Simple living: What would you keep?

This morning there was a feature on the Today Show about a couple in Portland (with a very fun and interesting blog) who gave up all but 100 possessions, downsized to a 400 square foot apartment, and got rid of their car. See below:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Of course it got me thinking. We live in such a materialistic society… would we really be happier with less?

My husband has always said that he wants to live simply. And I love the idea, but to be honest, I also love stuff. How shallow am I? Ha! But for a while I have been wanting to clean house. So here's my top ten list of things that I absolutely would not give up if I were forced to get rid of everything else besides the bare essentials (which includes at least one car- we live in the most sprawling city in the country- not to mention the hottest!- so a car is a must- even more so with a baby!):

1. My iMac. I make my living by this thing- not to mention it houses all of our music and photographs!

2. My camera.

3. My sewing machine.

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4. My Amma's china set. She bought it one piece at a time while she was working hard and living in Iceland. Priceless!

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5. These two Bibles (yes, I'm cheating): the first I carried down the aisle on our wedding day. The second belonged to Mum Mum.

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6. The artwork that our friend Trish painted that was displayed at our wedding.

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7. My Hummell music box… it's beaten up and cracked and worth nothing to anyone but me, but I used to fall asleep to its music every night when I was a kid. It's now in LJ's room.

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8. This photo of Mum Mum and me.

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9. Henry. 

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10. This silhouette of Linnea:

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I'll tell you what, this exercise sure does make you realize how much crap is sitting around in your house that is completely ignored and also makes you realize that perhaps you don't need all this stuff after all. But then again, even though we could get rid of so many things and never miss them, it's hard to imagine a virtually empty house… my head might explode. Is that wrong? Maybe we need a smaller house so it will feel more full with only the things we need… hmmm… I don't know. Either way, I prefer to live in a home that has character because of its decor. Do I need the decor? Nope. But because it's something I personally love- to be surrounded by beauty- it's meaningful enough to me to warrant staying in my home. Cody and I also love entertaining- so that requires a fair amount of kitchen ware and enough place settings for everyone. It's all a matter of what your priorities are- and that's different for everyone.

It's the things sitting in my closet that I haven't seen in ages that I question. And lots of other things.

Stuff isn't what makes me happy ultimately… it isn't what makes anyone happy. My family and friends and the experiences we share together are what bring me joy, and I'm sure you would say the same of your own. I think it's about time to start cleaning out our closets, organizing, and passing along the things we don't really need to others who would appreciate and have a need for them.

So what are your thoughts on this? What are some of the things you would never give up?

p.s. I think I would die without a car in Portland. Have you BEEN there? SO MUCH TO DO AND EXPLORE.

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Arizona is home… for now.

Cody and I have been thinking of where we would like to live if we ever left Arizona. Then I take pictures like this and wonder if I could ever leave this kind of beauty.

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There is no sky like an Arizona sky. You can see for MILES.

We're planning a trip to Nashville for our anniversary this year (and keeping our fingers crossed that it actually works out) because we are super intrigued by living there… even though we've never been there before. So call us crazy that it's at the top of our list of places to live- vastly different than this scenery, that much I know.

I think that no matter where I live, Arizona will always be home. I love this place more than words can say. But Cody and I both agree that if we didn't take a chance and move our family somewhere else at some point, we may regret it someday. It would be a huge change and super difficult to leave our family and friends, but it's time for some adventure in our lives!

Maybe we'll just pack our loved ones in our bags and take them along.

Just sayin'.

Something tells me…

…that this will be the same color coming out as it was going in. I suppose that's what we get for sticking store-bought baby-food squash with fresh avocado in a food processor.

I swear I saw this same stuff in her diaper (and also my shorts) yesterday.

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And now it's all over her face.

And just for the record, I don't think a little girl has ever loved her Daddy as much as this one does.

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Silhouette.

Once of my favorite Etsy shops, Le Papier Studio, specializes in "Elegant Silhouette Creations" ranging from wall art to pillows and even necklaces. I'm still working on redecorating my office on a very slim budget, and have a bunch of frames from Goodwill that I plan to paint white and fill with family photos for a wall gallery. Then I came up with the idea to make my own silhouette of Linnea to add to the collection. I painted the frame and mat white, traced a photo of her that I took while she was sleeping, cut it out of black paper using an Xacto knife, and put it on a beautiful piece of pink damask scrapbook paper. It was a fun project that turned out beautifully, although if you want an expert to do it, head on over to the Le Papier Studio and request a custom order. I personally want a necklace! Mother's day gift, perhaps? (HINT, HINT.)

So I turned this (Awwww…):

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Into this!

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The office is still a work-in-progress, but I'm wrapping it up and will be posting pictures in the near future!

Project Nursery: Real Rooms feature.

I am so excited to have Linnea's room featured on Project Nursery today! Kim, my client at the TomKat Studio, was kind enough to offer to feature my little girl's nursery and baby shower on their site. She is a contributing blogger for them and I was so flattered that she loved Linnea's room enough to want to feature it! Jessica of Session Nine came in last Tuesday and took photos for the post and did such a fabulous job, as always. We then had a Mommy Work Day and hung out with our kiddos and worked on each of our businesses with some HGTV in the background… it was perfect. Be sure to check out the feature and leave some love… in the meantime, here are some amazing shots Jessica took of Linnea on a bright, beautiful quilt made by her great aunt Mary!

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And one shot of Mum Mum's mirror and tray set and her Bluebirds of Happiness:

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Food and memories.

After Mum Mum passed, my family and I spent a lot of time sharing some of our favorite memories of our time with Mum Mum. There was a common theme running through many of those memories: food. I had this epiphany that so many favorite times- anyone's, not just our family's- are centered around food and delicious food traditions. Sometimes you spend an evening with family or with friends, and you share conversation over an amazing meal that is simply unforgettable. My mom is so good at this, and so is my Amma! When it came to Mum Mum, our family- especially my nephew, David- always looked forward to her amazing baked beans every Christmas. This is a tradition that I am sure will carry on, and I would share the recipe with you except my mom wants to keep it a family secret 😉

In light of this, I am going to be more intentional about not only sharing my own favorite recipes that are beloved by my family and friends, but actually getting my butt in the kitchen on a regular basis to COOK those recipes!

Before this blog, I had another one that documented many things- my political opinions, buying a house, getting a second dog, and also my journey as a new vegetarian (I'm not gonna try to fool you into thinking that lasted long- I succumbed to the amazingness that is Liberty Market after only six months. But it was good while it lasted). In the months after Cody and I got married, I was obsessed with all things kitchen gadget-y and learning to cook was at the top of my list of things to do. Take, for example, this post, dated 6/23/08:

I swear to you, I can't surf around 101 Cookbooks or Smitten Kitchen
without uttering the words, "ExCUSE me?!" at least seven times per
visit when I look at their recipes. Because who wants to eat Amazing Black Bean Brownies
really? I should be offended by this. And then I totally want to eat
them. Why this is appetizing is beyond me. But I am sure that blogs
like this inspire me to spend as much time in my kitchen as is humanly
possible.

Also, when I walk into stores like Williams Sonoma or
Sur La Table I can't help but get a thrill at the thought of a huge
kitchen filled with every cooking gadget under the sun, and me
inventing culinary delights so ethereal that the heavens open wide and
the angels sing upon my creations.

I think the world might
actually be coming to an end. I want to do things like sew, cook, and
plant a garden. When did I become a vegetarian, chocolate-obsessed,
weird brownie-baking, lentil-consuming, Martha Stewart wannabe who
actually wants to eat the aforementioned ingredients… all in the same
recipe?

On another note, I made Cody
eat a whole steamed artichoke the other night, and it was *nearly*
disastrous. Not quite cooked all the way through, but not entirely a
loss for a first-timer. All in all, a thoroughly weird experience. When
he got to the part where he had to slice and dice his way through the
furry mess to the heart, he sat there with a very concerned look on his
face, staring at what was left of the artichoke, and said, "I think I
just ate a wombat."

Thank God my poor husband was adventurous and patient enough with me to live through my experiments… fuzz and all.

The health of my family and my own health is very important to me, and I want to be sure that Linnea is raised not only with wonderful memories of delicious food, but also with good eating habits. I wasn't off to the greatest start considering that all I ate when I was pregnant was Nesquick and hot fudge sundaes from McDonalds (that's like the epitome of processed AND sugar! What!) but we're gonna work to turn this train around. This doesn't mean that I am going to be The Food Nazi and never let her have any treats- for goodness' sake, the peanut butter brownie recipe I found and made a couple of years ago was a little slice of HEAVEN!- but we'll simply have to do things in moderation.

So… since you're probably dying to have that recipe yourself, I'll post it tomorrow for you to try over the weekend. It's an old post but a fun one, and the brownies are simply divine!

Wish me luck with that whole health thing- clearly I'll need it (see above picture).

Office makeover.

As any of my dear readers know, I am a work-at-home mommy. When I first met with my lovely client Kim at the TomKat Studio, I was totally inspired by her decorating style (as pretty much everyone else who knows her is!) and set out on a mission to make over my office space. As you also know, my favorite color ever is PINK, so not only did I know I had to incorporate it into my new decor, Kim did a gorgeous job decorating her studio/living room in pink and orange! I am also *slightly* obsessed with her pink chair in the foreground:

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She basically had the same reaction to it that I did when she saw it in someone's home, and offered to buy it from them and they sold it to her on the spot. Ha! That gorgeous rose pillow was a fantastic find at HomeGoods, where she is also a contributor to their blog. I've been heading there at least once a week in search of a fabulous pink lamp for my desk and any other amazing decor for my work space.

Needless to say, Kim is a fantastic decorator.

This is a work in progress, but here is a sneak peek of the first project I completed- refinishing the sofa table that I'm using as a printer stand and storage space.

Before (clutter mania!):

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After (sans clutter, but it will have some other more pretty items on it when I'm done):

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Found these gorgeous drawer-pulls at anthropologie. (Where else? Seriously.)

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So my overall plan is pink and white- maybe with some lime green accents? I haven't decided yet- it totally depends on what I find out there. I'll be checking out Ikea, anthropologie, HomeGoods, and other random places for inspiration and inexpensive finds. I've already found several items that I can't wait to share once the office is finished. Plus, the simple process of rearranging and moving some furniture pieces around has made a huge difference, and it didn't cost a thing! Gotta love that.

There's something to be said about having an inspiring, colorful work space, especially when you spend most of your day there. I also want to have room for Linnea to play near me when she gets a little older. I'm loving what we've done so far, and I can't wait to be all finished and organized so I can get started on even more projects I have in the works!