The Day My Daughter Was Almost Attacked By a Dog at a Local Business

My four-year old daughter loves dogs; I mean, she LOVES dogs- every size, shape, color, breed.  Their slobbery kisses make her laugh; she loves to snuggle with the big ones and attempt to carry around the little ones.  When we take a walk on the bike path by our house, she instinctively makes a beeline for every dog along the way. Of course, I have taught her to ask the owners for permission before approaching and petting their dogs.  She[Read more]

The Importance of “Us”: How to Find a Shared Hobby with Your Spouse (Part 1)

Over the years, I have conducted an informal poll of couples married ten years or more, asking the following question:  Do you and your spouse have any hobbies or interests that you enjoy doing together?  A handful of these couples have responded affirmatively, listing traveling, golfing, backpacking, and bird watching as some of their shared interests.  The majority, though, have looked at me blankly, as if the idea was completely foreign to them.  I find this concerning, because I believe[Read more]

26 Steps to Simplicity: Toys (Why Is It So Hard to Get Rid of Them?)

As a parent attempting to contain and corral the steady influx of toys and trinkets into our home, I always appreciate a good post on how to keep toy clutter at bay.  Today, in addition to sharing my own efforts to simplify life with toys, I am including some fantastic, even radical, posts by other minimalist writers for you to check out along the way. A Helpful Guide for Decluttering Toys The Bins As I write this, we have exactly[Read more]

26 Steps to Simplicity: Living Room

“One can furnish a room very luxuriously by taking out furniture rather than putting it in.”    (Francis Jourdain, 1876) Over the past couple of years, we have remodeled our kitchen, living room, and the kids’ bedrooms. I have since been struggling with how to decorate these spaces. As an aspiring minimalist, I am trying to find the balance between less clutter and more meaningful, tasteful design.  In seeking out guidance for minimalist decorating, I have been disappointed with my findings.[Read more]

How to Encourage (and Enjoy) Your Child’s Independence

(I am taking a break from our 26 Steps to Simplicity series to bring you this post.  It still falls within the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, though: E is for Encourage.) I’m sitting here at the library, attempting to create an editorial calendar for my blog, while my four-year old daughter enjoys her weekly Storytime session.  Unlike the other moms, I am not participating with my daughter, marching around the room, waving my duck sign, or listening intently[Read more]

Wake Up Happy: Clean Your Kitchen (Plus, a Giveaway!)

If you want to wake up happy, you need to clean your kitchen before you go to bed.  I know, life gets busy, and the day grows long.  We run out of energy after dinner and think, I’ll take care of all this tomorrow, before turning off the light and leaving the kitchen in total disarray. However, even if you are a morning person who can tackle a full day’s worth of dishes, including those streaming in from breakfast, nothing[Read more]

Reflections on Christmas 2015

Guilt, confusion, relief, determination.  These are a few of the emotions I am wrestling with after this Christmas.  Let’s break them down. 1. Guilt.  How did I spend so much money?  By mid-November, the kids’ single gifts were purchased, and by mid-December, my Shutterfly gifts were completed.  But, somewhere in between, I spent double what I budgeted on people and things I hadn’t anticipated.  There are just so many people I want to bless over the holidays- Sunday School teachers,[Read more]

McMuffin or StudMuffin: The Choice is Yours

mcdonalds-all day breakfast menu

Today, McDonald’s unfolds a new initiative: the All Day Breakfast Menu.  Now, by popular demand, their 27 million daily U.S. customers can enjoy many of their trans fat laden, high sodium and syrup infused breakfast delights any time of the day.  I will not be one of them. THE LINE Each morning when I leave my local gym,  I see the same thing: the line.  At 6:15am, the McDonald’s drive-thru line reaches around the building. Every. Day.  My heart sinks[Read more]

Ode to Ave Maria (or Living Life Marie Kondo style)

“Anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you, and in this materialistic age, a great many of us are possessed by our possessions.”  Peace Pilgrim I claimed her fourteen years ago, after my great-grandmother passed away.  The family had gathered in Elda’s small, yellow house in Iron Mountain, MI to sort through her belongings.  As the newest married couple, Dave and I unexpectedly inherited her bedroom set, since everyone else already had one.  But there were[Read more]

5 Strategies to Avoid Unnecessary Spending

Part of adopting a minimalist approach to life is living only with those things that are necessary and that bring you joy.  However, our tendency to shop recreationally counteracts that end, as we fill our homes with more and more things we don’t really need . . . or want.  As a beginner on this journey, I have found five strategies to help me stop impulse spending in its tracks.  1. Flee Temptation.  Which store sucks you into its vortex[Read more]