Category Archives: home & lifestyle

The “perfect” holiday season

Thanksgiving is in a few days and I’m officially excited for Christmas.

Around here that means higher electricity bills (hello, AC!) and less clothes. It means more sweat and more swimming. It means uglier hair and more beautiful evening walks.

Every year we long for our holidays to be “the best ever” and it’s easy to make ourselves crazy with wanting our homes and tables and gifts and trees to look like something out of Martha Stewart. (And don’t get me wrong, I love prettiness all around.)

But I refuse to pursue “pretty” at the expense of “perfect”.

Because perfect holidays don’t come looking like a magazine spread.

Perfect holidays come when there is enough time and space and energy to enjoy the ones we love.

Sometimes that comes with a gorgeous party spread laid out around a pinterest-worthy centerpiece and other times that comes with a backyard BBQ and impromptu game of cricket while dining on picnic wear.

Either way, perfect is achievable. As long as we have the right idea of perfect. 

 

Q for you: Do you stress about having the “perfect” holidays?

 

Love,
A

 

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The key to a cleaner floor

A few months back I bought a used hand-vac from one of our local thrift stores.

I was pretty excited about my $14.95 find, and hoped it would fill the space of the much-needed family dog. (Well, the cleaning-up-under-the-table part at least. Admittedly, the handy-vac isn’t all that cuddly to snuggle up to.)

What a novelty to be able to whip that thing out and suck up a mess in 30 seconds flat.

Of course Levi is obsessed too. He gets a real high from being let loose in the house with it. (I’ll be reminding him of this in a few years, no doubt.)

I thought that it might become one of those things that fades in appeal. But so far, so good.

I’m proud to say that I’ve probably vacuumed more in the last couple of months than I have in the last year (don’t judge), and Levi’s not slowing down anytime soon either.

Sometimes convenience is just a novelty that quickly wears out and leaves us with unwanted stuff cluttering up our closets.

Other times it’s the key to a truly cleaner floor.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Handy-vacs and other “novelty” cleaning items – yay or nay?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | FIve minutes a day, unedited.


Life on the ranch

Even though I grew up in a small town, I’ve always thought of myself as a city girl.

Being in cities (the bigger, the better) makes me come alive – always has.

I love the bustle and movement, the diversity and the color.

Never in a million years would I have thought I’d enjoy living on a farm or in the country.

On Saturday we spent some time at a friend’s place outside of town.

They live on two-and-a-half acres – just big enough for a barn, a horse, and a couple of ponies. Levi ran free the entire afternoon between the tire swing, the pile of tonka trucks under the big pine tree, feeding the horse, grooming the ponies, playing with the wheelbarrow, and who knows what else he got up to.

He ran around like he owned the place. Love would be an understatement here.

And although I still imagine myself as a “city girl” and can’t see myself desiring life on the ranch anytime soon… for the first time in my life I “got it” a little tiny bit.

I could see the draw, the pull, the motivation to get out and find yourself some space for the kids to run free.

Kids change almost everything, don’t they?

STOP

 

Q for you: Can you imagine living in the country? Or on a ranch or a farm?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


How to own a house outright (by first proving your not in the mafia)

A blog I follow recently posted about their family’s journey to purchase a new home in Bend, Oregon.

This is a debt-free family who had a sizable down payment, and had worked out their budget to be able to PAY OFF a 15-year mortgage in its entirety after three years.

THREE YEARS.

They did this by renting, saving like crazy, and making the pay off their first priority… knowing that after three years they will be able to have income freed up for travel and other things.

Imagine living in a house you own outright. (Dream come true!)

The “funny” thing is this family had a really hard time finding a lender.

They had no debt, amble money, and an amazing plan.

Just hardly a credit record.

Seems a little backwards, doesn’t it? Especially considering all of those who’s mortgages are turning upside-down these days.

The good news is these guys found a loan (after proving they aren’t in the mafia), got their house, and their story is now inspiring many others (like me!) that all of this is actually possible.

These are precarious financial times we live in, but all of us (I’d hope) are trying to be smart with the money we have – whether it’s a little or a lot.

STOP.

 

Q for you: What would you give up in the short-term to be able to own your house outright, quicker? Or be able to buy a house in the first place?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


Spring cleaning, house and heart

It’s autumn here but there’s this urgency growing beneath my skin to do some spring cleaning.

Behind cupboard doors sit unused things, taking up space, collecting dust.

Some are just too hard to reach so they’re forgotten.

Drawers in disarray feel fuller.

Closets that looked bare only months ago now seem to burst with a sea of cotton.

At a glance things look fine, but behind closed doors Mess lurks.

It’s driving me mad and I’m having brutal impulses to Purge. All. This. Stuff.

I’ve realized that I get this way when I’m tired or stressed. (Or extra “this way” when I’m tired and stressed.)

It’s suffocating and stiffling and whereisthespacetocreateandenjoy?

I want to simplify. Reduce. Get rid of fillers and noise and things that make me feel stuffy.

I want to open the curtains and let the breeze in.

I want to lift lids and move rugs.

And maybe it’s not really about things being clean or organized.

Maybe it’s just me wanting to gain some sort of sense of mastery over the chaos. Reign it in.

I never thought I had control issues. Until I had children. Children who have minds and clocks and opinions of their own.

They will not be controlled. They fit in no boxes. they respond to no formulas. (I’m glad for that. Mostly.)

But they make me realize that I have to let go. (MOre.) I have to create more margin. I have to find breathing space.

Life is too full to be full.

And maybe it’s not even a negative thing to want to reign in the chaos and restore some order. Maybe it’s the creative process starting all over again. God brought order out of chaos, right?

So when this sort, sift, clean, organize, purge, open-up-the-doors-and-let-the-good-green-earth-come-in thing starts to happen to me, it makes me stop and think:

Is it hte house that needs tending? Or is it my soul?

Perhaps we both need to open up the windows a bit wider?

STOP.

 

Q for you: How does your physical environment influence your mental/emotional/spiritual realm? (Or the reverse?)

 

Love,
A

p.s. Admittedly, this post is a bit scattered tonight. I suppose that’s just going to happen occasionally when writing in this format with no structure or editing. I suppose also that’s part of the God-getting-in-the-cracks process. And the humbling-me process. Sometimes it truly is hard to hit “publish”…

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited.


Confessions of a part-time tree hugger

Every teenager needs a cause, right?

When I was around 16 I decided to become a vegetarian. Not because I was concerned about animal cruelty, but becuase I read somewhere about the alarming rate of rainforest destruction happening in South America to feed America’s obsession with McDonalds.

I suppose it was then that my interest in environmentalism first started.

I put a giant poster of a bright green tree frog on my bedroom wall that said “Save the Rainforest” and stopped eating meat. (I know, powerful, huh?)

Like any other responsible Oregonian, I recycled, I rode my bicycle for short distances, and I even read “earth friendly” books that I had checked out from the library to the children I looked after.

I was “green”, yes, but never super green.

And still, I’m not.

I buy laundry detergent and cleaning supplies full of chemicals. (Though I am slowly transitioning over to the vinegar/baking soda camp.) I wear make-up and sometimes use hairspray. (And probably always will.) Oh, and my vegetarian phase only lasted four years before I had to eat “buff” (buffalo) in Nepal so as to not be culturally insensitive at a dinner I was served. (And now I adore my bacon cheeseburgers.)

But even though I’ve lived in Austrlaia for nearly 12 years, there is still this Oregon tree-hugger side of me that is as alive as ever.

To this day I’m a recycle freak. I’ve been known to carry a can or bottle home from the park becuase they didn’t have a recycling bin accessible. (At home I fill our recycle bin faster than I fill our garbage bin.)

I will often pick up other people trash.

I use cloth diapers for the kids.

I always turn off the water when brushing my teeth. (But I must admit that I have an incredible weakness for long showers!)

I never, ever go to the grocery store without my own reusable bags.

And I can’t stand seeing waste.

My last two houses were almost entirely furnished with things I had dragged off the side of the road during council pick-up weekends and fixed up or refurbished. (The trendy term now would be “upcycle”. *ahem*) It always amazes me that people will through out perfectly good stuff that could be a huge blessing to someone else.

And although we don’t have the equivalent of “council pick-up” weekends where people leave their “trash” on the side of the road here, my current house is half furnished from Freecycle. (You’d never know it looking at our place since the other, more noticable half is furnished through Ikea.)

Some of the things I’ve gotten from Freecycle over the last few years: espresso machine, kayak, crib, jogging stroller, bike trailer, wardrobe, desk, bed frame, waffle maker, vegetable steamer, tricycle, vacuum, chairs, tools, cupboards, dressers, shelves, bread maker, punch bowl set, port-a-cot, camping table and chairs, washing machine, and a million other baby items and household things – both for us and for friends.

And on the flip side I haven’t actually sold an item that I no longer need or want in years. (Including my last car!) I always pass my things on to a friend, or give them away through freecycle myself. (Or donate to Good Will.)

Along with my love of Freecycle, I like to garage sale hop and thrift every once and a while as well. But that’s more for the fun of the hunt and the thrill of finding a treasure, to be perfectly honest. (See that old school busy board pictured above? Yeah, super cool $4 score.)

I guess now my “cause” is less about a cause and more about stewardship. As far as I’m concerned we all have a responsibility to look after what we’ve been entrusted with.

This big beautiful planet isn’t going to last forever. Neither are we.

And it was intended as a gift by the big Gift-Giver himself.

Shouldn’t we take the opportunity to look after our gift well while we have the chance? And in the meantime, shouldn’t we try to be a blessing to those around us by passing on our unused stuff (instead of always throwing it away)?

“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” -Old Chinese Proverb

STOP.

Q for you: Are you “green”? What are things you do to help look after the place? And are you as crazy about reusing other people’s “waste” as I am? 

Love,
A

p.s. My phone is dying and I couldn’t access the timer tonight. I was eyeballing the clock instead, which obviously failed. There is no way I wrote all that ramble in five minutes. Just keeping things above board here friends. 😉 It was closer to 8ish minutes I’m afraid. #clickclinkfivefail

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited.
Adriel also writes (using spell check!) on motherhood and parenting at The Mommyhood Memos


Move over Martha

I’ve always liked decorating.

I remember being about 10 years old and decorating my room for the first time.

My colors of choice dusty blue and mauve – teddy bears and hearts – in a “country” theme. It was the mid 80’s… country was in.

I stenciled alternating bears (blue) and hearts (mauve) around the wall near the ceiling. (Stenciling was, like, so in. Duh.)

I made little crafty wreaths with baby’s breath and ribbon flowers.

I got busy with the glue gun.

It was amazing.

Then, a few years later I “matured” a little.

Can’t remember exactly what age I was, but it was probably around 13 or 14. I redecorated in a “tropical” theme. (Late 80’s folks.)

I bought a teal bedspread with tropical fish on it, found some cool brightly colored wooden fish for my wall on our family trip to Mexico, and even bought a teal-colored aquarium to put real goldfish in.

Such a “cool” room.

I used baby-sitting money to do this sort-of thing. That’s how much I was into it.

I still love decorating. If I was rich I’d redecorate every year or two. Just for fun.

But I’m not.

So I use freecycle. I thrift. I shop Target sales. I DIY. I garage sale. I pull things from the side of the road and “make them over”.

Pretty much all of my furniture is from IKEA (cheap!) or freecycle or handed down from generous friends.

I use birthday money and Christmas money to buy things for “myself” – house decor.

I’ve been known to use table runners for wall hangings and spray pain branches found in my yard for centerpieces.

But it works for me. I like it.

And my house is beautiful.

Ever sicne I can remember I’ve enjoyed making things beautiful.

No doubt I always will.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Did you decorate as a kid? Tell me about your “best” room makeover! (hahaha……)

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five is a blog by Adriel Booker. | Five minutes a day, unedited. | 2012 All rights reserved. | Adriel also writes on parenting and motherhood at The Mommyhood Memos.


Putting on my home manager’s hat

This year I decided to make my new year’s goals public.

I did that because I thought it would be good for me. I thought it might make them more real, help me to be accountable, and… maybe my pride (not wanting to fail publically) would help me follow through.

The good thing abotu goals is that they are something you work towards.

I dsort of think of resolutions as something you have to do right, right off the bat. And if yo fail, well then, you fail. (Who likes to fail?)

Whereas goals you work toward.

You see, if’ I’ve met all my goals byt eh end of the year then great. I win.

If I meet them sooner (and stick to them) well then I win even bigger.

But either way it’s totally achievable that i can win. I mean grow. That’s what i really want – to grow. (And to win.)

One of my goals is to get better organized when it comes to household stuff.

I’m naturally fairly organized. But I’m not a natural housewife, er, home manager.

By nature I’m a home winger. (Um, that means I wing it. Yes, I made that up.)

I stayed up late tonight working on charts and lists and all sorts of things to help me be more organized. I made three weeks worth of menus, including shopping lists. i made a weekly cleaning chart. A monthly cleaning chart. A daily planner with some goals in it. (ie shower and eat and make my bed and star the laundry before 10am each mrning. I know, profound, right? Baby steps people.)

I spent four hours getting organized. Four. Hours.

Hard, but good. Ithink it will help me simplify int he long run, which is what i want.

problem is I failed at one of my goals int eh process.

You see, one of my other goals is to go to bed by 10:30 each night… except for the ratre exception where I stay up later on purpose.

I guess maybe tonight i could say it was on purpose.

but really, it wasn’t. I had ano idea a few lists and charts would take me four hours.

Four hours.

And now my time is up.

Time’s up, and I’m tired.

But at least I’m organized.

STOP.

 

Q for you: What do you do/use to help you with your home organization?

 

Love,
A

P.S. No, that photo has nothing to do with this post. I just thought it was time for a photo and this was what I took on my phone today.

 

Click Clink Five is a blog by Adriel Booker. | Five minutes a day, unedited. | 2012 All rights reserved. | Adriel also writes on parenting and motherhood at The Mommyhood Memos.


The L word

 

As a kid I loved left-over night.

My mom would tell me what’s available, I’d draw up a menu, and then I’d happily go take orders from my dad and brother.

It was fun to play the “waitress” with my little pen and pad.

Ryan hasn’t caught on to the wonder of left-over night yet.

He groans whenever his “what’s for dinner?” is met with the L word.

He thinks leftovers are for lunch.

I, on the other hand, think leftovers are for dinner. (Anything to save me from having to cook dinner is wonderful in my books.)

I tell him that we neeeeed to have leftovers because there is no room left in the fridge for anything else.

He reluctanly agrees and eats what he’s served.

Perhaps I should try taking his order with a pen and pad and see if that makes it more fun?

STOP.

Q for you: How do you feel about leftover night? Yay or nay?

Love,
A

Click Clink Five is a blog by Adriel Booker. | Five minutes a day, unedited. | 2012 All rights reserved. | Adriel also writes on parenting and motherhood at The Mommyhood Memos.


I thought I had hit the jackpot

With much reluctance I drove to the grocery store.

It had been a long day. Kids had been crazy. I was in no mood to be running errands. And yet I was glad to be doing them alone. I had left as soon as Ryan got home from work so I could pick up some things for dinner and milk for the next morning.

Did I mention that I hit every. single. red. light. on my way there? (Okey, there are only three lights between my house and the mall, but still.) *sigh*

I had exactly 50 minutes before I needed to be home. 50 minutes before I needed to get back and feed Judah and put him to bed before meltown happened.

The race against time was ON.

Imagine my delight when I pulled into the parking lot only to find there were very few cars! Now triple that delight as you picture me pulling into a front row spot!!

Feeling rather pleased with my luck (I really needed to catch a break that day!) I went up the people mover and landed in front of Woolworths…

Only to find their doors closing.

CLOSING THEIR DOORS AT 5:30PM.

Trying not to fly into a fit of rage I decided there was only one rational thing I could do: go and grovel on my knees and beg and plead for them to let me in.

Ok, i didn’t actually beg or grovel (and I managed to stay upright) but I did go and plead for them to let me in for “just one thing”.

Afterall, I really needed millk for my babies, er, my toddler.

I raced through the store and got the milk I needed.

Driving home I wondered if they had changed their hours and marvelled (angrily) at how in teh world a shop could close that early. How do normal people do their shopping if they have to go before 5:30pm?? (Or sane people that don’t want to take all of tehir children with them?)

It wasn’t until the next that that I realized it had been New Years Day adn that’s why they closed early.

That, my friends, is one of the downsides of my line of work – we don’t really take/have public holidays. (But for the record there are many, many upsides!) To me it had been a regular day – just another Monday where I was rushing to get stuff done in the few minutes I could squeak out.

And now we’re on Thursday and I still haven’t made it to the grocery store. Who knows what my family’s been eating since then, but we did have milk.

I’m out of milk again.

STOP.

Q for you: Do you feel like you’ve hit the jackpot when you find a good parking space?

Love,
A

 

p.s. I created a Click Clink Five fan page on facebook if you’d like to follow (“like”) and have posts come up in your facebook feed. So far I haven’t been able to figure out how to put the cool “thumbs up” button in this blog yet… But here’s a link (the old fashioned kind) anyway: Click Clink Five on facebook. (You’d think I’d be more cluey with this stuff by now… but my attempt didn’t work and I don’t have time to mess with it!)

p.s.s. I came back and added the p.s. later. It totally doesn’t count in my five minutes. So there.