The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning

What will happen to all your stuff when you die? Will your spouse have to spend years mucking out all the junk in the house? Will your kids send it all off to a dump? 

Margareta Magnusson suggests a better way in her new book (coming in January 2018) The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: take your own stuff into your own hands. Don't keep stuff you don't use anymore. Find good homes for the things you don't need. Make it easier for your family after you're gone.

The author starts out by describing the cleaning she does after loved ones' deaths, and then outlines what she has done to make it easier on her family one day. If you've read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, this book is another, more practical, take on the same idea. 

I'm not planning on dying for quite some time, but what Magnusson says still makes sense. Keep your life in order. Write down your passwords. Make a will. Pare down your belongings as your life phases change. Preserve the memories you want to pass on, and destroy the ones you don't. Not just because you'll die one day, but because you'll have a better life meanwhile if you keep things in order and you aren't drowning in excess objects.


Doctor-dentist marathon

As I was dragging to another appointment last week, I was thinking how very sick I was of going to the doctor and dentist this month. When I looked on the calendar, I realized that altogether, our family has no less than eight appointments this month! I guess I'll give myself permission to be sick of it. (And yes, I'll try to be grateful too.) (And no, nothing is wrong, just all the routine things fell at the same time.)


Family home evening

We had a thoughtful family home evening again this week! I was thinking this past week of a song that Tiger Lily likes to listen to, and I realized that it came from a church video that was used when I was a teenager.

So I dug up the video. I am so glad the church has been so good about putting all their videos online in recent years! We talked about how we got the Book of Mormon, then we watched the video. And now Tiger Lily knows what her song is about, and with any luck, she'll remember it each time she listens and sings along.

I just realized this post sounds like I only had FHE with Tiger Lily. We all had it together, but I will admit I have been thinking about her a lot when I plan it lately. I feel like we focused on Red Chief for so long, and then I dropped the ball, that it's her turn. But luckily everyone can benefit from a simple gospel lesson, no matter who I have in mind when I plan it.

Another good experience! I wonder what I'll come up with for next week?


Quick trip

We went on a crazy fast trip this weekend to see my baby sister get married. Arrived late Friday, wedding Saturday, back home on Sunday.

My sister was a beautiful bride and I guess she really is all grown up now. Above is her cake. The cake was made and frosted by friend of the family H (this is also her photo that I stole), and another sister (I have three) put the flowers on artistically. The green is honeysuckle from my vine, brought down in a cooler.

It was fun to catch up with friends and acquaintances from the past. I randomly ran into one of my best friends from high school at the temple, and then of course there were many old friends at the reception.

When we got home there wasn't a lot of food in the house, so I whipped up a recipe my grandma and mom taught me: kitchen sink soup. You take all the odds and ends you can find that go together (especially the things you want to use up), and you make soup. It always turns out tasty.


Cleaning my room

Step 1: Change the sheets and make the bed.
Step 2: Organize the shoes.
Step 3: Remove a two-foot stack of books from the room.

Book accumulation. It happens.


Recently tried recipes

I've been cooking up a storm lately, and I realized that it's past time to share the new recipes I've tried! I probably made changes to most of these recipes when I made them, because that's just the way I cook (especially with soups), but I'm too lazy to note all of them. One thing I do always do is eliminate the oil. I'm proud of myself for learning to cook without oil over the past few years!


Lunchbox chocolate chip cookies. Excellent. I will make these often. I used peanut butter instead of the almond butter.

Dill pickle potato chowder. I've seen pickle soup recipes going around and I'm so happy someone veganized it! Everyone except Tiger Lily loves this soup.

Classic vegan baked ziti. This was pretty yummy although a little bland. I'll spice it up next time. The kids loved it, and said it was better than lasagna. I'm okay with that, since lasagna is a lot of work.

Olive Garden–inspired minestrone. I felt like branching out from our usual minestrone, so I tried this. Very nice.

Vegan salisbury steak meatballs with garlic mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy. So, this turned out amazing! I used their meatball recipe, but I ended up using my own personal gravy and mashed potato recipes, since we already have versions we like. I will definitely make this again! Everyone loved it.

Potato and white bean soup with kale. My husband and I liked this, but the kids were offended by it. Still, I'll probably make it again. The second time they'll have seen it once and perhaps they'll be more used to the idea.

Mulligatawny soup. I wasn't so sure about this going into it, but everyone ended up liking it! The kids had fun guessing the ingredients, especially the apples.

Saag dip. This was so good along with naan and aloo gobi! Red Chief especially liked it.

Potato curry. Yum.

Laksa soup. I'm not sure I can claim to have actually made this soup since I made so many substitutions, but the framework certainly provided something delicious!

Thai lemongrass soup. Amazing. I'm definitely making this again. And it was my first time buying and using lemongrass, which was fun. I'd only ever had it in restaurants before. We served our soup over a scoop of rice.


Violin beauty

I watched this video of Anne Akiko Meyers playing Morten Lauridsen's "O Magnum Mysterium" for the first time over the weekend. I couldn't get it out of my head, and I keep returning to it day after day.

It has caused me to look up the text and origin of the O Magnum Mysterium and explore more of Lauridsen's and Meyers' work.

As far as I can tell, it hasn't been released as a recording yet, but you'd better believe I'll be first in line to buy it when it is! I had to settle for buying the original choral version for the time being (which is also sublime).


Family home evening

I have been trying to refocus on family home evening lately, as I feel we've gotten a little bit lazy about it. My goal is to teach my kids about the scriptures but have a good time doing it, and make sure it's a positive experience.

Tonight I felt prompted to share the story of the ten virgins from the Bible. I retold it (both the older kids remembered it once we got started), then we watched this movie. It really made an impression on Tiger Lily, who can be hard to reach.

Now we all have bean jars to fill with our "drops of oil" as we do things that bring us closer to Christ (we agreed that real oil would be too messy).

I hope we can continue to have these positive learning experiences together as a family. I'm not sure now what we will talk about next week, but I know if I ask, God will nudge me in the right direction.

Homemade furniture polish spray

I was cleaning out Pip's toy shelves and noticed that the wood was looking pretty sad. So I quickly mixed up some homemade furniture polish, and in a few minutes the shelves were looking worlds better.


Furniture polish spray

Add to a large spray bottle:

1 cup white vinegar
1 cup oil (any sort is fine, I used canola)
1/4 teaspoon lemon essential oil (optional, to make it smell nice)

Close bottle and shake well.

To use: Clean and dust your wood furniture. Test polish on an inconspicuous area first. Spray over wood surface, shaking frequently throughout application. Rub in with a soft cloth. Rub all over with another clean cloth to get any residue off.


Red Chief makes cat treats

Red Chief perused my new copy of Little House Living a few weeks ago, then declared his intention to make cat treats. The cat liked them for the first few days, then about two days before they went moldy, she rejected them, the wise animal. If we make these again, we will make a quarter batch, and there would still be enough to share!

I also made the eczema cream from the same book, for Pip. For months now, I've been putting a dab of this and a dab of that in the palm of my hand to grease up his poor cracked feet after bathtime. But opening five different containers every time I wanted to treat him really was a bit much. So I made the eczema cream with the addition of a couple of things I had been using, and you know what? It really helps him. Plus, I'm much more likely to treat him now that I have the cream in a single jar. He's getting greased up twice a day now instead of once every other day, just because it's more convenient.

Little House Living 
is full of recipes for household cleaners, body products, and cooking mixes. It has been fun to look at, and I'm looking forward to trying more recipes!


A bad picture of a good baking day

A good baking day this weekend while listening to the LDS General Conference! I baked bread and cookies while I listened, then afterward we walked around the neighborhood and gave bread to people. We all needed a walk after four hours of sitting around listening, no matter how good the subject matter.


Small steps

Several years ago, I looked around my kitchen and thought, "I don't want to use paper napkins anymore." So I pulled out the cloth napkins I was saving for special occasions, and we started using them every day. We didn't have enough to get through the week, but using what we had before switching to paper still saved a lot.

Earlier this month, I read an article in the National Geographic that said that our oceans are so contaminated with plastic that even sea salt now has tiny plastic particles in it.

It took a couple of weeks to sink in, but I decided that I want to use less plastic.

Using no plastic for me right now is not an option. I've long wanted to use re-usable shopping bags, but I told myself I couldn't because we used plastic grocery sacks as trash can liners.

But I realized last week that I could use less, and that would still help. I cleaned out the coat closet and found several re-usable shopping bags that we've received for free over the years. Now when I take my weekly grocery shopping trip, I fill those bags first, and then I use plastic bags.

I've also decided to collect plastic bags that I don't re-use (like produce bags, or grocery sacks that break) and return them to the store for recycling. On top of that, I'm trying not to use produce bags when I don't need them (a dozen apples—yes; two limes—no).

I enjoy using the re-usable bags. They're quite a motley assortment, all different sizes and colors, but they hold more than regular plastic sacks, they fit in the cart better, and they're easier to carry into the house. And, of course, it's nice to know that I'm taking a small step toward saving the planet—or at least destroying it a little more slowly.

I'm happy that I've learned to do a thing imperfectly. Because it doesn't have to be all or nothing; and if 50% works for us right now, it's better than zero.