Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I tend towards maximalism when it comes to my Christmas Tree.

Monday, November 7, 2011

I'm totally not into any of this right now. I'm writing a silly novel about teenage stoners, learning about all the horrible shit that's going on in the world, & enjoying life. All at the same time!

Monday, October 10, 2011

I've been away from the Minimalist/Declutter Blog World for awhile. Cutting and pasting HERE (where you'll see pretty pictures representing my filthy rock & roll side), and I spent 10+ days away from the internet when I visited my relatives in Illinois in the middle of September.

Now I'm doing something that I think I might like to blog about, so I'll give it a shot and see if it sticks.

For 6 weeks, which started October 1, I'm doing a food allergy test diet, as recommended by my naturopathic doctor, which eliminates corn, wheat, dairy, and (most sadly) beer/alcohol.

But it is SO EXCITING! Immediately I became enamored with cooking new things, which I haven't done in a long time, tending to make the same meals when it was my turn to cook. Conveniently, it's squash season, and we loooooooooooooooooooove squash at my house! I am choosing foods and eating more mindfully. I feel really great, but it's only been about a week, so I don't know if I'm really feeling a *difference* or not. Probably, I just feel a difference because I'm so inspired about cooking and eating!

Almost everything I've made so far is vegan, except when I've used chicken stock, haha.

  • Cajun Spice Potatoes & Apples, (home made) Tempeh Sausage, black beans, diced tomato
  • Sweet Potato, Pear, Kidney Bean, and Kale soup (chicken stock)
  • Buckwheat cakes with blueberry syrup (just frozen blueberries and 2 tbsp Grade A maple syrup)
  • Bitchin’ Hummus
  • Acorn Squash with Millet, white beans, onions, shallots, garlic, dinosaur kale, miso tahini dressing
  • Hot and cold cereals with adzuki beans and brown rice or millet, applesauce, soy milk, fresh fruit, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and ginger powder
Of course I've eaten other stuff, but that's what I've cooked. This past weekend my husband and I were representing the company we work for at Wordstock in Portland, so I didn't have my own kitchen comforts. We ate twice at Laughing Planet, where I had the Steamed Veggies, Rice and Beans bowl, which is freaking amazing, and once at The Paradox Cafe, where I had a tofu scramble on seasoned potatoes with steamed veggies. (That is one thing I love about Portland - YOU CAN HAVE STEAMED VEGGIES AT A RESTAURANT. I don't think that is ever an option in Olympia - veggies are fried in grease only!). On our way home, we ate at the Whole Foods deli in Vancouver. When we weren't eating out, the food front was kind of a bummer for me. During the day at the event, I subsisted on instant lentil soup (it shouldn't be so hard to get hot water at a convention center!) and rice cakes and rice crackers with peanut butter. I can't really complain, but it just wasn't satisfying. I had kind of a calorie deficit and/or low blood sugar, and I got cranky. (Kaden found me a food co-op near our hotel and I got almond milk and a funny chocolate wheat-free cookie).

I've made a commitment, and I'm dedicated to it. I don't know if I'd have been able to do it a couple years ago - I probably wouldn't have tried, because I didn't know how to cook much or create my own meals. Now I am surprised by how easy it is to keep my commitment. I don't feel tempted to eat outside my restrictions, only maybe a little bummed when Kaden is eating an expensive artisan loaf with poppy seeds. I intend to try my hand at some vegan, gluten free baking this week!

If anyone wants any of these recipes, I'd be happy to post them. I'm kind of thinking of trying out a food/recipe blog, since I tend to think the meals I invent are pretty fucking exciting. I almost never use a recipe without at least modifying it!

Monday, August 22, 2011

I've Decluttered, Now What?

I love decluttering. Sometimes I feel like it is my life's work, what I am meant to do. Sometimes it is my favorite thing to do.

But it's the next step that is a pain in my ass, getting rid of stuff. I declutter and everything goes into a pile (preferably in a box or bag) behind my couch, which puts it basically in the walkway between the dining room and living room. Several weeks ago we took the memory foam topper off of our bed. I have a friend I am going to give it to. Weeks after that, I laundered the cover, and put it in a huge garbage bag to deliver. It has been weeks more since then. We also cleared off a bookshelf; have a friend to give it to. It has sat empty for, again, weeks. I also have bags of clothes that have been in the "get rid of stuff" area for months. And some books and DVDs that were borrowed and need to be returned. I have a box of stuff that I was going to send to my friend James probably 8 months ago. It sat by my desk at work, waiting to be shipped. Then James actually moved back to town...and the box is still sitting by my desk. At work.

It's been a weird time the past couple of weeks. I've had a typing job to do that is taking up all my spare at-home time, and besides that I've just been busy, I don't know with what. We spent 4 weekends in a row away from home, which meant at least one of the 5 weeknights spent packing and prepping. This weekend we finally stayed home, but the weather was beautiful and I had to type (luckily on the laptop outside!), so what I'm trying to say is, I haven't spent much time inside the house.

On Saturday night we watched Amelie and I'd never seen it before. After that our house looked perfect, all glowy yellow, before we went to bed. But Sunday it was all hot and bright outside and dark and dirty inside. When I finish my typing job I'll do some real work around there. But I want to take the clothes to Buffalo Exchange in Bellingham. We're going to Bellingham at the end of September.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I am feeling really down today about the state of food safety. I may or may not have mentioned this before, but the past couple years of my life have been marked by a sometimes-near-paralyzing phobia of foodborne illness (something I have been blessed to never have experienced). I am doing MUCH BETTER these days, truthfully, more comfortable eating lots of things without worry, but yesterday both raw hazelnuts and green onions entered my household, and they happen to be two of my longest-lingering fears. Then I spent some time reading FDA Warning Letters this morning and it really freaked me.

SOOOOOOOOOOOO I am going to do a Things I Love Thursday to lift my spirits! Because seriously it's just fear, and most food is perfectly safe to eat when prepared properly, something Kaden and I are very careful about.

Some Things I Love:

  1. Hoppy beers - particularly Lagunitas Hop Stoopid.

  2. Where we stayed last weekend, Crystal Hotel, Portland, Oregon

  3. Havin' a time with my man

  4. The sunny weather we've had for the last few days! (even if it's lousy and gray today)
  5. This new (old) CD we got, Fourteen Songs for Greg Sage and The Wipers. It's more nineties than nineties.
  6. Speaking of nineties, I saw So I Married an Axe Murderer for the first time last week, OMG I LOVED IT. duh.
  7. I made an appointment with a naturopathic doctor for my allergies & asthma, and I'm really grateful for all the subtle changes over the years that have led me to this place.
  8. Reading this book, Natural Acts: Gender, Race, and Rusticity in Country Music. It's pretty academic so a slow read for me, but fucking fascinating.
  • OK, slowly I'll be forgetting to think about contaminated tofu!

  • Monday, August 15, 2011

    Micro Waves

    We had a lightbulb moment this weekend when we realized we may be able to stop using our microwave. SWEET! I am thinking of starting with just putting it in a closet or something for a month. We have kept it unplugged for quite some time now, only plugging it in maybe once a week when we use it. When a friend mentioned several months ago that she refused to keep a microwave, for health reasons, we were really surprised! How did her family live without one? Now suddenly we've found that we might be able to, as well, and it's quite a thrill.

    This summer has been full of amazing mini-vacations (weekends), but I have no particular desire to write about them extensively. They've been fun, rejuvenating, perfect in every way. We've seen some awesome things - a close win by the Seattle Storm, mega-beets in Eugene, an art exhibit on Beauty and Bounty, the Pacific Ocean. I hiked some terrain that I never dreamed of being able to (so now I know I can do anything). And we stayed in a Merle Haggard themed room. We've seen 3 of our favorite bands, and I had the perfect outfit for every show. We've eaten some fabulous meals, especially the ones Kaden cooks. We've drank some delicious beers. I decided to only order IPAs from now on, because every time I try something new it disappoints. Only Hop Stoopid for me! It has 102 ibus.

    In favor of simplicity, this past weekend we stayed at the Crystal Hotel in Portland, since we were seeing a show at The Crystal Ballroom a block away. We have friends in Portland, but decided it would be so much easier to stay right next door to the show - not worrying about where to eat and drink before the show, and how to drive across an unfamiliar city to get back to sleep on someone's floor afterward. It was pretty much the best decision we ever made. McMenamin's is a company in the Northwest that takes old buildings and renovates them into quirky, clean, relatively inexpensive hotels. Many have the option of staying in a less expensive room without a private bathroom, and sharing a bathroom down the hall with other guests. Since the buildings are old and have had many uses, they are like mazes. They're very self-contained places, with restaurants and bars and soaking pools connected, and I love that. They even have jars in the rooms so you can take it to the bar and get beer to take back to your room. We have stayed at 3 different McMenamin's in Oregon, but this was my favorite time. It's right in downtown Portland, and it was just so damn cozy. A little room with just a bed, a sink, and a table (no tv). The walls were painted dark red, with Merle Haggard lyrics and portrait (we didn't pick it, we just got lucky!). We ate at the restaurant, came back and opened the windows and sat at our little table and drank our jar of beer and talked the talk. That was when we discussed eliminating the microwave, and about tiny houses in our future (I say no less than 5 years from now; K says "what about 2?"). We weren't interested in the opening band so we actually got to spend quite a bit of time in our room, which was good, since it was $105. And I don't feel bad spending that because of the quality of the establishment, AND we stayed in an ENORMOUS $60 room in Eugene last month, so it balances!

    Sometimes I feel silly for enjoying McMenamin's so much, because everyone thinks Kaden and I should love them, because they are "quirky" and we are "quirky". But it works for us; I guess we are their target clientele, so it's good for everybody!

    Wednesday, July 27, 2011

    3 Bottles

    I love these bottles. They are a Big Red and a Green River soda bottle that I got at a fruit market in Eastern Washington, on a trip with my family when I was between ages 10 and 12. I've always liked weird things. Both of these sodas are still manufactured, but the bottles are printed differently. In the Big Red bottle is some red sand from some random chunk that Cree & I found when we were walking along the train tracks by my parents' house in middle school. The third bottle is a Blue Lemonade Jones Soda bottle circa 2003. It has Peaches on the label. It still has some blue soda residue in it. The tray they are on is a 50s laminate tray with wooden handles.

    I have decorated with the first two bottles since I was 10 or 12, and the 3rd since 2003. When we moved from Bellingham, my mom laughed and was like "Isn't it time to let these go?" and I was like "NO WAY." Through all my decluttering, these have stayed. I did get rid of a Sioux City Sasparilla, a Coca-Cola 2005 "1 year til the Olympics", and a really really old Sprite that was fished out of my parents' lake, a few months ago. But these 3 I am seriously attached to.

    The green vase in the photo above broke in our last move. The lamp is in our dining room now. I am getting rid of the fake flowers because they, well, collect dust, and eliminating dust is my motivation right now. I put the white vase in a kitchen cabinet; I couldn't quite bear to part with it, but I did change out a glass vase to get rid of.

    If I eliminated every other "knick-knack" in the bedroom, it wouldn't be too much to dust these 3 bottles daily (which is my plan, once the bedroom is decluttered). I know they may be "sentimental clutter", but I truly do love them. Do they make my heart sing? Well, yeah, they kinda do! Would anyone else get more enjoyment out of them than I do? HIGHLY UNLIKELY. I'll give them some more time. My goal is not to eliminate everything, my goal is to have less dust.

    Monday, July 25, 2011

    Exciting & Intimidating Declutter Project: Bedroom

    This week, I'm about to embark on something intimidating: decluttering the bedroom.

    I have to, for my allergies. On our weekend vacation in Eugene, we stayed in a VERY clean room (Timbers Motel), and I jogged for an HOUR on Sunday morning - honestly, the best run I've ever had. This morning, back at home, I was barely able to run for 20 minutes. I had allergy testing a few weeks ago, and I am most allergic to DUST. I think I vaguely mentioned my trip to the allergist in a previous post. Basically they wanted me to go on a bunch of creepy meds, and I don't want to. But I've been dragging my heels on making an appointment with a naturopathic doctor. I even found the doctor I'd like to go to. But I hate making appointments. It's silly. It takes almost no time. I've procrastinated for THREE MONTHS on scheduling a teeth cleaning before. I will do it today. How about that?

    I'm already frustrated and excited about decluttering the bedroom, and I haven't started yet - though I suppose visualizing and planning is a start! There is a totally unnecessary end table in the bedroom. All it is holding is my husband's binders from graduate school. There is an under-the-bed bin FULL of 100s of CDs. There are wedding gifts I have no intention of using under the bed. There are two bookshelves. There are 3 lamps. There is a filing cabinet. There is a dresser. There is a vintage laminate tray holding 3 old soda bottles. There is a vase with fake flowers. There is a coin jar. There is a memory foam mattress topper that I am giving to a friend but haven't gotten around to dropping it off yet. There is backpacking equipment and suitcases in the closet. Extra sheets and pillowcases. My box of stationery and zines. And all the clothes.

    I'd love to get it down to the bed, the dresser, the sheets and the clothes. I think the 100s of CDs in the bin will have to stay, too, for lack of an alternative.

    Kaden asked what we were going to do with it all. I couldn't answer.

    But I am going to declutter the bedroom. I am going to start this week. I am going to make an appointment with the naturopathic doctor. Today. My goal is to have my asthma and allergies managed by OCTOBER 1. And if I accomplish that (which I suppose only I can evaluate, ha ha), I will sign myself up for Gala Darling's Radical Self Love Bootcamp. I'm really excited for this unusual challenge. I feel like my asthma and allergies are pretty much the only thing holding me back from realizing my full life potential. And I don't want them to control/disrupt my life any more.

    Friday, July 22, 2011

    On Clothing.

    I kept saying I feel a big clutter clearing coming on! But after a few weeks of nothing coming to pass on that front, I was wondering if my feelings were premature.

    I think instead it is going to be a slow and steady clutter bust. This week I've gotten brave and been able to let go of a lot of clothes that I don't want to wear. I feel so much relief when I look in my closet. I have done a MASSIVE amount of clothing clearing over the past year and a half, but there are still some things that I force myself to wear with a certain degree of dread. They are things that my husband, or my mom and sister, have complimented me for wearing. Thinking they must know better than my instincts, I've continued to wear them, even though looking at them in my drawer makes me feel depressed. Haha, how absurd!! One funny thing I've noticed, however, is that I'm getting rid of almost everything in color. My wardrobe is going to be down to blue jeans with black and white and a lot of heather gray! The heather gray section is quickly becoming the biggest color block in my drawer. I have also gotten rid of a lot of socks. There is a big empty space in my sock drawer, which I used to have to pack down in order to shut. We're taking a weekend vacation (to Eugene, Oregon!), but after that I think I'm really going to be able to let go of my wardrobe.

    This week, I had to shop for a dress for a wedding. My goal was to find a dress I could wear to this wedding and to see Beirut in Portland next month. Kaden was surprised that I wanted to go to the mall, but for some reason I had it in my head that the perfect dress was just waiting for me there. My sister took me, she is a big-time shopper and we had a nice time hanging out. I brought home 4 dresses to "try" (remnants of my family's bad shopping habits, buying and returning). All of them I LOVED in the store, but when I got them home I realized how poorly they were made. Worse yet, they just weren't ME. Being a 28-year-old, "low maintenance" woman, I find the fashion world difficult to navigate. I'm not sure if it's appropriate for me to dress like a "woman" or a "girl." While a part of me is ready to grow up, I don't want to give up & give in on youth and dress like a "woman". (I guess it comes down to a fear of being boring). And the powers that be (blogs) don't seem to indicate that I have to! I want to look good. I want to learn how to look good. It does not seem to come naturally to me, like it does for many women & girls.

    I have settled on mediocre dresses so many times in my life. I have little patience for shopping and a bad habit of listening to what others say about what I'm wearing. Furthermore, I'm frugal, and there aren't a lot of "good" stores to shop at in my town.

    So I went to Goodwill. And I found the perfect fitting, just-right-for-ME dress, for $5.99. And I had a 30% off coupon from donating. So I got the best dress that I could wear to a wedding and to see Beirut, FOR $4.55. Go Frugality!

    Mini-vacation is lined up with a stop at the Woodburn Outlet Malls (Kaden needs man-shoes; we are indeed growing up). Then on to Eugene where I found a $59 motel with reviews claiming the place was clean. We're checking out University of Oregon campus, eating at a vegan BBQ restaurant and visiting the Ninkasi Brewery!

    And I'll be letting go of all my negative clothing experiences when I return.

    Bonus Read: When In Doubt, Toss It Out by Brooks Palmer. Brooks and his girlfriend help each other clean out their closets! Their little story was my inspiration to really let go of clothing that made me feel negative.

    Wednesday, July 13, 2011

    Giving Thanks!

    First of all, BIG TIME thanks to Tanja at Minimalist Packrat for linking me in her 6 Minimalist and Simple Living Blogs You Might Not Know About post! I was really surprised & thrilled! I did not expect to see my name there, since this isn't exactly a minimalist blog. But I do write about decluttering and minimalist themes. & if you are reading this without being familiar with Tanja's work, go enjoy Minimalist Packrat right now!

    Now for a little on decluttering.

    Once again I was inspired by a Brooks Palmer post.

    ...your mind might say, "No. If I get rid of this stuff, I'll have nothing. What if I get rid of something I really need?"
    That's the hypnosis talking.

    I have been making a mental list of the things that I got rid of during my last clutter clearing that I've needed or wanted. There are a couple I can think of off the top of my head...a DVD of Dazed and Confused, and a feng shui book I wanted to refer to. I was thinking of writing a post about all the things I decluttered that I wish I'd kept, just to prove the flipside.

    But reading Brooks' post, I realized, I don't actually need those things. Has not being able to watch Dazed and Confused (which I never would have time for, I just happened to see a bit of it on TV at my folks and remembered that I loved it), or refer to my feng shui book, diminished my quality of life in the least?

    Absolutely not! The mild wish that I still had those things is nothing close to the feeling of power and pride I had letting them go.

    It's getting close to another round of decluttering. We just haven't been in the house much the past few weeks, because the weather has been nice. But Kaden has mentioned lately that he is ready to get rid of more stuff than he was the last clutter clearing round (February-April or so). So we'll probably get into it shortly. We have a get-rid-of bag of clothes and a box of books we've been slowly adding to. We'll get there, and now I know with confidence that we are unlikely to miss anything!

    Friday, July 8, 2011

    My Folks & Clutter

    I started writing this post about 10 days ago.

    Here is how it started

    My parents' clutter is breaking my heart. We have gone over there every Tuesday for a couple of months, to do laundry and grill food. But we stopped by briefly on Sunday, to say "Happy Father's Day," and it was too gnarly in there. It smelled awful. Kaden always says it smells like cat poop, but I don't smell that. I could only smell the dishcloth, filling up the whole kitchen.

    But cut out the whining; I want to help. That is a HUGE reason I wanted to move back to Olympia from Bellingham, truth be told. I figured I'd be over there every weekend clutter clearing, and we'd have them dug out and ready to retire to Texas in no time!

    Over the years, the things I've read about clutter have become second nature to me. It is OBVIOUS to me that clutter holds you back, prevents you from moving forward in your life, and stands in the way of relationships, especially with yourself. I also understand the flip side: what would you have to face, if you didn't have a house plus 4 sheds full of clutter? If you didn't have the overwhelming 3/4 acre, all hill piece of property to tame? If your 22 year old daughter (my sister) ever left home.

    Last weekend, I was over there, helping paint the house. The house has not been painted in about 25 years. The house has not been all the same color for about 5 years. My first task, after the hour-long bike ride over there (SO LUCKY to have bike trails almost the whole way!!), was to clean off the front porch. It is a bit misleading, since the "front porch" is on the opposite side from the street. My parents live on a lake, and therefore the side facing the lake is the "front."

    I took everything off the porch. I wish I had a picture of it. There were garden tools hid in boxes behind and under other boxes. There were pans of pretty rocks covered in spiderwebs. There were crates of old wooden shingles. There were buckets of house paint and cans of spray paint. And other stuff. You couldn't get to the grill to cook, or to the seating to relax and enjoy the lake.

    We did a full day of painting, and then I dug into the decluttering. I was getting tired and cranky and couldn't decide whether to stay and get the job done, or go home. And I was frustrated, especially with all the stuff my mom wanted to keep, as obviously she hadn't used any of it in at least a year - it was buried!

    The next day, I was recounting the story to my husband, and I realized that I have to let it go. I am much more upset about my parents' clutter than they are! Maybe what I want for them isn't what I need! I am leaving that typo, because I meant "isn't what they need", but it's not what I need, either. I don't need them to be decluttered; I need to be decluttered. They don't mind living that way and they don't complain about it and to the best of my knowledge they don't lose things. Everything I have learned about clutter clearing has taught me that it is in their best interest to declutter. But everything I learned about clutter clearing has also taught me that you have to be ready for change, for BIG change. And if they aren't, that's not my business.

    From now on, I will only help when my help is requested. I am more than happy to be there and support my mom when she wants to work on it. But I can't go over and force them, I can't whine to them about why they don't need whatever item (I definitely notice my voice going into a whine in those situations). I will focus on my decluttering, when I need to, and let their clutter be until I am asked to help.

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011

    "I Don't Know What I Want."

    I just read this neat little story about a Wishing Well by Brooks Palmer, the author of my favorite decluttering book, Clutter Busting. I love his Clutter Busting blog, every post inspires and comforts me.

    But this little note about the wishing well really touched me today.

    I went to the wishing well.

    The wishing well said, "Yes, what is it this time?"

    I said, "I don't know what I want."

    The wishing well said, "Maybe you'll be alright without a day of needing something to feel okay."

    It's a joke and I didn't include the punchline here, because the part quoted is the part that resonated with me. When I read it, I was seriously about to make a post about how "I don't know what I want."

    I feel like wanting is very important to well-being. Kaden and I were just theorizing the other day that people become depressed when they win the lottery because they no longer have any material desires that can't be fulfilled. Kaden has seen a molasses cookie in a bakery that he wants, for months now. But he said he probably won't ever get it, he wants to keep dreaming of it being the perfect cookie. Seriously!

    My BFF has been talking about the plans she and her wife are making to travel next summer. And Kaden and I used to talk about traveling a lot! We used to travel, even - in the car, staying in rest stops, but traveling nonetheless. I used to dream of traveling in an Airstream or a Gypsy Wagon; of Kaden and I being a trucker team; of owning my own home and land; of perfect midcentury furniture and vintage dresses.

    But now I don't. And I have had a sense of panic in my mind the past few days, about what do I want? If I'm not dreaming of travel - what am I dreaming of? What are my "hopes and dreams"? What do I want out of life? I am approaching 30 I better decide.

    It is not a place that I want, or a possession (although there are places and possessions I think I might enjoy!). I really, really want a spiritual life. I'm not sure if I can elaborate on that right now, but I realized last night, out on a walk in the warm evening, that that is what I envision for myself in the future. I don't know how I'll get there but I know that I have to try harder, in every way. I have to continue to declutter so that I can make room for my spiritual life. I have to work on celebrating my failure as learning experience, on non-violent communication, on not judging others. I have to work on yoga and Chi Running and managing my allergies holistically. I have to work on being comfortable asking for what I need and exploring pleasure*. I have to work on meditation, on The Intensive Journal, on reading spiritual texts. I have to find my spiritual home, with a spiritual leader that speaks to my spiritual needs. I have to find and know God within me. I have to let go of the fears that it still won't be enough. I have to know I'll be alright without a day of needing something to feel okay.

    *"When you die," says the Koran, "God will call upon you to account for all the permitted pleasures you did not enjoy while on earth." The Talmud offers a similar idea: "A person will be called upon to account, on Judgment Day, for all the permitted pleasures he might have enjoyed but did not." Are there any such pleasures in your life? From Free Will Astrology

    The Perils of Impulse Buying

    Last week, I discovered that amazon.com now allows customers with the amazon.com credit card to immediately use their points straight onto their amazon.com purchases. I had like $200 of FREE MONEY! So I immediately began making purchases. I bought 4 CDs and 1 book.

    Of these 5 items:

    1. I purchased a CD we had already burned from the library, without checking the tracklist, just because the cover looked different.
    2. I purchased a CD without having heard the band, because I read a review of it that seemed to be exactly what I would want to listen to. AND THEN IT TOTALLY BLEW ASS. It was supposedly psychedelic shoegaze but it's just shitty synthesizer goth. I'm really weirded out by this, I don't know how the reviewer could have been so incorrect. But the bottom line is, I really don't want to listen to it. Ever. EDIT: OK not only do I not like this recording, I actually purchased the wrong recording, not the one that was recommended on the review, but a different album by the same band. Hm.
    3. I purchased a book that was described as "acceptable" condition. It seems to have been run over, water damaged, and covered in mold. AND IT'S A BOOK ABOUT ASTHMA CARE. It's readable, but I don't want to touch it.

    The other two CDs haven't arrived yet, but I do expect to love them.

    I allowed myself to be taken in by the promise of free money and bought stuff without carefully considering what I was bringing into my home. FAIL! But my yoga teacher on Monday said we should always celebrate our failures, because how else can we learn? I'm learning.

    Friday, June 24, 2011

    Floor & Fridge & Health & Hygiene

    My father-in-law installed new flooring in my husband's childhood bedroom. It used to have a fire-engine-red carpet that my husband picked out himself - when he was 3 years old! The new floor (woodgrain laminate) looks great. But Dad didn't want to put anything back in the room! At all! Mom said that he had kept it completely empty for two weeks, and she finally convinced him to let her put the Christmas decorations inside the closet. He even wanted to keep the closet empty, he was enjoying his hard work & beautiful empty space so much! I don't blame him.

    I cleaned our fridge last night. I only had to throw out one thing, a HUGE jar of "apple butter" (why do they call it butter?) that had expired with probably only 1/2 cup taken out of it. Goes to show...economy size is not always the best choice, even if it's cheapest per unit! (I know that now, but I didn't two years ago when I bought it) But I wiped down all the surfaces, lined up every item with the label facing out. And I kept wanting to look at it, haha, admire my work. But keeping the fridge open is much more foolish than keeping a bedroom empty!

    In other news, you know that coconut oil deodorant recipe that's been practically viral on the internet recently? Well it SERIOUSLY works. I made Kaden smell the pits of the shirt I wore all day yesterday, and they smelled like NOTHING. It's nothing short of a miracle!

    I've had success with homemade deodorant. I also have had success with the "no 'poo" haircare method. I washed my hair with nothing but water or dry arrowroot powder from Feb 9 (the very beginning of my interest in minimalism) until June 20. I decided to wash it, finally, because I became concerned that it was contributing to my allergies, and I was afraid it might smell bad to people who are unfamiliar with natural body odors. On Monday morning I washed with a paste of baking soda and Dr. Bronner's. It made my hair so fluffy!! I'll probably do that a couple times a month now, for those reasons.

    Due to my successes with natural hygiene (and man, is it less expensive than "beauty products"!!), and due to my growing distrust of the medical institution/industry, I'm going to be switching to a naturopathic doctor, and trying to learn to manage my asthma and allergies through homeopathic methods. I read about something called the Buteyko breathing method, and I'm really excited to learn more and practice it. If I can manage my asthma by a breathing exercise, I will be so fucking thrilled!!

    So that's what's going on with me. Kaden just asked me, across our desks at work, "So, next summer, are we going to get rid of all our possessions and take an RV to Zion National Park?" I was like, "No, we're just going to take a vacation to Zion National Park. But we can definitely get rid of more possessions! I'm into that!"

    For about the last month or so, maybe a little longer, I'd loosened my grip on clutter clearing, feeling a little disillusioned with the idea of minimalism. I'm still not absolutely sure that I know what minimalism is, and I needed a break to examine my everyday relationship with the stuff I still had. Now I am easing back into it. I bought some new curtains for our bedroom. Since we moved in in October, we've had red sheers over the standard dirty-white blinds. I switched them to a barely-off-white, and they open up the room SO MUCH. I know buying NEW stuff is somewhat against the principles of clutter clearing and minimalism, but it was necessary to enjoy the space fully. I also moved some furniture in the livingroom, switched the loveseat and the record shelf, which made it really cozy, and also opened it up!

    This isn't the greatest picture, but basically the loveseat is facing the window now,
    where it was perpendicular to it before, and now the record shelf is fully accessible.

    So I'm really happy, and had a HUGE breakthrough using Nonviolent Communication, and I'm so excited about it! This gets a little personal, but I found out among other things that Kaden really needs me to make decisions for myself, without asking his opinion or worrying about whether my choice is the same as his choice. I truly hadn't realized the extent to which I did that, or realized how that shifts responsibility for my choices onto him. I feel very happy and liberated and I am exercising my ability to make decisions already.

    And I'm reading in the sun and riding my bicycle as much as I can.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Throughts on Meek's Cutoff

    Last night we saw Meek's Cutoff. We are big fans of the other work of the team involved, Kelly Reichardt and Jon Raymond. They also did Old Joy, and Wendy & Lucy, and J. Raymond is one of my favorite book writers. We had been anticipating seeing this movie for a couple months. It finally played at The Grand Cinema in Tacoma this week, and will be playing at The Olympia Film Society July 15-21.

    I surprised myself, a lot, by what I expected from a movie. I expected the pioneers to have sex, even if it was just as a fact-of-life kind of point. And I expected the female lead's helpfullness towards an Indian to be revealed as an attraction. I consider myself a smart, skeptical viewer! Yet I expected these things, simply because that is what we are conditioned to expect from a movie, any movie. Spoiler: Meek's Cutoff is not a sexy movie.

    I also found myself having to reel my thoughts in with regards to the Indian character. There is a scene where he is carrying a discarded sewing basket. I noticed myself thinking he was childlike and feminized because he was a grown man carrying a woman's sewing basket. OF COURSE he wanted to carry the sewing basket; the woman had earlier fixed his moccasin with tools from the sewing basket. It was valuable to him. I was so shocked by how I immediately made these gendered, racist judgments. And I'm glad I was able to reel it in and realize how absurd I was being.

    But it brought me to the question of responsibility: If I, as a smart and skeptical viewer, had these stupid thoughts, imagine what less smart and less skeptical viewers could experience. What was the significance of the sewing basket to the filmmakers? Without being an expert on the subject, I think the Indian's role was portrayed pretty OK. I wonder if they thought of that reaction, that some of the audience would find the Indian childlike and feminized when he is carrying a sewing basket, and if they could have done anything to prevent that reaction.

    Beyond these questions and concepts, the movie also brought up the futility of the Oregon Trail! WHY did anyone undertake that? I mean, as a Pacific Northwesterner, I am glad that they did - but still. Kaden said that they probably did it for the same reason people buy new, cruddy cookie-cutter homes in subdivisions today. I was floored. That makes so much sense! It's all for an idealistic dream that isn't thought through.

    This obviously is not a movie review, but I will say that Meek's Cutoff is a movie unlike any other. It is likely the most "realistic" portrayal of the Oregon Trail on film. It is plodding; the characters are literally walking the entire movie. When it ended, the group of senior citizens sitting in front of us were joking, "OK, now when does the movie begin?" and they walked out telling other patrons coming in, "Don't waste your time on this one."

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    To Do List:

    To Do List, Summer 2011:

    1. Read lots of entertaining books, in the sun, wearing the $1.99 bikini I got from Goodwill.

    2. Clean the chrome legs of my dining table.

    3. Remove everything from bedroom and thoroughly clean. Get lighter-colored window coverings.

    4. Clean & paint FREE outdoor table I carried home from the side of the road last week.

    5. Practice nonviolent communication and reduce household stress in every way.

    6. Cook tons of good things, especially on the grill.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    I love you! (Thursday)

    inspired by galadarling.com.

    I love you Bradford Cox, for putting free downloads on your blog. You make wonderful music. I love your Christmas songs; I love listening to them in June.

    I love you Nonviolent Communication class. You are so hard to put into practice, but so fascinating to explore.

    I love you music writing, academic and popular. You engage me. I hope I can find some examples discussing music and class relations!

    I love you dumb articles about "millennial" college graduates; the meaning of "Middle Class" is going to have to grow and change.

    I love you vegan cooking. I'm thinking about actually going pescatarian; the last several times I have eaten meat it has been soooooo worthless and disappointing. But the veggie things I've cooked and eaten have been AMAZING.

    I love you hypo-allergenic mattress cover.

    I love you mid-century Technicolor Westerns. Thanks for always having Happy Endings!

    I love you stranger-girls-I-follow-on-Tumblr. Your posts are so awesome; where do you find that shit!?

    I love you Kaden Jelsing, we are going to keep having so much fun!!

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    Things I Love Thursday

    inspired by galadarling.com.

    Gala writes, This week I want to really encourage you to think about what it is you love, & what you love to do. Sooooooooooo...

    • I love cereal.
    • I love organizing - I've been transferring some files (2005 and older) from downstairs filing cabinet to upstairs filing cabinet at work, and it's pretty much my favorite thing to do.
    • I love learning nonviolent communication.
    • I love interacting with people and solving problems. I've been fortunate to get to help customers lately, and brainstorm changes to our website with my co-worker. I like it sooooooo much better than being glued to my desk & computer!
    • I love reading fun books. I haven't done it in awhile. I need a fun book (A NOVEL).
    • I love wearing underwear that matches my outfit, and I'm the only one who knows!
    • I love creating meals that Kaden raves about. Veggies in foil packets on the grill at my parents' house = ALWAYS A HIT. I also made a bitchin tofu scramble this week.
    • I love this blog post Minimalist Packrat: Creating an Empty Vessel

    I think that kind of helps clarify where I should take my life...

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Doing Nothing!

    Sometimes I am in a state of doing LOTS OF THINGS! Like in February and March! When I was taking yoga, painting, and Lent classes, going to Unity every week, and clutter clearing every freaking day! And I Loved It!

    Now I am doing nothing! That's not totally true - But I LOVE IT! I am taking a Nonviolent Communication class, and I randomly got some typing jobs that are bringing in an extra like SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS this month, which just like completely blows my mind, I'm sorry to "brag" but it's just so shocking. I don't think this will be a regular thing, so it's going straaaaaaaaight to savings. But it does help buffer our vacation days. But anyway.

    I'm also not flossing! I'm not keeping the house clean! I am typing in the sun and getting a sunburn! (not right now, but when I'm working on the typing jobs). We rode bikes to Sizizis, the 24-hr coffee shop, at 5:50 this morning, before work! I felt all aggressive on my bike and shit! I'm not going to yoga! I feel a little "bad" about that because I feel like it means I won't live to be 100 like my plan if I don't do yoga every week. Buuuuuuuut, if it doesn't feel right, it doesn't feel right! I never found a yoga class I liked in Olympia, anyway. But there are more places to try; I'm not giving up I'm just taking a break.

    I'm loving Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers, the band I waited my whole fucking life to hear! They're the fucking BEST. I wouldn't listen to it this morning because we listened to it for 3 days straight and I don't want to wear in my neural pathways, so I can keep being excited about it. We listened to free Atlas Sound downloads instead! Holy fuck! I love that man!

    I slept on the couch for the last hour or so this morning because my snoring was keeping Kaden awake. Our couch is not a couch. It is a 52" loveseat. It was not a good place to sleep, but it was great because I never got back into deep sleep and then I was ready to hop up when the time came! And then we aggressively rode bikes on empty streets and it was so awesome! And I didn't have coffee but I drank a couple sips of Kaden's and it was Stumptown and it was all nutty and bitchin! Plus one of the dudes working was really hot (he had the biggest beard and braids) and Kaden was like "I knew you'd like him" haha.

    I'll write a post about our awesome vacation someday maybe. It was like the best vacation ever and we drank the best IPAs EVER, but you can't get them anywhere but at this brewpub in Whistler. We ran and walked and ate healthfully our whole vacation. Because we're like that. Only thing we bought besides groceries was I got a $12 geode pendant and I luuuuuuuuv it.

    It's been sunny this week. It feels like fucking spring/summer finally. Holy shit I hope it stays this way. I'll take a goddamn drought and the hottest summer on the books, ok? SUNBURN!

    James moved back to town (temporarily?) and is coming over to drink beers tonight. I swept our back porch (concrete slab) and it looks beautiful.

    ps. I'm 28 now.

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    April 2011 Expenses.

    April 2011 Spending

    Here is the breakdown of my spending for April. What this chart doesn't show is that I used $368.85 more than my income (including the 33% to savings). That doesn't mean I'm in debt, but I'm still spending from what is leftover in my checking account from before I was regularly adding to my savings.

    I still have a lot of gray areas that I'm not sure what to do with. For example, I spent $67 on concert tickets for a show we are going to see in August (damn u ticket master). Does that money belong in this month's expenses, or August's? I am also thinking of integrating several of the 1 and 2% categories. Maybe use "Entertainment" to cover Music, Movies, Concerts, Books. And then perhaps "Personal Care" to cover medical, clothing, classes, home, and recreation (by "recreation" I always mean "the outdoors" which equals "health" to me). Oh and I also just noticed a charge I had in there twice! Wipe $4.66 off that overspent amount! A change I made in the breakdown this month is putting "cash" in for when I get cash from an ATM (except for when I know exactly what I spent it on). I may not always have the receipt for items in this case, and it feels more effective to at least account for that money. Oh man! I also noticed I put double charges in the books area! Knock off another $24.48! This is where I will note that I didn't keep up on my spreadsheet this month and just tried to enter a dozen receipts while checking against my credit card account, and therefore entered some doubles.

    Sooooo, how to spend $339 less next month? No expensive concert tickets! No clothes! I bought a pair of everyday use sneakers so that I could preserve my running shoes for running ($25 over existing Zappos credit). I bought a pair of fancy waterproof boots for next winter because they were on a fabulous sale ($49 for Clarks brand). I am very happy with the sneakers, and I know I will be happy with the boots when I want to walk in the rain next winter, to events where motorcycle boots may not be appropriate. And it's worth mentioning that I am also getting rid of 16 other pairs of shoes at this time. I probably still have more shoes than I "need," but I do wear them all with regularity (AND THEY'RE ALL "SENSIBLE"). No books; I can get books at the library. If I take that $171 off, I'm left with $168 over. I spent $135 on a bike this month, that won't be an every month expense! Only $33 over. Now I noticed that I put a $20 donation in April when it really occurred in May. $13! Well that can be remedied by less dining out, easily.

    PROBLEMS SOLVED! Can't wait to see how we do in May - with 2 days less income due to a vacation. How cheap can Liina and Kaden take a 4 day vacation for????????? STAY TUNED TO FIND OUT!

    ps. I just said "we", but this reflects my expenses only, not Kaden's. We're married but keep our money separate.

    Avi Buffalo.

    This morning Avi Buffalo blew my mind all over again.

    Kaden first heard their Sub Pop single "What's in it for?" on the radio in Seattle last summer. He downloaded it and knew I would love it; he was right. I listened to it over and over, it basically "got me through" last shitty summer.

    They are still mysterious to me. They're probably the first band I've listened to that is younger than me. (no, Screaming Females are). They were in high school when the record was made, and it has this sweetness to it. Not to be patronizing, but, it's nice. It reminds me of when I was 13 and I first heard Hanson; they're the Hanson of indie rock (NOT AN INSULT, I was the world's truest Hanson fan). It's a perfect pop album, with some psychedelic sounds. Sounds that would be better for whip-its than for getting stoned.

    I was saying this morning, the best thing about it is, you hear it and you know they're never going to do anything again. But then I glanced at their website and apparently they are making a new album, so maybe I'm wrong. The girl singer quit the band to pursue a "solo career" and I bet we'll never hear from her again. Like Kelli Dayton. No one ever heard of her again after she quit Sneaker Pimps. No one ever heard of Sneaker Pimps again, either. (I'm so wrong. Who am I to pretend I know what the kids are doing these days? I'm almost 28!)

    Anyway Avi Buffalo's first album is magical, especially "Can't I Know," (aka track 8), which is so dark & warm & mysterious and reminds me of basically everything. You know how it goes.

    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Thanks, Universe!

    It's definitely time for a Things I Love Thursday!!
    • Waking up happy to get up instead of wanting to stay in bed!
    • Being motivated to jog in the rain.
    • Taking a new route jogging, all around the wonderful neighborhood.
    • Living in a town where it's socially acceptable to turn your front lawn entirely into raised beds and start your own CSA!!!
    • The boss taking a vacation!
    • Planning nothing but free relaxation for our upcoming vacation. We're staying at Kaden's brother's condo in Whistler for free, and instead of trying to "do" everything, we're only going to go to the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver and then STAY IN ONE PLACE AND CHILL. For like 3 days. For my birthday! A week from now!
    • Bike riding.
    • Deciding to make muffins at home instead of going out for coffee on Saturday, like we have for the past several weekends.
    • Deciding to take a break from desperate frantic reading of decluttering books!
    • Deciding to take a break from like everything, including my boring old jogging route!
    • Plans for a date with Kaden at The Oyster House tomorrow nite, after I sell hundreds of dollars (exaggeration!) of Miller High Life Memorabilia to someone from Craigslist!
    • Goo & Surfer Rosa
    • The Small Cool 2011 contest's "Teeny Tiny" entries. SO INSPIRATIONAL! I want to move somewhere tinier right away!
    • Sacred discontent that guides you to new things.

    ps. Fifteen days shy of Twenty-Eight Years of Age.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    A note on clothing.

    I am down to 34 items hanging in my closet! When I had "fully decluttered" my closet, and purchased my wooden hangers as a "reward" (at the end of January), I had 48 items hanging in my closet. Due to the number of hangers per package, I got only 45, assuming that I'd be better off getting rid of 3 more items than having 3 empty hangers. Without even knowing it, I've eliminated 14 pieces of clothing from my closet since then! Several pieces (3 cardigans and one blouse) went out last week, when I decided to quit trying to force myself to wear them equally to the pieces I prefer.

    I was really excited about it and bragging to my husband. He said he doesn't have to count, he just gets rid of whatever feels right. For me it feels right to count, it's how I'm measuring my progress.

    Last night, while preparing to fold laundry, I spilled a glass of water between our bedroom dresser and a file cabinet. I didn't want the water to stay stuck under there, so I had to take all the drawers out of the dresser and move it. It was a great opportunity to clean out the dust bunnies from under there! But it was also a great thrill to see extra space in each one of the drawers. We are no longer just jamming as many clothes as we can squeeze in there. It's a depression-era waterfall dresser, in rather poor shape, and my dad has re-enforced the structure of every drawer because they kept falling apart. If we had decluttered sooner, we could have saved Dad some work! They probably wouldn't have broken if we hadn't tried to stuff so much in there!

    I can't wait to continue reducing my wardrobe. I have 6 dresses and 7 skirts remaining, and whatever I haven't worn by the end of the summer is OUTTA THERE. I eliminated my one black dress (which I have worn once), since I realized I was literally only keeping it around "in case I have to go to a funeral"!!!! I have only been to 2 funerals in my life! I'll find something else nice to wear if the situation arises. I would like to have the perfect "Little Black Dress", and I'm thinking of going towards one of those fabulous, moisture wicking, wrinkle-free styles from an outdoor-wear company. My main problem is I am short (5'3"), so dresses rarely fall at the "right" place on my legs. But heck, who says there is a "right" place for a dress hem, anyway!

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    Clutter Emergency!

    Clutter Emergency!

    So I have this dresser/vanity/nightstand set that is pretty nice, deco-era, waterfall style. At the time of our most recent move, we decided not to bring the vanity from the set with us. A month or two ago, I decided not to use the nightstand any more.

    I put them on Craigslist, and said that I might be persuaded to let go of the dresser, too, for the right price - although it is in use right now.

    So someone IS interested, BUT they're mostly interested in the dresser, and wouldn't want the other pieces without it. I told Kaden, and he was like "Um, but, we're using the dresser."

    IS THIS MY SIGN TO LET GO OF THE DRESSER? IF I GET RID OF THE DRESSER, WOULD I HAVE TO GET ANOTHER ONE, NEGATING "the best minimalist solution is the one you already have?"

    I know only I know the answer to these questions...but any other opinions would be faaaabulous.

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    Dreams & Goals or Just Being.

    A comment by Jenny of Ex Consumer on Deb's recent blog post led me to a funny realization about myself. Jenny wrote "I can’t fathom not having dreams or goals. Perhaps someday I’ll get to the place of quiet contentment with just being." And I was like - oh - maybe that's kind of how I've always been! My dreams and goals have always been VERY vague, and especially in recent years I've felt pretty comfortable with trusting the universe. I take what I get and I like it! I have never been very goal-oriented, and I always blamed it on laziness or indecisiveness. But maybe it's not always a bad thing! Maybe it's cool to be happy where you are!

    Recently, my mom told me that my sister wanted to quit her job and "take the summer off". She is 22, just finishing her 2-year degree after 4 years, and still lives with my folks, never having moved out. I was so annoyed for about a week. Who does she think she is? that's not how the real world works! I prayed to be able to accept my sister as she is. And I finally came to the realization that the choices she has made allow her to be in that position. I made different choices; I moved into my own apartment a month before my high school graduation and worked full time in fast food, because smoking weed was my priority! I don't regret my choices at all, and I'm very, very happy to have adult responsibilities! If my sister does not want to take on adult responsibilities, that's her choice to make.

    Somewhat related, I began reading Your Money or Your Life in earnest (I've had it for several months). I hope it changes my life, and maybe someday I can "take the summer off", too!

    Monday, April 25, 2011

    I was a teenage packrat.

    I was a teenage packrat. And a child packrat. And an adult packrat, through the first half of my 20s.

    "This is my teenage queer-feminist bedroom circa 2000 or 2001. I was a packrat among a family of packrats."

    On Friday, I submitted these photos to the Teenage Bedroom tumblr site. Forty-seven people liked it or reblogged it! Of course, I feel a little validated, everyone wants their 15 nanoseconds of fame on the web, duuuuuh. And to some degree (I'm just being honest about my feelings), it feels more validating to be validated for a mess I made in high school by people obsessed with teenagers in the 90s (THERE IS A WHOLE WORLD OF THEM OUT THERE! It kinda blows my mind/amazes/fascinates me) than it does to be validated by real adults for my clutter clearing. Or not so much validating as cool. I am situated culturally/subculturally between those two groups. & I really really don't intend this to be an insult to anyone, I'm just really interested in the weird feelings I have about this particular situation!

    On being an adult.
    It may be cool to make a mess, but I would rather be an adult. I identify as an adult, I'm proud to be an adult and take care of myself and my home in an adult manner. I know a lot of people in my approximate age group do not, whether they are incapable of doing so, or choose not to. Of course, I am sometimes a little envious of that, people who are still out running around and going to late shows on weeknights and stuff like that. But I wouldn't trade it for getting up early and having the feeling that the world is mine. I wouldn't trade eating grease at restaurants for eating fucking amazing home cooked meals, and I wouldn't trade, oh, basically anything for the commitment I've made to DOING THE DISHES AND CLEANING THE KITCHEN every night before bed. Pretty much nothing feels better than waking up to a clean kitchen, and I'm speaking from my heart, man. Seriously.

    On being a packrat.
    There was no such thing as a clean kitchen when I was a kid. The kitchen sponge always smelled like ass from being left floating in a pot of food overnight, or over more than one night. I despised doing dishes, because it was so disgusting, because the dishes sat for way too long! I remember poking food bits down the drain with a knife because I was too grossed out to pick them out and throw them away.

    I grew up in a family of packrats, and as a young person I never learned how to clean and I definitely never learned how to declutter. I remember making Barbie houses and leaving them up for weeks in the livingroom. I remember my mom trying to make me clean my room, when I was in kindergarten, and getting distracted playing with something I found, and her getting soooooooo mad and yelling at me. I remember screaming when I found a spider in a pile of clothes left on the floor. I remember being a little older and going on whirlwind cleaning sprees in the house and getting so mad at everyone in my family for leaving their junk everywhere, and my mom saying that I should just never clean the house if it was going to make me so mean. I remember my mom carting home a large, clear plastic display case from a garbage pile for me to display all my knick-knacks in. I remember my folks bringing musty beanbag chairs back from the dump. I remember my dad constantly yelling at my mom about CLUTTER, especially when they owned a business together, and the front office, which was totally visible from the customer entrance, was a disaster.

    I'm more than a little horrified by these photos of my teenage bedroom, even if they have been validated by 47 tumblr users, but they show what a long way I've come! And it's getting better all the time. I don't have any good photos of my current bedroom; I've made a ton of changes towards minimalism since the last time I took photos. Every day I am able to let go a little more. Every day I find myself willing to part with something I always assumed I'd need to keep, for any number of reasons - the same reasons everyone who has packrat tendencies does it: I might need it, it reminds me of something special, I paid good money for it.

    On consumerism.
    In the summer, I'm going with my mom and my sister to visit my grandparents and my mom's family in Illinois. I wasn't able to go for about 5 years, between the time I was 19 and 24, due to work. The last two times I've been back, I've had incredible guilt, to the point of near hysteria, that we spend SO MUCH TIME SHOPPING, and barely any time with my grandparents, who are in their late 80s and early 90s - which is to say, they may not be around forever.

    I was talking to Kaden, again, about how thrilled I was that I had ended my recreational consumerism, and I was going to just spend time with my family on my vacation; even if my mom and my sister spend all their time shopping, I will not. Kaden said he was so proud of me for making such a clean & quick break from blind & blatant consumerism; only a few months ago I'd go browse sale racks at Target just because I had nothing better to do. And I was like, you know why I was able to do that?

    On minimalism.
    It's because of the word, and the idea, MINIMALISM. Just the word and the idea, seriously, have set me free. I am also doing a ton of decluttering work, and it's not complete, but being able to put that name on what I feel has been, frankly, liberating. For years now, I've felt an underlying ickyness and guilt going to the mall, or "big box stores," or even just wasting my time looking at pretty stuff at locally owned stores. But I couldn't put my finger on why, and our society obviously promotes that behavior, so I would note that I felt icky but it wouldn't stop me from doing it again.

    Now that I have minimalism in my life, I can say no to shopping as recreation or entertainment. And I can say no to collecting and displaying as identity. And I'm so fucking happy about it!

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Women & Men.

    Most of the blogs I read are by women. I am a woman. Throughout my life, I have had mostly female friends. My husband is the only man I have had a relationship with, though I had relationships with girls when I was younger. When I tell my story to myself, I like to say, "The MC5 made me straight," and it's kind of true.

    I love minimalist/simple living blogs by women. If you look at my blogroll, they're the majority. Sooooo, what I am getting at is, I just took a peek at two blogs by dudes, and they kinda lit me up, man.



    I have a semi-secret semi plan, and I'm going to need this kind of boost if I'm going to make it a reality! Not that the other blogs I read aren't inspiring me to change my life - and not that a woman's blog couldn't do the same thing - but these particular dude blogs are more extreme.

    ps. sometimes I really just want to write something brief & journally. Here it is!

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011


    I'm thinking of moving this blog to Wordpress, because I feel limited in design by Blogger. Any opinions? Any success stories about moving blogs?

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    Records & Feelings.

    This weekend, we took a load of books to Half Price Books, where they offer you a cash amount for all the books, music, and movies you bring in. One thing I love about them is they take them all off your hands, instead of sending you back with half a box full.

    Didn't Buy
    I had a Waylon Jennings record in my hand. It was in excellent shape and had a couple of songs I knew on it. It was a good era of Waylon's music. Plus I believe we only have Waylon on CD, and I love his voice. It was only $1.98, and I had cash back from our trade. But I put it back. Because my life is no longer about collecting and consumerism.

    Did Buy
    I did buy a Betty Davis CD because Kaden and I have intended to get that CD for several years, and it was $5.98; you couldn't even buy the MP3s cheaper than that. It's good, but not quite the "deep funk" we have been interested in recently. I have not completely released my music collecting tendencies, but I thought long and hard and decided it will bring a positive contribution to our quality of life.

    I did buy We Owe You Nothing, Punk Planet: The Collected Interviews, because it is great to have short articles to read. That was $2.00. And it also makes a positive contribution to our quality of life. There are interviews from Kathleen Hanna, Jody Bleyle, and Sleater-Kinney. I've only read the Jody Bleyle interview so far; it made me heavily nostalgic for a time I wasn't present during. I went back to the moaning & groaning, whyyyyyyyyy weren't we born 10 or 15 years earlier. That is always a danger, for me, in buying a book about the 90s. But it makes me feel good, that twinge of knowing it happened and it was big and it was powerful, and at least I can know about it even if I wasn't there.

    So I don't know, how do you write about that feeling? Anyone with feelings knows about it (I firmly believe that some people don't have/can't idenitfy feelings; that's OK). That feeling is kind of the crux of how I identify myself. Some of the things I love, I was there for, but more of them, I wasn't. And by things, 90% of the time I mean music. I mean music scenes and when my favorite bands were playing live, from 1926 to the present. It's the knowing it existed, and the recording still exists, and I collect the recordings to experience them as closely as I can. It makes my heart feel big. It makes my nerve receptors tingle. Even just thinking about it.

    Kaden's dad gave us a magnificent record player, on loan. It's a Kenwood and it sounds so much better than the Marantz we used to have. Dad is fixing the Marantz, but we secretly hope he lets us keep the Kenwood! We listened to most of Have One On Me, and the depth of sound available on the record (vs the digital files) is AMAZING, to say the least. Even J. Newsom's voice has a vastly greater range audible on the vinyl. We decided never to buy another CD; we have plenty of CDs. We are only going to buy records from now on; almost everything you could want is available on 180 gram vinyl nowadays.

    When I was a kid, my parents thought it was hilarious that I preferred the sound of records to CDs. They couldn't hear a difference. They were telling this to their friend who was (still is!) a techie, and he launched into a long explanation of why this could be so. I didn't get the details at the time (I was 12 or 13), but since then, I've learned that digital reproductions of recordings reduce the range of sound available to the listener. What a fucking shame!

    If you care about music, do yourself a favor and listen to records! Now that we finally have an operational record player (it has been over 6 months), I am soooooooo excited to listen to The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Zelia Barbosa, and this one song from the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack!!!!!!

    Good Choices!
    Back to consumerism and the simple life, we decided not to see Black Angels on the day before my birthday. We are planning a big-for-us vacation next month, for my birthday. We had planned to see Black Angels at the Showbox in Seattle on a Tuesday night, then take the rest of the week off work and go to Canada. Through something I said in anger (I don't even care about seeing Black Angels!), we found out that neither of us really wanted to go! With this change in plans, we'll only take Thursday and Friday off work, and I'll get to go to my favorite yoga class in Bellingham on our way up to Canada! Furthermore, we decided to NEVER go to the Showbox again, because parking and location is soooooooo bad. We're really happy with this decision!

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    Simple Wedding.

    I realized I have never written much about our wedding. My husband, Kaden, and I have lived together for 8 years now, but we just got hitched in September. The only transition, really, was from saying "boyfriend" to saying "husband."

    It took us a long time to get around to getting married. Kaden asked me to marry him when we had been in a relationship for only 3 months - but we'd been living together as "roomies" for a few months longer, and known each other through mutual friends for a few years. In fact, we saw each other at a show when we were 17 & I always say it was Love At First Sight right then.

    I had said over and over that I was "never" getting married. Furthermore, I had only had relationships with girls (I can't really say women; we were 15-20), before Kaden. When he asked, I took a very brief moment to consider, and instantly realized I could commit to spending my life with him, no problem. We were both 20 years old then, so we didn't really tell anyone because they might think we were silly or rushing into things.

    We only decided to go through with it and get married the first week of August, 2010. We wanted to do it on a Saturday, and before summer was over. The 14th, my mom was out of town. The 21st was my weird-number day, and I didn't want it to be our wedding anniversary. The 28th we were going to the ocean with Kaden's family; the 4th of September was Kaden's birthday weekend. September 11th would be tacky...so we went with the very last Saturday of Summer, September 18th.

    We had about 5 weeks to plan. No proooooooblem, man. We wanted simple & low-stress, and that's what we got! Having limited time to plan really helped us with that goal. Plus, we didn't have a "vision", and we were never concerned about perfection; we knew however the day unfolded would be perfect.

    Keeping it Small

    This photo pictures every single guest at our wedding. There are three other people we would have LOVED to have, but they all were living out of the state. Both of our parents asked us to invite other family members, but we stayed firm in our resolve to maintain a SMALL wedding. We felt like getting married was extremely personal, and we didn't want to share it with people we weren't close to. (example: my uncle who came to my college graduation party, proceeded to re-arrange all my parents' furniture, and said only three things to me: Get Your Uncle a Glass of Wine, Did You Know I am Living with a Hot 22 year old [I was also 22 at the time], When I Retired I Wanted to Become a Gynecologist).

    We noted on the invitations that it was a casual event, and that no gifts were requested. Of course we got some stuff, mostly gift cards, but nothing excessive. We opened a joint savings account for any money we received. After the ceremony, we sent out Announcements to all the family and friends who hadn't come to the wedding.

    We had tentatively planned, for a long time, to get married at Kaden's folks' house, especially since their next door neighbor is a minister - she just has a certificate to do weddings, non-denominational. We thought it would be much better to be married by "Reverend Aunt Claire" than by a stranger. She just walked right over! We said our vows where the wedding party is standing in the photo above, which was exactly where I envisioned it. Our friend James, who we lived with for 5 years, was our main photographer, though everyone with a digital camera contributed some shots.

    We wrote our own vows; they were really short & simple, based on Quaker vows - which we chose for their simplicity! My sister was my attendant. I wanted my parents to give me away. The ceremony was in the back yard. We went out the front door and came around the house, and I started laughing my butt off! I couldn't believe it was finally, actually, my wedding day.

    The actual ceremony was extremely brief - we hadn't really rehearsed, and everything we'd planned to say ended up taking very little time. We had made funny things to say when we put the rings on each other - I put his on as a symbol to keep other women from paying him inappropriate attention; he put mine on so I would think of our love when I snag it on something. My mom said that if she had known that our ceremony would be "so funny", she would have videotaped it! A lot of people said it was the most fun wedding they'd ever been to.

    Food and Other Stuff
    Our folks' paid for everything, split equally between the two families. I don't know how much the grand total was, but I'm absolutely certain it was lower than an "average" American wedding!

    The most expensive part of the wedding was the cake! It was even more than the room we stayed in for our (one-night-only) Honeymoon! But our friends own a bakery & we were more than happy to support their business - AND it was like the best cake ever! Almond Poppyseed! Many of our guests said it was the best wedding cake they ever had.

    the top layer slid a little during transportation!

    My BFF Cree & her wife Kristina (who we were living with at the time) did all the rest of the food. We just wrote up a list of all the things we wanted - cold cuts, cheese, rolls, salad, vegetables, olives & pickles - not a dinner, just easy luncheon type stuff. They did all of the prep and clean up as a gift to us. We served only Miller High Life, Miller Lite, pop and water for beverages!

    My dress was only about $80 (my sister works at David's Bridal, and I got it on the discount rack), Kaden's suit is a hand-me-down from my dad, and we both wore Chucks. I found a local jeweler on Etsy, and we worked together outside of Etsy to create very simple silver rings - both for a total of $80. Mine has an aquamarine setting; Kaden's is plain. The lady who did our rings also let us cut a ton of hydrangeas from her yard! She really wanted to get rid of them! We had no cost for flowers, venue rental, minister services, photography, catering, or bar. Or invitations, announcements, and Thank You's - we work at a printing company! I did the design.

    Our overnight Honeymoon was about 2.5 hours away, at a funny "resort" at a renovated Masonic Lodge/orphanage/retirement home, McMenamins Grand Lodge, and it was $125 for a King Size bed with a private bathroom.

    And we did our "dance" to "I Put a Spell on You" by Screamin' Jay Hawkins!

    Tuesday, April 5, 2011

    Budget Breakdown.

    March 2011

    This is the breakdown of my spending for the month of March 2011, the first month in my life that I tracked my spending. Intriguing! I'm pretty thrilled that 38% of my income went to Savings. This may not happen in April, as I have already bought a bike this month, amping up the "Recreation" percentage. I should still be able to get quite a bit into Savings. I'm also pretty thrilled that the categories of "Music" and "Clothes" were empty, and therefore do not appear on the chart.

    I need to find ways to reduce my grocery bill. Kaden contributed nearly as much as I did; that puts us around $660 for groceries for one month for two people. That seems quite obscene. We do most of our shopping at our local food co-op because it's just a 5 minute walk from our house. It seems like prices aren't too much higher than at a regular grocery store, but I have not checked item-to-item. I don't think we'd change that anyway; it's worth it for the location, to support the organization which we are members of, and not have to go under the disgusting lighting of the corporate grocery store. I did spend $112 of my grocery money at Costco, purchasing large packages of items that will last several months (canned tomatoes, canned beans, soy milk, etc). I may start volunteering at the co-op to see if that can go against our bill - but it wouldn't be the same as reducing our spending. Maybe we just need to analyze and re-think our spending! I'm kind of at a loss on this one.

    Thursday, March 31, 2011

    Making Connections.

    I really love the blogs that invite comments with questions. They give me an opportunity to "dig deep" and make connections that I wouldn't necessarily make on my own. This was my answer to Miss Minimalist's question: "What’s your one-sentence definition of minimalism?"
    ...I love what you say about “It’s uncovering who you are when all of the logos, brand names, and clutter are stripped away.” Although I have been anti-brand-name-as-status-symbol for as long as I can remember, it was a sudden realization when I read that that there are many other ways that we “brand” ourselves, through subculture, lifestyle & such. I spent a few years hiding behind my passion for mid-century vintage, thinking that made me into a certain kind of desirable person. I unthinkingly collected dresses that didn’t fit, furniture that was in poor condition, and knick-knacks that meant nothing to me aside from being funny & old.

    Now that I have cleared a ton of that “vintage” clutter, I feel like my true self is able to manifest, and I no longer depend on the fragile & never-enough identity of a vintage collector. I am sooooooo much happier!

    Until I was writing this, I never made the connection between my former vintage-collecting tendencies and the discomfort I felt then. There was always an imaginary competition between myself and other collectors. And there was never enough. Recreation was shopping for "something cool." There is a lot of cool old stuff out there! I could never bring it all home.

    The idea of minimalism has allowed me to accept myself exactly as I am, and as I am most comfortable. I've let myself off the hook for perfection in pretty much every situation. I accept what I have; I know that my needs are met. It's wonderful.

    ps. The new banner is from a monotype print I did in 2004. I like to switch up the look of this place now & again.

    Different Kinds of Clutter.

    I am so inspired by the mini-missions on 365 Less Things! I participated in my first one last week: Different Kinds of Clutter. At first I was all pumped up to take photos of every item I decluttered, but almost immediately began to lose steam, repelled by the thought of giving these items any more of my time and energy. So, I made lists instead.

    Many days I decluttered from more than one category.

    Monday: Outgrown

    Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life. This is essentially the first clutter clearing book I purchased, shortly before or shortly after I moved out for the first time when I was barely 18. It's a funny, accessible, westernized feng-shui book. It really enabled me to be aware of my surroundings and analyze symbols around me (ex: Roommate is a junkie? Take down the front & center Kurt Cobain poster in the livingroom!). It has been almost 10 years since I first moved out, and my understanding of home and possessions has changed greatly. I don't believe this book has any more to offer me.

    Also: string of fake red peppers, owl potholder, 70s mushroom potholder. All of these were "decorating" the alcove by my kitchen stove. Over it.

    Tuesday: Guilt

    Cowboy Boots and Western Shirt. So I had like the coolest, beat up, vintage Justin cowboy boots. But I never wear them because they are too big and uncomfortable to walk in. I walk all over town. There is really no point in keeping shoes I can't walk in; I'm working on it. I used to wear them to walk to the bars on weekend nights, but I don't know how. I guess drinking had something to do with it, ha ha. I also had a really great vintage LADIES CUT western shirt with pearl snaps. I held onto it because they are so hard to find. But it wasn't really my style; a little too formal. That was one of those items that I thought about and thought about getting rid of until I had complete distaste for it.

    I also got rid of:

    • Unwanted gift: fuzzy socks
    • Purchase Regret: black skinny jeans (look great, feel great, not my style), New Balance running shoes (same model that I loved, feel different), IKEA hanging lamp that didn't fit in the space I envisioned it.
    • Lifestyle Change: Extra blankets and pillows (one is my childhood blanket. I remember exactly how it feels but I will never use it again), orange chucks, my favorite in high school, and a very special gift from my BFF before they made chucks in every color of the rainbow. But, too loud for me now.
    • Obligation: Paper shredder (everybody needs one!), toy record player without a needle (it's so cool!)
    • Outgrown: A panel of psychedelic orange fabric. This may be in the wrong category; I have another panel of it that I'm actually using in decorating right now!

    Wednesday: Sentimental

    2 macrame necklaces made by my aunt, for my mom, in the 60s & 70s, which I used to wear when I was in middle school. My mom was getting rid of these and I "rescued" them...only a month or so ago. But I got realistic: 14 years later, it's not my style. They were very cool though, and I sold them to a used clothing store.

    Thursday: Unwanted Gift

    Fancy soap that Kaden hates the smell of.

    • Purchase regret: cheap fleece coat which I got just because it was $3.49 at Target, shortly before I changed my consumer habits. I figured it would be good for camping. But I already have everything I need for camping.
    • Life Change: windchimes, Organizing from the Inside Out book. I never could get through that book, and I have since found clutter clearing & organizing resources that are more suited to my needs.
    • Outgrown: 8 DVDs
    • Obligation: Wedding cards with no special messages; Robert Frost poetry book that belonged to my late aunt.

    Friday: Purchase Regret

    Fancy Houndstooth coat. It was blue and gray houndstooth, which never matched anything, and I never wore it because it was too fancy. I gave it to my friend Brandy who loved it!

    Saturday: Lifestyle Change

    String Lights along the perimeter of the bedroom ceiling. I loved using these in my last bedroom, the tiny one in my BFF's house. But I've rarely even plugged them in at our current house, and having all those wires hanging from the ceiling is oppressive.

    Sunday: Obligation

    Admittedly, I did not *actually* get rid of these items (or, truthfully, MOST OF THE OTHERS MENTIONED - they're in my "get rid of" pile). We were going to truck them to the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store, but it was raining too much.

    Vanity and nightstand. These are from a fairly beat up but fairly cool depression-era deco/waterfall set. We still use the dresser, but the vanity and nightstand are over in my folks' shed. I felt obligated to keep the set together, in case I ever wanted to sell it. Well, I'm still using the dresser, so I don't want to sell the whole set. But I'm definitely NOT using the other two pieces, and since I only intend to continue living in smaller & smaller homes, I don't think I will use them again. Habitat for Humanity is a charity I really support, so I am happy to donate them there (so much easier than selling!), and someone will SCORE!

    Thanks Colleen for the motivation! See how much I got done? At least 38 items removed in a week - and I'm fairly certain there were more that I didn't record!

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011

    Being Quiet.

    I have given a lot of thought to a blog post on Be More with Less, If Less is Good, More is Better.*

    Lately, there has been a lot of stress in my husband's life. He is working full time with a 45 minute commute, working on his Master's Thesis, training for a half-marathon, committed to weightlifting workouts, and he wants to cook amazing healthful meals every night. Thus, he feels like he never has time. As one might imagine, this stress is hard on our relationship. I am working really hard on being responsible for my mood, on letting things go, on not having to be right - and it's tough stuff! I do not always succeed.

    I've evaluated what I can do to help him. The commute isn't going to change at this time. He is committed to his training and exercise routines. He won't let me cook, because he has visions of perfect meals (and he can execute them!), and cooking is relaxing and satisfying to him.

    But I can help by cleaning the kitchen after he cooks, and that has become something I really love and look forward to. I feel like that sounds absolutely insane, who loves to clean the kitchen!? It's a part of my night time routine, it is methodical and it is a task that can be followed through to completion in one session. Plus I get to take out the food waste and see what the evening weather is like. Being in the kitchen at night, listening to the radio, cleaning up, is my sacred time.

    And I can help with his thesis by giving him quiet time and space. For several weeks at the beginning of the year, I spent one night a weekend at my folks' or my BFF's house, so he could really get into the work. The other day he mentioned that he can't work with my "annoying chatter" (he didn't mean it to be as rude as it sounds!). I brought that back to the concepts in the post mentioned above. Maybe I don't need to tell him every fleeting thought that interests me. Later, I was telling him a story about my mom comparing drastically different prices for the same item at different stores. It was really interesting to me! But he let me know that it didn't interest him in the least. I began to explore whether repeating that story is worthwhile. Am I just wasting my time making a negative judgment about a Big Box store?

    Now, we are trying something new at our house. Quiet Time! For an hour every evening, on the nights I don't have a class, we are having quiet reading time, where we don't speak. When I was reading Foucault: A Short Introduction on the weekend, I realized just how hard it is to focus on serious reading when someone is targeting you with "annoying chatter." We tried out Quiet Time for the first time last night, and it was actually sort of intimate, being together without the weight of contemplating outside stories or information. We went all the way from work, through the evening and to bed, without an argument. SCORE! This might be a huge part of the solution to our stress problems. I'm really thrilled.

    * Although it is a little off-topic from the rest of my post, I wanted to share my response to the If Less is Good... post:

    The Gossip Less and Judge Less points are extremely valuable to me right now. I finally made the connection last night between the all the gossiping and judging that my husband and I do together towards others, and how we frequently inaccurately perceive judgments from one another. Does that make sense? I always feel like he is negatively judging me, though he tells me he isn’t – and I’m sure it’s a result of how often we are judging and gossiping about others together. It’s a bad habit that for a long time I assumed was just “a part of who I am.” Usually there isn’t any real anger or disgust there, and I often justify it by claiming I am only making observations. I want to cut it out of my thoughts and actions and replace it with love & compassion. I have used gossip and judgment to get positive feedback from others who I desire approval from – usually a laugh, or admiration/shock that *I’m* the one who’ll say what others won’t. Not the best way to get attention.

    Monday, March 28, 2011

    Making Space.

    In a previous post, I described how through my work decluttering, I was making space for a surprise from the Universe.


    Guess what I found!

    I found myself able to read a serious book! I have never been able to read a serious book before!

    I know that sounds kind of silly, but it's true. I read fiction, memoirs, true crime, and decluttering books, but nothing, like, academic. I have a BA, but I swear I never read any one assigned book in its entirety. I went to The Evergreen State College and took Women's Studies classes - all you have to do is say & know "The Personal is the Political" - which I do believe to be absolutely true - and write about how it feels to be a woman. And I think this is a worthy pursuit! But it didn't require reading a whole book. And I took drawing classes, which were awesome and changed my life but also did not require reading.

    I have put in the decluttering work for REAL this time. I've done it before, several times before, but this time I feel like it is more real and more lasting. Thanks to all the fabulous minimalist/simple living blogs I've enjoyed, I now understand that decluttering has an essential second step - changing consumer habits. You can send out as much stuff as you like, but until you also stop bringing it in, the clutter situation can't fully transform.

    I have found time and space like I never dreamed possible. It's not like I used to spend all my time dusting my gew-gaws or anything; I didn't find time that way. It just showed up!

    How can it be that getting rid of stuff creates time? I don't know! It's like magic!

    And so, I found myself able to begin reading Foucault: A Very Short Introduction. I had to go out and buy a dictionary - we didn't have one. But when I brought it in I tossed out the same-sized Reader's Digest Book of Home Remedies ha ha. I went to a used bookstore and the clerk helped me find a Merriam-Webster's. He told me that Webster's isn't a brand, it's a style, and that Merriam's is the best.

    I sat down for portions of every day this weekend and I read that serious book, and I actually USED the dictionary when I came across an unfamiliar word, instead of glossing over it and trying to guess what was being said. Several times I was really surprised by the true meaning of the word, different than I assumed. So it was really valuable to use the dictionary!

    Honestly, I have never had this kind of discipline. I'm blowing my own mind. And I know in my heart it is because I have done the decluttering work. I have so much less guilt and weight on my mind, there is space for learning for the first time.