a wish list for fall

Sweaters and leggings and chai lattes, hurray! I love fall so much. Here are a few things that I’m crushing on with a fallish vibe.

Fall 2017 Wishlist

  • A Moravian Star light fixture. I just feel like this would complete my kitchen revamp and give it such a cozy feel.
  • Lush bath bombs. I’m not sure I could get out of a tub too easily at this point, but a relaxing soak sounds lovely.
  • Felted ball coasters. ❤
  • A block printed apron like this. I need to just make a cute apron this season (because I don’t already have a million other projects going already, right..?)
  • Hedgehog mug. WHAT?!
  • All the pretty rugs.
  • A snake plant, because soon my only plant fix will be indoors.
  • All the pretty blankets. I love these Alpaca ones.

Who’s ready for fall??

Advertisements

current planner setup – the carpe diem

FullSizeRenderSince I’ve been back to the office part time, I’m back to relying more heavily on my planner to keep me organized. I moved out of the Finsbury at the beginning of the year because I wanted an A5, so I purchased a Carpe Diem planner by Simple Stories (mine is the “Platinum” color). Obviously I wanted another Filo, but it wasn’t in the budget. And the Carpe Diem is actually really, really nice. (Note: when I purchased, the cost of the planner was around $40; now I’m seeing it’s not as available and more expensive, so perhaps they are not making them any longer). I thought I would do a quick review, and show how I use it. I am a big believer in keeping lists and goals organized and easy to refer to frequently. It keeps me on track with all my goals and our budget. I use mine for work, personal stuff, family organizing/homekeeping/finances, and my mom’s group administrative stuff. Having separate calendars doesn’t work for me very well (though I do have a monthly overview calendar on our fridge so Jonathan can also see what’s upcoming).

In the inside front cover, I keep things like my company contact list and random work administrative cheat sheets. I’d print them in A5 size and put them in my planner, but the font size would be ridiculously small, so this works for now. In the small pockets, I just put page flags and markers, mini post-its, and a roll of skinny washi tape. I keep a pen and highlighter in the pen loop. I have most of the office supplies from my pre- zero waste days, but I still indulge every now and again. I just try to keep a limit on the amount I acquire so I don’t end up hoarding tons of unused stuff!

FullSizeRender_1

These labeled agenda and category dividers were included with the planner, and I really like them. I was able to determine my own categories and label the tabs with stickers.  Mine are Contacts, Agenda, Menus, Lists, $$$$$, and Inspiration.

FullSizeRender_2

I won’t show my “Contacts” section for privacy reasons, but it’s essentially just address book pages. The “Agenda” section contains the monthly and weekly page views included with the Carpe Diem. I love this little monthly overview page they included, where I can list big to-dos, dates, and goals for the month. I have noticed I like to have “themes” for the month and I’ll write down the little tasks associated with that. It helps me to focus. So next month (August), I am trying to really get back on track with our budgeting and other financial goals (including selling of some furniture and such). Before baby gets here, I want to have an uncluttered mind and home.

FullSizeRender_5

The monthly spread is helpful for just birthdays, holidays, vacations, appointments, and other planned obligations. Usually I can just refer to this page to schedule something, as the day-to-day to-do type stuff is all pretty flexible.

FullSizeRender_4

I use the weekly spread the most of anything in my planner. I plan out my week on Sundays, generally, and kind of list out little housekeeping to-dos, upcoming work tasks, some self-care stuff, as well as transfer over any stuff from the monthly calendar spread so I don’t forget about it. Sometimes I just make notes of what I’m reading or listening to at the moment, and record things about my day that I feel grateful for or that I want to remember, like stuff I planted in my garden, for future reference.

FullSizeRender_3

The third section is “Menu.” I am using the free menu printable from House Mix Blog; it’s been on my fridge for the past couple of months and I really have found it useful, but I decided to print it A5 sized and do my menu planning inside my planner instead. Hopefully this will work out ok. I like the menu and grocery list on one page, and the simple layout. I plan to add a list of quick, frugal, and zero waste meal ideas. Menu planning saves my sanity and I should probably do a post on how it works for me. I just need to learn to print and crop A5 better, as these ones overlap the dividers. Next time I’ll get it right. 😉

FullSizeRender_6

The fourth category is “Lists.” So far this includes work info, to do list, shopping list (non-grocery), my wishlist, etc. Some of my purchasing-related lists really help me prioritize for budgeting purposes.  When there’s room in the budget for it, I’ll treat myself with something from my actual wishlist (which are not impulsively added), rather than buy something I decided I wanted right that minute. (If that something is THAT important to my future happiness, it may get added to my wishlist and eventually worked into the budget. :)) Also, a running shopping list is really handy. This is more for purchases that aren’t urgent; I like to take my time to find the best way to fill a need. Oftentimes that is buying second-hand, finding another option using what I already have, or even asking around to borrow first. If those strategies don’t work, I try to at least buy the most ethical/responsible/quality/locally-sourced option I can afford. I use post-its to create top-of-page markers for pages I refer to frequently.

IMG_1238

FullSizeRender_7

The fifth section is labeled “$$$$$.” I have my budget printables and written financial goals in this section, but I will only share a portion. I created my own printables for this to fit my needs. I was using a cash envelope system earlier in the year, but just switched to this written tracking system which I’ll begin in August. Credit card purchases like online shopping and gas were complicating the cash system and causing some issues going over the budget. I kept the same dollar amounts in each category, but now I don’t have to withdraw cash (except a little to have on-hand that comes out of each of our “personal” categories.) On the next page I have a printout of our income and fixed expenses, but I won’t share that for privacy reasons. I added a little post-it with a couple items from my wishlist I want to work into the budget, if there’s room, in the month of August. I don’t have an extravagant spending style by any means, but I do have a tendency to let little items add up at times, and this helps with that. My cute owl page marker makes the adultiness of budgeting a little less depressing. 🙂

FullSizeRender_8

The final section is “Inspiration.” It’s poorly named because it’s really a catch-all category. I like to collect quotes and ideas I find inspiring or thought-provoking. I also am really easily intrigued by lots of different things, which can send me down rabbit holes of obsessive research for DAYS if I let it. Now I will just write it down as something to look up in the future.. this has kept me less likely to glue myself to my phone reading up on various topics, and to be a more efficient person. (I am really easily distracted/obsessed by things). Another thing I keep in this section is the daily schedule I whipped up for when we start at-home preschool (while I know we won’t stick to the schedule perfectly, I feel like it will help us establish a nice rhythm.. until there’s a new baby and it all goes out the window). I also write down ideas here that I have for Tot School topics and activities (which is constantly! I love to plan!)

IMG_1234

Another helpful addition is kind of a vision board page I created for my minimalist wardrobe goals. My ultimate goal wardrobe is really pared down, versatile, ethical, flattering, and long-lasting. All efforts toward this are on hold due to pregnancy (and then losing a bit of weight), but this will eventually apply again. Referring to this helps me to avoid purchasing things that don’t fit my style (or at least the style I wish I had), impulse purchasing, and over thrift-shopping. In a year or so I’ll probably start thinking about my fall/winter goal wardrobe. It’s kind of silly, but I’m a really visual person so this helps me see the big picture and stay on track.

FullSizeRender_10

Hope you enjoyed my planner tour! I know they aren’t for everyone, but for me, it truly helps me save time, money, and my sanity keeping a paper planner. How do you keep yourself organized?

thoughts on zero waste home keeping

I haven’t been perfect, but I’m still very much striving for a zero waste home and lifestyle. My home is getting there, with a few exceptions and impulse buy/relapses I always regret.

My favorite things about zero waste are supposed to be the lessened environmental impact and cost savings (and they are awesome things), but admittedly my favorite thing about it is how pretty it is. I mean, functional items can basically be on display when they aren’t made of ugly, bright plastic, and I love that. Like my kitchen sink – I leave potted herbs, a crock of dish brushes, and my compost pail right in plain sight at all times, and I think it’s so pretty.

kitchen sink

My home-keeping essentials are all actually pretty beautiful now. I haven’t upgraded our perfectly good broom or dustpan (and won’t until I need to), but this board is home goals that are actually reasonable and responsible when you have a zero waste household. This is what my wish list looks like now: simple and functional items that will last forever.

cleaning tools

I use cloths and rags for cleaning and spills, wooden brushes for scrubbing, and cloth bags and mason jars for EVERYTHING. Originally I thought keeping all these reusables nearby would overfill my cabinets, but I’ve been paring down things I no longer use in conjunction and have plenty of space for it all.

It’s also helped me to define a more minimalist and elegant decor and clothing style. No more style ADD and regrettable purchases- I’ve discovered I truly love living in a space with space, where everything is pretty and functional.

news

Well, I wanted to be a prolific blogger this year, but we are half-over and here we are.. oops. Let’s blame it on this life stuff:20 weeks

We have a baby boy arriving in November! As of today I’m 20 weeks and 5 days, but I have been hesitant to tell more than family and close friends until now. I just posted the news on Facebook and Insta yesterday. In 2016 we had two back-to-back miscarriages (an early one and a second trimester one) that really has had me reluctant to share early news. But at 20 weeks, things are going great and I’m feeling good.

The first trimester was rougher than my pregnancy with Hannah, so I have been pretty sure this would be a boy, and I was actually right! We are done after two kiddos, so I feel a sense of coming family completeness, which is a very zen feeling. 🙂

I’ll probably be doing a lot of planning and preparing for all things minimalist and zero-waste baby very soon, and I’ll be posting on that most likely. I do wish those were the types of posts I’d read when preparing for our first, as those “must have baby gear” guides are typically bullshit (I now know). I’m combing through all our stash to give away all the girly goods, and keep the gender-neutral items. We will also be acquiring a good amount of hand-me-downs again, which I’ll be choosier about this time around (in a polite and responsible way of course). Happily, our cloth diaper stash is gender neutral, as is most of the non-clothing gear we have. I can still afford to pare down just a bit, which I am slowly working on.

I can’t wait to see my daughter play Big Sis. She’s already so excited, and I just know she’s going to be amazing. ♥ ♥

why I don’t live in a tiny house.

less is the new more

When you want to change your life, you first have to accept where you are right now. I talk a lot about my goals to live zero waste and become more minimalist. While I’m not perfect, those two goals have shaped most of my decisions and efforts for more than a year, and that alone is progress.

However, I don’t want anyone to think I am hiding anything or being hypocritical. I don’t want the fact that I don’t yet live like a minimalist to detract from talking about my eventual goals. We all have to start somewhere. I’ve read about couples who decide to become more minimalistic and one day they sell most of their possessions and move into a tiny home or an RV. I read their blogs and follow their Instagrams! The beauty is they can work less, and live more. It sounds like the dream. I live vicariously through these bohemian spirits from my big ol’ suburban rambler and wonder why I didn’t find this inspiration earlier.

But I think the thing is, you have to have an “enough is enough” epiphany. And usually to get there, you have to have hit a point where your life just doesn’t FIT YOU anymore. And then, when you share that life with others, you have to compromise until those others have the same moment (if ever). It will be a long process for us, and I am accepting that.

So here’s the deal.

I have a 3400 sf house in the ‘burbs. Because a couple of years ago we finished our basement in time for my brother-in-law’s family to stay with us, we now have 6 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, and 1.5 kitchens. We have a 3 car garage, two vehicles, a big fifth wheel camping trailer, and 3 tvs. We are not exactly living the minimalist lifestyle I daydream of constantly.

Believe it or not, though, it was actually a practical decision to buy this house. Our mortgage is now our only debt (as of last year). This house was government-owned when we bought it, and needed a LOT of love (despite being a few years old). But it was steal, we had equity from our last fixer-upper, and we knew it was a good investment. I don’t think I ever thought we’d live here for long. But now that we are closing in on our house being “finished,” and realizing that with a finished basement, this house is ridiculously huge for us, we’re in a weird place. At least in our area, we cannot downsize any time soon, without paying MORE. We could downsize and downgrade, yes, but ideally we would want to live in a smaller house with a bit of land, in a safe neighborhood. That criteria doesn’t much exist unless we wanted to have a larger house payment than we currently have. It doesn’t make sense for us any time soon, because we are in such a good situation financially with our too-big house. It’s a weird (First World) “problem” for a wannabe minimalist such as myself.

I think we’d make the switch for the right place. Even if we weren’t getting the square-footage bang for our buck we have with our current home, we’d do it if we loved the house, neighborhood, school district, etc. At least I would. But so far we haven’t found that. Perhaps one day.

In the meantime, I don’t want to feel like I can’t still chip away at my goals of having a simpler life. Just because I have more house than we need doesn’t mean I need to fill it. When we finished our basement, we doubled our square footage, but we only bought a couple of items; and I’m even in the process of selling off some small furniture pieces we have had stored away. We will have two completely empty bedrooms, and many of our other rooms will be pretty sparse. I’m ok with it. I like the space, and feeling like everything can breathe.

Even though I get overwhelmed and impatient sometimes, I like the process of easing into a more minimalist life: decreasing our possessions, increasing the value of our home with our DIY-spirit, committing to less, focusing on our long-term financial goals. All of those things will make us more free to jump on an opportunity to downsize when the time is right, whenever that may be.

my minimalist dining essentials

So earlier I blogged about our kitchen revamp and some plans for minimizing and streamlining my cooking and baking supplies. I am back with a post on my minimalist  dining essentials. Until I started listing all my kitchen items, I never realized how much I still have! Since my last post, I’ve unloaded about 10 more items (through donating and selling locally).

Everything on my dining essentials list, and my last post about my minimalist cooking and baking essentials, are of the “buy once” mentality. The idea is if you invest in good quality, timeless stuff, you won’t have to switch out and upgrade constantly! As things in my kitchen need replaced, I am replacing with the mindset of only replacing it this one last time – so I’ll invest in things that will last forever.

It’s so easy to go overboard collecting dishware. It’s functional art, after all. If you love it, keep it. But if you are out of space or don’t use half of your stuff, it’s always a good challenge to pare down. A good tactic may be to pack up anything you aren’t sure about, and if you don’t retrieve anything from the box in 6 months to a year, consider selling or donating it.

Here is my absolute dining essentials (these are not the exact items I own, this is just my #goals collage):

mnmlst-dining

  1. Entree plates and dessert plates (mine are Fiestaware and I also have a “set” of mismatched thrift store plates and dessert plates for when I have a lot of people to feed). If it did it over again, I’d forgo the Fiestaware; while it’s fun, I actually find the rainbow explosion of color kind of limiting when I’m trying to go for a minimalist aesthetic..
  2. Wooden serving utensils.
  3. Cloth napkins. I only have everyday ones, but I plan to make or buy a set of nicer napkins for entertaining.
  4. Stainless flatware.
  5. Basic (nesting) small glass tumblers that work for water, juice, and cocktails. (No fancy bar ware collection needed.)
  6. Soup bowls.
  7. Stemless wine glasses. (These copper ones are amazing! I’m not sure if I’d miss the clear glass; currently I just drink my wine from small jelly jars, but I may start acquiring proper glasses.)
  8. Mugs. I’d love a collection of handmade mugs. Boo to perfectly matching mugs.
  9. Serving bowls. The soup bowls and a nice mixing bowl can also perform the job when entertaining and serving multiple dishes.)
  10. Large platter. (Extra dinner plates, a wooden cutting board, and small prep bowls can be used for serving appetizers.)

I listed most of my additional kitchen goods in my last post, but I didn’t mention that I also own the following serving/dining items (the asterisk (*) means they are on the chopping block):

  1. Gravy boat*
  2. Nesting bowls*
  3. A long melamine platter*
  4. 2 misc serving bowls
  5. Stainless ladle
  6. Stainless serving spoons
  7. Stainless serving spatula
  8. To-go dining items like stainless water bottles, stainless coffee cup, metal tiffens, glass food containers, bamboo utensils, and a stainless lunch box. This kind of stuff is pretty critical to minimizing trash, but does tend to take up real estate..
  9. Toddler food dishes, utensils, and cups (I could further pare down the cups). We are using RePlay brand dishes which are sturdy and made from recycled milk jugs. In hindsight I wish I’d have invested in stainless dishes, but I won’t be upgrading, as ours are perfectly functional for as long as we will need them.

This post (and my last) are the kinds I wish I’d seen when I first began to set up a household. Do not trust the wedding registry suggestions, the “off to college” guides, etc, unless they were written by minimalists! Had I invested in good, classic, multifunctional cooking and dining items 15 years ago, I’d have saved myself a bundle of money, not to mention all the resources. For example, now on my 4th set of skillets in 15 years, I finally invested in cast iron, which means this set will actually outlive me.

What’s on your must-have list?

a fresher, lighter kitchen

Fun news: we are revamping our kitchen this month! We moved into this house 6 years ago, and we always planned to make the kitchen nicer. But I am weird, and I settle in/nest where I am, and have been perfectly content with its imperfections. But now that we are rolling, I am really looking forward to the new-and-improved space! On the agenda is staining the cabinets, replacing the tile, tiling a back splash, and getting solid-surface counters. My husband is doing all the work (minus counter installation). For the sake of later comparison, here’s what the kitchen looked like (this was a while ago, but the finishes are the same):

kitchen2

While our kitchen’s torn up, we have moved into the basement, where we have a second kitchen area with some refinished secondhand cabinets. (My brother-in-law’s family used our basement for a couple years while they built their house). The basement kitchen is much smaller, so I am taking this opportunity to pare down to the very basics for now. This means fewer place settings, only a handful of gadgets, utensils, and bake ware, and a pared down pantry. (The irony is not lost on me that I am striving for a minimalist kitchen while having TWO kitchens in my house, trust me).

downstairs-kitchen

Right now I LOVE my smaller, efficient kitchen, multi-tasking tools, and simplified menu plan. It’s a great lesson to remind myself how little I really need to cook for our family. I’m always happiest when I can simplify! It’s inspired me think about how I’d set up my kitchen now, knowing what I now know. Obviously it’s not practical to just discard and replace everything I already have, when it’s all perfectly functional. But I am definitely thinking about my eventual goals for our kitchen, especially now that it will be spruced up and sleeker. So my plan is to keep everything additional packed away (except for food), even after we move back in upstairs; I will get out other items as I need them, but if they are still packed away in six months, I’ll seriously consider parting with them (some maybe sooner if I can sell them).

I thought I would do a few posts on setting up a more minimal kitchen, if doing it from scratch. Today I’m focusing on just the cooking-related items. I will do a later post for dining essentials and cleaning essentials! Here are my essentials for cooking (I don’t own all of these exact items – this is just my #goals collage):

mnmlst-cooking

  1. A nice wooden cutting board.
  2. Wooden cooking utensils, a silicone spatula, and a metal whisk.
  3. Kitchen scissors for cutting greens, herbs, etc.
  4. Three good knives.
  5. Stainless measuring spoons.
  6. Stainless measuring cups.
  7. A box cheese grater.
  8. Glass prep bowls. I have various sizes from a thrift store and I use them all the time.
  9. A medium cast iron skillet.
  10. A graduated, pouring measuring cup.
  11. A heavy mixing bowl.
  12. A metal colander.
  13. An enamel Dutch oven. I have this exact one from Lodge, and I love it. I use it all the time.
  14. Salt and pepper grinders.
  15. Mason jars (and other glass/stainless storage) for pantry item storage, produce storage in the fridge, leftovers, picnics, taking food to people, and to drink from when hosting large groups (so you don’t have to store more glassware).
  16. A good food processor. I love my 9-cup Cuisinart. I’ve had it for almost 10 years and I still use it regularly.
  17. Stainless pots. I have 2, but 3 would be more practical.
  18. A glass French press. I love my Mr. Coffee, but French pressed coffee does taste better..
  19. A Vita-mix or other blender. I use ours almost daily for smoothies, and also to make almond milk, peanut butter, dressings/sauces, and grind coffee beans.

And my baking essentials:

mnmlst-baking

  1. A half sheet baking sheet (and cover)
  2. Cooling rack
  3. Rolling pin
  4. Silicone baking mat
  5. Baking dish
  6. Loaf pan
  7. KitchenAid stand mixer
  8. Bread machine (yes, I really do use mine weekly!)
  9. Silicone muffin cups

I own far more than those items. I also own the following probably non-essential items (the asterisk (*) means they are on the chopping block):

  1. A toaster*
  2. A juicer*
  3. Deep fryer (given to us, never used)*
  4. Yogurt maker*
  5. Electric mixer*
  6. Tea kettle*
  7. Second 9×13 baking dish*
  8. Tart pan*
  9. Multiple loaf and mini loaf pans*
  10. Mini muffin pan*
  11. Tortilla bowl makers*
  12. Ramekins*
  13. Stock pot*
  14. A citrus juicer*
  15. Sifter*
  16. Tortilla press*
  17. Pizza stone*
  18. Nesting mixing/serving bowls*
  19. Mesh strainer*
  20. Salad tongs*
  21. Multiple silicone spatulas*
  22. Dough scraper*
  23. Cocktail shaker*
  24. Tea ball*
  25. Sun tea jar*
  26. A toaster oven
  27. Belgian waffle maker
  28. Crock Pot
  29. Kitchen scales
  30. Immersion blender
  31. 9×9 baking dish
  32. Muffin pans
  33. Donut pan
  34. Large cast iron skillet
  35. Cast iron pizza pan
  36. Second cutting board
  37. Tile trivet I use as a cutting board for garlic
  38. About 10 various knives
  39. Vegetable peeler
  40. Can opener
  41. Jar opener
  42. Ice cream scoop
  43. Small metal colander
  44. Silicone tongs
  45. Pasta server
  46. Ladle
  47. Silicone flipper
  48. 5 cookie cutters
  49. Pastry brush
  50. Cork screw
  51. Wine stopper
  52. Various BBQ tools
  53. Cooking thermometer
  54. Mortar and pestle
  55. Nut milk bag
  56. Silicone bowl covers (to replace cling wrap/tin foil)

I wouldn’t consider any of the above items to be critical to a kitchen, but many are really nice to have for my particular cooking habits (like the second cast iron skillet, silicone bowl covers, nut milk bag, and cork screw).  But looking at the list, there are plenty of duplicate-function items. Silicone muffin cups eliminate the need for muffin tins; we don’t need a toaster AND a toaster oven; we don’t really need two colanders AND a mesh strainer AND a nut milk bag; I can boil water without a kettle… The trick will be figuring out the most versatile items to keep.

What do you think? What’s in your ideal kitchen? Am I an insane person for listing out what I own? (Don’t actually answer that).:)