black tote

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This is the black tote bag I am using during the cooler months to replace my straw bag. Same use, same stuff . . .

I did some creative switching to make this bag work. It is clearly built to be a purse for a significantly taller gal. So I took off the shoulder strap it came with because at its shortest setting it came down to my knee ūüė¶

Instead I put on one of my Tom Bihn shoulder straps — I believe the one that goes to the Side Kick. and now it can be tucked under my arm or worn cross body.

 

straw bag

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I used this straw bag almost all summer. It became my “go to town” bag for those trips that included meetings, meals, and transitions between errands. I didn’t use it for quick trips to town for groceries.

It sits in my closet and holds my umbrella, water bottle, first aid pouch, utensils to to pouch (fork, napkin, hand sanitizer, and reusable straw), a couple of reusable bags, and my EDC (every day carry) purse.  I pop whatever I might need for whatever meeting I might have in there the night before too.  In other words, all those things I might forget if I am running late in the morning.

living small, 6 month update

Six months ago I noted a few areas where I really wanted to dive deeper into living small (simply). It has been an amazing six months filled with questions, observations, re-thinking, and change.

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More Favorites ¬†. . . Less Novelty: ¬†I am reading through my Kindle books instead of buying new fiction books. I’ve had to change the non-fiction reading part as 1) my church received a worship grant and there are some books I wanted to add to my library to help explore the idea of Celtic themed worship and my Spiritual Companionship Group will be reading these books, 2) I bought a couple of landscape books because I enjoy looking at beautiful gardens and I’m knee-deep in front yard planning, and 3) my wellness journey brought 1 book to my attention that I really wanted to have my own copy of so that I can refer back to them at any time.

I am now back to operating on a one in – one out rule for my books. They currently fill 2 shelves on the bookshelf and that is quite enough.

More Language . . . Less Social Media:  This might be the single thing bringing the biggest changes into my life aside from the wellness changes I have put in place. I have unfollowed everyone on Facebook and I only use it for my wellness accountability group. I still browse my Instagram feed, but just once a day. And Twitter is now a news feed and I try not to interact too much.

As a consequence my German is really improving. ¬†I can now read 15 pages during my set German reading time. I haven’t had to look up a word in several weeks. And I can follow the audiobook without difficulty. I just finished Harry Potter 1 and will start Harry Potter 2 as soon as I am home from the conference I’m attending.

More Wellness . . . Less Confusion:  I am still following the Faster Way to Fat Loss program. I have learned so much and gained so much confidence. I am on my 12th week and I have lost 22 inches now. I likely have 5 more inches to lose.

I also read “How to Make Disease Disappear” by Dr Rangan Chatterjee and “The Circadian Code” by Dr Satchin Panda. Both books strengthen what I learned from FWTFL. ¬†They are helping me understand some of the “why” behind the “how” of getting and maintaining heath.

My needs have changed as far as exercise gear goes. I’m not using the kettlebells anymore. They are tricky with my hands. I have some hand weights that have thin handles and I use those and a couple of resistance bands. I also narrowed my yoga mats down from 3 to 1. ¬†I cut one up to put under my weight bench to keep it from slipping and to keep the weights from marking up the floor. The other piece of that mat goes on top of my travel mat (that I kept) when I need a bit of extra cushioning. The very large yoga mat hasn’t been used in 12 weeks and I am think if I don’t use it in the next 3 months I will find someone who wants/needs a very good mat. I also find that I don’t really use the step bench as such. Mostly it is just a platform for my fan.

More Simple-ness . . . Less Stuff: ¬†There have been quite a few changes in this department. Little things like adding a flashlight and an alarm clock (rather than using my phone at night — helps with sleep) and needing a bigger purse since I am wearing glasses most of the time now and I need to be able to carry my glass case with me. ¬†I got rid of my wallet and just use a little pouch now.

My bathroom cabinet fluctuates with products, but since they are consumable I don’t count them anyway. My two small shelves easily hold everything and that seems to be a reasonable way to contain the amount. I continue to strive for healthy, ecologically sustainable/durable products. I have a 3-1-1 kit that contains tiny jars that I can decant product into when I travel and that eliminates a lot of waste and hassle since I don’t need to find travel size samples.

I simplified my wardrobe even more by taking it down to neutrals + green. So now I have 2 pair of jeans (denim), 2 pair of trousers (black), 2 pair of capris (black and denim). My shirts are all black (4), white (3), or green (1).  All my 2nd layer sweaters are black (1), green (3), white (1), or denim (1).  Shoes are all black (loafers, sandals, ballet flats, + trainers +sport sandals). I have 2 at home outfits, 1 workout outfit, 1 swimsuit, 2 sun hats, and 1 pair of slip ons sneakers for outside work).

I’m back to traveling with my backpack (since my shoulder has finally healed), but I do not plan on getting rid of my rolling case — just in case I take a longer trip or have another injury that makes the backpack tricky. ¬†I got rid of the toiletry case and just use my 3-1-1 bag and my Tom Bihn Side Effect.

My page “The List” is on-going and ever-changing list of my essentials. A lot of the list is linked to posts where I “justify” each essential. ¬†I actually need to work through that list and re-do posts because as I continue to refine my thinking things change. I notice that I am missing something or I notice that I really don’t find a particular thing to be essential.

InstaPot

Post series on The One, my list of 100 essentials for living simply and living small. #simplicity #100essentials

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The kitchen is a tough area to minimize, at least for me. That said, I would never voluntarily give up my InstaPot. It can (and often does) replace many of my pots, pans, and specialty items.  It is my pressure cooker, my slow cooker, my rice maker, cake pan, stock pot, and so much more.

My favorite things to make in the IP are chicken (and then turning the broth into stock — Yum and so good for you), roast (for roast beef and also for beef stew, beef stock), beans (from bag to done in less than an hour), and rice (again, from bag to done in about 30 minutes). I tend not to make super complicated recipes, but I tend to not do that for any reason.

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Reading:  Glass Houses (Gamache #13, L Penny), Farewell to Mars (B Zahnd), Harry Potter 1 (in German)

Listening:  Harry Potter 1 (in German)

Watching:  

 

 

vitamix

Post series on The One, my list of 100 essentials for living simply and living small. #simplicity #100essentials

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There are weeks that go by when I don’t use the Vitamix and then there are months that go by when I use it daily. It has a lot to do with smoothies. In the Spring, Summer, and early Fall when I crave a smoothie to break my fast the machine gets daily use. In the late fall and winter, I want and crave warm foods and the machine sits tucked away and nearly forgotten.

I was gifted this Vitamix 10 years ago. ¬†I’m not sure if I would have paid quite this much for a blender. I’ve seen others that might be just as good. I can attest to the fact that this thing is a workhorse. It chomps through ice, through frozen fruit, and it makes a piping hot squash soup — provided the squash is hot when you put in in the pitcher.

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Reading:  Glass Houses (Gamache #13, L Penny), Farewell to Mars (B Zahnd), Heidis Fruhstuck (German), Harry Potter 1 (in German)

Listening:  Harry Potter 1 (in German)

Watching:  

 

pasta bowls & other dishes

Post series on The One, my list of 100 essentials for living simply and living small. #simplicity #100essentials

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Maybe it is just me, because my family certainly doesn’t follow my lead here, but I primarily eat out of bowls. Pasta bowls to be precise. There is something very satisfying about the aesthetics of it all. I haven’t found anything that wasn’t simply fantastic served in my pasta bowl.

I do have a luncheon plate and a regular bowl too. I tend not to use them very much. I use my cup as a cup and an ice cream bowl for those times you really just need some ice cream. My coffee/tea mug alternates between a more European size (coffee and chai) and a big old  American style mug (herbal tea).

Pasta Bowls and European style coffee cup are Dansk. Luncheon Plate and regular American mug are from Target — although I don’t think they sell this particular one anymore.

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I wrote a bit about my dishes and why I chose them here . . . . Simpleness

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Reading:  Harry Potter 1 (German edition), Farewell to Mars (B Zahnd), A Great Reckoning (Gamache #12, L Penny)

Listening:

Watching: Krypton

 

stick vac

Post series on The One, my list of 100 essentials for living simply and living small. #simplicity #100essentials

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I resisted this household item for a long time. Finally Hannah said, “No more stalling,” and she brought one home. It has actually made life quite a bit easier. I can do all the floors in just a few short minutes. I can pull the hand vac part out and use it on the furniture, the curtains, and even the ceiling.

So thank you Hannah.

teapot

Post series on The One, my list of 100 essentials for living simply and living small. #simplicity #100essentials

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This little 2 cup teapot from Stash Tea was given to me by a friend. It is the perfect size for 2 people. There is an infuser basket that you can purchase separately that fits in it perfectly. The deep warm brown is a classic teapot color.

During my morning fasting time I enjoy a cup of ginseng peppermint tea. Here’s the easy way to make looseleaf tea perfectly each time.

  • fill tea kettle with fresh water and turn on
  • fill teapot (without the infuser basket) with water and place in microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Take out of microwave but leave water in pot.
  • when water in the kettle has come to a boil, dump the warm water from the teapot into your mug, put the infuser basket into the teapot, and put 1 TBSN of looseleaf tea (per cup) into the infuser basket.
  • fill the teapot from the kettle (the water will be just under the boiling point now)
  • set a timer for 3-5 minutes and walk away
  • when the timer goes off, empty your tea mug, put in your sweetener of choice, and pour tea from the teapot.

I’ve never had this method fail me. I sip my tea while doing morning office (Book of Common Prayer) and find that after a couple cups of water and this mug of tea, I can easily wait for my 11 am eating window to open.

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Reading:  Des Spielers Tot (German), Farewell to Mars (B Zahnd), A Great Reckoning (Gamache #12, L Penny)

Watching:  Coco

weight bench

Post series on The One, my list of 100 essentials for living simply and living small. #simplicity #100essentials

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Yet another fitness related essential to add to my list. This bench has many roles in my life. ¬†Obviously I use it for weight training days, but I also use it just like a regular bench. I sit there to put on/take off shoes, gather my thoughts for the day, a place to prop my legs up to stretch them a bit more. I also like that it isn’t super heavy and we can use it in the living room if we need more seats.

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Reading: Farewell to Mars (B Zahnd), Des Spielers Tot (German), A Great Reckoning (Gamache #12, L Penny)

Listening: A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Watching: Krypton, Timeless

 

pen

Post series on The One, my list of 100 essentials for living simply and living small. #simplicity #100essentials

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There are so many reasons that I love this pen and include it on my #100 Essentials list. It is comfortable to hold, cool in your hand, the ink is a nice color, and you can get refills for the ink.

I actually have two of these, one in my purse and one by my journal/working notebooks. I go through one refill a year in my purse pen, and 6-7 refills in my work pen. I do a lot of writing though.

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Reading: Des Spielers Tod (German), At Home in the World (M Geunther), The Nature of the Beast (Gamache, L Penny)

Listening:  A Swiftly Tilting Planet

Watching: Krypton, News