The 1 Plate, 1 Bowl, 1 Fork, 1 Spoon, 1 Cup Experiment or Confessions of a Mess

Before we left Georgia, right at the beginning of my minimalist experiment, my husband had an idea: if we only had one plate, bowl, fork, spoon, and cup for each of us we could cut down on the number of dishes we had to wash. He suggested that we wash our own so we could really cut down on the time we spend cleaning up. But who will wash the pots and pans? Ah, there’s the rub! (or scrub, haha)


We tried this out and I will be honest with you, I was the fly in the ointment. I hate doing dishes, even one or two. After I plan meals, make a shopping list, shop for food, put away the groceries, cook the food and eat the food, I don’t want to anything else to do with food! So, dishes often sit in the sink until the next morning when I have more energy to tackle them. Sometimes I will clean up right after dinner, but sometimes not.

I am the person, in my teenage and young 20’s who would rather eat cereal from a coffee cup and with a measuring spoon rather than washing a real bowl and spoon. True story x 20.

I am the person, as a working mother of teenagers who left a dirty pan out on the stove- on which I had cooked a ham the night before- and my son’s friend walked by and ate a chunk of ham thinking that I had just cooked it. I felt so guilty! I thought I had poisoned him! But in all fairness, he had been at my house many, many times and knew my sketchy housekeeping skills.

I am the person of whom my nephews say, “I know it’s Jill’s house when I walk in and there’s a bunch of dirty dishes in the sink.” They feel uncomfortable if the kitchen is clean. Truth.

In my own defense, my aversion to doing dishes has to do with the fact that I prefer to spend time with people rather than cleaning. I know I sound all sanctimonious right now, but it’s true. After dinner with family and friends, I don’t want to clean the kitchen while they enjoy the after-dinner talk. When I finally get finished cleaning I don’t want to walk in the living room just in time for them to say, “Thanks, it’s getting late and we have to go.” I know, I could wait until after they leave to clean up, but who wants to do that? I want to watch tv or go to bed.

So, needless to say, my husband’s experiment didn’t work for me. It does for him. He still washes his one little bowl, plate, fork, spoon and cup.

When it comes to dishes, I confess, I am a mess.

But go look in my closet or the laundry room. I’ve got it together there.

Just don’t judge me in the kitchen.

Keeping it real,



Your Home As Sanctuary

I want to give you permission today. I want to give you permission to protect your home, to keep it safe and make it your sanctuary.

Sanctuary is defined as: “a place of refuge or safety.”

I grew up in a home that was not safe and it was a place of drama and trauma. I watched as people came in and out of the house and as they did they brought pain, insult and drama. They were able to change the atmosphere physically, emotionally and spiritually as they wanted. No one protected our home.

So, as an adult, I determined that I would have a home that was safe and a place of refuge for me and my family and for anyone who would respect what I was trying to achieve.


Photo courtesy of

I have had to fight to protect my home. I have had to work hard to guard its peace.

My home is my only place. I know I am welcome at my kid’s homes, at friend’s homes, but my house is mine. It’s my place. I have the authority to make it what I want it to be.

Husband and I pay the mortgage. So, we get to say what happens in it and to it. Drama and trauma people don’t have that right. Manipulative people don’t have the right. If I invite people into my home, it is understood that they follow the rules and honor the vibe. I set the tone, they don’t.

I want to give you permission to take control of your home. Your kids, extended family, and friends don’t have permission to take over and change your home physically, emotionally or spiritually.

Your home should be a place where you can take refuge and feel safe.

Peace and safety,




Interior Decor: What You Love vs. What You Can Live With


Photo courtesy of American Vintage Home

One good thing about getting older is that you’ve had time to try out a bunch of decorating styles and you can easily pick out what you like and eliminate what you don’t. Maybe you haven’t found a name for your style, but by the time you’re in your 50’s you pretty much know what you like.

My problem is that I like all sorts of things. My taste is pretty eclectic. It took me forever to discover what I loved vs. what I could live with. I mean, I love primitives.


Photo courtesy of Decoholic


And I love Colonial and Early American.


Photo courtesy of White House

I also really, really love French Brocante.


The problem is that I can’t live with any of those styles. The Primitive style and the French Brocante ends up looking run down and dirty to me. I mean if I had a brand new, quality house, then maybe the chipped paint, the worn and stained elements would be charming.

I can’t live with Colonial and Early American because it’s too delicate and fine. I’m really not a furniture polisher. I also want people to feel comfortable when they come to my home, not have to watch where they walk or sit.

So, I opt for the Cottage Style, the beach cottage, the easy-going, relaxed vibe. I choose fabrics that are durable and don’t show all the spills and dirt that frequent my life. I want the grandkids to be able to pull all the cushions off the couch and build forts. I don’t want collectibles and knick-knacks that might get broken. I don’t use china, I use Chinet or paper.

And I’m happy with it.

One of the perks of getting older is knowing yourself. And being okay with it.

What’s your style?



The Emotion of Color


I have a friend who is so laid back and we tease him about how he can just put up with anything and nothing bothers him. There’s an old joke about someone like that who they say, “sat on a nail and didn’t move. When someone asked him if it hurt and shouldn’t he get up and move he said, ‘Nah, I’ll get used to it directly.'”

Sometimes I think that there are things in our lives that we just put up with and suffer from when, with a little effort, we could be freer and happier.

That’s the way I feel about decluttering and organizing. I don’t think people realize what a burden clutter can be. It’s a mental, back-of-the-mind sort of burden. That’s the way I feel about To Do lists, too. It mentally bogs me down until I can get all the things done.

But I’m straying off topic.

I want to talk about color in our homes and how it can help or hurt us.

Husband and I heard a statistic yesterday, “Most people live in an average of 11 homes in their lifetimes.” We did the math and it’s true for us. 9 of those homes we lived in were rentals. We were very restricted to what we could do to make those homes comfortable and peaceful. We had to live in what we had.

So, I understand that, but if you have some freedom or own your own home, you can do things to create a living space that nurtures your body, soul, and spirit. Simply by addressing color. You may not realize that color is affecting your mood and your ability to concentrate or sleep unless you pay attention.

One thing you can do is to be intentional about the colors you choose for each room. You can paint the walls or if you’re not allowed to, then choose fabrics and rugs and accents to change the effect.

Think about what each room is used for and choose a color that supports that activity. You can do some research yourself online, read some articles, it’s not secret information after all. But here’s a basic introduction:

Blue .         Calming, peaceful, soothing. Good for bedrooms and bathrooms. Think of the sky and the ocean. Pair it with the color of sand or white for a relaxing, spa-like atmosphere.

Red .         Exciting, motivating, energetic. Good for rooms where you are very active. Living room, dining room, kitchen. Too much can be overwhelming. Orange is in this category, too. I think of a big glass of orange juice to give you a kick start to your day.

Yellow .     Warm, cheery, friendly. Yellow reflects light so it’s good for dim rooms. I think of daisies, bright and happy.

Green .      Natural, relaxing, welcoming. Great color for offices, living rooms, and bedrooms. I think of forests, bamboo, green fields. A great natural color.

Purple .     The color of royalty, dignity. Be careful with the shade and how much you use.

Black .      Elegance in small amounts. Of course, don’t overdo it or it will be depressing.

White .     Crisp, clean. Gives a bright, airy feel to rooms.

Tan, Beige, Sand. These natural colors pair well with almost any color. They give a soothing, relaxing effect. Think of a day on the beach in the sand.

Of course, the shade of these colors you choose can affect the mood, too. So, think carefully before you overdo it.

I know there are people out there who like wild, bold colors and lots of patterns and that’s awesome in the right setting like a studio where you want to be inspired to be creative. However, I would never be able to relax in a bedroom like that.

See, clutter, in all it’s varied colors and shapes affect us in the same way. When you have a room full of clutter, your eyes can’t stop flitting from item to item and so you’re not encouraged to rest and focus.

These are just some things to think about. I hope it helps, encourages and inspires you!

Blues and greens to you,




I See You


When I was a little girl, I had a natural affinity for animals. I loved them all. I never owned a baby doll that I can remember, but I had a whole host of stuffed animals. I would get giddy when a National Geographic Special or a Jacques Cousteau Special would come on television. I read books about animals, I wrote school papers about animals and I looked for them everywhere I went. I could never tell you my favorite animal because I loved them all. I’m still that way, though, I am partial to the Ring Tailed Lemur.

One Christmas I got the best gift ever! Seriously, even to this day, as an adult, I don’t think anything has topped this one gift. It was a Visible Dog! It was a plastic model of a dog and all of his internal organs were separate like a model airplane. I painted all of his organs, put him together anatomically correct and covered him with his invisible plastic skin shell. I loved it! I dreamed of being a Veterinarian one day and so the Visible Dog was as close as I could get at 10 years old.

Somewhere in my life, someone told me that at midnight on Christmas Eve animals could talk. So, me, Jane Goodall junior, could care less about Santa showing up, I stayed up and tried to get my dog to talk.

When I went out, no matter where I would look for animals. I would even look for dead animals on the side of the road to see if I could identify them. Gross, I know, but the budding Veterinarian in me, didn’t care.

Now, I have to tell you about one quirky thing. I felt so much love and respect for animals that I would acknowledge them whenever I saw them. Not like the typical pig-tailed girl chasing down a kitten and petting it to death while it desperately tried to escape her vice grip. No, I mean, I would just look at them and they would look at me and we saw each other. We respectfully acknowledged each other’s existence.

I remember walking through a parking lot with my brother one day and I saw the sparrows skipping and flitting under and around the parked cars. As I walked through a troop of them I whispered, “Hello. I see you.” My brother laughed and said, “Only you would talk to the birds.”

You know the Golden Rule? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I think maybe that’s what I was doing. My family was messed up. I felt invisible. I stayed invisible so I wouldn’t rock the boat, cause any more trouble. And so, in making eye contact with one, tiny sparrow, one out of a zillion, I was doing what I wish someone would do for me. I wish someone would say, “I see you.”

To the dog tied up in the backyard, never getting to run free, I see you.

To the mangy cat digging in the dumpster behind the restaurant. I see you.

To that one indistinguishable mackerel among thousands. I see you.

I think people just want to be seen and known.

Maybe that’s why Jesus said, “What is the price of two sparrows–one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.” He knew we needed to be seen and known.


I see you, little fellow.



When Your Soul Is Sad


I had a close friend of mine contact me a couple of weeks ago to tell me she was thinking about me, that she knew that this time of year was tough for me.

It happens every year. I’m cruising along making my way through summer and then September and October roll around and while I absolutely LOVE the Fall, there is an underlying melody of sadness that I pick up on. My soul hears it and I dismiss it because logically there’s nothing to be sad about. Everything is good but something has pricked my heart’s minor chord. Sometimes I think it’s because the Fall brings the close of summer with its fun and sun. Sometimes I think that maybe it’s the shortening of days, the cooler weather driving me indoors to artificial light and hibernation and I’m just not ready to give up summer.

It’s not until I am reminded in some way that I remember that my soul usually has a time of grieving in September and October. My mother died on September 30 when I was 3 years old and my sister died on October 4 when I was 33 years old.

I only had one counselor in my life tell me that no matter how old you are, or no matter if you remember it or not, that if a significant person in your life dies it affects you. She said babies, infants, toddlers are deeply affected by the death of a parent. And even though they may not remember the person or the death, they are deeply, emotionally, soul-ly affected.

So, when this time of year rolls around, even though I have no memory of my mother in my brain and I cannot remember the sound of my sister’s voice in my ear anymore, my soul remembers them. And it’s sad. It grieves.

I’m glad I get reminded. I’m glad I don’t walk around with this gloom and think something’s wrong with me.

Grief is not an illness, though it can make you sick if you let it. Grief is an emotion like joy. Emotions come and go. They flow. Just like water, it’s only when you stop it, that it stagnates and can make you ill. If you keep grief with you, make it your house, hold it, wear it, caress it, worship it, that’s when it becomes a problem.

To me, grief is an experience akin to being hit by a strong wind or a wave. The more I fight it to try to make it stop, the more difficult it becomes, the harder it is to bear and often I hurt myself in the fight. But if I let it wash over me and blow through me like wind or wave, the quicker it passes and the less injured I am from the experience.

I remember reading what C.S. Lewis said in “A Grief Observed”:

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing.

At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in.”

I found his description to be very accurate in my experience. This quote really helped me.

After my sister died, I suffered from panic and anxiety attacks. I fought them, took medication for them, went to counseling. But now after many years, when I look back on it, I think I was just grieving. When my sister, who had become sort of a mother figure, died, I grieved double. The depth of my grief scared me. I didn’t know if I’d ever recover. Now I know we do, people do recover. It may not be exactly the way it was, we may not be exactly the same, but we do continue. And whether we are better or worse for the loss I think is largely dependent on us. It depends on what we want our life to be.

Some people stop in their grief and don’t want to fight to get better. It is a fight. It is a fight to recover. Sometimes you have to have help. But you can recover if you work hard and let go of what was.

Now, when this time of year rolls around or when someone I care about dies or when there are sad endings to loves, friendships or times and I feel that fear creep up on me. I try to relax and let it wash over me.


Then after a while, perhaps the sun comes out and you feel its warmth on your face or for some reason, the taste of a favorite food seems to lure you out from under your blanket of grief and you wade in the waters of life once more.

C’est la vie.




Minimalist? Haha!


This is a still shot from a video of Husband and me closing the door on our home of 22 years. 

If you’ve followed me, you know that I had moved toward a more minimalist lifestyle. At least moved toward thinking minimally. I blogged about it. I came up with a decluttering strategy. I worked for about a year (or more) to minimalize our home. You can read about it in my earlier blogs. I even called my blog “Minimalist Grandma” for a while to chronicle my journey into minimalism.

Then the move came.

Let me say up front that I am SO glad that I took the time to declutter and minimalize. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to move the contents of a house that we lived in for 22 years across the country.

It made the move easier because I did not have to make any decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of at the time of packing and the move. I knew that everything in the house was going with us.


However…..when the movers came and boxed up – what I considered our bare necessities – it was shocking! We had SO much stuff!! I was SO surprised that we still had so much stuff, crap, whatever you want to call it.

I laughed at myself for thinking I was anywhere near a minimalist.

It was really embarrassing to think that it took 3 companies to move our belongings across the country. 3 companies! The packers, the movers and then the specialty company to come pack up our tv and my large mirror. 3 companies.

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The packers and movers even acted like they had never seen so much stuff in their lives. But then, maybe they just hate their jobs, haha!

We had an interim period of about a month where the company stored our stuff and we stayed with our kids until we found and closed on a house.

Then we moved in. IMG_2638 5.JPG

Now, this house is much larger than our old house and so when our stuff got inside, it didn’t seem like much. And it only took me a few days to unpack and a week or so to get everything in its general place. (You know it takes years to really settle in) So, I took that as a sign that my minimalistic effort had some benefit.

But to be honest, I still really can’t believe that I still have SO MUCH STUFF! If you knew how many trips to Goodwill and how many bags of trash and how much stuff I gave away, you’d understand. And even while unpacking here, I had a bag for trash and I’ve taken several trips to Goodwill. I’m still decluttering!

Husband hates it when I say this, because we are still recovering from the move, but I am thinking ahead to when we move from this house to the house we will retire in and thinking about what to get rid of. I don’t want to move so much stuff ever again!

I’m glad we’re finally here. I’m glad that everything went relatively smoothly with only a few bumps along the way. I’m thankful for my stuff, too.

But let me give you some advice…declutter now!