The Year of Living Minimally – Week Twenty-five


Just a bowl and a spoon. My dear friend Lynne once said it would be enough. I tend to agree, at times. I have eight basic white dinner plates, eight white salad plates, eight seven white bowls, eight white mugs. We never use the mugs, because we have at least a dozen other mugs.

Plus, I have six cobalt-blue dessert plates, four dessert plates trimmed with strawberries, two shallow bowls, two not-so-shallow bowls, assorted small bowls, six glass footed dessert bowls, four ramekin bakers, two teapots, and another small baking dish with a cover. This is what’s in one double cupboard in my kitchen.

Then there’s the other cupboard with all the mugs. And the cupboards on the bottom with all the pots and pans and the wok and the skillet and the small food processor and the colander and the strainers…..

And the china cabinet, with the service for twelve, the ‘good china’ that had belonged to my husband’s mother, a woman I never knew. Plates and small plates and cups and saucers and a gravy boat and platters and more. The Wedgwood set that my mother had treasured. And above, on shelves, there are Sandwich glass candle holders and a teapot from England and and Austrian glassware and a plate from Japan…..

I’m exhausted just typing it all. And what do we use? A mug for coffee. A plate or bowl for breakfast. Another plate or bowl for dinner and glasses for water or wine. 90% of the items I wrote about above are not used. If I run the dishwasher, it’s once a week at best.

So, it’s my mission to donate as much of these things as I can. Someone must need dishes.

Note: I do understand that, for some of you, your family heirlooms will be passed down to your children (even if they don’t want them!!). Our situation is different, and I’m more than willing to let certain items go. My husband might need a bit more encouragement.


The Year of Living Minimally – Week Twenty-four

It’s the first week of a new year, and I imagine some of you have resolved to clean out your clutter. Right? Yay! I’m your greatest fan.

Today is Thursday, and I’m watching a blizzard out my window. It’s a day for soup and books and movies and naps. Winter in New England can be harsh, but sometimes it’s a blessing – we’re forced to stop. Stop running in circles, driving aimlessly, buying things you don’t need (yes, milk, bread, and toilet paper are okay). Read, chat, watch a movie or play a board game with your kids. Snuggle with your partner, or your pet. Stare out the window and be thankful for warmth and food. Tomorrow we can head outside and play in the snow!

So I’m not decluttering today. I’m enjoying time with my husband and our little dog. I’ve got soup simmering on the stove and flashlights in case we lose power (fingers crossed we don’t). If you’ve made a resolution to get rid of your excesses, great. Remember, you’ve got an entire year to work on it!

If you must be out today (thank you to police, fire, rescue, Hospice workers), stay safe. If you have to shovel, go slow and take breaks. And if you live in a warm climate, well, look at what you’re missing.

Beautiful Andalucian House And Business For Sale.

What an amazing adventure this would be! Well, not for us, but for the right adventurous people!

Lottie Nevin - The Rioja Diaries

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The house has been beautifully and sympathetically restored to the highest standards, but still retains the traditional charm and character of an old house…

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Old Long Since

This was my year-end post four years ago. This past year brought me closer to some very good people, and it deepened the divide with others. What I do know is that kindness and civility matter. Here’s to 2018. Pray for peace.

Martha Reynolds Writes

I lost a friend about twenty years ago. It was because I gave unsolicited advice. No matter if I was right or not, it didn’t matter. I gave unsolicited advice and it broke apart our friendship for years. We mended it about eight years ago, patched it up as best we could, made peace, offered forgiveness. I showed up to her father’s funeral, she attended my mother’s wake. But so much time had passed. Her children grew up. Our lives changed and matured. The seas between us have roared and swelled. For her, my “trusty friend,” I raise a cup of kindness. For you, too.

It’s the best version of a song sung at the end of the year.

“Auld Lang Syne”  Kate Taylor
A new translation of the ballad “Old Long Since,” a poem by National Poet Robert (“Robbie”) Burns written in 1792 from a Scottish folk song of…

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The Year of Living Minimally – Week Twenty-four

Happy year-end! That’s correct, let’s all celebrate the end of 2017. I’m going to be hopeful about 2018, because it has to be better, right?

So…if you received gifts this month, great! Here’s an idea – for each new thing you brought into your home, can you choose something to recycle/donate/toss? I’ll bet you can.

How about your year-end cleanup? Monetary and non-monetary donations to charities are big at year-end. Do you have clothes to donate? Do you have leftover shipping boxes? Here’s a cool way to put them together for a greater good.

I’ve been seeing the things in my house with a new attitude, one I hope stays with me forever. Remember back when I packed up dresses and heels and dropped them in the church’s bin? Well, I knew I wasn’t finished with clothes donations. This week, I ventured back into my closet and filled two bags with slacks (pants, trousers). I had nine pairs of black pants. Now, I can practically live in black pants, but I didn’t need nine pairs! Two is what I kept. I did the same with gray, navy, khaki.

And this is the way I view things now. Read a book and pass it along. Watch a DVD and send it off to a friend. Or donate! The library, the senior center, the after-school program.

When your ‘stuff’ seems overwhelming, start small. My first post was about cleaning out the utensil and junk drawers in the kitchen. Or maybe just clear out your sock drawer!

Here’s to a new year. I’ll raise a cup o’ kindness – to all of you.

The Year of Living Minimally – Week Twenty-three

As I slog toward my halfway point in this year-long project, this week I can report, happily, that my workspace looks much better than it did. I forced myself to clean up this space, because last week I said I would! (I should watch what I say, right?)

I refused to take any before pictures, but imagine the space you see above cluttered with papers. Oh, I knew where everything was! One thing I realized was that I had scraps of paper everywhere – words, phrases, snippets of conversation I’d overheard – things I wanted to keep for future writing. So I took a few hours and typed them into a desktop folder called “Snippets.” Yeah.

The floor (carpet) similarly was covered with papers – accordion folders of previous years’ tax stuff (ugh), photos, insurance policies. Look, I’m confessing here! This area was in rough shape. The filing cabinet is now being used appropriately. I can find what I need.

Oh, and I filled four paper bags with recyclable papers. I shredded what needed to be shredded.

It’s a happier place today!

2017 – A Look Back

January: I traveled to my beloved Switzerland, alone, on a writing journey. I met an online pal, Barbara, at a restaurant in Fribourg, traveled to Scuol on the eastern border, reconnected with my dear friend Fabiola in Montreux and met her husband Marc, took the train to sunny Lugano, and had plenty of inspiration for my just-released novel, Villa del Sol.

Fribourg  Scuol  Fabiola January Lugano

Plus, I was out of the country for the inauguration. Enough said.

February: Our neighbor and friend Tom died unexpectedly. His wife had died a couple of years earlier, and, as is the case for many men, the death of their spouse can send them reeling. Tom was never the same, and I’m glad he’s reunited with the love of his life. Rest peacefully, Tom.


March: My father-in-law turned 85. Although Ray’s health hadn’t been good for years, we didn’t realize at the time that it would be the last birthday we’d celebrate with him.

Ray March

April: Jim turned 60! How could that be??? We celebrated at Spain, one of our favorite restaurants, where every meal is memorable. For this evening, it was paella for two (and plenty to bring home)!

April Jim paella

May: At the end of May, my brother-in-law’s mother died at home in her sleep. Ginny lived to be 92 and, while a death at that age may not be totally unexpected, it was still a surprise. What a kind and gentle woman she was! She’s reunited with her beloved husband.


June: We had a little getaway to southern Vermont. Our trips are small and local, mostly, and we always take our little Bonnie with us. At eight, she’s never been kenneled, and never will be. Yes, it changes the dynamics of a trip sometimes, but we’re fine with that.


July: Besides adding yet another year, I spent some warm days writing. And I started my “Year of Living Minimally” series on this blog (it posts every Friday morning). I began taking stock of what we have (more than we need), and what can go (recycle, donate, toss out).

middle sister   img_4706

August: After the death of a colleague from skin cancer, Jim and I (finally) made our appointments for a full body skin check. He had a couple of little things burned off, and I earned a biopsy. It came back as malignant melanoma, so at the end of the month, I had the damned thing removed from the back of my thigh.


September: I’ve written about it here. While we were on a much-needed vacation to Prince Edward Island, Jim’s dad passed away unexpectedly. While his death defined the second half of September (and the rest of this year), my aunt Hildegard died as well. She was strongly opinionated and loved my uncle Carter, and I wish her everlasting rest and peace.

Us at Atwood July 2008    Hildegard

October: We spent the month working to clean out and prepare Ray’s house for sale, and as my “Year of Living Minimally” blog kept pace each week, some of Ray’s household items found their way back to our home. Jim and celebrated 23 years of marriage at the end of what was a long month.

Hunter   us Vienna

November: I hate multi-tasking, but managed to do so this month. With the release of my seventh novel at the end of November, I pushed hard to finish the preparation that goes into a book release (especially as a self-published author). I featured 30 different Rhode Island authors here on this blog, and continued to donate, recycle, and toss out.

Villa-del-Sol (1)

December: As the month winds down, so does this year. I’m just as happy to see it go. By the time this post publishes, we’ll be preparing to close on the sale of my father-in-law’s house (warm wishes to the young family who will breathe new life into it). I’ll have my three-month follow-up visit to the skin doctor. We’ll spend a very quiet Christmas (Jim is working, I’ll be with my sisters and brother-in-law, and we’ll be mindful that both Ray and Ginny are missing).

This year has been difficult, in many ways. Some are in deep despair, and my heart hurts for you. Because hope is the light. And if you have children, or grandchildren, that’s where you find your hope, your light. It’s the reason people have kids!

Children = future = hope. Look at this little munchkin – my cousin Cindy became a grandmother this year when her daughter Caitlin gave birth to Darius Michael. I know many of you shared the same joys, and my heart is hopeful.