Blogroll–The “Where are They Now?” Issue

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Four years ago, I spent an extensive amount of time researching minimalist blogs, to create my blogroll.  While I no longer maintain a blogroll, I decided to revisit the blogs that I had recommended.  Surprisingly, most of them are still being written.

Remember, when choosing blogs for my blogroll, I used these criteria:

The blog is written by the person who maintains it. I don’t follow a lot of big blogs, because they tend to run out of things to say and resort to guest posts exclusively. I want to hear the writer’s voice! My exception to this is Miss Minimalist, because her guest posts enhance her message, and she does write some posts herself.

No merchandising! We’re trying to get away from consumerism and Getting More Stuff. So nobody on my list does sponsored posts. A couple of them do the occasional give-away, which I find to be annoying, but I did not include any that make that central to their focus.

I chose only blogs that facilitate discussion. Everybody either responds to their comments or has a great discussion going on.

These blogs are all updated at least once a week, unless the writer lets everyone know that they are taking some time off. They’re not likely to run out of things to say anytime soon!

And, finally, the subject matter is good. These writers will challenge your way of thinking and of doing things.

So, here’s my list!

Intentionally Simple
This is written by Rachel, a mother and a Person Who Doesn’t Have a Lot of Stuff. She has great practical ideas and did a series called “31 Days to Living Intentionally Simple,” which is a great way to get started at simplifying your life!

Just a Little Less
Dolly has a lot of practical ideas for living simply, and her honesty and sincerity are very refreshing. Be sure to look at the pictures of her house–it’s gorgeous in its simple, calm decor!

The Eco-Grandma
Lois used to live in a 300 square foot apartment–now she has bought an adorable home that she is restoring in an earth-friendly fashion, using her signature creativity. On her blog, she shares her ideas for downsizing, decluttering, and upcycling, as well as very positive and innovative ideas for being earth-friendly.

Miss Minimalist
This is the only big blog that I follow. Francine does a lot of facilitate discussion and community. Her guest posts support her message and bring more people into the community that she helped create.

Plastic is Rubbish
This couple completely boycotts all things plastic! They share tales from their adventures, as they travel the world, and some very practical ideas to avoid using plastic. Even if you don’t avoid plastic, their ideas will help you to live more sustainably.

Slow Your Home
Brooke is on a mission to “slow the hell down.” You will love her sense of humor and her great ideas. She also offers a “boot camp,” to help you get started on your jouney toward simplicity.

The Non-Consumer Advocate
Katy is an expert on thrift-store hunting and repurposing. You will love reading about her finds and be inspired to do some hunting of your own. It’s retail therapy for People Who Don’t Have a Lot of Stuff!

The Ramble
The adventure lifestyle is much easier, when you don’t have a lot of stuff. Gigi will take you across the world and entertain you with her fun and insightful stories.

The Simple Year
This blog is now in the hands of its fourth writer, Tracy, who is chronicling her efforts to focus on becoming more organized this year.  Through her experiences, you will definitely learn many tips.

Zach Aboard
My favorite live-aboard family details life on the Majestic, a cataran docked in Chesapeake Bay. Cindy writes about natural/attachment parenting, simple living, and, of course, sailing.

Zen Presence
After taking a leave of absence, Dan has returned with a very introspective tone.  He still writes short posts that say more in a few paragraphs than most people say in many pages.

So, that’s my list! I hope you enjoy reading all of these blogs as much as I do!

Are you working toward a simpler lifestyle?  Then I would love to share your story!  Please submit your original (not published anywhere else) story about how you are simplifying your life.  You don’t have to be an extreme minimalist–I would love to share stories of people who are just starting out of their journey.  If your story is selected to be featured, you will receive 50% off the the Simple Living Basics E-Course, after any other discounts.  Send your story to brosselit@gmail.com . 

New to Simple Living?  Then check out our Simple Living Basics e-course.  There are plenty of discounts available, and it will be an investment in a lower-stress more focused lifestyle!

How We Got Started Living Simply

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Originally posted February 2012

We heard about “Minimalism” back in 2009. When we went to Florida, to see Rob’s parents, we met a couple, living aboard a 29-foot boat, that changed our lives. Here is the post I wrote on Michigan Natural Parenting, after that encounter…

When we were in Florida, we met some friends as the IL’s who call themselves “minimalists.” This couple lives with as few possessions as possible, so that their life is more simple. They are both professionals, but they each only own 3 outfits. They do the laundry every other day, so that they always have something clean to wear. They own 2 plates, 1 pair of shoes (they go barefoot on the deck of their boat, because they think deck shoes are unnecessary.) He does not have a wallet; he uses a rubber band to hold his money and cards together. They lived for years on a 27 foot sailboat, and it was always pristine. Because they didn’t own anything to clutter it up! Now they live on a small power boat, which is also clean and uncluttered.

Well, we have a huge (IMO) house and a LO. And a cat. And my DH thinks he’s better off having a wallet, because rubber bands can break. But we still thought we could learn something from these people. We have so many possessions that we can’t really enjoy any of them. And even Beanie had a room so filled with toys that she never played with. I went through them, got rid of over half of them, and only allowed one toy per bin on her shelf. She immediately began taking them out and playing with them, happier than I’d ever seen her. Having less clutter and “stuff” brought her more enjoyment. I would love to have a hobby, rather than spending all of my time managing the stuff. So here is what we have done so far:

–Only 3 plates, 2 mugs, 2 glasses, 2 sippy cups. Only 3 sets of silverware. The rest of the dishes are stored away, so we can sell the set if we ever want too.

–The 3 sets of family heirloom dishes that were dropped at my house are not being stored away.

–The microwave is taking a trial leave of absence. If it stays up in my closet for a year, it will be off to Goodwill.

–Ditto on the toaster.

–Fewer cookbooks (soon to be ever fewer)

–Bye, bye to the old CD’s from the 90’s that we never listen to anymore.

–Only 3 of each type of clothing for me. (It’s Michigan, so 3 outfits wouldn’t be realistic)

–Only 5 of each type of clothing for the Bean.

–I’m down to 3 pair of shoes.

–Anything we don’t use goes to Goodwill. From the kitchen, a shake maker new in the box, George Foreman grill, punch bowl, and ice cream maker. I dropped off 10 bags and have about 10 more waiting.

So that’s our progress so far. I really like how our house is starting to look.

Wow, we’ve definitely come a long way since then!

Are you working toward a simpler lifestyle?  Then I would love to share your story!  Please submit your original (not published anywhere else) story about how you are simplifying your life.  You don’t have to be an extreme minimalist–I would love to share stories of people who are just starting out of their journey.  If your story is selected to be featured, you will receive 50% off the the Simple Living Basics E-Course, after any other discounts.  Send your story to brosselit@gmail.com . 

New to Simple Living?  Then check out our Simple Living Basics e-course.  There are plenty of discounts available, and it will be an investment in a lower-stress more focused lifestyle!

Simplicity Story: A Tale of Two Kitchens

originally posted in November 2014

Three months ago, this was my kitchen:

The kitchen has a window into the living room.

 

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Notice the double sink with hot water, the dishwasher, the oven, and all the floor and cupboard space?  While the apartment kitchen was certainly small, it was an adjustment to move from that to this:

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You can imagine what an adjustment this was!

And around the same time that I moved, Lois from The Eco-Grandma moved from a 300 square foot apartment into a house.  This, too, was an adjustment.

As we settled into our new homes, I began to notice the changes that I was making in my kitchen, and I began to wonder what changes Lois was making.  What lessons had she learned from simplicity?  What luxuries was she choosing to indulge in, now that she can?

As a result of the changes we have made, Lois and I decided to co-ordinate our posts and invite you into our kitchens today.  I will show you how things work in my kitchen, and then you can head over to The Eco-Grandma to visit Lois’s kitchen.  (And we will both be sharing a recipe with you!)

Living in less than 200 square feet has been interesting, and our biggest adjustment has been the galley.  First off, the companionway, aka our DOOR, is right above the counter.  In fact, the countertop is a step that must be used in order to enter the cabin without falling down.  Below the counter is a small ladder, which we refer to as “the steps.”  Both Beanie and the cat like to perch on the steps, especially when I am cooking.

So where do I stand when I cook?  In a teeny, tiny corner, next to the steps!  Our kitchen is equipped with a single-basin RV sink.  While we have a knob for both hot and cold water, only the cold water knob will turn on the faucet.  The water temperature is quite cold in the winter, but hot in the summer.  This is due to the fact that we use shore water, which sits in an RV hose for great periods of time.

Our range is a luxury for a sailboat–it’s dual-powered.  We run it on electricity in our slip, but we can run it on alcohol when we’re anchored out.  We have a bottle Everclear for this purpose!  The range has a stainless cover that turns it into additional counter space when we’re not using it.

We also have a gas grill mounted on the stern rail–it doubles as our oven.  When we feel like picnicking, we have access to communal gas and charcoal grills.  We have a medium-sized dorm fridge and a small amount of cupboard space.

Having such a small kitchen has led me to learn to do without some amenities.  This hasn’t been a huge adjustment, since we were already living rather minimalistically.  We already had service for 3, 3 pans, no toaster, and limited appliances.  But what have we gotten rid of since we moved here?

  • Our blender.  Yes, I used to love making smoothies.  But it isn’t worth the effort to unstow the blender, and then to clean up afterwards.
  • Our plates.  This isn’t permanent, but they broke in the move.  After a month of using bowls, we missed them and bought some Thanksgiving-themed paper plates.  We will soon return to Goodwill and find some plates for our family!
  • Our pressure cooker.  It was too big to store, so it’s gone.  We’re on the lookout, eventually, for a higher-end unit that is small.  But for now, we do without.  We’re down to 2 pans.
  • Our popcorn popper.  All right, so we still have it!  And we’re going to use it next week, when we stay in a rental cottage.  But it takes up so much space that we have is stowed and never gets taken out.  And Rob is learning to pop corn in our saucepan.

And what unexpected luxuries have we kept?

  • Stemware.  Mason jars don’t cut it for us.  We keep this bit of elegance.  Of course, we’re constantly breaking glasses, so they never match.
  •  The slow cooker.  I love it.  It’s wonderful to set it, head to work, and have a lovely roast waiting when I get home!
  • A coffee maker.  We did the French press thing for awhile, but we drink too much coffee!  I love to set the coffee pot, then have it wake me up in the morning.
  • A tea kettle.  It boils water.  Fast.  And it doesn’t make it taste like anything else.

So what do we cook in my kitchen?  Normally, we eat very simple meals.  I’ll buy pre-cooked meat, which we’ll eat with a salad.  When it’s nice out, we have burgers and a salad.  When it’s cold, I cook.  When it’s not, we eat salad.  I make sure to eat a lot of protein, with a few carbs and lots of veggies.

But sometimes, we like to do something special.  Here is a fancy dinner we prepared in my kitchen:

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First up is this low-carb lasagna recipe I found.   I browned the beef on the stove, then assembled everything in the slow cooker.  Notice the door above me.

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While the slow cooker did its magic, I simmered the mulled wine on the stove.  In place of brandy, we used our homemade orange liquor.

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There was some zucchini left over, and Beanie decided this was her new favorite snack.  She is standing on the steps.

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It was a crazy, fun night for mother and daughter alike!

 

Are you working toward a simpler lifestyle?  Then I would love to share your story!  Please submit your original (not published anywhere else) story about how you are simplifying your life.  You don’t have to be an extreme minimalist–I would love to share stories of people who are just starting out of their journey.  If your story is selected to be featured, you will receive 50% off the the Simple Living Basics E-Course, after any other discounts.  Send your story to brosselit@gmail.com . 

New to Simple Living?  Then check out our Simple Living Basics e-course.  There are plenty of discounts available, and it will be an investment in a lower-stress more focused lifestyle!

Rethinking the Value of Busy-ness

Originally posted February 2013

In Western culture, we value productivity. We think quite highly of the person who uses their incredible energy to get something done. And we really, really frown upon laziness.

This is all good. But the way we’ve applied it to our own lives is not.

In order to not appear lazy, we’ve all become very busy. We work extra hours, volunteer for extra projects, take on numerous leadership roles. We sign our kids up for every activity that peaks their interest, and drive them around town, after hours. We volunteer and offer to help out whenever someone asks us to. If we have any free time, we spend it trying desperately to get some housework done.

And we’re stressed. We don’t have time for leisure activities, such as entertaining or pursuing our hobbies. We say, “I need to learn to say ‘no,'” or “I need to get my life in balance.”

But we don’t mean it.

Because the busy life is something that our culture values. Stress is stylish. If we’re busy, it means that we’re doing something meaningful. That our time here is not a waste.

But does it really?

We live intentionally, because we realize that every choice we make is a trade-off. We pare down on possessions, because we realize that when we own too much–even if they are all good things—our lives become so cluttered that we can’t enjoy any of them. So it is with time.

So many times, we have been involved in fun, meaningful activities with friends. These get-togethers always stopped, eventually, because we got too busy. We really need to think: are the activities we are choosing to use, to fill up our time, more important than cultivating friendships?

I’ve met a lot of people who want to pursue their passions. They want to write, possibly, or do some adventuring of their own, but they don’t have time. In reality, we make trade-offs. There is time. We just need to decide what is more valuable–our current obligations or spending time developing skills that really can give us something to contribute to the world.

Simple living is about quality over quantity. After I left Facebook, I’ve had more in-depth conversations with fewer people. Since I’ve pared down my schedule and–yes–I do say “no,” often, I’ve been able to focus my efforts on the activities that I have chosen, rather than do a poor job trying to do everything.

It takes courage to live this way. Living intentionally with time is more counter-cultural than living simply with possessions. But we need to do it anyway.

Are you working toward a simpler lifestyle?  Then I would love to share your story!  Please submit your original (not published anywhere else) story about how you are simplifying your life.  You don’t have to be an extreme minimalist–I would love to share stories of people who are just starting out of their journey.  If your story is selected to be featured, you will receive 50% off the the Simple Living Basics E-Course, after any other discounts.  Send your story to brosselit@gmail.com . 

New to Simple Living?  Then check out our Simple Living Basics e-course.  There are plenty of discounts available, and it will be an investment in a lower-stress more focused lifestyle!

Something We Do Without: Electric Cooking Appliances

Originally posted February 2013

When we first got married, we had a very well-stocked kitchen. In included an electric can opener, a toaster with inserts so it could actually cook entire sandwiches, a pizza cooker, a deep fryer, a coffee maker with a timer, two slow cookers, an ice cream maker, a toaster oven, an electric coffee grinder, two popcorn poppers, two electric mixers, a blender, and a smoothie maker.

Now we have none of that.

Let me explain each item’s demise, and how we still eat wonderful meals without it:

Electric Can Opener: OK, do they ever actually work? I’ve never seen one that didn’t sometimes chew things up, rather than doing its job. We always had cheap manual openers, which failed about as well as the electric. Then my friend got us a Good Cook brand manual opener that does the trick perfectly every time, with no rough edges on the cans. AND, it doesn’t use fossil fuels to do it! We’ve had this can opener for over 6 years, and it still works as well as it did when it was new.

Toaster: Well, the sandwich toaster was always having cheese and butter dripping down into it, so it became a fire hazard. Then, we decided we really didn’t need an appliance specifically for the purpose of burning bread. When we want to eat toast, we fry it up in butter, in our skillet. It tastes infinitely better that way. Trust me.

Pizza Cooker: Really? Putting pizza dough in a pan and cooking it in the oven or on the grill really isn’t that big of a deal. We always thought this was frivolous, anyway. We only owned it because our power wasn’t hooked up, we wanted to eat, and it was at the Salvation Army store, waiting for us. So it served its purpose.

Deep Fryer: Well, we put the plastic lid on it while it was frying, and the lid melted into the fryer. So that was that. We didn’t replace it, because, the few times we actually deep fry something, a saucepan full of fat suffices.

Coffee Maker: We love coffee. We really love coffee. We’ve got coffee making down to a science, actually. And we’ve been through our share of electric coffee makers. The fancy ones with the timers don’t last long. The electronics always seem to get fried. We had a wonderful DeLongi that didn’t make it a year. We thought it was defective and called the company, but there was nothing wrong with it. Our Cuisinart only made it a few months as well. We liked our Bunn, but we didn’t like the fact that it was always drawing electricity. The cheap Proctor-Silox machines last, but the coffee didn’t taste as good. Finally, we switched to the French press and a tea kettle, and they have never let us down.

Slow Cookers: Slow cookers are wonderful. I think you probably should only have one, but I won’t fault you for keeping it. They use very little energy and make cooking much simpler. We just found that we preferred cooking on the stove or grill, and that we didn’t use ours much. When we want to slow cook, we use the cast iron saucepan over low heat. It does the same thing.

Ice Cream Maker: If you make ice cream as a hobby, go for it! However, this was a purchased dream that we had. We owned it, and never once made ice cream. We try to limit sweets anyway.

Toaster Oven: We have an oven. So having another one is a bit redundant. It was great for toasting bagels and sandwiches, but it really didn’t justify the cupboard space that this device occupied.

Coffee Grinder: We thought we were sophisticated, grinding our own beans. Except they didn’t taste much different from store-ground. Sometimes it even tasted worse. Why? Because those cheap grinders demolish the beans. For good coffee, you need a burr mill grinder. And those aren’t cheap, if you go electric. Our Spong hand grinder is lovely, and it grinds the beans to perfection.

Popcorn Poppers: The air poppers had to go. Face it, popcorn needs oil. We pop it in butter now, which is way better than air-popped. We do allow ourselves one electric Stir Crazy popper in our house, and it gets used a lot. Popcorn is a low-cal, filling snack. We’re addicted. Maybe someday I’ll master popping corn on the stove.

Electric Mixers: If you make lots of pastries, cookies, and cakes, maybe you need one. I can’t get meringues to fluff without it. But, we don’t bake lots of sweets. And hand mixing has worked just fine for us.

Blender: If you’re really into smoothies, by all means get one! We just don’t blend much.

Smoothie Maker: OK, get the blender. But do you really need a separate blender for making smoothies?

So, there you have it! A little inspiration to help you on your decluttering adventure.

Are you working toward a simpler lifestyle?  Then I would love to share your story!  Please submit your original (not published anywhere else) story about how you are simplifying your life.  You don’t have to be an extreme minimalist–I would love to share stories of people who are just starting out of their journey.  If your story is selected to be featured, you will receive 50% off the the Simple Living Basics E-Course, after any other discounts.  Send your story to brosselit@gmail.com . 

New to Simple Living?  Then check out our Simple Living Basics e-course.  There are plenty of discounts available, and it will be an investment in a lower-stress more focused lifestyle!

Simplicity Story: Chris and Kelly’s Tropical Getaway

 

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(the sign on Chris and Kelly’s piano.  I thought it was appropriate)

Re-posted (with editing) from May 2013

Ask that your way be long.
At many a Summer dawn to enter
with what gratitude, what joy –
ports seen for the first time;

–From “Ithaca” by Constance Caverfy

That stanza from the “Ithaca” poem ran through my head, as our plane descended two years ago Sunday, and Houston came into view.  I had an aisle seat, but I leaned forward to see this new place, that was to be my future.  I blinked rapidly as my eyes filled with tears.

Everyone else on the plane was returning from a vacation at Disney World.  I was beginning a new life.

I was greeted by my brother-in-law, Chris, and his wife, Kelly.  They had done the legwork, to make this change possible, and I stayed with them for the two nights I was there.

Chris and Kelly at a roadside fruit stand.  Do you think Texas is ready for two brothers, with waxed mustaches?

Chris and Kelly at a roadside fruit stand. Do you think Texas is ready for two brothers, with waxed mustaches?

Two Mrs. Rosselits are better than one!

Two Mrs. Rosselits are better than one!

Look at all those masts!

Look at all those masts!

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Out to eat at Boongoddle’s…

The dog could come along, too.

The dog could come along, too.

All right, so let’s talk about their house.  We always suspected that Chris and Kelly didn’t have a lot of stuff, and now we have confirmation of it.  The refreshing thing is that Chris and Kelly don’t consider themselves to be “minimalists,” because they don’t consider their lifestyle to be countercultural.  They just have what they need and what they want, and that’s all.  Intentional living is a way of life for them, not something new that they are trying to embrace.

So let’s take a look!

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From the outside, it’s a cute house in the suburbs.

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But look at their backyard garden!

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The sunroom

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Very simple bedrooms.

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The parlor/music room.

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A delightfully simple living room

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And a very unique shower!

We had a wonderful trip, discovering a new city.  And we saw that simple living can have many faces, and that one minimalist family does not live like another.  The key is to create your own ideal lifestyle.

Keep chasing those dreams!

Are you working toward a simpler lifestyle?  Then I would love to share your story!  Please submit your original (not published anywhere else) story about how you are simplifying your life.  You don’t have to be an extreme minimalist–I would love to share stories of people who are just starting out of their journey.  If your story is selected to be featured, you will receive 50% off the the Simple Living Basics E-Course, after any other discounts.  Send your story to brosselit@gmail.com . 

New to Simple Living?  Then check out our Simple Living Basics e-course.  There are plenty of discounts available, and it will be an investment in a lower-stress more focused lifestyle!

Let Go of Survival Mode!

Originally published May 2013

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We live in tough times.  So, we do whatever we can, to keep the “security” of a steady income.

We’re in survival mode.

Survival mode justifies a dog-eat-dog mentality, that puts what we perceive to be necessary for our family’s survival, above the common good.

Survival mode justifies throwing innocent people under the bus, so that we might draw attention away from ourselves.

When we’re in survival mode, we compromise what we believe to be right, because it might cause us to lose that income.

We think we’re protecting our children.  We think we’re being sensible and doing what must be done.  We think we have no choice.

But we do have a choice.

The notion of survival mode is fake.

What happens if we lose that income?  Is our family really going to starve?  Do we not have it within ourselves to find a way, to meet the challenge?  Are we really in danger of not surviving?

And if we’re not being true to ourselves, if we’re deliberately doing what we know to be wrong, in order to “survive,” are we really living?  If we’re sacrificing our dreams and passions, for “security” that really isn’t there, is that a life?

We need to have more faith in ourselves, in our place, and our purpose.  We need to believe that we were put on this earth to do more than sell-out, be miserable, in order to have some level of material security.

The right thing to do is to do right things.

We need to believe that if we do what is right, the rest will be there.  That there is more to life than “earning a living” and looking out for number one.  It is NOT the human “race,” and we have a much larger role to play, than survival.

Are you working toward a simpler lifestyle?  Then I would love to share your story!  Please submit your original (not published anywhere else) story about how you are simplifying your life.  You don’t have to be an extreme minimalist–I would love to share stories of people who are just starting out of their journey.  If your story is selected to be featured, you will receive 50% off the the Simple Living Basics E-Course, after any other discounts.  Send your story to brosselit@gmail.com . 

New to Simple Living?  Then check out our Simple Living Basics e-course.  There are plenty of discounts available, and it will be an investment in a lower-stress more focused lifestyle!