Using the Stash

With the minimalist challenge that I’m doing this May, my mind has been more focused on what I can get rid of versus what I need. I am a process knitter (that’s code for I start many projects and never finish). And I love to peruse Ravelry and my favorite knitting blogs like MDK, so it’s truly an active challenge to not want to order more yarn and start more new projects.

Yarn was scheduled for Day 9, and I knew that in order to donate 9 skeins of yarn (to my daughter’s classroom, btw) I would have to first get an overview of what I had, then make a list of possible projects I could make with what I had, and THEN decide what was truly worth destashing.

I frogged so many projects (Aspen, several scarves and shawls, a Tea Leaves Cardi, to name a few). It felt so great! And in the end, her classroom will receive a colorful bundle to play with at her end-of-year class party coming up.

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Of course, with such a public destashing, the onlooker quotient was not factored in. I have now on the needles a purple feather & fan church shawl for my youngest daughter. (SO SQUISHY, MOM, CAN YOU KNIT SOMETHING FOR ME? I’m a sucker for that, you know.)

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Reading Phases

I don’t know if this is common with others, but I go through reading phases. My interest will go heavily into nonfiction, fiction, biographies, magazines, cookbooks, or juvenile novels, for several months. Because I am actually recording what I read these days, there’s a certain effort into spreading it out. But what happens now, instead of enjoying that rabbit hole, it results in me just not reading and picking up my knitting or focusing on running, if I can’t get into what I’m telling myself I should be reading (instead of what I want to be reading). Which is a long way of saying, I haven’t been reading very much.

But I did pick up two excellent cookbooks that were new on my library’s shelves this past month (and disheartenedly, they are due tomorrow and reserved, so there’s no option of renewing).

Nourishing Meals by Alissa Segersten & Tom Malterre

Nourishing Meals was excellent, and would be a top notch resource if your meal planning involves sidestepping gluten, dairy and soy. You should have seen how many recipes I sticky-noted along the way! I made the grapefruit and radish salad a few weeks ago, and have so many more plans to incorporate these recipes into my daily routine. There’s practical advice on lunch planning, creating balanced family meals, and incorporating smart snacking into your diet.

Run Fast. Eat Slow. by Shalene Flanagan & Elyse Kopecky

I heard about Run Fast. Eat Slow. on the podcast, Another Mother Runner. The half marathon training was in full swing, and I was struggling with the energy to get out the door for the longer runs and trying to figure out what to eat (& when) to maximize my energy levels while also being realistic about balancing my busy work & kid schedule. With the help of this book, I roasted beets for smoothies, garlic and sweet potatoes, and batch cooked whole grains. This book was endorsed by some pretty impressive athletes- Joan Benoit Samuelson, Meb Keflezighi and Allyson Felix. I want to be running in ten or twenty years, and it is conclusive that getting nourishment from whole foods is the key to long-term success.

If you are into the whole foods movement or need help avoiding certain allergens, both of these books would be recommended.

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Fresh Doggy Laundry Day

I posted this picture on Instagram yesterday, because it’s just too funny not to share. The laundry round up of pet beds, toys, and blankets gives this sweet boy so much anxiety! But as all dog owners know, it is very necessary.

I love using essential oils around the house to clean. Not only does it smell great, but the oils also have antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties that work behind the scenes to not just mask the odors but destroy them. Here’s the blend I use to keep his stuff smelling fresh; Orange is the star of the show!

Fresh Doggy

Fresh Doggy

Lime- 9 drops

Bergamot- 18 drops

Lavender- 9 drops

Orange- 36 drops

I make the blend in a glass bottle with a dropper. Then I use the dropper to add about 20 drops into a glass spray bottle with a tsp of alcohol and 3 tablespoons of water. I use this to spray down his things between laundry days. After washing, I use 6 drops on a dryer ball and tumble.

Here’s a little more info on why I use Young Living Essential Oils. Let me know if you are interested in learning more!

Young Living products are not intended to prevent, treat, or cure any disease or condition.

Minimalism

Minimalism is so buzzy these days, from instagram to several of the blogs I follow and books I have been reading. Certainly it’s not a new idea, but it is new to me. New because college and for several years after, I moved around every year or two and I just didn’t have time to collect THE STUFF. But with kids, and staying in the same place now for a bit, I have accumulated so much STUFF. So much that the house that we bought and thought we would never fill, is filled to the brim. That’s where this minimalism game I found comes into play, and I decided to play it this month. So for every day of May, I will give, donate or throw away that day’s date of items (May 1 is 1 item, May 2 is 2 items, etc). I decided to start with a list of where THE STUFF accumulates to give myself a jump start on this culling process.

  1. change jar to the bank
  2. coats
  3. ratty dog toys
  4. old computer equipment
  5. winter gear
  6. playdoh/ junk cabinet
  7. old holiday decor
  8. wrapping paper
  9. yarn
  10. hats
  11. baby blankets
  12. the freezer
  13. junk drawer
  14. socks that don’t have matches
  15. art supplies
  16. kids’ bathroom
  17. cups
  18. books
  19. clothing- me
  20. clothing- my husband
  21. clothing- the kids
  22. toys
  23. office junk
  24. my bathroom cabinet
  25. the hairbow box
  26. grocery store bags
  27. the pantry
  28. more toys
  29. laundry room storage
  30. the garage
  31. the garage (so messy it deserves two days)

It’s so exciting to think I will be almost 500 items lighter as of June 1st! Have you tried anything like this before?

March Reading

It was another quality over quantity month for the reading list this past month.

My favorite was Long Man by Amy Greene, and you can read about it here. It’s everything I want to hear from a local voice.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey was another excellent book, almost magical, like a fairy tale. The delicate details of the Alaskan scenery are like Jack and Mabel’s love, not always confident but always complicated and beautiful.

Jack and Mabel are grieving the loss of a pregnancy and hopes of creating the family they want so badly. They move and pour their energy into homesteading in the 1920’s Alaskan wilderness. Faina, the snow child, comes to their homestead fantastically, in a blizzard. She arrives when their relationship is failing, and they are challenged with discerning if she is real or imagined. Jack and Mabel are looking for a new beginning together and Faina provides that foundation, even if it is fractured and slippery.

A brassy and bold neighbor of Mabel says earnestly, “We never know what is going to happen, do we? Life is always throwing us this way and that. That’s where the adventure is. Not knowing where you’ll end up or how you’ll fare. It’s all a mystery, and when we say any different, we’re just lying to ourselves. Tell me, when have you felt most alive?” {Drop the mic, as my daughter would say}

365 Thank yous by John Kralik. It was inspiring and humbling to read his story. He is self-admittedly arrogant and depressed, and hears a voice in the wilderness calling him to be a better version of himself. Through the process of writing a thank you note every day, his outlook changes from grumbly hateful to humbly grateful for the people around him, at work, on the street, and his family. It reminded me of the message of our church retreat, about allowing God to break in to our every day lives. (Perhaps try to put Philippians 4:8 into practice, if you that is something you feel lead to do.)

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby was mysterious and fantastical (and maybe a little too mysterious and fantastical for the audio version I was trying to listen to as I ran this past month). It was less confusing once I checked out the actual library copy, but I loved the narration of the audio version. The story moves around a high school boy, who witnesses a crime and wrestles with his role in the crime, as well as discovers love and his identity in the process. (And now that I know the ending, I’d like to reread it; it’s that kind of book.)

What are you reading? Anything inspiring or hard to put down? I’d love to hear!

Eat Now: Radishes!

I have found that eating produce that is in-season is one of the easiest ways to save those grocery dollars, but it also maximizes the nutritional benefit of those veggies that you are spending your hard-earned money buying.

Radishes are not exactly packed full like your superfoods kale and blueberries, but they aren’t bad either – and you can get a bundle for less than a dollar (or grow your own easily from an inexpensive pack of seeds).  They have both ascorbic and folic acid, as well as potassium, vitamin B6, riboflavin, magnesium, copper, and calcium.

My favorite way to eat them is sliced paper thin on buttered toast with a little sea salt (pictured above). Not fancy, but dresses up some otherwise bread & butter in a delicious way.

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I also picked up Nourishing Meals recently and made the Grapefruit, Radish, and Cabbage Salad. The recipe calls to serve immediately, but I ate it for lunch for 3 days and it kept getting better. The champagne vinegar with the grapefruit juice was so sweet and tangy, and the crisp red cabbage and spicy radishes stood up nicely to it.

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Grapefruit, Radish, and Cabbage Salad (my version, adapted slightly*)

  • 6 cups red cabbage, sliced thinly
  • 4 pink grapefruit, sliced without pith 
  • 6 small radishes, sliced thinly
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp champagne vinegar
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Toss cabbage & radishes, slice grapefruit into the salad. Then whisk the dressing & toss into the salad. *I doubled the grapefruit & used red cabbage instead of napa cabbage because that’s what I had on hand. I left off the snipped chives to dress.

 

 

Long Man: A Novel

I wanted to feature Amy Greene’s latest novel #1 because she is an East Tennessee local author, #2 because she writes so beautifully about this region, and #3 her stories are so real they will have you googling for more information to unearth the fiction from the truth.

Long Man is set in 1930’s East Tennessee, during the height of TVA’s progress building dams and bringing electricity and modernity to many rural parts of Tennessee. The fictional town of Yuneetah rings like Loyston, a real town that was uprooted during the creation of Norris Dam. The book centers around a family whose little girl goes missing in a bad storm, just moments before they are set to evacuate and the flood waters are rising. She uses those family members and extended family, a drifter returning to the area, many townspeople, and TVA representatives to paint this picture of a town on the brink of extinction and the indecision in the face of the unknown.

Greene perfectly captures the pride of these impoverished people and the Cherokee influence on the region. Through the voice of Ellard Moody, the town sheriff who is investigating the lost child, her description of how he plans to move forward and what he wants to remember of the town of Yuneetah rang so beautifully true to me. She writes that he wants to remember “how a fresh crewelwork of snow dressed even the dustiest of their farmyards. How leaves shaped like hands of their babies sailed and turned on the eddies of the river. How an open meadow sounded when they stood still. How ripe plums tasted then they closed their eyes. How cucumbers smelled like summer. How lightning bugs made lanterns of their cupped palms. How it felt to come in from the cold to where a fire was built. These things they hadn’t lost. But, like Ellard, they had grown too weary to see them anymore.”

The narrator in the audio version has a Southern raspy accent, and it helped shape the story at first, but I grew frustrated near the end because it felt too slow. Just as TVA wanted to ignore the voices of the town of Yuneetah in the name of progress, I too wanted to see progress in the narrator’s accent. I ended up returning the audio version and getting the actual library copy so I could read faster.  If you like reading about East Tennessee, both Amy Greene’s Long Man and Bloodroot are excellent books to add to your reading list.