April 21, 2017

Friday things

Two Fridays ago was quite windy and rainy here and for most of the day/weekend we had little to no power. We went almost two hours with no power during one heavy bout of heavy winds. The wind got up to about 60 miles an hour at one point and I was worried about our gazebo top and the cherry tree behind our house. It finally calmed down about 3:00 p.m. and we just had rain showers the rest of the day. The weather was a bit confusing though because it would be windy, dark, and raining and 10 minutes later the sun would come out and the wind would be calm. It was off and on like that from about 4:00 a.m. on until the early Sunday evening. We were lucky here in the base of the Cascades because in the Portland area the winds took down power lines and trees. Here at the SNS house we only have some minor damage. A few limbs here and there and some things blown down in the yard, but nothing we couldn't clean up over the course of this past week. Unfortunately, the poor daffodils took quite a beating.

Last Friday was a bit rainy, but nothing major and Easter Sunday was sunny and clear. However, we spend the entire weekend helping some friends move and it too about four days of moving to get them completely shifted over to their new home. Four days isn't too bad, but it was exhausting. Thank goodness we all finally were able to take a much needed break Sunday evening. We all woke up Monday morning with sore muscles and sore backs. Moving-it's a great workout.

Here are the things that made this week great.

1. This moment.

The Mr. and The Bean have been casting into the waters here lately. The Bean has really started taking a liking to fishing, but we always teach a catch and release method with him. He hasn't caught anything as of yet, but his hopes are high.

2. This walkway.

Really liking how these came together. They look really nice in the daylight and at night they give off just enough light to create a glow onto the walkway. 

3. Easter.

With or current shift in being more minimal we kept the Easter "basket" simple. 

We gave The Bean a simple basket with a few organic chocolate eggs and a locally-made peanut butter rabbit. The basket was made of  a biodegradable basket and recycled brown paper for the grass. The Easter Bunny brought him some Annie's snacks, a Seattle Chocolates candy bar, TruJoy Fruit Chews, Eco-Eggs egg coloring and grass-growing kit, the movie Rogue One, and a Garden-in-a-Can - Dill. 

4. This change.

I've kept a blog for The Bean since before he was born and this week he took it over. I started the blog when I found out I was pregnant with him and have had it going now for about 13 years. Having him take over and start blogging makes me so proud. You can follow his blog posts here.

5. These goodies.

Yogi Surprise, never a letdown. 

Mighty Nest sent reusable bamboo utensils for this month's Mighty Fix. The Mr. promptly added them to his lunch box for work each day. And we also added on some Bee's Wrap sandwich wrap to help him keep a zero waste lunch each day. You can get Mighty Nest here.

And I have to mention the gifts I received from Pilot. Since I participated in the Back 2 School VoxBox through Influenster, Pilot decided they wanted to keep the gifts coming. This small package from Pilot contained two sets of pens, a Target gift card, and a postcard that allows you to write a note to your future self. Totally unexpected, but greatly appreciated!

A few other things:

April's book selection:
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Find out more here.

• Guess what, Arkansas! You got a Go Green Box now!

• Minimal Monday recap:

• Waste-Free                           
• Donating                           

April 10, 2017

Minimal Monday: Media

With the news today of yet another school shooting, we can't help but wish we could block out so much media coverage of such a horrific event. Media, including social media, seems to force us to watch things we wouldn't otherwise watch, or listen to on a regular basis. Negativity seems to be thrust into our faces every day and the way they bring it across makes us not want to look away, but we must. In order to properly process this, we must have moments within our own minds to process negativity that happens in our world.

With the word "media" what exactly comes into your mind? Media of news outlets? Social media? Or how about newspapers... Whatever your definition is to the word "media" one thing is for sure, the world seems to be obsessed with it completely.

Everyone goes through their bouts of social media presence, and the SNS household has a pretty active online presence, but when does it become an obsession, a habit, or even an addiction. The problem with social media is that it's so easy to get lost in and Facebook is one of the biggest leaders in keeping people active and obsessed with this trend. There is currently 1.86 billion people logging onto Facebook daily. And not to mention, 1.15 billion people that log onto Facebook every day through some sort of mobile device.(source) It's no wonder with those numbers that our world is so connected to everything that happens around the earth. On one aspect it's easy to argue that it is a great way that keeps us all connected, but there is one thing that a lot of those people are missing completely, and that's the fact that it does keep us ALL connected. Seems to be confusing, but let me explain. A lot of things seen on social media, media outlets, or even on your "friends' posts" may not be how it actually is. A lot of things on social media have been exaggerated to either get people angry, upset, or try to touch some sort of emotional response from the viewer. Facebook is also a place where most people have taken to in order to gain attention, brag, or even stay connected with people that they aren't really "friends" with at all. Think stalking, harassing, or just plain being nosy.

But with all of that negativity toward social media there is a solution. The solution is to not let it control your life that way. Some of the best solutions to limit your time on social media, viewing media on your television, or even hearing it on the radio is to actually limit your exposure to it all. You are the only person that can control those aspects of your life online. Here's how.

• Unfollow and unfriend: Unfollow pages, people, Facebook accounts, Twitter accounts, etc. that don't really interest you. There is no shame in unfollowing companies that don't fully have your backing on whatever they stand for. Unfriend people you aren't really friends with. There is no shame in not being "friends" with someone you don't know and that doesn't know you. And don't add people that you don't want knowing your personal life. Facebook has an option to unfollow someone if you don't want to remove them as a friend, but don't want to see their posts. Side note: If you don't get along with someone in your real life, you probably won't get along with them online either, so keep that in mind. Even 150 friends seems like a lot to me, but you be the judge of your own online friends. The term "friends" has gone way off course in regards to our online status. Read more ways to minimize your online presence through social media.

 • Stop the notifications: Just turn them off completely. You don't need an email, a text message, or even a call when every thing happens with your online presence. Some apps of social media and news media outlets have the option to send you a notification with every-little-thing that takes place and if you have this setup on your phone or computer, get rid of it. The best way to minimize your media exposure it to not get those notifications in the first place.

• Limit television/radio time: Watching television is above all a great time killer. Movies on demand, smart televisions, it's news at our fingertips. The problem with this is the hours and hours of television that seem to overtake our lives. What brings more enrichment to your life, watching television for two hours or spending time outside for two hours? I think we all know the answer. It all comes down to one thing, acting on that knowledge. The best tip is to limit this time and only watch programs that enrich our lives. This doesn't mean completely cut out movies, or news, but be mindful of the programs that grace our eyes and our ears. This goes for newspapers and publications too.

• Lastly, don't forget other items that can cause issues with time. These include Pinterest, online gaming, blogging, Skype, Facetime, eReaders, and even cell phones. We all have the ability to minimize these in our life. The only thing that needs to happen is actually following through with it and set times that you use them. Cutting notifications and time spent on these is a great step in minimizing our time spent with them. Keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with using these sites, devices, or programs, but make sure you are doing it in a healthy way. We all know when we have reached that moment of "too much," just make sure you know your limit.

Minimization is more than just about minimizing stuff, it also has to do with all aspects of your life as a whole. Don't allow other things, or other distraction take away your daily goals in life. Unplug when needed and stay focused on what's important in our lives. You have the right to control your own way of living, so do it!

Best of luck to you and keep on creating a life of less.


April 3, 2017

Minimal Monday: Donating

Man, the feeling of being able to get rid of something and have the thought that it is going to be used by someone else is a great feeling, isn't it? It always makes me smile when I see something I have donated go to good use, or at least, being told it will go to good use. Recently, The Mr. and I loaded up our car roof with two full-sized mattresses that we no longer need, or use, and trucked them over to the St. Vincent de Paul in Albany, Oregon. Funny story real quick, as we were driving it started raining on us and we had to stop halfway there and shove them into the back of the car. The Bean was smashed in the backseat-thank goodness he is skinny and flexible-and The Mr. and I were riding with the back of the mattress pushing us so far into the dash. Back to the donating. We arrived at St. Vincent De Paul and it cost us $20 ($10 per mattress) to donate them. The best part about this donation though, was the fact that they either clean them up to resell right in their own store, or send them to a company in Eugene, Oregon, that will refurbish them and put them up for sale. It's a win for everyone involved, and especially for us because we actually donated them. It gives us peace of mind to know that they aren't just sent to a landfill.

Along with donating to the local charity here, we also recently donated our second vehicle to the Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB-PBS). If you follow me on Instagram you saw my-otherwise sad-goodbye to our beloved Chevrolet Blazer the day it was picked up. Speed's Towing was really understanding and let us take a lot of time letting go. It's weird how we get so many emotions involved in something that doesn't even have feelings for us. I think it was more the memories of The Bean growing up-literally-in this car. Now we have the Compass that he is getting used to, but overall, the memories of him at the age of three sitting next to a Christmas tree that The Mr. chopped down, can't be beat! The great part about the donation is the fact that we get a tax write off once the vehicle sells at auction. It's one more step in becoming more minimal and it was sad to see her leave, but we have really been moving things along here with getting rid of things. It feels great.

We have really been on an upward journey here in in the SNS house in getting to where we want to be with our minimal lifestyle. The annoying thing is, as we have probably donated over $20,000 worth of stuff (seriously!) we still feel like we are swimming in stuff. I hope that there will be an end to our beginning, but right now, we are hopeful that the things we are parting with will help us be able to part with even more over time. Nothing that we have donated so far is missed. It's weird how we feel we need these things and in the end, we just don't. I think it's more of a mental thing that you have to break within yourself. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel here in our home, we just have to keep donating, and getting rid of things. 

We do hope some of our tips during the Minimal Monday has helped you. The best tips we can give for the donating is to make sure and donate to reputable places. St. Vincent de Paul is one of the few donation centers that take used-in good shape-mattresses. Clothing and shoes bins placed throughout our city get a lot of our clothing, and our local food pantry gets some of our old winter clothing and gear. As far as donating to a place that will actually resell your items, it's tricky. Here where we live there is a place called Pay it Forward. We donate a lot of our items to them and we have seen our items on the shelves of the Pay it Forward, so we know they are a reputable company and won't just throw our items in the bin. There's many other places-no matter where you live-that will do just the same. It takes time to put trust into a place and the best thing to do is to ask them. Unfortunately, some donation centers say they are doing good, but will end up tossing a lot of good items into the landfill. Goodwill is one of these companies, so keep that in mind. 
Best of luck to you and keep on creating a life of less.

March 31, 2017

Friday things

So here we are, at Friday. The Mr., The Bean, and I took a quick trip over to the base of the Cascade Mountains and threw our fishing lines in at a place called Foster Reservoir. We cast into the water just to see if anything was happening. Unfortunately, we ended up leaving with a sad little Bean at the fact that the trout aren't liking him. Of course, after a little pep talk about how two-faced fish can be, he felt better. Good news for The Bean though, they are said to be stocking the lakes come April with a ton of trout from the hatcheries nearby and this means, fish city! The Bean was beaming with excitement, so that should be a fun catch-and-release time for us then. More on that soon! Here are the things that made this week grand.

1. This ride.

We are pushing up our bicycling game lately and 14 miles isn't too bad, if I do say so myself. 

2. This moment.

Poor, little Eleven is back from her spaying-which was on Monday this week-and she has been sleeping a lot. We have been giving her space and letting her just "be." They did a great job on her, but I can tell she is in need of some more TLC this weekend. Hopefully, she will be in better spirits next week. -More on this later.

3. This wine.

The Mr. and I have been trying out different wines from our local co-op. We've had a few hits and misses, but more hits than misses. I enjoy some of the little messages on the corks and sometimes, I think, they are speaking to me...Side note: See that cork pull, yeah, it broke. Any cork screw suggestions?

4. This powder.

I've been in the process of downsizing my makeup and combining shades with others to be more minimal with my "collection." The picture here is of smashed up eye pallets being made into one pallet instead of 10.

5. These trees.

I have always admired this tree line and how symmetrical it is. This was taken on Wednesday and would you believe it was sunny and warm before the clouds rolled in. The color contrast here though is great.

Have a great weekend!

March 27, 2017

Minimal Monday: Waste-free

The ultimate question always lingers with someone wanting to go minimal with their living habits, can you be a minimalist and also go waste-free? The minimal habits of not bringing more into your house than you need, can also be applied to going waste-free as well. It's all a matter of changing your habits to be more with conscious about what you're buying and saying no to excessive packaging.

We went down to a smaller trashcan where we live in an order to help reduce our wasteful habits. It's amazing how many items you buy at the store come in so much over-packaging. You buy a box that contains a package of smaller individually-wrapped packages. Why? Even before we started being minimalist in the SNS household, we noticed how much over-packaging certain products come in. And the harsh reality is that most of the over-packaging of products can't be recycled.

It's been a change in getting used to recycling most everything we bring out of our home. Our recycle bin is a lot larger than a normal trashcan, but I enjoy seeing the recycle bin filled to the top with only a small amount in the regular trashcan. When we first moved into the home that we live in now, even though it's a rental, we cleaned up a lot of trash and debris in the yard. There was even a rather large pile of asbestos shingles that had to be disposed of as hazardous waste, and a buried chicken wire fence that took months to dig up completely and dispose of properly. Being in a rental house, those items were not our waste, but we are so glad we disposed of things and have a yard that beams with charm and is environmentally sound. Now our yard contains only items that are either recyclable, or will move with us eventually; e.g. Terra cotta pots, gazebo, tomato cages. But it took time to clean it up in an environmentally-friendly way and it wasn't easy. Everything that left the yard, at that time, was considered waste. Some hazardous waste. Of course, that was 10 years ago and our focus has changed completely when it comes to waste going out of our home, but thinking back on how we were then compared to now, and I am so happy with how far we've come with being accountable for what we throw away in waste.

Being a minimal household the one thing that we have to always keep in mind, bringing items/food packages/beauty products/etc. into the home, will always need to be taken out of the home one it's used up. Bulk buying may cost a bit in the start, but overall, if you are going waste-free and minimal, it really is the best approach. We made the initial purchase of our shampoo at the local co-op and go back and refill the same bottle once it's empty. In turn, no waste. We do the same with our flour, sugar, brown sugar, rolled oats, chocolate/candy jar, and our dog and cat food containers. The only waste we try to bring into our home is products that have been made from recycled material and can be recycled once again. We still have some work to go with our own ways, but one thing we have completely eliminated, and I can say we are 100% on this, is getting rid of plastic containers. Storage container, plastic packaging, hard plastics, etc. It took us about a year to completely get rid of these, but the overall satisfaction of it now, it seemed well worth the effort. And just for the record, I feel the same way about silicone too. Even though plastics and silicone can be recycled, I don't feel it suits out waste-free lifestyle at the moment. There are no know health risks with silicone, yet, but the long term of silicone use worries me. We prefer glass, glass container, and reusable glass canisters for our bulk items. But then again, most of these tips fall under the minimal living category too.

Here are some tips on how we are going waste-free in our home:

• Get rid of the waste at the source. Go through cabinets and get rid of anything that isn't biodegradable and either donate them, or take them to a facility that will dispose of them correctly.

• Refuse to receive your takeout in plastic/Styrofoam containers. And the best way to avoid this, don't get take out. If you are at a restaurant, bring your own container to take your food home in.

• Avoid water bottles, cans, and glass drink containers that can't be recycled. (juice, gatorade-shouldn't drink these anyway-the sugar content is rather high)

• Don't purchase plastic. Meaning, don't purchase plastic utensils, plates, or bowls. Glass is best, even on a picnic, glass is great! You can wash and reuse glass over and over again. And absolutely refuse plastic bags at the grocery store, no matter how much the cashier pushes that they recycle them. Use your own reusable shopping bags or baskets. Join "Plastic Free July" this summer too!

• Avoid purchasing products that over-package their products. If your favorite item has over-packaging and you feel that you can't live without it, write the company about your concerns. Let them know how much you love their product, but wish they would find a more environmentally-friendly way of packaging. Most companies will listen. And do yourself and everyone else a favor and stay away from big-boxed-stores. Buying in bulk that way isn't going waste-free at all.

• Cut back on paper waste inside your home. Printing, toilet paper, get rid of paper towel usage completely, baby wipes, and other paper goods. Look for these same products in a recyclable option. Most local co-ops, and some specialty grocery stores carry better options that can help you go waste-free.

• Don't waste food. Get the right amount for your hunger at the time and use portion control. The biggest part of the obesity crisis is the fact that people overeat for whatever reason. Self control with portions is the biggest step and teach your kids proper portion control. (hint: start a garden and grow your own food portions; more on this later)

These are just a few ways to help get your started, but keep in mind that going waste-free shouldn't just be limited to product waste, or container waste. Going waste-free means not wasting water, electricity, natural gas, clothing, or even time.

1. Wash your clothes with the right amount of water for each load. Small loads, smaller water, etc.

2. Shut lights out, turn electronics off when not using, and most of all, don't charge phones, or other items overnight. Turn your computer off when not in use and unplug your microwave, TV, etc when you are using them.

3. Don't run your heater constantly. Grabbing a warm sweater or blanket can also help keep you warm, and in the winter, wear socks!

4.  Biggest household waste of all, clothing. Mend clothing when it's torn, and donate ones that are still in good shape so someone else can get use out them. To avoid clothing breaking down in the first place, buy quality clothing. There is the good and bad of clothing and the badly-made ones may save you money at first, but in the long run, you're going to be paying more. Spending money on good-quality made clothing will be the one thing that will help you cut down on clothing waste.

5. Lastly, don't waste your time on things that don't matter. It seems a far-fetch to add this to a waste-free post, but the one thing a lot of people wish they had more of is time. Don't waste yours on things that you can't control, and people you can't fix. Fix yourself and live a life you can be proud of each and every day!


March 24, 2017

Friday things

Wow, what a crazy day. It was sunny earlier today then the dark clouds rolled in and the rain hasn't let up once. I like the rain, but I am ready for a break already. We have had some crazy weather here lately though. It seems there will be sun in the morning until about 4:00 p.m. then the rain will start and won't let up until the early morning. But one positive is, the spring flowers are looking lovely. Here are the things that made this week groovy.

1. These windmills.

These neat contraptions are in Corvallis and they move with the wind. They are an art installment and they are to honor the Canadian Geese that frequent the Willamette River. Each goose moves, as well as each arm they sit on, when the wind blows. 

2. This moment.

The Bean and I are snagging some time in the evenings before bed to enjoy some tea, check out things online, and talk about current issues in the world. I feel it's important that kids are given a voice to be able to have some sort of outlet for what they face in the world, especially recently. Tonight he is helping me with my Friday things. Check his out here.

3. This sign.

The Bean has been running a small, used, bookstore out of our home and he is open on Fridays and Saturdays. He has been doing pretty well with it and is really excited with every book he sells to someone seeking a new read. 

4. This kitty.

This is Eleven, and she doesn't like the garbage collector's truck-it is rather loud-when it passes. She always checks it out when it collects our trash then she will sit and wonder what the heck was that? She is getting a spaying next week, so more on that after it happens.

5. Comestible Journal.

I ordered the new journal from Comestible Journal, labeled "Protest Fuel." I felt it was necessary for me to have it as part of my collection. It didn't disappoint. Check it out here.

"Fighting for what is right is worth it." 
-Have a great weekend!

March 20, 2017

Minimal Monday: Storage

We live in such a weird society. It's been this way for awhile and we are the reason it has become so overwhelmingly habitual. You drive past houses and see it. You go on trips and see it. You even know someone that's doing it right now. Worst part about it is, people pay hundreds of dollars for it a month without batting an eye. What is it? Storage.

From self-storage to mini storage, we either have it, or know people that do, and for what? Hanging onto items that we don't use is a growing epidemic. In the United States alone, the self storage industry is one of the fastest growing sects of the commercial real estate market over the last 35 years, with annual gross revenues of 22.45 billion dollars. The self storage industry is considered to be “recession resistant” by many Wall Street analysts since one out of every 10 homes currently rents a storage unit, there are about. 2.3 billion sq. feet of rental space, which is roughly three times that of Manhattan island. To put it another way, there is 7.3 sq. feet of self storage space available for every person (man, women, and child) in the nation. Operators of self storage facilities report occupancy levels to be at 90%. (source) And if you're a storage facility owner that means huge bank on people's obsession to "hold on."

With those numbers it's no wonder hoarding, hanging onto, and emotional attachment are an issue. People seem to feel possessions are something that have "feelings" and with that they need to hold onto them for whatever reason that has been created in the mind. Emotional attachment to items is something that everyone has felt and knows what I'm talking about. The movie tickets from a special date, the dinner napkin from a night out, or how about your high school yearbooks, or even baby items (the baby is 16 now). There's always a reason we give ourselves to hold onto something. But that's just it, holding onto "something" isn't the issue. It's holding onto hundreds of "somethings" that's causing the issue.

In the town we live in there is a little over 15k in population and the town currently holds four separately-owned storage facilities. In the SNS household we used storage when we first moved to Oregon and we had items in our storage that we didn't even remember packing when we moved. We moved everything into the rental home we were in and then turned right back around and packed up the nonessential and stored them. We were paying for end-of-service bills from Arkansas, current bills in Oregon, as well as a storage facility bill each month. We were on such a tight budget at the time I have no idea how we made it. The storage facility bill was $75 a month and we had it for about three years. If you think $75 isn't much, think again. *gulp* To make this story even worse is the fact that after those three years, we ended up selling everything in the storage building in a yard sale and only making back $200.

So in order to not repeat what we did and end up losing money completely on a service that is really unneeded, the best way to do it is to not do it. Don't store items you don't even use. If it has a value, sell it. If it can be used, donate it. If it has no value, recycle it/discard it. Don't pay for someone else's retirement, life, or vacations through a storage facility. Storage unit owners make a lot of money off of people that put emotional attachment on things.

Here is the best advice I can give you on getting rid of your storage unit:

• Conquer it immediately. Use whatever time you have off and get it done. Make a time frame of two weekends in a row, or three, or even four if needed. Allot that time to just sort things out.

• Use the storage building.  Pull items/boxes out one-by-one and sort right there on sight. You've rented the space, use it. Sort into piles of what is important and what isn't. Get rid of the "not important" pile immediately. Then deal with the "important" pile.

• Sort immediately. Sort the remaining pile into smaller piles and be strict about it. Sort into piles of "Keep," "Donate," "Gifts," etc.

• Just let it go. Get rid of the donate pile immediately. If you get rid of these piles immediately then you aren't prone to hanging onto them longer.

•Finish it up and close it out. Give gifts to the person right away, and the "Keep" pile should only contain items that are of everyday importance, or add value to your life in some way. Everyone's "Keep" pile will contain different items, but make sure everything has some sort of value and earns its place in your home. Make one last sort of the "Keep" pile and see if you can't part with a few more things in the end.

Once you have sorting everything and the only pile left is the "Keep" pile, your storage unit should be empty. Cancel that lease and say goodbye. It may seem easier said than done, but keep in mind it was a chore to fill that unit up in the first place, so it will take time and effort to empty it, but you can do it! It took us about two straight weekends to empty ours and during the time we were cleaning it out, we were selling items of value in our yard sale. It was a task, but I am so glad we did it. Keep in mind that these same principles can be applied to any other place you are storing items-basement, attic, garage, etc.

Be practical, think practical, and live practical.

March 17, 2017

Friday things

I realized, after the Minimal Monday post, that I haven't posted to the blog in two months. I left off with a "Friday things" post on January 13 and picked up with the last post, before this one, on March 13. Totally not planned. Honestly. But here we are, with another "Friday things" post and picking right back up where we left off. Of course, it is almost 9:00 p.m., so I am a bit late today. The sunshine will come to an end tonight and we are back to freezing temperatures again, but just for Saturday (as of right now) Blah! I saw on another blog I follow, that New York had snow. I am okay with winter when there is snow, but with just rain and cold, no way! I am so jealous that they have snow there again. Maybe we will get a grace of white once more before spring is officially over. We'll see.

These past few weeks have been up and down with political issues and I stood along with my sisters (and brothers) during the Womens' March and again I stood along side my fellow Native Americans and protested-and cried-when the order to complete the DAPL was given. I also was present when Day Without a Woman hit on International Womens' Day and in my own way, I didn't answer text, emails, phone calls, or even the door. And right along side me was The Mr. and The Bean. My husband stands beside me in the same beliefs that women are equal and not below, and definitely not behind men. The Mr. and I have also raised our son to honor, and lift up the women in his life. The Bean knows what's right and that all beings are equal on this planet. It's crazy to think that the earth is one giant mass that we all live on and all can appreciate, but here we are downgrading others, treating others with so much disrespect, and building walls between us like we own the earth in some way. People argue that there are ones coming into countries to do harm that aren't citizens of those countries, but my thought on that is this, there are people, especially in the United States, that are born and raised here that want to do just as much, if not more, harm than those seeking refuge. Nothing can stop violence. Violence is an unfortunate part of our world, but we can change the way we deal with violence. Targeting a group based on their beliefs, their gender, their country, their job, their place in society is and never will be the correct way to deal with violence. These are my thoughts on the last few weeks. I am just a blogger, but I truly believe that hate is a horrible, nasty, soul-eating force. It will consume you in the end if you don't stop it on your own. The best place to start is your own thoughts. Stop yourself from seeing the negative. Change one thing about how you view others. If you always see the negative, you will always see the negative.

Here are the things that made my week worthwhile.

1. Bicycling.

We've been out and about on our bikes a lot more lately. With the actual "winter" being over here we can leave the house without getting wet or frozen. Seems contradictory to my above statement of wanting more snow, but it is what it is. The Bean and I have been riding to meet The Mr. after he gets off of work on random days. We ride on a main highway without bike lanes too. -Living on the edge and stuff, you know. In all honesty, I prefer to ride on the highway more than in town here. Not a bike friendly area by any means. Which is a shame, because the next town over is a bike friendly community.

There are still times that we ride in town and just have to let it be. The last ride we took some lady yelled from a car, "You're obstructing traffic, get off the road, it's illegal." Not exactly sure what that means, but apparently she doesn't know the laws. We just kept pedaling and enjoying the sunshine on our faces as we passed other car drivers looking all scour-faced at us.

The Bean got some new lights for the back of his bike. When he rides by fast, it turns into something sort of sci-fi-ish.

...And don't forget to check out this month's reading selection. "Hello Bicycle" by Anna Brones. Pretty informative if you are wanting to get a move on by way of bicycle. You can find the information about it here.

2. Planting.

I've been in a springtime-planting-mood lately and I have already planted some seeds indoors. The Mr. and The Bean bought me a greenhouse this past Valentine's Day, but it's still not time to put them out yet. In the meantime, my little seeds are sitting on a small table indoors and are peeking out of the soil slowly and any sunny day we have I take them outside to soak in the warmth and light. The picture above is from our local co-op and is their "living wall." I admire it so much every time we go grocery shopping. I think one similar would look awesome with a bunch of herbs growing in it. 

3. Houses.

The Mr. and I have been eyeballing some tiny homes lately and have started to draw up some plans of our own. We are still on a hunt for some land out of Linn County and have had some good options, like this one, but nothing exactly how we want it yet. The hunt continues, but in the meantime, we have a good start on some floor plans and the book below helped us in that area. The house pictured above is in Corvallis, Oregon, and was built completely by the owner-one reclaimed board at a time. I feel, every time we see it, that it is a great role model of a house and owner, on where we want to go with our plans.

4. Minimizing.

Still at it here and I have started a series on my blog that I will post to every Monday on minimizing called Minimal Monday. So I am excited about that. Last Monday was the first one and it was on clothing. If you missed it, you can find it here.

And a gentle reminder...

5. Yogi Surprise and Mighty Nest.

Great items this month! I am loving the body butter. You can sign up through the ad spot on the right-hand side of the blog, or here.

And the Mighty Fix for March was Meliora All-Purpose Home Cleaner and a refill of the Soap Flakes to make another bottle's worth . Awesome stuff! Sign up for the Mighty Fix here.

A few things I want to mention:

1. This Bench.

Placed on the Lake Quachita Vista Trail in Arkansas by my dad and the group that maintains the trail (The Trail Dogs). It is there to honor my late grandmother, Wanda Hardage, who passed away on April 16, 2011.

2. This Special.

My mom's cafe, Crystal Springs Mercantile and Cafe, had a special on my mom's amazing chicken and dumplings and I demanded asked that they be named after me. Seriously though, my mom named them after me because I could eat them all day, every day. It's awesome to know that something bares my name there and it makes me tear up to know that I have a mark in the cafe in some way. I hope the customers ordering them enjoy them as much as I do.

3. This Car.

We ended up donated her to OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting), which is PBS (Public Broadcasting). It was sad to see her go, but it was a necessary thing in order for us to minimize excess that we don't need. We are a one-car-family anyway, so it just made sense. The best part, when she sells at auction, the price that she sells for we get a tax deduction.

4. Yogi Surprise and Mighty Nest

I really have to mention these two. The February Yogi Surprise Lifestyle Box and the Yogi Surprise Jewelry Box's for the month were fantastic. As posted above, you can sign up through the ad spot on the right-hand side of the blog, or here.

Not a dull item in the box.

I have to say, the favorite thing from these boxes was the chocolate.

Mighty Nest was another one that hit the mark in February too.

Metal drinking straws. Always a plus! You can sign up for the Mighty Fix here.

5.  This Flower Stand.

Super cute!

One last thing, our new dinning room table has been a blessing. "around the dinner table" now all comes together. Spending time at the table is an amazing thing. Most families don't even eat at the table unless it's a holiday. Screens/electronics are a distraction and I feel that kids, and adults alike, need less screen time and more togetherness. Of course, if you are sitting at the table eating a meal while reading my blog, I thank you, but really, this post, my blog, and my thoughts are plastered on this screen-they will be here after you're finished. I promise. Enjoy your table time, together time, and your family. Life truly is so short. Kiss and hug, and tell people you love them often. And most of all, tell people you appreciate them in your life. One thing I wish I could give people more of is appreciation. Love is one thing, but appreciating someone is quite another. It's a great feeling! Don't take people for granted. "Love people and use things. The opposite never works." -The Minimalist.  So use the table and love and appreciate the ones that gather 'round it. 
Have a great weekend!