7.28.2017

IS BLOGGING A THING OF THE PAST

I must confess.  Although I have a blog of my own, I don't really enjoy reading other people's blogs.  It's true!  When I want to learn about a certain topic, I will Google it and browse Pinterest.  If I come across a blog during that search, I'll read the post.  But, I don't have any blogs that I consistently follow and go back to often.  Weird, huh?


So, it got me thinking that maybe blogging is a dying art.  FaceBook became super popular and everyone got in, but then Instagram came along.  YouTube videos got attention at some point.  And then Snapchat.  I don't even know what else is new.  I don't try to keep up most times.  But I know it's almost always geared towards simpler, faster and better.  It seems that as soon as I learn how to use some new App or whatever else it may be, some company releases another thing that people go crazy over.  And blogs?  Who has blogs anymore?  I've found that less and less people are using them.  It's just easier to use Instagram.  Put one photo.  Say a few words.  Add some hashtags.  So little effort.  And lots of people seem on board with Vlogs.  Me?  I usually lose patience watching and waiting for that person to go ahead and get to the point.  And FaceBook pages are honestly not getting that much participation.  Right now, I really feel like Instagram is where it's at.

So, sometimes in the name of minimalism, I wish that I didn't have a blog.  Seriously.

Sometimes, I can't think of what to even write.

Sometimes, I don't have any photos I think will work with the post.

Sometimes, I'm not sure if anyone is really reading any of this.

And sometimes, I think it would just be easier to stick with my FaceBook and Instagram.


But, then I go through with it and write a blog post and my daddy writes me an email, telling me how much he loved my last post and I'm motivated to keep going.  I spend a lot of time researching and learning and love to have my blog as a way to share with others, which in turn, inspires me all over again.  Plus, when I'm searching through my photos for something to use, I love when I come across one I haven't seen in a long time.

Since I began blogging in 2008, I can tell how far I've come in organizing my ideas, writing down my thoughts and taking decent photos.  Sure, it's been almost a decade to get where I am.  But, think about where I'd be if I never tried!  Sometimes, I wonder if my blog will ever help me write and publish a book.  I'm not sure if that's what I really want to do, or if I think I'm supposedly to do.  On the other hand, maybe I do want to do it, but I'm afraid to admit it and fail.

When all these thoughts roll around in my head and I go through all the stages of wondering if blogging is just about dead, I remember that when I'm doing this for me, I really enjoy it.  I may not always have the time to sit down and write a couple posts a week on my blog.  But, right now I do.  So, instead of overthinking it and wondering if I'm doing the "right thing" from a social media aspect, I'm just going to enjoy what I've got and stop worrying if blogging is a thing of the past.

Am I the only blogger out there that wonders this?  And for those of you who aren't bloggers...do you like reading blogs or rather the fast and easy social media like Instagram?

FYI.  We are headed out on an east coast road trip for the next two weeks.  Follow us on Instagram for photos and stories!

7.26.2017

4 WAYS TO TRAVEL MORE OFTEN

People are always asking Ironman and I how we travel so often.  I know from the outside looking in, it seems like we are doing something special and it makes others feel like they could never do the same.  However, it's not true!  There's no magic.  It all comes down to constantly dreaming up new ideas, always making major sacrifices and consistently working hard.  Do you want to take your first trip?  Or begin to travel more often?  Here is exactly how we do it:



1.  DREAM.  First things first, you gotta learn how to dream if you don't already know how to do it.  Spend time browsing Pinterest, travel blogs, Instagram's digital nomads and even travel magazines at your local bookstore.  Take note of what interests you most.  Do you want to road trip the USA?  Backpack Europe?  Camp the Appalachian Trail?  Cruise the Caribbean?  Get a piece of paper (or type it up in your cell phone notes, if you like to go paperless) and start writing down your very own Bucket List.  This is your new hobby.  You wouldn't believe how much Ironman and I do this together.  There's no telling how many hours we have spent looking at maps and photos and articles, etc.  Do your research, save good ideas you come across and talk to other people about it.  This part can often be just as much fun as the actual adventure!

2.  SACRIFICE.  Look for ways to cut expenses.  Cancel all your subscriptions that cost money, like magazines, Netflix, cable, etc.  If you have a car payment, sell that car and buy a car you can afford to pay in cash right then.  Or maybe your family can get away with one car!  Look for ways to cut down on utilities like turning off lights, unplugging items and using less water.  Make your own toiletries, cleaning supplies and more with essential oils.  Stop going out to eat, but buy groceries to prepare and eat all your meals at home.  Find free local entertainment, instead of paying for movies.  Quit buying things unless you really truly need that item (not want, but need).  Set a budget for yourself and don't go over.  Each month, Ironman budgets our mortgage, utilities, insurance, gym membership, cell phone, gas and food and then he gives me $100 to spend how I want.  This means that once we hit the top of one of the budgets, then we have to say "no" until next month.  This helps us be much more careful about spending!  If you want to do something drastic, consider a total lifestyle change by downsizing your home, belongings and spending!  And if you haven't taken it yet, I recommend the Dave Ramsey course...we did it as newlyweds and I know it set us up for success.

Us in Ireland

3.  SELL.  Live a more minimalist lifestyle by selling things that you don't use or need.  Go through every room in your entire home and if you haven't used an item in one year, it's time to get rid of it.  Even furniture that has no purpose but to collect piles of stuff should go.  You can live with much less than you think.  Only keep items that you truly use and are helpful to you.  Sell anything else.  Put that extra cash from selling those items in savings for your upcoming adventure.  Still want to downsize, but don't have things in good enough condition to sell?  Donate them to local charities who could use them!  Want to travel for longer periods of time?  Maybe indefinitely?  Consider selling your house or simply renting it out while you are gone!

4.  WORK.  Living simply has truly helped us to travel more than most people, but once we opened our own small business, things really took off in the adventure department.  We travel much more often now because we have the freedom to be flexible.  The great thing about working online is that we can literally work from anywhere in the world, as long as you can find wifi.  We have traveled and worked while visiting friends in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, Bolivia and all over the USA.  Even this Friday, we are headed out for a two week east coast road trip!  This is one huge reason why I love our business.  I also love helping others learn to live with the same freedom as us.  If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, I'd be more than happy to share how we've done it!  Just shoot me an email!  However, if you don't want to work while you travel, the other option is to save money ahead of time so that you can take that time off or quit your job!

So, you see?  There's no magic, no secrets.  Just a lot of planning and working!  But you decide.  Would you rather a bigger house, huge TV, new car and a closet full of clothes?  Or to live with less, but travel more?  We all choose how we will spend our time and money.  How do you want to spend yours?


7.24.2017

OUR ROUTE, STOPS AND RANDOM FACTS FROM OUR MONTH-LONG USA ROAD TRIP

During September 2012, Ironman and I took a month-long road trip, looping the southern part of the USA, heading up the west coast and returning to South Carolina through the middle of the country.  Seems like just yesterday, but that was already five years ago!  And for these entire five years, I've been telling Ironman that we need to do an east coast road trip.  I'm super excited to say that we are taking off this Friday and knocking that off the Bucket List on a two week trip!  Make sure you follow us on Instagram for all the photos and updates!  


However, let's not get ahead of ourselves.  In case you live over here on the east coast and you would like to take a road trip to see the west coast, here is the route and stops I suggest you take:

Grand Canyon National Park

Our Route:
South Carolina 
Georgia
Alabama
Mississippi
Louisiana
Texas
New Mexico 
Arizona
Nevada
California
Oregon
Idaho
Montana
Wyoming
Colorado
Kansas
Missouri
Illinois 
Kentucky
Tennessee
Georgia 
Tennessee 
Georgia
Tennessee
Georgia (we went back and forth between TN and GA while driving around Lookout Mountain...half of the mountain is in GA and half of it is in TN)
South Carolina

Colorado

Our Overnight Stops:
Roswell, GA
Cypress, TX
El Paso, TX
Phoenix, AZ
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Palmdale, CA
Cupertino, CA
Redwood National Forest, CA
Rock Springs, WY
Idaho Falls, ID
Buena Vista, CO
Lenexa, KS
Lookout Mountain, GA

Redwoods National Park

Our Sightseeing Spots:
Downtown Houston
The Woodlands
The Alamo
Montezuma Castle
Chapel of the Holy Cross
Grand Canyon National Park
Hoover Dam
Hollywood
Santa Monica Pier
Sailing the Pacific coastline
Pier 39
Ghiradelli Square
The most crooked street
Coit Tower
Apple
Golden Gate Bridge
Redwood National Forest
Crater Lake
Yellowstone National Park
Colorado ranches and mountains
St Louis Arch (saw it from the car)
Scenery of half of the country while driving...

Santa Monica Pier (made it to the Pacific Coast!)

Random facts from our month on the road:
Hours of driving: 127 hours 45 minutes
Miles on the road: 7,801.9
Gallons of gas: 270.4
Gas stops: 30
Days on the road: 27
Nights on the road: 26
Nights in hotels: 5
Nights in campgrounds: 4
Nights in car: 1 (our tent site got flooded)
Nights with strangers: 4
Nights with family: 5
Nights with friends: 7
States we drove through: 21
Creepiest overnight stay: Rock Springs, WY
Worst traffic: Houston and San Francisco
Longest drive: Atlanta to Houston in one day
Hardest drive: 23 hours in two days
Most deserted: Oregon and Idaho
Laziest afternoon: watching John Wayne movies with our cowboy, Ben Temple, in Colorado
Hottest weather: Houston
Sweetest dog: Holly Hoffart's sister's dog in Kansas
Sunburns: a day by the pool with Holly
Least disappointing: Seeing the Mexican border and not crossing it
Best camping: Redwoods
Craziest host: Bob near San Francisco
Coldest weather: Grand Canyon
Never want to go back: Las Vegas
Traffic jams: 3
Grizzlies: 0
Best memory: sitting around the campfire in the Redwoods
Snacks: Twizzler Bites and Combos
Caffeine of choice: Starbucks
Injuries: none
Car problems: on the verge of overheating 
Handsomest guy: Nick
Best nap: on the beach in Santa Monica with my cousin Carrie
Hours Emily drove: 0
Most surprising moment: Going to church in California and meeting someone from my hometown in Bolivia!
Audio books: 2 1/2
eBooks: 5
Books: 2
Magazines: 1
Sick days: Nick had allergies
Most expensive gas: Northern California $4.39 per gallon
Least expensive gas: South Carolina...never complain again
Hours of silence:...................
Favorite state: Colorado
We didn't get to see, but wanted to: Alcatraz and Yosemite (still on the Bucket List)
Lessons learned: Don't camp in the rain
Favorite place in the country: home!!!

Yellowstone National Park

Most used sentences:
"I can't believe we're here!"
"I hope the car doesn't break down!"

How would we rate this trip on a scale of 1 to 10?: TEN


Now, if you were reading this and thinking, "I would love to do something like this, but could never afford it", I want you to check out this blog post on how to travel on a tight budget and this blog post on how to save money and travel!  Sure, traveling takes lots of planning and sacrifice.  But, it makes for some amazing memories and is always worth it.


7.20.2017

15 TIPS FOR CROSSING NORTHERN IRELAND OFF YOUR BUCKET LIST

Back in 2013, we flew out Christmas Day to spend two weeks in Northern Ireland and one week in Scotland.  It was amazing.  Everywhere we went felt like we were in a Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings movie.  Although we stayed busy, it wasn't enough time to see everything.  So, obviously, we have to go back again, right?  Yea, I thought you would agree.  In case you are headed that way anytime soon, or I can convince you to go, here are my 15 tips for crossing Northern Ireland off your Bucket List:

Can't be real, right?!

1.  PACK LIGHT AND IN LAYERS.  First things first.  You need comfortable clothes for all the traveling and walking you're going to be doing.  Also, you need warm layers for the fickle weather and freezing wind.  Fit it all in a carry-on, if possible.  That way, you don't have to worry about losing your luggage.  Plus, the cars are like the tiniest things you've ever seen, so anything more than two carry-ons is not going to fit in their itty bitty trunks!

Headed out Christmas Day!

2.  SPEND A DAY IN DUBLIN.  Unfortunately, we flew in and out of Dublin, but didn't get to actually spend any time here.  Sad.  Next time, though, right?  And even though I didn't get to play tourist here, I know it should be on the list.  So, you should totally go.

The view outside of our bedroom window...like a fairy tale!

3.  STAY IN BELFAST.  We chose Belfast because we were visiting friends there, but I'm glad that's where we stayed.  I loved the city and would love to go back one day.  There was just the right amount of countryside and city.  Plus, there's so much history there!

Right outside Victoria Square

4.  TAKE A ROAD TRIP.  When we take a road trip in the USA, I imagine days, if not weeks, on the road.  However, our friends in Belfast consider two hours in the car to be torture.  Haha.  So, our entire road trip was one and a half hours and they felt like we had gone to the very edges of the country.  We ended up seeing places that even they had never been, even though they've lived there their entire lives!  The car was small and very cramped, but the countryside was beautiful and we stopped in several adorable little towns.

You can imagine how cramped we were in there!

5.  LEARN THE TRANSLATIONS.  Although the locals speak English, we felt like we almost needed a dictionary.  We quickly became familiar with the words and found that some are pretty important to know the difference.  For example, if I say "pants", I mean the long material covering my legs.  When they hear "pants", they assume I'm talking about my panties.  Haha.  That can make for some awkward misunderstandings for sure!

Another dinner at a pub!

6.  SHOP IN VICTORIA SQUARE.  I loved this mall because it was enormous and beautiful and decorated in Christmas lights.  What was crazy is that it was an open air mall, even though Belfast is not the warmest place.  It was probably the first time I ever walked around a mall to shop in my winter coat and scarf.

Don't you love the lights?!

7.  CLIMB TO THE TOP OF THE DOME.  You get a 360 degree view of Belfast.  It's amazing and you won't want to miss it.

The view was amazing!

8.  SEE GIANTS CAUSEWAY.  I've always seen this place and been in awe.  It's even more magical in person.  Although I know Giant's Causeway is not man-made, it's still hard to believe it.  But seeing is believing, right?  The way that the rocks are shaped just perfectly and all fit together like a puzzle is just mind boggling.  You have to go there.

Giant's Causeway

9.  WALK THROUGH THE TITANIC MUSEUM.  I love history, especially learning about how people used to live, dress, what they ate, how they spent their days.  It's all so mysterious.  The Titanic Museum is built right next to where the actually boat was!  And it's built to the same height, to give visitors an idea of how the titanic towered over the people below.  Inside are many personal stories, clothing items, personal belongings, old photos and even rooms set up to show you what the cabins would have looked like.  Since being on a cruise in the past, it's crazy to see how much bigger are rooms are now compared to what people used to cruise in.

Titanic Museum is built to look similar to a ship!

10.  HOP ON A TOUR BUS.  You can easily walk all over Belfast, but your legs will definitely tire out and you'll end up missing some of the good stuff.  It's great to just hop on a bus your first day in the city.  Get a tour of the general area and then decide what places you want to come back to see in more detail.  Just make sure you remember the street you boarded the bus in case they randomly decide not to return you to the same spot!

I was shocked by the old bombed buildings that had never been restored!

11.  SPEND THE NIGHT IN A CASTLE.  One reason why we visited our friends in Northern Ireland when we did was because of a wedding!  Our friends Jonny and Michaela were getting married and I was asked to be a bridesmaid in the wedding.  The wedding was held at an old castle!  It was beautiful and we even got to spend the night there.  What a fun memory!

We spent the night in the room on the top floor!

12.  EAT AND EAT.  Fish and chips.  And don't forget the beer.  Need I say more?

I lost count of how many times I ate fish and chips.

13.  HANG WITH THE LOCALS.  We love to travel, but most of our travels are actually to visit friends who live in those countries.  This means that we have been able to go several times to Bolivia (where I grew up), the Faroe Islands and Denmark, Northern Ireland and Ireland, Scotland and probably some other places that don't come to mind right now!  Turn your vacations into time to catch up with friends you love.  You won't regret it.  Plus, you'll get a much better version of the lifestyle in that area that if you were on your own, staying in hotels.

My friend Michaela...I miss her!

14.  SEE THE CLIFFS.  While on one of our road trips, we drove an hour and a half to get to Sliabh Liag.  The cliffs were so steep and we were out of breath by the time we got to the top, but the view was so worth it.  It usually is!

Hiking up to the top of the cliffs.

15.  FLY OVER TO SCOTLAND, while you're at it.  Since we were already in Northern Ireland, Scotland was just a short and cheap flight away.  We flew over and stayed with some friends there for about a week.  I loved touring the castles and walking the streets of Edinburgh.  What a cool place to live, full of history.

Playing tourist in Scotland!

If you've been here before, let me know what I missed!  But, if you haven't been yet, as always I'm going to try to convince you to add it to your Bucket List and go!

7.19.2017

12 TIPS TO GOING VEGAN

Ok ok, so I would actually call us "plant-based", but not everyone understands what that means and so I find it easier just to say we are "vegan".  What's the difference?  Plant-based is just what it sounds like, a healthy diet based on plants.  So, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, grains and beans are our go-to.  Vegan? You can be vegan and still eat an unhealthy diet.  As long as someone doesn't consume animal products, they can call themselves a vegan.  Oreos and bacon bits and a bunch of other junk foods are vegan.  So, do you see what I mean?  Plant-based is healthy, but vegan doesn't always mean healthy.

I loved Hawaii and all the fresh coconuts on the road-sides!

Do you want to go plant-based/vegan, but don't know where to start?  Here are my 11 tips:

1.  Replace dairy products.  Instead of milk, you can easily use almond milk, coconut milk, cashew milk and rice milk!  Instead of cheese, you can use nutritional yeast.

2.  Replace meat products.  Everyone asks us, "where do you get your protein?".  The answer is, we get it from beans, nuts, grains, seeds and veggies.  Also, don't forget spreads like almond butter and hummus and ingredients like nutritional yeast and spirulina.  Plus, you can always find a vegan protein powder...Young Living has one that I love in their Slique line!

We found this juice and smoothie bar in Hilton Head!
3.  Do your research.  Go to the library and book store to look through vegan recipe books for inspiration.  Or, if you prefer, browse Pinterest.  You can find all sorts of ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and all the snacks and drinks in between.  Also, take time to look up restaurants in the area that have vegan options, so that you are ready the next time a friend wants to meet you somewhere for lunch.  Tell her (or him) that there is a great new, healthy place you want to try!

4.  Make a plan.  Don't wait until you are hungry and freaking out to try to figure out what to eat.  Research ideas and come up some new recipes that you are excited to try.  You can meal prep and make some things ahead of time if you are super busy.

My new favorite is smoothie bowls!

5.  Go shopping.  Stay on the outside perimeter of the grocery store to find the freshest options.  As soon as you head down the isles, chances are you are going to be picking up packaged, processed foods.  Concentrate on filling up your cart with fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds with some beans too, if your recipes call for them.  You may also want something like rice milk and nutritional yeast if you love dairy and need to replace it, instead of eliminate it.

6.  Start with a good breakfast.  I love to have a fresh smoothie full of fruits like pineapple, mango, apple, orange and pear.  You can mix and match fruits until you find what you love!  Ironman, on the other hand, likes to start off his day with my homemade granola and rice milk, topped with berries.

Don't have time or want to shop?
Sign up to have smoothies, overnight oats, chia parfaits and soups delivered to your door!

7.  Grab a colorful lunch.  You can pack your own lunch, which is much easier when trying to follow a certain type of diet.  Or, you can search for places like Chipotle, which has veggie rice bowls!  Or, grab a salad at any restaurant (like this one) and ask them to hold back the meat and cheese.  Whatever it is, make it colorful with lots of fruits and veggies!

8.  Prepare a good dinner.  I love anything that I can cook in the crock-pot.  I do all sorts of soups and stews and usually serve them on top of brown rice.  All afternoon, I smell it cooking away and by the time Ironman walks in from work, it's ready to enjoy.  One pot, super easy.  We ate this last night and it's so good!

Ironman and I filled these rolls with our favorite veggies and quinoa!

9.  Treat yo'self.  You're going to have some cravings hit, so be prepared.  Dark chocolate is an easy option.  Nice cream is amazing when you want something cold and sweet.  Lara Bars are great to throw in your purse.  And when you're craving something that's rich with peanut butter and chocolate, make these!

10.  Focus on what you can eat.  Instead of focusing on what you can't eat, focus on what you can.  You can eat pretty much every kind of real food there is...veggies, fruits, beans, seeds and grains.  The options are endless.  The recipes are endless.
Ironman loves to make fresh juices...lucky for me!

11.  Be a learner.  Read books and watch documentaries frequently to stay motivated about your lifestyle change.  The China Study is a good read.  Some documentaries I would suggest are What the Health, Forks Over Knives, Food Inc, Food Matters, Fat Sick & Nearly Dead...I watched them all for free on Netflix.

12.  Don't expect perfection.  Tell your fiends and family that you are starting out on this lifestyle change so that you have their support.  You may have to have a sit down and explain your reasoning so that they take you seriously.  And chances are, you will eventually fall off the bandwagon at some point.  Sometimes you will find yourself eating dinner at your parents home or cooking out with friends and there are no vegan options for you.  If you can, take something of your own to eat and share.  However, if you can't avoid the animal protein for some reason, just graciously eat it.  Not everyone will understand and you definitely don't want to hurt their feelings over food.

I have never been a big meat eater after growing up overseas and going to the market and butcher to buy our meat.  All the tongues laid out, entire cows hanging from a hook on the ceiling, blood and guts all over, flies and the absolutely horrible smell.  Because of those memories, I've never liked handling or cooking meat, let alone eating something that I saw before it was ready.  Yuck.  Lucky for me, Ironman was already plant based when I met him.  I remember him juicing carrots until his hands turned orange and eating spinach like it was candy.  So, as a newly-wed, I was learning to cook vegan/vegetarian from day 1.  It was a very slow learning curve and I've had over a decade now to find what we love and makes us feel good.  Going plant-based usually can't be done cold turkey.  It's going to take time, research, learning, failed attempts at cooking and baking.  And one day, maybe in a few years, you'll wake up and realize that you're completely vegan without even having to think about it anymore!  But give yourself some grace, even Ironman and I enjoy a good Marcos pizza every now and then.  However, the secret is always looking to improve yourself and your habits.  So, even in this area, we are currently looking for alternatives, without having to cook our own Friday night pizzas!



7.17.2017

8 STEPS TO A MINIMALIST LIFESTYLE

One of the many problems that I see with having everything that we could ever want or need is that it closes us off from others.  We spend far too much time sitting at home, behind closed doors.  Our neighbors are strangers and we are too lazy to dress up and show up.  And why would we anyway, if we have everything at home?  What we don't realize is that although it feels good to have everything we need and want, it could be what's cutting us off from the world.  We have all the stuff we could ever want, but it's stealing our time and freedom.  What if, instead of having it all at our fingertips, we had just the basics?  What if, instead of being home with everything we need, we were out with friends, running into familiar faces, having mini adventures and socializing with people more?

I always love a pop of red!

Does less stuff and more life sound like a breath of fresh air?  Here are 5 steps that you can take towards a more minimalist lifestyle:

1.  Go to the theatre.  Get rid of your TV.  Yep, I said it.  (I haven't done it, but would love to one day when Ironman agrees).  Instead, go out to the movies or go see a show at the local theatre.  Even better, get together at a friend's home to watch something together.  Choose a great TV series and you'll have a reason to see them again and again as you stay up to date on episodes!  Not only will this free up a lot of your time, but it will get you spending more time with loved ones!  And in all that free time, you can become a book worm...win win.

2.  Get outside or go to the gym.  Get rid of the at home gym equipment and get a gym membership.  Without that TV, you'll have more free time to add in activity.  This new habit will improve your health and social life!  Meet some friends at the gym, head there with your spouse or even go by yourself if you need some alone time.  My favorite thing to do is spend 30 minutes in the dry sauna and then 30 minutes showering, while Ironman works out.  Don't like the gym?  Find local rail trails and parks to get in that daily exercise.

Hiking in Arizona with my sisters!

3.  Visit the library and book stores.  Get rid of old magazines and books, including recipe books, as you work towards a more minimalistic home.  Take time to head to your local library and check out some books for free.  One thing that my husband and I like to do is head to Barnes and Noble.  We treat ourselves to some peppermint herbal tea, grab a few books and magazines and spend an hour flipping through.  It's a great way to get out of the house, learn something new and have time together without planning an elaborate or expensive date.

4.  Treat yourself.  Get rid of your at-home spa items.  The old nail polish only lasts so long, the fancy face scrubber probably needs replacing and you really shouldn't be dying your hair in your bathtub.  Instead, treat yourself!  Schedule in some down time and make appointments to be pampered.  Better yet, invite a friend for some girl time!

5.  Clear your calendar.  Give yourself more time to do the things you love.  Say no to things you don't enjoy so that you can say yes to those you do.  Don't schedule things back-to-back.  You need time to breathe.  Time to drive across town without speeding to get there.  Time to walk to that meeting without breaking a sweat.  Time to eat lunch without choking it down.  Just like material possessions, less is more when speaking about time.  Being an anxious mess doesn't look good on anyone.

Eggplant Parmesan was a hit!

6.  Spend time cooking.  Ironman's favorite part of the day is to come home and have something good waiting on him to eat.  So, I try to deliver!  Spend time looking for new recipes at your local library or book store (since you cleaned out all your old cookbooks, right?).  Or use my go-to, Pinterest!  Buy the ingredients, turn on some good music, diffuse your favorite essential oils and ask others to join in.  Your kids can help or have a friend come over to cook family dinners together.  Set the table, have everyone sit down to eat together until each person is finished.  Then clean up together.

7.  Spring clean your home.  Begin slowly cleaning out each room.  First, go through and immediately clear out things that you haven't used or worn in a year or things don't love.  Then, go through again and get rid of things that are broken, expired, torn, stained, too big, too small, duplicates, just plain ugly, etc.  After many loads to Goodwill and the dump, you should be left with only things you use and love (and some sentimental items).  Once that is done, find a place for every item in your home and always keep it there.  If you get it out, put it up as soon as you are done.  Make your bed each morning.  Clean the kitchen each night.  When you practice this lifestyle, you'll never freak out when someone randomly shows up because your home will always look great!

8.  Become a borrower.  If you don't have it, don't buy it.  Consider asking around to see if someone has that item and would loan it to you.  Chances are, your friends or family would be happy to have you drop by, catch up and send you off with what you need.  Not only does it save you money, but it keeps the clutter down in your home and connects you to the people around you.

Instead of building your own empire at your home address, think of ways to downsize your home and get out more.  Home should be a wonderful place, but not a place we go and hide from the world.  Go outside.  Meet your neighbors.  Use free local resources.  Exercise daily.  Eat well.  Learn to say no.  Spend more time with loved ones.  Less stuff, more life.



7.11.2017

11 GIFTS FOR MINIMALISTS

It's Christmas, an anniversary, a birthday or another special occasion and you have no clue what to gift.  Choosing something special is already hard enough, but doing so for a minimalist can seem almost impossible.  Just because someone chooses to live simply doesn't mean they don't want gifts.  Choosing the right one can be tricky, but it's actually much easier than you might think!

Fresh cut flowers from your garden is a great gift!
If the gift is not something that was needed, a minimalist can end up feeling like they don't know what to do with the new item.  They don't want to bring it home, but they also don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  And although many things seem extra special because they are deemed as sentimental, those items can add up over the decades to a house packed full.  Either way, most minimalists aren't choosing to live with less because they are crazy or heartless or poor, but because it truly makes them happier and more peaceful at home.

Do you have a minimalist in your life and need to find them a gift in the near future?  Here are some ideas of things that they might love, but won't add to the amount of things in their home:

1.  ENTERTAINMENT: give your minimalist tickets to the movies, theatre, or a concert, vouchers for dance or cooking lessons, tickets to a baseball game or something like it

2.  GETAWAY: take your minimalist to a spa resort, camping, on a short road trip, a day at the beach, play tourist in a new city or help them cross an item off their Bucket List

3.  PAMPER: gift your minimalist a manicure, pedicure, facial, hair cut or hair treatment, massage or something that would help them relax and feel refreshed

4.  DATE: take your minimalist out for breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, or anything that's one on one and involves good food

5.  CARDS: give your minimalist a gift card to their favorite store or restaurant, iTunes, kindle books, etc.

How about gift a weekend at the beach?  Or a week in Hawaii?  I think yes.

6.  SUBSCRIPTIONS: subscribe your minimalist to something like Amazon Prime, Kindle Unlimited, Netflix or a gym membership

7.  TREATS: treat your minimalist to homemade baked goods, their favorite toiletries, supplements, essential oils or make-up, flowers, fancy dark chocolates, local honey or anything that is edible or consumable

8.  SPOIL: pay for your minimalist's season tickets to a local theatre or favorite sports team, house cleaning, landscaping, home renovations (this is ideal for couples like us who live in their Fixer Upper while it's under construction)

9.  UPGRADE: maybe your minimalist has everything that they need, but wouldn't mind making improvements (can you say iPhone8?)

10.  SUPPORT: donate to your minimalist's favorite ministry or organization.

11.  NEEDS: ask your minimalist what they need or want and gift them exactly that item!

If you have a minimalist in your life, it doesn't mean you can't give them gifts.  Just remember that minimalists truly enjoy living simply and having less.  Celebrate their birthdays and special occasions with things that help them make memories and have fun, without adding to the clutter in their home.

Updating something is a great gift...my parents paid to have this room painted
and treated us to new bedding!
As I minimalist, I can say I definitely love Christmas and my birthday and all things that involve celebrations and gifts.  But, I would prefer a memory with a loved one, instead of an item.  An adventure, instead of a belonging.  I want less stuff and more life.