Sunday, July 31, 2011

Assigned Parking

Whoa! Clutter drives me crazy. There are certain areas that are clutter magnets.
One such place is the counter in the kitchen. For some odd reason cups are known to multiply worse than bunnies. I have a solution that has worked (within reason) for more than a year.

My solution?
Assigned Parking!

Important equipment for that job:
  • Colored Sharpies
  • Mugs with handles
  • A calendar
  • A round melamine tray (with handles)

Why the handled mugs?
One of the beauties of having handled mugs is the fact that it is easy for any child to hold and the mug itself can hold either hot or cold liquids without the need for another glass. Each child has a special handled mug of their own that they wash after use.

Why the colored sharpies?
Each day has a color. That color sharpie is used to write each child's name on his/her mug and a corresponding colored dot is put on the calendar for that day. The sharpies are held in a container just inside the cabinet door (in the kitchen) near the sink. The same door holds the all I have to do is open the door, grab the color of the day, mark a dot on the calendar, sign the names and put the sharpie back! and close the door...done!! If anyone comes up to me and asks me if their mug was cleaned that day I just point to the colored dot on the calendar and ask if their name is that color...easy peasy.

Why the round melamine tray with handles?

It IS the parking place!
The generous size of the tray holds all of the mugs and has enough room for a small pitcher of iced tea. My tray was purchased at Target and it is so easy to clean. It holds any spills and keeps the mugs corralled together. We can easily move all of the mugs from the counter top to the table without making multiple trips. The handles on the tray do make it very easy to balance the load and the lip on the tray keeps the mugs from falling off during transport! The transporting is done by an older child or parent. Most of the day the tray has a parking place at the end of the counter. It is SO worth the counter space! It is the drink center. It is near the coffee pot(or press!), tea bags or whatever else we make drinks with. Convenient~!

My counter top is a lot less cluttered and a LOT dryer. Most of the pouring messes go into the tray and it is an easy fix to clean that up. And it is very easy to move if we need to use the counter for food prep...easy to move and easy to put back!

And as for the sharpie on the mugs?
My mugs do come clean of their marks with a little elbow grease and soap and hot water. Not all mugs will erase that easily so you might want to test the sharpie on an inconspicuous spot on your mugs first. I do find that some mugs hold a bit of a shadow when I erase the name off in the water, but it does fade away quickly.

Now when "not me" leaves their mug in the forbidden areas of the living room, I can quickly find the name of that errant rascal and make him pick up the mug himself and put it in its parking place on the tray. If I see anyone drinking from a mug that is not their own, I can easily tell. It cuts down on the need for mommy to be omniscient ALL of the time. (You know, being omniscient gets so tiring!)

Washing is easy. I just count to 9 and it is all done...well...11 if you count me and dear husband ;o)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Finding Elegant Simplicity in Me

It is always hard, isn't it? Trying to find simplicity and living it. I have my own thoughts about what that should look like. And then, I have to add in the opinions and dreams of my family and the physical realities that pull on us every day. That can get complicated!

My aim is simplicity. Pure and simple.

Even with 9 children a husband and a fixer-upper home. I can find peace amidst the chaos that is my life. It is always its rawest form.
The beginning of a journey of sorts, I suspect.

But what is Elegant Simplicity?
I wrote this a few years ago and I think this is a beautiful place to start. The start of a journey to find blessing amidst the chaos of life. ...a life well-lived.

I had an aunt that I barely remember...she was a Dominican nun who was very educated and devoted,( but never lorded it over felt completely at home in her presence) wore the old habit and suffered much in her life(cancer) She had a big beautiful heart that was gentle enough to melt the heart of my big bear of a Grandfather with her sweet simple ways. She would be the first one to cut the roses in the garden to place on the table...only to hear my uncle gasp that his roses were nearly extinguished...this would invoke peals of laughter from her and a gentle reproof that God made those roses for the dinner table for all to appreciate not just for his tiny garden! She would eat good things but turn away seconds with the claim "I have acchieved an elegant sufficiency...thank you so much!!" We learned much from her!

For me, it is her memory and more...the touches here and there around the home that give it a feeling of care, warmth and welcome. It is a way of being a good steward with your gifts and passing them down to your children. It is purposeful living. It is the smell of baking bread and bubbling soup. It is (for me) making a work apron and when I wear it it means that I mean business. It both an attitude and an act of preparing the heart and the home. It is a simple flower in a vase, a tablecloth on the table and a tall cup of iced tea when it is hot. it means a pair of well-worn rosaries in your pocket (that are USED often)

It is a little extra touch in little places to make someone feel thought of...It is not the accumulation of things, but uses things at times to invoke the best from people. You don't have to spend a fortune for this lifestyle. it is not about living cheaply, it is about living SIMPLY. It is having a GOOD piece of chocolate now and then and having a GOOD cuppa now and then and taking the effort to put it in a teapot to make it special. It is taking a deliberate pause to make things thoughtful. It is welcoming the Divine Guest in every person.

For us, it is a way of making do with less...but making what we do have speak for itself. I can bring to mind the french does not have to be overdone to doesn't even have to match, but it should me meaningful! Garage sales can bring home such treasures. Sometimes you have to be creative a little sneaky...or should I say surprising...God is...just think of the gentle touches of love He sends you every day...a gentle breeze just when you need isn't a co-incidence! It is a God-incidence and it takes a thoughtful pause to recognize and thank God for is an attitude of thoughtfulness and gratitude!

it means being a LADY no matter what your circumstances...making lemonade out of lemons, being hopeful that God will bring the best out of people and situations and commending all to His care and providence and it means working hard...the good kind of working hard according to our station in life. it is filling your heart and life with living things, living books, living music, living a full life..seeing life as a garden...all things in this garden should pray and give praise to God the Creator of all things. All things come from Him and all things should go back to Him as a hymm of thanksgiving and prayer. It is the peace that only He can give, the calm amidst the storm. It is being the heart of the home and modeling the virtues of Our her care we will be tended to as a garden...weeded, pruned, trainded up in her school of secret in her secret garden of virtue and love...did you notice that She doesn't speak much in the bible? She does act! She says "I am the handmaid of the Lord...""Do as He tells you" and she STANDS at the foot of the cross...what strength! What a LADY!!

Simplicty is an art! It is an art of living is the opposite of its vice...elegant is opposite the crude Albert Einstein once said" Out of clutter, find simplicity."

Here are some quotes from my notes on Simplicity. I am working on a virutes project with the children that also involve the Mary Garden and the Virtues of Our is still a work in progress...I hope great things from it!!

"Simplicity, carried to an extreme, becomes elegance." Jon Franklin

"Less is more. God is in the details." (Mies van der Rohe)

"Simplicity doesn't mean to live in misery and poverty. You have what you need, and you don't want to have what you don't need." (Charan Singh)

"Eliminate physical clutter. More importantly, eliminate spiritual clutter." ~D.H. Mondfleur

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter... to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some of the rewards of the simple life. ~John Burroughs

The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life. ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Live simply that others might simply live. ~Elizabeth Seton

As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness. ~Henry David Thoreau

We don't need to increase our goods nearly as much as we need to scale down our wants. Not wanting something is as good as possessing it. ~Donald Horban

The sculptor produces the beautiful statue by chipping away such parts of the marble block as are not needed - it is a process of elimination. ~Elbert Hubbard

“Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.”
Frederic Chopin

“The simplest things are often the truest.”

“Simplicity is the nature of great souls.”

“Simplicity is indeed often the sign of truth and a criterion of beauty.”

“There is a certain majesty in simplicity which is far above all the quaintness of wit.”
Alexander Pope

“Simplicity, clarity, singleness: These are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy as they are also the marks of great art. They seem to be the purpose of God for his whole creation.”
Richard Holloway

The little things? The little moments? They aren't little.
John Zabat-Zinn

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have
into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos
to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast,
a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes
sense of our past, brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow.
Melody Beattie

Simplicity in character, in manners, in style; in all things the supreme excellence is simplicity.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow