Of Dragons and Minimalism

Near the end of last year we had a solid plan for a nice, tidy little adventure. We would move seven hours away from home for a one (ish) year contract, live in a tiny little town while saving as much money as possible, and then move back home with a nice bit in savings to decide whether to continue with the short term contracts and travel lifestyle, or settle down in a tiny house in Colton’s parents back yard.

We were definitely moving back. We emphasized this point to everyone we spoke to, down to my favorite librarians. We’d known a lot of people who moved somewhere ‘temporarily’ and stayed for a decade or two, but we knew that was a risk, and we were fortified against it. It was only a contract job, 18 months at the longest. No way we were not moving back. After all, this is where all our family lived, where our church was, where we’d lived for multiple decades (all his life but for a couple of brief stretches for Colton, just over a decade and half for me).

And then.

Our home church started shrinking, to the point where we wondered if it could even continue much longer. Half of Colton’s family moved out of state, somewhat unexpectedly. (They’ve always had strong ties, including in-laws for one of Colton’s brothers, in the new area, but as much sense as it made, we didn’t see it coming much beforehand.) My sister’s family developed their own state of flux based on changing job situations.

Going ‘back home’ evaporated as a concept.

They say it’s a dangerous business going out your front door, but I always thought that meant a risk of dragons, not of accidentally becoming transient minimalists who move every three months. (Minimalist because, well, ‘moving every three months’. Many things suddenly feel a lot less valuable when faced with the prospect of packing them into boxes, again.)

In the midst of feeling adrift and in a broader sense, homeless, there are a lot of seemingly small changes that are strangely hard to deal with. I miss my black and red kitchen cupboards. I no longer know which of my elders to go to in case of a zombie apocalypse. I’m going to have to eventually tell my produce guy that I’m not coming back to town after all.

And that’s not even getting into the fact that my younger sister who’d been living in our attic bedroom has ended up similarly anchorless, and has been sleeping in our living room off and on, sharing the one bathroom in the apartment, which can only be reached by going through our bedroom, because this apartment was clearly only designed for two people.

So, as we’re trying to navigate some big life changes, we’re going with tiny, short-term goals for the moment. You know, just little things, like moving two hours west so we’ll be closer to the church we’ve been attending here. Giving our 30 days notice on our current apartment in faith that we’ll find a new place in time to move. Getting rid of our air popper because I learned how to pop popcorn in a normal pot on the stove like a true minimalist. Stuff like that.

Last week I finally started reading North! or Be Eaten, which my nephew’s wife loaned me a few months ago and I somehow hadn’t gotten to yet. When I got to this line I understood why I was meant to read it now:

“But those days had passed away as sure as the summer, and whether he liked it or not, home was no longer the cottage. It wasn’t Peet’s tree house, either. He wasn’t sure he had a home anymore.”

But it’s really the ending line of that chapter that is perfect, and makes me hope this is what naturally follows:

“All homesickness vanished. After weeks of waiting, adventure was upon them.”

Lockdown Bingo

After a few weeks of being stuck in the house we needed a way introduce variety into our normal day-to-day stay at home activities, so we came up with a list of ideas and found a site that randomized them for bingo cards. I’m sharing here a slightly less personalized version for anyone who’s also in need of fresh ideas. (We may do a sequel version at some point too, so drop your own ideas in the comments if you’d like.)


January in 30 Seconds

This year I decided to try one of those ‘one second a day’ video apps, and it’s been rather fun. I missed one day so far this year, so this is my January in 30 seconds instead of 31 seconds…


This project is partly just for my own amusement, but I’m interested to hear your reactions if you decide to watch the video. Does this video give you an impression of what my life looked like last month? Or does it just feel like random snippets?

That Time I Moved Out of State Instead Of Blogging Every Day

Some of you may have noticed that after a very brief attempt to write a blog post every weekday in November, my blog fell silent again. This is slightly due to the fact that I have a hard time following through on my great intentions, but more so due to the fact that my husband got contract job out of state, and I spent most of November going through everything we own and deciding what to take with us to a small apartment, what to store near home, and what really wasn’t worth moving or storing. (I thought we did a decent job of keeping our stuff down to mostly what we really wanted around, but it turns out we had over a dozen boxes of things we didn’t want *that* badly.)

In between the sorting I was researching important things like the library system near our new home, places to live, and how far we had to go to get take-out Vietnamese or sushi from those possible places to live. Oh, and in case that sounds too easy, I ended up researching three different towns this way because of questions about which one we would actually end up in, and our move date got changed three times. (In case it’s not clear, we’re very happy with the new job, and the fact that it’s close enough to drive back to see church and family on a weekend, and are enjoying the adventure. It’s just been a pretty crazy adventure so far.)

So… no blogging in November.

On the plus side, I’m now living a semi-minimalist lifestyle (aka I pared down my stuff to fit in a one bedroom apartment and it kind of worked but I’m still  not very good at being a minimalist) in a town where I know ZERO people, so I may have more time on my hands for things like blogging. Maybe. It’s a good theory anyway.

The apartment is still waiting on us to figure out the best way to hang pictures (given that about half the walls are concrete block) and for a few more boxes to be unpacked (mostly once we buy a second dresser, as we only brought one with us) but it’s close enough to ‘done’ to give you an idea what it’s like.

This is the main part of our living room. The other part is walkway, desks, and the rest of the Christmas tree you can just glimpse in this photo. (Most of the books and games are in storage. We did get rid of a few games and a few boxes of books, but these are just the ones we’re most likely to use in the next few months.) The ottoman is hollow for storage and has one of my big knitting projects inside, while a lot of the other craft supplies I brought with me are inside my desk drawers.

When I was packing up kitchen stuff I thought I was doing a good job ‘being minimalist’. I packed a bare minimum of dishes, and just enough Pyrex for a couple days worth of leftovers, so I’d be forced to use up leftovers quickly and not accidentally let them sit in the fridge for a couple weeks. My packing felt a lot less minimalist as I tried to unpack it all into this tiny kitchen though! I’m going to need to use up some odds and ends of pantry ingredients and then try to standardize to just basic ingredients (and also stop buying most things in bulk for now!). It helps that there’s a storage shelf and cupboard in the living room right outside the kitchen, and some things like tea and tea pot, and extra spice jars went out there. These are things that in theory I won’t mind having on display, but do need some more tweaking not to just feel crowded. (One weird side benefit to this kitchen: there’s literally no place to put dirty dishes except the side of the stove, so I’ll finally be forced to practice immediate dish washing. )

The bedroom is the least ‘done’ right now, as we are still waiting on the dresser I mentioned. Oddly, though, it’s a bit bigger, and has a noticeably bigger closet than our previous bedroom.

Fun Facts:

*There was a shoe box full of bricks in our coat closet when we moved in. Maintenance was also surprised by them, so presumably they were left by a previous tenant? Not sure why. Also, the previous tenant apparently took one of the two oven racks with them when they left, which maintenance has now replaced for us. Being able to call maintenance to fix everything may be the best part of apartment living.

*I thought our bathroom had zero storage and zero outlets, but it does in fact have a shallow medicine cabinet and one outlet on the light above the mirror. There is still no storage under the sink and one towel rod currently holding bath towels for two and a hand towel. (I’m ordering over the door hooks for the bath towels.)

*Of the 150ish books at the top of my to read list (I have a long to read list, okay?) 63 are available from the smallish library in town, which is a lot more than I thought would be. ONE of those is even one I couldn’t get in the library system back home: https://amzn.to/34UgekB (Affiliate link, FYI.)

*Least useful thing I brought: a return address stamp for our previous address

*Most useful thing I *forgot* to bring: There’s some stiff competition here, but I think broom is the winner. Runners up include step stool (because I’m short and can’t reach the top shelves in the kitchen) and iron (actually, scratch that, I never iron anyway–it’s mostly just between the broom and the step stool).

So, that about sums up apartment life right now! If you have any interest in more details on my attempts at minimalism or apartment organization/decorating feel free to ask. (If you didn’t even have an interest in the details I gave in this post, that’s okay too. I’ll just pretend you read the whole thing and enjoyed it.)


Two weeks ago, we set off for a vacation in Florida. For the purposes of this post we’ll pretend it was all that simple and didn’t involve many changes in plans and travel dates before we got to that point.

A few years ago, I would have definitely said I was not a beach person. Too hot. Too many people (wearing not enough clothes…). Sunburn. Sharks. Jellyfish. 100 foot tidal waves. You know, all the things sensible people are concerned about.

Then we discovered that you can go to the beach during a magical time of year called ‘off season’. The weather ranges from pleasant to tolerable and the people are few. Technically the risk of giant tidal waves is probably the same, but it turns out I can live with the sunburn, etc part of the list as long as I’m not sweating or socializing excessively.

It also turns out that my chronic health problems usually fade a bit when exposed to ocean air, plenty of natural vitamin D, and near constant ‘grounding’ as I go barefoot on the sand. Somehow, I have turned into a fan of the beach.

There’s not a whole lot to say about most of this trip specifically. We saw a couple of amazing sunsets, a double rainbow (though I think only one ever showed up in the picture), some cool looking skies, and a couple of shrimp boats (which look rather like pirate ships in my opinion). Not pictured, we also found a lot of nice seashells, and I read the next book in a favorite series while sitting on the beach.


This was one of the few times the beach umbrella stayed anchored in the sand without blowing away…

I tried to paint one of the shrimp boats we saw, and especially play off that resemblance to a pirate ship, but I was really unhappy with how my first attempt played out. Not only was I too rushed in mixing my colors, but the wind blew my paper around so much that I got accidental splotches of color in the wrong places from my paintbrush.IMG_3084

I repainted the picture later (on a screened in porch with a lot less wind) and was much happier with how it turned out. I’ve almost never tried to repaint the exact same picture (and probably don’t have the patience for it often) but in this case I loved getting the chance to make it a little more like what I saw in my head, and refine the idea based on what I did and didn’t like about the first one. The funny thing is, I was frustrated after my first attempt, but I think in the end I liked it better than if my first one had turned out well enough to leave it at that.



It’s the first day of November, which means those of us who run in creative/writer circles have been thinking or hearing about NaNoWriMo for a couple of weeks at least. (A quick explanation for the rest of you, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and is pronounced NA-no-RYE-mo.) Every year I think that I love the idea of participating in this group effort to churn out works of creative writing, and every year I decide that it’s a bad time to put in that much effort, since the official goal is 50 thousand words in the course of the month.

I’ve sometimes participated in the past by setting by own writing goal, and this year I’m stretching the concept even further by turning it into National Blog Writing Month. My goal is to write a post on one of my three blogs every weekday (and possibly some Saturdays) in the month of November. For those of you who’d like to fully follow along on this blog writing adventure, here are the links to my other two blogs:

Food blog:


Book review blog:



I’ve really been cutting back (nearly eliminating) my social media use in the past couple of months, and I’m hoping this blogging challenge will give my friends and family more chance at getting my life updates outside of Facebook and such, as well as replacing some of that previous scrolling time with an actual creative outlet for me.

I hope to post about our recent vacation soon (including a few beach pictures), but since I’m currently still recovering from travel and needing to catch up on laundry and dishes, I’ll keep this post short. If all goes according to plan, you’ll get a longer life update here within a couple of days!

Bits of Life

I’ve been having a lot of rough, tired days lately, but despite not having energy or deep thoughts for a full post, I noticed a few blog worthy odds and ends of life recently.

This year I tried growing a garden (read: four plants) as it had been a while since I had a nice collection of dead plants… Actually, I’d managed to grow some peppermint, and I thought there was a slight chance I could expand that to *slightly* harder to keep alive plants. I’m still a bit shocked every time I go look at my plants and they don’t to be turning brown and falling over. My swiss chard (above) is producing well, and I’ve harvested a bit of mint and basil as well. My tomato plant has blossoms (!). My zucchini/squash attempts didn’t go so well, as half of the plants immediately got eaten by rabbits, and the one remaining plant doesn’t get enough to sun to thrive, though it’s somehow holding on and also not dying yet.


 A friend introduced me to the concept of maximalist decorating, and I really liked the impression of my test run. In fact, I haven’t taken it down yet, even though most of it isn’t spaced properly. I’m thinking about mostly leaving the arrangement, just moving the hangings that are put up with sticky tack until it’s all properly balanced. I’m hoping to expand this display even further, possibly with some of my own artwork across the very top of the wall. (I got this up in one of my occasional bursts of, if not quite energy, at least lower fatigue. I’ll add to it slowly and continue the adjustments in future bursts.)

 Sometimes clearance roses are good idea even when you haven’t got around to clearing the table. That’s one thing I’m starting to learn with not having a lot of energy: sometimes the nice little finishing touches have to come first, or you never get to them.

Fatigue Life

One of my least favorite things about chronic health problems is the unpredictability. There a few reliable factors: if I stop taking certain supplements or medications I will feel significantly worse, if I have something going on every single day/evening for more than a week or so (without significant rest time as well) I WILL get sick, and if I’m around mold for very long at all I’ll feel crummy.

You might notice that all of these involve feeling worse. There’s nothing I can really do to guarantee a good day, though I do have a few tricks that usually work IF I guess right what’s flaring up to make me feel bad at the moment: activated charcoal and epsom salt baths for mold exposure or herxing/detox symptoms, oregano oil for Lyme flare ups, protein and healthy carbs for blood sugar fluctuations.

I’m getting familiar enough with the pitfalls and health boosters that I have a lot of tolerably good days now, and sometimes a string of really good days where I breeze through my normal chores and have energy left over for the projects I rarely get to. I really like those days, and try not to ruin them by wondering how long the energy will last, and whether I should start planning to work on bigger projects.

Then there are days like today where my body suddenly and inexplicably decides that being awake is overrated, and after getting up and eating breakfast on relatively normal schedule I get nothing else done except several hours of naps until mid afternoon. I’m pretty sure I could have napped again after I ate something resembling lunch. (Okay, it wasn’t lunch, it was unsweetened hot chocolate. Call it a gut feeling that I needed nutrients, but that my body didn’t want to digest solid food.)

Sometimes I wonder if I would have gotten better faster if I’d slept more during the worst days of fatigue. Of course, it’s easy to forget how hard it was to sleep during those days–just being exhausted and needing sleep didn’t always mean it was possible. But I do know I pushed too hard and didn’t rest enough in general.

It’s easier to let myself take rest days now, when I have routines that I keep up with most days, and I know that all the important chores have been done recently, and can be caught up on again on a good day. I don’t know for sure when the next good energy day will come along, but it’s nice to be able to expect that it will be sooner rather than later.

Getting better at being tired was never one of my life goals, but weirdly, it is one of the more useful things I’ve achieved in the last decade or so. Life skills, y’all. Maybe in another decade I’ll figure out how to be confident about backing out of parking spaces.