29 February 2012

My Dumb Brother's Four Elements of Tranquility

As a kid, my room was always a mess. I was a "collector" of all things: stickers, teddy bears, fun pens, friendship bracelets, Mickey Mouse memorabilia, badge-a-mint badges... you name it. I'm pretty sure my stuff multiplied while I was at school, and I never liked living in my space. I didn't know how to control it.

My older brother, on the other hand, had about four prized possessions.

26 February 2012

What West Africa Taught Me About Minimalism

In my last post, I shared that my overseas trips have taught me that all I really need to survive will fit in my backpack. But it's not what I took with me that really taught me the most.. it's what I brought back.

When I left, my backpack was stuffed with clothing, a few accessories, toiletries, American snacks, my journal and my camera.

When I came back, my heart was full of joy, rest, and breathing room - if that even makes any sense. In January, my husband got to go to the same area I visited last fall. He experienced the same thing. We dream of going back together and even living there long term. Sometimes, it feels like a God-calling-thing, but my struggle is to know if it is really just God calling me to live on the bare essentials of life. To experience the freedom from stuff that the people of West Africa don't even know they know.

1. In West Africa, you can cook an entire meal with just one dish.
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... then everyone can eat with just one bowl (okay, two - one for men and one for women)

19 February 2012

What's in My Minimalish Closet

WARNING - this post over-utilizes parenthesis. 
Grammar junkies should proceed with caution!

I read a lot of minimalist blogs, books, and other various articles. It seems listing ones clothing is a popular trend, so I'm hoping onboard.

You can tell a lot about a person's life by the clothing in their closet - church clothes? executive suits? lots of exercise wear? lumberjack flannels? etc, etc... Last year, I took two intercontinental trips - one to South America and one to West Africa. I learned that everything I really need to survive will fit in my backpack. Aside from overseas trips though, I do normally keep a few more items in my closet. I've gone through phases of cleaning it out and then adding a few items back in, but in general, this is what I keep:

12 February 2012

Culling through the Clutter - Paper

If there is one area that is out of control in our house, it's paper clutter. Art projects, junk mail, old journals, user guides, appliance warranties, taxes, bank statements, magazines, you name it! So last week, I took some time to cull through a decade of paper. This wasn't my first pass, so it wasn't terrible, but it did make a huge mess in the living room and resulted in a trash bag of paper that probably should have been shredded. Shhh.. don't tell the identity thieves about my white bag of old bank statements buried somewhere in a heap of dirty diapers somewhere on the outskirts of town.

Here are my guidelines for what to keep and how long to hang on to it:

10 February 2012

Dinner in 6 Ingredients or Less - Moroccan Chicken

If you're ever sick, have a baby, or you're just having a bad day.. I might ask if I can make you dinner. If so, here's what I'm actually offering: Chicken breast marinated in olive oil and Pampered Chef's Moroccan rub, couscous in chicken broth, & steamed broccoli.

Easy peasy and my preschooler even eats it!

05 February 2012

Five Reasons to Go Minimalish

A few weeks ago, Naomi Kendall who blogs over at The Minimal List, asked a question on Twitter.. something about where did you start with minimalism? I responded to her question and said that I started with small spaces..  a spice cabinet, a closet, the space under my sink, and my desk (not all at the same time). It's just enough motivation to keep me going.

This sparked a conversation (as much as you can in 140 characters or less at a time) about the goal of Minimalism. Do I just want less stuff or is there a different plan?

I came up with a few quick reasons to go Minimialish:

  1. I have said this before, I have pack-rat tendencies. What can I say? I'm a sentimental fool (which is why I still have two sets of Grandma's dishes secretly stashed in my attic). Minimalism helps me keep a handle on things. It makes me think about everything that comes into my house - I'm constantly asking myself if I really need this much stuff!