Category Archives: Minimalism

Finding Simplicity in Unpredictable Situations

For the last few days the east coast has been quite busy with unprecedented earthquakes and the anticipation of Irene heading toward several states.  While talking to The Hubs earlier, we discussed how our views on possible power outages have changed since the ice storms of last year.

I can vividly remember being quite upset during those 24 hours of no electricity.  I complained about being cold and wanting to watch TV.

Our kids didn’t seem to mind the change; in fact, they embraced it wholeheartedly.  The boys played board games, made up activities, and excitedly covered the dining room table with blankets to build a fort to sleep in that night.  Since it was so cold, we spent a great deal of time in bed cuddling and talking.  I don’t remember specifics from those conversations, but I do remember feeling peaceful and wondered why we allowed the weather to force us to spend this much quality time together.  We spent 24 hours without TV distractions, cell phones ringing (batteries died), and no computer. I wondered why we didn’t consciously carve out this time together more often?

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UNDER packing = Freedom

“Mostly, however, I want the freedom to ‘wander’ without the burden of possessions and responsibilities.” Francine Jay

I have a terrible habit of over packing when heading out of town.  On our trip to Disney World this last June, I packed 6 bags for one week, and had the nerve to call myself a light packer when I was putting everything together.

Took this picture before leaving Disney-My sister’s luggage is included

I only packed 3 outfits for each person (we stayed 7 days with washer and dryer in the condo), yet still managed to take unnecessary items.  My boys said they needed to bring several books, toys, and other things they failed to use while in FL.  Meanwhile for myself, I packed extra shoes, jewelry, and other items.  I hated that we had to go straight to the condo after landing in Orlando to unload our luggage instead of exploring Orlando.  I felt like having too much baggage literally held us back.

Improving my packing:

  • Pack early-I’m always last minute when it comes to packing.  I literally packed for a family of five for a week the midnight before our flight.  In my state of panic, I think I added too much of some stuff and not enough of others. Packing earlier will allow me time to reevaluate what I have before closing the overnight bag.
  • Stick to basic clothing to mix and match-Blue jeans, black pants, black and white shirts go with everything. Even though I have never been (and will likely never be) a fashionista, I think accessorizing any outfits with scarves and earrings gives a new look each time.  Also, these items take up a lot less space in my travel bag.
  • If it doesn’t fit in an overnight bag, don’t take it-Enough said.

So I guess I should start packing now…Heading to Chicago in the morning and need to make sure my luggage is light.  I plan to sightsee straight from the airport and this should be easy since I will only have a backpack.

Lessons from a Water Gun

My chipmunks went to a birthday party last weekend and brought home some tiny water guns in the goodie bags.  After tossing out the mini bags of glitter, fake coins, and blow horns, we filled up the water guns and tested them out on each other in the front yard.

As we enjoyed the sun, cool water and laughter, Alvin suggested we purchase bigger Nerf water guns from Target.  His request made me think about how culturally we’re conditioned to get bigger and better, and how many of us are not taking the time to appreciate everything we already have.

Bigger isn’t always better

As we stood in line waiting to refill our water guns (we had to do this quite often), we chatted about mosquitoes, school starting soon, and what I should cook for dinner.  If we had the bigger guns, this interaction wouldn’t have played a role in our fun, as I know how my kids are. For instance, I know for a fact, based off past experiences, that they would play with the new water guns for a week, and then they would be either broken or misplaced.

No storage worries and saved a few dollars

We saved about $20 by not purchasing the new guns, but for me its much more than just savings, especially since I won’t have to think about where to store the water guns during the winter months.

I don’t feel like I’m depriving my kids by not feeding into their desire for bigger and better.  From my perspective, even though the water guns are smaller, they’re still getting the same fun experience as other kids with their bigger water guns; just a more valuable lesson for when they get older is the important difference.

Second Thoughts: Cable TV

I saw on Twitter how upset Netflix subscribers are about the company’s decision to increase their rates to offer more services to customers. Many have threatened to cancel and voiced the dissatisfaction with the lack of new releases in Netflix’s instant stream library.

We have been Netflix subscribers since early 2008 and I am quite satisfied with the service.   I texted The Hubs to advance of the change (since he pays that bill) and he also seemed a bit annoyed at the increase.  I jokily responded that we can cancel the cable and it wouldn’t matter.  To my surprise, he texted that he agrees and we should cut that expense.  I didn’t respond right away because I was actually quite amazed that he was seriously thinking about eliminating the cable. I actually felt a little bad and decided not to cancel it right away because I wanted to make sure he truly agreed. He likes to relax with a comedy and sometimes a documentary, and now that I was having the chance to make a change I wanted, I didn’t want him to feel like I was bullying him into it.  I wanted to be sure the decision was mutual. Continue reading

One In, TWO Out

Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” -Will Smith

This post is inspired by Angela Yee’s $70,000 shoe collection.  The New York radio personality says she has accumulated several hundred pairs of designer shoes over the years.  Even though the number of shoes she owns is astounding, I can’t say I’m too surprised. As a society, we tend to become slaves to overconsumption.  It is ingrained in us from an early age to acquire as many luxuries as possible to obtain a sense of  status and security in American culture.  The theory of work hard to acquire more isn’t too far fetched in our society. Continue reading

Internet Sabbatical

Last week I decided to take a break for three days to see how productive I could become without the distraction of being online.  I lasted only two days but I feel pretty good about my progress; mainly because I rarely go a day without the Internet.

Here’s what I did: Continue reading

Master Closet Reveal

“When our homes-the containers of our daily lives are overflowing with clutter, our souls take a backseat to our stuff.  We no longer have the time, energy, and space for new experiences.  We feel cramped and inhibited, like we can’t fully stretch out and express ourselves.”

I purged our master closet last week and here’s the new space….

We still have a few things to give away but we ‘re both enjoying the space so far. I’m glad that we have a  little “office space” since our home lacks that formal room.

It can be quite difficult to get a moment to clear your thoughts, work on your blog (I have been interrupted twice since I started typing this while in the dining room), or some reading done with three little ones running around.  The new closet has given us a chance to “escape” for a few moments and that is such a great gift.

Anyone wondering what the deal is with the dolls?  Well, I started collecting special edition Barbie and porcelain dolls back in high school.  I thought I would eventually pass them on to a daughter, but with having our 3 chipmunks, I decided to give most away.  I discovered that I had a total of 13 Barbies before the purge!  They were all stacked in the corner collecting dust and I didn’t even remember owning some of them.  I decided to keep 4, but the number may end up being more like 1 in the near future.

I also kept the porcelain doll sitting on the desk because it was the first one my mom gave me while traveling in Paris.  It definitely holds great sentimental value.  🙂