Beyond Deweyville

Breeding, feeding, writing, reading, crafting, and photographing in Orange County, CA Where it has become a novelty to raise your own kids and mow your own grass (if you can afford some).

Purge along with me, the best is yet to be May 8, 2010

Cleaning out the kids’ toys and book giveaway

You’re going to like this one. You get to see some messy parts of my life.

Two statements of truth

1. We have too much stuff

2. Just because everything has a place, doesn’t mean we need it

It all started a few months ago, this journey that led us to last Sunday. I innocently attended my friend Tammra’s talk about creating beautiful Waldorf nooks in your home.

Somewhere in between the tree branches and her felted works of art, she held up this book and said, “Yadda, yadda, yadda, this book changed my life, fiddle, dee, dee, back to the seasonal table items.”

Changed her life huh??

So of course I bought it.

Just so you know, if you tell me a book changed your life, I’ll buy it.

Fast forward

I own the book but never read it.

Everyday I continue to feel less peaceful and bogged down about the amount of trinkets all over the place and the amount of time I spend each night putting each little item back into it’s designated spot.


My path eventually crosses Tammra’s again and this time she’s doing a whole darn study on just this book.

And there I was, week after week with a handful of mothers who were wondering the same thing as me.

Would my family/children have a richer life if they/we had way less stuff?

Less “toys”, less or no electronics, less clothing to choose from each day.

And by less I don’t mean give away a couple of puzzles.

I mean that the kids each have only TWO toys to play with.

Now, if by chance you are living in the Sudan and have somehow happened upon this blog entry, you’re probably thinking two toys is an indulgence. If you’re anywhere in the US reading this you know that only having two toys qualifies you for Project Angel Tree at Christmas and is likely considered child abuse in some parts.

Without reading this fantabulous book you would probably agree with this general idea–less is more. In theory anyway.

But guess what?

This time I actually did it.

Okay, I did act on the NO T.V. WHATSOEVER too, for four whole wonderful months.

Here’s how The Great Toy Purge of 2010 began

Trash Bags

trash bags and a claim

Things you should know

I chose not to surprise my kids with this.

Even with as much as they have, they would have noticed the disappearance of most of it.

I explained that we were going to see if it’s true that having only a couple of toys is better and which two did they want to choose.

This worked because I scoffed and snorted and laughed right along with them, pretending like I too thought this idea was so ridiculous that we couldn’t not try it. Har, Har, Har.

Disclaimer: I realize that some of you looking at this will recognize toys you have either purchased for my kids or lovingly handed down to them.

You might be mad at me

I’m okay with this for a couple of reasons

One being, you don’t have to clean it up I do

And two, your love is tied up in the act of giving, not the gift. Thank you for giving!

Now, the book gives ten categories of toys to toss out.

I won’t expound here, I’ll leave that to the author, but in a nutshell here they are:

1. Broken

2. Developmentally inappropriate

3. Conceptually “fixed”

4. Highly specialized toys that tend to break too easily

5. Highly stimulating

6. Annoying or offensive

7. Toys that claim to give a developmental edge

8. Toys you were pressured to buy either by T.V. or a child

9. Toys that inspire corrosive play

10. Toy multiples (that’s us, that’s us!)

Everybody on the tour bus buckled up?

Stop number 1: The Playroom

Here’s how it looks almost every morning and right before people come over

Wait, there’s Bootsy. Let’s stop and see how cute she is

Okay, onward. The baby changing area. Wait til you see how many clothes are crammed in that thing.

The reading corner, where no one has ever, not once that I’ve seen, ever sat down to read a book.

In the trunk you’ll find the dress-up clothes.

The Fairy-Gnome Treehouse. This was one of Amaiah’s two items she chose to keep out.

And here’s what it looks like the hours between breakfast and bedtime or right after friends leave.

And I wonder why I’m up so late every night, even with the kids help?

Stop number two: Take Inventoryville

To see just how much stuff we had managed to find a basket or shelf for, I laid some containers all out and photographed them.

It’s one thing to dump a crate into a plastic bag.  It gives you a whole different perspective to see a category completely countable in front of you.

15 weapons

14 bags

8 costumes, 9 hats, 8 sets of fairy wings

11 outfits for Bunny

Too many little plastic things to count, that she NEVER dumps out and plays with.

It all got loaded up and taken to the garage where it is “resting” for thirty days.

Even Shivohn’s basket got a clean out. It lives in a drawer in my living room and over the course of about ten months went from this

to this

Finally, we tackled the toys in Wyatt and Amaiah’s bedroom. They both have a desk that looked like this a lot of the time.

I dumped it all out onto each of their beds and handed them one jar each. The rule was nothing stayed that couldn’t fit into the jar or treasure chest, but they by no means had to fill either.  I asked them to pick items that they loved SO dearly that they desired to look at them every day.

Wyatt took one look at his bed and said, “I don’t really care about any of this.”



We ended up with slightly more than two toys each because I couldn’t define “a toy” very easily (i.e., is a doll and an outfit considered one or two?) and I wasn’t willing to get that crazy about it.

Wyatt chose a small bin of original block Legos, and two wood swords.

Amaiah chose the Treehouse and two dolls.

I was not willing to move the wood kitchen out to the garage even though nobody chose it. I did however take practically everything out of it.

Also, if it was handmade by us or a friend, it stayed. That amounted to a couple of aprons, the silks we dyed, and two sewn dolls.

So that’s where I am with it! What do you think so far?

More importantly, how are the kids doing with it?


There have been maybe three occasion where one of them has asked about an item. I tell them it is safely in the garage and they just shrug and move on.

Next I plan to tackle books, followed by clothes, and outdoor things which I did not include in the toys. Throughout the house we have three spots with book baskets. When all is said and done, this is the only one I plan on keeping

Speaking of books, I want to give you one.

The Giveaway

Do you promise you’ll read it?

Enter a comment below before next Saturday, May 15th 2010 at 12:00 noon PST.

I’ll choose one winner randomly and send them a copy of “Simplicity Parenting”


Happy Tossing Everyone


Mary, Mary quite contrary… July 3, 2009

Filed under: Modern Homemaking,Shal's Monthly Menus — mothersandothers @ 9:39 am

Time for me to regain my meal sanity by getting back to the monthly menu planning.

I almost have a whole year’s worth now so this month I mostly cut and pasted from the plans of past months. Easy right?

First, we finished the garden! Our watering strategy took some doing and doing again, but I think we figured out a nifty little drip system. We turn it on and show it to all who come over. Then we added the pavers and stones (all from Home Depot).

Here’s what’s growing. I have a feeling we’re going to be out there a lot:

Eight varieties of lettuce (most of which I’ve never heard of)

Mrs. Burns’s Lemon Basil

Night Phlox (smells like cake supposedly)


Lemon Mint

Pineapple Mint

Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherries



Long Red Onions

Golden Sweet Peas

Maule’s Red Hot Peppers

Greek Oregano

Mini Chocolate Bell Peppers

Heirloom Tomatoes (a couple varieties)


Amaiah drew pictures on the markers for me


Can’t wait to show you how it grows!

July 2009 Menu


Eat this, February! February 1, 2009

Filed under: Food,Modern Homemaking,Shal's Monthly Menus — mothersandothers @ 10:15 pm

Friends, the menu, and therefore another shard of me, is back. Remember, I do this mostly for my own organizational sanity and because I love knowing what other people are eating so I figure some of you must also. Two other things: No dish I cook is ever as fancy as it’s name, and we spend a lot of money on good ingredients (we choose that over a long list of things that could be made new in this house, such as the $@#%ing garbage disposal). Let’s move on, quickly.

The book (and author) I have been relishing for sometime now. A wonderful little gem of a soup book. It’s the first cookbook I’ve read cover to cover; his story equals his recipes. I shut it wondering if I was supposed to be reading all my cookbooks.

With great pleasure


Sorry about the small photo, it’s the biggest one I could steal.

So here’s the plan for February. I’m not putting links to the recipes at the end. If you want one e-mail me.




September Food September 6, 2008

Filed under: General,Modern Homemaking,Shal's Monthly Menus — mothersandothers @ 7:22 am

There’s a lot of food stuff going on around here this month. First, some dang good food reading! After having to check this in and out of the library about four times, I’ve finally finished it. It’s a beautiful piece of non-fiction, and if it doesn’t have you planting asparagus in your front yard, nothing will. Read it!

So I’m only a week late on getting this up. If this is serving no purpose for others, the self-imposed deadline is keeping me accountable to this hungry clan that I want to fill with Godly goodness. Woohoo! I’ve said it before, this is a task I simply hate–the planning! I figure it to be about 79% of the battle in the kitchen for me. Typically I’ll spread out with my binder of recipes, magazines, and any library cookbooks I’ve checked out. Then I sweat, panic, rustle papers, write things, erase things, get distracted, stare at my hands, get sucked into magazine articles, and then, with all that out of my system, I bust it out.

There are so many things I try to take into consideration when feeding us–what’s in season and hasn’t traveled far to reach us (i.e., what grows in this area instead of say Chile), what is minimally processed, contains as little dairy and meat as possible, what was raised and harvested (er, slaughtered) humanely, and so on. It drives me crazy that finding simple, fresh, straight-out-of-the-dirt, neurotoxin-free, antibiotic-free food has become so difficult that eating well, eating in way that not too long ago was considered normal, is now elitist and a counter-culture notion. Grrrr…

Meanwhile, back at the menu…

Once I pencil it all in I make copies of all the recipes. I put all the recipes behind the menu, and that all goes into a plastic sleeve and hangs on the fridge. A menu packet! This way I don’t have to pull out any cookbooks, binders, etc. over the course of the month. Shal, you’re probably asking, why not just put your originals in your nifty packet? Why all the copying? And the answer my friend, is because at the end of the month I can then file away the entire packet which can be pulled out at any time to be used again. That way we can be at the park instead of waiting for me to meal plan! LOL. This month I’m also going to include a shopping list (it’s waiting for me to type it) because that takes me awhile as well. I broke it down into two weekly shopping trips. I think Saturday and Wednesday will work for us just based on our Farmers’ Markets and when shelves get restocked. Also, if anyone wants a packet e-mail me. It will save you a month’s worth of planning!

Lastly, some friends and I signed up for the Green Smoothie Challenge. Want to do it with us? It’s just adding a green smoothie to your diet everyday for a couple of weeks. They send you the recipes. Come on, your insides will thank you for it! You can start with this one, courtesy of my mom. Thanks mom!

Happy Eating!


July Eats-God’s bounty is so freakin’ good July 2, 2008

Filed under: Food,Modern Homemaking,Shal's Monthly Menus — mothersandothers @ 11:06 pm

When I was a kid summer marked the distinct beginning of a good eating season–outdoor eating. My dad and I talk often about these experiences and the importance of growing, gathering, and preparing your own food. He pointed out that my kids are the first on his side of the family to hail from the land of sidewalks, the rest of us from dirt.

Wyatt and Amaiah:

I wish you could have seen the peach tree in my grandma’s backyard whose trunk split right down the middle one year under the weight of it’s own offerings.

Shucking 12 dozen ears of corn takes a long time. It’s worth it.

Finding a worm as you’re working might make you scream and throw your ear down. That’s funny.

It’s good to get lost in a corn field at least once in your life, or any field for that matter.

Taking the shortcuts through alfalfa fields might get you scolded.

Take your kids to Peach Days at least once.

1976-Start ’em young

1984-1,000 more buckets to go girls

2006-Yes! Passing the torch.

Happy eating everyone!!

Cilantro Pecan Pesto-Grilled Yellow Squash and Zucchini

Grilled Corn w/ Chili Lime Butter

Grilled Rib Eye w/ Lemon Pepper Marinade

Sunflower Sprouts Salad (I modify to make simpler)

Chicken w/ brussels sprouts, pine nuts and bacon

June Cleaver (that’s the slow cooker) Sausage & Spaghetti Dinner

Grilled Amaretto Peaches


June Menu June 1, 2008

Filed under: Food,Modern Homemaking,Shal's Monthly Menus — mothersandothers @ 11:27 pm

We just got back from another great camping trip with friends. I thought I would include this food related shot.

Photos, then food

Phaith, photos, food

Phaith, photos, books, food

What do you know I’m meal planning for the second month in a row–a record for this modern frenetic homemaker. A couple of great things to report for May’s menu 1) Yes, that was me whistling and carrying on a genuine conversation with the kids as we shopped. It felt so great not to have to make decisions at the store. 2) Having the whole month planned out was way better than trying to do it week by week. It just goes by to fast. 3) If somebody didn’t like something I blamed it on the schedule, and it worked!!

Now, the drawbacks. And these are things that I just cannot figure out on paper generally; I have to be in it and doing it to see where the changes need to be made. 1) I did not account for leftovers enough 2) Things can be repeated even if it looks boring on the menu 3) We are not always home at snack time so car snacks need to be easy. Or you can take the position that I’m leaning toward which is why do we need to eat every time we get in the freakin’ car? I never remember snacks or even water in the car when I was a kid and no one dehydrated or starved..hmmm…

I’ve also added some links to good raw food sites on the side bar. I’ve been so inspired by the people I’ve met who have committed to eating so cleanly. Your creativity and passion for great food makes my jaw drop (at which point I shovel in as many raw brownie balls as possible) .

Enjoy your June!!

Recipe links:

Cooked Millet w/ Dates and Mandarins

Banana Energy Sundae

Kermit’s Dip

Scallops and Asparagus Risotto

Sage and Garlic Turkey Burgers


“Mom, what’s for dinner?” April 16, 2008

Filed under: Food,General,Modern Homemaking,Shal's Monthly Menus — mothersandothers @ 7:06 am

To which I usually reply, “Umm, I don’t know. I’ll figure it out a little later. I’m trying to figure out what we’re eating for breakfast.” And then I really don’t-my mind just wrestles with it all day until we have to run to the store, at which point my anxiety increases because I’m at the store so I should buy for tomorrow too, but the kids are usually doing one of three things: running, dropping things, fighting about their cart status, which makes it impossible for me to recall anything let alone what I need for Broccoli Pasta. Menu planning is not fun for me! Odd, considering I LOVE to cook (and eat). My problem, as many of you know, is the decisions. My recipes are well-organized, but my list of things I want to make next is getting way too long. I want it to be different and new every day. I can’t believe it took me this long to accept that that only worked before young kiddley-winks were on the scene. I don’t recommend honing basic homemaking skills wilst you are in the midst of being a homemaker. Let’s prepare our daughters before they get there should they choose this path. And all my mormon friends give two snaps up.

So enter my food guru Shelly (also committed to Waldorfy things like daily rhythms for kids) and her menu. She e-mailed it to me and it was so simple and beautiful I wanted to marry it. And thus I renewed my vows to coming up with my own. I’m still trying a lot of new recipes, mainly from the Whole Foods site because we shop there a lot and they sounded so yummy. However, I am keeping the same menu for a whole month. And even after that some things will remain the same. For example, Monday breakfast will always be eggs but what we add to them will change. I think this is another way I can keep my thinking about it to a minimum and my conversing with the kids to a maximum. I hope to post each new menu here in case anyone else like me wants some ideas or something to copy altogether.

By the way…everything is pretty healthy relative to the SAD (standard american diet). If you see things like chocolate milk, it’s chocolate rice or almond milk. The hotdogs are all-organic beef no nitrates or -trites. The bread is sprouted whenever possible. And fruits and veggies are organic as much as we can afford.

Drum roll Wyatt and Amaiah…..

Recipe links:

Dutch Baby Pancake

Banana Energy Sundae

Kermit’s Dip

Turkey Veggie Pinwheels (note: I’m adding preservative, hormone-free lunch meat)

Black Bean Quesadillas

Pigs in a Blanket

Apple-Pear Salad (I will be buying candied pecans)

Orange-Kissed Chicken

Soy Ginger Lettuce Wraps

Tamale Casserole

The smoothies are raw-vegan and so friggin’ good! Shoot me an e-mail for a recipe.

Happy Eating!