Happy [Belated] Birthday to my Blog 🥳

Happy [Belated] Birthday to my Blog 🥳

On May 28th, this blog turned 1 – on the same day that I turned 32. This past year has been the most transformative that I have experienced in my adult life. This blog has been a place for me to share how my family and I have changed our views, values, and lifestyle in favor of simplicity and authenticity.

Maya Angelou once said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

This has become my life’s motto. And this past year has been all about learning more so I know better, so I can do better.

So, in honor of the blog’s first birthday, I wanted to recap all the changes [to our lifestyle and also our perspective] that my family and I have been working on over the past year.

Minimalism

The changes we have made started with an interest in minimalism. I had grown tired of chasing the “American dream” of wealth and success, which seemed to equate to bigger homes and fancier cars and more stuff, while meaningful relationships, time with family, concern for the less fortunate and other social/environmental causes are ignored. I was anxious for a simpler, more intentional life. I was wanting our life to be about a greater purpose than satisfying our own desires for more.

So, minimalism taught us to purge what we own down to things that are essential or truly appreciated AND to refuse all the excess that society is constantly telling us we “need.” We played the 30-day minimalism game and between Brett and I, removed 930 items from our home.

Mindful Consumerism

My interest in minimalism lead me to Cait Flanders’ book, The Year of Less, which was so impactful that after reading it, I started this blog to document all the ways I intended to end my own mindless consumption.

I began asking myself whether I really needed something before buying it. I continued to purge our stuff without replacing any of it. I committed to first do without, then use what I have, then buy used – and only when all else failed, to buy new.

Slow Fashion

Around this time, I watched the documentary, The True Cost, which describes the fast fashion industry and how the American demand for cheaper and faster clothing is wreaking havoc around the world. I couldn’t believe that I had never considered the wastefulness of my own clothing habits before or how harmful my “take and toss” mentality truly was to the environment and to people around the world.

As a working middle class American, I had always prioritized buying cheap clothing as a way to “manage my money wisely” and thought of myself as some sort of martyr for never buying expensive brands and always shopping the clearance rack in the service of frugality.

Wow, I was so wrong. I am happy to say that I have finally learned to appreciate my belongings enough to spend what they are worth – and I now care enough about my fellow humans, no matter how far away they live, to pay whatever it costs to protect their rights.

Zero Waste

From there, I stumbled upon the zero waste movement, which I had never heard of previously. On a whim I picked up the book, Zero Waste, by Shia Su from the library. I had no idea how significantly this book would change my life.

This book gave me confidence to reduce my waste [it really is so easy!] and opened my eyes to yet another sad side affect of our constant consumption: waste.

Seriously, the waste problem in America is huge. I don’t know why more people aren’t concerned.

So I started trying to reduce my family’s waste. We began recycling, composting, and bulk shopping. This became a passion [bordering on obsession] for me that led to so many other important changes for my family like eliminating processed foods, making most of our food from scratch, and purchasing our first CSA share. It has been a process, and we still are not storing our trash in a mason jar [that is not a realistic goal for us anyway], but we have made HUGE improvements. We only take out one 4 gallon trash bag per week and we have even reduced the amount that we recycle significantly, needing trash and recycling pick up only monthly [or even possibly quarterly] now.

Ethical Shopping

Next, I committed to ethical shopping by supporting brands that are concerned about sustainability and fair, ethical treatment of all members within the supply chain [animals included].

This one is tougher because it is hard to know whether a company is ethical or not and requires research which requires time, but it’s not so bad because we don’t buy very many things, so purchases can be thoughtfully and intentionally made with our values in mind.

Yes, I am boycotting Wendy’s. Yes, I pay more for Fair Trade coffee and chocolate and bananas. Yes, I adore Patagonia.

Simple Living

Then I began to focus on eliminating some of the distractions that caused me to always feel like I never had enough time. We moved our only television into the lower level. I started using the “screen time” feature on my iPhone to limit my time on certain apps. I turned off all notifications on my phone. ALL of them. If you call me and I don’t physically have my phone in my hand, I won’t know it until I actually open my phone app…which I do every couple days. I’m harder to reach, but by responding to texts and calls and emails on my own time, I am no longer a slave to my phone.

The kids and I began spending more time outside after I read the inspiring book, There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather, by Linda Åkeson McGurk.

We started having a Monday movie night with the kids as their only screen time for the week. I simplified my cleaning routine to improve efficiency so I don’t have to spend a lot of time cleaning. We purged A TON of toys [with the kids’ help], which cut back on the chaos of living with three toddlers.

I also read Slow by Brooke McAlary which was full of inspiration for living a more intentional and less frantic life.

Giving Back to the World

Last, but most importantly, we rearranged our finances to prioritize giving to charities that we believe are doing good around the world. I wish I could be the one doing the good myself, but at this stage in my life, I am chasing toddlers all day and working part-time, so I am prioritizing what I can do, which is give money to those who will use it to help people. I look forward to volunteering regularly and giving back in other ways in the future, as I believe that this is one of our most important purposes on this earth – not to merely look out for our own interests and our family’s well-being, but to care for the less fortunate and fight for a better world.

But, more on that another day.

I am looking forward to improving in all of these areas and more over the next year.

Karis

My Simple Living Cleaning Routine

My Simple Living Cleaning Routine

In the ongoing saga of simplifying my life, I have now simplified my cleaning routine.

Check out my new cleaning schedule for 2019 next to my new chalkboard planner.

The schedule isn’t actually new. I used the same system last year too. And it made cleaning a breeze.

I hate cleaning. I would much rather be playing with my kids [which is why I read them 26 books before lunch today] or exercising or napping or doing crafts or daydreaming or …pretty much anything besides cleaning. But, alas, it must be done.

My chores schedule involves a weekly rotation of daily cleaning that equals about an hour a day and covers the whole house twice a week, and also a monthly list of additional things that don’t need to be completed as frequently.

This doesn’t actually look very simple, now that I think about it, but, believe it or not, it has significantly reduced the amount of time I spend cleaning…and the amount of time I spend wondering what needs to be cleaned…and the time I spend wondering when that thing was cleaned last.

I’m not saying anyone should follow my exact pattern here, but I have found these three tips to be key in simplifying my household cleaning:

Keep space and possessions to a minimum. Obviously, the smaller the home, the simpler [and faster] to clean. We moved from an 1800 sq ft home to a 1000 sq ft home and, quite frankly, I would never go back. For me, the benefits of a small house far outweigh the benefits of a big house. I can clean my entire house twice a week. In my last home my goal was just to hit each area once a week. A smaller home gives me more flexibility because I don’t need to sweat it if I can’t get to the mopping on Sunday. There is always Thursday.

Make a monthly check list. I may not do everything on my checklist each month, but I always have a record of when it was done last. I also keep track of the dog’s meds and baths and how often we feed the python [only once a month – I know, right?? Why don’t more people own pythons?] and put new salt blocks into the water softener. But it also has cleaning projects that I would just never do if I didn’t have a running list, like cleaning the ceiling fans and the door handles and the refrigerator and the oven, etc.

Do laundry once a week. I have one day a week dedicated to laundry. I don’t do any other cleaning [well, besides general picking up and washing dishes]. I actually enjoy doing the laundry, but I hate how it seems to take days to complete when added to the other usual tasks. There always used to be a pile of clean clothes left in the dryer or a basket of folded clothes sitting in someone’s room. It never got done from start to finish in one day – until now. I started doing this a few months ago and found that not only does all of the laundry get done in one day, BUT I also run fewer cycles in the washer and dryer, AND it feels like a break from the regular cleaning schedule.

So basically a win, win, win!

This system has allowed me to keep things clean and tidy without having to do any major deep cleans and has prevented me from freaking out when unexpected guests pop over. Hallelujah!

I finally feel like I’m adulting!

Now I just need to laminate this list so it will be dry erase and [nearly] zero waste too!

🧺 🧺 🧺

Karis