The Confident Minimalist

Yves Saint Laurant Mondrian Dresses, 1965 w/ Piet Mondrain Painting

Yves Saint Laurant Mondrian Dresses, 1965
exhibited likely w/ Piet Mondrain Painting

The Confident Minimalist

click on link above

A friend of mine sent me a link to this blog theminimalists.com.     I resented him of course for the implication. Just because I have WELL ORGANIZED boxes of bones, bugs, and other inspirational stuff and a storage unit full of my grandmothers doll collection (which admittedly, she and I collected throughout our tours of the public trash disposal that summer which I must write about some time) does not mean that clearing out my belongings is clearing out my life. However, I have always been attracted to Zen principles, or at least Zen gardens, well really bonsai trees, they’re so little they’ll fit anywhere. Minimalism for me has always been the svelte man in a black tux staring at me from across a room full of a thousand bumping garage band types which I found myself landing into trying to circumnavigate that room. But back to the blog, while the contributors Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus (both maximum names I might add) aren’t bedecked in tuxedos, indeed, they’ve probably boycotted tuxedos on principle, they do approach minimalism in a modern and palletteable way. They are honest, personable and are not afraid to brave subjects such as happiness, gift giving, money, magic, love and they drive home that minimalists don’t have to take themselves seriously. Humor is encouraged.

I’ve selected one of my favorite essays for your introduction “A Japanese cowboy and an arrogant American walk into a museum“.  And note that they’ve toured, published a book, organized meetups, mentored, and have an archive fat with essays.  Check em out!

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11 Easy Ways to Uncomplicate Your Life

11 Easy Ways to Uncomplicate Your Life

All we need is another self-help list, right? Well I know you, sons and daughters of self-helpers deplore these types of things, lists and self help and all that. By God were doing the best we can. Do we really need one more finger wagging over our heads!

Fortunately, I was not born to self helpers. As long as you had a fresh breath, brushed hair, and a relentless motivation to do, do, do, everything would work out in the end. So that’s why I was surprised to find this list on my fathers Facebook page. Of course my curiosity got the best of me, that and the fact that I happen to love lists. So I read it and thought I’d pass it on to anyone out there not raised by self helpers, who still find parts of themselves to help.

Please click on the underlined link below to be redirected.

Harvest Season for Seeds is here!

 

 

 

 

Dandelion seeds (achenes) can be carried long ...

Dandelion seeds (achenes) can be carried long distances by the wind. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Seeds are everywhere,

flying by us, drifting on the side of the road, feeding wildlife, drying and

burying themselves again. And I am still struck with wonder at the power in those dormant little stones. They are a generous reminder of the continuity of life, and hope even when it’s dormant. They are one of the best things in life, and indeed they can be free. I am reminded of that each year when volunteer tomatoes, arugula, basil, strawberries surprise me without warning and produce a decent fruit.

So this year I purchased only seeds which were not genetically modified, for various reasons but mostly because GMO seeds often don’t produce in the next life. I always think there must be some paranoid farmers messing with our produce to insure that we won’t take that big watermelon home and make baby watermelons. But perhaps not so paranoid after all, that’s just what I’d do, being the penny pinching watermelon-poor person that I am. So my non GMO mostly heirloom seeds have succeeded nicely, and I have the opportunity to harvest the seeds for us and for seed bombs, and to exchange with with neighbors. So if you’re also interested, here is some information and links below to get you started.

 

  • Not all seeds are alike. I like to imagine how beat up a seeds needs to get before it ready to use–what’s it like in the wild? They need to dry out, some of them need a good freeze, some of them need darkness, most like to soaked for just before planting, and the masochistic ones, like those tortured little Blue Bonnet seeds need a scratch or cut.  Called seed scarification, I imagine it’s another brilliant way seeds evolved with eaters and scratchers hounding them. And what are heirloom seeds, or why does everybody want to eat those ugly bulbous expensive tomatoes anyway? Heirlooms are cool for several reasons, they are old, non modified, tried and true seeds.
  • They are seeds which have endured the hardships people faced before they had sprinklers, fancy fertilizers, pesticides, and the like.They have GRIT!
  • And so you don’t have to waste your hard earned cash on those chemical either
  • And, you also get a lot more seed selection.
  • Another thing is that they will grow in an environment most conducive to their survival rather than flourishing in places where they don’t belong. That leads to things like Potato Famines and stuff like that.
  • And can find plants to suit your personal taste, such as my love for tiny tart tomatoes, little yellow Blondkomphchen tomato, and little round Korean Eggplants (OK I know what’s up with my palette for little things, weird)

 

 

So seeds….Image.

 

For the most part I’m fairly lazy, and just prefer to cut when dry, place in a freezer bag and refrigerate till needed. In fact I did that yesterday driving past a gathering of brown dry Queen Anne’s Lace. And over there, those are my Nicholas sunflowers which I dry out and toss in a bag till next Spring.  But a little research for those plants you LOVE is worth the effort. And of course it’s always good to consider the environment your planting where you’re planting. They could become unwelcomed neighbors. (see Potato Famine again).

 

A couple great places to start are:

 

The international Seed Saving Institute:  http://www.seedsave.org/issi/issi_904.html

 

You Grow Girl:  http://www.yougrowgirl.com/2002/10/04/harvesting-seeds/

 

 

But my super fav where I started, and it’s also where I purchased my first heirloom Non GMO seeds: http://www.seedsavers.org/

 

Or like me, if you’re interested in first looking through some seed catalogs to begin your wish collection, you’d enjoy this website which allowed me to order 20 (but up to 60) seed catalogs which are packed full of lot’s of extra information about planting, growing, and harvesting.  (I keep my catalogs for years since their like little botanical encylopedias). It’s a wonderful way to spend a cold winter weekend planning for the Spring! But keep in mind not all of those offered are heirloom or GMO free. Choose what’s best for you.

 

http://freebies.about.com/od/homegardenfreebies/tp/seed-catalogs.htm

 

And if you get hooked,  you’ll find that there are seed exchanges. It just altogether a wonderful cycle of things.

 

So I wish you the best in the harvest and cultivation of your biological jewels. Have fun, and please let me know what you learn…..

 

 

 

 

“A penny saved …

“A penny saved is a penny you don’t need to earn again.”

“You need to spend money to lose money.”

“Living on less is a good thing to do. It’s the only financial advice that will work for almost everyone. It’s about a quality of life you cannot buy, a sense of satisfaction you cannot fake, and an appreciation for others that gives life value. It’s also about helping save the planet and sharing with those in need. Living on less can be funny, but it’s not a joke.”

– quotes by Jeff Yeager “The Ultimate Cheapskate’s Road Map to True Riches”

I enjoy all of these and thought I’d share them with you.

The best cleaning solutions are often the cheapest and most outdated

  1. ImageSo this week, after the wedding shower gifts and the wedding gift, the baby shower gifts, the birthday gifts, and the fancy cheese trays to accompany the birthday gifts, came the Father’s Day gifts, and ACK! the $5.95 greetings cards, to each and every dear cherished Dad.  So I gagged at my checking account, sobbed at my credit card balance and realized I was out of laundry detergent and our clothes were spilling out of their respective baskets. Did I panic? NO, I thought, stay cool. I remembered the wise lessons my mother taught me when I was poorer: poverty is no excuse for a filthy house. Good cleaning products are cheap and easy to come by, indeed many of them are probably hiding in our cabinets. And after using them I/we get to bask in the glowy feeling of pleasant pragmatism. So here’s list of my favorite old standbys which may not smell Lilacs, but they are effective, cheap, and better for the environment than most cleaning aisle products.

Image

Baking soda is wonderful. I buy the biggest cheapest box I can find. I use it as a water softener in my laundry and my bathtub. After you brush you teeth with it you’ll feel as if you just returned from a dental cleaning. Then dab some on that same old toothbrush and shine anything or clean out any dingy hard to clean place. And carpet powder, I know it makes your home smell neat, but those companies don’t release the ingredients in the carpet powders, not even Arm and Hammer. Regular old baking soda is an excellent safe substitute. But my FAVORITE ( most vain) way to use it, is as a face exfoliant. I use it daily, it’s very gentle and will leave skin feeling clean and nice and soft. That’s when I really start feeling the glow. It is a beautiful product. I know their are books devoted to baking sofa, so much more than I’m listing.

Image IVORY soap. It may or may not still float. But the real reason it’s still cool (since 1897) is not just because it’s cheap, not just because it reminds you of childhood, but also because it’s a wonderfully gentle laundry soap, and very effective too. I sink a bar into a large (pickle) mason jar of warm water, shake it and let it sit. After a couple of days, you can shake again and pour the silky liquid a 1/2 C-1C or so into your wash and it’s great. No bubbles. Perfect for cleaning baby clothes (though not for cleaning babies skin). I’ve also combined those last slivers of soap (differing brands) at the end of a bar rather than throwing them away to use. And of course, it’s a very affordable and amuch purer soap than those bottles of fragrant forest shower gels.

Image Good Ol’ Fels-Naptha, what a weird name, but what an excellent product. I have 2 children and they go through at least 3 shirts, two shorts, and 4 dresses daily.  And that is how I found this funky old stain remover. Some people add it to their laundry by grating it off. I’m way too lazy for that. But, after your child’s ice cream drips onto their new shirt, or you find melted candy in your pocket, then go to your sink, tear the end of paper off a bar of Fels-Naptha, wet the bar and rub it into the stain. Throw it in the wash, and viola! The stain has disappeared. It also claims to remove sweat stains. Wonderful stuff. Sorry Shout, I’ve found a new love.

Image White Vinegar, it’s not just for making pickles. I go through a gallon (of vinegar, not pickles) every two weeks. Good thing it’s so cheap. So I use to buy the prettily bottled fruit & veggie wash, no more. Now I use, 1/3 to 1, vinegar to water poured into a small cheap spray bottle (found in the hair accessory section). SO: spray peach, rub, rinse. Well done. And no, the peach will not taste like vinegar. But that’s just the beginning. Did you know that some clothes labels suggest dry cleaning for the simple reason that one color may fade into the next, like a black and white dress. Vinegar is the answer. Add a cup to your cold wash and it will keep the colors from fading. Anyone who’s tie dyed or colored Easter eggs will remember that important addition of vinegar. It sets colors. But remember, it’s the opposite of stain remover. It’s also excellent for removing the smell of mildew, think stinky wet towels.Vinegar, I know it’s excellent for your body too. Please research it if your interested.

In essence, when it comes to cleaning, keep it simple. There are more and more responsible brands out there such as Method, Dr Bronners, Mrs. Meyers, etc.. I love them, frankly because I love how they smell and look on my counter. But, for all practical purposes, keep it simple. I encourage you to continue researching this topic further online. There is a lot of great information out there. Other wonderful simple products? Bleach, Ammonia and newspaper for cleaning windows. But, don’t mix the ammonia and bleach, it’ll singe your eyebrows off, I speak from experience. Thanks for tuning in.

Please comment with your useful cleaning ideas, stories, and experiments, even the embarassing ones.  Like the time I used my laundry detergent in the dishwasher. The children loved it, and couldn’t restrain themselves from divulging our secret to my husband when he walked through the door. What’s wrong with a few bubbles! The floor had never looked cleaner.