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It’s been nuts in my house since late summer. That’s when my husband and I decided to act on our long-nagging desire to shake things up by paring things down. Things, literally, as in possessions. (It’s been non-stop Craigslisting, Freecycling and donating around here.) But also things in the greater cosmic sense: stress, expenses, responsibilities.

We’re trading our big old house for a loft in a former warehouse downtown. My husband just started a new job close to the new place. We’re ditching the second car. More being. Less doing. That’s the idea, anyway.

We have several months yet until we move, and plenty more to do. So when Tess wanted an ice-skating party for her 8th birthday, it was a huge relief. We’ve run the gamut on parties — from small home celebrations to a “Little House”-themed bash in a log cabin — but this year, the simpler, the better.

Simple winter treats: gingerbread and clementines

So we rented our city’s outdoor rink. Everyone brought their families. And we celebrated our Winter Solstice girl on a clear, gorgeous late December day. No gifts, no favors, no elaborate party fare. (And I’ve been known to put the “labor” in “elaborate.”) We collected donations for the city’s animal shelter. I made snowflake gingerbread cookies (on sticks! using a variation on this recipe). We had clementines and water and hot cocoa. And everyone had all kinds of fun.

Hot cocoa story: We ordered from our local grocer. They make it on-site, then pour it into those nifty to-go boxes with spouts, the ones that stay hot for a few hours. And because I asked (and paid a few extra bucks), they were happy to sub local organic milk for the milk they usually use. Some people see that as fussy. I see it as simple. Asked. Accepted. Who ever said this stuff has to be stressful? (It doesn’t.)

On that same note: Before she settled on ice skating, Tess lobbied for a party at a local indoor play center. And so I called and had one of those conversations I often have. Me: “We’d like to bring our own food, please.” Play center staffer: “Do you have a concern about allergies?” Me: “No, we just don’t eat the kind of food you serve.” Staffer: “Outside food is against our policy (followed by an explanation that blamed a non-existent state law).”

Well, that led to a phone call with the owner, and wouldn’t you know it? Easy-peasy. After I explained that we don’t eat the highly processed junk they typically serve (OK, not in those exact words), he offered to get whatever food we wanted and prepare it in their kitchen. I was all set to order fruit and veggie trays when Tess changed her mind. But I like knowing that’s an option for the future.

BTW, all this rightsizing and rethinking is why it’s been so quiet on Spoonfed the last several months. But that’s not part of the simplification. Quite the opposite. I’m hoping these changes free up even more time for blogging and the thinky pieces I like so much. In the meantime, I’ll try to keep things lively over on Facebook (where I get my micro-blogging fix). And look for a new post next month that will help get Spoonfed back on track.

Happy 2012, all.


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