Summertime Changes

It has been a long time since I’ve given you an update on our daily life.  I’ve been busy preparing for my Simple Living Basics E-Course, tying up loose ends during the hectic end of the school year, and putting together a wonder eighth birthday party for the Bean.  We weathered a crazy storm that led to flooding all over Houston.  (We were unaffected by the flooding, but it did get me a day off of work!)

Otherwise, it’s been daily life as usual aboard Breaking Tradition.  That is, it was life as usual until we unexpectedly had the opportunity to purchase Morning Mist, an Irwin 37 center cockpit.

While we’ve been happy living aboard, sometimes living in under 200 square feet can be a little TOO cozy.  We’re glad that we did live in that small of a space, and we’ve learned a great deal from it.  But, man, when we first stepped onto that Irwin, we were smitten!

Now we’re enjoying such luxuries as a small oven (with a rotisserie!), a larger bedroom for Beanie, a bedroom for us outside of the main salon, a proper dinette, more floor space, and a larger fridge!  Being able to stretch out on an almost-full-sized mattress at night led to the most restful night’s sleep I’ve ever had.

Would you like a tour of our almost 300 square foot palace?  Here are some pictures of our new home:

Beanie packed up her favorite toys to take on our first trek to the west pier.  (We will be moving Morning Mist to our slip, after we move Breaking Tradition).

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She’s definitely not as pretty on the outside as Breaking Tradition.

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But, wait until you step inside!

A kitchen with actual counter space, and a place to eat…

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The aft cabin has a sign that says “Captain’s Quarters” over the doorway, and Beanie was excited to claim this as her bedroom.

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The Bean has been talking about wanting a “tiny office” in her bedroom, so she was very pleased to see that the Captain’s Quarters came with a desk.

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This is definitely an upgrade, space-wise.

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We’ve got two heads with showers.

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Our bedroom is a very spacious v-berth.

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We had a guest outside, watching us move in…

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There is still a great deal of work to be done, but we are enjoying our new home.  Last night we had our first rain storm on Morning Mist. There were some definite leaks, but overall we stayed pretty dry!

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Simple Living E-Course–A Last-Minute Give-Away!

For the past month, I’ve been revisiting the topic of voluntary simplicity, in anticipation of my Simple Living Basics E-Course, which will start July 1.

In case you missed the post about the e-course, I will begin by reposting the information:

Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.”  –The Minimalists

Have you always wanted to experience the freedom that comes from living a simpler lifestyle, but you never knew where to start?  There has been an explosion of information available on the minimalist lifestyle: the 100 possession challenge, Project 333, extreme minimalism, and tiny houses.  Ironically, simple living has become an overwhelming topic.

But it doesn’t have to be.  Simplifying your life can be…simple!  And this interactive e-course will help you get started.  Over the course of 6 weeks, we will explore the following topics:

  • What the minimalist lifestyle  is.
  • What a minimalist lifestyle is not.
  • How to get started in your decluttering journey.
  • Tips for decluttering problem areas.
  • How to keep the clutter from coming back.

In this interactive e-course, you will work with a supportive group of people who are also working to declutter their homes and their lives.  Weekly discussions will address specific problems regarding simple living that group members are facing, and the group will work together to help and support each other. 

What does this course include?  For only $50, you get the following:

  • An electronic copy of Clutterfree by Courney Carver and Leo Babauta.
  • Links to articles, videos, and other resources.
  • Weekly “lectures,” where I explain the topic more in-depth.
  • Pre-quizzes, so you can monitor your own understanding.
  • A 30-minute  individualized Simplicity Coaching session, via e-mail, after the conclusion of the course.

That is an amazing value already, but if $50 is too much, these discounts are available:

  • If you display the “Simple Living E-Course” button on your blog or website, from the time you register until July 1, you will get $10 off of the price.   To use the button, simply copy this code:
  • If you register before June 14, you will get $10 off as a part of the “early bird discount”.  This can be in addition to the $10 off for displaying the button.

What if these discounts are not enough?

In these last days before the course starts, you can take an additional $30 off.  So if you sign up now with the Early Bird Discount and display the button on your blog, you will only pay $10 for the course, if you sign up this week!

This offer is only good until June 12.

But wait….there’s more!

If you sign up for the course at this discounted rate, post a comment stating your simple living goals.  One person will be selected out of the commentors to take the course for free!  You will be refunded your money on Paypal on June 12.

So what’s the delay?  Sign up now!

Click here to purchase the e-course for $20:

Are you willing to display the button?  Then click here to pay only $10!

Simplicity Story: Brianne’s Minimalist Journey

Note:  This is a guest post from Breanne, who blogs at Metalsmithing Poodle.  You will love her story of how she embraced the simple lifestyle through pursuing her art and moving into a parkour gym.

My minimalist journey started about a month and half ago, but in reality I have been infatuated with the minimalist lifestyle for years but had other obligations (excuses haha) over the years and have never fully committed to the idea. My interest was first peaked about 7 years ago when I had moved out of the apartment I shared with my significant other at the time and did not feel ready to see him so I didn’t move any of my things into my new place. I lived happily and simply with a sleeping bag and my clothing for about a month. I felt an overwhelming sense of freedom in doing this.

Recently after graduating with my BFA in jewelry design and metalsmithing and all the unfulfilled expectations settling in I started searching for something more. Life was not what I had expected; I went to school for art….I chose happiness over money and ended up with neither. Sadly our society values art but not artists, even the people within the art community don’t seem to place much value on the artist. I had also never really considered there were actually jobs in America that did not pay enough to survive on.

I was rudely awakened from this misconception after the financial aid came to a halt. For nearly a year I fretted about what I was going to do and how I could possibly make it in this world. In tandem with this I was doing everything I could in order to “make it” as an artist. I feel somewhat like I was chewed up and spit out by the art world. I was on the right track, my work was in galleries and I was even a board member for the Colorado Metalsmithing Association, but everything felt forced and it was no longer bringing me happiness. It also was not bringing in enough money to even sustain the art-making much less anything else.

The only solution seemed to be minimizing my bills and living off of less since I have no reasonable way to make income above minimum wage. Also the only thing I wanted to do on my free time was parkour. I took the only two things that made sense my life and mixed a little romance in there and the outcome was starting a new life and leaving the old one by the wayside.

Parkour was something that changed my life almost instantly. I used to be gymnast and was so in love with this sport is was literally the only thing that mattered to me during the 4 years I participated in the sport, not to mention the many years I spend admiring it and trying to teach myself on the front lawn.

When I turned 18 I could no longer practice the sport and was devastated, heartbroken even. Ever since I have always felt like there was something missing, like a big chunk of myself was somehow severed from my existence. Once I discovered parkour at the age of 25; it was love at first sight. With parkour I finally felt like a whole person again, I once again had an outlet for the physical expression of my existence.

After high school I did a lot of partying and strayed down a bad path. I constantly at odds with myself because I wanted to be healthy but was unhappy and the only thing I really looked forward to was drinking with friends at the end of the night. Currently I can think of nothing I would rather do with my day then parkour, it is what I day dream about, it is my passion and my love. It is literally the funnest thing I have ever done and I just can’t get enough of it. Since this is the one thing in my life I feel the strongest about I decided totally immersing myself in this world was a good way to figure out a profession within this field and it is happening much quicker than I had expected! I am currently apprenticing to be a parkour coach and co-taught my first class last week!

About 2 months ago I found another kindred spirit who was also dedicated to living an alternative minimalist life dedicated to what we love the most; parkour. We hardly knew each other but decided our connection was strong enough that we needed to figure out where it would lead. We had met in Colorado and only hung on two occasions but had meaningful conversation, similar life views and goals not to mention our shared passion over parkour.

These conversations continued over instant messenger after he left to Arizona and one month later we left both our lives behind to live one truly dedicated to minimalism. Neither one of us could fathom the idea of working a typical 9-5 job for the sole purpose of maintaining an apartment or a house and all of the shiny objects within it.

We have left our old lives behind in order to purse one that is truly free, not just working until hopefully one day we would have enough time to do the things we want once our bodies are wasted and worn. We started a new life with the pursuit of minimalism, the simple dedication to our interests and desires, a life filled with passion, adventure, love in the pursuit of true freedom. We are currently residing in a parkour gym and plan to eventually buy a van and live in that while traveling across the country practicing parkour in various cities.

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!

Breanne blogs at Metalsmithing Poodle, where she shares her art and her adventures living her alternative, minimalist lifestyle.

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!