By Molly Butler

The most popular phrase in our house is, “I can’t find the…” and I’ve had a few too many days of ducking stray pieces of lumber and tripping over boxes. Even now I cannot find my notebook where I keep my favorite quotes, which I usually like to share with you. I’m ready to transform this messy-home exasperation into tidying motivation.

One of the goals I set when we bought a house was to begin shedding more of my excess possessions and practicing more of the principles of Minimalism. With major projects wrapping up, it’s time for a cleansing October. With the guidance of Minimalist resources like Youheum’s free Decluttering Checklist for Minimalism and Fumio Sasaki’s book, goodbye things, I will shift from building to tidying.

So, in the spirit of Minimalism, here is a weekend’s worth of experiences and memories you can keep forever without cluttering your home.


Nostalgia in Nature by Dinah Langsjøen debuts this Friday at the 410 Project. This watercolor exhibition will share works from three different collections: Wildflowers, Backyard Birds of the Midwest, and Torin’s Alphabet. The gallery is open 3-6 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays, and 2-6 p.m. on Fridays.

The Nicollet County Historical Society presents “Shadows at the Crossing: Spirits of Old Traverse de Sioux” this Friday and Saturday starting at 6:30 p.m. The guided lantern walk will introduce viewers to pioneer citizens from the past. This event is kid friendly and a great opportunity to get antsy distance-learning kids out of the house and still learning while enjoying the fresh air.

Then it’s Oktoberfest at the Lamplighter in New Ulm, starting at 7 p.m. Music, beer, and happy hour specials, what more could you want? Tickets for this 21+ event can be purchased here.


The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota will reopen this weekend! They’re hosting the Alltech Farm Animal Experience beginning at 9 a.m. There will be a variety of laying hens as well as Nigerian Dwarf Goats. I know it’s technically at the children’s museum, but do you think I can sneak in? I’d love another round of goat yoga…

Fellow book lovers join the Deep Valley Virtual Book Festival this Saturday and Sunday! Register and attend virtual panel discussions, live author Q&As, giveaways, and more, featuring Minnesota authors and books. They have two days packed with wonderful events so check out the schedule here.

And of course, we have plenty of live music to enjoy. The State Street Theater in New Ulm will have “Music on the Steps” from 2-6 p.m. including performances by Dick Kimmel & Kelly Coyle, Machiko, The Donner Party, and a surprise guest.

The Dan Duffy Orchestra will be at Indian Island Winery starting at 5:30 p.m. and Adam Steinke will be performing at the Flask patio at 6 p.m. Plus, Chankaska Creek Winery will host acoustic guitar and vocal duo, Oake and Paine, starting at 6:00 p.m.


Let the games begin! Play Yu-Gi-Oh! at Atlantis Hobby starting at noon, or the Dork Den at 2 p.m. Both venues will have prizes for winners. Vikings kickoff against the Houston Texans at noon. Personally, I’m mostly looking forward to some game day couch time.

Bonus: Exercises in Cleansing

Cleaning house can be very daunting, especially if you take on too much at once. Here are some small ways to get started.

  1. Put a box for donations near your entryway and make a 1-in-2-out rule. For every new item brought into the house, put two items in the donation box.
  2. Get rid of multiples. I found this to be especially easy in the kitchen where it’s easy to accidentally stock up on several sets of the same thing.
  3. Take photos of items that are tough to part with. Throwing away material possessions is not the same as throwing away memories. It’s perfectly acceptable to hold onto reminders but storing them digitally instead of physically can free up your space.
  4. Get over getting your money’s worth. Just because you spent a lot on it, doesn’t mean you have to pretend you will use it or enjoy it someday. Don’t let the guilt of money spent keep you from moving on from an object that’s not serving you.
  5. Ask yourself, if you didn’t have it already, would you actively try to buy it? If not, perhaps it’s time to let it go.
  6. Here is a method we used in a Creative Writing class: write it from memory. We would take a piece we had written and rewrite it without looking. What we ended up with was the much shorter (and often better) version of what we had originally written, without all the extra fluff. Without looking, think of a room in your house. Write down all the items in that room. Then go and look in the room. Everything not on your list is most likely something you don’t really need or want.
  7. What if you had to start over from scratch? Filmmaker Petri Luukkainen created a documentary about his own personal experiment. He put everything he owned in storage and only allowed himself to remove one item a day. On the first day he runs naked to the storage unit with newspaper over his privates to grab a long coat. Obviously, you do not need to go to this extreme. But it’s a good thought exercise. If you were locked away from all your things, what would you go sprinting to get back?

Minimalism is not for everyone. There was a time in my life when a cluttered desk full of collections and knickknacks was genuinely energizing for me. Remember, having as few things as possible or living in a sparse, empty space is not the goal. The goal is to remove the unnecessary clutter between you and what really makes you happy.


Weekend High Notes is a regular feature by Molly Butler. Molly covers weekend events, live music, and culture in the Greater Mankato Area. Suggestions are welcome using the MankatoLIFE contact form.