Life’s too short….

It’s been almost two weeks since my last post and the time has just flown by. I’ve been busy with spring cleaning and more purging, finding new grocery stores and even filling out more job applications.I even got one of the best emails EVER yesterday and I am so excited about it. (I’ll let you guys know the details when everything is settled)

But during these few weeks I really thought about how much harder they would have been a year ago…I had so much stuff that spring cleaning was a marathon of almost a whole month! But now it only took a day to deep clean everything, and now that it is all clean I am going through another purging session.

I feel so much lighter than I did a year ago, or two years ago, or even in high school. I have the time to actually DO things instead of taking care of things. I can sit down and read a book without having to worry about if my clothes are dirty for the next morning. I can randomly decide to take a walk around the block any time I want to. I have freed up so much TIME by reducing my needs, and it feels GREAT! Minimalism and Zero-Waste efforts have literally opened up time for me….and tons of space 🙂

With all of this lightness, I have also been faced with the glaring reality of our mortality. We only have on average somewhere between 80 and 100 years to live on this planet, with that calculation I have already lived a good quarter of my life. What I find with our lives is that most of our time seems to revolve around stuff. Stuff that we can’t take with us at the end of our lives.

What usually happens right after a family member dies? You have to go through their stuff, and if they have a LOT of stuff, that task can take weeks or even months. All of those things that they saved in the hopes that their children/grandchildren/relatives would love them, usually end up at a resale shop, or in the trash. The act of going through all of the physical baggage can be depressing, which is probably why people end up keeping things for years and years out of guilt.

I don’t know about you, but when I eventually kick the bucket I definitely don’t want to leave such a burden to any of my family members. I’d rather them spend their time remembering all of the good times we had together, all of the fun things we did and the places we went.

This brings me to my topic for today…

Life is too short.

Life is too short…to hang onto things that you are only keeping out of guilt.

Life is too short…to spend your entire weekend taking care of the yard and cleaning out your garage for the umpteenth time.

Life is too short…to waste your time on tangible things, when your time would be more appreciated if it was spent with family and friends.

Life is too short…to take your loved ones for granted.

Life is too short….to work countless overtime hours just to be able to afford a new television or a new car.

Life is too short….Go out while you can and enjoy nature, it is so relaxing to sit on the porch and watch squirrels and birds and little critters running around, try it sometime.

 

Life is too short…Make sure to eat dinner with family and friends (without the company of phones or televisions), you’d be surprised by all the things you can talk about.

Life is too short…to use more than you need, your excess can be something that someone else needs desperately.

Life is too short…to pollute the world for future generations.

Life is too short…to not follow your dreams.

Life is too short…to not put yourself out there and take risks, without the fear of rejection.

Life is too short…So make sure to make a positive impact on the world instead of a negative one 🙂

Each day could be your last, and that is how I want to live my life, as though each day could be my last. I don’t want to get to the end of my life with regrets, I want to be able to look back and say “Wow, look at how much I LIVED my life.” “Look at all the things I experienced.”

What do you think? Am I alone in this?

Do you have anything to add to the list? If you do I would love to hear about it in the comments.

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Minimalism, Zero-Waste, and the kitchen.

Alright guys, today has totally made my entire month…I finally found a store that will willingly let me bring in jars to tare…and they have a large selection of bulk dry goods as well as bulk LIQUIDS!

Now, granted, the liquids only consist of honey, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and a few different oils…But it is better than nothing. I won’t have to buy balsamic vinegar or honey with plastic lids anymore! Woohoo!

The store I am now going to frequent for half of my shopping needs is Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, they are a grocery store that has quite a few locations here in the midwest. The other half of my shopping will continue at my local health store, since they have better deals on organic produce as well as juice.

I found the store by accident, I was driving in that direction and happened to see it while on the way to drop our car off at the auto shop, I googled it and I will say their website is really aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate. www.freshthyme.com

They have locations in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Nebraska….so if you live in one of those states and have been struggling to find a store I would recommend checking them out 🙂

If any of you are on this journey towards minimal waste with me you will know the struggle of #1 finding a store with unwrapped organic produce (half of the grocery chains INDIVIDUALLY wrap ALL of their organic produce in plastic- insert face palm here-), #2 finding a store that let’s you bring your own small bags and jars, and #3 finding it all for a decent price. I have finally found all 3!

In this past year I have gradually moved from a life filled with things and packaging, to one that is both Minimalist as well as Zero-Waste, and most recently Vegan. I now have found that in my journey I have things in place that make zero-wasting a no-brainer. It is now simply a part of my every day routine.

I think one of the biggest sources of waste is our kitchens, for some reason most of us have hoarded away a ridiculous amount of tools promising to make us amazing chefs…as though a fancy knife will improve my knife skills lol…and we buy tons of packaged processed foods that sit in our cupboards until inevitably they are eaten or they expire and are disposed of. Add to that the food waste that ends up in the trash, making it really smelly, and the kitchen is a place that invites stress more than relaxation.

My kitchen used to look a little something like this….

The pantry was bursting with boxes, cans, and jars of every shape and size with their brightly advertised labels plastered across the sides. The cupboards were crammed full of one-hit wonder items like grilled-cheese makers and bunt pans. The fridge was barely accessible with all of the food that was stored away in plastic Tupperware. Add to that the hoard of cleaning supplies that was sitting under the kitchen sink and it was overwhelming.

WIN_20160102_153232(It’s so much prettier now)

As you know, I live with other people so I do have a limited amount of kitchen space to begin with, but I found that by minimizing my own things, and by being the main shopper for the house, I have slowly made progress and now our kitchen looks a lot more pleasing to the eye. (Not to mention it is WAY more eco-friendly)

We now have glass jars filled with our items such as flour, chocolate covered almonds, flax seeds, peanuts, corn starch, etc. Half of the pantry still has cans, but the top half is adorned with my colorful mason jars with all of my cooking needs. I have a glass bowl filled with fresh colorful produce that serve as a table decoration as well as a tasty snack too.

Simple ways your food/kitchen and making it Zero-Waste:

  1. Define your diet– by this I mean write it down, whether you are lactose intolerant or you hate broccoli, you should have a specific list of the things you DO eat on a regular basis (by this I don’t mean writing down a specific brand but rather a category of food i.e Cookies, bread, etc.)…..For me it would look something like this- Mostly Vegan (with the exception of honey) diet sans grains, mostly whole foods, organic. Things I eat on a regular basis would be salads with tons of toppings, many different potato and onion dishes, as well as tons of fresh fruits and veggies. This way I have an actual list of the foods I am going to eat and prepare on a regular basis. (This helps minimize your food waste)
  2. Nix the plastics– Store your foods in glass jars with either glass attached lids, or metal lids. I specifically use a bunch of mason jars for most food storage but I also have a few with attached lids. I NEVER heat up my food in plastic containers (It off-leeches chemicals into your food), always glass. The jars also make it easy to pack a salad in a jar and eat it right out of the jar for lunches or snacks. They are also incredibly easy because most of the lids are interchangeable between all of the jars.
  3. Buy what you can in bulk or loose- Whatever you can find loose or in bulk bins, buy it that way instead of in packaging. If you are lucky enough to find a store like I did today that will let you bring jars and has bulk liquids, great! But if you don’t, then work with what you have access to, the order of preference would be…1) Buying loose or in bulk 2) Buying in glass or metal containers with glass or metal lids. 3) Buying in glass or metal containers with plastic lids that hopefully can be recycled.
  4. Condense your utensils- Do you have 3 or 4 things that can do the same basic function? Condense it down to 1. Why would you keep 5 spoons for cooking when you only have 2 hands? Pare it down and watch the drawers magically become user-friendly and clean. The same goes for bowls, plates, cake pans, skillets, etc. How many could you possibly use at one time with 4 burners and the oven?
  5. Compost- I did another post on this topic entirely, check it out here. Compost is the best way to get rid of food scraps without sending them to landfill. I keep an old washed out kitty litter bucket under my sink for all my food scraps (produce scraps, I don’t compost meat scraps since I don’t have any with my diet, but I have heard that you can compost them as long as it is enclosed so no critters invade your yard), then when it gets full I take it out to the compost bucket outside. This also has the effect of getting rid of that stinky kitchen garbage pail.

    WIN_20160102_153213
    This is the old bucket on the left, I have now upgraded to a larger bucket under the sink.

I am at the point where I personally don’t need a garbage pail in the kitchen, though we do still have one. I started a week ago keeping my personal garbage in a small metal bucket so I can evaluate what little trash I am still producing and try to minimize it. (post on that coming soon) 99% of my kitchen “waste” now goes to either the recycling bucket or the compost (which I use to help grow more veggies!)

The kitchen, or at least my portion of it, is now incredibly simplified and aesthetically and ecologically pleasing. I am especially excited now that I will be able to buy my liquids in bulk as well, minimizing my recycling as well.

Do you have any other tips for simplifying your kitchen? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

 

Life lessons from my cats…

This week has been super busy as I have started my little seedlings that will be transplanted into my garden in about a month, I also have been doing some spring cleaning and a bit of furniture rearranging that is always good for the soul.

As I scooped up the dirt into my little biodegradable planter pots my cats hopped up onto the kitchen table in their curious way and started sniffing at the dirt. They are super curious creatures, and extremely smart (I routinely have to find ways to outsmart them when they are determined about something 🙂 )

Anyway, I got to thinking about my cat’s lives and how they are so care free. I mean honestly, they sleep a lot, stretch and poke their noses into anything new or interesting, they watch the birds and squirrels outside, and they even take a part in protecting our home from invaders (both of the pest variety as well as the mysterious “invading” stray cats that meow outside our windows at night).

They have stress-free lives that are simple and I believe are a good example of what I might like my life to be like….

I decided to compile a list of advice that I’m sure my two cats would lecture me/advise me on if they could speak English. As well as a few life lessons that they have already learned…

  1. Sleep is a good thing, no, a great thing! It is rejuvenating and an important part of your overall health. I personally try to get 8 hours a night, if I get any less I end up a very crabby person in the mornings. Now if only my cats would leave me alone at night so that sleep could be uninterrupted, then I would be totally set! 🙂WIN_20150523_213218
  2. Food is important as well, and when you are hungry, EAT…but don’t overeat. My cats are of the opinion that they like to eat smaller meals throughout the day as opposed to larger meals. They eat 4 times a day-ish, which is pretty similar to my eating habits. I tend to graze as I get hungry throughout the day, not having “meals” necessarily, more of small plates of stuff frequently to keep my energy levels steady.
  3. Nature is awesome, and getting in touch with it is a great way to maintain your energy levels and to decrease your stress. We have a very tall fence surrounding our backyard and I like to bathe my cats when they need it, usually once a month at most, and so they get 3 days or so during the summer where I let them out into the backyard for a few hours right before bath time. They LOVE it! They roll around in the grass, eat some random bits of the taller grass near the fence, roll around in the dirt, investigate the garden…my one cat Tiger chased a bee once to his own detriment, safe to say he learned his lesson about chasing certain bugs, though he does chase squirrels out of the yard at every opportunity. They always go out and nibble on the catnip in the garden and they even just chill out on the patio and sunbathe. As a minimalist and outdoor enthusiast I try to get outside every chance I get in the warmer months, which is about 3 months of the year here in Michigan. 🙂
  4. Have a hobby that you love, whether that be a craft or writing or gardening, find something you enjoy and do it! Tiger loves chasing our two birds around, napping, getting into small spaces, his stuffed rat, and finding ways to drive me insane…especially when I am trying to sleep. (for some reason that is the only time of day that he is determined to play and meow incessantly haha) Cheetah on the other hand loves napping, chasing his own tail, getting rubbed from head to toe, and laying on people’s laps. I personally like gardening, being outdoors, painting, drawing, writing, and of course talking to all of you.
  5. Stretch yourself, both mentally and physically. Tiger does this by finding new ways to try and outsmart me (we have a mental war going on). It all started with the conundrum of how to get me awake during the night when he randomly decides that he is hungry, it went from knocking my blinds against the window to slamming my bedroom door into the closet door…I knocked his butt off the bed to solve the first one and placed a small pillow between the doors for the second one. He knows how to open side door handles as well as how to get into the cupboards. He has found ways to jump onto the very top of my large dresser and then leaps grandly from it to land gracefully on my bed. Cheetah on the other hand is a lazy bum and is kinda a fatty in the wintertime, though he is exceptionally adorable. To keep in shape I work out doing dance videos as well as biking, and I read books and watch documentaries to keep my mind in shape.
  6. Life is what you make of it, if you want something then make it happen instead of waiting around for someone to do it for you. Tiger takes this one to heart, if he wants fresh water in his dish he makes a point of trying to drink out of my cup to get the message across. If he wants into the bathroom, he opens the door and strolls right in. If he wants food he will literally get in your face and meow right at you to let you know that he is hungry.
  7. Don’t sweat the small stuff, so what if you accidentally-cough-on purpose knock over an entire shelf of books? Or spill a bit of juice on the counter? At the end of the day the small stuff isn’t that big of a deal, having both of my cats has taught me this. Like when your hair ties go missing and you walk by the bathroom one day to find your cat opening the drawer with his paw, taking a scrunchie, and then shutting the drawer before walking out with his stolen goods….you sigh and do a small face-palm before taking those scrunchies and moving them to a safer location 🙂
  8. Always make a point to be cleanly. Good hygiene is a major part of good health. Tiger makes sure that his toys are clean by dropping them in his water dish and swishing them about, he makes sure he is clean as well for the most part, he even helps Cheetah by washing his face with his tongue.
  9. Never underestimate how much a good rubdown can do for your mood and health. My cats know this, in face they demand to be rubbed quite frequently. They do all sorts of cute poses and faces to get you to give them a massage, and quite frankly I like getting one occasionally too. If you can’t afford a professional massage, or don’t even have a friend or partner to do it for you, you can always do it yourself. I just learned how to do an acupressure massage on yourself, and I will say that it was incredibly relaxing. I plan on incorporating it into my weekly routine.
  10. Last but most certainly not least, don’t be afraid to be your incredibly unique and goofy self. Sometimes we have to put our true personalities in the backseat, like at a professional job or meeting, but you need to be yourself sometimes, even if it is just around family who are equally as unique and goofy as you. It is almost therapeutic to just laugh and be merry, dance ridiculously to a song on the radio or belt it out at the top of your lungs, make silly faces and impersonate different accents from around the world….10556224_10152333546021725_8818237981572519943_n

Life is too short to waste it on things that aren’t so important, so take a few pieces of advice from my cats and enjoy your life….you only get one after all 🙂