Is Simplicity the New Black?

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“Cherishing what you have, not want, is the key to contentment”  So runs the headline to an article on page 4 of today’s Courier Mail, Brisbane’s daily newspaper. What a revelation!!

2012-12-14 01So the mainstream media are beginning to pick up on what many of us already know, you cannot buy happiness.

Will we begin to see people trying to outdo each other in the simplicity stakes – sort of a reverse ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ or will they really understand that simplicity takes a range of guises and it is definitely not a competition?

Is voluntary simplicity the realm of those who can afford to make the choice?

Let me know what you think of this article.

I would also like to say a huge welcome to those of you who have visited today because of the link Rhonda posted at Down to Earth.  I hope you will find something here that is of interest and that you consider coming back and perhaps joining as a follower.

Have a great weekend, whatever you are doing.

Slow and Simple – A Goal For Living

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I was sitting and vaguely wondering what I might write today when I found the following words from Courtney Carver at “Project 333“.

Life is noisy. Inboxes are overflowing. To-Do Lists are three pages long. Time flies. We run late. We catch up. We fall behind. We never finish.

All of those things leave us exhausted and uninspired. How can we keep up and slow down at the same time? How can build in more time, space, and resources for health and happiness?

The answer is simple … use less, do less, need less, spend less. Sure, the answer is simple, but where do you start?

Simplicity can start anywhere, but it can’t start everywhere. Beginning a journey into a new way of life in the same you we ran our old way of life doesn’t make sense. Complicating simplicity by trying to do it all at once defeats the purpose. Instead, start small and start in one place.

These words really sang to me and I instantly felt my breathing slow and a sense of calm and order descend.

Courtney is correct, there are so many aspects of our lives that can be simplified that it is easy to get caught up in a whirl.

I participated in Project 333 quite successfully earlier this year.  Since then, I have not actually counted items but I am continually aiming to streamline my entire wardrobe even further.  I now know what styles and colours I really like to wear and make sure that everything I own truly deserves its place in my wardrobe.

2012-05-28 01A wardrobe is a very good place to begin your journey to a simpler life. We all have more clothes than we actually need and it is a confined space and you can easily quantify the contents.

After you have expended considerable time and energy clearing out clothes that you do not wear or even like, you will think twice about buying more.

I can assure you that once you begin, the principles of simplicity will naturally flow to many other facets of your life.  You will find yourself seeking out simpler meals, decorating ideas and simple ideas for recreation and leisure time.

2012-11-21 01Every little bit helps.  Over time you will find that you can apply the underlying principles of Project 333 to areas as diverse as your linen cupboard, utensil drawer and DVD collection.

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If you have less stuff in your life you will need less time, money and energy to acquire, store, clean and organise it.  Release the stuff and reclaim the time and space in your life.

And the final word must come from one of my favourite quotes.  This is from Francine Jay at “Miss Minimalist“.

Life is the space between our things.

So, do we want a fulfilling life or a life full of things?

Consider This

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‘Enough for everybody forever’ – I read this in a newspaper article about an upcoming fair focusing on sustainability.  Along with, ‘Live simply so that others may simply live’ this really defines how we should be living our lives.

To put it bluntly, those of us who live in 1st world countries are being greedy bullies who are snatching way more than our fair share and denying the most vulnerable a chance.

That is without even beginning to think about those who are yet to come.  Will anything be left for them?

Family in ChadThis is a week’s worth of food for a family in a refugee camp in Chad (Africa).  Below is a sample of what a family in USA might eat.

Family in USAYou can check out a selection of photographic essays here on food for a week in households around the world.

That is only food.  Now take into account – shelter, access to clean water and sanitation.  While we continually strive for more, bigger and better there are many in the world who have next to nothing.

Keep It Simple – Laundry

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After reading ‘Simplify’ I keep looking at how I can make various aspects of my life as simple as possible.  The laundry is one example.

I have previously written about tips and tricks for the laundry as well as organisation.

We do not need umpteen different cleaning agents or hair products and the same goes for washing clothes.  This shows all of my laundry products in 2 small racks inside the cupboard door.

2012-01-26 01In the top rack is pre-soak which I use occasionally, box of Sunlight soap and the washing liquid.  Half a capful of liquid is all I need for a load of washing in my front-loading machine.  I use Sunlight soap in a soap saver for most of the hand-washing that I do or rarely a couple of drops of the laundry liquid.

The bottom rack has a cut-down container and tablespoon which I use to measure the pre-soak and dissolve it before adding to a bucket of hot water.  I have a bar of Sard Wonder soap which I store in the container.  Beside this is a partly used container of Napisan which is from when I was soaking cloth nappies for my young grand-daughter.  She no longer wears nappies but I have kept the Napisan as it can be useful for soaking to remove stubborn stains.  Once it is used up I will not replace it.

Space and Style

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More is definitely less when it comes to decorating.  I find a single piece much more aesthetically pleasing than a cluttered jumble all vying for your attention.

Here is a glass cutting board which I have standing in a clear acrylic recipe bookstand.  It is both functional and decorative on the kitchen bench.

2012-01-18 01The living room has a long, low bookcase and I have this glass bowl on it.

2012-01-18 02Everything about this means something to me.  The bowl was a gift from my daughters.  The rocks were collected by my parents while travelling through western Queensland and were gathered almost 50 years ago.  The doily is Nottingham lace and was a gift from a close friend.

2012-01-18 03The decorative value is accentuated because there is nothing else competing with the bowl.  Simple and effective.

Keep it Simple

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While I will never live a truly minimalist lifestyle, I try to simplify my life as much as possible

Most of us in developed countries use much more than our share of the resources on this planet.  We accumulate ‘stuff’, need bigger houses to store our ‘stuff’ and are so reluctant to part with what we have accumulated that self-storage facilities are a growth industry.

I am on a decluttering journey, but not one that entails hiring a skip and tossing garbags full of stuff into it with no thought as to their destination.  No, I acquired these items and I feel that it is my responsibility to use or rehome things I no longer need or want in an ethical manner.  My aim is to send as little as possible to landfill.

This is my laundry.  It is clear and uncluttered which is good for a utility area.  I took this photo after I had used the bench to fold the clean clothes.

2011-09-28 01The cupboards are well-used but not full to overflowing.

2011-09-28 02I do have some ornaments and decorative items as these next photos show.  Nevertheless, I do not want to feel overwhelmed by lots of things so I have a small number of things that are precious to me.  I think this strikes the right balance.

2011-09-28 03Another view.

2011-09-28 04Behind all of this is my motto – “Live simply, so that others may simply live”.  It is not original but sums up my ideals.

Are you decluttering?  What is your goal and how do you go about achieving it?  I would love to hear your stories and experiences.

Till next time.

Tale of Two Bowls

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Did you see the photo of the bowl of rosellas in yesterday’s post?  This is the larger of 2 mixing bowls which I have inherited from my maternal grandmother.  Although I have an assortment of other bowls – glass, ceramic, plastic and metal – none are quite as good as these.  What makes them special?  Is it the weight, the sense of history, the intrinsic link to my grandmother and her kitchen?  I don’t know.

While you are unlikely to ever find me creaming butter and sugar by hand there is a certain pleasure in tucking this bowl on my hip and thoroughly combining the ingredients for a batch of muffins with a wooden spoon.

I have a wonderful Kitchen Aid stand mixer and a Kenwood food processor and they are fantastically useful but I can never imagine myself loving them like I love my mixing bowls.  It is also gratifying to know that I can still create a wonderful array of wholesome food with nothing more sophisticated than a bowl and a wooden spoon.

Apart from the muffins, I also make zucchini quiche, banana cake, muesli slice, tuna patties and tuna roll using nothing more than my bowl and a wooden spoon.  I am sure there are others that I cannot think of at the moment.  What are yours?