Friday, July 26, 2013

I need very little...

There is a quote by St. Francis of Assisi that I found years ago in a beach side art gallery, written in calligraphy on a small piece of paper, that I liked so much I bought it and have held onto it ever since. A somewhat less elegant version of it (read: sans calligraphy print) follows:

I need
and of
I need

Simple, elegant, clean, and to the point. Also, easier said than done, and I would know. I have been in the process of attempting to simplify for the last several weeks and the only "very little" I have encountered thus far is success. 

Perhaps it is a lost cause, but I continue to try and fit an office, storage space, an art studio, Rabbitville (otherwise known as my four antisocial rabbits and their hutches), the duck's sleeping area, and an exercise space into one room (commonly known as "the bunny room"), and not a large one at that.

And what have I learned in the last three weeks or so that I have been trying to clean up and clear out? 
1) The majority of my clothes I do not wear, but can't bear to part with because I love them and am determined to fit into them again. Eventually. 

2) Although I generally disapprove of collections, I appear to have acquired a collection of t-shirts (78 of them) and books (somewhere around - eek! - 534 of them.) In my defense, most of the books I own are reference/informational in nature; I have very few novels.

3) I am plagued by having too many interests and hobbies, which translates into a boatload of supplies. Instead of "I think, therefore I am" what we have here is a case of "I do, therefore I have." I sew, therefore I have needles, scissors, thread, bobbins, mats, rulers, two machines, and fabric, fabric, fabric: felt, cotton, muslin, polarfleece, and flannel. I draw and paint, therefore I have paper, pencils, pastels, paint, brushes, and palettes. I felt, therefore I have wools, needles, roving, etc. You get the idea. Lots of stuff in very little space.

The realization that I have very much, as opposed to the very little I was striving for, has prompted me to come up with some tips for decluttering, as well as stemming the tide of incoming items (otherwise known as future clutter) because at least one of us should be organized and it's not looking good for me. With that in mind, here we go:

The Unfarm presents: Decluttering tips and tricks

Do you need it? Do you use it? Do you love it? If you don't need, use or love it, why hold onto it? Pass it on to someone who will use it and love it. 

Not sure about an item of clothing? Ask yourself if it is something you actually enjoy wearing, or if you bought it because you like the idea of wearing it or you like it but it doesn't really reflect who you are. I will admit to being guilty of this in the past.

Have a hobby type item you're debating? Ask yourself if you would rather spend your free time doing that activity over another hobby/activity. An example of this comes from my brother who loves cycling but continues to hold on to several model plane kits that he has not found time in the last 15+ years to work on. Several times a year I try and get him to part with those kits by asking him if he would rather work on building a model plane or go on a bike ride. (He continues to resist my efforts the kits are still gathering dust on his bookshelf.)

And to prevent new items from entering:
It is very easy to get caught up in the novelty of something - a new hobby, a new sport, etc - and to go out and buy all the supplies for something only to end up with a cluttered house, a depleted bank account, and guilt over amassing a collection of items that lose their shine after the novelty wears off. Ask yourself if you really think you have the time and can sustain an interest in this new endeavor into the upcoming weeks, months or years.

On a similar note, I often see the work of other artists in some medium I'm not currently working in, and I will run out and buy the supplies and begin working only to be disappointed because it doesn't turn out the way I hoped it would because I have yet to find a store that sells boxes of experience or bags of talent. Should I find such a store, however, you will be the first to know.

These days, it is so easy to find cute little note pads or fabulous bags or beautiful journals or whatever your weaknesses are and to decide that this is exactly what you have been searching for to make your life better and you desperately need it, so I have taken to asking myself if I would still need it if it were some ugly color or had pictures of Spongebob Squarepants on it instead of Hello Kitty. I usually find that I can survive without it after that.

Ask yourself if you would still spend your money on whatever you're contemplating purchasing even if it means that you have less money to put toward some big goal or dream. I, for instance, am saving up so that I can eventually buy a real farm and add yet more animals to my menagerie. (But fear not, I expect I will always be an Unfarmer at heart - it's a lifestyle, not a property of a location.)

Think about how many hours you will have to work to pay for whatever you are planning to buy and ask yourself if it is still worth it to you if it means you'll have to work [insert number of hours here] hours to pay for it.

Do you have room for this new item? Do you know where you will store it or what you will get rid of to make room for it? 

If you would like to continue simplifying, you can check out the 100 thing challenge at some of these websites:

Time to sign off. The ducks need diapering, the dogs need pills and this stuff isn't going to get rid of itself.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Maia's Meatballs

Maia has become increasingly uninterested in eating her food, causing her to lose more weight than I would like. To try and reverse this weight loss, we have taken to supplementing her dry food diet with extra calories in the form of a variety of treats, cheeses, meats, eggs and beef jerky. It is quite possible Maia is milking this weight loss for all she can and is fully enjoying this recent change in her diet. But as we estimate that she is approximately seventeen years old, we are willing to give her almost anything she will eat. Chocolate, however, is still not on the menu and it will remain that way; sorry, Maia.

For a while, Maia was willing to eat her dry food as long as we mixed it with some warm ground turkey, but in typical Maia fashion she has recently come to the conclusion that the formerly acceptable meal is now subpar and no amount of cajoling on our part will change her mind. Her behavior has meant that I have had to get creative in trying to get any amount of nutrition into her, hence the following recipe that I developed a few days ago. So far, it seems to have earned the Maia seal of approval, and hopefully it will remain that way. For at least another week, the standard time frame it takes for Maia to decide that she should abandon yet another formerly acceptable food source.

Maia's Meatballs

approximately 3 pounds ground turkey
2 cups rolled oats
¼ cup better in the raw powder*
¼ cup ground flax seed
½ cup finely chopped broccoli
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg

*Better in the Raw powder is a nutritional supplemental powder designed for a raw food diet that we had left over from the raw food diet Buddy was on in an attempt to improve his health. You could leave it out if you want, or perhaps use this recipe in a raw diet, omitting the baking step. I'll leave it up to you.

Mix all of the ingredients together and form the mixture into balls about 1 -2 tablespoons in size. Place onto greased baking sheets and bake for 30-40 minutes at 350 degrees F, depending on how brown you want them. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freeze the excess. They can easily be rewarmed in the microwave before serving, or cut into smaller pieces for little dogs or dogs that prefer smaller bites. Or those that think they should be fed pieces of food the size of grapes, while reclining on a chaise lounge, being fanned with palm fronds, a la Maia.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Milestone on the Unfarm

I have big news. Are you ready for it? Here it is.... I FINALLY graduated! It was genuinely starting to look like I might be walking across the stage with the aid of a walker while wearing my cap, gown and dentures. I thought for sure that I'd be part of the graduating class of 2059, but here I am, way ahead of schedule in the class of 2013. The question everyone wants to know now is what I plan to do with my degree. And the answer is: absolutely nothing. I've graduated from I school I don't particularly like (which will remain nameless) with a degree I don't want. (The specifics of how I ended up with a degree I don't want instead of the one I originally planned to get are too tedious to get into at this time.) What an accomplishment! But at least I'm done and it wasn't a total loss - it would have bugged me to be a college dropout for the rest of my life, and the only member of my family who didn't have a degree.
The other upside to finally having my diploma in hand was that I got to go through all the papers, notes and textbooks that I had accumulated in 14 years (yes, 14 - it's not a typo) and get rid of everything I wouldn't need in the future - a full file box of notes plus a stack of textbooks that was approximately three feet high. (I should mention that two of my favorite recreational activities are decluttering and organizing, a fact that drives the rest of the family crazy when I run out of things to get rid of and badger them to declutter their stuff.) The books were donated to charity; the notes were finally put to good use: I rolled them into logs and roasted vegan marshmallows over them. They were, perhaps, the best s'mores I've ever had.

PS. I would also like to mention that I managed to pull of a 3.87 GPA. Not bad for a degree I don't want from a school I don't like.