Life Simplified

You know, this “simple life” is not really so bad! I don’t think I’ll ever go as far as this woman did, but my current life is not really so bad. Of course, I realize that it is pretty easy because I am retired. On the other hand, like that woman, if you are willing to live simply, maybe you could retire too!

Anyway, here are some of the advantages of the simpler life. It doesn’t take long to clean, because there aren’t very many rooms left to clean! I keep the studio door closed and my bedroom door closed. The dogs only go in those rooms when I am in there. What’s left is ONE ROOM that needs to be cleaned! Wheee!!! A quick sweep every morning, dust once a week (or so) and keep the clutter picked up.

I have a stove that is hooked up, and I’ve used it a bit to cook, but remembering that I have to wash whatever I mess up keeps my cooking in check. I’ve made a couple of batches of soup, some of my fav ham and cheese muffins, some “leftovers fried rice,” and one protein pancake. Otherwise I eat from my freezer and refrigerator. Oh, and I know a lot of you will be interested in this: I learned that you can cook beets in the microwave! Yeah!!

Of course, no matter how much I simplify, there will always be dirty dishes. Here is my handy dandy blue bucket. I can never get more dishes dirty than will fit in this bucket. Carry them out in the morning to the outdoor shower and kitchen sink, wash them, put them in the drainer to dry, and then bring them back in the house via the bucket in the afternoon. Of course, yesterday the rain put a LITTLE glitch in this system…


And, a phrase a friend of mine used–“where all the magic happens.”



This table is my one food prep area. That cloth there gets pretty messy, but that’s okay. Its folded, so there are at least four sides I can use before it has to go in the laundry basket. Simplify, people! When I need to chop some veggies or fruit, I use a paper plate. The tomatoes are there from yesterday’s pickings. They need to ripen for a day or so, and then are destined for another batch of that excellent roasted tomato basil soup.

Oh, and the laundry? Yes, it is a pain in the butt to put it in the car and go to the laundromat. On the other hand, I think twice before I throw my clothes in the laundry basket–“I think I can get one more day out of those jeans.” And when I do finally go, it is kind of fun to do four loads of laundry all at one time, instead of spreading it out over the course of a day.

Of course, this whole simple life thing is a temporary situation. Construction continues–lots of stuff I can’t even see–electric and plumbing–and eventually life will be different. I hope I take some of the lessons I’ve learned about simplifying back to that “normal” life.


A book I’ve been enjoying lately says gratitude is good for the soul.

I stood in my little mudroom and looked out at the late summer garden and saw it with different eyes. So many times I am just looking closely (and critically) at things–this weed here, that dead branch there, the dead flower heads that need to come off. But this day I marveled that in two years I am blessed with such a garden.


Petunias are the best. And free petunias are better than best! Most of the petunias that are still blooming are free ones that hybridized and self-seeded from last years garden. This bi-color one just now showed up!


And this one? I brought back some pretty petunias from Cambria. They went from that cool seaside climate to over 100 degree dry heat here. Needless to say, they did not fare well. I came back from my two weeks in Sisters to see some unknown plants coming up. I thought they were probably weeds, but decided to give them a chance. They were the offspring of those Cambria petunias!! I’ve never seen such a thing.


And from that book, Soul Keeping, by John Ortberg, here is a beautiful collection of words.

We all have two worlds, an outer world that is visible and public and obvious, and an inner world that may be chaotic and dark or may be gloriously beautiful. In the end, the outer world fades. We are left with the inner world. It is what we will take with us. I am an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s glorious universe.



Decision Overload

Thank goodness I already went through this back when the studio was built. Otherwise I would be wondering what was wrong with me. TOO MANY DECISIONS!! That’s what’s wrong with me. Having the car accident on top of this construction, and then adding in a minor family issue has put me on decision overload. I’m tired all the time, although it seems like I don’t do that much. I have trouble getting into the studio to create, and I haven’t gone to the gym or done any exercise for a while. I can’t remember the name of the book, but Cammy reviewed it, and I read the sample. It was about how a human can only make so many decisions before they are overloaded. So I guess going to the gym and making quilts are the decisions that are losing out right now. All the others, one by one, I seem to be able to make. Since I arrived home two weeks ago, here’s what’s happened:

One day I heard a very loud noise right outside the studio window. The cement truck had arrived! Can you believe a cement truck was able to angle itself between the house and the tree without knocking anything over?


It was interesting watching J. the contractor and his helper direct that cement into the forms for the foundation.


Over the next couple of days, a floor was put in place and walls went up! That corner structure is the little pantry. There was a bit of discussion about how small the door needed to be. If I didn’t mind it not being quite a 45 degree angle, the door could be 2 inches wider. Yes please!


And then one day a roofline appeared


I came home one day to see siding and a window!


Oh, and this was one of my favorite things–a nice little sidewalk! There will be a very small deck there out the back door of the kitchen (where the ladders are,) and eventually we will turn that little structure (that I used to call the laundry dungeon) into a dog washing/wet studio (where I can dye fabric inside if I want to.)


And in between all of that, I was on the phone with various and sundry people. Looking at cars online, and making more decisions. The insurance company “totaled” my car, so I had to decide whether to buy it back or take their offer. Both my brother and my mechanic said “take the money and run.” So I got this car from the “bargain department” at my local used car lot.


Oh! And in between all of that? I snuck out of town for a couple of days to visit my mom, and to visit my friend, famous blogger Shelley! We have been able to meet so often because of our mutual Texas/California connections that we are more like IRL friends than blogging friends!


Of course, you know our visit had to include yarn store and quilt store shopping!

Other decisions I’ve been able to make: bathtub chosen, tile for bathtub and shower surround chosen, bathroom faucets purchased, kitchen faucet chosen, backsplash material bookmarked, cabinet maker chosen and cabinet plan in place, deposit put down on new appliances, kitchen floor material being seriously considered (vinyl tiles,) and paint colors kinda sorta decided on…

And that’s all the news that’s fit to print here in the forest. Hope you are enjoying your weekend. I am thoroughly enjoying two whole days without any hammering or sawing or other loud unidentifiable noises! I even DECIDED to go to the gym for a nice long swim, and sat down long enough in the studio to make a simple baby quilt!


Sisters, Oregon

I can’t remember anymore what I told you all about this trip to Sisters, Oregon. I planned it last fall, well before I found J. the contractor, and started the work on my studio. So part of my planning was to spend an extended time in Sisters to see whether or not I would actually like to live there. I love the town, and it is very artist-friendly. Plus, it would be a lot closer to my BF. I found a rental (I really recommend checking out Homeaway or VRBO any time you are planning a trip,) and booked two weeks. At the same time I found a 5 day workshop with a wonderful quilt artist and made a reservation for that class. I would have a couple of days to relax in Sisters before the workshop started, and then five days in the workshop. On the last day, my friend would join me for a few days, and then I would have a day or two alone to finish up my trip.

And that’s just about how the trip went. Except in the meantime, I had almost every inch of my house worked on, remodeled, or added on to. Which involved making the decision to stay where I was and be happy here. I decided to keep the two week trip to Sisters, as it would get me out of the house for some of the beginning kitchen renovation work.

Sisters is a beautiful little town. They have the biggest coffee shop I’ve ever seen, and it is always busy all day every day. It was one of the first places I visited as I arrived! They have lots of indoor seating, but its really nice to sit outside and enjoy the flowers and fountains.


IMG_0538These huge hanging baskets are everywhere in the town!

IMG_0553I will write about my quilting workshop over on my quilt blog, so will not repeat that here, except to say that it was a wonderful workshop, I learned a lot, and really enjoyed it.

On the last day of the workshop, my BF arrived, and we set up shop on the dining room table of the house!

IMG_0599The very first time I visited Sisters, I heard Lindy Gravelle singing outside the coffee shop. Robin and I are HUGE Lindy fans, and I found out that she was performing at the golf course restaurant right in Sisters! We told her we were groupies : )

IMG_0606A storm rolled through before she even started singing, so they moved all the tables inside. It was a beautiful view.

IMG_0610Lindy does a wide range of music–classic Patsy Cline/honky tonk. She writes a lot of her own music. And she plays the heck out of that keyboard! She is really a great entertainer.

IMG_0615We both looked like this for a good part of the evening 🙂

IMG_0628One of the best parts of the trip was RIDING A BIKE! I LOVED riding that bike all over the place. It was so fun to ride where it is flat everywhere (Sisters is considered high desert.) Sisters is also a bike-friendly town, with bike trails and lanes everywhere. One morning I was riding through town and I spotted this potting bench. I really liked it, but not enough to haul it home.

IMG_0629Before she left, Robin and I took one more trip to the Stitching Post Quilt shop to be photographed in our natural environment.

IMG_0632Sisters is also a deer friendly town. The deer are everywhere, and don’t mind how close you come to them. This guy was in my front yard right outside the window.

IMG_0655On one of my evening bike rides, this guy was right in front of me on the road. I don’t know if Sisters is coyote friendly, but he sure wasn’t afraid of me. He trotted along to this spot where he was eyeing a CAT! The silly cat looked like he was challenging the coyote. I made a move so the coyote would run away, because I did not want to watch that go down.

IMG_0642Here is a view of the Sisters mountains. There were about five deer in that field, but they kept moving.

IMG_0667Another view of the Sisters. There was a forest fire somewhere in the distance, so it created a smoke screen.

IMG_0644And looking in the opposite direction, this big peak is called Black Butte.

IMG_0651Good bye, Sisters. I’m quite sure I will be back again one day.

IMG_0672Part of me thinks its kind of silly that a retired person would need to take a vacation. Aren’t I already on vacation every day? But I have to say that this was really very nice and sooooo relaxing. I kept reminding myself that I was on vacation. I didn’t need to worry about getting home to the dogs. I didn’t walk much at all, but I rode my bike every day, and sometimes twice a day, and I brought my PT weights and equipment, and did those exercises fairly regularly. I ate too much, but I alternated that with eating extra light once in a while. And I relaxed. A lot.

And now we return to real life. Sign by my front door:

Schedule for the day:

Let the dogs in.

Let the dogs out.

Let the dogs in.

Let the dogs out…


Got up bright and early for the final leg of the journey home. I was about 5 hours from home, and I was focused on GETTING HOME.

Of course, I had to make my normal stop for fresh fruits and veggies. I weighed all my options, and decided to stop at a huge farm stand on a busy highway about 40 miles from home.



Apparently, I made the wrong decision.

The good news is that neither I nor the people in the other car were hurt at all. It could have been a devastating accident, as the speed limit along there is 60 MPH (hello county, perhaps people should have to slow down when they are going by this huge, major tourist attraction?) and there were tons of cars on the road and in the parking area.

We were able to pull that dangling bit of bumper off, and I went and tearfully asked for a piece of rope at the farm stand, tied the rest of the bumper securely, and drove on home.

Ahhh, home. Oh my oh my. I knew what I was coming home to, but still. Its the practical logistics of it. No running water inside the house (except that toilet there. Which, believe me, I am very grateful for.)

This is the view from my living room, looking into the dining room (most of my beautiful coral red walls are gone) and beyond that, what will be the bathroom and the laundry room.


A closer view. See that triangle above the window? Yeah, that’s open to  the great outdoors. J. the contractor said he hadn’t seen any bats flying in yet. Very funny.


Just a view of the wall that will mostly be taken down. The door there has never been used since I’ve lived here. There was always a refrigerator in front of it! The entrance to the kitchen will be approximately where the window with the air conditioner is.


Just a view of the studio wall–I lost my back door there, as that will be a shared wall with the kitchen. That was actually my idea, as it will give me more working room in the studio. We will be able to use that same door for the back door of the kitchen!


J. the contractor’s outdoor work area. Yes, that is my stove sitting out there.


Where the kitchen will go. J. took the old siding off this wall, revealing this even older siding!. I think this was the original little cabin, and then they added the living room onto it.


Another view of the foundation. This is where my nice deck was…also gone. J. the contractor did a TON of other stuff that doesn’t show, like shoring up a weak spot in the dining room foundation, plumbing, electrical, and stuff I don’t know or don’t understand.


The permits finally came through this past Thursday, so the first inspection is scheduled for Tuesday. And then cement…

Its only been two days, but already I am learning how to best live this way. Like, don’t buy fruits and veggies that require a ton of chopping (hello apples and corn on the cob, my new best friends : ) ) Oh, and I picked up a 99 cent bottle of hand sanitizer at the store–Yeah! much better than the wipes I had on my list. Oh, and do I hear you asking, “but where are you going to shower, Debby?”

Hah! Here is my fine construction work to make a semi-private showering place. I’ve always had hot and cold water connections out there–very handy for washing the doggies. Actually, I think this was originally built as an outdoor shower before I moved in here. Those fiberglass pieces are originally from the covered deck, and then I re-purposed them as the rabbitry roof. MLG just recently took down that old rabbitry, and guess what? These pieces came in very handy for my outdoor shower. I was so tired after fixing this the day I came home, that I didn’t even clean the outside of them off. I was quite proud of how I rigged up my old shower curtain!


I’ll be back later in the week to tell about some of the fun stuff that happened on vacation.