On my SIMPLICITY radar

It’s become a broken record saying, but it holds steadfast: Gratitude brings happiness into your life.

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I like this gratitude recording app because it pops up at random times during the day (hence the name!). I like going back through my days to see what was bringing me joy.

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Paleo eating has proven challenging when traveling to multiple destinations with the family.

I can’t remember what author stated that one who is mindful about what they eat “shouldn’t be caught with their pants down” (meaning, having nothing in my purse and a plethora of fast food joints in view are not a good combo). I have discovered some great purse-worthy snacks and these are at the top of the list.

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This bar  and this jerky have gotten me through some moments when there wasn’t any food for me around and I was in peril of snarfing down garbage.

 

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Loving this book—a good summer read when there’s much reflecting about the necessities of life. I have fallen in love with so many quotes from this gem…notably: “How do you grow into someone you like?”, “We must root to rise”, and “No one is static. You didn’t marry one person, but all the past and current and future people within that one person”. Molly Caro May is a poet and a visionary. Can’t wait until she writes another book.

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HGTV candy

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This tiny house blew my mind on Tiny House Nation. It had so many cool uses of multi-use space. I’ve got a big ‘ole crush on Zack Giffin...and not only for his building skills!

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Finally, a fan letter to the Matriarch of Tiny (the BIG tiny, that is)…

Dee

Dear Dee,

I adore you. Your wit..grit..humor..bravery. All of it. I got some strange looks on the plane while reading your book—seems laughing wildly is not acceptable in small spaces these days. I was moved by your story, but even more inspired by your character and attitude about life. You are a treasure and I can’t wait to see what you do next!

With admiration-

Lara Blair

(Hmmm…seems someone has an author crush. I can’t help it! There are so many wonderful simplicity writers out there putting their uplifting words on paper. So glad to have time to read this summer! ‘Beauty of being a teacher.)

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What are you eating, reading, watching this summer, friends? I’d love to hear!

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Small House ~ Big Style Part III

I think I’ve found my favorite tiny house. 

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Can’t you just see this little guy soaking up the sunlight in the high plains of eastern Oregon? Ahhhh…someday my scrub yard will come to fruition. No mowing!

Tiny home owners Andrew and Gabriella Morrison know a thing or two about design.

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See more of this home here.

Somehow this house doesn’t seem so small—could it be the photography? Or does it really look like I could hold a small yoga class in here?

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I’m so drawn to modern design with these little homes….like this one.  So crisp, bright and clean…yet, where in the world would I put my giant windmill in my kitchen?

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I’m also a bit obsessed with small houses that involve the BEACH of some sort. Small house + hammock + sand = YippdedeeHappiness

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via.

 

Two things for tiny house obsessed peeps like me:

1) Tiny: A Story About Living Small is out and rentable from Vimeo. ‘Been waiting for this as I usually don’t like to pay 20 bucks to rent a movie.

2) Tiny House Nation is new and looks promising. ‘Got good reviews too!

 

This was my view from our little “drive-thru window” in the Twinkie this week.

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It was a hub/wife trip and we had the best time riding our tandem around the Olympic Peninsula, taking ferries from island to island. ‘Magical time!

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I have to say that I’m totally addicted to living in a small space in the summer. Everything’s within reach and it takes 3 minutes to clean. More time for adventure! I’m thinking that’s what the tiny house folks experience as well.

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This is a “nighty night” from the silver bullet. ‘Hope all you friends are having a fabulous summer wherever you may be.

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The top 10 tips I’ve learned from minimalists

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I’m not going to covet other minimalists’ lives anymore.

I don’t travel the world with a single backpack.

I haven’t packed up my family to travel across the country in an RV for a year.

I am not a single woman with a futon, a suitcase and a laptop.

I didn’t choose 600 square feet of dwelling space with a hobby farm ‘round back.

YET, I adore reading about these amazing people and their even more intriguing journeys toward transformation. In perusing books and blogposts, these characters seem like old friends. We’re all rooting for them. Their triumphs and courageous leaps of faith provide the inspiration for our own stories. However, through all this story following, I have found there is not one formula for choosing a simple life…it is not a one-size-fits all t-shirt. No matter what our life looks like, I do believe each and every one of these intentional & devoted people can teach a lesson worth learning.

A kind of minimalism for the rest of us sort of thing.

 

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1) Clear surfaces and uncluttered spaces create calm in the soul.

Disorganization in my environment used to create brain chaos for me. I learned the how-to’s of de-cluttering from almost all of these experienced minimalists and formulated a day-by-day plan to clear out. What a huge difference this had made!

2) Unplug and partake in digital sabbaticals regularly.

I’ve blogged about this before, but I can’t say enough about what this practice has done for my sanity, my kids and my marriage. Here’s a great podcast about what it can do for you.

3) The habit of saying NO can vastly improve your life.

With each and every post I read on this topic from various bloggers, I gain courage and inspiration to say it loud (yet, politely) and often. No to commitments that aren’t passions…no to stuff from family members and friends…no to social situations that make me feel stressed or uncomfortable. This allows the yes’s in that bring mindfulness and happiness.

4) Be realistic about how much entertaining you do in your home.

I got rid of all of the doubles in my closets and cabinets. I found that my army-sized set of champagne glasses all had dust, except two. Party themed decorations are only items taking up real estate in needed cabinet space. I also found that if there happens to be a need for party gear, people are more than happy to lend it to friends.

5) Choose work that you love and your life will improve overall.

At the moment I am not self-employed like many of these simple living experts. I owned my own photography business for 13 years and found it wasn’t fitting my personality. I didn’t have the gift of separating the hustle of entrepreneurship from family life. I’m in awe of people who live on both of those planets successfully—-and even more impressed with people who can do it on the road! After making this realization that I didn’t like working for myself,  I decided to go back to teaching. ‘Turns out I adore inspiring 3rd graders—I’ve never been happier in a job. This change alone inspired a lot of my paring down (goodbye closets of equipment!) and simplifying (hello, weekends spent with family). I think the act of simplifying can help you be honest with what is and isn’t working in a career and give you the courage to take the leap required to make it right.

6) Put limits on spending when it comes to offspring.

Although the whine-o-saur-us is alive and well in my house, I do believe my girls will thank me later. They are responsible for the “extras” with their own allowance. I communicate a price I’m comfortable with when it comes to clothes shopping. If my teens want the Cadillac of jeans, they must pay the difference. We show them what our bills are and talk about how important a budget is and have managed to squelch “the gimmees” with service oriented experiences. Somehow the new Nike Free Runs don’t seem as alluring when there are visions of the destitute and neglected in one’s head.

7) A closet with 33 items really can make your morning (& your life) more efficient.

Who knew? Thank you, Courtney, for informing the masses of this little gem. When I first read about Project 333, I hemmed and hawed as I visually took in my overstuffed closet. I whittled it down in the course of a month. I just got real about what was actually being worn and I made up a fantasy 3 month Airstream itinerary and pulled out all the items I thought I could fit in our Twinkie’s small closet. With the items laid on the bed, I had to laugh because it consisted of all my favorites…my 20%-worn-80%-of-the-time clothes. Then I gave myself a “have courage” speech–it’s all going in a box, not the Goodwill pile, for crying out loud—and I stood back to admire the extra space.

8) Choose quality over quantity.

The juicer, cutting knife, running shoes, winter coat, purse and lipstick (among many other things) were condensed down to one quality purchase per category. Less stuff, but stuff that will last. Joshua Becker’s The Simple Joy of One  is a great post that I took to heart.

9) Food and exercise can be simplified for maximum health.

I let go of the the gym membership in lieu of my nifty efficient work-out space in the garage. All expensive “healthy snacks” (which are really just pre-packaged fare camouflaged in a Whole Food setting) were banished. We eat raw food–nuts, dried fruit, jerky, tons of veges & fruit–and it has really kept us well this year. As an elementary school teacher who’s been back in the classroom for one year, I’ve gotten one cold. I believe in green juice and I’m doing my best to help everyone in our home believe it too. Love The Minimalists take on diet and exercise.

10) Invest in experiences instead of things.

As a family we have made a decision to travel as much as we can. Whether it’s in our Airstream or by plane, I believe it’s important enough to require a separate travel savings account. Luxury cars and second homes were never going to enter the picture with our family—it has always been going places and doing things (that and good Thai food eating experiences). I like this Huffington Post article on the subject.

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What tips have brought you joy in your journey to simple? Which ones made the most difference?

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Who else fantasizes about living in a tiny house?

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I believe I’ve found it.

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…only available in Spain, of course.

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(The rest is here at JestsonGreen)

The perfect big-windowed simple house to plunk down in a field of sage brush. Light galore and rooms big enough to be alone. Perfection.

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Hellooooo…Laaaaa-raaaa….

You have two kids, two dogs, a busy husband and a lovely home in the country. How is this kind of small house fantasy even helpful at all?

I guess this is the practical part of this series.

I do a lot of daydreaming. My husband would tell you this. My kids would definitely agree that I dream out loud. Lately, though, I’ve been keeping the small house dream locked away deep inside. Honestly, I think it would freak out anyone related to me if they knew what I was thinking.

I get it.

It’s not practical.

We just built a barn, for crying out loud…we are not going anywhere (for now…in five years…who knows?). I realize this, yet my internet wandering rests with Kirsten Dirksen, who whets my appetite for small dwellings with style (thank you, Dan, for the link!). Tiny house books are creeping into my bookshelf, hiding behind cookbooks and giant photography anthologies. I’m not sure what’s going on here, but I’m betting it has something to do with a desire for a drastic change during a time of steady progress into a simpler life.

I know the answer to my change-loving, wanderlust-prone heart’s questions:

contentment

With prayers of gratitude, I scoop in all the contentment I can muster into the crevices so desire and wonder can’t fill them with not-right-now visions. I find that fantasizing and having an active imagination about the future really can co-exist with current happiness and contentment. Yet, I realize that it’s important to not let curiosity turn into longing. Longing is never good. It suggests that something is missing…and there might be, but it’s definitely not in the dwelling category in the life of my family. I’ve found that my small house fantasies increase when my life gets more hectic. Work commitments/kid taxi schedule/weekend plans = more time on the couch with Tiny House Swoon on the laptop.

So, for now I’ve decided that it’s okay to window shop where these teeny tiny abodes are concerned. It’s entertainment and also plants teeny tiny seeds of thought for the future.

Surf on!

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This week on my SIMPLICITY RADAR

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Good reads:

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Dan and Vanessa Hayes have written a book for moms….and friends, it’s a great one. If you’ve ever tried to be SUPERMOM instead of a super mom, this one is for you. So many  useful tips and lots of great videos and links. They poured their hearts into this project and it shows.

For the next two days, a pdf of the “Super mom vs. Supermom” will be available on the Edit and Forget it page on Facebook. You can request to be a member through this link. After that, I’m assuming it will be available on their site.

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Thank you, Jen Hatmaker, for completely obliterating existence as I know it in the Blair abode.

If simplifying, sorting and tossing were Olympic sports, you would’ve watched me on TV last month, instead of the crazy people on death defying jumps and small skirted cuties scraping ice chips off their tushes in the rink.

I am on a mission, friends, (hence the debut of c’est blog).

Mrs. Hatmaker is a personal hero of mine. In her latest book, Seven, Jen’s family identified seven areas of excess and in seven months fought against “modern-day diseases of greed, materialism, and overindulgence”. This woman makes me think—seriously think (and laugh out loud too, because she’s hilarious) about our own family ways. I feel a surge well up from deep down that has been festering like an active volcano with an eruption plan.

The good news is there are a lot of people who are stopping and redirecting themselves…and their families…just like the Hatmakers.

There is hope for our excess-filled nation. The promise of a new awakening to Less is More excites me to no end and books like this one push the movement further into view. Thank goodness for that.

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Documentaries:

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I have Amazon Prime and watch lots of documentaries for free. Stumbled on this one somewhere and I found it hopeful for a generation who might be changing the game.

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Blogs:

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For the design obsessed there’s Home Adore They feature many small dwellings that are loaded with good design and space efficiency.

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For the tiny house obsessed (raising my hand over here in Washington):

Small House Swoon

and

Tiny House Swoon

provide some dreams for what may be possible someday.

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Project 333 wardrobe additions:

After purging random multi-colored items that never seemed to go with anything, I have assembled quite the widow wardrobe. I found the perfect addition to my summer capsule items:

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Lovely for day or night (just add wedges and a sassy scarf). It is made of swimsuit material, so if you wanted to spontaneously hurl yourself into the waves, it would most definitely be okay.

Speaking of sassy scarves, I’ve been turned on to a wonderful company that creates the most beautiful accessories (and all for a fabulous cause):

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I figure this will be my go-to scarf for all of spring and summer. It’s light, neutral and goes with everything.

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‘Hope you find some of these helpful. Thank you for being here as I blissfully blog away the ideas scampering through my busy brain.

I’m uncovering a whole-lotta awesome in this quest for less.

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