by Carmella Rayone

Some call it simplicity; they call it life. Former interior designer Carmella Rayone pens an assorted narrative on living with less in their 665 square foot home in the foothills of Wyoming’s mountains at assortmentblog.com.


Mindfulness in the empty minutes

“And in between, my mind kept wandering to those creative projects that keep calling to me, hopping along with me from moment to moment throughout my day, waving. Not nagging, not impatient, but simply there and smiling, not wanting me to forget.

I won’t forget. I’ll make room and time. If only for a few minutes here, a few minutes there …”

These words came off my pen last fall. Last fall when I was deep in preserving the apple harvest, when homeschool and sports and hunting season were woven over and under each other in a beautiful, complicated pattern, and when, over all this, sat the largest project I’d ever attempted.

And I was promising myself that I’d do even more?


Actually, no.

I wouldn’t do more, I would simply learn to see. I would see the creative nourishment and mindfulness waiting in the empty minutes of the day. And I would pick up the needles and knit, if only but a few stitches (this morning it was only 4 or 5). I would color slowly across the linen with embroidery floss, just one stem of a flower. I would open the journal, pick up the pencil, and sketch – what did that cloud look like today?

It was less about making room and time, I realized, and more about recognizing the room and time that I already had.

Those empty minutes. While waiting for the pasta water to boil, while waiting for boys at practice, while waiting my turn during a board game, and certainly while listening to the audio book after I’d slid into bed at night. Receiving the calm I needed from contemplative, creative, repetitive movement. Pause the brain, and let the body hum.

The tote bag hangs on the knob of the wardrobe door, holding the knitting that is always ready to grab and go – either to the next room over, or out the door. In the basket that sits in the corner are circles of fabric, ready to be stitched into a yo-yo or two (adding to the pile of them for later embellishment of dish towels, handbags, or the hems of dresses). The embroidery sits on a nearby shelf – hoop, needles, and floss, and the crochet hooks are in a zippered pouch. It has to be handy, or the time will be lost on the looking for it.

There will always be the larger things in life, of course, the things that take up the majority of the time in my day. I don’t want to change that, for those larger things I’ve chosen are good things, wholesome things. They are life-affirming occupations that fit me well, nourishing me and my family in a deep and meaningful way.

But those empty minutes in between? I’m learning about them. They’re not a task-master, not a commander (sometimes those minutes do need to be left wonderfully empty). They’re simply there, waiting. I’m learning how they can be brought together, stitch by stitch, line by line, minute by minute, becoming something of beauty and purpose. A tangible capture of time, calming and settling in the making.

Thinking about picking up handwork in your empty minutes? You’ll be inspired by these lovely places:

Knitting (for beginners, too): Fringe Association
How handwork can help heal: Posie Gets Cozy
Embroidery: Sublime Stitching

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On living well

Apple peelings, like thin green ribbons, looped in a heap. Cubes of cold butter sat askew on the cutting board, a knife lay close for slicing them into chunks. Measuring cups from big to small, in a jangle with the measuring spoons, were pushed off to the side, but still handy. Cinnamon and nutmeg, salt, (read more…)

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Living simply – even when people don’t understand

Envelope. Encapsulate. Nurture. These words were the guide as I drew a pencil line across the paper, eight feet long, in quarter-inch scale. The vision of this wall and its floor-to-ceiling bookshelves flashed onto the screen of my mind like a slide in a projector. Yes, this would work: three-feet-six for the width of the (read more…)

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flowering branch

Progress unseen

There are those feelings. The ones that make you sigh deep and press your eyelids tightly shut, to maybe shut out the knowing that you’ve come up zeros again. And goodness gracious, how much you’ve tried. Tried to put legs on that vision that’s vague and veiled. Tried to put features on it, to add (read more…)

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Seasons of simplicity

The flame flickered and waved at the top of the beeswax taper. The pewter candlestick held it steady there at the corner of my desk where I could see its golden glow as I burned the midnight oil. Not that I needed any candlelight. The lamp was on, that one that hangs above my desk (read more…)

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