Jenifer Beaudean

Seeker of Simplicity and Executive Coach

What’s in a Butter Dish?

To say that our new-to-us “little house” is remote is an understatement. And as my husband and I were engulfed in cleaning… and cleaning… in the weeks after we closed on the property, we stood in the little gravel driveway and heard cows, turkeys and a lone rooster. It was kind of wonderful.

The neighbor to our right has seven acres that abuts our 4.5, then the neighbor’s son lives to the right of him on a working farm, and the fellow next to them owns forty acres and an impressive log cabin.  Across the street from our place is a huge farm with beautiful green fields, aforementioned cows and two enormous navy blue silos.

Now if you’re in Alaska or Wyoming, I imagine such acreage is “small potatoes.” But in Connecticut, where things are crowded, where we’re 90 minutes from Manhattan, where farmland is untouched only in more remote areas, 4.5 acres is really saying something. It’s going from the civilization of 13 years in a condominium community where I never… I repeat, never… saw a snake, to a recent day at the little house where we found a snake in the garage who migrated to the birdhouse in the ensuing hour (creeped me out like nobody’s business).

Snake in the birdhouse

“Oh, that rascal,” said my mother, “he’s after those baby birds.”  (My mother is a country life aficionado).

I pause — while I’m contemplating this snake mischief … the natural order of things … and trying not to throw up.

“Nanny used to go after snakes with a hoe,” my mother continued, nonplussed.

I confess that a garden hoe is on my shopping list for this week at Ace Hardware.

The remoteness, I find, can be a little creepy too. It is unbelievably quiet when a car is not passing on our little road, and there are critters everywhere… mice, ticks, spiders, snakes, squirrels and God knows what else. We’ve been told by one neighbor that if we hear shotgun fire, not to worry, he’s just after the coyotes.

Well, alrighty then.

So why go through all this?

I think I’m still deciding what the real reasons are. As my mother says, there are good reasons and real reasons. Initially downsizing to 728 square feet was about saving money to eventually build on the property. But now? It’s more than that… it’s also about simplifying … I think about it often now. What do I really need?

My mother in the garden at the little house

For me, the debate came to head over a collection of butter dishes. They had multiplied in my cabinet over the course of twenty years of entertaining. And they were collecting dust. There were Pottery Barn butter dishes, silver plate butter dishes, dishes we had used for our wedding, etc.

I had to ask, “How many butter dishes does one girl need?”

The answer for me? One. Or a plate will do. Or simply taking out the butter from the side thing on the fridge and carving it right out of the paper wrapper – always a good option.

Are you thinking about simplifying your life? How would it make you feel to give some of your “butter dishes” away? Sad?  Relieved?

I’m still figuring it out.


24 Replies to “What’s in a Butter Dish?”

  1. I inherited my Mom’s house when she passed and boy we have a lot of “butter dishes” of our own. Your piece is very relatable especially when I started getting rid of some of “her” things. What I found is I put a lot of emotion on material things which made it very hard to let go. If in simplifying we could take the emotion out of it, it would be easier, I think, maybe. I’m not sure.

  2. I’d like to downsize-but just a little. You truly do expand to fit the space you have and I have a lot of space! I’m getting better at keeping in mind that giving something away doesn’t give away the memory, and the memory is what’s important. Now getting my hubby to believe that is another story entirely!

  3. Butter dishes… and salt-and-pepper shakers, and pie plates, and…. we’ve been slowly making boxes for donations, giving to charity and/or college kids in their first apartments. Hard to believe that’s how each of these collections began. Loving the soft drumbeat towards simplifying – and your writing is so lovely to read. Staying tuned for next chapter of your adventure!

  4. Hi Jen! So excited for you and TJ. Can’t wait to see a picture of your home, what town are you in? Wishing you all the best and have signed up to your blog. Miss you guys, Patty & Jeff

  5. From one “country” girl to another, welcome to a simpler life. It is so nice to have peace, quiet, and the occasion rascal and not have to live with busy that most of my coworkers have even in KC and St. Joseph.

  6. Comptemplating retirement in the very near future and our plans to divest ourselves of everything except our clothes and necessary technology to take on a vagabond existence. Your words made me think of all the things I thought I needed and now am ready to give up.

  7. My whole house needs editing. We went from a 1400 sq ft on LI to over 3000 sqft in CT (are you still nearby?). We’ve been here 10 years, and that seems to be my limit. We will be “simplifying”. Living like this is exhausting. Thank you so much for this, perfect timing! Hope you are all well, kiss Riley for me!

  8. Everyone in my family says that I throw things away easily. It’s that I like tidying and organizing and clutter makes me a bit crazy. However, there’s something really satisfying and having a collection of things that are connected to memory, as many of your followers have written about. Recently on my vacation to Rhode Island, with your mother I might add, I bought a needless item. It is a pineapple candle holder from the Vanderbilt estate gift shop. It is a replica of the one used by the Vanderbilts. I have a collection of pineapple items in my dining room and each one holds a special memory, two of them and the originals, from time with my own dear mother who is passed on. I get the sentiment of getting rid of things and not having too many of one item, Believe me. As I said, I’m known for throwing things out not collecting. Yet I also think that sentimental places and things can take us emotionally to a safe place, and we all need those. I hope your new home will be one of them for you and TJ. ?

    1. Hi Michelle,
      I agree — I love what you suggest — that certain things take us to a safe place. The “little house” is on its way to being a safe haven.
      Sending all best wishes to you and your family, xo Jenny

  9. You can still find a way to inspire me. What’s it been… 20 years? Simplifying is a challenge for me, but I am continually working on it. The property sounds lovely! I would have it filled with animals, ponds and gardens in no time (see that simplicity concept just isn’t easy for me).

  10. Love the shots of your mom and dad, such fond memories of the Beaudeans at Farm Crest. At the Beaudean home I was in awe of the canned vegetables in the basement – i’d never seen anything like that. I always learned something at your house. I think your dad made your dollhouse?
    Nothing but well wishes in this new chapter. All love – erin, piper, magen, dineen, and roland.

  11. as i’m thinking i should really start to scale down on my things as i read your blog but at the same time i’m thinking i would love some of the stuff the second-hand store got.

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