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).:)

the elephant in the room, and big changes (again).

Sometimes trying to live my values is so, so hard.

Because the world is set up to be disposable.
Because some people enjoy pointing out my failures, to justify their own lack of action.
Because I can’t control the entire household.
Because sometimes I have to make compromises.
Because no matter how much I am doing, I could always be doing more.
Because when you actually CARE about things, it can seem hopeless and futile.
Because no matter how much I am doing, I’m only one person and it can be a little defeating.
Because sometimes I realize the hypocrisy in some of my actions.

But then there are days when those very things are what motivate or inspire me to do more. It’s a very zen thing to do, and to be honest, I’m not exactly sure how I got here. But where I used to feel discouraged pretty regularly about things, lately I have been just accepting the feeling, learning from it, then resolving to do what I can to do better myself. It’s taken me 33 years to realize that separating what I can and can’t control is the best way to be productive. It gives me a place to start without feeling overwhelmed, because it lowers the scope of the problem to a reasonable level.

But more importantly than that – separating the big impacts from the little ones is more powerful still. And I am finally ready to stop skirting the issue. For me, there’s been one big elephant in the room for three years now. Eating animals.

Six years ago, I pledged to go vegetarian, and I happily kept it up for a few years (mostly vegan), even through pregnancy. Then I had a baby. The vegetarian freezer meals I had prepared for the first couple of weeks after giving birth were supplemented by lovely neighbors bringing things like chicken alfredo and drive-thru meals of..whatever.. picked up by my husband. I wasn’t truly prepared for a newborn who hated to sleep, who was constantly fussy, who wanted to nurse for only 2 minutes every 20 minutes around the clock. I just completely relapsed as every priority I had – my health, the planet, and animals – just got completely eclipsed by a tiny human who consumed my heart, time, and sanity.

Obviously as babies grow, they quickly get easier in some ways, but present new challenges with every milestone. Cooking the entire Veganomican cookbook was a pre-kid goal I had and I just laughed at the thought of even attempting to cook involved vegan meals, knowing I also need to have a plan B on hand for my husband in case the Seitan Pot Pie was just too weird for his liking. And then, well, I just kind of fell into eating meat out of habit. We mostly ate vegetarian, but I was cooking and eating meat once or twice a week or so just for variety, feeling guilty about it all the while. I am not even sure why I did it.

But suddenly my reasons for making a change finally are glaringly bigger than my excuses not to.

I haven’t lost any of my pregnancy weight.
I feel like garbage, physically and mentally, and I know it’s because of my diet.
I have made huge efforts to lower my impact to the planet, while ignoring the single biggest thing I can do.
I truly to love animals, and have willfully ignored their suffering for my own convenience, when I know better.
I try to instill compassion and caring for Earth in my daughter, but have failed her in ignoring this.

But like I said – those are just facts. Not sources of guilt. Dwelling on the guilt and the past will not change anything. All I can do is move forward. I can just change what I do today.

cowspiracy

So, I’m going vegetarian again – transitioning to mostly vegan. I have not completely decided about going vegan. I will still be cooking for non-vegetarians, so adding a little cheese sometimes seems like a good compromise. We have also been considering quite seriously, getting backyard laying chickens. The ethical/environmental concerns over eating backyard chicken eggs are pretty minuscule to me – they would be named, loved, and spoiled (and would put my kitchen scraps to great use). So I am putting some thought into that. But as for dairy, I’ve always had an easy time cutting out about 75% of my consumption of it – so I think I’ll be able to work up to it at home (it’s out of the house I struggle with).

{Image from the documentary Cowspiracy, which is excellent. I highly recommend watching this film to learn about the environmental impacts of animal agriculture. It’s now on Netflix. Watching this was honestly the tipping point for me.}

1-in-2-out

closet

Last year, I blogged about my zero waste habits quite a bit, and mentioned I have a 1-in-1-out document on my computer to be accountable for my consumption. This year I have decided I am not done minimizing, so I am doing a 1-in-2-out rule. This means that for every (non-consumable) item I bring into the house, I must part with two items I already have. Ideally, the items I give up will be along the same category lines as the item I am bringing in (one book for another, for example), but sometimes that isn’t always feasible.

I keep a box or bag (or whatever I can round up) in my office, and add donation items to it regularly. With a 1-in-1-out rule, I realized I may be doing this FOREVER. But if I’m getting rid of things at twice the rate I am bringing them in, I may eventually be where I want to be. It’s a rather fun, creative exercise.

Just last week, my basement tenants (my brother-in-law’s family) moved out and into their new home. This means we acquired an additional 1,500sf, 3 bedrooms, another bathroom, and a kitchenette, for our use. This is a RIDICULOUS amount of space for our wannabe minimalist family of three, I know. (Someday I will post about why we are in the big home we are in, and may not leave it for a long time, despite my wanting to drastically downsize.)

In the past I’d have already been making a gigantic shopping list of stuff to fill all our new space, obsessing over how I want to decorate it. But I have evolved as a responsible consumer. We have plenty of stuff already. We moved a lot of furniture and other items from our upstairs living area, office, and bedrooms downstairs. Yesterday, we purchased a couch for our living room (since the couch and loveseat moved downstairs). My husband also really wanted a TV, and something to warm up the space, so we bought a TV stand with an electric fireplace. So while we did purchase a few big items, my goal is not to buy a single other item for the basement for at least 60 days. In addition to my 1-in-2-out document, I will be keeping a 60 day list. We may find we need a few other things eventually, but I want to live with what we already have for a while and really decide, as well as take the time to find what we may want/need secondhand. But my 1-in-2-out rule will still apply. There is really no need to accumulate more, just because we have the space.

In 2016 I got rid of so much stuff; and only 17 days into 2017, I’ve gotten rid of 67 items (and counting) just by going through our storage area! One day I may have a smaller home (I hope so!) and we will have to half our possessions again, which would be ok with me. While we still have plenty of useful stuff, I am not attached to much of it at all. I’m loving all the breathing room in our home these days!

library love.

location-of-the-library

There are so many good reasons to should use and support your libraries. They are amazing! But I was talking to a friend the other day about a documentary, and I mentioned that I had borrowed it from the library. She was surprised – “they have new movies at the library?” It made me realize that not everyone treats their local library as an extension of their home like we do in our household. Especially since striving for zero waste and more minimalist, the library is really one of our favorite resources.

This post is absolutely written from the perspective of someone who has access to great libraries. It’s one of my favorite things about my community – it really invests in libraries. Sadly, not all are created equally, but you should still not neglect even the shabbiest. Support it! Visit and use it, vote YES on measures to improve it, donate to it, and advocate for it! They are super important to communities. And if you don’t use them, you could be seriously missing out.

Here’s my list of our favorite things to do at our local library:

  1. Books-books-books. We always check out oodles of books. I read to Hannah every night at bedtime, and often during the daytime, too. I can only handle reading the same books so many times before I lose my mind – so I love having a new stack every week to rotate through. And I generally grab a few, too. I at least glance through every homesteading/gardening/food preservation book I can get my hands on, and I am always reading one or two novels at a given time. I add my name to the wait list for popular books, and eventually will be notified when I’m up in the queue- I love this service. (This and this are the books I’m currently reading).
  2. Research. Not just for students. When I want to learn how to do something, I hit up YouTube and the library. Since I switch interests weekly, it only makes sense to “get my learn on” with free resources.
  3. Audio books/ebooks. I borrow audio books for car trips, and can borrow ebooks for my Kindle from the library website without leaving the house. It’s the BEST.
  4. Music and movies. Our library has a great selection of both. I love picking up a few CDs to listen to in my car for the week (lately I’ve been picking up 90s rap) and a movie or two. Sometimes we never get around to watching the movies, but at least there’s no guilt over a wasted rental fee.
  5. Toys. Our library has toys you can borrow! They are pretty much limited to educational toys for babies and toddlers, so eventually they won’t be of any use, but for now they are great. Borrowing and returning is clutter-free, and a great way to gauge what your child finds interest in and what they don’t, without buying something.
  6. Kid play/Socialization. Our library has a great kids section with fun, good quality toys (wooden dollhouse, legos, magnatiles..). We always sit and play for a bit when we visit. It’s good for socialization/sharing teaching for our only child. They also host a “Discovery Time,” a teacher-led activity time with songs, books, and active play with the group. We have been quite a few times and it’s really fun. A great wintertime activity (or those hot hot summer days).
  7. Pre-preschool curriculum. I’ve just started to use the library to assemble very informal “curriculum” on a various subject or theme. One week I’ll seek out materials on a specific topic (both fiction and nonfiction). We will look at those books together and discuss them. (I’ll also try to come up with or seek out ideas online for activities that reinforce the topic). I will be doing more of this now that Hannah’s closer to 3. (I also discovered my library has books of curriculum in their resources, so I won’t even have to do all the work myself to put this together!)
  8. Meet ups. My mom’s group meets up for play dates at the library really frequently (after Discovery Time). It’s the perfect venue because it’s free, the kids love it, and we can return/pick up books while we are there.
  9. Quiet work space. I work from home, and when I can sneak away for a few hours on the weekend to work from the coffee shop or library to get some done, it feels like a great luxury. My library has a café, so that is my spot of choice. (I also take the opportunity to leisurely browse the non-kid stacks while I’m there and end up with a pile of books for myself).
  10. Teaching responsibility. One thing I love about the library is that it provides a great opportunity to teach your little ones how to take care of things. I teach Hannah to treat the library items carefully so other kids can enjoy them later, and she’s always been so good about this (of course, when she was a baby we only brought home the sturdy board books).
  11. Yearly book sales. Admittedly, I haven’t really taken advantage of this. We went to one recently, and while the selection/prices were great, I didn’t prepare for the time it would take to dig through boxes and wait in the checkout line! With a toddler in tow, it wasn’t reasonable. Next time I’ll plan accordingly and go by myself – it seemed like a real goldmine for used books!

How about you – are you a library lover? What are your favorite things about your libraries?

new habits in 2017

planner2017

Happy 2017! I am always anxious to start a new year. And 2016 was just particularly hard – and I know I’m not alone. It was just a sucktastic year in many ways. (Yeah, if you live in the U.S., and depending on your personal and political views, 2017 is shaping up to suck even worse. But I am going to try and stay positive anyway and at least put energy into things I can control.)

2016 was my year of zero waste. I started the year with a detailed plan of what I was going to accomplish in each month of the year, but I didn’t follow that plan at ALL. It didn’t make ANY sense to keep buying single use items and plastic-packaged stuff until I came to the month I was going to focus on it. That was not well-planned on my part. The good news is, I accomplished even more than I set out to. It’s NEVER happened before that I’ve completed and exceeded a New Year’s resolution. I think the reason is that it wasn’t something with a set end-date, but a lifestyle change that just made sense to me. It’s not even goal-motivated anymore; it’s just what I do. I love it.

In 2017, I am going to focus more on creating habits and routines. Rather than make statements like “In 2017 I’m going to ____” I am just resolving to set aside some time each week and each month to schedule appointments with myself for specific things. Basically it’s a way to use my planner to accomplish some of my goals in weekly and monthly bites. It was pretty easy for me to identify what I have done well in (downsizing possessions, being more social, going zero waste, etc) and done poorly at (taking time for myself and making time for one-on-one time with my husband). So my goals this year will focus on some of those things.

For example, I want to do more yoga. So every Sunday I’m going to spend a few minutes scheduling a yoga appointment for myself that week. If I plan a set day for something, I’m much more likely to follow through. So my plan is to spend time each Sunday planning a time/day to schedule time for my weekly goals. And then at the beginning of each month I’ll spend a few minutes planning or scheduling time for my monthly goals. I have a reminder written in my planner at the beginning of each month to schedule/accomplish these things, so I won’t forget.

My weekly habits will be:

  1. Identify and plan a new “learning theme” for the week for Hannah. (Each week I’ll come up with a subject or theme for the week, picking up some library books and planning a few activities to reinforce the theme. This is a kind of pre-preschool thing I want to do with her.)
  2. Meal plan for upcoming week (I’ve been doing this already, but it’s a habit I want to build into my weekly planning session specifically).
  3. Schedule one yoga session.
  4. Schedule time for one creative project – either new or work on something existing. Just identify it and set aside the time for it each week, even if it’s only for 30 minutes.
  5. Plan and execute one blog post.
  6. Work on planner spread for the week (with time for these goals blocked out).

My monthly habits will be:

  1. Schedule a “sanity day.” (Each month I’ll take part of a day to myself to do whatever I want! This involves arranging childcare in advance and making an appointment with myself!)
  2. Schedule a date with hubby (I need to arrange child care and make a monthly plan for couple-y time we desperately need!)
  3. Schedule a family day (or at least a fun activity to look forward to) that we commit to.
  4. Choose and read at least 1 book.
  5. Go over previous month’s budget, and create a new one for the month.
  6. Review upcoming holidays/gifts needed and plan accordingly (to accomplish zero waste gifting).

Best wishes for 2017, everyone!