Friday, September 30, 2011


Two weeks into my slow home challenge, and I have to say that I have learned a good deal about this movement, but I am also fairly certain that I still have a lot more to understand. I'm learning to love and appreciate my house and all that it offers us. It is more than bricks, wooden floors and a roof top. Despite the scattered toys, the piles of "stuff," here and there, and the smeared finger prints and dog drool on the widows, this place is our HOME. It represents a place of comfort and a starting point from which we jump into our lives each day. It is a work in progress, (and probably always will be!) but what I want more than anything is for this house to become a true reflection of our family, and it through this slow home challenge that I feel this will come about.

This week I set a goal to improve our outdoor living space, to give that space more of the qualities associated with slow home living. I feel great about the cool weather garden we planted, and am excited to watch the growth that occurs and feel pride in the finished product (fingers crossed!). Yet, aside from that, all kinds of weeding, and working to de-clutter the outdoor toys and surplus garden supplies, I still feel as though there is something missing. I can't help but feel that I didn't challenge myself quite enough this week. Perhaps this is one of those weeks where I have to accept that the space may not have needed that much transformation, that aside from a major transformation (and major money) not much could have been changed.

So be it.

I've lived in a lot of houses throughout my life, (in fact, too many to take the time to count right now) but there are a few where the backyard/outdoor living space really stand out in my mind.

One such place, one of the two houses from my childhood in Maine, was surrounded by a deep forest that actually backed up to a small, rocky beach on the ocean. On the edge of those woods in our backyard my dad hung a big tire swing in an old sturdy Oak tree. I have great memories of spending hours with my sisters swinging on that swing as well as exploring in the woods behind it. With so much of nature's best practically spilling into our home, that property was an amazing and truly magical place to be a child. All of my days spent playing there were nothing but fantastically slow...

Cow Beach, York Maine

Here, we only have one tree in our backyard, and despite the fact that it is shared among the property of two other neighbors, it is a large walnut tree, and does provide some decent shade to a portion of the yard.

I really miss trees.

I do however live practically across the street from Alabama's largest outdoor park, Oak Mountain State Park...thankfully, there are lots and lots of trees there, not to mention plenty of nature's best. I'll take what I can, and do my best to be thankful for it!

I wish I could say that I'm ending this week's challenge having made some incredible and massive changes to our outdoor space so that it is better aligned with slow home living...Instead, I had the chance to recognize the fact that most of it already was that way.

After a little more work this weekend, I'll post some pictures of the updates I've made to our outdoor living space.

Next week's challenge: The Laundry Room/Pantry/Cleaning supply room...sigh...this is going to be a good one, I promise!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Fall Garden is In!

This fall we've planted winter squash, spinach, sugar snap peas, carrots, and several varieties of greens.

About a month ago I planted the seeds for my first ever cool season garden. Yesterday, I decided it was time to get them in the ground. It felt great to take some time to kneel in the dirt and wrap the soil around these growing vegetables. I'm hopeful for some decent crops, but after checking on the little guys this morning, I did see that something has had been nibbling on the leaves of my squash plants. I'll need to lay down some sort of mesh for the time being.

The Slow Home movement is similar in concept to the Slow Food movement where quality, healthy food is celebrated and enjoyed in a mindful manner, not scarfing down a greasy cheeseburger while sitting in your car at a traffic light. Planting a garden somewhere in the outdoor living space of your home not only helps you and your family to get back in touch with nature, but also gives you complete control from growth to plate. If you choose to grow organic produce (which I highly recommend), then you also know exactly what your eating-there's nothing extra.

Shannon Honeybloom, author of Making a Family Home, addresses the issue of an entire generation of Americans-mostly teenagers-who know nothing about the origin of a vast majority of our food. She says, "The problem is, the school children experience the product, the french fry, but have no connection to the process — from farm, to factory, to plate." To read more of her thoughts on this topic, go HERE.

This week as my slow home challenge tackles the outdoor living space, I'll be encouraging my children to help water our newly planted vegetable plants, and we'll begin a more dedicated effort to watch their growth each week.

I'd love to hear about your experiences with planting cool weather gardens!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Slowing Down Your Home's Outdoor Living Space

-James Brown

In many ways, the outdoor living space of a slow home should be an extension of your home's interior. The two spaces should both highlight natural beauty. No matter how large or small, the space should be divided to fit the multiple purposes most outdoor living spaces serve-in the same way you would divide the rooms of your home.

Local varieties of trees and shrubs are the best types of plantings, as they'll adapt and thrive better to the particular conditions of your location. In alignment with reducing unnecessary natural resources, minimal watering is also something to keep in mind. Water your yard, landscape and gardens in the early morning, before the sun has a chance to quickly absorb the moisture.

For families, toys and other outdoor clutter should be kept well maintained and in its own designated storage area.

The outdoor living space of a slow home should also reflect each season accordingly. Gardens are a great way to achieve this, and (with a little help from you!) will showcase the best of what nature provides.

This week, I'll be working on:
  •  pulling weeds (ack! But no chemicals here...)
  • reducing the amount of outdoor clutter (so long old and broken soccer goal net)
  • working on our outdoor living room to make it both more personal and functional
  • planting vegetables for our (first) cool weather garden
  • Tidying up shrubs etc...
What about you? What will you be working on this week to create a slow outdoor living space?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Week Two Slow Home Challenge: Outdoor Living Space

In a slow home the outdoor living space is just as much appreciated and mindful as the indoor living area. The outdoor space should be a visual extension of a home's interior.

The folks over at Slow Home Studio (the founders of the slow home movement) have this to say about a slow home's outdoor space:

"Outdoor living spaces are equally important and a Slow Home should have at least one. They
should be visual extensions of the principal indoor living space, bringing many of the
internal functions of the house out into the fresh air and sunlight. In good weather these
spaces can often double the amount of available living space at only a fraction of the cost.
Unfortunately, most fast houses are designed as hermetically sealed boxes and most terraces
are left over spaces that may hold a barbecue but little else. The situation can be even worse
in multi-family units where the balconies are usually oddly shaped, poorly proportioned, and
only the minimum area required by the planning code."

This week I'll be tackling our outdoor living space. Our yard space is fairly decent in size, but the greater majority of it is in the front and sides of the house. This leaves our backyard serving many purposes (doggie zone, kid play area, garden, compost, and deck seating area). The above picture is part of our deck-which I love, in fact, I have often said it is my most favorite "room" of the house. Yet, then there is....this...

Right. You see I have some work to do! I'll check back tomorrow with some more detailed goals and plans, and a few other slow home resources. Till then...

Week 1 Results of My Slow Home Challenge: The Kitchen

Week one of my twelve week slow home challenge is complete! Last week I began the first challenge, The Kitchen. I'm really excited about the results! For me, it was more then just de-cluttering and cleaning, it was the act of simplifying things in the kitchen that truly helps create a slow space.

It was important for me to keep a space in our
kitchen where the kids could be creative-on their
own. I cleaned up the floor space around
their easel and am now storing most of their
supplies in a nearby cabinet.

As for the rest, I made an effort to minimize duplicate sized pots and pans, appliances, and general cooking tools that all took up precious storage space.
In addition, I switched the remaining items to more sized appropriate cabinets. I
also reduced the overall amount of dishes and glassware. With my children now past the toddler years, we have finally moved beyond the world of plastic dishes and utensils (Read this to see my take on plastic in the kitchen). I picked up some great juice glasses from Ikea that are made with very thick glass. My kids love them because using them makes them feel grown up, and I love them because they gave me the freedom to finally ditch the plastic!

Remember this awful (and rather embarrassing) clutter magnet I used to refer to as a "work" space? Amazingly, practically every bit of paperwork piled up here went into the recycling bin. I'd literally been walking by this area for weeks without dealing with this pile. In order to keep the clutter at bay, I deemed this small desk Nate's new homework spot, and placed a recycling bin underneath.
All in all, it was an awesome start to my slow home challenge. I knew the kitchen would be tough, but I can't tell you how great it feels to walk into this space now...I already feel as though we're getting a lot closer to how we want our home to feel...nice and slow.
Here's what I accomplished:
  • I worked on workspace in our kitchen and minimized the amount of items on our counter tops to include the few things we use on a daily basis. I either got rid of the rest, or put them away in cabinets. Doing this helped maximize our kitchen prep/work space, and truthfully, makes the kitchen feel a whole lot more inviting.
  • I reduced the amount of glassware, dishes, and even appliances we keep in our kitchen cabinets. Some of them (the waffle iron, baby food processor, wok, etc...) I put out of sight, on top of the cabinets. As for the rest, (many duplicates) I sent it all off to our local thrift store.
  • I worked to clear as much of the floor space as possible, so that the people (and dogs) can maneuver easily around the room.
  • I addressed food waste, a big issue for many of us, and worked on some ideas to help reduce the litany of leftovers.
  • I maintained a space for creativity and created a space for school work.
  • I also cleaned up the cluttered coffee/tea station, and returned some of my potted herbs to the backyard deck.

Today I begin week two of my Slow Home Challenge, and will focus on creating a Slow Outdoor space for our home. Check back later on today to learn more about my plans and goals for this week.

Looking to get caught up to speed? Check out the following posts about my Slow Home Challenge:


Friday, September 23, 2011

Reducing Food Waste in A Slow Home Kitchen

On day five of my Slow Home challenge, I'm addressing Food in a Slow Kitchen...

Food waste in America remains a huge issue of concern. On average, the U.S. produces nearly twice as much food than is actually consumed-wasting a staggering 40% of food produced. This is especially sad when according to the USDA, last year nearly 17.2 million households struggled to put food on the table each day. Additionally, an estimated 16.5 million American children go hungry every day because they either don't have access to food, or their families can't afford to buy it.

In my home, the majority of our family's food waste ends up in our compost, but I know I can definitely do more. Preventing food waste in the first place, is really what I need to improve upon.

In the last few months I've started shopping more deliberately, armed with a weekly meal plan, based on sales, coupons, and most important, what's in season. While our family loves to shop at local farmer's markets, our weekend schedule often doesn't permit the time, so I'll opt for the next best available chooses at the grocery store- fruits and vegetables that are labeled as being grown right here in Alabama or in bordering states. That way, I know I'm supporting the local food industry, and serving my family what's being grown during the current season.
Tips and recipes to reduce food waste - Love Food Hate Waste

Love Food, Hate Waste, is a UK government funded campaign that aims to raise awareness of the need to reduce food waste. 

Here are a few tips to consider while making an effort to reduce food waste:

-Meal Plan: Weekly meal plans are key to reducing waste as their structure helps us minimize purchasing any unnecessary ingredients.

-Use what you already have: Each week, take inventory of your refrigerator and pantry, working these items into your upcoming meal plan. This should especially be the case with any refrigerated items that are due expire soon.

-Compost: Composting can be an easy solution to food waste, but first it's important to learn the basics. Check out the Denver Urban Garden Web site to learn more about the how to's of composting and to learn about the many resulting benefits!
-Reducing leftovers: My husband likes to cook (I know, thank God!), and so too, do I. So most of the time, we cook big meals, and have a lot of leftovers. Most families would love having a fridge filled with ready-to-go meals, tomorrow night's dinner-solved! But not so much the case in our house, my kids are picky, and my husband isn't a big fan of leftovers. So this usually leaves me to eat them all. I'm generally not picky, in fact, most of the time, I'm just grateful to be able to simply reheat something yummy for lunch. But after two or three of eating the same thing, even I get a little tired of it. One way we're working to reduce our leftovers is to by cutting our recipes in half. For a family of four, where the kiddos are little (and sadly, not eating much of dinner these days anyhow) this is working out nicely. It also helps to keep portion control on target, and gives us an excuse to make a bigger salad!

-Keep a food waste diary: The folks over at The Kitchn, suggest logging your daily food waste. Doing so helps you to see the overall food waste generated by you and your family. This type of habit can also help you to become more mindful as you shop, and as you try to decide what to ditch, or what to keep for tomorrow's lunch.

Some other great resources:

-The Kitchn: Tips and Tricks: How to Avoid Wasting Food
-Love Food Hate Waste: By and Best Before Dates Explained
-Meals Matter- The Daily Meal Planner
-The Daily Green: 10 Easy Ways to Reduce Food Waste
-Planet Green: 75 Things You Can Compost, But Thought You Couldn't

I'd love for you to share any additional tips about how to reduce food waste!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

How Slow is your Home?

“Simplicity means the achievement of maximum effect with minimum means.” ~ Albert Einstein

How slow is YOUR home? Take this test to find out...

Today I'm working on the layout of my kitchen's eating area. It should be well uncluttered, and provide easy circulation (which right now, it is neither!).

Check back tomorrow for my end of the week progress report and to see the slow changes I've made!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Work Space in A Slow Kitchen

Three days into my Slow Home challenge, and so far, so good! This week, I've begun efforts in the kitchen and have made some great progress in regard to decreasing unnecessary kitchen tools, etc...and in turn have actualy increased my overall storage space. I'm excited about the changes I'm seeing, and I look forward to sharing them with you soon!

Today, I'll be tackeling the kitchen Work Space....

Maintaining clutter-free counter tops is not only asthetically pleasing, but it also helps to promote the overall efficiency in a slow kitchen. In my own kitchen I have a fair amount of counterspace, but sadly it is often cluttered, leading to many challenging mornings (and afternoons and evenings...) when several of us are scrambling to pack lunches, or prepare breakfast within a small amount of available work space. 

Here are my goals to creating an improved Work Space in my slow kitchen:

  1. I'll inventory everything on the countertops (pots of herbs, ceremic jars, fruit bowl, random decorative tray(?), speakers, broken flashlight (that's right), glass spaghetti jar...) and work to minimize the items to only the most essential ones we use on a daily basis.
  2. I'll give the work space a good cleaning, and I'll even get into those tough to reach crevices.
  3. As far as any cooking ingredients (spices, oils, etc...) that are usually left hanging around the stovetop, I'll put the majority of them into the cubburd where they belong. I'll only leave out the essentials: salt, pepper and maybe the olive oil.
  4. At the day's end, I'll stand back and relish in my ultra organized, clean workspace, and stand amazed at the amount of counter space I've gained...hey, I can dream, right?!
Willing to give it a go for yourself?


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What A Slow Home Really Means...

In an effort to rid my home of clutter (and I mean even the general life kind) and chaos, I began a Slow Home Challenge for my family. Yet, after reading so many of your recent responses (thank you!!!) I think I may have placed too much emphasis on the de-cluttering aspect of this challenge. The de-cluttering is important, but it is only a small part of achieving a Slow Home. So with  that in mind before I go any further into the first week of my Slow Home Challenge, I want to try and clarify the definition of a Slow Home, as well as my intentions and goals for this challenge.

A little Background:

The Slow Home Movement began in 2006, and was founded by architects John Brown, Matthew North, and Carina van Olm, of the Slow Home Studio in response to what they saw as a growing trend of poorly designed, "fast houses." Their mission was to begin a movement that focused on designing residential properties that are "more personally satisfying, environmentally responsible, and economically reasonable." They wanted to reintroduce the into North American communities the value associated with slow homes, where a house is built with quality and true craftsmanship, and all aspects of its design are created to achieve high levels of function, efficiency, and pleasing aesthetics. In other words, they aimed to build homes that would allow entire communities to truly co-exist well together, and for families to progress through life living in a home that supported them as much as it sheltered.

The Slow Home movement is rapidly catching on, and praise for this life changing concept is beginning to emerge everywhere. The girls over at Opal Never Shouts, a blog about home design, have this to say about the Slow Home Movement, "It isn't all about the number of bedrooms, the square footage and the granite countertops, it is about how livable the home is and if it can grow and downsize with a family."

For your reference, the following is a synopsis of their 12 step Slow Home Guideline:
  1. Location-a Slow home is preferably located in close proximity to work, shopping, schools etc...helping to minimize car use.
  2. Size- Efficiently sized to fit the necessary needs of its inhabitants so that unnecessary energy waste and green house gas emissions are significantly reduced.
  3. Orientation- The home is orientated according to the sun and prevailing winds so that it is better able to generate natural heating and cooling methods.
  4. Stewardship- A Slow Home works to help conserve land and water use for future generations and is designed to promote well planned and compact residential communities.
  5. Entry- The front and rear entries of a Slow Home are designed to provide a slow transition into the living area of a home.
  6. Living- All living areas of a Slow Home, both indoor and out, promote the use of natural lighting and are able to serve as multi-use areas without wasting space.
  7. Dining- The dining area should provide homeowners with ample space for a dining table and chairs well suited to seat the whole family.
  8. Kitchen- In a Slow Home, the kitchen is located on the outskirts of the home's circulation route. Its triangular design and continuous counter space promote efficient work space, while ample storage allows for a clutter free environment.
  9. Bedrooms- All bedrooms utilize natural lighting, and have ample space for an efficiently sized bed, and room to circulate.
  10. Bathrooms- The bathrooms should be well organized, compact so as not to waste space, and should provide sufficient counter and storage use.
  11. Utility- Slow Homes should provide homeowners with space designed specifically for parking, laundry and mechanical equipment. These areas are located on the outskirts of the living area and are designed as with a specific function in mind.
  12. Organization- A Slow Home is well organized, efficient, and is laid out with rooms that flow well together. The circulation path from room to room should be clearly designed and unobstructed.
In just a bit, I'll resume this week's Kitchen challenge by addressing the work space. 

Thanks for all of your amazing support!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Week 1: The Slow Home Kitchen

I’m starting off my Slow Home Challenge with the kitchenthe heart beat of most homes. This is where families gather together to nourish not only their bellies, but their spirits as well. In a Slow Home, the kitchen is not enormous, but instead, compact and efficient. There is suitable storage, and enough counter space to provide a workable surface. A Slow Home kitchen also serves the most amount of function with the least amount of tools.
In my home, the kitchen is a room that is overwhelmed and overworked most of the time due to my demand for it to serve multiple purposes. Additionally, a lack of true organization in my kitchen usually fuels the chaos, and can therefore prevent efficient work space. Pots of herbs, (empty) ceramic jars, and the occasional pile of mail and schoolwork all take up valuable counter space. My children’s plethora of arts and crafts supplies have slowly seeped their way into the "extra" storage cabinet that stands alone near our kitchen table. On this cabinet's top resides what my husband has termed his "coffee station,” a place where random coffee and tea gadgets and ingredients sit clustered against one another. 

Nearby, a large wooden art easel fights for its share of space, while the shelf underneath has become a home to broken chalk, scraps of construction paper, and random items that I insist we'll make art from one of these days. Next to the refrigerator, a small antique desk (sans chair) only seems to attract additional piles of paperwork, magazines, mail, and more.

My kitchen is not enormous in size, but it is certainly not compact. Due to its wide open floorplan, the average person might not see the chaos that may appear hidden so well. But to me, it practically screams its existence every time I walk into this room.While I obviously am not able to retro fit the size of my kitchen , I am able to scale back...way back. 

My PLAN of action for this week will be to tackle the following in an effort to minimize and create efficiency within my kitchen space:
1. Storage
2. Work Space (counter tops):
3. Tools:
4. Eating area:
5. Food

I'll begin with Storage, and will move on to Work Space tomorrow.
1. Storage: I'll admit it, occasionally I've complained about a lack of storage in my kitchen. Realistically however, the amount of storage space is not necessarily the issue, but rather the true problem lies in our having too much stuff to store. This week I will be giving my kitchen cabinets, and other kitchen storage spaces, a total re-haul.

Here are my objectives:

-empty out each cabinet and place all items on a flat surface so that I can take inventory.
-set aside any duplicate items (all of which will either be donated or sold).
-consider getting rid of items that are rarely used.
-consider alternative storage space (garage or attic?) for items that may be larger or infrequently used, but still serve a purpose in the Slow Home.

Check back regularly this week as I'll be posting before and after photos and detailing the soon to be progress! I hope you'll join the Slow Home Challenge as well, and share with us your results!


Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Plan: Creating A Slow Home

According to the folks over at Re-nest  a Slow Home Is...

1. A thoughtfully-designed place that feels good to be in and makes life easier.

2. Sized appropriately for its residents.

3. Reduces unnecessary or wasteful energy or water usage. 

4. Reduces greenhouse gas and unhealthy household chemical emissions.

5. Benefits the planet without sacrificing quality of life.

6. Supports life in a community.

7. Has a strong connection to the outdoors.

8. Makes every effort to support daylighting and natural heating and cooling methods.

9. Establishes a functional entry space, or landing strip.

10. Focuses on efficient furniture layout that is multi-functional and breathable.

11. Emphasizes sufficient, well-organized storage in all rooms.

12. Accessorized personally, thoughtfully, and with an eye towards healthy, lasting design.

As I embark on this Slow Home challenge, I am learning that my specific circumstances won't enable me to fully embrace the slow home movement in its entirety. But, heck! That's not going to stop me! I may not be able to move into more compact living quarters tomorrow, but I can still make plenty of necessary changes. After reading THIS, I realized that I'll need to reconnect with my house before I can truly begin the efforts to create the most efficient and clutter-free home possible.

While you're here you'll probably get to know a lot about me. You'll learn that I live in a big house...a really big house. In fact, being the Eco-minded individual that I try to be, I'm sometimes ashamed to admit it, and often find myself making excuses...

"We got a fantastic deal on it!"

"It's my husband's dream house, I had to agree to it..."

"Although it's size isn't all that environmentally friendly, I promise I make up for it in other ways!"

Don't get me wrong, I am truly appreciative of what we have, but truth be told, all of the above are correct. This house and I have maintained a bit of a love-hate relationship. But along with this transformation needs to come acceptance.

Dear big brick house,

I accept you for all that you are, all of your awesome potential, and I don't hold you personally accountable for my inability to make the best of you. Despite your grandness, from this point on I promise to put as much effort as I can into transforming you into a beautiful, yet simple Slow Home.

Yours truly,

The Plan:

Week 1: The Kitchen- the heart of our home
Week 2: The Garden/Backyard-dogs, kids, weeds, they all want a stake
Week 3: The Laundry Room/Pantry/Shoe storage/Dog Food area- yup, nuff said
Week 4: The Master Bedroom-No tranquil resting space here!
Week 5: The Living Room-let's talk, no seriously, let's talk!
Week 6: The Bathrooms- all (mumble) five of them...sigh
Week 7: The Kid's Rooms-not even sure where to begin
Week 8: The Playroom/Office/Creative zone-really, which is it?!
Week 9: Closets/Clothing
Week 10: Attic/Storage
Week 11: Foyer
Week 12: The Garage

Each week, I also plan to take some time to decrease the chaos and clutter in my personal life, so that I can find more peace, and begin to enjoy more of life.

I'm excited and ready to start this challenge! Who'll join me?!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Slow Home Challenge

I’m not a slob, nor am I a pack rat. I typically have a yard sale once a year, and every other month I make a trip to the local thrift store and donate a bag or two of things we've outgrown or no longer use. Yet, the endless stuff still seems to keep finding its way into my home, and each week as I tirelessly try to manage and decrease it, countless hours are stolen from my valuable allotment of time. In addition, my inability to create efficient and truly functional spaces throughout my house to help manage this stuff, has caused my home to become chaotic and somewhat void of tranquility and comfort. My name is Kate, and I suffer from an inability to slow down. I need help.

I'll admit it, I’ve always suffered a bit from a lack of organization, but after becoming a mother, moving in and out of three different homes, within three years time, and having the poor sense to overextend myself in every way possible, things only proceeded to get worse. Over the past year as the chaos continued to stretch across all aspects of my life, I felt my spirit sadden, my enthusiasm wilt, and my creativity become nearly void. I stood feeling somewhat helpless as cherished friendships faded away, my children begged for more mommy time, and a never ending to do list nearly brought me to tears each night. I began to feel somewhat crazed, and seldom enjoyed the gift of any true accomplishment. Then, in the midst of it all, my marriage suffered a huge blow, and all the chaos that surrounded me made it nearly impossible to mend those circumstances. My life as an individual, wife, mother, and also as a professional, had spiraled out of control. I was miserable. I also knew that if the chaos didn’t decrease, or better yet stop all together, I might never have the opportunity in this life to realize my true potential.

I began to take stock in what mattered most to me. I knew that nothing would ever change until I initiated a change of pace and started making time for a very necessary self evaluation.

What I came to realize:

Chaos sucks, and I was done letting it control of my life. (duh).

So what next? On the heels of this incredibly intelligent revelation, I spent months devouring books that focused on getting back to basics, simplifying life, and learning how to make the most of personal and family life. I learned a great deal from some amazing resources, yet at the same time, the books provided too many variations of methods, ideas, and suggested practices. Soon I felt exhausted from information overload, and sadly, more overwhelmed than ever.

Then, a few weeks ago I came across this article in the NY Times. It discussed an up and coming movement called Slow Home. Similar to the slow food concept, the slow home movement encourages taking the time to celebrate quality, and to appreciate the good in life. Slow homes focus on simplicity, depend upon well made products, and promote efficient architectural design made to enhance a home's overall functionality. In other words, the slow home movement inspires the increasingly popular notion that more isn’t necessarily better. A slow home helps us to avoid the clutter and the chaos, and through the absence of such things, we’re better able to achieve more of life’s positive experiences.

That, is exactly what I want to accomplish. Armed with more motivation and more at stake than ever before, I am committing myself to a 12 week challenge toward creating a variation of a slow home.

Over the next couple of days I’ll lay out the framework for this plan and outline my weekly goals. Beginning Monday, September 19th, my Slow Home Challenge will begin. Each week I’ll target a specific room in the house, working to improve the overall efficiency and functionality of each space. I will also dedicate a week (or two!) to de-cluttering my personal life.

I hope you’ll follow along...and maybe my experience will inspire you to begin transforming your own house into a slow home as well!

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Beauty of A Woman...

"The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman is seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. True beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It's the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows & the beauty of a woman only grows with passing years."
-- Audrey Hepburn
Today I'm thankful for being a woman...

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Evolution of Me

I recall a time at the start of my parenting years when I felt so consumed by the transition of myself as an individual to the morphing of a mom, that I could hardly recall my previous identity. I was lost and terrified. Finally, after many failed attempts to reconnect with myself, I discovered the art of blogging.

Three and a half years ago I sat down at a cramped desk in my kitchen (three homes ago) and created this space. Like many other blogs, Kate's Musings originally began as a place for me to share my family's daily events with far away friends and relatives. But it wasn't long before I saw it as an opportunity to enhance my spirit as well. The mere presence of it was enough to fill me with renewed enthusiasm and a sense of excitement about rediscovering my lost voice and creativity. Over time it has transitioned into a life journal of sorts, and it has always been my goal to have it continue evolving just as I do.

I am an ever evolving soul. And as I grow older and maneuver my way through life's ups and downs, I am finding that sometimes this isn't such a good thing. I am often unsettled, and want to accomplish more than I am capable. This usually results in me having ten different projects going on simultaneously, or sometimes when life's events becomes overwhelming, I'll tend to lose interest all together...hence the occasional gaps in time found strewn throughout this blog. Don't get me wrong, I truly do have the best of intentions, but as the saying goes, "The smallest deed is better than the grandest of intention" (Roger Nash Baldwin). Now, more then ever, I am realizing that the many grand intentions I posses are actually working against my potential and my ability to accomplish a greater number of deeds--both small and great. 

This blog is an example of that, yet, while I find that I want to beat myself up over not meeting my original expectations, I'm forcing myself to see the many wonderful and smaller portions of good, and even great things that have come from it.  

Just like me, Kate's Musings has always revolved around great intentions, but also just like me, it has a tendency to be a bit scattered in direction, and therefore impact. This past year was a really tough one for me. With family circumstances that forced me to come face to face with true emotional turmoil, I couldn't help but sink deeply within myself for a while. But time does heal, and in many ways I am thankful for having had to endure this past year's struggles...they have made me into a stronger, more deliberate person. I am prioritizing, and giving more consideration than ever before to how I want to live this life, what I want to gain, and exactly what I am capable of contributing.

Hopefully, I can summon up the strength and courage to begin having this blog truly reflect these realizations. In the meanwhile, I just want to continue sharing my ever evolving story, and hopefully make some kind of a difference, some kind of an impact that will leave people a little bit better off, or even just smiling a little more.