Monday, October 25, 2010

One is Enough

When Ian and I moved in together, we had doubles of most things. Over the past two months, we've given away (or eaten up) most of the doubles. That alone was a big step and cleared out lots of space. Then I started thinking about other things that were duplicated like dishes and clothes.

We went from an overflowing shelf of glasses to a not-quite-so-packed shelf of glasses. We gave away plates we hated. We got rid of the fancy drink glasses and just kept the wine glasses.

While that was a huge step (I come from a family that never gets rid of anything) I'm still feeling overwhelmed by all the dishes.

Before Ian moved in, I used to live with only one set of dishes (plate, glass, fork, spoon, etc) and really loved it. Washing one plate every night felt better than watching 12 pile up in the sink. Spending 3 minutes a night washing dishes wasn't nearly as painful as spending an hour washing a week's worth of dishes.

I asked Ian if we could try living with two of everything, just to see how we like it. He hates doing dishes as much as I do so we're never going to be the "wash your dishes right away" sort of people. At least now when every dish is dirty, it'll only take us 5 minutes to wash them all up.

We're not actually giving the rest away at this point (we do sometimes have my family over for dinner), but this exercise will help us learn just how many things we actually need. Hopefully we'll have another box to send to the goodwill soon.

Just the other day, Courtney Carver challenged us to explore the idea of One is Enough. She proposed a mini mission to give it a try for ourselves. She asks us: is one pen enough? Is one jacket enough? Is one plate, one lipstick, one purse enough? Choose your favorite coffee mug and use only that mug for a week. Is it enough?

I'd love to know if you're living with only one thing or thinking about trying it for a while. What is it? How's it going?

So far, the one set of dishes thing is working great! We're still boxing up the stragglers but I look forward to a super sparse cupboard and sink very, very soon.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Weight of Money

My grandma sent me a check the other day. She wanted to treat Ian and me to a fancy dinner. The check was for $50.

There was a time in my not too distant past when $50 was no big deal. I'm currently debt free and make enough money that I can buy pretty much whatever I want. And I did...which is why I don't have nearly as much in savings as I should and why my house is full of stuff.

The check got me thinking about what dollar amount was a big deal. When internet shopping, $75 is the point when I start to squirm and wonder if I should really be spending the money. For Ian, who has watched his spending a lot longer than I have, it is $30.

Since I've been saving and watching my purchases, I've come to learn that I should care about every dollar. Because every dollar I spend on something trivial is one dollar not going to something living in Europe for a year or quitting my day job.

This new perspective is why I now believe $50 is a lot of money. Just look at how much (or how little) $50 can get you:

2 fancy dinners (really only one outing because Ian and I would be together on a date!)
4 lunches at my favorite Indian food buffet
8 veggie burritos at Chipotle
11 gallons of milk
45 lbs. of rice
100 lbs. of flour
250 bananas

10 fancy coffees at the coffee shop
16 regular coffees at the coffee shop
125 coffees at home (bonus: nutcracker mug!)

1 sweater at favorite store
3 sweaters on clearance at same store
10 sweaters at a thrift store

5.5 yards of my favorite quilting fabrics
7 yards if there's a sale

1/2 a day of skiing (lift ticket and ski rental) at local ski resort
1 round of golf
State Park sticker good for 2 years (sticker is good for unlimited visits to 74 Minnesota State Parks and covers as many people as you can fit in your car)

1 train ride from Milan to Venice
1 weeks worth of gas (if I drove a truck)
2 weeks worth of gas (for my small car)
22 rides on the light rail
approximately 1 month of unlimited bus riding

2 books (new releases)
10 kindle books (new releases)
50+ kindle books (classics, my favorite!)

5 tickets to movies at the theater
10 if I plan for the bargain matinee
12 movies at the drive-in (only 6 outings because they show 2 movies. bonus: watching movies outside!)
16 tickets to movies at the cheap theater
25 if it's a Tuesday

1 mediocre seat at the opera
1 ticket to a play at the Guthrie Theater
2 RUSH tickets to the same play at the Guthrie Theater
2 tickets to the Minnesota Orchestra
5 tickets to the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra
25 Shakespeare in the Park performances (assumes $2 tip because I'm cheap like that)

As you can see, depending on your priorities, $50 can get you just about anything you want or need. I think my favorite thing on this list is the train ride to Venice...I just need to figure out how to fund the rest of the trip and I'm out of here!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Living Without Goals

I found this article after writing today's post. Leo Babauta talks about living without goals. It's what I wish I could have written this morning...but I'm not too upset because my to-do list didn't include "write something super awesome".

Minimalist Lists

I make lots of lists. I like the simple act of writing out the list and I like to capture every minute step. I don't know why I do this. It's not like I write so many steps because I like crossing things off the list. I never cross things off the list because it makes the list look messy.

The problem with my particular brand of list making is that while writing them makes me happy, looking at them makes me feel constrained and overwhelmed. I MUST DO this stuff! It's on the list!

And then I go home and eat some junk food in an effort to forget the list. And it's usually very easy to do because some of the stuff on the list wasn't actually all that important. And ignoring it all was way easier than doing it all.

I've been trying very hard to stop making these unreasonable and frivolous lists. They're a waste of time and they don't actually keep me on track. But I do like to have some sort of to-do list to help me focus on what's important. I think I've finally hit the sweet spot. The following is my actual to do list for the weekend:

-spend time with friends
-draw something
-sew something
-sort some junk
-remove junk from house

I've resisted the urge to set a time limit for each item or specify a particular number of things I should sort/draw/sew. Instead, I'm just going to do these things and not worry about how much of each I finish. They'll all lead me towards my goal of being an artist, minimalist and all around awesome person.

So, what's your to-do list for this weekend? Is it helping you reach your goals or just keeping you busy?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Minimalism by Theft, Part 2

And now for the things I'm keeping:

minimalism by theft

First, you should know that the green vase is my favoritest vase ever. I promise to give away all other vases I find around the house in exchange for this one. And since I'm keeping it, I need to actually use it and look at it because I love it so much. Why do I put things I love where I can't see them?

Um, exercise band...I can't remember the last time I used it so it's a good thing Ian found it. He swears he didn't put it in the box to trick me into exercising...he actually thought I'd get rid of it right away. Ha! I'm going to use it while I watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

The candle in the jar...well, who gets rid of perfectly good candles? My mom gave it to me and it smells nice. I promise to burn this until it's gone and then give the jar to the goodwill.

The square pillar candle has special memories for me. I like to look at it and remember those fun times. But candles are meant for burning and I've had this one for ten years. I think it's time to separate the object from the memories. I lit it last night and felt pretty good about it.

And finally, the two tiny jars of paint. You should know: I love to build and paint old timey monster models. Except, in the few years I've been collecting them, I haven't finished any. This has been a priority that got pushed aside by non-priorities for years. Ian put these paints in here to get me to work on a monster model this month. I'm super excited to make some progress and show you one of my very favoritest hobbies.

Here's one of my grandpa's models for your viewing pleasure:

frankenstein monster model

Anyway, I wasn't sure what to expect but this little game turned out to be really informative. It forced me to see things clearly, both the physical objects and the reasons I'd given for keeping them. It also helped me be objective which is the biggest hurdle in giving my stuff away.

I highly recommend you try a similar project. It's fun and enlightening. I'm already excited to see what Ian puts in the box for October!

Minimalism by Theft: September

It's October 1 and I'm happy to report that my Minimalism by Theft project is working just as planned! Ian did a great job stuffing this box full of my things and I didn't peek once. I also didn't notice even one thing missing, which is interesting because this box is full:

minimalism by theft

First up, the things I'm ready to part with:

minimalism by theft

I found these shutters on the corner a few years ago and thought they would make a cute alternative to a headboard (which I don't have). As you can see, I never put them up and most likely never will.

minimalism by theft

I've had this pair of plant shelves for about ten years. They're nice because they're as tall as me but they fold up so tiny. I used them for books when I first got them but for the last five years they've been folded up in the basement. I was planning to put plants on them this summer but that never happened. I can't imagine I'll use these again (for books or plants) so I'll give them to someone who can. I do really love them though.

minimalism by theft

Some shirts that can go to a good home. That white and blue striped tank-top belonged to my dad and I've been holding onto it for sentimental reasons. But, I can talk to my dad on the phone any time I want so there's no need to be sentimental about an old shirt.

minimalism by theft

Miscellaneous stuff I'm not at all sad to see go...I don't even know how I got most of it.

minimalism by theft

My parents gave me these posters for my birthday one year. I love Monet and it really was a thoughtful gift. But, I haven't put them up in the new place yet and probably won't so they can go to someone else who loves Monet.

minimalism by theft

Martha Stewart I love you! I keep these because they're full of cool stuff and pretty pictures and yummy recipes. Except, I never look thorough them and forgot about all the cool stuff inside. For years I've wanted to go through them and photograph the interesting recipes and inspirational projects. Ian put this in the box to make sure I actually started going through them. Tricky! I've already put two magazines into the recycling. Turns out, there were very few pages of actual interesting content. Now these pages are on my computer taking up no physical space.

There were a few things I wanted to keep so I'll post about those later today.