Simple Moments Defined

Photos from a morning walk around our apartment complex.

Over the years we have simplified our lives so much, but there are a few big moments that truly defined us, that bettered our lives and allowed us to live the simple life we wanted to. I thought I’d share some.

The moment…we donated everything in our bedroom including our bed. That was in 2010 when I looked around at all of our cookie cutter black and big furniture. I felt claustrophobic and sick to my stomach because I wasn’t a keeping up with the Jones’ girl. I felt owned by my stuff. Once I learned that there were families sleeping on the floor in my own town, we donated it all to an organization that would help one of those families and we then slept on a sleeper sofa and air mattress for the next two years.

The moment…we pawned our ‘wedding’ bands. I quote ‘wedding’ because we didn’t have a wedding. Over eight years ago we took a half day off of work in the Air Force, went down the road and 15 minutes later we’re married. That money that would have gone to a wedding went to paying for a trailer in cash and living in that trailer. But years back I looked down at the ring on my hand and asked why. My only answer was that I wore it to let others know that we were married and because it’s ‘tradition.’ Neither made sense to me. We knew it and that was enough for us. So we pawned it and used the money to have such a lovely dinner, a day I won’t forget. We had acted on our belief that experiences are more important to us than things.

The moment…we decided to not celebrate the holidays anymore. This was back in 2008. We didn’t like others telling us when to be thankful (Thanksgiving), giving (Christmas), loving (Valentines) and even how to do so. We didn’t like the consumerism, money wasted, food wasted and forced actions that went with it, the accommodating stress, and not to mention all of the stuff. We decided we wanted to celebrate every day, on our terms, how we want to. It felt more authentic to us that way. My parents also made the same decision that year and it’s hard for us to express to others just how much joy it has brought us, that it’s made us that much more giving and thankful. And this was coming from a family where the holidays were so huge I remember others being envious of the detail my parents put in. But now that detail goes into every moment.

The moment…I deleted every major social network I was on (Facebook, Google+, Twitter). They were all time wasters for me. They never felt like real connections. Doing so led to finding out who I really cared about. It led to phone conversations and emails. It also led to losing contact with some but I think if we really wanted contact, we’d have it. It made me prioritize, make time for things of value to me and not be so jacked in to a device all the time.

The moment…I read The China Study and, again, changed my diet. I changed my diet before it but never was I so impacted by a book. A book that I have passed on again and again and those people have said the same to me, that their lives are forever changed because of it. If you care for your health I cannot recommend the book enough. I think it should be a mandatory read in high school. I was a physical training leader in the Air Force and studied nutrition for years on end but nothing in that time came close to the power that lies in the truth of that book.

The moment…we let go of our cell phone, back in 2009. We bought a pay as you go phone, put it in our glove compartment for emergencies and have only used it once. We’ve found that we don’t need a cell phone. We let go of it because of cost but also because we didn’t like the idea that we felt ‘on call’ all the time, connected all the time. I remember walking around campus, when I was working on my Bachelor’s, and seeing nearly everyone with their head down looking at their device while walking. I went home, called my parents and cried because I was saddened. I was excited to be on campus because I thought it would be like the ‘old days’ that my dad talked about where people were excited to learn and not consumed by text messaging or staying ‘up to date’ 24-7.

The moment…I waved good-bye to a 9-5 job. Even though I got my Master’s in a subject that means a lot to me (library science), I wasn’t finding a job that I knew would make me happy. After moving to Austin, my husband suggested and supported the idea that I stay at home and work on my greatest dream, writing novels, while creating things I enjoy and dabbling in other ventures. It’s made us both happier because he gets to come home to a happy home and I get to do what I love, while also encouraging his dream of creating video games for a living.

By definition, I’m a non-conformist and so I know all of these decisions aren’t trendy or popular but trendy and popular never got me anywhere. Digging deep, asking why, and finding what matters most to me did.

There are many other ways we have defined simple. We went debt free, after paying off our car a year back; live on less than half our income; own very little (update coming soon!); go for walks, hikes and bikes; stopped buying in bulk and now only buy what we need even if just a cup of black beans; progressively make more and more of our stuff instead of buying store bought; are a one car family; and live as sustainably as possible.

Simple is relative. How you define it is up to you. It is possible to continue partaking in the holidays but simplifying them and there are great resources out there on how to do so. Create the life you love. Be brave and swim against the tide, despite the looks and comments. If it makes you happy, and doesn’t cause harm to others, then that’s all that matters.

Cheers to simple.


Three │Simple Living

Living with less: But only the best

I’m coming to find that though the journey of those embracing a minimalistic and simple life is unique to the individual, there are common learning lessons that we all come to find.

We are almost done with phase 2 of our ‘mass’ declutter, in preparation for our RV move and there is one thing I realized. Much of the stuff that I let go of was cheaply bought and poorly made. The long lasting, great investments I kept, for the most part.

Through this simple journey I’ve come to redefine what quality means to me. Since I spend very little, I have the money to invest in quality things. Things that if I were buying all of this stuff would have been far out of my ballpark range of prices.

The last (or second to last) thing I got for quality’s sake was my dinnerware, which I wrote about earlier. I bought it from an American Company, HFCoors and got this set. While $140 is higher than I’ve ever paid for dinnerware, it was worth every dime to have sturdy, lead and cadmium free plates and bowls. I knew right when I opened the box that I got my money’s worth, the true opposite of buyer’s remorse.

As much as I love thrift stores, sometimes I feel that the ‘thrifted’ trend of hauls and whatnot encourages frivolous spending for the sake of cheap stuff. For not everything at a thrift store is of good quality, just as any store. I say we turn it around to promote better, not cheap. Though price is not an indicator of quality, that much have I learned. I’ve purchased three pairs of $50 Toms and won’t again. They lose their function all too quickly for the price.

This all really started for me when I switched my cats’ food and litter. Years back I made a point to acknowledge that their health is just as important as mine, that I rather give up another expense to cover good quality food for them. I’m a huge supporter of the company Blue Buffalo. They have grain free, by-product free food that has given them shinier coats (a sign of good health in cats) and they sell the most amazing litter. The litter I buy is made of walnut shells. I’ve tried a variety of eco-friendly litters, after learning of the harm clay does to the environment but also what they breath in from it when using the litter, and Blue Buffalo takes the cake in quality.

Now I make sure that every thing in my home, every thing, is something I’m just absolutely in love with. I use it, I adore it, I would promote it. I want every item, piece of clothing, electronic device and otherwise be something I’m proud to have. That even goes for things I make – I want to make sure I will love the heck out of them and so now I ponder my crafts a bit more, consider their place in my home. And lately, I’ve been saving my money and making some replacements to poor quality items.


Two │Simple Living

After using prickly pears before, I found some red ones on the side of the road, cleaned them and made prickly pear juice. 

Living a less cluttered life: Finding multiple uses.

I looked in my kitchen cabinets the other day, particularly my dinnerware. I had 6 cheap large cups and four small glasses. I began to think. There are only two of us in this home, why so many backups? Why not implement a BYOG (bring your own glass) ‘rule’ to reduce stuff in the world? Because I think The Story of Solutions has it right, that we strive too much for more and not as much on better.

I looked around and saw my mason jars (actually they’re Ball). I have two cases of them and I use them for canning, storing and to carry my homemade detergent when I walk to the laundry facility. So why not use them for glasses? It’s nothing new. People have been using them as glasses for years.

So I donated all of my cups, pulled out two Ball jars, one for Matt and one for me, and now we just drink out of those two.

I love to look at things and say, hmmm, how else could I use it. The other day I was strongly considering getting a spiral vegetable slicer, like this one here. And yet it just looked too cheap, a clunky thing of plastic likely made in China. So I did some searching and found this video. That man just saved me some money and space because now I can use my zester to get skinny vegetable strips (which will make matchstick carrots much easier since the tool I have for it started to wear too much to be able to work). They won’t be spiral but give them a good twirl and they will.

Finding multiple uses of things is so wonderful because it saves us space, money and means less to clean. What do you find multiple uses in?


One │Simple Living

A trip out canoeing we made this past weekend on Town Lake. So lovely we’re going again.

Know your parameters and make decisions on the waves of your life, not the lives of others.

As many of you know, we plan on living in a RV and traveling the country full-time. Our original goal was to try and sublet our apartment and be out by December 2013. Our lease ends June 8, 2014. Living in a college town (Austin), there is a darn good chance we could have subletted it by then. However, we’ve made a decision to finish out our lease.

While this bums us out that we won’t be RV-ing until early June (though 7 months isn’t all that far away), there are too many perks to doing so, to not rushing. With our budget we will save more than half of our income. We’d be starting travels in the summer instead of winter. It would give us time to continue working towards one of our other lofty goals of becoming self-employed but the biggest reason we are doing this is because picking out a RV (our home) is a huge decision.

We have four cats to accommodate. My husband’s work requires a few things that would not feasibly work in some spaces. Our plan is to RV for 3-5 years and then buy a piece of land in Oregon or Washington, build our cob/earthbag house and allow my parents to live in our RV. So it has to be suitable for them as well.

We’ve narrowed down our options to Class A or C RVs but we don’t know which or even the length quite yet. Plus, the more we go out, beyond books, blogs, and articles, and physically go in them do more questions come up that we must answer. We know lots of little things, like how many solar panels we will need, that we’ll be installing a composting toilet and doing away with black water, but the big one, what type and length RV we want, is still undecided.

7 months gives us plenty of time to figure that out, to learn what to look for when purchasing used, what sort of discounts are out there, etc. We’ve been inspired by lots of varying RV stories but are focusing more on the facts of living in a RV because it’s important to remember that’s their story.

Create your own story, appropriate for your life. Challenge yourself beyond what’s comfortable to learn more about what truly makes you happy but don’t ever fall in the cracks of comparison when making decisions about your life, for only one person lives your life. Be vulnerable, try new things, listen to others with experience, but know your parameters and what makes you happy. It’s not about the square footage of space but the level of daily joy.


My Shrinking Wardrobe


Of all the many things we’ve downsized, donated and sold, my wardrobe has hit the bricks quite a few times. I’ve never really had a big wardrobe but more and more, I’ve come to realize how little I want to be associated with what I wear and more in what I have to offer. A while back I made a donation of 92 pieces of clothing to a woman who lost all her stuff. About a month after that I decided to downsize my wardrobe by 50%, to what it looks like above. And just the other day I read this amazing article about a woman who wore the same outfit for a year. In it she elegantly discusses why and what she learned. She discusses image, feminism, and minimalism. I related very much to everything that she said and so I visited my wardrobe again and what is pictured above is now halved, to roughly 25 hangers and two drawers.

My goals:

  • To have solely what makes me happy and only what I use because I firmly believe that anything that is unused must go (No point in storage, saving for later, when it can be used by someone now.)
  • To not let wardrobe overpower the content that is me but to still feel good in what I wear, to find a nice balance.
  • To connect – I want to be down to the essentials but to connect with those essentials and so I’m working on sewing my own pieces of clothing the way I want them. I want every item to count.

So far it’s done wonders for my life. It’s saved me time in doing laundry, picking out an outfit, opened up more white space in my home and saved money.

It’s reduced worry, worry of what will people think if I wear the same thing in a week? What about when I take photos and share them on the blog and they’re the same outfit? Gasp! I’ve realized how menial it all is and let go of worry and freed my mind.


Simplifying Sunday 04







Simplifying Sunday is where I share weekly ‘little things’ that make me smile (my take on a gratitude journal), ways I simplified my life that week, and every now and then I include a podcast on simple living.

1. Saw a beautiful Monarch butterfly on a walk in downtown Austin.
2. Had some fresh Italian ice from the farmer’s market, a split of black raspberry and mango.
3. Walked to the library and picked up my holds. Finished Fangirl and loved it!
4. I had started a scarf a while back but Jasmine ended up claiming ownership. She still religiously sleeps on it. So I started over and just finished my first scarf!
5. What look like itty bitty trees creeping their way around a rock. Saw it on a trip to the magical, Hamilton Pool Preserve.
6. Went to a postcard and photograph sale, didn’t get anything but had fun perusing.

Simplified this week:

  • Keeping my email inbox to no more than 50 read and unread emails (it’s helped me to really focus on each incoming message)
  • Checking email only in the afternoons, leaving mornings for ‘high priority’ and nights for relaxation and reflecting (thank you Leo Babauta!)
  • Decided to ‘cut the fat’ in my writing because I often get unnecessarily long winded and I believe that if you can say the same in less, do so. As was once said, “Write like you’re being paid by the word. Edit like you’re being charged by the word.”


Editor’s Note: I’ve decided to podcast only when I have something I’m super passionate about – otherwise, forced content is poor content. It’d be different if I were doing it for a living. But I’d be doing a disservice to myself and anyone taking time out of their day to listen if I did otherwise.


Simplifying Sunday 03







1. Been making (possibly too much) homemade hot chocolate lately.
2. Went to a library book sale and snagged a few books.
3. Biked among some beautiful puffy clouds.
4. Visited the state capitol building and found a large group of people meditating in a circle in the middle of it.
5. I love fresh pulled carrots but the ones I saw at the farmer’s market were just too cute!
6. And I can’t talk about the capitol building without sharing a photo – After living in Austin for a year and a half now, we finally did a little walk through of the capitol. I’m not much for politics but I do find architecture fascinating. Though we were a bit bummed that their columns were just wood painted over.


Simplifying Sunday is where I share tips and talk on all things simple living via a weekly podcast (below) combined with my favorite pictures of the little things in life.

Sept 22, 2013 :  Talking Time

If you’re having any issues with the web player, here is the download for this week’s podcast : Talking Time

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