYBE my sweet potato hills, we will see.

Green Tomato with Style

Inflation in a photo

Pictured here is inflation.  On the left, this year’s $19.99 charcoal grill.  On the right, last year’s $19.99 charcoal grill.

Not pictured is the grill I bought in 2009 for the same price at the same store…it was bigger and nicer than the red one. (It had thicker metal, nicer legs, and a shelf type grilling rack.)

Go back 6 or 7 years and for $19.99 I bought a charcoal grill with a little wooden table on the front.

The stores are attempting to trick us into believing that prices aren’t rising rapidly by keeping the same price-points available.  It’s happening slowly, over time, that the product is becoming inferior to it’s past self.

Drawback to square foot gardening – weeding

I’m not talking about the weeds in the lawn, I’m talking about that ground cover growing under my garlic stems.

If I were growing garlic in a traditional row-based garden, I would have the rows and plants far enough apart that they could be weeded with a long handled hoe.  Raised bed gardening, and especially square foot gardening, places the plants in such a tight arrangement that they usually have to be weeded by hand.

I’ll probably spend 30-45 minutes on my knees getting these weeds away from my 96 garlic plants. That’s the price I pay for having a compact garden plan.

Glad he didn’t died! (First Guest Post by CAH)

Today’s post welcomes a guest blogger, CAH, who has more blog ideas waiting in the wings. Thanks C! – Jimmy

So glad that M. pulled through, worried there for a bit that we might have to find a mule team to pull us to Illinois in the blizzard to help L. with triage. As M. lay suffering we were also on a forced slowdown, and as we sat watching the snow fly I asked myself WWMVD? For the uninitiated: What Would M**** V**** Do? I have found that many problems of home and garden can be solved by asking oneself, WWMVD? WWMVD if he were healthy and homebound for a week with a stocked pantry? Cook and Eat!

As Winter rolls on the shelves are beginning to heave a sigh of relief as the colorful deep repositories of summer turn to clear shinny vessels waiting to be of use. We knew we would make it through with quinoa stew reincarnated, winter greens and cumin soup with lemon and feta, no kneed walnut bread, chocolate bourbon caramel cake with bourbon caramel glaze, cornbread, popovers, and deep dark spicy pickled beets. The bounty of Summer was preserved for us in large part due to the friendship of M. and L. and as the snow creeped up and the lids popped we were thankful for the earth that nourishes us and the friends that help us grow.

Thing-a-Day Overdue update

Ok, yeah, this post is almost a month overdue.  I decided to rid my house of 5 things a day during the month of August and I lost count. I’m pretty sure I made it. I sold some, threw a little bit away, and today I gave a full carload (like moving home from college full) to our local yearly abundance exchange.

I stopped taking pictures of the random junk I was ridding myself of a long time ago because, basically, you don’t really care WHAT I’m getting rid of. You just MIGHT, however, be interested in knowing if I made it.

I definitely made it. I got rid of well over 155 items in August.

The impact on my house is noticeable. In my bedroom closet I can see that the walls are painted white! In my crawl space I can see straight through to the back and I actually know where most things are. In my garage it’s only little bit better, but it feels roomier now that the donations have been dropped off. The computer room is getting better too.

The main point of this was that I wanted to FEEL lighter and freer, and it has worked. Just knowing that I have less stuff to take care of, watch over, maintain and move gives me a feeling of lightness and purpose. The stuff I kept has a reason to be in my house…it all has purpose now, not just some things. Ok, definitely not everything…but that is the goal.

Scale Down

Listen, watch….

Stand up. Look around and then scale that down too.
Stand up. Look around and then scale that down too.

I believe in a revolution
And I believe it is at hand
I believe in its thick hands that strengthen daily (daily) on demand

See I am blacksmith both of metal and words
And a sheep that’s pitch black too
And in this life spun short in the span of things
I believe there is a bit more we ought to think through

Cause 500 years ago
When these trees were more dense
And the colors pristine so the chaos made sense

There was no knowing of the loss of a whole mountain
Of a mountain that I call home
And these same hills rolled on and on
Without mention of vanishing or with whom to belong

And these same mountains echoed peace
Long before the noose
And now that too is nearly gone.

So what have we done as a civilization
To destroy in our own wake
That very metaphorical hand that feeds us
We are trashing our own birthday cake.

And I consider myself a skeptic
But an optimist in soul.

And we are getting force-fed
And hauled along like the bull
He’s huge and rage-full
Yet somehow subdued
And hauled by those thick rings
So don’t you too get stuck outside
The sticky nasty truth of things

Get the f*k out your car
Walk, its good for you
Stop consuming blindly
And get by on that that you do have to possess
And then scale that down too

Take a hard look at you
It starts there

Everyone has a lot to say about everybody else
But it’s our transgression that always tends to melt
Away and fade into that critique
of who’s fault
who’s blame
who’s wrong
But each and every one of us is doing something
too hard
too fast
too long
And there’s none but ourselves to make this thing last.

Yes there’s none but ourselves to make this thing last.

So it starts there
Take a long hard look at you.
Stand up look around and then scale that down too

It starts there
Take a long hard look at you. Stand up look around and then sale that down too.

5 Things a Day for the first month – Update 2

Ok, I am behind.

I pledged to get rid of 5 possessions each day for the month of August.  It has been two weeks since I last posted an update and I have only done a few more days worth of purging.


Because it is taking a lot of time to properly “get rid” of this stuff! I don’t just want to throw it in a dumpster. I want to find this stuff a home where it is going to get a few more years of life before becoming waste. 50% of the things I posted in my last thing-a-day update are still in boxes at my house, awaiting sale or donation and the new clutter is completely defeating the purpose of this exercise!

I suppose a run to the Salvation Army is in order on my lunch break one day this week. That should help reinvigorate me in my quest to stop allowing my crap to control me. But for now, it still is.

On the bright side, I have made some money already. I sold off some items on ebay or other internet forums and that money has been welcome. Again, everything has a trade-off, and in this case it was my time to post listings, procure packing supplies, multiple trips to the post office and e-mail correspondence with the buyers. Usually my time is worth more to me than the $20 I might net selling something, so I just give it away on Freecycle.

Here are two more piles I got rid of:

Enough pencils for an army

Leftovers from when I had a coin collection

Crap from a "junk drawer," all broken, expired or otherwise useless

(Five) Thing(s) A Day Update, Week 1

This is the end of my first week of purging myself of belongings that I don’t need in an attempt to reduce clutter, crowding, pack-rat-ism, whatever.  I decided to get rid of 5 things each day for the month of August.

For week 1, I went over the 35 necessary items by a long shot, but I’m just going to count it as a good week.  Assorted video game items that I know I don’t need…

Two of the games shown, and the equipment associated with them, were very hard to let go of.  I have very fond memories of playing them and I had the daydream that I would save them and play them with my boys.  Perhaps I could, but why? The games would only be nostalgic for ME. Heck, the boys might not even like them.

Instead I think I’ll find something THEY want to do and spend time with them doing that.  It’s a win-win in my eyes.

Week 1 was a Thing A Day success. The things are up for sale right now online and if that doesn’t work they will be garage saled or donated next month.

Thing A Day

I apologize for the lack of gardening, cooking and seed saving posts lately.  Looks like it has been over two weeks since I made a peep on here.  I’ll get some garden pictures posted up ASAP, and review the million jars we have canned over the last few weeks.

But first, I wanted to say that I am seriously considering joining the Thing A Day movement that I found on the blog at

The premise of Thing A Day is that for an arbitrary period of time that I choose, I have to permanently rid myself of one thing each day. I can give it to a friend, donate it to the Salvation Army, Freecycle it, throw it in the garbage if that is best, but just totally pare down the volume of my belongings.

I might even take it a step further and make myself let go of an additional item for each new thing I buy myself, just to keep a negative balance going in the house. I think I’m going to try doing this for a month, posting here about it once a week. If I can take it, maybe I’ll extend it for longer.

Then again, maybe ONE thing a day is far too easy for the first month.  Maybe it should be brutal, like 5 things a day for the first month?

What are your thoughts?

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