Little Home, Big World

…what would Ma do?

The Benefit of Doubt April 20, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Simplicity,Virtuosity — bethanyjoy @ 9:50 am
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I’m convinced that the more we question, the more we open ourselves up to the possibilities, the closer we are to finding our truth – some might call it “belief” or “faith”.  I prefer to think of it as simply the truth that resonates in our heart, the kind that can change our thinking and the way we react to life.

I don’t care where you find your truth, whether it’s in the pages of a holy book or graffiti on the alley wall, in the lyrics of an angry punk song or the sound of the waves on the shore. What I care about is whether you are asking the questions, and searching out every possible answer, and ONLY following the one that fits into your soul like a missing puzzle piece.

It doesn’t matter if your truth is different from mine, or if your truth is different from your parents. But finding it matters.

After you’ve found it? When you’re full of excitement and conviction and absolute, unshakeable assurance that THIS IS IT?

Let go.

Not of your truth, but of the desire to convince everyone around you that your truth is somehow “The Truth.” Because while the truth you found may fill your emptiness and change your smile, forcing it to fit into another person is like taking a chunky wooden puzzle piece from your child’s alphabet puzzle and forcing into a delicate 1000 piece puzzle of the Mona Lisa. It will not fit, no matter how you manipulate it.

Give the people you care about the gift of respect, and allow them the benefit of doubt. They’ll find their truth when they need it.


Writing prompts, and a little story February 10, 2011

Filed under: Blahging,Opinionated,Writing — bethanyjoy @ 11:31 am
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I’m loving the Writing.Com “Writing Prompts” app for the iPhone. Shake your phone, and you get a nifty little nugget of an idea to run with. Set a timer for 10-15 minutes and just write with it; no censoring allowed – let your imagination run wild. It’s a great way to get the creative juices flowing before you turn your attention to whatever you need to be working on, and you never know, maybe you’ll end up with the start of something great to work on later. 🙂

Just for fun, I’ll share what I got today. It’s still pretty rough, but it’s always interesting to see what your subconscious can come up with in a few crazy minutes…

Prompt: You can see through your mirror to another dimension…

I thought it was steam clouding the mirror when I stepped dripping out of the shower. Maybe the fan was broken again; I’d have to call my landlord and try to get him to fix it. Like that was going to happen. Pulling on my robe, I reached for the hand towel that hung dangling from the wings of a pewter fairy. I’d picked the hook up at an estate sale weeks ago, amused by the way she looked over her shoulder, a flirtatious little smile lurking on her exquisitely carved face.

The worries of the day swirled in my mind, thoughts of bills and bosses and brutal reality, and that’s probably why I didn’t notice at first that the fog didn’t wipe clean. Instead, the mirror stayed gray and cloudy.

Puzzled, I dropped the towel in the sink and raised my palm to the mirror, expecting the wet, smooth feel of glass. Ripples rolled across the surface at my touch, and I jerked back in alarm. Then the clouds began to clear in slow, careful swipes, as if someone were wiping the glass from the other side. A heart-shaped face stared back at me, lips full and red, hair a shimmering silver with streaks of blue. Translucent wings flitted softly behind her, and the glass – or what had been glass – shimmered in time with those wings. She lifted her hand and spread her fingers across her side of the mirror as if trying to reach me. Her blue eyes shimmered with tears as her lips moved in words I couldn’t understand. I felt my hand rising to meet hers, and the mirror rippled between our hands, the swirls growing more and more intense.

I woke up cold and alone, a headache throbbing behind my eyes. Groggily I got up, staggering to my feet. All I saw in the mirror was my confused face, staring back at me. But when I tried to hang up the towel, the wings on the pewter fairy were drooping, and it fell to the ground.




Unplugged Kids: Finger Knitting January 12, 2011

Filed under: D.I.Why,Kids,Simplicity — bethanyjoy @ 12:14 pm
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Is it just me, or is it growing increasingly more difficult to get kids “unplugged”? Not that it’s surprising, given the way technology has taken over life in general…in the process of putting together this post, I used my cellphone/camera and netbook, internet, and multiple apps. Ironic, no? Well, it is what it is! 🙂 So, this is the first techology-produced post in a series of posts designed to help us get our kids doing more low-tech activities. Once you’re over the inherent contradiction there, I hope you’ll give the following activity a whirl!

Unplugged Kids #1 – Finger Knitting

  • Why Try? Finger knitting improves fine motor skills, gives you an excuse (not that you need one!) to snuggle up together on the couch for a few minutes and provides an opportunity for your child to experience the thrill of “making something” – collars like those shown above or scarves for stuffies are a BIG hit at my house – C&E made the ones in the picture in less than 20 minutes. Added bonus? A children’s therapist shared with me a very helpful tidbit of information: activities that involve the hands in rhythmic, side-to-side motions are incredibly calming for kids. Even my bouncy-tigger boy loves finger knitting – it’s one of the few activities where he will voluntarily sit still. 🙂  
  • Age Range – 4+ (A 3 year old with excellent dexterity could probably manage, but my kids all figured this out at the same age they learned to read.)
  • Level of Difficulty: Easier than getting them into their snowsuits!
  • Materials Needed: thick yarn (bulky, bright and fuzzy seem to be popular with the kindergarten crowd) – once they’ve figured out the technique, you can mix different yarns by holding two strands together. But for starters, choose something thick and fluffy.
  • How To: I was going to do a tutorial, but then I thought, “Hey, self, save yourself some time and just link them to the awesome tutorial that you used to teach yourself!” So, go check out Pretty Ditty’s Finger Knitting Tutorial for a great step-by-step visual. (You can also achieve the same result by wrapping the second row of yarn around your fingers above the first in the same manner – ie, looping it around each finger – and then passing the bottom loops over the top ones.)
  • ï»ż

Let me know if you give this a try! I’d also love to hear any suggestions you have for Unplugged Kids activities – what quick, easy, simple projects or activities work for you and your kids?


Thankful October 11, 2010

Filed under: Blahging — bethanyjoy @ 9:42 am
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It feels like I’m breaking through the surface of a suffocating pool of stress, taking my first deep breath in weeks as I rub the weariness from my eyes and glance around, relieved to find that though life has gone on without me, I still know where I belong.

It’s an amazing feeling, and I am thankful – to every stretched out and weary part of my soul – for choice.

I am thankful that while we cannot control what life throws at us, we can control our response to it.

It sounds simplistic. Perhaps it is. But it is the farthest thing from simple. If you’ve ever worked at a job you dislike, been told you are sicker than you realize, or built a relationship that lasts longer than a matter of weeks, you probably know what I mean.

It is always the seemingly small, personal choices of attitude – of choosing our response to what is happening to and around us – that are the hardest fought for and least applauded, yet they are the choices that have the greatest impact on our life. Our every-day, nitty-gritty, real life – the one we’re in right now, not the one that always seems to be just around the corner, “Someday….”

So today I am thankful for choice. That no matter how stressful things get, I can choose my response. I can choose to cope. And even better, I can choose to change the little things so that when the big ones come – and they will – I will have some strength left to deal with them.

Happy Thanksgiving!

– Bethany


Organizing Stuff…stuff. July 19, 2010

Filed under: Blahging,Frayed Shoestring,Simplicity — bethanyjoy @ 4:12 pm
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My writing brain is a little fuzzy today after a 4:30am start, so today’s post is simple:  Organizing is hard. Organizing a FAMILY home, well, I harbor a suspicion that it might be impossible…but I still like to pretend it could happen. Here’s a few ideas I’ve seen recently that, at least, make it seem doable…even just a little bit at a time.  🙂

Countertop storage (attention, moms of the cheerio-crowd!)

Storage idea for casserole/baking dishes

How to recycle veggie cans into useful storage (I love the cork!)

Printable Weekly Menu (for meal planning) – cute…now if I could only be diligent about USING it…

Do you know any good, easy, inexpensive organizing solutions? What works for you and your family?


Spring Cleaning Recipes March 8, 2009

Filed under: Penny Saved,Virtuosity — bethanyjoy @ 7:03 pm
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OK, so you should actually use these all year, not just for spring cleaning. But we’ve had above-zero temperatures for THREE consecutive days, so I am officially in spring-cleaning mode. 🙂

Not only are these recipes quick and easy — and effective! — but they are definitely cheaper. And they leave your house smelling fresh and clean… not like funky blue cleaner.

Basic Ingredients:

  • Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap
  • Baking Soda (look for the big, generic box of it at the grocery store. You’ll use lots.)
  • Vinegar
  • Washing Soda (look in the laundry aisle)
  • Borax
  • essential oils (optional; I use mostly Lavendar, Lemon, and Tea Tree Oil)
  • some spray bottles, rags, and a sponge (look for spray bottles in the plant section of your department store, or at a dollar-store location. You could recycle them from other spray products, but since most of those contain the toxins we’re trying to avoid, it might not be the best option.)

Soft Scrubber: In a small bowl, combine about 1/2 cup of baking soda with a squirt or two of Dr. Bronner’s and just a little bit of water (add water by the tbsp until it’s the consistency you want.) Scoop some up on a sponge and use it to clean the tub, shower, sink, etc. Rinse well. (If you need more heavy-duty scrubbing action, use 1/4 cup borax and 1/4 cup baking soda.) Obviously, you can mix this in any amount and consistency you want…figure out what works for you.

All Purpose/Glass Cleaner: In a spray bottle, combine equal amounts water and vinegar. Spray on windows and wipe off with rag. (If windows are really dirty, you can add a few drops of Dr. B’s to the mix. If there is a lot of mineral-buildup, use more vinegar and less water.) I keep a bottle of this in the kitchen and use it to clean counter tops, the table, highchairs, etc. Vinegar is a natural germ-buster.

Dirt Buster Spray: A fantastic recipe over at Care2 – check it out! Works great on stuff like stovetops, fridge door handles, etc.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Sprinkle borax over the water in the bowl (I do two shakes and a shimmy, AKA 1/4 cup), use a brush to clean bowl, then let it sit for 1/2 hr or so. Cleans great, deodorizes, and doesn’t turn your water blue.

Stinky Carpets or Couches: For mild stinkiness, sprinkle with baking soda, let it sit for at least 15 minutes, and vacuum. For mustiness or serious stinkiness (hey, if you have kids, you know not to ask) use borax in the same way, but let it sit overnight if you can.

Linoleum Floors: For a sinkful of HOT water, add a couple squirts of Dr. B’s and a glub of vinegar. Use a mop.

Laundry Boosters: Add washing soda to whites and towels — it does wonders on stains and odors. Use vinegar instead of fabric softener to remove detergent residue. For fresh-smelling clothes without chemicals, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil on a small rag and toss it in the dryer.

Linen Spray: Combine 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup vodka in a spray bottle, add 15-20 drops of lavender essential oil. Spritz over beds and let dry before making up.

Migraine-free ‘breeze: Combine 1/4 cup vodka and 1 cup water in a spray bottle. Add EO’s as desired. (I like 10 drops lavender with 10 peppermint for a fresh scent, or mandarin and clove bud for a holiday scent.)

Pot Luck: If you have a glass, ceramic or stainless steel pot or casserole — fill with HOT water, sprinkle with washing soda, and let it sit overnight. All the baked-on crud will come right off in the morning.

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. Happy cleaning!

No, really. It’s spring. Clean those windows, let the sunshine in, and enjoy the fact that a) you’re not hurting the planet b) you’re not hurting your health c) you’re not hurting your kid’s health and d) you saved money. See? Almost makes it fun, doesn’t it?


Room Tour: The Twinbits February 4, 2009

It’s finished! And it’s a hit. My “babies” love their big-kid bedroom, and I’m pretty pleased with it myself. Other than the paint (“Daydream” by Debbie Travis) and a bit of fabric for the chair, the rest of the items were found or made. It’s decor on a dime — enjoy your tour!

E’s Bed — the quilt on the headboard was made by Great-Aunt Karen. The large crocheted blanket by friend Christina, the small one by myself. The chenille bedspread was a thrift-store-score.

Both bed frames were rescued and painted by Nana.

C’s Bed —  the spread was a gift from Nana, and the picture frames  handpainted by  C&E’s brothers and uncles.  Gingerbread men climber from my childhood. Crochet blanket by me, quilt by Great-Aunt Karen.

Bookcase (and matching miniature furniture in room) were built by the twinbit’s Great-Granddad Martin. They were originally in Aunt Emily & Aunt Elyse’s room, and have passed along to us.

Rocking chair was recovered by me. (First attempt, be kind. 😉 ) Crochet blanket by a family friend.

I really love the window treatment. I sewed a simple valance, and then we made paper pinwheels using the instructions here — the paper is pages from an old book I found in a thrift store (“An Edwardian Lady’s Country Diary”) and instead of pins, I used some lonely stud earrings that had lost their mates or weren’t being worn any more.

And on the window sill, to tie it together, we put one more pinwheel.

Carriage and toyhouse built by Great-Granddad, latch-hook rug by a family friend.


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