Thursday, June 30, 2011

Decluttering: All Those Books

For my 27th birthday, my Dear Husband was generous enough to gift me with an eReader, a Kobo.  I'm an avid reader, but never in a million years did I think I would ever be in favor of getting my daily fiction fix from a 7 inch electronic screen.  What about the paper*  What about flipping the pages?  What about the smell and feel of a well worn and well loved novel in your hands?  What about the romance, the timelessness of reading, dangit?

Photo Credit: jblyburg on Flickr

But despite all my best efforts to NOT like it, my eReader has quickly become one of my most treasured possessions.  It's light, it stores thousands of books, and it stays charged for at least a week at a time.  I can "turn" the pages with one hand, leaving my other hand free to, say, hold a nursing baby.  My eReader is one of those gadgets that I can't imagine living without.

Then I discovered a bonus benefit to owning an eReader: the possibility of finally getting to declutter my books and free up some much needed space on my bookshelves!  We have four full-sized bookshelves in our home, previously filled to the brim with dozens, if not hundreds, of books.  Paperbacks, hardcovers, children's books, cookbooks, fiction, biographies - we had a little bit of everything!  I never wanted to part with a book.  What if I wanted to read it again?

And that's the beauty of my eReader!  I can download digital copies of all of my books and store them in one place!  No more crowded bookshelves, no books scattered on the floor when the kids get into them, no more misplacing my favorites.  Once I came to this realization, I started purging.  And it felt good.

Over the course of an evening, I culled almost two hundred books from the shelves.  I didn't toss everything, though.  I kept the nice classics, the Shakespeare and the Homer.  I kept the books that didn't seem to be likely candidates for ebook download.  I kept the great children's books that my husband and I love and want to share with our children.  Harry Potter, A Wrinkle in Time, Shel Silverstein, among others.  Everything else was packed neatly into boxes.

I had made it through the difficult task of reducing our library from a few hundred books to just a few dozen, but then I suddenly had another dilemma - what do I do with all these books that I no longer want?

That, my readers, is a question I'll address in tomorrow's post.  But until then, how about sharing with me the titles of your favorite books?  Do you find it difficult to let go of a much loved read?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Beautiful Things

No matter how wilted or worn, a flower picked by one of my children always has the power to make a bad day more beautiful.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Had a Bad Day Again

Some days are magical.  I wake up - refreshed! - and everything just seems to mesh from the very first moment.  The baby is easygoing, the older kids wake up at a decent hour (NOT six o'clock), and there's no bickering before breakfast.  The dishes get done, a load of laundry makes it through the entire life cycle of wash - dry - fold - put away, and no one spills juice on the computer keyboard.  Sometimes things are so perfect I even get a little time to (gasp!) sew.  Or knit!

And then, well....then there are the other days.  Days when I don't have it together at all, and nothing seems to go the right way.  Food gets burned, laundry gets forgotten to sour in the washer, the baby runs out of diapers because I've forgotten to put them in the wash, and if those are the only catastrophes we have that day I count myself lucky.

I'd like to say I'm a domestic wizard. (Wizardess? Sorceress?) Clearly, I'm not.

I might aspire to have all my ducks in a row every single day of the week, and I might wish I was so overloaded with organization (and well behaved children!) that I had time to sew an entire wardrobe from scratch, but then I get over it.  Because life?  Well, it's not perfect, and I can't always have what I want.

But even, or maybe especially, on the bad days, there are lessons to be learned.  Like patience, humility, dealing with disappointment, and appreciating what's right in front of you.  And that's something (no matter how small) to hold onto when it seems like the world is falling apart at the seams.  On these days, when my temper seems tethered by an impossibly short leash and I'm dangerously close to bursting into tears I just remember that it's the difficult times that make me a better person, a better wife, a better mom. 

And when that doesn't help?  Well, I just remember that tomorrow is another day, another chance to do better. 

Then I toss the kids at their daddy and lock myself in the bathroom for a long, hot shower. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Digital Scrapbooking - Logan's First Year Album

About a year ago, I started scrapbooking photos of my oldest two children, compiling all the memories from each of their first years into scrapbook albums.  As of this writing, both of those albums remain largely unfinished, though my daughter's is closer to the finish line than my older son's. 

Scrapbooking can be a time and space consuming hobby.  There are papers and punches and embellishments and stickers and ribbons...not to mention the actual photos that end up spread around while you try to find the "perfect" shot for a layout!  With little kids in the house, I don't get to scrap very often, so I'm always chronically behind on all of my scrapping projects. 

In order to avoid getting even more behind on everything I'd like to scrap, I decided that Logan's first year scrapbook is going to be 75% digital.  At first, it was difficult to get used to working with Photoshop files instead of paper and stickers, but what I've discovered is that scrapping digitally allows me to work on a layout in the spare minutes of the day when I can sit down at the laptop and there are no supplies left out and about for the kids to mess with.  I can get a lot more accomplished this way!  In fact, Logan's scrapbook is coming along so quickly, it looks like I'll be able to keep up with it through the year, and it will probably be finished before Chloe's and Ben's 100% traditional albums.

Logan's First Year Album - Title Page
There are definitely some adjustments when switching from traditional to digital scrapping.  I definitely miss the tactile aspect of traditional scrapping - I love the feel of different papers and the three dimensional embellishments.  But, digital scrapping has given me a way to feel creative, and to create something for our family's legacy, without feeling like I've taken up half the day with dragging out and putting away supplies. 

Digital scrapping is also much, much cheaper than traditional scrapping.  Digital layouts are created with digital Photoshop files, which are reusable.  You can purchase design files and kits in all sorts of themes from thousands of designers for an average of five to seven dollars per kit, or you can find and download thousands of FREE files. (Two of my favorite download sites: and  The best part is, once these files are downloaded, you can use them as many times as you'd like!  Once your layouts are complete, the only other cost involved is having your layouts printed, at an average of $4.00 each.  Often times I'll spend twice that amount on embellishments for a single traditional layout!

I'm definitely looking forward to seeing how Logan's album progresses with the year, and to see if I'm able to keep up with it!  I'll be sure to share more layouts as I get them finished. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Dream for the Future

I'm dreaming of

fresh country air ::  swinging on the porch  ::  lemonade  ::  sewing my own clothing  ::  a modest, clean farmhouse  ::  rows of organic vegetables  ::  clean clothes drying in the breeze  ::  old fashioned values  ::  apple trees and blackberry brambles  ::  knitting  :: comfortable quilts  ::  kids running barefoot in the grass  ::  homeschooling under a shade tree  ::  soap making  ::  herbs in the windowsill  ::  fresh baked bread  ::  chickens running free in the yard  ::  self-sufficiency  ::  family time  ::  dinner at the table  ::  handmade holidays  ::  a night sky full of stars  ::  no neighbors for miles and miles

One day....