Minimalism and Homesteading

Homesteading requires a lot of tools. When we started, it also required a lot of books. Now, however, the internet is flush with useful (and other not-so-useful) homesteading information. Still, we keep a truncated homesteading library. After our tornado scare and in the midst of our love affair with minimalism we find ourselves asking: Are homesteading and minimalism ideals complimentary?

Our small homesteading library.

Homesteading, to a great extent, requires the homesteaders face whatever challenges arise without running to the store to buy something new. Homesteading asks that we make do with what we have while still improving our lot in life. Minimalist Homesteading is a double-edged sword. On the one hand we have a myriad of “we might need it someday” and “just in case” tools like our depression-era and dust-bowl-era forefathers. Yet, on the other hand, we refrain from storing a million components, scraps, lids for long-gone canning jars, or kitten and puppy nipples for stray animals we might rescue at some point in the future.

One secret to a successful minimalist homestead lies in the definition of minimalism. The point of minimalism is not simply the removal of clutter, although that is a step. Instead, minimalism is about rediscovering joy hidden by consumerist stuff, and homesteading is about rediscovering joy in simplicity. Instead of focusing our attention on the latest fashions, or the newest hobbies, or the coolest bobble-heads, we focus on providing for our family, here at home. That idea is the marriage of homesteading and minimalism. So it turns out, yes, these ideals are commensurable, at least here, in our neck of the woods.

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Minimalist Garden

This year we are planting a  low intensity, high yield, minimalist garden. Last year we made an elaborate, detailed, plan for the garden with a wide variety of plants and cycling plant/harvest schedules. We planned in the bullet journal and posted it on Instagram. It was a great plan, like others made by mice and men…This year we’re following a less intensive regime.

Our soil makes vegetables spicy, and that’s great – unless the vegetables are typically sweet. Zucchini, tomatoes, spring onions and okra are tasty in spicy dishes so we’ll plant those to provide fresh ingredients for our spicy Italian, Mexican, and Cajun favorites. We’ll amend 1/5 of the garden soil with a focus on increasing the acid levels and then try spinach again. If the spinach is still bitter we can switch to plan B; make banana spinach smoothies. 🙂

We’re working within the same space, a 16ft x 4ft garden. We divide the garden into five even plots, each measures 48″x 38.4″. Using the square foot method we know we can plant the following amounts of each vegetable:

  • Zucchini – 8 with cages
  • Tomato – 12 with cages
  • Spring onions – 208
  • Okra – 12
  • Spinach – 108

Here is a drawing for you visual learners:

For the first time, we get to incorporate our own compost into the soil, with manure, and topsoil to replace what washed away in last year’s rain. The chicken ladies made their contribution to the soil last fall, too. This -no frills- plan should yield more reward with less work. We’ll see how it goes.

Minimalism and Consumerism

Consumerism is the act of consuming. We are all consumers. We consume air, water and food in order to live. We consume resources by living in modern homes. We consume media, and ideas, and attention.

Minimalism is living simply but it is not anti-consumerist. It is, however, anti-excess. Excess means different things to different people. Some religious orders value austerity as an external display of piety. Some non-deity based lifestyles consider attachment the root of all suffering. Minimalism is like these orders and lifestyles but with a little self-serving heresy in the mix. We’re all just looking for our happy place.

My kind of minimalism is, at this point, a self-serving way to make my life more easier. I’m not claiming a high-road because my road waves up and down, and winds back and forth. Today – at this very instant – I want less stuff because it’s easier to have less and harder to have more.

Am I anti-consumerism? Well that’s a can of worms.

As defined above, no I’m not anti-consumerism. However, if a star-consumer (in the market sense of the word) waits in long lines for the next itech or pre-orders that new whatever even though they have working tech and working whatever, well then YES! I am anti-consumerism.

Right now, we’re going through our bookshelves (again). There is a stack of about thirty books next to my desk to sell, and about 50 that went to the donation store last week. The further down the rabbit hole we go on our minimalist journey the more difficult it is to let go of things, but also, the more rewarding it is. So I guess we’re still on the donate side of the happy place.

➺ What about you?
➺ Where does your life fall on the
[ buy everything ————— happy place ————— donate everything ] line?
➺ Where is your balance between star-market-consumer and throw it all away?
➺ What works for you?

Until next week, keep it simple. 😉

 

Minimized Wardrobe and Why KonMari Doesn’t Work For Me

The definition of “Minimalist Wardrobe” varies from person to person. Each minimalist has a different list of necessities. My capsule wardrobe is on its way toward minimal but I’m not there yet. Some minimalists have assigned 36 items as the ‘official’ number of items in a minimalist capsule wardrobe, however that number is perfectly arbitrary. The number pickers might also have picked 35 or 37. My capsule is a little larger: I have about 50 items now – excluding my three problem areas (scarves, bags, and jackets).

One very slow and easy way you can shrink your closet is by turning all the hangers backwards on the bar. After a year goes by, any hangers that remain backwards are items you have not worn so you can confidently donate them, knowing you won’t miss them.

You can adopt a similar year-long method for your dresser. Pretend you are packing a suitcase in one of your dresser drawers. Pick your favorite things and put them in the suitcase-drawer. As time goes by you may miss things in the other drawers and tire of things in your suitcase. When that happens donate the tired pieces and pull the new favorites from your other dresser drawers minding the mantra “one out, one in”. At the end of a year, any items that remain untouched in your dresser have got to go.

If minimizing your wardrobe is exciting and you just need a little motivation try the KonMari method. Pick a Saturday and inspect every clothing item in your house. If it brings you joy keep it – if not, let it go. My only peeve with the KonMari method is that all my jackets and scarves and bags bring me joy, but they are also sitting around collecting dust. The dust does not bring me joy but the KonMari method enables me, and I keep them.

Additionally, every packrat I’ve met has an emotional attachment to each of their items. Emotional fulfillment from items is part of why hoarding happens in the first place. The KonMari system calls for action based on emotional decisions. Unfortunately, the primary emotional decisions that led to hoarding behavior are justified by the KonMari method, so those who really struggle with letting things go will not benefit from the practice. They get joy from every item they own. That’s the main reason I’m not on the KonMari bandwagon (and why I have so many scarves, bags, and jackets).

Since October I’ve been paring down my wardrobe using the minimalist approach. If I don’t wear it and love it – out it goes. It’s taken some Saturday trips through the collection but now… I finally moved out of my dresser! Yay! This is my current closet sans jackets and bags, but all the scarves are there.

 

 

closetI don’t feel finished with this project quite yet. I’ve started drawing every ootd in my bullet journal and after a month – whatever I haven’t worn I’ll let go (at least that’s the plan).

The dresser is now the linen closet instead of the master bedroom closet. We’re almost to the point where we can put a bookshelf in there. On the bookshelf we’ll store our smaller and more meaningful Yule and Christmas storage instead of the mountain-of-brimming-gift-bags-piled-to-the-ceiling system we’re currently using.

Until we started this minimalist journey I really didn’t know how much stuff we had. Luckily, our house is growing and our piles of stuff are shrinking. However, Yule and Christmas decorations are one thing the kids will not let me toss. They have some kind of ornament radar and magically appear whenever the baubles come out of the closet. Our Halloween decorations (which live in a single over-sized plastic cauldron, covered with a gold and purple witch’s hat) have the same magical summoning effect. It’s the weirdest side-effect of our seasonal decorations.

Until next time – Keep it Simple!

February is InCoWriMo!

What is InCoWriMo?  International Correspondence Writing Month, which is like NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo only not so all-consuming! InCoWriMo requires a month of action, but only a little bit of elbow grease and very little time. To join in, all you have to do is write and mail a postcard, or a letter, every postal day, during the month of February.

You can send correspondence to anyone; to your family, or friends, or do what I did and pick some names from the 2017 InCoWriMo Address Book. The people I picked are all in the US but no two are in the same state. There are international addresses as well, but I’m keeping postage application easy this year by staying in the US.

postcard

Join me in the fun. It seems like a great way to meet new pen pals, to practice handwriting, and to finally clean out, use, share that pretty stationary paper! -`ღ´-

 

Wanderlust: Minimalist Friendly Vacation Ideas

The minimalist idea of amassing experiences instead of things helps pare down possessions and say just say no to new things that catch your eye, but the idea is no help when it comes to wanderlust. We take a family vacation once a year, or two long weekends each year. But man, how I want to go everywhere all at once! We’ve caught the travel bug and spend all together too many hours sharing ideas about where to go next.

This year we’ve narrowed our options. Any vacation can be minimalist friendly but some places are designed with consumption in mind. Disney vacations, for example, focus on the act of consumption. So Mickey is out of the question. All theme parks are about consumption, to one degree or another, so they’re out too. With the big name attractions off the list it was easier to find these five minimalist friendly vacations.

vacay

  • The ocean. Whichever one is closest to you is your best option. There are no lines, there’s no paid parking, no overpriced souvenir shops with glitter and glitz. What you will find though, is miles of beaches for combing, waves for riding, and tide pools for exploring.
  • The Rocky Mountains. Hiking! Camping! Beautiful vistas! Sunsets! Campfires! Skiing! Snow or awesome quartz rocks and lush green grass.  Are you getting the picture?
  • Rt. 66. Depending on where you live this can be a day trip or you can go the full length of the mother road. Find and photograph the rusty vehicles before they melt away. Drive with the windows down and lrt you hand ride the wind. Let your permit carrying 15 yr old try the straight-aways. Swear off all fast food chains. This becomes more challenging and fun as the trip goes on.
  • Underground. Looking for a bargain? Explore the cutthroat, underground markets of the nearest big city. Kidding… Caving is a lot more fun than it sounds, especially in the summer. There are three types of caves: explored, semi-explored, and wild. Having visited some explored caves the semi-explored ones sound like fun, but I think we’ll leave the wild ones be. There’s a fungus sweeping from cave system to cave system across Central and North America. By traveling from cave to cave, explorers are spreading White Nose Fungus and bats are dying. Bats eat bugs, mostly moths and mosquitoes. Less bats = more mosquitoes! Nooooooo!
  • The desert. “Go West young person!” If you have not yet, please do, go camping in the desert. Aim for spring or fall: winter nights are too cold and summer days are like visiting hell, not kidding. The abundance of wildlife in the fall is astounding. If you can see it in the fall, after a good rain, you’ll see all the flowers too. It’s just so beautiful.

So there you have it! A quick list of minimalist friendly and inexpensive vacation ideas. Until next time, Happy Travels!

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Bullet Journal and Simple Heresy on YouTube!

Do you have a thousand and one things to keep track of?
Me too. So I’ve been watching some Bullet Journalers on Instagram and YouTube: Ryder Carroll, Boho Berry, palestblue, and Jenn Rogers (who I just love), plus more. The bullet journal (bujo) system is a streamlined and easy way to keep track of everything – even when your phone battery dies. The extra-special good news is that you can make your bujo any way you like. That flexibility allows me to put the minimalist mindset into my planner by switching to a bullet journaling style. – Or at least that’s the plan.

A Sordid History
I started using a planner in seventh grade because my mom made me. (I never thought I would say that phrase again!) It was a, 8.5 x 11 lined planner with a week per spread. I didn’t use it. It was a place to doodle when I wasn’t paying attention in class. In 10th grade I picked up a 6×8.5 journal and kept it as a diary, then I got into art journaling and collage. Then in college actually used a planner – as intended – to balance work, school, and social life, but after getting married I slipped back into diary mode. Then I started homescholing and I got a teacher’s planner by Mary Engelbreit that I just loved!

Fast forward to today… I have a notebook, a diary, a writers book, a homeschooling planner, a regular datebook, and apps that remind me of everything. That’s too much stuff. This collection does not jive with the minimalist mindset.

Enter The Bullet Journal
I think this might be a life saver. Trying to go minimalist is sometimes difficult – but hey, it’s a process.  You can see the pens I’m using and the inside of my very first bujo in the video below. Oh, and you get to hear the sound of my voice for the very first time ever. How exciting!

Over time I hope to simplify the spreads, but now the whole bujo experience is new and exciting so the entries are still over-the-top!

“Will she stick to the simple mantra, or will she commit heresy?”
Who knows!
Stick around and together we’ll see what happens!