Honest Simplicity

my winding road to a simpler life

Month: June, 2014

Encouraging Words in Art

I’ve been keeping myself busy painting in preparation for the upcoming Horseshoe Market on July 12th.  Being that I like surrounding myself with encouraging quotes and positive affirmations, I’ve decided to give such messages more focus in some of my art.  Including the printed word into my art is nothing new, but often the text is subtle.  I’m playing around with some new pieces.  My hope is that my art would bring encouragement to those who desire it.  Here is a preview:

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Love of Language

If you’ve been to a bookstore or the library lately, you are well aware of the multitudes of dumbed-down books for kids (known as twaddle).  There are treasures filling those shelves as well, to be sure, but they are harder to find.  Truthfully, my kids will gravitate toward cartoon characters on book covers, even if they aren’t very familiar with those characters.  Often, the content of such books is of little value.  I do let them check out some lower quality books (if the messages are not inappropriate) to encourage their desire to read.  I also point out and choose other books for them containing quality writing or beautiful illustrations, explaining what sets those books apart.  Often, these are the books they’ll ask me to read over and over.  Slowly, they’ll learn to spot a good book when they see one without me dictating what they should and shouldn’t read.  For my daughter’s birthday, I bought her the Usborne unabridged copy of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.  The illustrations, by Richard Johnson, are dreamy and beautiful.  Though the language is old-fashioned, my kids look forward to hearing it read aloud.  It is rich with vocabulary (I plan on keeping the children’s dictionary close by when we read again tonight) and what a treat that is for young ears!  Don’t shy away from such books because you fear the language is beyond your children’s understanding.  You may be surprised at what they glean.

The Wind in the Willows

The Wind in the Willows

Project 333

Do you look into your closet and feel overwhelmed?  I used to feel that way, too.  Perhaps it is time to simplify your choices.  For the past couple of years, I have participated in Project 333, started by Courtney Carver.  Basically, every three months I pick out 33 items of my clothing, shoes, bags, accessories, and jewelry to include in my wardrobe for that season.  The rest of my clothes are tucked away in my dresser drawers for the next round.  If you’re telling yourself that is great for you, but I could never do it, don’t be so quick.  If 33 items doesn’t seem like enough for you, change the number.  If you don’t want to count shoes, don’t (I didn’t count jewelry this time).  If you are serious about giving it a try, though, I suggest checking out Courtney’s starter course.  More people are growing tired of excess and desiring simplicity in their lives.  This desire to minimize one’s possessions and distractions is catching on.

The Denver Post interviewed me recently for an article about simplifying your wardrobe: http://www.denverpost.com/smart/ci_25959708/minimalist-clothing-challenge-spurs-closet-clean-outs

 

 

Manners: Saying “Thank You”

The kids received birthday gifts in the mail today from their grandparents.  I let them open the package, though their birthdays are still a few days away.  They were excited to see what was inside.  My daughter didn’t waste time in trying on her new outfit and my son quickly flew his new Spider-Man glider around the house.  I decided it was the perfect opportunity for a lesson in manners.  I pulled out A Little Book of Manners: Courtesy & Kindness for Young Ladies by Emilie Barnes (I also own the version for boys).  The book has a lovely section teaching children all about saying and writing “thank you”.  The author explains when to write a thank-you note, why it is of value, what to include in your note, and so on.  After reading the lesson, we drove to the store so that they could each pick out their very own box of thank you notes.  I told them that these were very special cards for the sole purpose of showing someone your appreciation.  Once home, they eagerly wrote their notes, added drawings, and happily put the stamps on their envelopes.  To be honest, I am not the best example when it comes to promptly sending off thank you notes.  I verbally say “thank you” quite a bit, but that doesn’t always cut it.  I’d love to make a habit of writing notes of appreciation and I suppose it will begin by doing it alongside my kids.

Studio Time

Today, my kids and I spent most of our time in and around the studio (which is directly behind our house).  I was planning on having time to work on some new paintings (alone), though the kids had a different idea.  They eagerly wanted to paint, too.  Honestly, I wanted to say “sorry, I’m busy right now”, but I ended up spending the morning giving them painting lessons before beginning my own work.  This was my son’s first time at the easel and he was rearing to go.  It was a joy to see his focus and to watch my daughter’s creativity unfold.  Sometimes our kids can get in the way of our plans, but we should remember that teaching them new skills and spending time with them is far more worthwhile.  We are creating memories when we stop to paint with them, let them help cook dinner, take the time to read them a book, and so forth.  I’m not saying it is always easy, but you’ll never regret the time you invest in your children.  Reminder to self: say “yes” more than “no” when my kids need my focused attention.

 

Summer of Reading

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My kids recently signed up for Summer of Reading at the Denver Public Library.  When they read 12 books, they will each receive a ticket to Elitch Gardens.  They are now quite motivated to read books on their summer break.  Our son just finished Dick and Jane: Something Funny, which we helped him with since he’s a beginning reader (nearly 5 years old).  Our daughter finished reading both The Fire Cat and Peter Pan: Lost and Found.  They are already looking forward to picking out their next books.  I absolutely love reading and want to encourage that love of literature in my children.  This summer, don’t forget that your local library is full of enticing books to entertain your kids.

Challenge Yourself

I love speaking about simplifying my life and hearing how others are doing the same, so I decided to start this blog.  This is not my first blog, though.  Previously, our family started a challenge of going a week without buying plastic.  That week turned into roughly a year.  At the end of it, we kept some changes and tossed others.  For instance, we still buy Lush bar shampoo, have a small 1.3 gallon kitchen trash can, bring our own shopping bags to the store (most of the time), use less single purpose plastic disposables, buy recycled toilet paper, etc.  We also buy plastic these days, but less of it.  It was an eye-opening experience that changed us for the better.  Don’t be afraid of a challenge.  You can make your own rules and you can even break those rules.  You will learn something valuable either way.  Don’t let fear of failure stand in the way of growth.

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