Tag Archives: Minimalism

What’s In My Hospital Bag for Baby #3

It’s nice to have some extra clothes and home comforts in the hospital with you when it’s time to deliver your baby. And of course there are the things you need, which is actually a lot less than you might think (especially for a baby born during warm weather).

I’m speaking from the vantage point of delivering a baby in a hospital as opposed to anywhere else because a hospital is where I birthed my previous two babies and plan to birth my third. I really have no idea what other situations might be like or the accessories they might entail. Judging from experience, I like how easy my hospital makes it for me.

First, a list of what is in my bag.

The Essentials

  • A postpartum outfit. For me, this summer, this means maternity waisted (as in not full-panel elastics) shorts and maternity waisted jeans (I highly doubt I’ll wear the jeans, but who knows, maybe there will be a cool night); a loose v-neck t-shirt; and one nursing bra. I will have the shoes I wear to the hospital – either sandals or flip-flops. A nice summer dress would also do nicely, but I’m wearing them constantly pre-delivery and I don’t want to take even one out of rotation to make sure it’s clean and packed and ready to go.
  • 2 outfits for the baby. Outfit 1: A Newborn Size short-sleeve onesie; tiny shorts; a thin cotton hat; and Outfit 2: a Size 0-3 Months short-sleeve shorts romper; with previously mentioned thin cotton hat.
  • Baby mittens. So the silly baby doesn’t scratch himself up with his newly exposed fingernails.
  • 2 thin baby blankets. Many people take the blanket from the hospital, but they really don’t want you to. I use hospital blankets whenever possible, however, so if they get messy they will be laundered right away. I wrap my newborn in one blanket for a while and then send it home with visiting family so they can introduce the scent of the new family member to our cats. The other thin baby blanket should be more than enough to keep the baby warm if his outfits aren’t enough.
  • Extra contact case and solution. I am in the habit of removing and cleaning my contacts every night and I suspect my eyes would hate it if I kept them in for 2-3 days straight in the hospital. I just don’t like sleeping with contacts in either. I want to be able to put them back in during the day, though, because my glasses aren’t comfortable enough to wear all day.
  • Eyeglasses and case. Okay, these aren’t technically in my bag yet because I still wear them every night. But I have a Post-it Note next to my bag reminding me to grab them out of my nightstand before leaving for the hospital. As it gets closer to my due date, I will just store them in my hospital bag, taking them out for whenever I need to use them at night.
  • My purse. This includes my wallet with all necessary ID, insurance cards, and money, and my cell phone.

The Comforts

  • Nursing pads. At home I use washable organic cotton nursing pads. A cousin had given me a box of disposable ones that I kept forgetting to use at home when Pigpen was nursing. I’m packing them mostly so they’ll get used, and somewhat because I think they might be convenient to have.
  • Cell phone charger.
  • Camera and charger.

Now a list of things I am not bringing.

  • Diapers/feminine pads/disposable underwear. The hospital provides all we need and more to take home with us.
  • Toiletries. The hospital provides it all. And I’ve actually never showered in the 2 days spent at the hospital after giving birth. I’m too busy sleeping, nursing, interacting with doctors and nurses, and generally recovering. I’ve already established that I don’t need to shower very often to feel good. You may want to shower, but the hospital should provide all you need to do so.
  • Slippers or socks. My hospital provides comfy, fuzzy, grip-y socks with my gown as soon as I get a room.
  • Baby socks. Summer here is quite warm and, again, the baby blanket can pick up any slack.
  • Book or magazine and journal. I’ve brought these before and never used them. During the day, I’m busy. At night, I try to sleep. For entertainment, I talk with my husband or we watch the luxury of cable tv, which we don’t have at home.
  • Snacks. The hospital provides me with all the food I need. Andrew isn’t included in the meal plan, but that’s up to him. I’ve got enough to worry about. If I get hungry, I send Andrew out to bring me extra food.
  • iPod.

All that I am bringing fits in a medium-sized backpack with room to spare. I am a minimalist so I am not bringing much. But I will definitely have everything I need. I’ve learned I don’t need other “comforting” items, because as long as my husband is there and my baby is healthy, I’m good.

2-3 days is not a long time and there is actually a lot to do. Mind you, I believe that rest is a very important thing to do in the hospital. (Especially before we bring our tiny new infant home to two toddlers.) I don’t need my hospital room to emulate a luxurious hotel room or spa experience to accomplish the simple act of resting. We are there to get our baby safely from my belly into the world and to ensure he’s healthy enough to go home. Then we get comfortable, in our family home, together.

Sun Tea in 4 Easy Breezy Steps

In the sunny days of summer, I like to make sun tea. It’s very easy to make and super refreshing to enjoy as iced tea when finished. Here’s how I do it.

  1. Prepare. I use 3 tea bags in a wide-mouth half-gallon Ball jar. There are plenty of sun tea jars you can buy, but I don’t like them because their specificity limits their use and most of them are made of plastic. Mason jars are extremely versatile and classic. I use 3 tea bags — usually 2 black tea and 1 fruity herbal tea — because I don’t need my tea to be very strong. I fill the jar to about 1500 ml or 6 cups and cinch the tea bag strings in the lid when I screw it on, leaving just the tags out.
  2. Brew. I place the jar in a sunny spot in my backyard for about half a day, or until it looks like the tea is a nice, tasty shade of brown. Then I bring it in and discard the tea bags.
  3. Embellish. Sometimes I add some honey to the jar and it is best to do this when the tea is still warm from the sun so the honey melts in evenly — stir well or give it a vigorous shake (if you’re using a sealed mason jar). Alternatively, you can add sweetener per glass as you drink it (works well if people in your family prefer varying sweetness) or leave the sweetener out all together.
  4. Serve. If I want to drink it right away, I’ll add a bunch of ice cubes right to the jar and shake it again before pouring myself a glass. Otherwise, I’ll store it in the refrigerator and pour it over a glass of ice when I’m ready for a drink. It’s best to drink the tea within a week. If you add sweetener, use within 4 days.

Alternatives:

  • Add crushed fresh mint to brew with 2 black tea bags.
  • Add lemon or other fruit slices (strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, peach) while storing in the refrigerator.
  • Instead of using black tea, mix and match any combinations of black, green, white, cinnamon, or flavored tea.
  • After the tea is cooled, freeze in Popsicle molds for a frozen treat.

Enjoy!

Buying vs. Borrowing Books

I love to read. I love books. And I love to read books. To me, those are all different statements. And the fact that they are all true for me create a bit of a paradox for my minimalist lifestyle.

I know minimalism is a completely individual experience — finding what sparks joy for me, figuring out what is essential for me to be both calm and productive, figuring out what I enjoy most — but sometimes that can be kind of a long and arduous process. I do still think it’s worth it. Even if I have to a lot of internal debate first.

A topic that has plagued me for years is whether I should buy or borrow books. Although, realistically, it’s pretty obvious to me now that it’s going to be some mix of the two. I just had to figure out how, exactly, to mix it up.

I love to read. I enjoy perusing magazines, learning from non-fiction text, and experiencing a really great story. It is my favorite hobby and form of entertainment. Now, if I only go by my love of reading, borrowing books makes perfect sense. I get all the knowledge and story without spending any money or accumulating any clutter. I absorb the information and then return the medium. But…

I love books. I think books are beautiful. I think they smell wonderful. I think they are lovely and I love having them around. I like to re-read books. I like that I form a type of relationship with the physical book as I form relationships with the characters. I like the memories that get soaked up in the pages as I read — like where I was, how I was feeling, what the weather was like, and how I changed. I also like to support authors for creating art that moves me. So it makes sense for me to buy books, too, because I appreciate more than just the stories — it’s the experience the book brings about as a whole as well as the world the author creates. But books can be expensive when you read a lot. And they can be big and heavy and take up lots of space. What about an eReader then? Well…

I love to read books. I have an eReader that I use occasionally and I do like it. It stores a lot of books, there are a wide range of books to download, it’s easy to use, and it’s very small and light. I can even borrow ebooks from my library. But it’s also missing that je ne sais quoi. It doesn’t provide a look, feel, and weight unique to each book. It may have a slight smell, but it’s electronic-y and not book-y. It just seems a bit… impersonal. It’s like having a very knowledgable robot that can tell me things all day long instead of me meeting actual people and learning about them from them. And as with all technology, it will become obsolete — the hardware will get old and the software won’t be supported anymore. Plus, I have to make sure the battery is charged. (I usually realize it needs charging when the screen blanks out in the middle of my reading.) So although an eReader seems like it would be the perfect minimal solution for an avid book reader, it’s just not for me.

My solution? Compromise. Maybe this is a no-brainer for some people, but I just wanted an easy go-to answer. Like, I only borrow books to save money (and space) or I only buy books to support authors and keep my reading slow or I love my eReader! It’s perfect for everything! but it’s more complicated than that. Although, when I stop really thinking about it, I know in my heart what to do in each situation. I would just over-think it and muss it all up. But if I go with my gut…

  • I know when I truly want to buy a book — to support the author, to have the beautiful artifact on my shelf, to be able to revisit the story whenever I want, to be able to share it with my friends and family.
  • I know when I’d be fine borrowing a book — if it’s an author or story I’m not sure of, whether I’m reading it just because of a book club or recommendation, if I only foresee myself reading it once, or if it’s not available as an ebook.
  • I know when to get it (borrow it) on my eReader — if it’s an author or story I’m not sure of, if the physical book is overly huge or hugely expensive, if it’s a recommendation, if I’ll only read it once, or if it’s only available as an ebook.

Being a minimalist doesn’t mean needing to set up strict rules to govern ourselves and what we consume if that’s not what will actually work with our lives. The purpose of minimalism is to remind us to be mindful of how and why and what we consume. Life is diverse and imperfect and malleable, just like us. And I think that is beautiful and interesting, just like all of our stories.

Practicing minimalism does encourage me to step back and analyze myself when needed, but I appreciate how I can still be flexible enough to just go with my gut sometimes, too.

Check In – 2017 Reading Resolutions

In the beginning of this year, I laid out some Reading Resolutions for myself. After less than a month, it already impacted my reading experience. Now that we’re almost half-way through the year and I’ve hit an “end”, I have some more updates on the experiment.

Summary:

  • Books Bought – 3
  • Books Read – 22
  • Books Abandoned – 9
  • Books Listened To – 1
  • Books Borrowed – 7
  • Book Club Reads – 4
  • Books Owned Left Unread – 1

Books Bought. I have bought 3 books so far in 2017 and was generally happy with all of them. One I foresee myself re-reading over and over throughout my life. The other, my husband and a friend also read (3 reads for the price of 1!) and would like my sons to read it as they get older as well. The other was fun and interesting, but honestly I could’ve borrowed it from the library because I doubt I’ll ever read it again (although I do want to continue with the series).

Books Read. If you  care to see all the books I’ve read so far this year, you can check out my Goodreads. Some have been for pleasure, some for book clubs, some for research, and some out of curiosity. I’ve loved some, liked some, found some to be okay, and hated some. I don’t give books star ratings because I don’t think it is a complex enough review and doesn’t enhance my reading experience at all (I just don’t like doing it).

Book Abandoned. There were 9 books on my shelves at home (mostly “Andrew’s books”) that I attempted to read this year and gave up on. I abandoned each for different reasons, most of which can be summed up with “not my cup of tea”. That’s probably why I’ve never tried to read them before, but now I can say that I’ve given them a fair shot.

Books Listened To. I did listen to 1 audiobook version of a book I had not yet read on our shelf. I listened at work, but it was a quick book and not too intrusive. It was easy to listen to and I enjoyed it. I don’t think I would have kept with it if I had to put in the effort to read it myself, though. It may have been abridged, but oh well, I got the story.

Books Borrowed. These were books I still had out from last year, were for book clubs, or for my own personal research. Namely, the research was for potty training Wingnut and I’m so glad I borrowed that book. It was exactly what I needed, when I needed it.

Book Club Reads. I only enjoyed 1 out of 4 book I’ve read for clubs so far this year. There are 3 more books that are scheduled and in which I’m just not interested. I love books and discussing books, but I honestly don’t know if book clubs are for me. I may do another post entirely about this.

Books Owned Left Unread. I acquired this one this year as a free give-away (darn free stuff clutter). I haven’t read it yet and I’m not sure if I want to. I may keep it around, though, because it’s a classic. Maybe one day I’ll want to read it? (Doubtful, but defo possible.) Maybe my children will need to read it for school? (Our school district usually provides all books.) I don’t know. Maybe I should just get rid of it — like I never even free-stuff-clutter-collected it in the first place.

My Resolutions were originally designed to last the whole year, but I’ve read through all of my unread books much faster than I anticipated. (Granted, abandoning books is a very speedy way to get through them.) Therefore, I don’t think I will continue the resolution of not borrowing books for the rest of the year. I will continue to read my shelves — there are a few books I want to re-read before the new release in the series comes out — but I will allow myself to borrow books now, too.

I will only check-out ONE book from the library at a time, to continue with my slow, enjoyable pace. I will only read what I really want to read. And I will buy books if our budget allows it. I have deep inner contention between whether I should buy or borrow books — perhaps that can be another post in and of itself.

I feel like this experiment has gone very well. I feel very free knowing I’ve experienced all the books on the shelves in my house. It opens a lot of possibilities for what to read next. …Almost too many possibilities. We’ll see how it plays out for the rest of the year.

For now, let’s try this:

  • Read only 1 book at a time.
  • If the budget allows, only buy a book when I am ready to read it.

I’ve always wanted to be at this point — where I have no TBR (to-be-read) at home so if I feel like going to the bookstore, I can buy a book and start reading it right away with no guilt! Amazing. I’m here! I’ve done it! After years and years and years. I’ve finally successfully minimized to-do clutter when it comes to books and it feels amazing. 🙂

 

Capsule Wardrobe – Maternity Edition

I am currently pregnant with my third child. I’m due in less than 3 months. The following list of clothing has gotten (/is getting) me through all 3 pregnancies. I was due at a different time of the year for each pregnancy (March, December, and July) and this group of clothing got me comfortably through all weather.

Maternity clothes can be hella expensive so it can be comforting to know we can get by with few pieces, supplemented with a few strategic non-maternity pieces. Note that these pieces worked for my casual job/lifestyle and the temperate New Jersey weather; always be mindful of your own lifestyle, location, and climate.

Without further ado, the list of my maternity wardrobe, keeping me warm and covered for 3 pregnancies and postpartum.

Maternity Pieces

  • 2 pairs jeans or trousers
  • 1 maxi-skirt
  • 1 knee-length skirt
  • 2 pairs shorts — I didn’t need/want shorts until my July due date pregnancy
  • 2 t-shirts — I only needed 2 at a time, but since t-shirts are generally made of thinner material for warmer weather, just 2 didn’t last for all 3 pregnancies and I needed to replace them when they wore out. So for 3 pregnancies, I’ve had a total of 4 t-shirts
  • 2 long-sleeve shirts
  • 2 long sweaters or short sweater dresses — I like them long enough to feel comfortable wearing with leggings, but short enough that they’ll still look good with jeans or trousers
  • 1 pair leggings — these can be maternity or not depending on your body, comfort level, and style of legging
  • 1 pair yoga pants — for sleeping, yoga, and lounging
  • winter coat — again, this depends on your due date. I needed one for my March and December due dates, but not this one. And I was actually able to wear a loose-ish flared non-maternity coat that I already had.
  • 2-3 nursing bras — during my first pregnancy, a saleswoman convinced me I would need 4. Now I know that I could easily get by with 2 or 3
  • 2 nursing sleep bras

Supplemental/Non-Maternity Pieces

  • 1 or 2 maxi-dresses — I found the type with a loose cross-over bodice to be quite convenient for breast-feeding, but racerbacks to be the most comfortable
  • 1 cardigan or light jacket — I didn’t need maternity because I just didn’t button them up
  • 2-3 loose shirts — long sleeve or short sleeve; for sleeping, yoga, and lounging
  • 2-3 more sweaters or t-shirts — I used these because I already had these looser items in my closet and they still fit during my pregnancy
  • wrap dress — will at least fit during most of a pregnancy
  • 10 pairs underwear — I find non-bikini briefs to be the most comfortable, but you be you

So that’s 25 pieces (not counting bras or underwear) to get you started for a capsule maternity wardrobe for any time of year. As always, quality pieces will last longer and thus through more pregnancies, but since pregnancy is such a short period of time, it’s pretty easy to make due with whatever quality you can find/afford.

Also, as with any capsule wardrobe, try to keep a simple color scheme in mind — such as 2-3 neutrals with 2-3 colors. You can also create a personal uniform with maternity pieces to make things super simple. Pick your favorite colors and fabrics and at least your clothing will be comfortable and pleasant, even if you don’t feel that way yourself. 🙂

The Outfit On Which I Consistently Get The Most Compliments

I’m mentioning this outfit because it is so simple. And simplicity is a pretty big theme on this blog, yeah?

For the outfit, the ratio of effort to compliments is crazy skewed. Like, minimal effort for maximum compliments. And I don’t know if someone else wearing this outfit will get as many compliments as I’ve been getting, but it’s so simple there’s no harm in trying, right? I mean, if you want an easy outfit and the confidence boost of acquaintances’ compliments?

Okay, okay, I’m going to shut up now. I think I’m hyping it up way too much already. Especially since it’s nothing new. (Just do an internet search for it — everyone’s wearing it already.)

It’s jeans and a white t-shirt.

My outfit:

  • jeans – right now I have 2 pairs of maternity jeans — both “jegging” skinny jeans, 1 black and 1 dark wash
  • t-shirt – also maternity right now. I prefer v-necks and usually don’t tuck it in.

Here’s how the outfit is specific to me:

And that’s it. Simple simple. Unoriginal, sure, but also so classic. Timeless. Comfortable and even chic.

Bruce Springsteen, with a red or blue bandana, famously wore this simple outfit. I also think it would work really well with a black t-shirt — and then there is less worry about stains! I think my husband looks so, so good in medium-wash jeans and a fitted black crew-neck t-shirt. I mean, of course all clothes looks best when they fit well.

I love this outfit. It is my current uniform. As the weather gets hotter, I will opt for some cuffed jean shorts. Maybe a floppy hat instead of the scarves.

I love the simplicity. I feel good. And I look good, too. A lovely trifecta. A fabulous new uniform for me!

The New Era of Shopping for Children’s Clothes

I found a children’s clothing website that I’m super excited about. I haven’t bought anything from there yet, so maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself by doing a post about it, but I’m just really excited and haven’t posted in a while so here it is.

It’s called primary.com and the reason I’m so excited is because the clothes are so simple. I found it from Simple Families and her post about creating capsule wardrobes for kids. Since I know the benefits of having a simple wardrobe myself, I would like to extend that simplicity-induced bliss to my children’s closets as well.

Okay, first let me go into my frustrations with children’s clothing.

  • Gender stereotypes – 90% of the children’s clothes we have are hand-me-downs. Which is great because 1) it saved us a lot of money and 2) re-using second-hand clothes is better for the environment. But this means that I didn’t have a lot of say in the styles that got passed down to us. And since we have boys, people passed “boy clothes” down to us. I have no problem with tractors and cars and blue and sports, but I really don’t think it’s necessary to emblazon them onto boys clothes to let people know that they’re boys. Our children are super young and are still learning about the world around them, let alone forming opinions about what they like and how they want to represent themselves. Clothes need only be functional, not ornamental, at any age. And I’d rather my sons play with tractors or race their bikes or draw bears and lions than have <cough> ugly <cough> cartoons cluttering the tiny spaces of their bodies on their clothes. Conversely, my sons and I like flowers, hearts, rainbows, unicorns, and colors like pinks, yellows, purples, and aquas, and they just aren’t available in any way on “boys” clothes. Not that I would want to use any daughter I might have as a billboard either. I just don’t like the walk-into-a-store-pick-a-side-and-those-are-your-options model. Which brings me to…
  • Trends – I don’t care about clothing trends and I doubt my 1- and 3- year-olds do either. But most children’s stores seem to follow or propagate them and I just can’t be bothered keeping up. Simple, comfortable clothes are classy and versatile. I don’t like how I have to dig, dig, dig to find a plain shirt, just to find that they’ve discontinued it the next season when I need another one. I’m trying trying to impress anyone with the clothes my kids wear — I just want my children to be comfortable, clean, and presentable (i.e. no cartoon monster trucks or corny slogans in hard to read fonts).
  • Sizing – Finding clothes to fit my small, slim children is hard enough, but adding in the likelihood of a different store’s sizing measurements being completely different is infuriating. I have a 15 month old wearing a 3-6 month onesie right now. That makes no sense to me. I’d like to have 1 store that can satisfy all my needs to keep sizing simple and accurate.
  • Seasons – Stores’ clothing seasons are annoying early and trendy. Not only am I not interested in the ’80s day-glow trend for children’s swimwear this year, I am especially not interested in January when the shelves are lined with flip flops and all I need is a couple of long-sleeve shirts to keep my kid warm from the 30°F weather. I’m lucky if I can find a few pieces of on-season clothes, in the size I need, that isn’t hideous in the clearance section. Whoo-hoo clearance prices, I guess, but boooooo clearance pile hassles. I want to be able to buy what I need, when I need it — not 4 months in advance. Because kids can grow a whole lot or not at all in any given 4 month period. Guessing future sizes and buying in advance has rarely worked out for me (even when picking through the clothes handed down to me).

Those are the reasons why I’m so excited to start shopping at Primary. The company was founded by mothers who were just as frustrated as I so they get it. They offer simple clothing in consistent sizes in a spectrum of colors year-round. I have no doubt that I’ll be able to find what we need when we need it. I look forward to all of the children’s clothes I collect over the years being mix-and-match compatible and last through multiple hand-down transitions (again, I haven’t bought anything yet so I can’t attest to the durability, but Simple Families seems pretty happy with it so that’s a start).

I’ve had the flitting idea to start an un-gendered clothing store myself, but am super glad that these lovely women have done it already. Oh, and they sell every item for under $25. Oh yeah, I’m excited. Welcome the new era of shopping for children’s clothes!

My Minimal Cookbook Collection

French Women Don’t Get Fat

If I could only have 1 cookbook to use for the rest of my life, I would choose this one. The recipes contained therein are simple, made with real ingredients, diverse, and overall very healthy (because they are made from scratch with real food). It is the first cookbook I go to when I’m in need of a recipe or ideas. I shop from this book. I find the stories and text entertaining and helpful. I also think it’s beautiful.

There are no photos in this book. At first, it kind of threw me off and I didn’t really like it. How was I supposed to know what I was trying to make? How would I know if I did it right? What’s it supposed to look like? But the more I’ve cooked from this book, the less it has bothered me. Now I quite prefer not having any photos to judge my creations against. I use my own imagination in presenting the meal and never feel bad if it isn’t as gorgeous as some staged photo would be. I make real food for my table, not set up for a photo-op. And the real judgement comes from how the food tastes. And I am always satisfied with how the food cooked from this book tastes.

Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker

I like this book for its set-it-and-forget-it-ness. I also value that it’s animal-free. However, it sometimes calls for some strange ingredients that I don’t like to cook with, or just haven’t tried because it is so foreign to me. I haven’t tried tempeh or seitan and don’t really use tofu. I know these foods are pretty ancient, but I didn’t grow up with them so they feel weird to me. I also don’t like things like textured vegetable protein (TVP) because it is not a real food — it’s an edible food-like substance concocted in a lab and produced in a factory.

There are still a lot of simple (and natural) recipes to cook from this book that are quite delicious. Most recipes call for a lot of ingredients, but it makes a lot and is usually a balanced meal on its own. I don’t really think ahead enough to use our slow cooker as much as I could. And yet I actually enjoy the act of cooking and the slow cooker takes a lot of that away. On heavily-scheduled days, though, it can really come in handy.

The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook

I don’t usually use this book to cook regular meals at home, but it has some gems in it — especially things I use for sides. (The Brussel sprouts with bechamel sauce is so good.) Most recipes are just a little more complicated than I prefer, but it is quite a fun book, especially for a huge Harry Potter fan like me.

We make the sweet treats (of which there is a lot) whenever we want to bake together with the children or want a dessert for a special occasion. And we make the more complicated recipes when we want to spend some quality time cooking together. For example, the meat pies. I don’t have the time or patience to make them entirely from scratch by myself on a weekday, but if Andrew and I want to spend the day together and have a nice meal after, it’s perfect.

Crazy Sexy Kitchen

Another vegan cookbook that contains some ingredients too weird to be found in my pantry. A beautifully designed book with a lot of photos and information for those who might be new to veganism. As a whole, the book is more strict with food than I care to be (I just don’t care all that much about making sure all of my meals are pH-balanced), but then I know every option is super-healthy. Even the desserts only use naturally-derived, complex sugars.

Again, I don’t use this book very much in my day-to-day cooking, but it’s got a lot of interesting recipes for when I’m feeling adventurous. I also have a good amount of friends and family that are stricter vegans than my family at home, so this book is great when I’m preparing food for parties or get-togethers with them.

9 Easy Ways to Watch Less TV

I don’t like everything about tv (as you can see here), but I think watching some is okay. In addition to making sure we watch “good” tv, we would probably benefit from watching a little less of it, too. So here are a few changes we can make to our lives or homes to make tv-watching a mindful event instead of a mindless habit.

  • No televisions in the bedrooms – here are 18 good reasons why.
  • No televisions in the kitchen – cooking shows are impossibly fast to follow along with IRL anyway. Plan the meal first, cook following written reminders if needed, and eat together if possible. Even if we need to eat alone, we can be more aware of tastes, flavors, and textures, thus enjoying the meal better than if we were distracted by a screen.
  • Better still, have only 1 television in the house – even if you have room for more televisions in your home, consider keeping only 1, and don’t make it the focal point of the room. Living rooms and family rooms are for living and family. Design a room around social interaction and it’s more likely that memorable social interaction will happen. And then, even when we’re watching tv, we will be doing it together, cooperating about what to watch, and sharing the experience.
  • Turn the television off when you’re done – just makes sense, doesn’t it?
  • No televisions in the car – long drives are great opportunities for conversations, listening to music, enjoying silence, or letting the mind (and imagination) wander. Traveling is an experience — enjoy the unique surroundings.
  • Go to restaurants that don’t have televisions hanging everywhere – I really don’t like televisions in restaurants. Nobody’s really watching them (there’s too much noise), but their flashiness can be huge distractions, even to someone who is trying to ignore them. Restaurants without televisions are getting harder and harder to find where I live (especially without paying $20+ per plate) and I think it’s a shame.
  • Don’t stream videos to distract children – children need to learn how to occupy themselves, be patient, be pleasant around others, and be present. The only way they will learn to do all that is by practicing. We need to let them have lots of opportunities to practice.
  • Limit the amount of time spent watching – the other options are more decide-and-be-done, whereas this one takes some self-discipline. If you have the willpower, create guidelines for yourself, such as: only 2 movies per week, only 2 hours tv per day, only 3 episodes per day, or whatever.
  • Cancel your cable or streaming subscription – You don’t have to cancel all of them of course, but if you have less to watch, you will watch less. Getting rid of cable also gets rid of commercials (win!). And having less subscriptions means you’ll save money.

Just imagine all of the other things we will be able to do now that we aren’t spending so much time watching tv.

Some Thoughts on Minimal Privilege

About a year ago, I wrote about increasing satisfaction through deprivation. I tried my best to turn a difficult situation into something from which to learn and grow. I wanted to feel good about a state of lack and so I decided to be appreciative.

Last night, the blower on our furnace broke down. We had no heat, save for a small space heater we borrowed to keep the children’s bedroom warm (Andrew and I piled on blankets to stay warm while we slept), while a snow storm blew outside.
During the day, with the snow falling harder, the space heater actually did a pretty good job of keeping the house warm while we waited for an available HVAC technician to come take a look at our furnace. The temperature in the house never even dipped below 60°F.
As we endured this slight inconvenience, I kept thinking about what I wrote about in my Increasing Satisfaction Through Deprivation post and I didn’t feel as comfortable with it. I mean, I think it still has its merits, but since I read a guest post on Becoming Minimalist about Minimal Privilege, I just haven’t been able to think about it in the same way.
All of us are permitted to have our own feelings and experiences. My experiences are not less valid because someone else experiences something harder. But being aware of what others may be going through is a powerful concept. I feel less flippant about using deprivation as a tool — using my privilege to choose how and when to deprive myself — when it is a real life struggle for some people.
I sometimes feel bogged down by our debt, but I don’t really have to worry about having enough food for my family or having the electric cut off or being able to keep the family warm enough. We are quite fortunate and it will serve me well to remember that.
It’s also good for me to remember that others may not be as fortunate as myself so I can do what I can to help, whether that be by donating to charities, helping a friend, or by being more mindful during conversations.