When it comes to simpler living, Ma Ingalls is my hero. I know she wasn't a minimalist on purpose, and that she is at least a little bit fictionalized, and that her life was oftentimes very difficult, but when my girls and I cuddle together on the couch to read from the Little House series we sigh and swoon at the beautiful simplicity of the life they lived.
My 4 year old would be thrilled to spend her days playing barefoot in plum creek with a homemade bonnet swaying on it's strings down her back.
So as silly as this may sound, sometimes along this journey to a simpler life, I ask myself what Ma Ingalls would have done. I've stood in my kitchen holding single task kitchen tools asking myself "Would Ma Ingalls own this?"
And lately I've been contemplating how Ma Ingalls celebrated the seasons. In fact, how anybody celebrated the seasons before pinterest, and magazines, and entire aisles in Walmart devoted to seasonal decor.
I live in a place that has four distinct, beautiful, humbling seasons. The notion that I would need to store boxes full of manufactured decorations in order to savour these seasons is starting to seem a little bit ridiculous to me. It seems especially odd as autumn approaches, a season marked by contentment and thankfulness.
The rhythmn of the year is a beautiful thing, and it is only natural that we would want our homes filled with the sights and smells and festivity of the seasons. But the fact is that there is nothing in those seasonal aisles at Walmart that will make the season more meaningful for our families. Nothing. There, I said it.
So instead of decorating for autumn this year, I am letting autumn permeate our home. The pumpkins waiting to be turned into pie, the sunflowers from the yard, the apple pie jam we will make and cool in jars on the counter top. The lovely braided garlic from the Farmer's Market that will be disappearing a little with each stew and pot pie we enjoy together.
I have a wire wreath form that I will be adorning with seasonal foliage, and I might splurge on a scented candle if I find I have a spot to enjoy it. But aside from a few small items, our goal is that most of our seasonal decorations would be consumable or compostable.
The Verdict: I feel like a weight has lifted. I don't need to craft a fall mantlescape or create a charming porch vignette. My seasonal decorating can happen organically, as I find a place to perch our winter squash until it is time to make soup or fill our house with the scent of autumn while I heat apple cider on the stove.
I like to think that Ma Ingalls would approve...
We are doing one small thing (almost) every day for a year to create a simpler, quieter, more intentional life. Take a moment to read all About Us, check out The Rules of our year long project and sign up for our RSS feed or "like" us on facebook so that you can follow our journey to radical simplicity!
I used to go all out. I would have little displays all over the house - especially in fall, because it is my FAVORITE time of the year.ReplyDelete
But I digress... As I have started to streamline my home in the last couple of years I too enjoy the freedom in not having to store a ton of decorations. And I really don't like the cluttered feeling of it all either.
I do think Ma Ingalls would approve! :)
I love your approach!ReplyDelete
Sometime, do you think you could post your apple pie jam recipe? That sounds delightful. :-)
Yes, I am planning to share that recipe as one of the posts in my 31 Days to Savour the Season on my other blog. http://www.imperfecthomemaking.com/2012/09/announcing-31-days-to.htmlDelete
Wonderful! Can't wait!Delete
What a lovely thought! I love decorating with pumpkins and real leaves, it adds to the ambiance of having fall decor. That apply pie jam sounds delicious - I hope you'll be sharing that recipe during your 30 Days challenge! We're simplifying our lives, and that includes decorations as well, just like you. This year I'm hoping to stay away from those aisles at Target and focus on the beauty the Earth has already given us.ReplyDelete
Amen! I've been working on paring down my holiday decor every year and just love that you're going to use what Fall provides to decorate your home. This gives me the push I needed to pare down even more =)ReplyDelete
I think you have a great approach! I agree the industry that exists around holiday is staggering. If fewer people bought into the gotta have it attitude we all be better off. I would also like to see your recipe for apple pie jam!ReplyDelete
Such a nice post!ReplyDelete
Gosh, I'm so glad I found this blog and your other blog, it makes me happy to read posts like this one, and as always to see the neat pictures you take.
I love fall.
I long for the simplicity of the Ingalls family! I totally agree with you!ReplyDelete
This post made me excited to move to the Greater Toronto Area, where we will finally have 4 seasons instead of Southern California's one season. I can't wait to get settled into our new home and start decorating!!!ReplyDelete
I like it! We keep it very simple for fall. For Halloween, I tend to put out the cutesy stuff, but I have it limited to one very small box. When Halloween's over, I go back to just having real pumpkins outside, and I put out a platter on the dining room table to display all the sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apples, and oranges I'll be cooking/baking with that season. Every year though, I do cave and buy a new cinnamon broom to hang on the living room wall, just to make the scent linger. It's nice though because the scent lasts from October to Christmas.ReplyDelete
I would definitely love to see your apple pie jam recipe too! Sounds yummy!
I have been thinking about this lately because we have cleaned our a lot of stuff in out house, but haven't touched the holiday decorations. Even though there is only 1 box for fall and couple boxes for Easter, there are 4 shelves of Christmas stuff. And that doesn't count the dish towels, placemats, and other little things like that stashed in other parts of the house. I have been thinking less, simple, and I love how you said it - organic. Yes. I like that. Less to store, less time to decorate, more to enjoy. Thanks for the reminder and the push for me to simplify in this area too.ReplyDelete
Am I the only one who packs up the Christmas decorations after the holidays and actually LIKES the "empty" look? Everything is more neat, less cluttered. Am I weird?
I'm with you Stacie. I really only decorate for Christmas (other than table stuff for Thanksgiving, and family carved pumpkins for Halloween) and while i enjoy putting out the decorations, i do love it just as much when everything gets back to normal....Delete
My mom made a cover for our mailbox (a rectangular flat box, so it worked!) out of the cover of the 3-ring-binder attached with a magnet, so she could insert a decorated piece of paper for each holiday/season. And it's recyclable. Most of our other seasonal decorating (except for Christmas) was done by the kids with vinyl window stickies.ReplyDelete
Hmm. I don't decorate for fall ever, but this has me rethinking the fake pine Christmas garland I wrap around my ugly 70s wrought iron banister and in my windowsill. And honestly, I paid like $4 for all of it at Zehrs a few years ago. It really wouldn't kill me to just get rid of it. And I do hate how cluttered it makes the house look. (I like it for about a week, but it's not worth all the effort for that.)ReplyDelete
I also wanted to add that my semi-detached neighbour is a florist, and her fall door wreath is amazing...it has burlap, garlic, and dried hot peppers on it. Might be something along the lines of what you're thinking about.
I love Ma Ingalls! I often think to myself, "What would Ma do?"ReplyDelete
Pumpkins, leaves, corn stalks, mums, pinecones, acorns, a branch off the pine tree at Christmas. I lost a lot of Halloween decor in a flood, and I wasn't sad to watch it get thrown out. Great series!! -AnneReplyDelete
It helped me to collect my fall decorations on the kitchen table and write down where I expect them to go. The few that I had left over, those that were always the "Hmmm, where to put this????" ones went to the thrift store. Now I know what I have and where in the house it's going to go. I can't wait to do this with the Christmas stuff!ReplyDelete
Just finished "Little House in the Big Woods" with my 5 year old daughter and totally get what you are saying! Love this post and the sentiment behind it!ReplyDelete
Brilliant! I expect one of these for Christmas as well! =) Thank you!ReplyDelete
Consumable and compostable? I love it!ReplyDelete
I am not sure how I found your site...Have been following it for about 4-5 months and the Fall declutter must really be in the air, along with the using natural items to decorate..I got the box of fall decor out Sept.1 when it was a crisp cool day here and asked my daughter to decorate. She did a great job on the mantel, leaving up some things that I already had up there, a old shutter, old wood box and hand garden tools and metal watering can.. she mixed in some fall fake leaves,pumpkin gourds and a carved wood pumpkin I alreay had..Then I put out just a very few things in the kitchen and foyer.. the rest I called a local resale store and asked if they would like to take a look at what I had left in fall decor and they said sure bring it over along with some old vases they just about bought it all and I made $82.00 I can not wait to hit the Many, Many Christmas boxes I have...less it more... and more in my wallet..Have A Great Fall Day.. Autumn Blessing to you.ReplyDelete
I live in a place that has four distinct, beautiful, humbling seasons. The notion that I would need to store boxes full of manufactured decorations in order to savour these seasons is starting to seem a little bit ridiculous to me. It seems especially odd as autumn approaches, a season marked by contentment and thankfulness.ReplyDelete
The rhythmn of the year is a beautiful thing, and it is only natural that we would want our homes filled with the sights and smells and festivity of the seasons. But the fact is that there is nothing in those seasonal aisles at Walmart that will make the season more meaningful for our families. Nothing. There, I said it."
That you did. And VERY well. That's pretty much the crux of it right there, I think.
This resonates with me. Last year I donated all our cheesy Christmas decorations - you know, the tole-painted Santas and the random ornaments that various people had given us... it feels so artificial, and much more authentic to let the season permeate our homes - as you say.ReplyDelete
I'm also looking forward to the apple pie jam recipe! :)
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This idea is great. We are just starting off in our new home and don't have much of a budget to decorate, much less to do seasonal decorating by shopping for plastic. I thought we would just not decorate at all! But now I will use your ideas to bring in the seasons through picking up acorns and putting them in a bowl, picking up beautiful colorful leaves on our walks and having bowls of apples we will munch through.ReplyDelete
This is how my mom has decorated for years (although she now puts on a little more of a "show" for her grandkids!). Cornstalks from the fields, flowers from her garden, pumpkins. Her wreath at Christmas is always made from the bottom branches of the tree that have to be trimmed to put in it's stand. We used to scour the tree farm for a tree with a birds nest, so that my mom would have a place to put her little bird ornament. I remember the year she made an entire spooky scene on our picture window with construction paper, complete with fence, pumpkins, black cat, and ghosts!ReplyDelete
Love the anti materialistic way of celebrating the seasons in the home! The way that God intended. Holy Simplicity!ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for sharing this! When I am having a hard day with my kids I try to think of Ma Ingalls and how hard it must have been to raise children living in a dugout or traveling by covered wagon.ReplyDelete
I am watching No Impact Man and I just got to the part where they give up toilet paper... Just wondering if we are going to see this on your year of less? Tp would be a tough give up for me!ReplyDelete
This one will be a challenge for me. I really love the idea of using vegetables and natural things that occur during the seasons as part of the decorating, but the Christmas decorations are going to be a bit more of a challenge to let go of. I had an idea last year to use solar lights for the tree that recharged and use them throughout the year as a night light in our living room. http://adventureonplanetearth.blogspot.com/2012/03/solar-lantern.html I am also planning to take photos of ornaments that the kids made through the years and make a holiday album (iPhoto) and then they can decide what they would like to do with them. I will have them forever digitally and in a photo book. I will only be keeping the decorations that are dear to me...gifts from people that have passed or are distant and those that are especially meaningful to our family. There are many in my mind that can easily be given away to someone who will love them next.ReplyDelete
Wow. There's some real food for thought there.ReplyDelete
I think this may be my favourite post of yours.
(But then there are a few I've bookmarked for re-reading so can't be too sure...)
Very poignant. Thank you.
Love Ma love this and love you guys! Just reading these brave bold words inspires me to stand strong and resist the commercial materialistic train that we so unwittingly get on but have to make a concerted effort to step off! Oh the simple days of pioneer times!ReplyDelete
In our home, we have drying sunflowers and herbs lying around in decorative heaps! There is usually a fresh loaf of homemade bread as well. We love the fall!ReplyDelete
I love doing this!ReplyDelete
Did you know that there is a LITTLE HOUSE COOKBOOK?! I WAS SO EXCITED TO HEAR ABOUT THIS. I PLACED A HOLD AT MY LOCAL LIBRARY. CANT WAIT TO GET MY HANDS ON IT. I THOUGHT YOU WOULD APPRECIATE IT TOO! THANKS FOR YOUR BLOGS LOVE THEM!!ReplyDelete
Great idea to let autumn permeate your home--you've done so admirably in the photos you've shared. I love the simplicity of the pumpkins on your gorgeous table runner!ReplyDelete
This is a beautiful post, and it's so true. I'm looking forward to when you get to the Christmas decorations--that's an area where I need some work! :)ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for your honesty; you're truly an inspiration!
I think you are 100% right. I did a de-crapification last Christmas and it felt GREAT. I think that after each holiday, as I'm putting stuff up, I will ask myself "does this item bring joy and value to my life?" I don't ever want to have to rent a storage unit for my crap.ReplyDelete
Our decorations are simple and mostly form the yard. I planted an island garden in the front yard years ago and each season has different flowers that have been planted in layers. Daffodils, then tulip , irises, lilies. Now the , now mums.I have 2 plant stands that I plant pots when the garden needs a touch of color. For the fall I include a scarecrow. As you enter the driveway you get an instant smile.ReplyDelete
In the house instead of decorations all over I concentrate on a few spots and change some color to freshen up other areas. On the entrance doors I keep flat back baskets full of leaves, twigs from the yard. These baskets stay up all year and are filled with seasonal things. In the family room is a basket of pine-cones sprinkled with cinnamon the basket ribbon changes with the season. These pine cones will later be fire starters. In the livingroom I place a pitcher that looks like a pumpkin full of wheat, leaves and twigs, a few feathers that have been found and scatter colored leaves. I change the candles to Autumn colors and scents. In the bathrooms the towels are browns and darker greens and some colored leaves are placed in a small vase on the vanities. Quilts are brought out and placed on the back of chairs and the sofa. The kitchen [my favorite area] will have some pumpkins I will bring back from dad and on an open shelf I display home canned goods that I made fabric lid covers from scraps. I will use these canned goods and replace as the year progresses. I do have a little store bought scarecrow that I've had for years setting on that shelf. When I had a little one seasonal art work was displayed on the cabinets. My house is painted and the furniture is woods or Autumn colors [except one room] so decorating for Autumn is easy. I like to use things I have and things from the yard and just move them around to make fresh changes. My biggest challenge with Christmas decorations is my parents have trusted me with family heirlooms. Though I do not pull most of it out I am storing it out of guilt.
I love this post. It's real decorating, with real, useful things. Beautiful!ReplyDelete
I could hug you for this post. It concisely expresses my exact feelings about holiday/seasonal decorating. (And inspired me to reread my Little House books.) I had a sort of epiphany this year while picking wild cranberries - all those cranberry garlands we see had a practical purpose at one time: to preserve cranberries to be consumed by the family later. When I think of all the cranberry garlands my family made when I was little, only to throw them out after the holidays...the waste makes me shudder now. I feel the same way about pumpkins and squash, sat out on doorsteps for decoration but never eaten. And bundles of dried corn hung over doorways? Drying the corn to make cornmeal, or seed for livestock. Or popcorn. Let's start a new movement: Eat Your Decor!ReplyDelete
I love this idea, and our family is making the same changes this year. We filled a vase with pine cones and framed a leaf we found on a nature walk. I still have scented candles from years past, but rarely use them because our home smells like pumpkin bread and apple cake, and soon, Christmas cookies! A warm blanket draped over the couch gives a homey nod to the cooler seasons without being wasteful or contrived.ReplyDelete
I don't think I'll be giving up our Christmas tree, though! I just love the look on our childrens' faces as they look at the lights.