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A Happy Note ~ Daisy Days March 28, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Nature, Simplify Your Life.
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The flowers I received for Valentine’s Day wilted in short order . . . except for one sprig of purple daisies.

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Since they seemed happy to hang around a bit longer, I relocated them to an empty crock of Dundee Orange Marmalade.

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There, they added a happy note to our days.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Related posts:  Simple, Old-Fashioned Things I Love Doing (My Light Bag) * Take A Two-Minute Break (Find Your Middle Ground) * The Friday Four: Flowers (Maggie Madly Writing)

Stuffed! March 24, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Life Lessons, Simplify Your Life.
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The best way to avoid clutter is not to buy it in the first place.  We learned that lesson the hard way by moving our stuff . . .  more than a dozen times.

Our first visitors
stumble o’er moving boxes
“Let’s go out to eat!”

Wikipedia ~ Moving Company

In our younger years, we had a number of buying triggers (CD’s, books, zebras, Santas) ~ all manner of collectable collectibles.

Unpacking becomes
A logistical challenge
We have Too Much Stuff

These days, we seldom shop for anything but groceries.  And still we have things cluttering up our life which would benefit from more pruning. 

Back to the basics:
load, unload, unpack, repeat.
We have Too Much Stuff

Wikipedia ~ Collecting

When we bought this villa we inherited a literal ton of knick knacks and paddy whacks which we stashed in a make-shift staging area in the garage.

After our umpteenth trip to Goodwill, the garage floor reappeared with an opening large enough for our cars.

Life’s small victories
mount, as stuffed garage swallows
a Toyota van

Wikipedia ~ Moving Company

The less we have to distract us . . . the more time we have to live!

Rain drops on hutches
and bartered possessions ~ our
moving saga ends

 Aah . . . that’s better!

Quote to Ponder:  Until you are happy with who you are . . . you will never be happy with what you have.

Related posts:  Pack & Live Lighter (My Light Bag) * Possessions: The Stuff of Life (LA Times) *  Collectable Collectibles (Colonialist) * Expand Time Energy Money (Love Out Loud) * Timely Advice

Clean and Green March 19, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Home & Garden, Simplify Your Life.
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After we donated our extra refrigerator from the garage, the stuff inside our garage had fewer places to perch and became a bit jumbled and tumbled.

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We had some green totes sitting high and dry and decided to put them into service as storage bins.

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One problem, they wouldn’t fit on the flimsy shelf unit we’d inherited with the villa.

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So we bought a sturdier shelving unit from Home Depot and BFF assembled it to accommodate the idle green totes.

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Now we have a tidy place for everything to hide inside . . .

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And can keep everything in its place . . .

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Aah . . . that’s better!

I wrote and scheduled this post several days before the WP Daily Post issued the Weekly Photo Challenge ~ Inside.  Note the uncanny similarity between their totes and ours.  Spooky!  All we’re missing is the baby!

A Cluster of Chaotic Threads March 2, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Life Lessons, Mindfulness, Simplify Your Life.
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Finding inner calm on calm days is beginner’s work . . . finding inner calm in the midst of chaos and confusion, amid a cluster of chaotic threads, lets us see how much progress we’ve made on the tangled tapestry of our life.


A few threads, recently unraveled:

Those who want adventure often must choose between safety and freedom.

“Boats are safe in harbor, but that’s not what boats are for.”

Of course, I’m not a boat.
Or a kite.

(Thanks for that, Don!)

Some people must “test the ice.”  Others, like me, are content sipping a Hot Toddy or Umbrella Drink on shore.

I suspect my sense of humor exceeds my sense of adventure, especially in colder climates.

When we are content as and where we are, we need not choose between freedom and (relative) safety.  There is no universal mandate requiring us to “lose sight of the shore” or leave our comfort zone in order to feel free.

Perhaps freedom lies in wanting to be who, what, and where we already are.


I agree with the Dalai Lama . . . we are here to be happy.   If we are happy where we are, pushing, stretching, pulling, tugging, and reaching for the next “brass ring” seems to be both a counter-productive and counter-intuitive practice.

Eat when hungry.  Sleep when tired.  Move when restless.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related posts:  A Tangled Mess (Water Witch’s Daughter) * Do You Want Safety or Freedom? (My Light Bag) * Comfort Zones (Awakening to Awareness) * Haiku ~ State of Mind (Janna T. Writes)

One Potato . . . Two Potato January 26, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Simplify Your Life, Vegetarian Recipes.
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IMGP3283bIn our recent effort to shift to a more whole food plant based diet (and lessen our reliance on C~H~E~E~S~E), we’ve put our Slow Cooker to good use this week ~ making Split Pea Soup, Vegetarian Chili, Vegetable Soup with Farro, and . . .

Yesterday, I realized I had 4 onions and 3 pounds of spuds screaming for attention.

I peeled and diced the potatoes and sliced the onions and tossed them in the slow cooker with diced carrot and celery.

I left the slow cooker to do its thing while I flipped through recipes to find a few to suit the spudsy base.  

I selected three ~ a veritable potage à trois!

* Potato Curry
* Tattie Soup
* Hash Browns / Home Fries

Once the potatoes and onions were cooked, I reserved 2/3 of the base for the soup and hash browns, then added a bag of peas, some cooked brown rice, 2 tbsp. of curry powder, and 2 cups of vegetable broth to the slow cooker and set it to simmer, low and slow.

I served the fragrant and hearty Potato Curry for dinner last night with a sprinkling of peanuts and raisins on top.  Yummy!

Today (a chilly day), Tattie Soup will be a hit for lunch and a breeze to fix: heat 4 cups of vegetable broth, add cooked potatoes, onions, carrots, and celery.  Bring the mixture to a simmer. Smash the tatties with a hand masher.  Done!

While the soup is heating, we’ll fry up some home fries for the side.

And we’re not the only ones groaning with delight.  Our freezer is a happy camper, stocked with assorted ready-to-go meals on its shelves ~ pea soup, baked ziti, veggie-farro soup, vegetarian chili, potato curry, and tattie soup.

Aah . . . that’s better! 

Brainstorming Our Elephants January 21, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Simplify Your Life.
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James-the-CatQ.  What’s the best way to eat an elephant?

A. One Bite At A Time.

Let’s say your “elephant” is a need for better organization and greater efficiency.

When you’re already stretched for time, where are you going to find the time to tackle such a weighty issue?


Even 10 minutes a day will make a huge difference in your time over time.

* Time mastery is life mastery.

* A bucket is filled drop by drop.

If you waste 10 minutes a day spinning your wheels . . . that’s 3650 minutes (60 hours) a year that you could spend nibbling away at your elephant.

Here are a few Time Management Skills to consider:

1.  Be mindful of how you invest your time and whether you are getting a good return on your investment.

If you enjoyed yourself, maybe it wasn’t wasted time.

2.  Identify and eliminate time wasters ~ unnecessary interruptions, waiting for appointments, procrastination, trying to do too much, indecision and not saying “no,” failure to set priorities, surfing the web, e-mails, meetings.

Work to minimize or eliminate wasted time one time waster at a time.

3.  Eliminate clutter from your work surface.  Messy desks and work spaces slow us down.  Use a filing system ~ be decisive about whether to file an item, act on it, or recycle it.

4.  Tackle high priority items when your energy level is high and low priority items when your energy is flagging.

5.  If you sit at a desk all day, take breaks to clear your head and stretch your muscles.  If you’re going, going, going all day, take a break to kick back and put up your feet.

We are more efficient when we allocate time for well being as well as doing.

6.  Take daily action to nibble away at your elephants.  Track your progress and adjust your approach as necessary.

7.  Breathe.  Relax.  Repeat.  

Aah . . . that’s better!  

Resources:  Productivity Institute * Higher Awareness

The Gift of Memories November 15, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, People, Simplify Your Life.
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As we enter the holiday season, many of us are stumped for gift ideas to give loved ones who already have everything they need (and then some).

Why not give the gift of memories?  Perfect for elderly relatives and loved ones whose memories are not what they once were.

That’s what I did for my mom this fall and her Memory Book was a huge hit.


In it, I included 100 photos of her life ~ her parents, her wedding to and life with dad, her kids, her grandkids, her hobbies, her home, and her friends.

The photo album I chose had sleeves for one photo per page along with space to jot a few thoughts to further jog mom’s memory about the people, places, and things depicted.

A retrospective glance at her life in a book with a binder marked MEMORIES.


Mom loved it!  It reminded her of things she’d forgotten ~ like sewing my sister’s wedding dress, raising three Great Danes, decorating wedding cakes for my sister and me, canning vegetables, and sewing gifts for her grandkids.

And isn’t that why we give gifts in the first place?

To remind the special people in our lives about just how special they are.

Aah . . . that’s better!

If you want a neat idea for labeling your gifts this year, check out Kate’s Creative Space ~ Printing Onto Tape.

Do you have a favorite gift-giving tip to share? Please do.

“Another” Is Never Enough November 13, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Simplify Your Life, Sustainable Living.
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Have you ever noticed hunters of houses on TV who claim they want “character” in their next house . . . only to declare, once there, that the kitchens and baths will have to be gutted bare?

Because they’re out of date!  And don’t have double sinks!

Homeowners who can’t cook worth a lick white-wash the character they claim to be after by removing charming butlers pantries and hand-crafted cabinets to create room for stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops.


A cookie cutter home with a cookie cutter kitchen that others of like ilk will covet.

“Ooh . . . I love your new appliances!”

As hunters of houses troll through ponderous preposterous closets fit for a queen, they exclaim that the size is far too small to act as a suitable receptacle for their prodigious pile of possessions.

Even if the closet is large enough to park a small tour bus.

And, speaking of parking, if you’re invited for a visit, don’t forget to comment on the changes wrought to the wrought iron railings surrounding the gate to the palatial estate.

These grasping social climbers care what you think.

Facing their reflection in the myriad of mirrors gracing the halls and walls of their humble domain convinces them they are NOT enough as they are, so they look outside themselves for applause, accolades, and approval to fill the void.

Tag!  You’re it!

Instead of building character with character building pursuits, materialists hide behind things, and stuff their houses with symbols of status and other such stuff ~ one eye in the mirror and the other focused on the eyes of onlookers.

Like you!

Characters who use external reference points aren’t in the market to buy a comfortable house (with character) in which to reside, fireside, they want a place with space to impress neighbors, friends, and pizza delivery guys.


They’re addicted to buying another pair of shoes, a new handbag, and fancy cars and yachts to raise their estimation in our eyes.

No matter how many suits, dresses, shoes, handbags, scarves, coats, skirts, gowns, pants, mittens, slacks, undergarments, shirts, blouses, and stainless steel appliances they cram into their closets and lives, it’s never enough to fill the void.


As soon as one desire is met, the grasping greedy Ego creates another.

And another.

And another.

And “another” is never enough.

Whatever it has, the insatiable Ego wants MORE.  It’s a greedy grasping thing, never satisfied for long.  Using Ego as a barometer creates unnecessary suffering for us and those around us.

When we learn to ignore Ego’s need to impress, we are free to be as we are.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  Putting Ego In Its Place (Suzicate)

Artwork: Wikipedia ~ Kitchens (in Public Domain)

Life Like A Lazy River November 8, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Life Balance, Mindfulness, Simplify Your Life.
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Relaxing into the flow of life is like climbing into an over-inflated inner tube to float down a lazy river.

One not populated by crocodiles or alligators works best.


If your life feels that way, great.

But what if it doesn’t?

What if you feel like a cartoon character desperately trying to run across the surface of the river without ever gaining traction?

With predators and bloodsuckers in close pursuit.

Without traction, running faster doesn’t help us make headway.  It just adds stress to our already piled high day.


Instead of speeding up:

Slow down.
Stop spinning your wheels.

Breathe, Relax, Repeat.

Let the wind fill your sails.
Explore, dream, discover.

Watch clouds drift by.

Soak up THIS moment.
It won’t last.

The future soon becomes the past.

Recharge your batteries.
Life is a journey, not a race.

Be Here Now.

Aah . . . that’s better!

What’s Behind That Closed Door? October 21, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Humor, Mindfulness, Simplify Your Life.
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Four years ago, I applied for a job as Outreach Coordinator for the local C.S.A.

I loved the idea of getting paid to educate folks about the benefits of sustainable agriculture, local foods, and organic farming.


The position melded well with my previous experience ~> educational outreach in domestic violence and AmeriCorps.

After making it through the first stages of the hiring process, I got excited about the possibilities of the position ~ especially since the farm is located a mere 3 miles away, just a short hop, skip, jump, or bike ride from the villa.


And then the door slammed shut.  Due to funding issues, the C.S.A. postponed filling the position for the indefinite future.

I turned my attention to other possibilities, filling my days with writing, walking, reading, talking, swimming, biking, informal educational opportunities, and lots of organic fruits and veggies.


But, every so often, I wondered, “What if?”

This year, the C.S.A. hired an Outreach Coordinator.  The questions surfaced again, “What if?”

* What if that position was THE perfect job for me?
* What if I was THE perfect fit for the job?

* What if the Universe does NOT know what it’s doing?!


On Saturday, I got a glimmer of an answer to those nagging questions when the Universe gave me an unexpected glimpse behind that closed door.

And the answer thrilled me to my toes!

I went to the C.S.A. to deliver a present ~ a book written by Peter Hatch about Jefferson’s vegetable garden at Monticello ~ A Rich Spot of Earth.

I met the Outreach Coordinator, gave her the book, chatted a few minutes, and then offered to put the book in her office, out of harm’s way, since she was busy meeting and greeting folks arriving for the first Open House of the season.

Following her directions, I walked up the stairs in the barn/educational building and opened the closed door, expecting to see the wide open spaces of a barn attic.  Instead, chaos and disarray filled the shared space.  Boots and socks and shoes littered the floor.  Dirty dishes with dried food sat on desks, tables, chairs, sofas, counters, and other available surfaces.

As I took it all in, I realized that ME working THERE never would have worked. The Universe did me a great service by NOT calling my attention to the ad for the position the second time around.

It does know what it’s doing.  Of course it does.

I grinned as I picked my way across the cluttered floor, placed the pristine book on her piled high desk, and made haste for the exit.  After seeing behind that closed door, I closed that door behind me ~ with glee!


As hinted at in Begone Foul Weeds, I prefer tidy spaces to unkempt places.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Are you able to work in the midst of clutter?  Or do you postpone work until the dishes are washed and the chaos cleared away?

Have you ever received an unexpected answer to a nagging question?  A glimpse behind that closed door?

Do you think that the Universe understands us better than we understand It?


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