Monday, March 5, 2018

Motherly Advice...Don't make your own life difficult...Part 1...

Stop making your own life difficult. Honestly.
Don't plant rosebushes, when you can plant oleander.
Don't plant things you don't eat, grow things you do.
Those are two things I've learned the hard way.
Do you too, find yourself dreading the washing, the baking, the ironing, the gardening, the cleaning, the tidying sometimes?
Maybe you feel weighed down by all you have to do in a day. Maybe you work full time and spend the entire weekend preparing for the week ahead, and then wonder where your weekend went.
We've all done it.
Here's a lesson I learned first from my Mum, then from my clever Husband.
Don't make your own life difficult.
Sounds obvious doesn't it?
We all imagine that home as an extension of self, needs to be full to the brim of supposedly 'unique' items and routines that define us. But not only do these things define us, we sometimes find ourselves a slave to them.
Here are some ways we do this:
  Make life difficult by: Furnishing the home with high maintenance furnishings...things like white carpets or tiles, plush pile rugs, hard to clean lounges and chairs, multiple cushions and soft furnishings.
Do this instead: Accept your stage of life.
This means, that no matter how fashionable it may be, you don't install white or pale neutral floor coverings if you have dogs and children. You don't pave your outdoor area with white tiles if you live underneath trees that drop debris, you pave with natural stone instead. It's liberating to get rid of plush pile rugs and invest in colourful low pile Turkish or Federation style ones, or to have none at all. Consider saving for quality leather couches...these actually improve with wear...or make sure your soft furnishings can be easily cleaned. Go easy on the cushions, curtains and throws. These all need washing and replacing regularly to not be a haven for dusts mites and allergens. Remember you don't want to be a slave to your 'stuff'. Look at where you are, and plan and furnish accordingly.
Make life difficult by: Displaying multiple knick-knacks that are your 'thing', but that require ongoing dusting or cleaning.
Do this instead: Search for singular statement pieces that say something about you. A piece of artwork, a sculpture, a fabulous clump of orchids in a Chinoiserie bowl, a lamp, a unique table, an ever changing vase of garden cuttings be they flowers or greenery. Something that when people see it, they say 'oh that's so YOU', instead of something the chain stores convinced us all was a necessity, so they keep churning them out for under $10. If you have a collection, be it pink porcelain piglets, or custom made cow cushions, assemble them altogether in one spot and make a feature of them. There's no need to spread them from one end of the house to the other. I'm afraid that Pinterest has a lot to answer for in the realm of us seeing things that we never knew we wanted!
Make life difficult by: Buying and wearing high maintenance clothing.
Do this instead: Wash your clothing on the Gentle cycle and a low spin, then hang directly on to hangers and in the sun or under cover to dry. I haven't ironed in years using this strategy. Not even a school uniform. You can smooth more crinkled items with your hands, and here's another secret...if you have a clothes dryer, a tumble in the dryer with a dampened cloth will 'iron' most things bar the most delicate. Just a few minutes, then whip it out while it's still warm and give it a shake and you're done. It works, I promise! If you simply MUST iron, at least this strategy does a lot of the hard work for you too.
Make life difficult by: Having a labour intensive routine in the home.
Do this instead: If you work full time, or have young children, save up for a robo vac, a steamer instead of an iron, a slow cooker, a sandwich press. Things that make life easier. Don't go splurging on a Mixmaster or a Kitchenmaid or a Thermomix if having those appliances is going to make you feel like you have to use them, when you wouldn't normally. There's a season in life for being the Earth Mother, and for some, that season never arrives. Save it for when you can accommodate that in your day to day routine. If on the other hand, acquiring those appliances actually makes your life easier, then go for it. I couldn't live without my Mixmaster, my clothes dryer, my oven and cooktop, my cookie press. I use those things weekly and sometimes more often. Others could never own those items and never miss them. Assess what appliances or routines will HELP you, not hinder you, or make you feel guilty through lack of use.

Make life difficult by: Preparing elaborate meals.  Oh my goodness. Don't get me started. Grrrrrr to TV chefs and competitive cooking shows. They've convinced us all that we have to serve meals worthy of a five star restaurant every night. Why, why, why?

Do this instead: Have a simple ongoing menu plan. One that allows for family preferences, family routines, your budget, and the climate. Why folks insist on even turning the oven on for a roast dinner in the 38C heat is beyond me. Those are the days when a simple platter will do. In fact, during Summer here, that does on most days. Here we have our top 12 favourite meals, and those are what we eat. If I happen to see something that is a bargain to sock away for either a special occasion or that is an ingredient for one of those 12 meals, then I snaffle it up. Otherwise, no. Don't go buying up big on something that's a bargain, that you won't use.

Make life difficult by: Investing in somewhat capricious claims such as 'treating yourself to flowers will make your day/make you more French/dust you with some indefinable style'. What rubbish.
Do this instead: Having said we have a thriving garden, Husband is still a romantic at heart, and often arrives home with flowers for me. I can hardly complain. But it needs to be said that arranging flowers to get longevity from them, and maintaining them in vases, is still a task, and in the context of this discussion, it is making life more difficult. I've trained him to think 'quality' not 'quantity', and to choose things that are clean and easy to arrange. Chrysanthemum are a nightmare although long lasting, so maybe not. Roses...easy but short lived, so only in cooler weather. Lilies...shed their pollen and give us hayfever, as much as I love them. Carnations are great, as is Gypsophila (Babies Breath), so they're my favourites.
If you must have flowers, then one bunch of roses can be arranged all over the house if you're clever. And in singles in separate vases, they last longer. Win.

For value and longevity, when you can get carnations in every colour of the rainbow, including this deep scarlet...well, why wouldn't you buy them?
Alternatively, grow something. Agapanthus are deemed a pest in some areas, but not here. I adore them. That colour. And even when the petals drop and you're left with a stalky head, they still look fabulous amassed in tall vases.

Failing all else, especially in the Tropics, even a couple of humble Ixora tucked between some green apples can look very pretty. You don't need to go overboard.
French Lavender, my favourite, will grow just about anywhere, and one plant alone, can yield dozens of little propagated Lavenders.
Have flowers. Don't make them a chore any more than you would anything else.
Are you getting the hang of it?
There's more. I'll update further on Wednesday. But meanwhile, can you identify some areas of your own life where you might unintentionally be making things more difficult than they need to be? I'd be interested to hear what they are, and your potential solutions.



  1. What an insightful post thank you Mimi, this all pervading concept of perfection-itis seems to affect almost every aspect of life these days. A quiet voice of sensibility to assess ideas, possessions, home environment, and activities as to suitability and impact on us.

    1. Thankyou Barb. I thought it worth saying. We are brainwashed by unattainable homes, meals, gardens and self these days. It'll do your head in if you don't consciously put a stop to it. Mimi xxx

  2. Mimi, I am the same as regards the ironing. I always used to wash my children's uniforms on a quick cycle and then hang them on a hanger to dry. Even the pleats on my daughter's uniform looked fine.

    1. Chel, my daughters uniform skirt was pleated too. Never touched it with an iron in 5 years. Nor her dress at Primary school. It's the spinning to wring every last bit of moisture from the washing that creases it. I'm glad someone else sees it. Love, Mimi xxx

  3. Great post, as usual, Mimi!
    A quick point on having lilies in your home - if it's the pollen that causes problems, cut the stamens out. I do this as soon as the flowers open, and I don't have to clean up the powdery piles of pollen!
    Might be time to get myself another bunch :) xxx Fiona

    1. Fiona, yes I twigged to that eventually. But the scent of the lillies, much as it is gorgeous, gives us all terrible sinus and headaches. The Day Lillies are fine, just not the Oriental ones, which sadly, are the ones I love. Cest la Vie! Mimi xxx

  4. Hello! All true, clever you! I'm allergic to dust so when we built this house we chose tiles (mop clean, no hidden dust), shutters (wipe clean, unlike curtains) and leather settees, which have withstood children, dogs, spilled coffee caused by out of control drone ( or out of control husband, not sure)and all the other insults on furniture used by a family every day for 21 years and look fabulous. Flowers are my weakness. Unfortunately, some need daily attention, but I love them. I have a cut flower bed just for house flowers but also put orchids in champagne buckets when they're blooming. Ornaments, well, my Father called my decorating style "windswept" but I do like a clean surface!
    Thankyou for such a well thought out and written blog.

    1. Deborah, you're one clever lady. I think it takes a strong person to resist fashion, and be the practical voice in the furnishing of a home. The retail world doesn't cater for! You are so fortunate to have a cut flower bed. What a joy that must be! And 'windswept' sounds like a perfect decorating style to me! Mimi xxx

  5. So true! I've decluttered all the items that need too much work - not many nik naks in my neck of the woods. I will have to try your no ironing tip. I do iron but it doesn't take too long. Sticking to your strategy does free up time to spend on better things in life.
    Thanks for your tips..Janiebabe xx

    1. Janie I used to be a knick knack person. But I see now, that I was going about it the wrong way. Those little things never look the same when you get them home. It's displaying them the way they do that makes them appealing, and to get the same have to have lots of it! It was about a decade ago, when I twigged to this, and I've never looked back. My home is not a retail store, and shouldn't look like one. But you're knew that ;-) Mimi xxx

  6. Dear Mimi, So true. I love easy dinners, few dishes to wash, the slow cooker, line crying and no ironing. Simple wardrobe, I was my outside windows squirting them with a hose then a bucket with rinse aid in it and let them drip dry! Of it all the one thing to simply everything is my Sunday planning with my planner. I will look at it and think there is just too much and stake out a heap of things. Ah the relief. For any entertaining I do a platter. I love platters and a help yourself system. Everyone seems happy. I am all for easier and easier, there is just too much to do. Everyones exhausted! Well done. Love

    1. Dear Annabel...yes! The handmaidens as you and Helen say. Do what makes life easy, not hard. I love planners too. And crossing things off, is my favourite thing to do, either because I've achieved them, or I just decide NOT to. You said it...the relief. As for exhaustion, well, look at the road rage, and the customer complaints, and the general busy-ness of life. Any wonder we're all exhausted. Crazy stuff. Keep life simple and calm. That's our aim. Mimi xxx

  7. Fabulous post Mimi I have been trying to do these things for a few years now and another thing I've added to the list would be buy furniture that you can clean under. And about lists, I often get ragged for my love of lists but they are what keep me functioning reasonably well. I also have a list called "WINS" where I write things I have achieved each day - it seems to work really well for me as a sort of reward for actually getting things done! Keep up the great work

    1. Yes! Furniture you can clean under and behind! I love that you have a list titled 'wins'. Great

  8. Rereading this Mimi has resonated with me .
    I received a beautiful bunch of those lillies for my birthday and I wondered why they upset me so much . I left them on the bench for two weeks !
    My husband and daughter have often suggested I make these easier on myself, oh dear I’m a slow learner.
    Yesterday I did a lot of baking as two young grandchildren were coming for dinner and staying overnight and today , I was exhausted last night. But tonight I made an easy lasagna for dinner and used bought sauces it saved me a lot of time , energy and dishes .
    Thanks for mentioning the agapanthus snd lavender as I’ve been wondering about what to plant in a small patch that I could cut for vases .
    Now I must confess I have a lot of small snd larger ornaments of all kinds , many were gifts and some inherited which I display in several cabinets . I have slowly given away some dolls to opshops but too hard with the rest .
    You are a wise lady Mimi Thankyou for sharing all your ideas and tips , always appreciate them .with love Maria xxx


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