I haven't been around here much.
But, even if I'm not writing about it like I used to, we're still doing the same old things we used to do, and about which I used to write a lot more prolifically than I am these days. We're still trying to live frugally. I still don't buy paper towels, although I still haven't convinced the family to switch to cloth toilet wipes ;). I still use a clothesline, because I don't have a clothes dryer. We still don't have a television and no cable TV (although we have the Internet, several lap top computers, and a subscription to Netflix). We still have our chickens and our rabbits. We still make maple syrup every year. We still heat with wood and haven't had an oil delivery since 2008.
Other things have waxed and waned. I stopped making my own laundry soap for a while, because it was easier to just buy it. The other day, we ran out of the store-bought stuff, and we made our own again. It wasn't that much work. Next time we run out, I'll make more.
I had also stopped making my own deodorant, because the plastic container I had been using broke, and I bought a new deodorant, which I needed to use. But then, I ended up having a reaction to the store-bought stuff. I stopped using the store-bought stuff. I'm back to making my own.
We still have a garden, but it's been a little pitiful for the past two summers. I still do some canning, but not nearly enough, and not nearly as much as I was.
What I've learned over the past several years is that those Tiny House people have the right idea ... sort of. The point of Tiny House living is to declutter one's life with the school-of-thought being that living in cluttered surroundings hampers one's ability to function at his/her best.
I've found this to be absolutely true.
A few years ago, during a particularly brutal winter wind storm, part of our roof blew off, and in the process of getting it repaired, we had to move out of one of the largest rooms in our house. Our house wasn't big to begin with - 1500 sq ft, which is about 500 sq ft smaller than is average for a family the size of mine. We have no basement, no garage, no attic and no outside storage building.
When we were forced to move ourselves and all of our belongings out of that room, we didn't have the time or the stamina to organize and sort through things as we moved. Instead, we just stuffed ourselves and our stuff into the remaining rooms, creating these mountains of belongings that just had no place. It was supposed to be a very short-term thing. You know. A couple of weeks.
A few weeks have turned into a few years.
The good news is that, since we moved into a smaller space, we've been a lot more stingy with what we're willing to bring into the house ... but we've also been a lot more selective of what we've chosen to keep.
The other unforeseen consequence has been that we've gotten a lot more organized.
Previously, I had a tendency to fill baskets and boxes with "stuff" that didn't have a real home and put them on shelves or in corners or on shelves in corners, and then forget they were there. The other day, I decided to clean off a shelf, and I found several baskets full of odds and ends - game pieces, feathers, rocks, plastic thingys the use of which I have long forgotten. I found four containers with just crayons, pens, pencils, and markers, including a carousel-thing that I bought just for that purpose when my daughters were really young and used to like sitting at the table and coloring.
We used to love going to the office supply store and getting "school supplies" every September - just like every other household. The difference is that, kids in school take their school supplies to school, where they will get borrowed or broken or forgotten/lost. Here at the Wyvern Academy (the name we gave our homeschool), things get broken and forgotten, but never, truly lost, and definitely not borrowed. Most of what comes into the house stays in the house.
One time, we had a whole drawer that was FULL of crayons. Yes, we recycled our crayons by melting them, pouring them into molds, and making new crayons. One can only do that so many times. And when one is talking about POUNDS of broken crayons, sometimes the only thing to do with them is find someone else who wants them.
The renovation wasn't supposed to take years, but we're trying to stay out of debt. When one is DIYing it, trying to source free/reclaimed materials, and paying cash out-of-pocket, it tends to take longer.
So, we're finally starting to get more organized. Sorting things. Getting rid of stuff we know we're not going to use (like the bazillion crayons). Consolidating and paring down things we want to keep (like having ONE container with pens, pencils and makers with a designated place on the top of a bookshelf rather than nineteen baskets in various locations). If it doesn't fit in our lives and it's still usable, it gets donated. If it can be repaired, we fix it. If it can be repurposed, we turn it into something else. Some things just go into our garbage can. Such is the way of life.
For the last few years, I've been paralyzingly and frustratingly disorganized and cluttered, BOTH in my home and in my head.
As we get closer to being able to move back into that room, we're also straightening, cleaning and organizing the rest of the house, and it's starting to look more open and more like a home rather than a storage unit.
Hopefully, as we get less cluttered, I'll be better able to get back to doing some things I love ... like blogging about my amazing life as a homeschooling, homesteading, home-based Mom.
I have some great stories to share about what life is like living in a "small house" with five people, four (big) dogs and three cats. Fostering dogs. Some further thoughts about stocking up on in ingredients rather than premade stuff. Books I've been reading. Maybe I can share some stories about our latest plays or what it's like being in a homeschool co-operative.
As they say, life goes on ... and so it has.