Friday, April 15, 2016

Times Such as These

 It started with a drizzle, the drops weren't rain, but ice. The wind picked up and the ice droplets poured fast and faster, raining down on me in my heaviest coat as I crossed the empty lot next door with two of our dogs. Had it been a different year, we could have patronized the water ice stand. Now, all we had to do was open our mouths and look at the sky.  It went on like that all night, and of course I forgot to cover the ornamental shrubs that hadn't even had a chance to grow yet. 

 Over the next few days there were whispers, rumors, and outright truths. Fruit farmers to the north were setting controlled fires in their orchards on twenty degree nights to keep the trees warm. Some crops were already in trouble, apples in some places, peaches in others. No one mentioned the rumor we all used to believe about an early spring. Whatever happened to that groundhog anyway? 

 Fresh out of my recovery from the winter blues (oh yes, I got them this year and it was awful) I am ready to inhabit my natural environment of t-shirts and flip flops. I'm thinking about summer, and have made discounted pre-season ticket purchases to Little Boy Fun Land, Mother Goose Land, and Milk-A-Fake-Cow Land. Then I commit to a bigger one: For the first time years we might be able to take a break away from home for just a little while. When I attempt to reserve a hotel online, my credit card rejects it. 

That's strange. 

 I try again, and it goes through, but within minutes the bank is contacting me because someone is trying to use my card on a travel website, and surely, that can't be me.  I assure them that the impostor is me, we, we' are actually trying to do something this year, and it's a little bit insulting when the bank tells you that it's unusual for you to have that much fun. 

I was like...

 In times such as these, we need a sense of humor. When the laughter dies down, and the wind picks up again, you can hear it whisper God is in control.  

 How about an easy and hearty side dish to stretch out any meal? While my favorite red-skinned mashed potato recipe of all time is this one here, some days I just need something tasty and exciting to happen with minimal fuss. I like that in this recipe the potatoes are a little crisp on the outside and creamy inside.

Loaded Red Potatoes

5-6 Red potatoes (about 2.5 pounds) cooked AND diced

6 Tablespoons of butter, melted
Seasoned salt
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Bacon pieces, cut up

Side note: I use a potato bag to make this dish even easier. In case you don't know what a potato bag is, it's a cloth bag that allows you to quickly cook potatoes in the microwave. You can find them sold for around $8-10 at most Amish markets or housewares stores. I always include one with wedding shower gifts and the thank you notes always mention how "it actually works!" Maybe sometime I'll do a potato bag giveaway. 

Place potatoes on bottom of an 8x8 inch pan or 2 quart casserole dish. Pour butter over top and sprinkle with with seasoned salt. Top with cheese and bacon. Bake uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes. (I added chives for garnish because we have some in the herb garden right now.

  This comes on the heels of being told by my doctor that if I want to reach my next weight loss goal quickly, I should give up potatoes.

Once again...

Friday, April 8, 2016

Five Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Small House (That Work in Any House!)

   One of my favorite themes to talk about is small and tiny house living. As you know, our house is definitely small and may even fall in the tiny house category. It currently consists of:
  • 2 bedrooms
  • 1 bathroom
  • Kitchen
  • Open living room/dining area 
  • small mudroom/storage area by the back door
   We have plans for an expansion some day, but we'll probably never get past a thousand square feet. We like our big backyard too much.

I told you it was small. No, we're not elves. Thanks for asking.

   Over the past nine years, I've picked up so many excellent space saving and micro-living tricks, including some I've never read anywhere else. I came up with a list of my FIVE BEST and quickly realized that these are things that would maximize living space in any home. I'm posting them here in hopes that they can help someone maximize their living space in any home. Simply put, more living, less stuff.


1) Move It Out Monthly. 

Since doing a complete de-cluttering of my home last year, I keep a box or large shopping bag in a corner of our bedroom for things that are no longer needed. I usually try to sell the item, but if it doesn't sell then I donate it to a non-profit thrift store. When the box is full of items that we no longer can use, I move it out. To keep the pile from growing, I do this once a month.

2) Reorganize Constantly. 

This is a big tip that I never see, but that saves my sanity every single day. I don't know how many times I got great deal on bulk baking supplies or a huge amount of paper towels and thought in the car, I have no idea where this will go. It always turns out that once I reorganize a cabinet, a closet, or move out something we no longer need, I can easily find the space to accommodate things that matter right now. This attitude works well for small stuff, like food, clothing, toys, books, and other daily living supplies. While every item in your house needs a "home", be flexible  about where that is and don't be afraid to move things around.

However, I must also add...

3) Don't Buy Big Stuff Unless You Know Where It Will Go.

This one seems like common sense, right?  But trust me, when you are confronted with a lovely and oversized piece of furniture, wall picture, or other home accessory that costs next to nothing, it can be hard to say "no". Trust me, you don't want to have a white elephant sitting in the garage or shed for a few years because it doesn't fit with your house. Send white elephants back to the zoo. 

4) Figure Out Where Your Space Is, and Use It.

Even if it's in an unusual place. I've seen high ceilings lined with shelves that hold books and extra high kitchen cabinets that stock empty canning jars on top, and all kinds of clever storage on the back of doors. When we realized we would never be able to fit large book cases in our living room, I eyed our wide hallway that leads to the back door and found plenty of space for an instant library. It wasn't what we would have planned, but it works perfectly. 

5) Keep Seasonal Decorations to a Minimum.

I love decorations! So does the rest of the world. My local yard sale page on Facebook is awash in gently used decorations for sale. Exercise equipment, too, but that's another post.  While seasonal decorations make your world brighter for just a few months, they take up space somewhere else in your house for the rest of the year. Then, people still get tired of them and want to change decorating schemes. For myself, it has worked better to invest in things that I can display and enjoy all year long, and accent them with a few selective seasonal or holiday items at certain times of the year. This way, instead of storing up treasures for most of the year, I can look at things I like all of the time and save the space for something more important. 

So, these are my biggest and best ideas ever when it comes to small space living, and I hope that in posting them that even the lady with the grandest home can find some inspiration in simplifying her surroundings. 

Most importantly, if you can think of anything that works for you, whether it's listed here or not, feel free to add it in the comments. 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...