Simpler Times


“Be careful what you own.

Your possessions just might own you.”

This is a quote from my father that I’ve remembered throughout my life. In this spring season of garage sales and Craig’s listings, I look around my house and see that the blessing of living into today’s consumer world is also a responsibility. It is time that I ‘lighten’ my life. Can you relate?

A scribe using quill and Black Oak ink.
A scribe using quill and Black Oak ink.

In this process of trying to simplify and organize my life, sometimes it seems overwhelming and I begin to wonder if it is really possible. There are books on this topic—even a best-selling one. (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by  Marie Kondo.  Hint: I really need this book!)

This is probably why I enjoy reading and writing stories. First off, stories are a neat little package with a beginning, a middle and an end. Stories are ORGANIZED. Also, things get ACCOMPLISHED in a story. The hero gets the girl, the villain gets his or her just desserts, the underdog saves the day. (This sense of accomplishment does not happen when I clean!)

Macktown Rendezvous
A man much like Stephen Mack

Second, since I read and write historicals, besides learning history along the way, it fascinates me to see how people lived in a “simpler” time. Even before the cowboys and cattle drives of the “west”, there were fur traders and mountain men and native Americans. These men and women knew how to get along with very little of the ‘extras’ in life that I would be lost without. Flint and a striking stone for fire. A horse. A basket to carry water. (No computer? No electricity? Are you serious?)

I recently attended a re-enactment of this ‘simpler’ life held right here in my hometown. Rockton has a history that dates back to the early 1800s when the French traders would come to trade with the native Americans that lived here. The re-enactment happens annually at the end of April and is called the “Rendezvous.”

Whitman Trading Post
Whitman Trading Post – 1846

Stephen Mack, Jr. is the first known white settler here in the Rock River valley. He came west in the early 1820’s as a fur trader for the American Fur Company of Detroit. In 1835, after the Black Hawk War, he settled down here with his Potowatami wife, Hononegah, and established a settlement which eventually came to be known as Macktown. In 1839 he built a ferry across the Rock River and later built a bridge. His home, a large frame house that he built in 1839, still stands, along with the Whitman Trading Post which he built from the local limestone in 1846. After Stephen Mack’s death in 1850, Macktown slowly faded away while at the same time across the river, Rockton grew.

I took Western Spring Weddingsthese pictures at the Rendezvous. I hope you enjoy them.


Do you have any tips for simplifying life?

Pass one along in the comment section for a chance to win a copy of my newest release ~ Western Spring Weddings!


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34 thoughts on “Simpler Times”

  1. I enjoyed seeing the pictures and hearing about your hometown. I probably own way too many possessions as I like to collect nearly everything. But I would be lost without them all.

    • Hi Janine,
      My mom is a collector and I think that kind of pushed me the other way. However–not enough! I still have way too many things to dust! My collections circle mainly around books that I have trouble letting loose of. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Absolutely no tips since I’m a total pack rat lol. I guess I would have to say don’t start any collections because they’re usually so sentimental they’re impossible to get rid of.

    • Hi Catslady! That is a great tip! The things that I have kept all have special meaning to me. I love different skeins of yarn–the textures and the colors, but I have gotten much better at passing them by in a store now.

  3. Hi Kathryn, my weakness is books. I can’t bear parting with them, but I’m pretty good at getting rid of other things.

    if I have something in my closet that I haven’t worn in six months, I give it to Goodwill. As an old cowboy once said, Nothing should hang that doesn’t deserve to be hung.

    • Hi Margeret,
      Thanks for stopping by. Interesting quote. Six months? Yikes! That just puts me in another season here. I might need to wear whatever it is again in 12 months!!

  4. I keep a box of things (including books that go to the next church rummage sale. check your pantry before you go to the grocery (check your closet before you go to a store. Don’t be afraid to make a minor change in a recipe. File receips or paperwork right away or toss it.

    • Checking the pantry is a good idea. I recently found some molasses from much too long ago. I don’t know if molasses can go bad or not (kind of like syrup) but I just couldn’t bring myself to use it when I saw the date on the bottle. Phew…very good idea!

  5. Great topic, Kathryn. Our possessions can take over our lives if we don’t watch out. Thankfully, I managed to whittle mine down to the bare bones during three moves in the last eight years. That’ll sure do it. Each house I came to became smaller and smaller. But…I’ve noticed that I’ve begun “collecting” things again. Not good.

    The settlers had little choice when they loaded up a covered wagon and came west. I can’t imagine trying to get my belongings into such a small space. Weeding out only what was necessary must’ve been very hard. Glad I don’t have to. Not yet. I will when I move a nursing home though. Ha! Hopefully, that’s not for many more years, but at the rate I’m going, they’re looking awfully attractive. 🙂

    Your dad must’ve been very smart. Love his saying.

    • Hi LInda,

      I think that’s what I need to do…MOVE! We’ve been here 23 years now and it shows, LOL. I still have things in the basement from my boys when they went away to college, and then came back, etc. I still have their weight lifting equipment too. They’ll have to move that. It’s old and too heavy for me. I am getting ready for a garage sale. We’ll see how that goes.

    • Good tip, Colleen. Thanks for stopping by! I can usually walk past most things(except books LOL). My “stuff” has accumulated mostly from my boys coming and going — to the military, to college, etc.
      And from my mother and grandmothers — things that I really love and I am just too sentimental to let loose of them.

  6. We use a cell phone for emergencies only (talking to others in waiting rooms or reading instead), don’t have cable and watch little to no TV, and mow our yard less often than most do these days, which cuts down fuel emissions and results in more bees and butterflies on our property. We’ve also become fairly ruthless in recent times in getting rid of “stuff” we once thought we needed but now most of the time forget we even have! Unfortunately it takes almost the same time to get rid of all the stuff we have as it was to get it in the first place. “Too soon old, too late smart!”

    • Oh–love your quote Eliza! Is it an old Pennsylvania Dutch saying? Sure sounds like it. I use my cell phone for reading too. I was thinking of getting Kindle but I’m really putting it off. Can’t see the need for it.

      I do miss the bees. We are taking out some old bushes on our property this summer and that is a good idea to put some bee/butterfly friendly bushes in to replace them. Thanks for stopping by!

      • Yes, the saying is Pa. Dutch! You nailed it!

        My other comments were directed toward being in touch with life itself, and not all the noise and requirements of the present day.Simplifying. An example: A couple of years ago when my mom was having life-threatening surgery, all of the people in the waiting room were absorbed in various devices–except for three of us who had paper books. We started talking about books and later other things and it made a hard time pass in connection and sharing for us all. I’ve since noticed, that for whatever reason, people with handheld devices don’t seem to connect with other people nearby as those without devices do. I find it ironic that technology that is supposed to connect us–which does in many ways of courss–can also have the exact reverse effect when people are all around us but we don’t see or hear them. So simplifying for me is more about lifestyle than only “stuff”–if that makes any sense.

  7. I am a bit of a collector. I have two curios full of all kinds of pretty things, and there is no way that I can get rid of any of them! I also have trouble parting with books. I do donate some to the library book sales occasionally, but I keep adding more.I think I am a hopeless case! ?

  8. Hi Cheryl,
    Oh well — hopeless case or not–if they give you pleasure more than angst–you might as well keep them. I think we all have different tolerance levels.

    With me…I just know having too much around starts to wear on me. The dusting, the cleaning, the storing…it just wears.

    I’m so glad you came by today!

  9. I think retirement simplified my life. It frees your mind and you no longer live by the alarm clock. Bud decluttering is always a day brightener! Even if it’s jus a drawer that no one ever sees.

    • Hi Connie! Welcome to Wildflower Junction! I have loved retirement from my nursing job, but I am really not retired in the strictest sense of the word since I write full time. I don’t think “retirement” will ever happen to me, but I do like the slower pace and the ability to chose what I want to do for the day.

      LOL – I have a few of those drawers throughout my house that need going through. (I kind of collect pens…)
      I’m so glad you stopped by!

  10. Moving every 2-3 years keeps us living/loving the simple life. When we travel we choose one object together that we love and that’s what we bring home with us. Each object has a story behind it and it cuts way down on the clutter! I don’t really collect anything, so that helps ?

    • Hi Kimera! Yep — I agree that moving is absolutely the best way to keep a tight rein on the clutter. It sounds like you are very disciplined with what you acquire too.

      By any chance does this mean that you are moving soon????

      Thanks for stopping by today!

      • haha, Kathryn Albright, you never know!! But, not planning on it at this point. Despite being settled down for the last 3 years, I still get itchy and want to go through and clear out/sell/give away stuff. Blame it on all the move’s I’ve been through! ha!

  11. my house in TN doesn’t have any cable,,we watch dvds and play boardgames,,the grandkids love the one on one time playing board games with Grandma

    • Hi Vickie! You live in TN? That is such a beautiful state! I would love to go that route and detach from cable but my husband would not be happy. I don’t watch a lot of TV but I do love to watch movies. And board games are so much fun. My family plays Catan all the time. I’m wondering which ones you like… Thanks for stopping by!

  12. I have way too much clutter and am slowly trying to make some changes. Books are really hard for me to let go. Love the post!

    • Hi Melanie! Thanks for stopping by. It’s a slow process for me too. So many sentimental connections. I really must do a major overhaul, however. It is weighing me down too much now.

  13. The time for the drawing is over! Thank you to everyone who visited and left a comment yesterday! I drew a name from my Stetson ( see who the winner of the drawing is and it is
    Connie R! Thanks for stopping by Connie and for your comment!

  14. Be careful who’s toes you step on, on the way to the top; because you may have them stepping on your’s. I have already read your new book, Western Springs Weddings. It was awesome & all the other fillies that wrote also.

  15. I have become over run by stuff. Moving elderly friends and relatives out of their homes most of their stuff came through our house first, and too much of it stayed. We have given away many truck and car loads of stuff, but much more remains. I have read the organization books and already do much of what they recommend. I have reached the point where there is way too much and not nearly enough time to go through it all. I am hoping this summer I can at least make a dent in it all.

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