On Inch by Inch Garden Progress and Small Steps that Take You Places

I started this post with the lovely idea of showing you a few of the recycled items that I’ve repurposed in my back garden – junk pile gardening I thought we could call it. Now that was about three months ago now and my lovely idea went pear shaped when I realised the extent of the diabolical mess going on in my back yard. There was no editing it out, there was no disguising it and then the need to keep things real around here got the better of me.

So here’s what I might have shown you had I stuck to the plan

Here’s what I wouldn’t have shown you.

Spot the difference?

Now if you have a garden you’ll know one thing –  if you turn your back on it for five minutes it gets away on you and any longer than that it goes completely mad. Weeds take over, things fall apart, the rabbits dig holes, the dogs chew stuff up and in the blink of an eye the grass is suddenly up to your knees and the bush growing against the back fence has taken over a third of the yard.

Its not the first time its got away on me.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked out, looked around and asked myself

  1. How in heck did it get so bad so quickly?
  2. Who on earth lets there garden get in such a state? Short answer to that is apparently I do. Me with one husband, two kids, three chooks,  a couple of dogs, two rabbits, a guinea pig, a lizard and a pumpkin plant thats hell bent on growing under the fence from my neighbours yard and taking over mine.
  3. And thirdly how for the love will I ever ever pull it straight again. And do I have the energy? There’s no team of gardeners waiting in the wings, there’s no week off work to throw myself at it, there’s no  budget put aside.

So, after the initial shock and the “I should be ashamed of myself”  type statements theres nothing else for it but to do what I always do and that’s start where I am with what I have.

On that day it was about thirty minutes focused attention on one small corner of the yard, – yes start small on something easy I say –  and it happens every time that I’m always, always, ALWAYS !!!! amazed at what you can get done in a shortest space of time. And then you come back and do it again the next day or the next week or whatever you’ve got and you keep coming back to it and the shocking mess transforms itself into something not quite so shocking at all in the end.

I still go back to these words

 – – –  small steps will often keep us going when we run out of steam with the grand gestures.   Leeana Tankersley

Sometimes small steps are the only thing you can do when time and money, energy and ability and plain old priorities count the “grand gestures” out for the time being

– – – and sometimes taking one small step can seem like the grandest gesture of all.

Here’s what I did that first day in a small area between the far end of my back verandah and the side fence.  It was the least of my worries compared to the rest of the garden but it was a nice easy place to start.

Before

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During

We had some old fence palings that Ken had cut up for firewood  but I thought them better suited to garden edging.

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After

A bit more of a clean up, two bags of $3 wood chip, a good sweep and hose down and it’s looking not too bad. So nice to see my little paved area again too.

Doing one small area made me feel less overwhelmed and reminded me again of the value every single time of taking simple small steps. Small steps will get you on your way and nudge you closer to the transformation your looking for while grand plans and total makeovers are crying in the corner.

Heres what I love about small steps

  • there the ones I can do
  • they cost next to nothing
  • they don’t take long,
  • you can just use what you have
  • they keep the creativity flowing
  • they make me feel better, like I can do a thing or two
  • one step sheds light on the next step
  • they add up
  • they keep me moving forward
  • they get me further than I ever think they will

When you’ve lost the plot, feel stuck, in a funk, hemmed in, powerless to change, far from where you want to be. Take one small step (and the tiniest step will do), do something, start something, then take the next step and then the next one. Remember this gem.

Three months on where does that leave me with my runaway garden.

Making incremental progress and celebrating tiny victories thats where.

Twenty minutes here, an hour there, sometimes two hours on a Saturday afternoon but mostly less. It’s been slow but steady progress.

I’ve been putting off showing you though.

See I wanted to have some totally amazing AFTER photos to show you so we could all have a “tadah”  moment. Maybe a few of them. Well we may still have the odd one but this is me and it seems we are a continual work in progress around here so what your far more likely to find are:

  • truly shocker before shots
  • in progress along the way shots
  • a whole lot better but not perfect shots
  • and a few “I’m happy with this for now till the grass starts to grow again” shots.

I’ve come to terms with it, I hope you can too.

So the main area I’ve been working on is along the back fence

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And dealing with this huge overgrown bush. I planted it so I’ve no one else to blame. What I didn’t know is that it was going to go mad and claim almost a third of our lawn area.

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Now  I was sure I’d need some sort of brush cutter or front hoe or back hoe or whatever – something big and forceful that had a motor that could rip it out and chew it up. Well none of those were available on the Saturday afternoon I had a mind to tackle it.

But I did have these.

I spent about an hour on it and by the time I had cut away everything I could with these little snippers, which was very therapeutic and satisfying I might add, there wasn’t that much left of it at all.  I could see the corner of my yard that I hadn’t seen in years, I could see the state of our decrepit fence and I found a pumpkin ready to be picked.

At that point Ken arrived like the Cavalry with the chain saw and a ladder to do the final cuts that I couldn’t do with the snippers. That didn’t bode well for me .  A chainsaw, a ladder, a husband with a bung foot and a sense of balance not as good as it used to be – I could see it all unfolding, the nasty accident, the tourniquet, the ambulance.   Ladder was removed and big strapping son came out – yes covered shoes, gloves, protective eye wear – and saved the day. A few cuts with the chainsaw and it was done.

Remains of the  unwieldy shrub were now sitting on top of the trampoline and in other piles all over the yard and gradually over the following weeks as the greenery died off I had a series of lovely Saturday afternoon yard fires. All the dead and dying plants were removed from the fence line slowly along with the old pergola frame and all the old fence palings revealing the fence behind – sturdy and in one piece even if none too glamorous.

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We are talking two months later now cause it took a while to get through that mountains of offcuts but then a bit of a clean with the broom and two coats of charcoal paint later and she’s looking not too bad.

These from after I mowed what’s left of the lawns

And after a bit of rearranging of pots and benches and prettying up.

I  reused the old bricks I found laying along the fence line to cap the raised corner garden bed we hadn’t been able to get to for years.

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img_5584And the the old pergola posts were reused here to make a little garden bed

and here where I used the top beam to make a totally unnecessary but very grand entrance to our humble little chook yard. The two side posts were already there, we just had to even then up and add the top “trim”. Another example of how when I start something completely hair brained that we totally don’t need to do Ken will quite happily come along and help me do it. I even moved my two sandstone urns to in front of the posts so my “arbour” looks even grander now.

A quick Before pic – doesn’t show the posts but they’re left and right of where I’m standing.

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And this after the “arbour” went up and a coat of paint.

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So maybe it did turn out to be a post about junk pile gardening after all and this warts and all version is because friends this is my right now life and these are the small steps I can take right now to do something within the limits I have. The principle applies to any area of life not just crazy gardens and my hope as always is that it might encourage you in your “right now” life with your small steps.

I’ll be sharing a few more Before and Afters – the slow progress kind – from the other areas of the garden on Instagram over the next few weeks so take a peek there if you like. I’ve miles to go so there may be a few.

I’ll leave you with this. I recently ordered a book on writing. There was something about the title Bird by Bird that grabbed me even before I knew the particulars. When I read the synopsis well I knew why.

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’

Amen to that xxx

Joining in with Grandmas House DIY Link Up

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Five Minute Friday – Way

Five Minute Friday= prompt word, five minutes, just write.

No overthinking, no over complicating.

This weeks prompt word: WAY

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No way !!!!

Yes way

The first two words shout out big and bossy like they know all there is to know. Like they’ve decided and that’s all there is to it.

The second two are whispered but they’re determined, not easily put off, resilient, resourceful and they just might have a secret weapon up there sleeve.

I spend lot of my life trying to figure out a way to get a thing or two done around here. See when it comes to home projects it’s alway ALWAYS!! been a juggle of limitations of one or another. I’ll have plenty of one thing (ideas and hair brained schemes mostly) and a scarcity of another (money, time, expertise, teams of able bodied tradesmen). The size and shape of the limitation/s changes randomly. At the moment it’s mainly time. Now that I work full time I never seem to be home and being a homebody with a capitol H it presents all sorts of frustrations to my “have to have a project in the works” self. Seeing a few things done, making progress, keeping things fresh and moving adds enormously to my sense of well being. So not having a lot of time to do these things small or large, presents an ongoing challenge.

but I do like a challenge.

And there’s always a way.

There has to be a way.

(My five minutes ran out about here).

One way I’ve worked out to keep things moving along is to simply do smaller projects that don’t take much time. And when I say small,  sometimes they’re minuscule. Ten minutes sometimes. Half an hour to an hour at most other times. Works the same way. Small project done = enormous satisfaction = sanity saved.

Here’s a sample.

I also worked out long ago that a good way to get something done, especially something big is to break it down into smaller parts. Twenty minutes concentrated effort on one thing in succession is my favourite.

But

I think I might have taken this idea to the next level just lately. You’ve heard of “death by a thousand cuts”. Well this is finished project by a thousand tiny goes at it.

I have a lovely set of French doors leading out to my back deck. Photos below you can see them in the background.

They were given us for free by a client in Kens painting days. They’ve been installed here now a good long while. They’re solid and beautiful but they need a really good sand and oil to make them sing. Famous last words those and who in their right mind wants to or has the time available to sand down a set of double French doors. I do apparently. I decided I couldn’t bare looking at the water stains, the rough edges and greasy finger marks any darn longer.

The only way I could think of that was remotely within my capabilities is to do one teeny tiny section at a time, and because sanding is horrid I decided five to ten minutes a day is the most I was prepared to do it. I’m up to day number five – it’s my weekday project – (the back fence is my weekend project). Just before I leave for work, I put a cloth down, sand for five to ten minutes, wash my hands and go to work.

I have accomplices. Other like minded people egging me on.

It might be a while but I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Any projects happening your way. Would love to here.

To read what other people have done with there five minutes click here.

Also joining in with Grandmas House DIY Link Up

What I Found this Summer

Good without the bad ain’t no good at all.   Everything Must Go

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Hi friends –  if you’ve joined me here for a while you’ll be familiar with my What I Found posts. These are simply a way of paying attention to my right now life and being thankful for all of it. The lovely, the not so lovely, the inspiring, the exasperating, the trivial (that’s sometimes not so trivial) and occasionally the deep down meaningful that stops  me in my well worn tracks. It all counts. It all has a place. Today its a mixed bag of things learned and found and enjoyed and noticed  over these past  summer months.

WHAT I LEARNED

1. Letting yourself ask WHY good and loud can somehow help settle things on the inside of us even when the answers are still illusive or taking their own sweet time in coming.

In my most recent post I had a good whinge about my job. I didn’t mean to but out it came and at the end of the five minutes of writing I decided that regardless of the “whys” and “what fors” I always want hope and possibility to have the final say. Now I’d perculated on those words for a few days before I decided to hit publish but somehow writing them made me feel better about everything. That nagging on the inside, the wanting to cry if I thought about it too much, the frustration, the feeling of being sidelined –  just fizzled out. I still don’t know what will happen with this job,  I can only trust it’s somewhere good and I’m looking at it now from a different angle

Then this happened

About an hour after I published that post in my lunch break I got asked out of the blue to go back onto inbound calls for two hours because of the high call volume. I said yes in about a nano second. In that two hours I remembered how good and life giving it felt to be interacting with and helping people but – – – I also remembered how challenging and demanding and utterly exhausting it is to be interacting with and helping people. The grass isn’t always greener it’s just a different shade.

Then this

With Chinese New Year a fortune cookie arrived on my desk. Now I’m not looking for my fortune to be told, not now not ever but I was hungry so that fortune cookie was getting eaten and this  fell out.

Well let’s hope they are.

Now that made me laugh. See adventure was my “word” for last year and no it didn’t have me canoeing down the Amazon or jumping out of a plane so it was an odd word for me but there it is and I felt like it followed me into this year too but with the change in my work any chance of adventure felt well and truly trampled on. And boring well that’s a word I’ve been bandying about willy nilly since starting this role. So as random as it was, these few words  hit me right at heart level and felt a bit like God saying “get a grip it’s all under control and its better than you think”.

So what I was reminded of (again) is that our emotions rarely tell the real story. Theres always a bigger story in the making than what we can perceive with these eyes or touch with our hands. I thing hope keeps us looking for the bigger story.

2. I like white

Now its no secret how much I love a bit of colour and pattern in the home furnishings department.  Still do. Always will. And if its mismatched and vintagey and all thrown together all the better but over the last few months I’ve had a hankering for white. White walls mainly buts it seems to be spreading and yes I think it must reflect a inner hankering for some simple, clean, and calm in my life. A bit of white it seems can go a long way towards that.

It started with

Painting this  tiny wall

Then I was given this set of white sheets,

They’re microfibre, 1600 thread count – softest sheets I’ve ever had and they feel like velvet but it’s the white that really shone and brightened the room more than I could have ever imagined. Small change but a huge difference.

Then I found these beauties.

$12.00 a pack at The Reject Shop. That bright white was calling my name. Thought I was getting one curtain in each pack so bought six but nope theres two in each. The red sticker that says “2 Pack” should have given it away but no I didn’t twig. I thought I’d put them in the lounge room but they’ve ended up in the bedroom.

They couldn’t go up until I painted the walls and the difference that a) taking the lined curtains I’ve had there for years down b) painting the walls and trim Antique White USA has been nothing less than revolutionary. The sense of space and light in the room now is monumental. It feels so much bigger and brighter and it’s doing me all sorts of good. And even though I’ve got some brightly coloured frames in the works and a new gallery wall in the planning my inkling for right now except for one small painting next to the window is to leave it completely blank.

I like these words from Courtney Carver at Be More with Less.

3. BFFs are the best

“If we have friends we should look only for the best in them and give them the best that’s in us, don’t you think”. Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables

Seeing Olivia and her best friend Milly hang out together all summer reminded me  of what is truly good and right and lovely about having a bosom friend as Anne would say.

These two are of the same ilk, both gentle souls and because of it their friendship has stuck. Both as relaxed and sweet spirited as each other. Their only real agenda when they’re together is to giggle a lot and have themselves some fun. But heres what I’ve really noticed that means so much to me and I know to Milly’s mum as well – they’re good to each other, they have each others back, not interested in comparing or competing, they don’t put each other down or try to out do each other, theres no power plays or tantrums, their not exclusive or divisive, there’s always room for one more to join in whatever shenanigans they’re up to and all of it as refreshing as it is rare. They are each others biggest fans and first picks always when it comes to fun and having a jolly good time. And oh they certainly had themselves a good time over summer.

Let’s just say they summered hard – they swam and played and laughed and FaceTimed there way through. Giggled almost constantly and discussed every aspect of “Stranger Things” ad infinitum and still there were more things to say about it apparently. There were movies, sleepovers, endless selfies, water parks and fun park rides, fireworks and summer sized servings of ice cream and hot chips thrown in on a regular basis for good measure. A pretty perfect summer all round but like anything isn’t it really about the people you share it with.

We can worry so much about what we are giving or not giving our children, are we doing enough and in the right amounts. Are they missing out. And then it all gets put into perspective because the things they really need to be OK aren’t what we can buy. And doesn’t a good friend make just about anything OK. A true friend is somewhat rare and  as precious a thing as you’ll ever find, a gift of a thing. And this is the stuff that really counts isn’t it, this is what they’ll remember when they’re grown – having someone to jump in at the deep end with them and go on the scariest rides, someone safe to tell your secrets too and laugh with till you cry. I got me one of those. So thankful my girl has too.

And the more the merrier

WHAT I FOUND

Both my sisters visited over the summer and when they visit we do the rounds of the op shops together – it’s officially a thing. Now I seem to gravitate to the same kind of things every time- cane baskets, pretty cushions, paintings, plates, bowls , coloured glassware and books. The only non op shop find is the cream chair which I found beside the road as you do – my other favourite shopping location.

Kitchen

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Cushions

Paintings

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Roadside

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WHAT I WATCHED

I’ll confess I’m a bit of a Netflix binge watcher and I managed to watch six seasons of Longmire in an absolute jiffy. Felt like I’d only watched maybe two or three. Nope all six. but I was hooked early on. What I liked about it

  1. The scenery – set in Wyoming and oh my the mountains, that sky – just spectacular
  2. The log cabins – from cute little ones styled to perfection all the way up too huge ranch style ones which were gobsmacking
  3. The “old fashioned”  manners and morals and classic pitch of good against evil. All of it still works for me and in spades.
  4. And it didn’t hurt one little bit all the handsome fellas getting about in cowboy boots and wide brim hats.

Now heres something I learned that I didn’t know. The lead actor Robert Taylor is Australian and I’ll confess I’d never heard of him before despite him having parts in a whole slew of movies apparently. Who knew? Probably because like a lot of good actors he just does his thing and acts up a storm and doesn’t make a big fat fuss of himself. Either that or I live under a rock. Any hoo despite it being  just very slightly slow moving in parts and wanting to buy deputy Vic a more lady like sized coffee cup it was a winner all the way round.

And this movie  – all the hearts

Everything Must Go

AND SOME WORDS THAT STUCK

Show up where your feet are. Show up for the people in front of you. @hayley.e.morgan

Don’t get simpler than that. Be right where you are, whole head, whole heart for the people Gods given you. I think I needed this reminder.

I always say that the best New Year’s resolution you can make is to begin again. It will permeate every area of your life, and will remind you that the small steps often keep us going when we run out of steam with the grand gestures. Leeana Tankersley

New Year resolution or anytime resolution – begin again.  You can download “15 Ways to Begin Again” on Leeana’s  blog now. Just click right here.

And then there’s Shannan Martin and no one says things quite as straight as her

What would it be like if we all flew to the highest, riskiest branch and sang our guts out.@shannanwrites

So now what I really want to know is what you’ve been up to. Any good finds or reads or something you learnt. Would LOVE to hear. xx

Linking up today with

Inspire Me Monday Link Up

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Chasing Community

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Porch Stories

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Inspire Me Monday with Create with Joy

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Taking Back the House

With Christmas over for another year the kids as always were a bit forlorn.

I on the other hand was elated.

Not because I don’t love Christmas but because I get my house back.

Well as much back as it will ever be.

If Christmas is all about the children than January HAS to be all about the grown ups and reclaiming a little space and  sanity.

Christmas pushes this tiny house to its very limits. Every single surface and corner and space seems to get crammed full to overflowing. I don’t mind it at first, I take it as a blessing – it feels cozy and festive  but oh my goodness it has a limited life span.

Theres a fine line too between cozy and cramped and I think we may have crossed it when the third Christmas tree went up. Kids set up a tree each in there own rooms just to add to the Christmas cheer ! and lets just say those room sizes were not designed for that sort of action.

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It may take me some time to get my head around the new year but by January 1st the house is well and truly ready to shed the Christmas kilos.

The Nester shared this quote on Instagram  recently

Carving out a haven for yourself and those near to you is a sacred endeavour   (Sarah Ban Breathnach  from “Simple Abundance”, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy)

My heart says yes it is.

It just doesn’t always feel that way.

Simply put sacred means “connected to God”

That’ll do me

But most days it doesn’t feel sacred

Most days

It feels like a slippery slope

It feels like clawing my way back from the brink

It feels like a one woman losing battle.

It feels like herding cats

We returned from our lovely christmas camping trip exhausted and happy on January 1st and I went back to work (now 9-5) on the 2nd. Our camping stuff basically got piled on top of our Christmas stuff and a lot of it just as you walk in the front door. And despite kind requests from me to start putting things away, thats pretty much where it stayed for the next three days. No one else seemed to worry about it. A mountain of stuff  trailing into every  room in the house – rooms bursting at the seams – baskets of clothes to be unpacked stranded in the hallway – not a problem apparently.

By Friday morning my mood was anything but sacred. I got up early while they slept. I banged things around, swept loudly, packed the dishwasher loudly, threw things in the washing machine, shoved baskets of clothes and christmas trees boxes into there rooms and with that off my chest left for work surprisingly happy with instructions to pack up their trees and clean up “or else”.

I don’t know what “or else” was.

Me doing it myself probably but it seemed to work as I got home to  a slight improvement in affairs and the trees were in their boxes.

Oh a little bit of progress can go a long way and so can a tiny bit of clean and organised. It was enough for even the kids to mention how much better their rooms felt. So that kick started a discussion of a few improvements they could make in their rooms and I piped in with a few random thoughts on the new year and letting go and making room and fresh starts. That kind of thing.

They agreed in theory but it took bribery to get them over the line.

The following Saturday we had a wander around the shops and Ethan chose a  clothes rack/ wardrobe type thing he’s wanted for a while in exchange for letting go of at least 50% of the stuff in his room. It was a bargain he was willing to make. We also had a chat about only keeping the clothes he wears and loves. The word capsule wardrobe was not mentioned but thats quietly where we are headed. Garment rack was $20.00 from Big W – not designed to last a life time but designed to get my boy inspired and taking some pride in his room.  I don’t for a minute think he’ll be in a big hurry to hang his clothes up but who knows lets give it a try anyway.

A mountain of dust and dirt and unwanted stuff went out. We found the can of paint we bought for his walls six months ago hidden under his bed.  Yes we’ve had that paint six months !!!! We exchanged glances and deep breaths and decided it was now or never. I did the edges, he rolled the walls and it was done by the next day. Mid summer in that tiny room was like a sauna even with the fan on but he now has two charcoal grey walls – his choice  – and they look great. It was a marathon, it looked way worse before it looked better but we all felt great and like we’d accomplished something when we were done.

Remember that word sacred – hanging out with my boy for the better part of a weekend, talking about things he wants to do this year, helping make his room a place he feels is his own and has his stamp on it, me not nagging or micro managing – that felt a little bit sacred.

Not perfect but a whole lot better and yes he’s claimed this chair for his own “just for now”. He ditched the faux fur.

It took me to the following Wednesday to work up the energy to deal with the family Christmas tree that was still taking up an entire corner of the lounge room. She’s a beauty but I have to rearrange the furniture each year to fit her in. I think everyone, except me, had just stopped seeing it but oh my goodness what a difference when  it was gone.  I had my lounge room back – the space, the light –  I could suddenly think straight again. So I kept going and completely cleared off my kitchen bench as well (its about three feet away from the lounge room) and that too was worth its weight in new years resolutions. I basked in that sense of freshness for days.

And yes that felt a little bit sacred too. Clearing out the old to make room for the new – making small changes even very simple ones can shove us into the territory of fresh hope and new possibility. It can help us see and appreciate what we already have with fresh eyes and maybe even believe that the most outlandish of dreams might be possible in the new year

The following weekend it was Livvy’s turn and having got wind of what we’d got done in Ethan’s room she was more than ready to give her room a little revamp. Her idea of tidying  up to date is shoving everything she can find into the wardrobe or on top of her desk or under the bed. Heres the evidence – pics taken last September.

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I’d title this the mother of all messes but its a little girl who master minded this horror. We’ve had a few tidy ups and throw outs since of course but things have a way of building up again especially with the festive season thrown in.

So in exchange for letting go of a whole slew of unwanted stuff she decided on a storage container for  her Christmas decorations and for her and I to go out and get our nails done together. Bless her. No arguments from me.

Olivia’s a bit like this when it comes to tidying up. (Aren’t we all)

But this time was kind of special – new year, new room kind of special. She put on the music, she brought in snacks, I didn’t have any melt downs about what a bomb site the room was and why does it get to this stage  –  it was almost a party. It took us three hours, it was messy, it was mind boggling what was in that room, it was fun, it was time together. And that too felt in the ball park of sacred. We finished up with her sitting down at her freshly cleaned down desk – miracle –  with her new year diary and colouring pencils and washi tape and scrap book paper and scissors – another mess on the way for sure, but a million dreams in her head and a sparkle of adventure in her eyes.

So at what point in our making home do we nudge our way into the territory of the sacred.

In all of it I’d say. When we keep showing up. When we say this is important, this is worth every ounce of my time and attention.

And maybe when we throw what we have (and a girl throw will do) – our limited time, our still broken hearts, our so so skills, all of that love and hope –  at our right now lives – the sacred is what bounces back.

What bounces back isn’t a perfectly appointed home, or a cookie cutter life.

Nothing as fleeting

What bounced back these past few weeks – after my tantrum and my wondering “who lives like this?” after our shopping and painting and clearing and cleaning was some of that golden one on one time with the kids. Us just being together – a shared project,  a bit of fun, a laugh, a few squabbles some hopes and dreams shared. And  below the surface of that, the message (I hope and pray) that is really soaking into their skin is that their dreams are my dreams and that being with them and making things right for them  is the most important thing I’ll ever do.

What bounced back too is the house a bit fresher and cleaner and more comfortable than it was – a bit easier on the eye and little more restful and inspiring to two little peoples souls and ours as well – one thats a safe place to dream dreams and that points us all in the direction of a new year and fresh possibility.

That feels sacred.

Id like to say the house is now “back” and all under control but this is me so let’s be serious – the kids are sitting pretty but right now my own room is completely pulled apart while I paint the walls white, I’ve a stack of op shop frames waiting to be spray painted cause there’s a new gallery wall percolating in my head and my lovely striped dining room table is right at this moment completely covered in clothes waiting to be folded.

Its a good life.

Happy New Year friends.

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What I Found In September and October

“The full morning moon is a wonder, made even more so by the ordinary and regular things that live beneath it. I have to remind myself to sometime stop look at life with a wider angle. It all counts. It is all part of our formation – the light, the dark, and all the dim space in between” Emily P Freeman

Time to stop and take a look at what I’ve  done and found and enjoyed and been inspired by in the month/s just past.

A way of

  • saying thank you
  • showing gratitude
  • receiving my own right now life
  • paying homage to the small and simple and everyday and ordinary because they are my kind of things. They talk soft and quiet and sometimes you  have to press your ear in close to hear what they have to say.

Mostly it reminds me that this is a good life full of good things freely given and no amount of  the hard “being a person” stuff changes that.

September is a favourite of mine. My boy was born in September and the weather is always something else. Its when the light starts to change. The cold not quite done with us yet but there’s a whiff of summer in the air most days. It’s when we can still pretend the year will stay right where it is and not be in such a hurry to reach its end. The calm before the proverbial storm. But then October arrives and scares the heck out of me with its reminders that Christmas is just around the corner and the years about got away and what have I  done and how shall I account for myself.  It seems early but its when that sense of overwhelm  can set in.

So I’m gonna go ahead and call this the anti stress edition of  What I Found and share some good things I’ve happened upon that might help if your feeling  the craziness creep up on you already.

But first to a few finds and a couple of projects and a random thought or two.

Finds

1. The Next Right Thing Podcast by Emily P Freeman

Short, sweet and breathtaking

and in particular Episode 5

Offer Your Work With Hope

If you have ever wondered if anything you do is worth its salt or felt scared to do what you truly want to do well this episode will do some good.

Click on the links above or download from iTunes.

2. The WordPress App

You know how I have this little online space called a blog. Well these days  I’m hard pressed since 1. I’ve been working and 2. Olivia downloaded her Sims game on my computer  to edge her out  for five minutes to work on a post. I resorted to my iPad for a bit which proved slow work  and then somehow the heavens opened and I came across the WordPress App.  Of course anyone else who blogs has been using it for donkeys years.

Not I

So I downloaded it on my phone and bingo I can now write in my lunch hour and at baseball practice and in bed and I can upload pics straight from my phone onto a post.  So much easier than from the computer.

So I feel suddenly all up to the minute which of course I’m not as I still can’t work out how to do a basic Insta story and a million other technical things.

The moral though  – find a short cut. If its important to you and it’s not working the way it was, look for a new way, seasons change and as much as I resist it at times we have to adjust right a long with them.

3. 15 Ways to Leave Your Clutter (so you can find a little peace)  by Courtney Carver

I’ll read anything that gives me ideas for keeping the clutter going out and the clear open space coming in and I like  this lady’s relaxed and easy writing style.

A lot of tips she mentions in this post I do in one form or another but heres a couple that were new for me and have worked well.

  • Empty it – sometimes looking in a drawer or a cupboard and trying to work out what should go and what should stay can be overwhelming so I jumped at this idea. Completely emptied the cupboard under my sink  and the cupboard with all the plastic containers in. I took everything out and have just started bringing things back in as I need them.   Now it means I  have a large stand up garbage bag full of “stuff” which is the politest word for it, standing in my bedroom but it avoids the intense decision making process and what doesn’t get retrieved from this bag will go. The other one we have tried is
  • Saying good bye and thanking things for there service – yes sounds all nuts I know but his has worked really well for Olivia letting go of some toys and dolls that she knew she no longer played with but still felt a bit attached to.  She fixed their hair and clothes up nice, had a chat with them, kissed them goodbye and away they went. Some stuffed toys got the same treatment. Sounds heartbreaking I know but previous to this they had been shoved under her bed, or in boxes, dolls with arms missing and legs askew. Better they go where they are enjoyed and played with.
  • One in and two out – I’m trying this one out at the moment. Simple idea and a very a good one given my tendency to find things by the road and bring them home – ahem see below. There is constantly a bag of things leaving my house so I thing all in all there is far more going out than coming in.

4. Just One Thing

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This is an idea that has been saving my life of late. It fits into the small change, big difference category.  You will know yourself that on any given day there might be forty possible things you could do in the time you have available. Thats where my problem sets in. I get caught in the headlights. So much to do, a small amount of available time, I get in a fluster and end up getting nothing done or five things half done and theres no satisfaction in that. Usually while I’m at work I’ve now started writing down one thing (one only) that I want to get done when I’m home. It might only be as minuscule as “fold a basket of washing” or or “clean top shelf of fridge” or it might be something more fun like “hang picture” or “paint table”.    So far its worked well. It bypasses the stress and getting one thing done is better that three things on a list not done.

5.  By The Road

Yes found a few items discarded by the road once again that I couldn’t help but bring home. All before pics no afters as I haven’t done a thing with them yet  – kinda liking them the way they are.

The white cupboard  is going on eBay. I had my eye out for an old cupboard for the laundry that I can put a laundry sink into.  I thought this one would fit right along my laundry wall and do the job but its a tad too long. Thats where a measuring tape kept in the car comes in real handy when roadside shopping.  She’s a beauty but too big for my house so hopefully someone else will love her. The tin truck I might paint or put a trio of plants in – undecided.

6. Finally Ive kept the best  find till last – found not beside the road but literally just down the road from here.

A  sweet ol caravan.

I’m a little beside myself because 1. it’s like having a little mini house to decorate and 2. I’ve wanted a caravan for sooo long it feels an incredible blessing and an answer to a silent prayer I have been praying all year to finally have one and be planning some adventuring and memory making in it.

We only had a small budget which meant we were looking around for something oldish but in good original condition. Somthing ready for adventuring as is but that we could pretty up a bit as well.  My words not Kens.

It  fits under our carport  (just) so with our small house were feeling like we’ve put on  an extension. I can hide out in there and write and I’ve found  Olivia in there reading. It’s the spare bedroom we’ve never had. So now that the guest wing is up and in action if you need a cozy place to stay just holler.

Regards the prettying up  that will take some time but I  did do a quick round of the thrift stores to find a few  bits and bobs to go inside. Found these green cushions, some blue cups, two striped fold up chairs (almost impaled myself on one as the arms are quite pointy so will have to be careful there) and blue fabric which I might make into cushions. Most items $2 and nothing over $5.

I think there’s a blue and green theme developing. So I did have to buy this cushion  because it looked like it was made for my caravan. Everything else so far has come from the house or from our camping supplies.

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As none of these items have actually come into the house I’m thinking they don’t count in the one in two out rule.

Projects

In case I haven’t mentioned it a hundred times before I love to have a project on the go.  It does my home good for sure but it does my soul even more good. I’ts time out,   its simple creativity, its peace for a brain that works overtime somedays. Anyone else have once of those?

Shelving Unit 

Found loitering in my hallway. Around here anything the kids don’t want they completely disown by shoving it out into hallway. This one sat in the hallway for a month before I decided to paint it and put it to good use. A quick fix that I wasn’t too fussy about getting perfect.   Blends in with the wall  which was the idea  and covers a lot of cords and a big ugly power point. I haven’t put much on it which is how I like it. 

Before

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After

 

Oval Dining Table 

This one a little more involved than my usual slap a quick coat of paint on it.  You may have seen this oval table turn up in a few of my pictures. It came from my mums  place when she downsized and I was going to leave it as it was since it was a nice honey colour. Olivia though left a huge batch of slime that she’d made with white glue and Borax on the table. Well that slime took the finish right off so there was nothing else for it but to redo the top. 

 I’ve long admired this table from the inspired room.

So I was going for that sort of look.  It involved some serious sanding back, far more than I would ever normally choose to do, a lot of blue painters tape, measuring and then measuring again, white low sheen paint, wood stain and clear varnish.  

There were tears. I’m usually pretty relaxed about how things turn out but I wanted this one right. Ken being the expert painter decided he’d give the whole top a final coat of clear varnish which was a lovely idea except somehow we ended up with  light brown  streaks through the white. Felled at the final hurdle. So I dragged it back outside and rubbed back the clear varnish off of the white stripes and gave them another coat of white. I realised the finish I wanted was the white stripes to have a matte finish (ie no varnish)  and the wood part shiny so turned out for the best in the end after said cry. 

Heres how she progressed.

 

Finally

So now those reads if your finding yourself getting the pre holiday jitters like me.

  1. How To Plan Your Holiday Calendar 
  2. Four Veteran Mom Moves For Dealing With Stress and Overwhelm
  3. How to Receive Your Own Summer Life with Less Envy and More Gratitude

Friends thank you for being here. I hope you’ve found a little inspiration, enjoyment and calm among these words of mine.

Any finds your way? I’d love to hear.

Xx

Linking up today with Chasing Community  and Porch Stories