The Minimalist Game

We started the Minimalist Game on the 1st. No joke. Leading up to April, knowing we were starting, I’d been eyeing off junk in every corner of the house. “This will be easy!”  I told myself. I was wrong. This is already hard and we’re only on day 3. Today I have laid my hands on dozens of things that prior to April beginning I was sure I could part with. Now they seem so much more valuable. Decluttering is hard!

While I did the 2-4-1 Challenge last year I made some pretty hard and fast rules. One of them was that anything that was not passed on to someone else didn’t count. I couldn’t count something I recycled or trashed. I still believe that if it ends up in the rubbish it doesn’t count, so that rule sticks. I am going to relax on the recycling rule for the month, as I can’t see myself removing 465 items out of the house in 30 days in any other way.

On day 1 I offered a craft book on our Buy Nothing site, which will hopefully be collected by a local Mum for her daughter to enjoy over the holidays. On day 2 I offered two children’s vinyls which are still looking for a home. On day 3 (today) I have so far recycled two old photo albums (photos rescued by an acid-free album) and am still hunting for my third item. You can join us in the challenge (we’d love you to) by posting your discards (or even just the really satisfying ones) on our Facebook page.

Mama xo

By the end of the month we hope our house will look a little like this…bridge_house_empty_sittingroom

(By the way, click through the link. The image comes from a super cute dolls house site…since dolls house restoration is our thing at the moment I was pretty stoked to find some more ideas.)


Best of 2013.

We’re going to take a week’s break from the ‘blog as a part of our BNN conclusion celebration. In the mean time, you may like to read back over some of the most popular posts of 2013. The most popular of these is about 10 times more popular than any of our other posts, so it almost doesn’t even feel right to have 9 other posts in this list. We will be publishing a follow up to this post when Little Fearse returns to Family Daycare this year, in a week or so.

Is your favourite Fearse Family post here?

1. 30 Days of Day Care Lunches for a 12 Month Old

2. Stuff – A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance

3. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month

4. Why are we doing this?!

5. What will we NOT buy second hand?

6. The Book Embargo

7. A big ‘to-do’ about nothing

8. My 2-4-1 challenge

9. A clothes shock take. Arg!

10. Challenges we already anticipate


We hope you enjoy reading back over some of the high and low lights of our year.

The Fearse Family xo



Home-made gifts for the craft-challenged.

As I may have mentioned, I’m not the world’s best crafter. I can knit…squares. And I can sew…straight lines. I can cut…wonky lines. If I try to make something even slightly complicated it tends to come out just a little crap. Some people could get away with it by calling it ‘whimsical’. I can’t.

However, I think hand-made gifts are great. I love making them and giving them and I also like receiving them. I’ve spent some time trawling the web and created this list of not-too-crafty hand-made gifts for similarly craft-challenged individuals.


Handprint ornaments: These are a lovely grandparent gift, though I’m not overly keen on the sparkly kind. Also, not a great project with a very cranky toddler. I tried and failed.


Vintage book garlands:  Of course I love these because they combine my love of books with my love of crafts I am capable of doing.


Map garlands:  Having been gifted a bunch of old maps of Europe, this one is well within my BNN means. It looks to require a little sewing – but I can do a *little* sewing. Or I could work out a way to do this without using the machine at all.


Dinosaur tooth brush holders: Um, I don’t need to explain why I love these, do I? I also like the idea of encouraging tooth brushing, something we are working on every day with Little Fearse, who loves to nibble on her toothbrush but not actually brush her teeth.


Hexie bracelets:  These require a little hand sewing (can do!) and are a cute way to use up some of your adorable tiny fabric scraps.


Glass magnets:  While helping Mum sort through old books I found a very mangled fairy tale book from the 70s. It was missing a spine and lots of pages and we were going to put it in the recycling when I started to look at the gorgeous bright illustrations. I decided to keep it for crafts. I’ve started making little sets of these magnets using small details from these illustrations. I have to say, they’re particularly gorgeous. I found the glass gems second hand on eBay (old decorative gems for the bottom of vases and fish tanks) and have purchased magnets new, as the advertising magnets I’d collected for the purpose were not strong enough. This comes under my ‘craft’ exception and is the very first thing I’ve had to buy this year for this purpose, so I’m pretty happy with that.


Portable dolls house:This little suitcase dolls house is divine. I have a suitcase just like this and hope to make one of these for Little Fearse’s second birthday. It’s incredibly simple! And there are lots of great ideas for diy dollshouse furniture. This is my favourite.

Of course, then there is the idea of not giving any physical gift at all. I love this article. This year my parents gave us a Zoo membership for Christmas and we have asked that instead of giving Little Fearse a physical gift on Christmas day they come to the zoo with us a few times throughout the year. A much more memorable gift.

A Vintage Crafty Adventure: Beautiful and inexpensive gift wrapping

And now you’ve made your mini stash of gorgeous hand-made gifts, here are some gorgeous wrapping ideas:

I hope your start to the craziness that can be December is serene and meaningful.

Mama xo

A blogging honour.

Joy of Joyfully Green has nominated us for our second Liebster Award. If you want to learn more about the award itself, check out this post. We love the Liebster Award for allowing us to share with you our favourite blogs, as well as getting a whole new list of great blogs from the person who nominated us. In addition, the nomination is different every time, as the questions change. So here are our answers to Joy’s thoughtful questions:

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your 13-year-old self?

Mama says: I would like my 13-year-old self to be more confident in herself and to care less about what she looked like. I would like to reassure her that not being your typical teenage boys’ fantasy is a good thing, and will probably save her from a lot of awkward and embarrassing situations with the opposite sex during her teenage years.

Big Poppa says: Cheer up.

What is your idea of perfect bliss?

Big Poppa says: Eight hours sleep.

Mama says: A day to read. Also, these days, an empty shelf.

What books have been the most influential or inspiring to you?

Mama says: I read The Diary of Anne Frank when I was 10 years old and it changed my life. My complete understanding of the world had to readjust. I knew a safe and secure world and it shocked me to learn that other children in other places didn’t experience that. It lead to me reading a lot of books set in the Holocaust as a child and teenager. I’ve read a lot in my life and books will often take on a depth of meaning to me that changes my ideas about things. This is a hard question to answer!

Big Poppa says:  Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist gave me a different perspective on life. Marilyn Manson’s Long Hard Road Out of Hell was a great music book as far as learning about the music industry. He was really creative child and teenager from a painfully normal home, and I identified with that. I was a bit of an outcast. I felt understood when I read the book.

 What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about life? About blogging? (A two-parter!)

Big Poppa says:

Life: “Never pay full price for late pizza” – Michaelangelo

Blogging: Consistency is key – maintaining your output is important if you want to retain readers.

Mama says:

Life: I think that this year I have learnt more about life (and myself) than in any previous years. I have learnt that less is more – and not just in the sense of belongings and consuming. Less busy-ness and less events and less rushing. I’ve also learnt to give less weight to the stuff I own. It’s just not that important.

Blogging; My answer is kind of the opposite to Big Poppa’s and I think that is partially because I do the bulk of the blogging around here (BP is maybe thinking about all the times I’ve nagged him for a new entry, which is probably the most honest way to describe how we work as a blogging team). I have learned that although keeping a readership satisfied is important, it is most important to not lose sight of our overall goals for the year. We want our year to be simple, and sometimes blogging 3 – 4 times a week makes our life less simple. When we get busy I no longer feel guilty if I prioritise other stuff over blogging, especially if it’s Little Fearse or sunshine or all those good things. I have also tortured myself a little over what appears on the blog, especially after receiving some negative feedback on one post. I have realised that I can’t change who I am, or the way I write, for my audience. If my audience doesn’t like what I say or how I say it the choice has to remain with them whether they continue reading. I don’t feel it would be honest for me to change who I am for my readers, and it would defeat one of the purposes of the blog.

What single quality do you most appreciate in people?

Big Poppa says: Loyalty.

Mama says: There are many that are equal, but if I had to name one if would be kindness.

What or who is under-rated? What or who is over-rated? (Another two-parter!)

Mama says: Non consumerism is definitely under-rated. And, predictably, having new stuff is over-rated. Very over-rated.

Big Poppa says: I think motherhood is under-rated because there is so much external pressure put on mothers, and expectations. People don’t appreciate that level of pressure. Television is over-rated. With the way the internet is these days, where you can literally watch anything you’ve ever wanted to watch, why would you still watch programs with advertising, or pay for television?

What do you avoid at all costs?

Mama says: Shopping centres – I always hated them, but now we thankfully have few reasons to visit. This has been a lovely side-effect of the BNN year.

Big Poppa says: I avoid reading about certain technologies that are cool and would be handy, but are not necessary. For example, I refuse to read about the Playstation 4, so I am happy to stick with the PS3. But if I did read something…it would be really hard to not buy one.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

Big Poppa says: Stealing cuddles from Little Fearse when she’s asleep.

Mama says: Stealing food from Little Fearse’s plate when she’s not looking.

What do you want people to say about you after you leave the room?

Big Poppa says: “What’s that smell?”

Mama says:  “I wish she was my Mum.”

What’s your favorite post that you’ve written? (Link, please!)

Big Poppa says: The Meat Line

Mama says: Generosity of Spirit (or Awesome x 8)

Thank you, Joy, for giving us the opportunity to blogroll some of our new favourites. I’m still unsure what the requirements of the award are, some say it’s about how long the person has been blogging, and some say it’s about how many followers they have. Our list is going to be a list of blogs we love, regardless of these apparently ever-changing rules. 

A Denver Home Companion

The Maiden Metallurgist

The Simple Year 2

Thriftypop: Living with less

Down to Earth Mother

And, questions for the nominees, if they choose to answer them:

1. Which books are on your bedside table right now?

2. What is the most sentimental item you own?

3. When is the last time you pushed yourself to your physical limits?

4. What amazes you in this world?

5. If you could choose anyone in the world to become your instant house mate, who would it be? (and why?)

6. What makes you happy?

7. What do you wish you could change?

8. If you could go back and observe (fly on the wall style) one day in your life, which day would you choose?

9. What principles guide your life?

10. Name one item you absolutely could not live without.

Please do comment with the link if you choose to answer the questions.

Thanks again to Joy,

Big Poppa and Mama.

Links we’ve loved #15

It’s been a while since we inundated you with links we’ve enjoyed. Here goes for a mega-episode of links we’ve loved…

We don’t know if this is a link we loved per se, but it did make us think. Floyd Mayweather clearly has more dollars than braincells. If we had squizillions of dollars would we do stuff like this, too? We like to think we’d be ethical, thoughtful, ‘non’ consumers no matter how much money we had but who knows? Gross amounts of money changes the way people think.

We really liked this post “Good bye Screen Time, Hello Awesome Kid“. It sort of echoes our experiences when removing large quantities of Little Fearse’s toys – a more settled, happier child.

So, this guy is practically father of the year. What a beautiful letter to his daughter – although it’s kind of important not to presume that there will be future husbands…

This very provocatively titled post really hits the nail on the head when it comes to judging parents.

We love this community cabinet idea, but are not sure if we’d want to host one. Would you do this in your front yard?

We have heard many parents say that they just couldn’t handle having to lie with their child for an hour or more each night to get them to sleep. We understand that sentiment so much, but this is what we have to do sometimes with Little Fearse. Not every night, but often enough. Sometimes this is harder than other times – sometimes Mama has work to do or Big Poppa has to go to TAFE. Generally though this is a time we have learnt to cherish. This post made Mama cry because she realised suddenly that Little Fearse won’t be Little Fearse all her life. One day she will be Medium Sized Fearse and one day she will be Big Fearse and then she won’t need us like she does now. *sob*

We’ve been feeling quite sad this week and it has made us realise that there is a real link between buying stuff and our emotions. There are two aspects to this – firstly, it is much harder to care about buying nothing new when we are emotionally ragged. Secondly, buying things (although they have all been second hand and mainly small toys) has given us enough of a happy buzz to be worthwhile to us. What a sad world, where we make ourselves feel better with stuff. This situation has made us realise just how happy we have been this year, which is a wonderful thing to realise, even when you’re feeling sad.  We just hope we can find a way to deal with sad times without needing to accumulate stuff. This article talks about the link between happiness and consumerism through advertising. A worthy read.

This video is weird, because it’s pretty much exactly what a day in BP’s life looks like.

BP has been listening to this song on repeat – a pretty nifty cover of Jackson Five’s I want you back. In the meantime Mama has been indoctrinating Little Fearse in the Beatles fan club. So far this video has been a favourite for both of them.

Joy of Joyfully Green has nominated us for a Liebster Award. We’re honoured! Stay tuned for our response soon, but in the meantime, check out the great list of like-minded blogs Joy nominates. We also highly recommend a trot into the archives of Joyfully Green itself.

Have a great week,

The Fearse Family

Link’s we’ve loved #14

It’s been a while since we’ve thrown some fun links at you. Spring time makes us want to run around outside more than it makes us want to sit inside updating the ‘blog. I’m sure those of you that are on your own simple adventures will understand.

We don’t celebrate Halloween in Australia (or at least, not in the Fearse Cave), but this Pinterest board has so many great DIY costume ideas that can be used for parties or book weeks or any other excuse to dress up that we thought it was worth linking anyway.

Even though Lil’ Fearse is too young yet, Mama has been salivating over more cubby makeovers. Check out this repainted Little Tikes house. Cute!

100 Days of Real Food had a FB competition for best school lunch of the day. Heaps of fun ideas, we like the simplicity of the winning entries. We are working on another 30 day care lunch ideas. Our food photography is a little on the icky side, but we’d like to offer more photos this time. Any tips on how to make Lil Fearse’s lunches look as appetising as they are?

Mama has been going through more boxes that have surfaced at her parents’ house. This has prompted re-reading of some great articles on dealing with sentimental clutter. Although we’ve linked some of these before, they are worth revisiting.

While going through the boxes Mama found a couple of very cute vintage children’s books that are well beyond repair. She is looking forward to exploring some of these vintage book projects.

You might have seen this video clip floating around the Internet the last week or so. On Friday this guy was our PM and there was a chance that marriage equality would be a reality in Australia one day soon. By Saturday the other guy had won the federal election, shattering those chances entirely.

Then again, Canada is also going a little loopy.

Better than this happening, though.

Time to count our blessings. We have many.

xo The Fearse Family