Thursday, February 11, 2016

Kate Morton and My Mom

Well, hello there!

This space is getting a bit dusty from lack of use. But, I'm thankful that it is available when I take the time to use it.


Isn't that a great photo! That's my mom in the foreground. When she was 19. Come to find out, my mom was a roller derby queen. (which makes me think of that movie with Drew Barrymore when they cheer "We're number 2! We're number 2!" Anyway...)

My parents are packing up their house which involves sorting through a lot of stuff and a lot of memories. Some of which (both stuff and memories) is trickling down to us kids.

You know, I have a really hard time picturing my mom as a roller derby queen. The photograph is only partially helping with my disbelief. I picture my mom as the mom of 9 kids. As a mom, as a wife, as a friend. I picture her running a house, and running the cafeteria at her local Sam's Club. I picture her as a life guard, swimmer and swim lessons teacher. I picture her as a seamstress. I picture her as a woman who has done a lot of cross stitch.

I don't picture her in her younger "wilder" days. The days of nylons and knee socks, short shorts and roller skates. 

While there is nothing wrong with my mom's identities as wife, mother, etc. etc., it is kind of fun seeing her as she was before the responsibilities and sacrifices of wife and mother took over.

I've been binging on Kate Morton's books the past couple of weeks. What can I say? She is a great author and she weaves amazing mysterious tales. 

A thread that has been in both of the novels I've completed so far, is the thread of moms. 

Each protagonist has learned things about their mom's past that they must reconcile with the mom they knew, observed and loved. And that before "mom" woman was quite different from the mom of their memory.

Hmmm....

I don't think my mom is hiding any deep, dark secrets. Not at all. But, reading these stories and seeing this picture, definitely made me realize that there is a lot to my mom that I don't know. That I really want to know before it gets too late.

I know some things. I know how she met my dad. I know that she was in a sorority. I know that she was raised Catholic, and she used to have to wear her dad's hankies on her head if she forgot her head covering. I know she got her appendix removed after Halloween one year. I know how she got saved. 

But there is so much I don't know.

And time is getting rather short to find out more of her story.

I know that I want to put the time in to hear her story before it is too late. 

Her story is important. It's important for its intrinsic value as being about her and her life. Each part of her story-who she is, what she did-it is a building block to who mom is today. Her story is important as it is part of my story, and my kids' story. 

In just over a week, I will be on a cruise with my mom. It's a precious gift, a precious opportunity. It is one more chance to listen. One more chance to say, "I see you-now and as you were. I'm grateful you are my mom. I'm proud of you. I admire you. I love you."

Anyway, now I'm getting a bit weepy....=) 

Happy Thursday!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Spicy Chicken & Pasta and My Week

I had a great week. How about you?

I don't take great weeks for granted as much any more. There are too many variables.

That being said-it was a good week. This was week 20 of school. Which means that we are past the halfway point, and almost to 2/3 of the way done. Which is pretty exciting, I think. We are wrapping up our studies of ancient-Ancient Greece, and we'll be focusing on Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age from here on out.

Freckle's 12th birthday is tomorrow. I can't believe that he is already so old. I still remember quite clearly the day he was born. He is rather earnest. He wants to be a Great Courses history professor when he grows up. 


I finally made a phone call that I'd been putting off for a while. I've been experiencing some issues (emotional and physical) since at leas the fall. Some of it was simply that I've put on weight and gotten a bit barrel-y looking, even though I eat fairly healthy and I exercise. Also, I've felt like I've been plodding in my training. It's just been hard. I chalked it up to getting older-and it is. But, just because it is that, and because it is something that women face, doesn't mean that it has to be that way. That I have to settle for that. There are some solutions, and for that I am grateful. It has improved my all around outlook this week. I have no illusions of being suddenly trim, but at least my other efforts won't be in vain either. 

Speaking of plodding...I'm still working my way through the Iliad. It's interesting. But, it's also rather graphic. Seriously....the blood and guts and even eyeballs rolling on the ground. I'm not even kidding. I've been going back and forth between the Iliad and two of Kate Morton's novels. I had never even heard of Kate Morton until all of a sudden several bloggers were writing about her newest book, The Lake House. I ordered it at my library, and devoured it within a couple of days of getting it. It was really good. I'm now reading the Secret Keeper. I love the suspenseful way that she interweaves her characters pasts and presents. If you are at all into mysteries, you should check them out. Despite the story flow, both books have happy endings, which is a really important thing to me.

We're getting ready for our cruise. Only two weeks until we leave. New clothes have been bought. Excursions have been reserved (Mayan ruins in Belize. Snorkeling in Roatan Bay). Taxes are all set for the tax appointment. Info has been compiled for my WC audit. All around, things are clicking into place. I'm really excited. I'm excited about the heat. And my brother's wedding. And the time away with my #1 Squeeze. 

This week, Anne Bogel wrote about the things that are "saving" her right now. I've been thinking about that a bit this week. Looking forward to the cruise, reading good books, finding answers to some questions have all played a big part in my "salvation" this week. 

So too have the fresh flowers Mr. Hippie has been having delivered every couple of weeks. 

And my new monthly cleaning service. Such an awesome thing! They do an amazing job. Everything looks and smells wonderful! There are unforeseen bonus perks too. Besides the fact that I don't have to clean my house the week they come, I also only have to lightly clean the following week, because it still looks great.

I also can't say how relieved I've been to have stopped attending BSF. Admittedly, I miss it. Why wouldn't I miss it? I've been together with BSF longer than I've been together with Mr. Hippie. But, it has been so wonderful to have Monday evenings free. We've been playing games as a family, which the kids have really been looking forward to, and we've all been really enjoying. Also, not having a lesson to do has freed up time in my days. Particularly on Monday and Wednesday mornings. I'm not trying to get the extra reading done and questions answered while also correcting schoolwork and teaching new concepts. I feel released from a joint burden of guilt and busy.

Hmmm...

All this free time has given me the opportunity to try a bunch of new recipes. Four in the past two weeks alone! I'm finding new recipes on Pinterest and in other places. It's been great. Nary a flop yet. Though there are two recipes that I'm going to tweak a bit, to make them just a little bit better. The one I'm tweaking for aesthetic value, the other for technique.

The recipe I have for you today is a pasta filled with color and swamped in a spicy cream sauce. 

Golden brown chicken. Green spinach. Red tomatoes. Pink bacon. Yellowish penne. White parmesan 

So pretty, and quite healthy.

I like the bite of spicy from the crushed red pepper. You can adjust according to preference. 


Spicy Chicken & Pasta
Prep/cook time: 35 minutes
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp Italian seasoning
5 tomatoes
3 cups fresh spinach
5 garlic cloves
1 tsp crushed red pepper (less or more according to taste)
6 bacon strips
1-1/3 cup half & half
1-1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
16 ounces penne pasta
additional parmesan cheese

-Cook pasta according to package directions.
-Meanwhile, fry bacon until crisp over medium high heat. Remove from skillet and keep warm. Drain grease, reserving 2 Tbsp.
-Slice chicken into "chicken tender" size strips.
-In a large skillet, heat bacon grease over high heat until hot. Add the chicken strips and cook on one side for 1 minute. While they are cooking, sprinkle the uncooked side with the paprika and Italian seasoning. Flip the chicken over and cook for 1 minute on the other side. Reduce heat to medium, flip chicken again, and cook covered until no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes.
-Mince garlic, chop tomatoes into big cubes.
-Remove chicken from skillet, slice into bite sized pieces and keep warm.
-To the same skillet, add the tomatoes, spinach, garlic, crushed red pepper, and half the bacon, crumbled. Saute for 2-3 minutes, until the spinach wilts.
-Add the half & half, bring to a boil. Add the parmesan cheese, and stir until the sauce is creamy. Remove from heat. Season with salt as needed.
-Toss the cooked pasta with sauce, chicken and remaining bacon. Serve with additional parmesan cheese if desired.


Have a great weekend!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Let

Lately I feel like I'm walking a very thin line placed right smack dab between barely keeping it together and everything falling apart.

I've been having "spells"-for lack of a clearer term.

I will be in a conversation about my mom and her ALS, and I start shaking. All over. Uncontrollably. It's like I'm all of a sudden freezing cold. My teeth chatter. My heart races.

I hunch my shoulders. I wrap up in warm sweaters and blankets. I drink hot coffee or tea to get something warm flowing through me.

(I also get rather weepy too. Sigh...)

I feel so very vulnerable.

I feel like the smallest other hiccup in life could be my complete unravelling.

Things like car exhaust issues. Or no IRS forms at the local office, so having to order them online-and hoping they get in before the 31st. Or (someone-not me, but married to me) losing a bank statement and me frantically trying to find all the specific payroll information in other places. Or the husband doing a humongous commercial job, which requires special forms for billing-which we hope we filled out and submitted properly, so we can get paid next month. Or a letter from the State which requires attention within the next 10 days, or else.

I'm feeling like I'm a hair's breath from the edge of the precipice of losing it.

After apologizing to Mr. Hippie for a rather dramatic meltdown yesterday over a rather ridiculous issue, I realized that something has got to give. I've got to change the way I'm handling the stress/anxiety of my mom's ALS-coupled with everything else.

I thought of this verse this morning...

Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart(s). (Colossians 3:15)

To let means to allow. To permit. To give opportunity.

God's peace is there, it's available, but am I allowing it to rule? I guess we all know the answer to that...

To not obstruct. Not get in the way.

Not do-just LET.

This morning at church I spent time meditating between that verse and this hymn...

Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin? The blood of Jesus whispers peace within. 
(that's peace with God and the peace of God.)

Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed. To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.
(stress, paperwork, taxes, life-all thronging duties)

Peace, perfect peace, with sorrow surging round? On Jesus' bosom naught but calm is found.
(that gut wrenching sorrow of losing my MOM)

Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away? In Jesus' keeping we are safe and they.
(my mom is 1200 miles away, how am I going to know when I need to be there?)

Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown? Jesus we know, and He is on the throne.
(a major factor of ALS is the certainty of death but the uncertainty of the timetable and journey.)

This morning, God met me where I was, where my heart was bleeding. His answer was let peace.

Let peace rule. Let the Prince of Peace rule. Let the One who knows all things and rules over all things, rule in my (in comparison) insignificant life issues.



Let peace, perfect peace...

Friday, January 22, 2016

Chicken with Sun-dried Tomato Cream Sauce


Well, it's been forever since I've done a recipe post. That's because I am trying fewer new recipes these days for SPD, and I've already shared a whole lot of my old favorites with you.

But, occasionally I come across a recipe that is not new to us and is well loved, that I never got around to sharing here.

Today's recipe is one of those.

Chicken with Sun-dried Tomato Sauce.

It is the perfect combination of the dependability of chicken, cooked in a rich cream sauce that features the full bodied flavor of sun-dried tomatoes. It is all topped off with colorful ribbons of fresh basil.

Quite delicious!

We've enjoyed this recipe with pasta, rice, and couscous-all good absorbers of the amazing sauce.

To be noted...the recipe on its own is gluten-free. I really wouldn't call it healthy. Not by a long shot. But, delicious, yes.



Chicken with Sun-dried Tomato Cream Sauce
Prep time: 20 minutes, Coo time: 30 minutes, Total time: 50 minutes
4 to 8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin on
kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp butter
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 cup basil leaves

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-Wash chicken thighs and season with salt and pepper.
-Melt 2 Tbsp butter in an oven proof skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, skin side down, and sear until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Set aside.
-Mince garlic.
-Lower heat to medium. Add garlic and red pepper flakes to the skillet, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, heavy cream, sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan, thyme, oregano, and 1/4 tsp basil. Bring to a boil, and cook until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
-Return chicken to the skillet, and roast in the 400 degree oven until cooked through, about 25-30 minutes.
-Cook rice or pasta if desired.
-Cut the basil leaves into strips.
-Serve immediately over rice or pasta, garnished with the basil leaves.



Hope you have an amazing weekend!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

3 Things I'm Not Doing in 2016

I read Anne Bogel's post this week, and it got my mind a whirring.

What we don't is just as critical as what we do. 

I was mentioning to Mr. Hippie the other day that some times I feel like I am waiting for someone to give me permission to do or not do something. I want someone else to be the responsible adult. But, since we're approaching 40, I guess that we are the responsible adults in this scenario...Sigh...

And (generally speaking) no one is going to make the decisions for us.

We have to be the ones to say yes and to say no.

Bigger sigh...

Here are three things  I've decided I'm not doing this year. (and each is making me exhale a big sigh of relief.)


I'm not cleaning my house. I have heard so many people say that the best decision they ever made was to hire a regular cleaning service. It might be once a month, every other week, or every week, but it is the best decision they ever made. No one regrets it, and everyone wishes they would have started sooner.

Well, the BFF bought me a couple hours of cleaning for Christmas, and I decided to fluff it out with a whole house deal. Best decision ever! I had the crew do some stuff that I haven't gotten to in a while (blinds, tops and fronts of kitchen cupboards), plus do all the regular stuff.

My house looks fabulous! The tub grout is as mildew free as it's ever been. And I'm pretty sure the kitchen sink is more sparkly white than ever before. Things smell clean and look clean. I am so happy! The kids keep commenting about the state of things. You'd think the house had never been clean before.

So, I've decided to have the cleaning service come in once a month. And, it is really affordable. At least I think so. For just over $100, they will whip my house into shape. That's money well spent. And I can sit around drinking tea and eating scones while they work. Or not...

Obviously, I will clean between "cleanings", and so will the kids. But, especially with the kids doing all the vacuuming and dusting now, at least I know that it will get really well done once a month. I can't even tell you how excited this makes me!

Btw, this is a really huge step for me, and I think for all of us who make this specific decision. There is something about house cleaning that connotes a"virtuous/Proverbs 31 woman". And thus, when we let it slip, or hire someone else to do it, we feel like we are failing in our duties. But, that is just not true. It's not. And this year I am refusing to give credence to that lie.

I'm not getting up super early. Okay, so I didn't get up super early last year either, so this really isn't the change. The change is that I'm not feeling guilty about not getting up at 4:30 or 4:45 or 5:00. And I am getting up at 5:30 Monday through Thursday. We are well into making this a habit after doing it eight times now.

We picked 5:30 because it is sustainable. Yes, it gets us out of the pool and gym later, but that's fine. We are going. We are swimming. We are running. And, we are getting close to 8 hours of sleep each night. Which is crucial for my well being.

We've picked sustainable over early. (I'm making a whole new set of pool friends, as all my old ones are walking out as we are walking in...)

I'm remembering what I love about early mornings. And what I love about getting my exercise done first thing. It is such a sense of accomplishment right at the start of the day. What a way to start a day...with a resounding "YES!" I love being showered and dressed, and having my devotions started or completed, plus having had time to talk and pray with Mr. Hippie before my kids ever get up.

I'm also remembering what it is like to not hit the snooze button. And to bolt out of bed. I've been keeping my alarm on my dresser, so I have to get out of bed to turn it off. And once I get out, I may as well stay out...

It's worth the early(-ish) wake up call. It's worth the consistency. It's worth the sustainability.

I'm not gardening this year. At least, not my green beans and my green bean garden area. My soil needs a rest to to rebuild up nutrients. My back needs a rest from the weeding and harvesting. (it hurts every time I work in the garden.)

I will still plant my herb pots, and my tomato garden-because I've not been planting there as long. The tomato garden is 3' by 9'. It won't take long to weed. And tomatoes aren't back breaking to pick.

I also will continue to improve my perennial garden. But, with that, I pretty much weed, move plants, and plant new plants in the spring, and then I leave it to it's own devices. It is not a huge time commitment, and it pays off big aesthetically. I love seeing the riot of color every time I pull into my driveway.

I know it is only just January, but, hardcore gardeners start planning their gardens now. Now I'm planning not to plan. Savvy?

Have you made a conscious choice to not do something this year? What is it?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Strength for the Day


...And as your days, so shall your strength be. (Deuteronomy 33:25)

My family ended the year with some life altering news.

My mom has ALS.

Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge that was all the rage way back in the summer of 2014? The proceeds from that benefited the ALS foundation.

So, what exactly is ALS? Simply put, it is the your muscles losing their ability to function.  It starts with voluntary function and strength, and moves on to no ability to function at all. It is a combined muscle/brain/spinal cord/ nerve thing. It is pain free (thankfully), but it is a death sentence. 80% of people diagnosed with ALS will die within 1-4 years of their diagnosis. It affects every muscle group-arms, legs, throat, lungs. Most people end up on feeding tubes and ventilators as their muscles shut down.

There is no treatment. There is no cure.

This is quite the shock to my family. We knew something was wrong with mom. We'd seen some troubling things. But, we all were expecting a stroke or internal bleeding (on the brain) from a recent fall.

I can't tell you how hard this is to process. I know we all are going to die. I know that any one of us could die any minute. But, to have such a definite death sentence, that is hard to swallow.

I've cried quite a bit in this new year.

It's original grief as we face up to what we are going to lose. It is grief as we watch one we love more than we can express deteriorate. It is grief as we eventually will lose her to death. Though only a temporary separation, still a devastating loss.

Mom not there at holidays. Weddings. Births. "Every"days. That's a hard thing to contemplate.

It is a struggle as I try to find the balance between being a good mom to my kids, and a good daughter to my mom.

How quickly will this progress? I want to spend as much time as possible with my mom while she is still fairly healthy and mobile, and then also be there when she needs basic care. It's hard, because we live 1200 miles apart.

I want to continue on with "normal" for my kids and not put life on hold for an indefinite period of time.

With current plans, and providing things stay fairly static for a bit, I am planning to be with my parents and a couple siblings, for our cruise in February. And then my parents are planning to spend the summer up here, closer to us.

Those are the plans. We will just have to take things day by day, to see how it pans out.

I've prayed a bit, but probably not as much as I should. Frankly, I'm not exactly sure what to ask for. Healing would be miraculous-not impossible at all for God. But, I haven't prayed for that. I've prayed for comfort for all of us. And peace. Wisdom for decisions to be made. Eyes to see what needs seen so we can do what needs done. I've prayed for God to be glorified. Which He will. That's a promise.  (Romans 5:2- rejoice in hope of the glory of God) I guess I'm also praying that we get a glimpse of how God is being glorified in this situation.

I know God is good-all the time. I know God is faithful-all the time.

These are not just empty words. Empty promises. They are the very foundation of my life. God is the foundation of my life.

Some circumstances just require WAY more faith to rest in these truths-trusting this foundation will hold and will not be shaken. In some circumstances, it takes eyes of faith to see God's faithfulness, graciousness, goodness, and loving care.

Know. Trust. Rest. That's faith.

I keep thinking of the word strength. My mom is losing strength. She has very little strength in her arms. She can barely lift small things. She can't pull the grandkids onto her lap. It's really hard to see.

It reminds me of one of my favorite verses/hymns.

Fear not, I am with thee, oh be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, I will still give thee aid.
I'll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent (all powerful) hand.

The verse (Isaiah 41:10) actually says I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

The song I've been singing with the kids this week is one by Keith & Kristin Getty and Stuart Townend.

Still, my soul be still, and do not fear though winds of change may rage tomorrow.
God is at your side; no longer dread the fires of unexpected sorrow.

God, you are my God, and I will trust in You and not be shaken.
Lord of peace, renew a steadfast spirit within me, to rest in You alone.

Still, my soul be still; do not be moved by lesser lights and fleeting shadows.
Hold onto His ways, with shield of faith against temptations flaming arrows.

Still my soul be still, do not forsake the truth you learned in the beginning.
Wait upon the Lord, and hope will rise as stars appear when day is dimming.

God, you are my God, and I will trust in You and not be shaken.
Lord of peace, renew a steadfast spirit within me, to rest in You alone.

This is my prayer. I can't hold on on my own. But, I have friends lifting me and mine in prayer. Praying when I can't. And, the Lord of peace, the God of all strength and comfort, is upholding me in His everlasting arms. Renewing my spirit.

Still, my soul be still.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up


One of the most blogged about books (at least in my spheres of being influenced) in 2015 was Marie Kondo's The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

I, of course, don't jump on band wagons, so it took many, many, many blog posts for me to decide to read the book.

It was a good decision.

Here's the thing, I love reading books, but I suck at writing book reviews.

Also, how-to books are right at the top of my least favorite genre category (along with devotionals). I tend to be a bit choosy with how-to books and their contents. I'm neither a throwing out the baby with the bathwater nor  drinking the KoolAid type.

I'm a chew the meat, spit out the bones type.

Here's the meat and bones of this book:

-Meat: Basic premise-tidy once, and never again. And by "tidy" Marie Kondo means to get rid of what is not needed and then put away the rest.

-Meat: She divides all possessions into 5 categories, and then her KonMarie method is the way to go about sorting, winnowing, discarding, replacing, and placing these articles. She advocates starting with the clothes (tops, bottoms, hanging, socks, underwear, bags, accessories, specific events-sports, etc, shoes), then books, papers, knick-knacks, and finally, sentimental things like photos and such. This made a lot of sense to me. Clothes are relatively easy to get rid of. Photos, not so much. Start with the easier category, get in the habit of sorting and discarding, then move on to the harder categories.

-Bones: It's a bit woo-woo. Which probably appeals to some personalities (though not mine). She seems to animate inanimate objects, assigning them the need for our gratitude and rest for a job well done.  Woo-woo....

-Meat: In order to see what you have in every category, place all the items on the floor and touch each one, as you decide whether to keep or discard. I think both the piles of the items and the touching, are integral parts of the process. We all lament that we have nothing to wear, but obviously that is patently not true when we have a 6 foot pile of clothes on our bedroom floor.

-Meat: Realize that discarding something doesn't mean it didn't fulfill it's purpose. It  probably did. Maybe it's purpose was the thrill of the purchase. Maybe it's purpose was being a gift. Maybe it's purpose was to clothe you at a bigger or smaller time of your life. It's okay to let go of these possessions that are no longer serving a purpose.

Favorite Quotes (that got me pondering):

"When your room is clean and uncluttered, you have no choice but to examine your inner state. You can see issues you've been avoiding, and are forced to deal with them. Tidying is a tool, not a final destination."

"Dispose of any papers that do not fit into 1 off 3 categories: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, must be kept indefinitely."

"By handling each sentimental item and deciding what to discard, you process your past. To put your things in order means to put your past in order too."

"It is not our memories but the person we have become because of those past experiences that we should treasure."

"When we delve into the reasons for why we can't let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear of the future."

"The question of what you want to own is really the question of how you want to live your life."

"When I visit clients homes, I never throw anything away. I leave the final decision up to them. If I choose what to discard for them, then there would be no point in tidying. It is by putting one's own house in order that one's mind-set is changed."

How this is playing out in my own life:

-I have not done all the categories in the order she's listed. I threw away gobs of papers and books the first day. Because I was listening to lectures with my kids, and it just worked out that way.

-Part of the Kon-marie method is to sort categories and not rooms. I get the wisdom of this, but, I didn't follow it to a "t". I did sort all of my clothes at the same time. I found the clothes from my room and from other places around the house, and piled them high. As I placed clothes back where they belong, I put everything in my drawers, in my room, in my closet. Not around the house.

I've tried to do that with all the categories, except books. We have books in most all of the rooms of my house, and I like it that way. But, the dishes are with the dishes, the papers with the papers, and only coats and bags are in the coat closet.

I'm trying to do that with each thing. One place. Not all over the place.

-Some of the stuff she advocates (not stacking clothes in drawers or dumping everything in a pile first, sorting my purse as soon as I get home), I already do. Some things-like the way she folds socks-doesn't seem to work for my heavy wool socks. Her way of folding takes up more room than mine, so I am sticking with mine.

-I found that her book seemed tailored mostly to single professionals, not families with 4 kids. I know junk is junk is junk. And, I try to keep my kids' clothes and broken toys to a minimum, but I feel that it is not really respecting my kids or their possessions, if I go through and throw everything away that I don't like or that I don't have a bond with. It has to be their choice (within reason) for their possessions. If I just go through and get rid of their stuff, they aren't learning responsibility or the life changing magic of tidying.

-Also, I need to take responsibility for my own stuff. If I'm sure someone needs something I am getting rid of, then I can ask if they'd like it. Otherwise-trash, donate, recycle-whatever. I need to make the decision myself to do one of those things, not foist it off on someone so it's their problem to deal with.

-I've made a pact with myself to use the things that I've chosen to keep. My good dishes from our wedding? They are now in the kitchen cupboards as our everyday ware. (they're not china, and are perfect, and beautiful, and I am thrilled with this decision.)

-I'm slowly investing in things that I think add beauty to my home. Floor vases. Gorgeous textiles for tables, windows and beds. Artwork for walls. And, I'm ruthlessly getting rid of things that I "settled" for.

-So far, I've gotten rid of (by garbage or donation) 4 huge boxes of stuff, plus 10-12 kitchen size bags, to say nothing of the stuff that went straight into the garbage without getting in on the head count.

-It's not out with the old to make room for the new, it's simply, out with the old to make room. Room to think. Room to write. Room to relax. Room to make beautiful things. Room to be.

So, that's my takeaway on the Marie Kondo phenomenon. Have you read the book? How is is changing your life?