On Being Present

July 22, 2014 · 8 comments

I just had to share this video. How much do we depend on social media or the internet to connect or build a relationship with someone?



Most of the time, it seems using social media to build relationships is not really about building relationships at all. It’s simply a way to get out what information you want to be known, without taking the risks that are inherent any time you deal with anyone face to face–what if they have a question, what if they want to know more than you’re sharing, what if they have their own stuff to share with you? It’s a way to hide behind a screen (read any nasty comments lately?), save time, multi-task, and share with everyone at once without really sharing life with anyone in particular. It’s far more difficult to pull up a chair, look someone in the eye, and open yourself to another human being and gift them your–hopefully undistracted–time and attention. We don’t even stop to be tethered on the telephone anymore–remember the days when you *had* to sit to talk on the telephone, tied to the wall by a cord, before wireless? Technology definitely has its place in extraordinary circumstances (I’m happy for military families having Skype!), but let’s not fool ourselves over what all of that has taken the place of in the normal everydayness of life.


I’m glad the daddy in this video didn’t just prop up the phone in the crib and leave. But don’t we all do that sometimes, just prop up the kid(s)–or ourselves–with a device in order to avoid the pain and suffering of–um–parenting? Guilty as charged…our DVDs have been playing almost daily during our crazy moving time! Sometimes I think using this stuff is all about avoidance…not “connecting”.


What’s the balance? I dunno. I’m not even sure “balance” is something worthy to be sought after, unless what we’re trying to incorporate into our lives is worthy of that which it necessarily replaces. Easier? Sure. More profound? Seriously doubtful.


Could you (could I?) live without the internet for a week? A month? A year? Many of us would balk even for a day. Would you–would I–even allow the luxury of pondering and thinking slow thoughts and reading a few books to dog-ear and chatting with someone in private and…I know, this is almost unthinkable…spending any time at all being BORED? What would we lose? What would we gain?


Currently, I’m writing this while being distracted by the bats flying around outside of my window. Or is it the other way around? Is my being present in this time and space and place being distracted by the glow of the screen?


Questions and stuff to ponder. Hopefully by choice. In (ahem) our “spare time”…if that exists anymore.


Slowly, slowly…slowly…it is coming together. Boxes are moving out of the house, and shelves are going up. I’m going to spare you the corners that still have stuff all over the floor waiting for more shelving and hooks, and share some more peeks with you. Oh, and the entire upstairs hasn’t even begun to get unpacked yet–we still have work to do on the walls and ceiling and paint and floors. BUT….now that our big house is finally LISTED (woo hoo!) we can turn more of our attention to our current house.

We got the back pasture finally mowed (and mowed….and mowed…it was a lot!), and spent an afternoon butchering our meat hens. Our layers are parked in our old chicken tractor for the time being, until we can renovate the existing coop and put up some fencing. Who knows when we’ll get around to that?

What you don’t see in the distance over those little hills is the very large mountain behind it, hiding behind cloud cover. Our view is pretty spectacular. It’s very different from living in the woods! I liked the woods, too, but this is a very nice change :)


Downsizing peeks 2


A friend of ours filled our freezer a bit with some fish he had caught; what a blessing that has been! It’s been very nice to eat outside this summer as the kitchen gets itself in order.




The cherries we’ve been picking (and then buying!) have been a happy addition to our diet. I just love locally grown food, don’t you?




Speaking of things already growing here, we’ve been watching the grapes grow. I can’t remember ever eating a fresh grape right off the vine. I hope that whoever buys our other home will be just as blessed with the food already growing there.




Inside, things continue to be unpacked and sorted, and even more given away. It’s hard to give away that set of creme brûlée dishes! Yes, I used them *maybe* once a year…but I did enjoy and use them. But, in the end, I use my crockpot more, so that’s what gets the space. It is interesting, however, how stubbornly I cling to things that I just plain love and find beautiful; I’m definitely not a minimalist. Nothing on this mantle is “necessary”, but my husband’s grandma gave me the one white pitcher on the right. She insisted I choose things from her home to keep before she died. This was all I wanted, and she gave it to me that very day with the biggest kiss. So…some things never end up in the pile to go away. Downsizing REALLY makes you reassess everything.




I have many baskets, and I’ve made a few myself, too. I find them useful and do use them–not a whole lot ended up at the yard sale! Doesn’t this look cool in my mudroom? My husband did it, and I love the wire hooks he made. I can use this rack to hang lots of herbs to dry next summer, and won’t THAT look and smell awesome? Or, in winter, I could take the whole thing down and use for drying the wash by the woodstove. His other upcoming project is to build me an apothecary for my herbs–I can’t wait to see how that’s going to look!




Another thing I love….my cookbooks! So fun to unpack and see again. Three whole shelves full, and that WAS a downsize! It’s nice to have them in view again, and the mugs and cups hanging ready for hot drinks. My kitchen is small and compact (pictures coming!), but I still like to create yummies for the people I love.




My quiet spot–my desk–is almost in order, where I can write, art journal, continue my herbal studies and keep up with my letters. And blog. Do you have your own quiet spot? I have a chair in the living room I like to sit in also, to do handwork. Things seem to get more calm with me as my own spaces get into order. I’m sure it will be the same for my children upstairs as well, when that comes.




The loom is set up (happy!) and I’ve begun a new warp for a baby blanket. Why not? I’ve already watched the first few leaves fall from the trees and can smell autumn coming. There is no garden for me to tend right now, so it’s as good a reason as any to begin thinking of those indoor handwork projects.Otherwise, when do I find time? I suppose it depends on how you define “time”. To me, taking 15 minutes is better than nothing at all, and most of my projects are done in just that way: here a little, there a little. One row of knitting is better than none, etc.




We kept one room downstairs for a sewing/crafting room, rather than a nursery. So, the toddlers are upstairs with everyone else, and this room is slowly coming together.




That’s all for now! If you’re praying (and thank you if you are!), please pray for our other home to sell quick. We’re learning a lot in this process, and I’m looking forward to sharing more soon.






Sneak Downsizing Peeks

July 11, 2014

Discovering fruit already here on the land (cherries!)…   And harvesting foods grown here naturally…   Finding ways to make do with less counter space…   And choosing when and how to use our resources…   Creating vertical and horizontal places for storage…   And finally taking some time to rest…   Blessed.

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Downsizing Our Home…Upsizing Our Family…Part 2

July 9, 2014

Podcast: Play in new window | Download Good-bye Big House Over a week later, I *finally* have internet. I must say, though, the world didn’t come to an end without a connection. This past week has been STRESSFUL..I suppose I will be glad I didn’t have the internet distraction to make it worse. Lots and […]

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Downsizing Our Home…Upsizing Our Family

June 30, 2014

Podcast: Play in new window | Download Well, today’s the big MOVE! The big yellow rental van will be here in about two hours, along with a group of friends. Last night my husband and I recorded our last podcast in the primo studio, and talked about what we’re doing, and why. Hopefully you’ll get […]

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What If…(on Downsizing)

June 27, 2014

I have a large slice of chocolate cake and a glass of milk next to my computer. I picked up the cake this afternoon from one of our local cafes, after I picked up the easy (read: conventional store-bought) meals to feed my family for the next few days. I’m sitting at the bar in […]

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Downsizing into the Bungalow

June 25, 2014

Work continues in the little 1951 bungalow. Tools are everywhere, dust is abundant, paint splotches are spotted on the floors and lots of people are using their time and tools to help us make the transition. It’s not a small thing, *just* time and tools. Most folks have to travel as we do, 45 minutes […]

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Downsizing Progress

June 14, 2014

What’s going on at the house(s)? Well, quite a bit.   Today in our current house, we were blessed with eight friends that showed up to form teams and cleaned all of the hundred-and-fifty-whatever windows we have. I made a taco lunch for everyone, and wished more than once I could grab a camera. But […]

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Look Up

June 12, 2014

In my mind, I am writing many blogs, updating progress as we go. In my mind, I am taking photographs, uploading and sharing them with you. In reality, however, I am burning out, rarely home, and very tired. I miss my routines, my quiet, my time to write and work on handwork. In the midst […]

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More Downsizing the Kitchen…and Closet

June 5, 2014

After spending some time yesterday in my new kitchen, I decided that what I had to do was come up with a plan. I did the same thing when we were building our current house, and I even labeled (on paper drawings) drawers and cabinets with *exactly* what was going to go where. Last night […]

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Downsizing the Kitchen

June 3, 2014

As many of you know, we are downsizing our living space from 3800 square feet (not including the basement and attic) to under 1700 (no basement nor attic). We’ve been wanting to podcast some of the craziness going on, but honestly we are falling asleep practically at supper time. Today we spent the day at […]

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What I’m Learning from Our Caterpillar Infestation

June 2, 2014

  It’s a caterpillar year here. That means there are caterpillars everywhere. On fruit trees. On alder trees. On porches. Climbing up screened windows. Hitching rides onto people. Crawling about indoors.   I can’t help but think of the frog infestation of the Old Testament. In gardens. In homes. In beds, ovens and–truly more so–everywhere. […]

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Leather Journals, Basketry, Weaving and More Beginner Art Journaling

May 26, 2014

Well, the vast majority of the packing is finished and boxes are piled into the garage. The basement is crazy overflowing with garage sale goods and now I am just waiting on other people: painters, window washers, carpet cleaners… There is nothing for me to do now but to wait during this lull before listing […]

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May 19, 2014

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 How’s your Bible reading going?   Seventeen years ago I was saved, and for the past fourteen I’ve been in my Bible pretty much daily. I credit the few years I spent […]

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Seeking Balance in Downsizing

May 12, 2014

Proverbs 30:8-9   Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:  Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.  That was the verse I attached to the photograph […]

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Why I Blog

May 8, 2014

  I once saw a t-shirt for writers that had written upon it, “Be nice to me or I’ll put you in my next book.” As funny as that is, the truth of the matter is that writers do use–among other things–their experiences and worldviews, and yes, that means interactions with other people, to create […]

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Packing, Packing, Packing…

April 29, 2014

I am already tired of packing. And the more I pack, the more I wonder how I will ever fit it all into our smaller house, even as the garage sale pile grows ever higher. At this point, it’s going to take me hours just to get that sale pile out of my house! I […]

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Hard Marriages and Silent Wives

April 24, 2014

Another friend of mine is divorcing. It makes me sad. And it makes me sad when I go to weddings, too. I want to warn the couple: the chances are very, very (very) good that there will be a “for worse.”   But I’m also sad at how our faith community handles family breakdowns as […]

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Trying to Maintain Normalcy While Downsizing

April 21, 2014

I am decluttering and downsizing and packing away my belongings. One box, one room, one area at a time. Even as the garage sale pile grows bigger, even as the trips to send off donations gain frequency, I am still bewildered about how I am going to make this downsize work. I’ve taken measurements of […]

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Rehydrating Dehydrated Sourdough Starter

April 16, 2014

Well, so much for “zero doubts” in getting my dehydrated starter perky and going again. I said as much on my post on dehydrating the starter, and I figured after almost a year, it was time to raise the starter. I wasn’t successful.   This is what I began with, an airtight mason jar of […]

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Part Two: Upsize

April 15, 2014

In the midst of downsizing our living quarters, we’ll be upsizing our family. Yes, we are expecting baby #8.   I appreciated rereading Matthew 27 this past week. Jesus, the most innocent man ever, stood with dignified silence in the midst of false accusations, mocking, insults, and wrong assumptions. It gave me courage to relay […]

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Part One: Downsize

April 14, 2014

Well, I promised to share some news, so here goes. We are moving. Actually, downsizing. Actually, almost micro sizing, compared to where we’ve been. My current house is a dis.as.ter with boxes everywhere and things collecting for garage sales, Goodwill, and Craig’s List.     This is very bittersweet for us. Bitter in that we […]

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First, You Take a Deep Breath…

April 5, 2014

…and that’s what I’m going to do for this week. Take a deep breath. Because before I share with you all the absolute craziness happening around here, I’m going to take a week off the net and hang out with a friend in the city. We plan to take a lot of art classes and […]

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Natural Face Care

April 1, 2014

My post on homemade face cream continues to be a favorite among my readers. Ironically, I very rarely make that face cream. Mostly, because I’m lazy   That’s not to say that I buy fancy facial products though. I just can’t spend that much for it, nor do I want all of the *interesting* ingredients […]

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An Alternative to Obamacare

March 30, 2014

Podcast: Play in new window | Download   Rather than join the chorus to rant about Obamacare, I thought it might be more helpful to hear about an alternative. Join us as we talk with Jamie Pyles about Samaritan’s Ministries and hopefully answer any questions you may have about this organization.     If you decide […]

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Do You Know Affliction?

March 24, 2014

Podcast: Play in new window | Download It’s great to get behind the microphones with my husband again! In this episode, I share about my new book, Present, coming out soon, and offer to you some encouragement regarding affliction. We’re not spared affliction in our lives, but in Christ, we are never alone within in […]

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Spring Planting

March 21, 2014

Well, it’s the first day of spring and I finally closed my eyes to the mess indoors and went outside. I’ve had starts by my kitchen windows, and because I’m getting tired of working around them, decided some of them could go outside. I put a bunch of kale seedlings out, and topped it with […]

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Tying Up Loose Ends

March 20, 2014

Tightening up and tying off the ends of my first woven silk scarf. It drapes beautifully, but I am ready to get out the cottons and make a good dozen (and non-finicky) kitchen towels.     My husband meets with the “potential house” owner this weekend. I suppose that will be another loose end to […]

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Retreat and Reboot

March 18, 2014

Six of my girlfriends and I went up to the mountains and spent a couple of nights in a log cabin. It was a nice retreat, a chance to spend time with one another and rest. We each brought an offering to share for a devotional, and then took turns praying for each other’s needs during […]

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Mission: Un-Organize My Home

March 5, 2014

There’s nothing quite like considering a massive downsize to make you rethink each and every thing you own. Many of us know the quote by William Morris, “…Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” Well. Yes. Except that it all was useful and beautiful at one time. And some of […]

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Why I’ve Been Quiet

March 3, 2014

Oh, where oh where to begin…. This is going to be equal to about a dozen blog posts, but I’m going to just dump them all here. You can attend to the subtitles and read to your interest(s). MARRIAGE: Twenty-two years later, we’re still in the ebb and flow of relationship. That happens, doesn’t it? […]

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Marriage and the Art of Compromise

February 22, 2014

I was in the kitchen grinding some coffee recently and took a longer glance at my little set up. Hand grinder, coffee beans, electric grinder.     I prefer the hand grinder. It’s slow. It’s quiet. It grinds very fine and of course I think the flavor is better, too. It is something that forces […]

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More Sewn Bible Covers

February 12, 2014

It looks like we finally got a little bit of winter here in the Pacific Northwest, at least enough to snow us in and make a good excuse to spend extra time in the kitchen making pumpkin doughnuts. We live at the end of a long gravel road and without a spiffy 4×4 (we dream […]

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On Savoring the Things of God

January 29, 2014

Matthew 16:23   But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.   I’ve been parked in the book of Matthew for a bit, mainly because of Bible Study Fellowship. If […]

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“I Need to Go to the Store”

January 21, 2014

I say those words far, far too often. In my case, it’s about twice a week, which may or may not sound as ridiculous to you as it does to me. But for as many years as I’ve worked towards decreasing my dependence on the supermarket, here I still am. I find it not only […]

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I Didn’t Ask for This…

January 15, 2014

Matthew 14:22   And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship… CONSTRAIN, v.t. [L., to strain, to bind...] In a general sense, to strain; to press; to urge; to drive; to exert force, physical or moral, either in urging to action or in restraining it…. One of the risks of following Jesus is that sometimes […]

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On Goal(s) Setting

January 4, 2014

Isaiah 52:12   For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rereward.  I love the beginning of a new year much as I love Mondays. Fresh starts. New days. Hope. In setting goals for the day or week or month […]

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How to Have the Christmas Spirit

December 23, 2013

It’s interesting, this time of year. So much music and movies and chatter about the Christmas spirit, about how to get it, and what the season is “really about” (depending on whom you ask). Sometimes I feel happy about all of the activity and lights and peppermint. Sometimes I just feel emotionally manipulated by holiday […]

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Simple Christmas Decorations

December 17, 2013

I’m a simple gal at heart, and I enjoy things that are natural, handmade, whimsical. Here is a little tour of some of the decorations around my home that fall into one or more of those categories.   Orange slices are easy to dry. I put the slices onto parchment and then slid them into […]

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I Wrote a Book! And More LOOMing Projects

December 9, 2013

If you’re on my email list (and you are, right?) you already know that I’ve written a book. If you’ve been with me a long while, you also know that A Happy Home was a blog I quit for a short season because I was so completely distracted by the internet and its siren call. […]

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The Other Side (of the Kitchen)

December 8, 2013

Not that anyone was waiting on the edge of their seats, but here is the other half of the kitchen decorated for Christmas. You can see where I started here.   I put little ornaments here and there on the shelves. And yes, those vanilla cocoa stirrers are yummy.     Then, I hung up […]

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How To Juggle Multiple Sourdough Starters

December 5, 2013

I’ve been feeling the need to update my post on whole wheat sourdough bread, mainly because baking with sourdough is far, far easier than the recipe I left there. And now that I’ve been at it for several years, I’ve also gotten to a nice rotation in juggling multiple sourdough starters. I get most of […]

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Advent as a Time of Rest

December 3, 2013

Is this a restful season for you? I was thinking of this as I was putting the kitchen gardens to bed for the winter. The garlic was long ago planted, and everything else has been either pulled up or pruned, and a nice thick layer of mulch put on top. It doesn’t feel like bracing […]

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Because We Need a Little Christmas…In the Kitchen

November 29, 2013

The bad news is that I’m having serious website issues so please excuse any mess while we try to fix mistakes we didn’t ourselves make to begin with but are sure to add to as we muck about in mires we are mostly clueless about. If you really want to know what’s going on, sign […]

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Scrappy Sewn Candy Canes

November 24, 2013

This sciatic injury has taken away some things I like to do…like pilates, like horse riding, like walks down my gravel road.  A month later, the pain is not keeping me up at night but I still have some nerve damage in my leg and foot, so I am finding less active things to do. […]

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Christmas Card Art: From Pinterest to Pin-ter-DO

November 20, 2013

I love how you can learn so many things on the internet. I think the trick is to not simply pop everything onto Pinterest for that nebulous “whenever” but to actually try your hand at some of the things that inspired you to pin them in the first place. Many thanks go to Christy Tomlinson […]

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One Happy Home Morning

November 18, 2013

I thank God for nights of unbroken sleep, but it took many nights of awakenings to cultivate that gratefulness.  Isn’t it interesting, how entitled we feel with regards to our blessings, God’s grace, that when His hand is removed from one or more of them we feel angry, frustrated, or sad (or is that just […]

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If There’s an Empty Barn, Rejoice

November 11, 2013

Habakkuk 3:17-18   Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God […]

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Longing for Your Dream? Practice.

November 7, 2013

I’ve been thinking, that in my quest to live a quiet(er) life, too often I think of my YiaYia and the little two room house she lived in, as if turning Waldonesque would center my heart.  I realize, logically, that this is not so, that discontent is not easily assuaged by change in circumstance or […]

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A Happy Home is Not Painless

November 2, 2013

Nothing brings out true colors like the palette of suffering.  I wrote about this earlier and it still remains one of the most popular posts.  Suffering is an excellent schoolteacher, both in your own life and in the life of others.   SUFFERING IN YOUR OWN LIFE   PHYSICAL PAIN   I took a wrong […]

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