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An Airy Nothing

April 14, 2011

What is it about a spot that makes us fill it? We equate empty with nothing; but when I resisted refilling the space, air and light moved in, became a sanctuary….What if an airy nothing actually gives us more than the solid stuff?

-Susanna Sonnenberg in
Whole Living Magazine 

That thought kept going through my mind today as I continued my spring cleaning/packing. Today I packed 4 extra large boxes, collected 2 large bags of garbage, and set aside 4 medium boxes, 3 large bags, & a couple of larger items for donation. Phew! I think that “airy nothing” really is beginning to feel good!



April 12, 2011

Today was a long day. I’ll just leave you with a photo of my favorite local cafe here in town. I love local businesses!

PS This is my first post from my phone!

Go Green Mondays: Gardening!

April 11, 2011

In our part of the country everything is turning green! Well, at least everything that does turn green…we do live in the desert, so there’s still plenty of brown year-round!

My mother-in-law is visiting and I find I actually have time to begin a little gardening! Saturday I went and bought some plants… basil, jalapeño, tomato, & rosemary for veggies/herbs, and then lantana for the flower pots at the top of our front steps. I have been wanting lantana ever since we moved here, and now I finally have it… now that I’m moving in 8 weeks… ack!

What are y’all planting this year? And, any tips on how to keep my tomatoes from dying?

Just transplanted these today!


Today’s Links:

War of Words: Let’s get to the heart of our communication struggles

April 8, 2011

Who among us has not been hurt by the words of another? Who hasn’t regretted something we ourselves have said? Who hasn’t had to referee an argument? … Who among us can say, “My words are always appropriate to the situation and they are always kindly spoken”?

I am reading this book right now, and it’s absolutely amazing. One of my biggest struggles is definitely watching what I say and how and when I say it. What I like about the book is that it addresses the heart of our war of words, and does not simply instruct us to bite our tongues.

Nor is the purpose of the book merely to remind us how much we fall short of a lofty standard. Rather, it’s meant to be a book of hope, a book about change.

I am only just beginning this book, but already I thirst for the refreshment it will bring to my spirit! Already I feel hope instead of judgement!

I will share some of what I learn in the coming days… off to continue reading!

Experiencing JOY

April 7, 2011

I wake to a small sound and roll over to see my littlest one about to sit up in bed, he sees me and grins big. It’s 3am and I’m exhausted from a relentless day, but my little guy brings a smile to my face nonetheless.

Love my little boys. I know they’ll grow big in the blink of an eye, and so I do my best to cherish every moment. What a gift!

Today’s Links:

  • Great Quote
    This joy I have…..the world didn’t give it, the world can’t take it away.
    -By Shirley Caesar, gospel singer
  • FaithBarista_FreshJamBadgeG

A Long Road Ahead

April 6, 2011

How many times a day do I lose perspective? Too many. I forget His love for me. I lose sight of all He’s done for me, all I have to be grateful for. During this Lenten season I seem to be more aware… more aware of His pain… more aware of His love…

Over and over life tells the story of how love sacrifices. As a wife, I begin to know what my husband has sacrificed for me, for our children. Instead of being free to have numerous dangerous and daring adventures at the drop of a hat, he has chosen to sacrifice what many would define as adventure for the adventure of responsibility…responsibility to provide for our family, responsibility to be a loving father who spends time with his children…

I suppose many would say this is quite antiquated, that a woman can provide financially just as well as a man, and that a woman can teach her boys how to grow up into men, and I’m not arguing with you. I’m not saying that this is how every family should look. I am saying that this is how our family looks, and yes it is traditional, I know, and it works for us. I am overwhelmingly thankful to my husband for both his provision for us and for his desire to partner with me in parenting our boys. I know that he gives up other activities that might put his ability to fulfill these roles at risk, and he might think I take it for granted, but I do not. I am grateful and oh-so in love…

As a mom, I put my desires on hold multiple times a day to care for and spend time with my little ones. It’s a sacrifice. Though I LOVE being a mom, that selflessness doesn’t come naturally in every. single. situation. over. and. over. again. and. again. 😉 Often times I have to make a conscious choice to love and not be impatient.

It’s being in this amazing family of mine that has deepened my understanding of and my gratitude for my Savior. My Jesus who loved me so much that, in all his divinity, he stuffed himself into the constraints of a human body, in a time period without modern conveniences, in a persecuted culture, in a peasant family… and he lived an utterly selfless life, doing nothing out of selfish ambition, or vain conceit, but in humility, served and loved others, even unto death. THAT is the Jesus I love, the Jesus who embraced the least of the least, restored lives, and offered hope to the hopeless.

In the words of Ephesians 3, I pray that we:

being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.

I know that I have a long road ahead, and I give thanks to the  victorious One who has walked that road already.

Today’s Links:


Project Simplify continues!

April 5, 2011

Let’s keep moving forward on that spring cleaning! I’m soooo grateful for this blog!

Project: Simplify: Hot Spot #4 Revealed

by TSH on MARCH 28, 2011


Post image for Project: Simplify: Hot Spot #4 RevealedTime for hot spot number four in Project: Simplify! We’ve worked through our master bedroom closets, our paper piles, and our kids’ toys and clothes. Two more to go. 

I think you’ll like this week’s because many of you have requested it for this series. Even if you don’t like it, I know you’ll like the final one.

This week’s hot spot involves some basic decluttering and cleaning, but it also challenges you to think a bit deeper and to evaluate some of your life’s values. You could almost say this is both a decluttering of our physical space and of our daily habits.

Have a guess at what it is?

Hot Spot #4

This week’s hot spot: our pantry and refrigerator.

Yep, we’re going to clean out our pantries from expired spices and stale snacks, and reshelve them in a way that works for us. We’re also going to toss the science experiments from the fridge and clean out the grime.

But I hope it’ll be more than that. I hope, as we clean, we’ll ask ourselves, “Why do we want this in here?” every time we restock the shelves.

Here are the tools you’ll need this week:

• Trash can, compost bin, or both
• Pen and labels (or paper and tape, to make the labels)
• Warm, soapy water
• Baking soda
• Jars and other containers (repurposed, if possible)

Here’s the basic plan for decluttering the fridge and pantry:

1. Empty out the pantry. If it saves your sanity, start with one shelf at a time and do the entire process there before moving on to the next shelf.

2. Handle each item. Toss the expired items in the trash can or compost bin (head here to learn what can be composted). Also get rid of any items you think you simply won’t eat anymore.

3. Clean the pantry. I like using my simple all-purpose cleaner found in Appendix A of my book.

4. Corral ingredients and staples in a more visible container. Nuts, dried beans, grains bought in bulk, and most baking staples work wonderfully in large glass jars.

5. Restock the pantry in a way that makes sense of your space and the way you cook.

6. Repeat with the fridge, taking care to scrub the stinky parts with soapy water. Add an open box of baking soda inside, which helps neutralize odors.

7. If you have time, work on your cabinets, drawers, gadget storage, and other parts of your kitchen.

Head here to download and print the supply list and steps (written above), so that you can tack it somewhere where you can easily see it.

A few tips…

Become aware.

Ignorance truly isn’t bliss when it comes to the stuff we’re putting in our bodies. I believe our bodies were created by a Maker, and this same Maker also supplied the things it needs to keep it usually healthy and running well.

A lot of the things we put in our bodies ultimately were not made by God — they were made by factories and scientists.

Learn more about what your body craves. You don’t have to be a nutritional guru or a certifiable health nut to feed your family well.

Some great websites to start with:

More helpful media:

Organize your pantry so that you can make more wholesome choices.

Put your ingredients — spices, grains, beans, and the like — at eye level, where you can easily use them. Stock snack items up high, making it more of a conscience decision to grab them. It’s also more difficult for your kids to see stuff there.

Repurpose jars.

I’m a huge fan of glass jars and other see-through containers for food storage. There’s no need to buy new containers — when your pickles and salsa run out, wash out the jars and use those.

Not only will things be more stackable and stand up straighter, they’ll look prettier. I’m a fan of a pretty-looking pantry.

Label well.

I mention in my book that my mother-in-law is known for not labeling her jars, so it’s often hard to tell what’s baking soda and what’s baking powder (she knows, of course). Do yourself a favor, and label your items well, especially those in repurposed jars.

“If in doubt, throw it out.”

This is my mantra when I clean out the fridge. If I think the olives might have seen better days, or I’m leaning towards that sour cream having been in there too long, then I just toss it. No need to risk it.

When we lived overseas, food didn’t have preservatives in it, so I felt like I was constantly throwing food out. As an American, the leftovers I was used to keeping for a week would be a goner in two days.

Purge often.

For this reason, I prefer to clean out the fridge regularly. It makes it so much easier to clean when it’s not that bad. And when you handle your food regularly, there’s a higher chance it’ll be eaten. How often have you found a food item gone fuzzy only because you completely forgot it was in there? Me too.

Change a few things at a time.

Photo by Caroline Stokes

I first read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle in 2009. At that point, we were eating mostly whole foods, but I didn’t really understand much about organic versus conventional farming methods, or about the value of eating seasonally.

After that book, we decided to eat as seasonally as possible and to buy organic (not necessarily “certified organic,” since many organic farmers can’t afford the certification). It felt like quite a big change.

Two years later, and I’m reading the book once more with my local book club. And I’m reminded that the things that were so new to me back then are common sense to me now. It’s a no brainer to me now to wait until late spring to eat strawberries, or to not mess with zucchini until the summer.

My point is that if eating whole foods in season is new to you, don’t feel overwhelmed. Pick just two or three changes to make right now. Make them a habit, learn to enjoy them, and then focus on a few more things.

For my family this year, we’re focused more on eating meatless, because we really only want to eat grass-fed/grass-finished beef and pasture-raised chicken as much as possible. It’s not very affordable, so we’d rather do without than support the conventional meat industry.

That’s just us. Learn what you can, and make choices, a little at a time. One well thought-out choice is so much better than putting the blinders on.

Finish by Friday

Do your best to finish by this Friday. Post your before-and-after photos either on the blog or on the Simple Living Flickr pool, and then come to Simple Mom to link up (I’ll provide a spot on that day’s post). Spend the weekend resting, relishing in your work, and oohing and ahhing over everyone’s accomplishments as you browse the links.

Ready… Set… Go!

Alright, are you excited? I am. Use this week’s hot spot as an impetus to get your family on a journey towards eating whole, local, real foods.

I can’t wait to see all your photos this Friday.

How do you think kitchen organization ties in with eating habits?

Tsh Oxenreider

Written by Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the editor of this place, and is the founder of Simple Living Media, a little group with the mission to help people live simply. Her first book,Organized Simplicity, is in stores now. She’s a mama to three little ones, likes her coffee black, and dislikes writing about herself in the third person.

via Simple Mom @

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