On my SIMPLICITY radar

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Lara, meet your local libary. Library, meet Lara.

How awesome is not paying for books?! I’m realizing I’m late to this party, but I didn’t realize how many titles are available. I used to buy so many books used on Amazon and this was not helping my clutter problem. I put the library search catalog on my phone home screen and when I come across a book I want to read, I plunk in the title. Most of them are available in our county system and I can place a hold on a book. It will be sent to my local branch to be picked up and I will get an email alerting its arrival. I love this! This process also forces me to actually finish a book in a timely manner because there’s a due date. How convenient is it for you to stake a claim in your own local library?

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Speaking of books, I had a skyscraper-ish stack next to my lawn chair when we had some downtime in the Twinkie a few weekends ago. Here are some of my current favorites:

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1) Great advice from Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel. We are smack in the middle of teaching our kids about budgeting and this book helped.  

2) Love Jon Acuff’s humor and love his outlook about just beginning already. Great words from someone who’s been there.

3) Tsh is a favorite blogger and now a writer I admire. Her story is exciting & amazing, but the practicality of her wise words is applicable to any life.

4) This is an oldie, but goodie. Pierce chronicles the stories of people on their simplicity quest, with lots of little tidbits helpful for the rest of us.

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If this video doesn’t make you want to jump in your portable house and just GO, I don’t know what will. Trying really hard not to covet this fellow Airstream-loving family on their adventure:

Tomorrow Somewhere New from Dark Rye on Vimeo.

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SimpleREV is happening October 3-4 for “simple living enthusiasts and advocates”. ‘Wish I could go. Next best thing, though, is reading the blog and listening to Dan and Joel on their SimpleRev podcast. They’re just so darn likable.

 

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This thing is rocking my smoothie-loving world. I simplified my diet by eating mostly raw foods–some of which are blended each day. I am in LOVE with this thing. I didn’t realize how much I was missing with my blender. Ahhh…the bliss of completely pulverized spinach (no chunks!).

I’ve also been stocking what I call the Food Pharmacy Drawer in my kitchen. These foods are tasty and have helped my tummy and energy level. I”m a believer in being healed with good food.

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This is a great site for green smoothie info. Good new recipes too!

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Also enjoying having these bars for my emergency paleo snacks when I’m out and about. A little spendy, so I hoard them for special occasions–but nice to have at the ready nonetheless.

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I hope you’re having a lovely spring, friends. The sun has arrived in the Northwest and I am one happy camper!

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On my SIMPLICITY radar

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I’ve been waiting for this new read to come out.

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Have you ever watched Dee Williams in action on Youtube? She is so incredibly likable and charming. I just wanna have tea in that little bungalow.


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Another good read comes from Claire Diaz-Ortiz, who really has some fabulous ideas in the area of our digital lives:

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This book  speaks about a topic that is going to become hot in our country as our brains morph from our digital connectedness.

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Ever since the Happiness Project I’ve been tirelessly mindful of the small things that bring joy in my life. I like this idea:

 

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100 Happy Days is a fun challenge. I think it will require more effort on my part to recognize what I’m grateful for….not a bad idea.

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When I took complete control of my health, juicing and green smoothies became a big part of my diet. I have at least one every day. A girl can run out of interesting recipes to toss in the Vitamix!

Enter my new favorite kitchen tool:

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If you haven’t seen any of Farnoosh Brock’s stuff, it’s worth a look-see. She is lovely. And positive. And inspires one to take charge of his or her gut health.

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I wish I could go to this conference.  Joel and Dan really know how to put an event together. If you’re in spitting distance (or further) from Minneapolis, this should be on your list.

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‘Very excited to be Freshly Pressed last week. Thank you, WordPress! Super fun to reach some of you I would have never found. Your comments were so appreciated and it absolutely made my week!

Also thrilled to be a link on the BecomingMinimalist newsletter. Joshua Becker makes me think on a weekly basis. ‘Love that guy and his message.

 

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3 Ways for your family to Zag while the world Zigs

via Be Happy

It’s not that the 70′s were this picture-perfect time frame. Goodness knows we ate enough cheese doodles and watched enough horrible syndicated Brady Bunch to cloud our judgement and arteries (it was all so great, wasn’t it?). Yet, lately I seem to be old enough to reminisce about the “good old days” when we road our banana seat bikes until dark in the summer without fear of abduction (even though there probably was some risk), and ran through fields and climbed trees because we were shooed out of the house by our moms.

When someone called your house and you weren’t there, the phone rang and rang. The caller couldn’t find you anywhere in the world…you simply were unavailable and you didn’t have to have an excuse about why.

I miss those days.

Yet, the random reality is that I, just like so many of the we’re-so-connected-we’re-not-really-connecting generation, have a permanent crick in my neck from looking down at my devices, texting to everyone and their dog, checking the weather and pulling up the blog to see who’s commenting on my commentating.

Something is askew.

I’d like to make the crooked straight. I know that it will happen in phases, but I’m anxious to implement changes so that in my own little way I can put some of that memorable childhood back into my 21st century children. Three things need to be dealt with head on:

1) Digital Sabbaticals-

The hub and I have been talking about committing to an UnPlug Sunday plan where we avoid TV, cell phone games (the kids), blogging and pinning (me) and laptop work (him). There are a couple of really good books on this subject that can help in this process: This one is perfect for our upcoming Summer of Fun (yes, it has a title). 

Airstream Adventures will also require some unplugging en masse for maximum enjoyment. There’s too much fun to be had and too much sun to soak up that we’ve been missing for 9 months of rain here in the NW! To even forfeit one second of this fun to a glowing screen is a crime. Not to mention the fact that an absence of digital distraction can kickstart some great family conversations and memories. It’s amazing to read the expressions of your children when you’re conversing…we’ve decided to refuse to look at the tops of heads and we are all feeling the benefits.

2) Reduce team sports commitments-

Ah…The “parent of an athlete” thing.Those of you who are close to me know that I have some serious opinions about involving a child in every sport known to man, driving all over creation for every tournament with the intent that they will some day be the all-star who scores the giant scholarship. Do I sound jaded? Okay, to be fair, I really understand wanting to give a kid every advantage in succeeding, be it sports/academics/the arts/etc. and that there will be plenty of activities in their lives to accomplish this. What I have trouble with is lining up the daily/weekly schedule with multiple practices for multiple sports, choosing club sports over school sports to win the political game that is getting a child on a team. By setting limits in our home regarding sports, we’ve created margin for our weekends and evenings and my girls have invested more into the one they’ve chosen.

We have decided to heavily promote kids being kids in our house. 

3) Permanent changes in diet-

I’ve been stuffing my brain with documentaries and books about this and have been inspired to show my kids what I’ve learned. They are amazingly receptive and willingly join me on the couch for movies like Food, Inc. and Hungry for Change. They seemed to get it, which thrilled me to no end. My offspring will now suck down some green juice before school as long as it’s heavily laced with strawberries, of course. I was guilty of some spinach chunks last week and it’s been a battle getting them back in the saddle! There are more trips to grocery stores for organic produce and we put our heads together to decide what would be good choices for meals that would please everybody. The airpopper is always going here—replacing the array of salty crap-ola we used to have in the cabinet. They’ve always been fruit lovers, but the vege thing is creeping in as I use every culinary creative bone in my body (sadly, there aren’t many) to make squash and peppers more appealing. It has taken awhile, but my girls truly understand the danger in trans fat, fast food and a processed food-heavy diet. They do love their treats—I’m not a parent to deny them a doughnut or piece of cake, but it won’t be a Twinkie (another fun memory from my childhood!), if you get my drift.

The food thing, I’m finding, comes down to modeling. If I diligently fire up the smoothie blender each day, choose produce over chips on a weekend afternoons and avoid sugar, they are seeing me win the battle over poor food choices. It’s not a special thing mom’s doing to fit into her tankini on spring break (although that would be lovely). It’s habit and normal and hopefully they’ll want a piece of that.

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On child-rearing in this century:

I love this essay (originally found it in Downtown Chic by the my favorite design family, the Novogratz). It’s worth reading.

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Friends, what are you doing to Zag while the world Zigs? What is making your family life more simple and wonderful?

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On my Simplicity Mission Radar

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Beyond excited to be the first guest post over at SimpleLifeTogether! Love those Hayes folks…just good people with a very important message. I am incredibly honored to be on their blog this week. It gave me a chance to hammer out how this whole thing ignited for me. I even learned a few things by getting it all down.

Thanks, Dan and Vanessa!

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Good Reads…

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I love it when passionate, smart people share their journey with the rest of us…and I think it’s cool that all three authors are in different stages of life.

1) Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus (two hip, single men on the road trip of life) tell the story of an incredible journey towards minimalism.

2) Courtney Carver, veteran minimalist and an incredibly pure voice on the internet for many of us, compiled some terrific articles that are great to read one at a time (for maximum chewing 🙂 )

3) Allison Vesterfelt, newly married and settling down, chronicles her “letting it all go and heading out” tale of adventure.

Inspiring, indeed.

~  Last week I did a separate post on Clutter free with Kids, Joshua Becker’s newest book. I’ve read it twice. What can I say? I’m on a mission! ~

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I’m a documentary junkie.

I could watch one every day. I find it helpful to be informed on all kinds of random topics.

These were my favorites recently:

1) Hungry For Change – terrific and inspiring when you’re on the path to good health (I’m doing theWhole30 at the moment and this keeps me keepin’ on when I’d kill for a bagel)

2) Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (okay..so I’ve watched this 2 times) – I’m a juicing believer and benefactor…I haven’t been sick in 6 months, and I’m a 3rd grade teacher, for cryin’ out loud! Can you say petri dish?

3) Sprawling From Grace – What the heck is happening to America? Sad, but also hopeful little tale of woe.

4) Happy – Funny how this movie really emphasizes relationships and giving to create happiness  (in fact, owning a lot of stuff proved the opposite)

5) Tiny – I can’t find this on Amazon, but I can’t wait to see it. I’m a bit of a tiny house stalker, even though you could place one in my living room.

6) Wal-mart, The High Cost of Low Price – Okay, so this one just made me MAD. I can’t even drive by that store without having a reaction. My kids watched it with me and they said, “Mom, how can people shop there, knowing all of the bad business they practice?” I had no answer…except to tell the world to watch more documentaries.

7) Kids + Money – Another one the kidlets agreed was a source of good info. We’re really working to teach them smart money practices and this one put it into kid language.

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New blog find…

I’m a bit of a Hawaii fanatic.

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As in, I never miss Hawaii Life on HGTV  (“Don’t bother me, kids…mom’s daydreaming”) and I have a drawer of sand and shells under my desk to put my feet in when it is a rainy, sloppy mess here in the Pacific Northwest.

Exhibit A:

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Yes, I’m aware that this is weird and pathetic…

YET, it’s all part of my plan to will my life there in retirement with my Hawaii-loving spouse. Seriously, I will settle for a shack on the center divider of the King Kamehameah Highway.

I digress.

MauiShopGirl is my new spot to visit and it’s almost as good as putting my feet in the little sand shoebox! Hooray for me, strange teacher-tropics-obsessive-lady!

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Tania Ginoza’s interview on the Hayes’ podcast was terrific–‘loved it.

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Okay, friends.That’s it for this week. My head is swirling with all kinds of things I’m learning and experimenting with. So excited to have a spot to put it all! I’ m working on a good/but simple design post for a simplified home. I’m a recovering interior design magazine addict, but it did help me learn the basics to put it all together, minus the multitudes of STUFF.

I really appreciate you being here. Have a fabulous week!

Thank you!

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ProjectEnough

Enough  \i-ˈnəf, ē-, ə-\ :   equal to what is needed

This word has lost meaning for me along the way.

I’ve been trying to reacquaint myself with the concept and have identified several opportunities to embrace it. As an American accustomed to a certain lifestyle, I’ve become lazy about challenging myself to stay within the confines of enough. I realize that enough means many things to different people, but I do know what it should look like for my family and me…and I hafta admit…

This

ain’t

it.

Although I’m thoroughly fascinated by the Joy of One concept…and I love the idea of Project 333.…and I covet the Tiny House People’s simplified existence…I’m still tuning in to what enough looks like in my home and in my own head.

I’ve identified the areas where I’ve wandered off the enough path.

I’m aware that it’s best to focus on one goal at a time (for maximum success), so the plan is to be aware and purposeful in one area for a month at a time.

February ~ Enough is Enough….Commitment to maximum health with TheWhole30

March ~ Enough Stuff….A moratorium on buying anything new

April ~ ‘Enough Said….Listening more/Talking less

May ~ Enough Already….A mass media hiatus

June ~ I am enough/You are enough….Only allowing positive things to be said about myself and others

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My February focus, Enough is enough, is already underway (started this in late Jan.) and that’s another whole post in itself.  Hoo-boy! It is really clearing my head (and my tummy issues–bonus!) and I think I might be walking into a way of eating that will stick with me for the long haul. The positives are too plentiful to ignore the fact that TheWhole30 is one amazing thing to do for your body and future longevity. I finish the month of protein/vege/fruit/fats intake (with no other carbs) on March 10th and will do a re-cap of how I redirected my meals…it’s not easy, to be sure…but really, really worth it.

March brings a hold on my Amazon.com problem. By problem, I mean my weekly visits to get “just one more book”…be it for my job as a teacher or for my own development (nonfiction are my favorite), I can spot something worth throwing in the ‘ole cart every visit. Yes, I always buy used, but friends…like anything else, these items add to a whole lotta crazy wallet drainage…not to mention the space these books take up in my home has become an issue. Avoiding the mall and other places of temptation will not be hard and I’ve pitched any kind of catalog temptation, so we’re good there, but the cyber-shopping? Good grief, I need some awareness! I think just using the computer for blogging and work will be in order.

April is when I will hyper-focus on what people have to say…and when I do speak, I’m hoping it will consist of mostly questions about what the other person has shared. I notice that with my 3rd graders, they are usually thinking about what they want to say when someone else is talking. This is normal when you’re eight…not so much at 43. Being present and really hearing another’s words is important and I’d like to be better at it.

May will bring some solitude, I believe. Although I’m not a big TV watcher (2-3 recorded HGTV segments are my “shows”), the commercials I’m fast forwarding through are still seeping in. I’m also witness to the materialism when it’s blaring in the background with someone else plopped in front of it. We’ve done a pretty good job of limiting mindless screen domination…funny thing, my kids’ favorite is The Brady Bunch series on Netflix. ‘Watched it twice! We’re deliberate about what we DVR and make a date to watch it…but those damn commercials…the more is better message is definitely affecting me and the little people in our house. I’m over it. In fact, I’d love to see this month’s project turn into a step toward getting rid of it all together. It’s not just TV, of course, when dealing with the effects of advertising. I’m banishing magazines and ad-heavy internet content as well. Pinterest is a black hole I seem to fall into when it comes to seeing how others live (particularly with home design). I think the first step of enough and being content, is not having the superfluous, excessive more, more, more that creeps in through the media.

June is a month to really think before I speak. There is so much negativity floating in our country’s air. I’m always surprised at the outright meanie pants folks on the web who use the guise of anonymous to crucify someone with their words. I’m shocked by how brutal the media is with dissecting the lives of people trying to find their way. I’m not a person who feels compelled to give my opinion on others’ decisions and lifestyles…in fact, I was brought up to love and accept, which for the most part, I feel I do pretty well. But, there is always that less-than-loving thing that can escape from my lips…sometimes it’s about the woman yelling at her child in line at the grocery store…sometimes it’s the guy who’s signaling to me in sign language as he cuts me off…and sometimes it’s just quiet judgment as I watch people at a safe distance. I realize it’s all the same…it’s ugly and dark…not a place I’d like to dwell. I will reel in positivity in the beginning of summer! It’s a good time for it.

Do you ever create little projects for yourself to improve your life? I’m interested.

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Simplified Food/Fitness and the Whole30

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MyFitnessPal is not a friend of mine.

We were introduced on New Year’s Eve…me, wedged between couch cushions (bloated with the aftermath of celebratory, poor food choices)…him, quietly downloading his little App self into my unsuspecting world.

It was a good relationship for approximately nine days until we spiraled our way into an argument of wills. He brazenly projected his bright red -400 calories back to me after a day of failed restraint. I felt awful.

We broke up.

I finally had to admit it was a “It’s not you, it’s me” scenario. Calorie counting has never been a happy thing for me, although in the context of US eating habits, I’m a healthy eater (it’s an annoying portion size deal). Why would it magically jumpstart good eating decisions on the dawn of a new year (in my 40’s no less)?

At the risk of goin’ Oprah on you, I decided to write down what I knew for sure about what my body needs to be in a happy place…not to mention what my head needs as well, as it attached to said body.

So, big surprise, I found the needs to be simple. I raised my white flag in the face of a very un-simple method that was filled with enemy phone apps and cereal that tasted like the front yard.

1)      Drinking 64 oz of water a day (no small feat when you’re in a classroom all day) strangely always helps with bloat

2)      Not eating after 7:00 works for weight maintenance

3)      Running not only works, but it clears my head in the doldrums of winter

4)      If it doesn’t live in my pantry, I won’t think to eat it

5)      Green smoothies are a wonderful way to get my veges, but also a vehicle for avoiding fattening teacher lounge snacks after the students leave

6)      I cannot be trusted with chips and salsa anywhere in a one mile radius

7)      My Italian-loving palette can be fooled by zucchini noodles

8)      I feel like a wildebeest if my morning exercise routine is skipped

9)      A raw food diet makes my skin glow and I get the “zing-ees” (incredible alertness at  the usual slump hour of 4 pm)

10)   Protein/Vege meals solve my stomach IBS issues and I feel uber-good.

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I’m getting it now that simpler is better when it comes to maintaining a fitness plan as well.

I discovered at age 22 that running agreed with me and the very act of strapping on the Nikes provides momentum to get out there on the trail. I also found 20 minutes, some simple weights, a post-it note of cardio/ab/strength moves, and a swept garage is all I need to do the rest. The mound of work-out videos (a smirking Jillian Michaels at the top of it) loitering in my utility room just reminds me daily of what I’m not doing. Frankly, less has got to be more when it comes to making a commitment at 5:00 am, my work-out time of choice. If it’s not simple I will find every excuse (lint rolling a fleece jacket, anyone?) to avoid getting out there and gettin’ er done.

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In my cyberspace stumbling, I have uncovered a wonderful place.

The Whole 30 has descended into my home and I have been reading like crazy. I’ve dabbled in Paleo over the years, but could never find the strength to completely clean sweep the pantry of snack foods disguised in green and brown packaging with ORGANIC sprawled across the front. THEY ARE STILL SALTY CHIPS (even though 4 out of 5 healthy eaters find them to be a good substitute for the usual chip/salsa fare). The premise of the Whole30 is to eat only raw foods (avoiding carbs) for 30 days. These are the guidelines.  Judging by the forum comments about the degree of detox on specific days (i.e., Day 5: “I want to kill everything”), I’m a bit scared of how I will feel, but I’m going for it as of February 10th. Totally random start date, I realize, but for various reasons, that’s the day. I’m gearing up by eating mostly proteins/veges/fruits/nuts up until then—the hardest part (sadly) is giving up my sweet little glass of wine I enjoy while I’m cooking dinner every night. I feel some self-examination coming on the face of this challenge, and honestly, I could use it. It’s clear that separating the emotional part of eating from “food is fuel” is a hard road for so many of us, but I’m ready to explore the contentment and sanity this view can bring.

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I’m also cracking open this book by the same folks to jumpstart this whole shebang. The science part always resonates with me.

I’m looking forward to the simplicity with this way of eating more than anything. I find that when food choices get complicated (especially when I’m standing in front my open fridge), I get flustered. I don’t want to spend so much time mapping out what goes into my mouth…it’s exhausting. Yes, there will be a fair amount of planning, shopping and pre-cooking items for this upcoming 30 day sojourn, yet I have found that Sunday afternoon works great for that. I like throwing things in my teacher lunchbox on Monday morning, knowing that I have all the snackage I need to get from 8-4. The C.Y.A. factor in my sugary treat laden workplace is KEY.

I’ll keep you posted as to how this little experiment goes. I’m hopeful that it will shut down some old habits and the murky film over my food attitude will be wiped away. I would like to see a simple diet add to the overall simplicity quest in my life in ways I never imagined.

How ’bout you? What do you think of a 30 day challenge of this magnitude?

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