A few years ago we spent a week in a cottage on Lake Michigan. It was such a relaxing vacation. It was October but mild so we still spent a lot of time on the beach, playing with Jack and then we cooked together and played games or read books. Every night I tidied things up before bed. That little cottage was so easy to keep clean. I took note and realized that what I can handle in home keeping is furniture, kitchen supplies, books and clothes and spent the next year and a half trying to divest our home of everything else. The six months before the fire I went room by room reorganizing and de-cluttering. I got rid of so much stuff. For months one stall of the garage was dedicated to Goodwill and the other was trash. Paul dutifully hauled it away one carload, one trash night at a time.
We lost almost everything in the fire. When we moved into our rental house, insurance provided a minimum of belongings to get us through: a couch and chairs, tables, lamps, beds, linens and kitchen supplies. We requested a couple bookcases and a desk since we began to rebuild our library from the first day.
With the exception of books, clothes and a few chairs we haven’t really replaced anything. From the beginning I felt a real reluctance to buy and then, as insurance dragged and dragged and dragged its heels, it became a necessity to wait.
I told myself, “It’s not a problem. We’ll move in get the feel for the place and take our time. We’ve lived this long with the bare minimum, we’ll be fine.”
And then I remembered that the rented pieces would be returned and as thrilling as minimalism is it’s no fun sitting on the floor and I don’t want to try cutting meat with a measuring spoon so I began to think about what we have and what we really need.
- 4 barstools (a kind stranger generously donated when we moved into the rental)
- 7 Thonet bentwood chairs (four my mom gave us and three I picked up over the year)
- 1 antique wicker rocking chair (my first big purchase since the fire)
- 1 bed (Paul and replaced ours first thing)
- 2 seven by four foot bookcases
- 4 lamps (need shades)
- 1 night stand
- 1 desk (on loan from my brother-in-law)
- 1 dining table (it’s actually a long, harvest looking table from my mother’s elementary school. It was used as as sofa table in my home growing up and will look great but won’t work long term as the apron is lower than is comfortable for dining)
- numerous plates and bowls (I replaced some jadeite and hit the jackpot with Buffalo china)
- 1 filing cabinet
- 1 13 x 9 inch pan
- various glass food storage containers and lids
- 1 XL stockpot
- 1 sauce pan
- 1 XL metal bowl
- measuring spoons
- 1 serrated bread knife
- 2 large cutting boards
- 2 muffin pans
- 1 baking rack
- 2 spatulas
- oven mitts
- kitchen towels and washcloths
- 1 can opener
- 2 wine openers (gifts from concerned friends, bless them! We’ve actually had three as the rental company provided one too)
- 1 coffeemaker
- 1 toaster (that seems such a small word for what this is…will be blogging later)
- 2 king sets of sheets
- 7 pillows
- 3 bath towels
- 5 beach towels
- 3 quilts
- 1 down duvet and cover
- 1 large blanket
- 2 wool throws
And then a friend has promised the loan of two leather club chairs.
I think that’s it.
Here’s what I recognize we need to buy:
- knives (I can get by with a 8″ chef’s and small paring & plan to replace our Wusthof)
- 1 large skillet
- 1 dutch oven
- a coffee grinder
- a pancake turner
- long plastic spoon
- large ladle
- measuring spoons
- gas grill
- sheets (twin and queen)
- bath towels, hand towels and washcloths
- shower curtains
- 4 end tables or night stands
- beds: 2 twin, 1 queen
Am I missing something obvious?
Are you amazed by how little and yet how much it all is?
The picture above is of a couple of drawers in my kitchen after the great purge. The one on the right was my “junk drawer” replacing three others that functioned as such.