My New Minimalist Goal


I’ve been living with less than 100 personal items for more than a decade now. I know my life and my children’s lives are the better for it. I am calmer and wealthier without the clutter. Less stressed.

[exhibit A: I recently helped a friend clean out a room in her basement that had been collecting dust, and it turns out, mice for about 20 years. As we decluttered and vacuumed and scrubbed, she kept exclaiming, “Oh, this feels so wonderful!” “It feels like I am getting my life back!” “This was so overwhelming, I just ignored it.” Bonus–we found a valuable family heirloom that had been missing for 15 years.]

I do still have the goal of eventually having only 100 items all together. But this is not an achievement for the head of a household. That will have to wait until the kids have left home.

I feel that I still have room to grow in the “having enough time” category.

[exhibit B: Since 1985 when I started nursing school with a toddler in tow, I have kept a lengthy “To Do” list. This past year, I wrote a proposal for, created, practiced and presented at a national convention. I studied for and passed my Hospice Certification Exam. I maintained a blog and home full of teenagers. I helped my daughter prepare for college and drove her there with all her stuff. I took my middle son on a 2,300 mile, eight-day college tour. I have a job that pays for all that. I marketed my book.]

What I intend to do for the next year, is live without a “To Do” list. I will still take care of the kids and the house. I will still work out three to four times per week and work on my novel those days as well. But I intend to take it a little easier. More naps on the couch. More library books. More visits with friends.

If I see something that needs to be done….I’ll do it. But if I can’t do it right away I will not write it down on a list. If I forget, I guess it wasn’t that important.

This whole idea seems decadently luxurious.

Food Or Decoration


Living with teenagers, it is interesting to observe some of their quirky ways.

For example, the house can be filled (ok my idea of “filled” may be less than yours) with ingredients to make dishes and meals. But if there is no food item in a tin can which can be opened into a bowl and microwaved, then there is “no food in the house.” I could feed us for a week with the flour and baking powder and celery and carrots and frozen chicken and canned tomato sauce…..but they, I fear, would starve.

Something similar happens with fruit in a bowl. If there is a bowl of unpeeled oranges, even sitting on the counter, it will go uneaten. A package of unwashed grapes in the fridge, the same. A pineapple is invisible on the dining room table while it sits uncut in a bowl. BUT- if I peel, wash, cut the fruit and put it in a serving container-it will disappear faster than I-pads on Black Friday.

It is as if some part of their brain that is still wiring itself is immature in the recognition of food area. You would think that nature would have wired this part first.

Minimalist Christmas Celebration



Who Boy! It’s starting.

The Holiday Season.

Secret Santas and holiday cookies. Special social events and charity requests. Decorating extravaganzas! While many people get positively giddy with all this season has to offer, I am not one of them. When my kids were little, the extra work involved in just stuff the school required was exhausting.

Today, I got an e-mail requesting that each of the band families (there are about 110 of us) bring two dozen, holiday themed, preferably home-made cookies to the winter concert.

No.         Just no.

Here is what my Christmas celebration and the month of December will look like: Gifts for grown son and daughter-in-law were obtained and wrapped before Thanksgiving. They spent Thanksgiving with my family (thanks for doing all the driving, kids) and will spend Christmas with my daughter-in-law’s family. I sent their gifts home with them, saving shipping costs.

Gifts for my other kids and mother and one friend have been purchased and wrapped and are waiting in a closet. I would put them out as decorations, but the cats eat the wrapping.

Our decorations are a fresh wreath on the front door, a bowl of ornaments and the stockings hung on the mantle. It took ten minutes tops to get all that up.

I plan to fix a nice meal Christmas eve, when I will be celebrating the holiday with my three younger children. We will open gifts after dinner. If I wasn’t working the next day, I would likely go to midnight Mass. But one of my colleagues, who has elementary aged children and her husband is having heart surgery two weeks before Christmas, is scheduled to work Christmas day.  I have offered to work for her.

So the month of December will be peaceful and joyful as I have already done all the work for the holiday that I choose to do.

Last week of the New Link Menus

Monday: Meatball sandwiches with baguette bread(4.32) and steamed broccoli (0.75) with a pat of butter (0.02.)   Dinner=$5.09.

Tuesday: We got lucky. Middle son had the cross country awards banquet–seniors to bring drinks. So, we brought a couple bottles of soda (on sale for 0.99 each) and ate a feast of pot luck foods and fried chicken. Youngest ate canned ravioli 0.69. So dinner cost $2.67. Woot!

Wednesday: Kids were gone, so I ate the meatballs and sauce leftover from Monday. No bread. And an orange. So no added cost.

Thursday: Big spread at mom’s house. Our contribution is Greek Salad: romaine lettuce $1.99, tomatoes $0.60, Feta cheese $1.00, half a red onion  $0.19, and Katamara olives that I got on sale 6 months ago $1.50-total for the salad-$5.28. We also brought cranberry relish: cranberries $0.99, orange $0.44, cup sugar $0.19-total for the relish $1.62 and 12 Cinnabons that I bought as a fund raiser for the Speech club $36. And yes, I know that $3.00 per cinnamon roll is ridiculous. I could make a whole batch for that. That $36 is not coming out of the food budget though, I took that money out of the extracurricular activity budget.

Total for Thursday: $6.90.

Friday: Kids were gone all day after breakfast. I ate leftovers all three meals–no extra $$$ spent.

Saturday:  Lunch was pork loin $8.46 (2 of them,) Corn & bean salad $3.36  and steamed green beans ($1.49) with butter ($0.04). spinach salad ( spinach 1.79, feta $1.00, tomatoes  $0.60, olives $1.50.) All of the leftovers still present in the fridge were also served and every bit was eaten. Yeah! Total: $18.18.

Appetizers: crackers (0.63) and brie (1.50) & crudités (0.38) and hummus ($1.00) and Merlot ($6.49) Total $10.00.

Dinner was chicken pizza $4.34

Most expensive day of the year so far–$32.52.

So even with the holiday, we only spent $ 324.18  well under the $497.00 alloted for a family of 3. See? Totally doable.