Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What would Ma Ingalls do?

I'm a very visual person. I love things that are pretty. They don't have to be useful, I just love looking at beautiful things.

Unfortunately, it seems that pretty for its own sake does not mix well with minimalism. When one owns only 100 things, each thing must have a purpose, it must be useful.

While I was fretting about giving away all my beautiful things, I thought about Ma Ingalls. I've looked up to her for as long as I can remember and I find her to be particularly inspiring when I feel overwhelmed by the world and my own life.

I admire her because she never wasted anything, because she made clothes for her family, because she worked as hard as Pa and because she cheerfully survived in the harsh wilderness.

Actually, the thing I admire most is that she did more than just survive, she thrived! She took pleasure in her daily tasks, in a job well done. She created a happy home filled with treasures, a few tangible but most not. She opted for beauty when plain would have sufficed:

"In winter the cream was not yellow as it was in summer, and butter churned from it was white and not so pretty. Ma liked everything on her table to be pretty, so in the wintertime she colored the butter...

...Now came the best part of the churning. Ma molded the butter. On the loose bottom of the wooden butter-mold was carved the picture of a strawberry with two strawberry leaves.

With the paddle Ma packed butter tightly into the mold until it was full. Then she turned it upside down over a plate, and pushed on the handle of the loose bottom. The little, firm pat of golden butter came out, with the strawberry and its leaves molded on the top."

It's obvious to me that minimalism does not have to mean sparse, plain or boring. Who says that utilitarian bags and generic clothes and white walls are what it means to be minimal? Useful things, necessities can be beautiful too. And if I am, someday, to own only 100 things, I'd want each and every one of them to be as beautiful (and well made) as possible.

Ian has been asking me to help him make a printed t-shirt for months now. This weekend I focused on the important and we spent some fun, quality time together. Ian printed this sweet t-shirt:

Ian's new t-shirt

And since neither of us had ever printed on fabric before, we did a test run first. Behold, the most adorable Frankenstein resistance fist tea towel ever made:

tea towel

Towels are necessities and damn it, all mine are going to be pretty! I think Ma would approve.

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