Archive for the 'Simplify' Category

bad blogger

I haven’t been very productive lately … I can’t believe I haven’t posted on my blog in over a week!  With the long weekend coming up, I’ve decided to start decluttering again.  First thing to go will be this vintage Vitamaster stationary bike.  Someone threw it away and I brought it home because I like the way it looks (check out that big ass seat (literally), you know it’s vintage b/c the seat won’t give you a wedgie).  It actually looks kind of cute in my living room but I could live without it.  I posted this on Craigslist and someone’s interested in it.  If that falls through, I’ll try Freecycle and if that doesn’t work, I’m going to see if I can take it apart and stick it in a recycling bin.  I’m sure the metal can be recycled and that was one of the reasons why I “rescued” it from the curb.  I also have some lumber from various projects that I’ve been “saving” … yeah, those will go on the curb with a FREE LUMBER sign this weekend.  Good thing there are other people like me who like to rescue free crap!

Cooking at home

Last night’s jia jian mien (a Chinese noodle sauce traditionally made with pork and chili bean sauce but I made it with ground turkey, chili bean sauce, spaghetti sauce, and shredded carrots) … would’ve been today’s lunch if I hadn’t left it on the counter this morning!  Arrrgghhh!!!!!

I’ve been cooking more and bringing my lunch to work for the past 3 months or so.  I also started eating breakfast on a daily basis and as a result I lost 5 pounds (I wasn’t trying to lose weight on purpose).  I didn’t change my exercise routine (which consists of walking the dog and that’s about it) and I still eat until I’m full so the weight loss is really from NOT buying breakfast and lunch from the cafeteria and ordering Chinese and pizza once or twice a week for dinner.  So there Hollywood, this is the secret to losing weight … cook your own damn meals!

Anyway, this noodle dish is one of my favorite dishes to make and the sauce freezes well.  Damn it, I really wish I hadn’t left my lunch at home…

Mending torn bedsheets


I have 2 fitted sheets and they both have big “T” shaped tears in them.  Instead of chucking these and buying new sheets, I’ve decided to mend them.  I’m sure there are people out there who thinks it’s a waste of time but I think driving to the store and waiting in line at the cash register is a waste of my time (not to mention money) and I choose to spend my time living consciously, creatively, and simply.   I actually really enjoyed mending the sheets and now I like my sheets even more than before!  Here’s what I did:

Iron the sheet where the tear is and tape the tear with masking tape on the wrong side of the sheet to stabilize the fabric.

Cut out a piece of fabric that’s bigger than the tear with pinking shears.

Baste the fabric patch onto the right side of the sheet over the tear.

Zigzag stitch all around the patch.

Cut out the torn part from the back of the sheet with pinking shears to prevent further fraying of the tear.

Ask your dog to pose on the patched sheet.

And here’s the second sheet I patched.  The tear is huge because I kept on putting my foot through it when I’m sleeping.  The patches are so cute that I wish I didn’t have to cover them up with my comforter. 

A Win-Win-Win deal

I found a guy who was selling 5 gallon buckets of Benjamin Moore paint for $10 on Craigslist.  He owns a painting company and that’s how he ended up with extra paint.  It’s great for me because I’m saving a lot of money.  It’s great for him because instead of paying hazardous waste disposal fees, he’s saving himself money and making a little extra.  It’s great for the environment because now all this paint won’t be sitting in some landfill!

It only takes a little more extra work but it’s so worth it.   Whenever I need something now I look for it on Craigslist (or Freecycle) first.  For instance, my power drill died and I needed one to put up the drywalls for my bedroom renovation project.  I found one on Craigslist for $20.  The guy who was selling it got a new drill so he didn’t need the old one anymore.  It worked out well for the both of us.  I’m sure I’m not helping the US economy by throwing my money at the stores but I’d like to think that I’m helping by doing my share of the 3 Rs, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  🙂

Good Habits – Living with Less

I think it’s hard for artists/crafters to live a minimalist life.  We need stuff to create.  We like having pretty stuff around.  We see potential in ordinary stuff that’s toss out on the sidewalk and we bring the stuff home.  I am definitely guilty of all of this and then some but I think it’s possible for me to live with less and be more organized. 

There’s a great article about simplicity on Zenhabits called The Four Laws of Simplicity and How to Apply Them to Life that really clicked with me.  The article is a great read and here are the four laws:

1. Collect everything in one place.

2. Choose the essential.

3. Eliminate the rest.

4. Organize the remaining stuff neatly and nicely. 

And a commenter suggested rule #5, Don’t collect more junk.

I’m quite excited about this and now I want to follow these steps for EVERYTHING in my home.  I love how these steps can be applied to a junk drawer, a room in the house, or life in general. 

As for my own journey to living with less, I’ve been doing the following:

1. I get rid of stuff I don’t need by diversifying the ways I give.  I always ask my friends first to see if they need anything that I’m about to part with.  Goodwill and Salvation Army are good places to donate usable things.  Yard sales, Craigslist and Ebay are good ways to make some money for getting rid of stuff.  If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of taking things to the donation site or post office, post them on Freecycle and ask people to pick them up.  Lastly, if you have blankets/towels/clothing that are too worn to be donated or sold, you might try calling the animal shelters to see if they need materials for the animals.  Oh yeah, and don’t forget to recycle as much as you can.

2. I try to use what I have instead of buying something new.  I’m trying to buy less “things” so I thought I can use my creativity to come up with alternate uses for what I have already.  For example, I’ve been trying to air dry my clothes over the heating vent (a great way to humidify the room AND save electricity) but I don’t have a drying rack.  I looked on Freecycle and Craiglist for one but couldn’t find any.  So instead of going to Target or Bed Bath and Beyond to buy a drying rack, I’ve been trying to think of ways I can make one myself.  So far I’ve dried some clothes on a ladder (since I still have 2 in my room!) and I’m trying to come up with something that involves 2 aluminum saw horses I have.  I’ll post it if it works so stay tuned.

3. Stop getting stuff.  One way to limit the amount of stuff you have is to stop shopping.  I somehow developed an aversion to shopping over the past year.  I’ve never liked shopping for clothes or shoes but I didn’t mind going to Target or JoAnn’s.  Now the sight of aisles and aisles of things piled up to the ceiling at the stores make me sick.  I’ve also been asking friends and relatives to stop giving me presents.  I tell them that I’m trying to live with less and that I really don’t need anything.  This is actually hard for many gift givers but be persistent and eventually they’ll respect your lifestyle. 

And if you want to stop getting most of the junk mail, give GreenDimes a try.  If you join through me (leave me a comment and I’ll send you a referral link), I get a $3 bonus.  🙂  I promise I won’t use that 3 bucks to buy useless stuff.

A super simple breakfast

I’ve been more mindful about eating breakfast and bringing my lunch to work for the past month and I did really well.  The benefits of course are saving money, saving time, eating healthier, and not using disposable containers and utensils from the cafeteria.  Shoot, I even lost a few pounds just by eating my homemade meals!  Hmmm, could it be because I stopped eating all those sausage egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches from the cafeteria?

Besides baking a whole bunch of breakfast muffins, I also eat what’s pictured above.  It’s just a mixture of fast-cooking oatmeal and raisin bran and some other cereal that had dried blueberries.  The ratio is about half oatmeal and half cereal but you can do whatever you like.  I threw the ingredients in a plastic container with a splash of cinnamon and shook it until it’s mixed.  I don’t need to put any sugar in that because the raisins do a good job of sweetening up the oatmeal and the cereal adds a nutty flavor.  All I have to do is put some of that oatmeal mixture in a mug and add some hot water.  After a few minutes I thin it down with soymilk and I can practically drink it out of my mug.  It is very filling and much better than those pre-packaged oatmeals that are chuck full of sugar and god knows what else.  It really doesn’t get any easier than this.  I think walnuts and flax seeds would make good additions … ooh and chocolate chips!

No more paper clutter!

Wow, I did the unthinkable over the weekend … I tackled my paper clutter and survived!  I’m horrible at filing things and for years I’ve put statements and bills in boxes and bags thinking that I would file them someday.  I had about half a dozen of these boxes and bags full of papers and I even had a box that I moved from a previous apartment (yes, I packed up my paper clutter and moved it to my current home and the box sat unopened for 6 years).  I think I finally hit the breaking point this weekend so I started chipping away at the papers and managed to get them all sorted.

I made 3 piles for sorting, FILE, RECYCLE, and SHRED and I went through every piece of paper and sorted them by these categories.  It turned out that most of the papers did not need to be filed.  Part of my paper clutter problem was that I thought I needed to file every single bill and statement I got and when I first started sorting, I was putting my electric bills from 2002 in the FILE pile.  Then it dawned on me, why the hell do I need to keep old utility bills for?  So I went back and put the old bills and statements in the SHRED pile.  My FILE pile was actually the smallest pile out of all 3.  I ended up with 3 bags of papers to recycle and 1 duffle bag of papers to shred.  The scary (but good) thing is that I found some really important documents that NEEDED to be filed.  They were living in a box and I would’ve never found them if I needed them.  I also found a $50 gift certificate, woohoo!  I think I shall treat myself to something nice for all the hard work I did … maybe I’ll get that book by Peter Walsh from Clean Sweep, nah, I’ll probable get those cotton/bamboo blend bed sheets that are supposedly antibacterial.

So yes, if you have piles and piles of paper crap taking up space in your home, take a weekend or three and deal with them.  It is the most freeing experience ever and you might even find some money. 

Recycling computers

Dang, desktop computers take up a lot of space.  I know computers used to take up a whole room but these have been taking up valuable space in my room for way too long.  The good news is that you can recycle these in a safe way for FREE (and you might actually get paid if your equipment isn’t as ancient as mine).  Check out Costco’s recycling partner, GreenSight.  They will pay shipping charges for your old electronics.  All you have to do is find boxes to pack them up and off they go! 

Simplifying breakfast

I’ve changed the “Living with Less” category to “Simplify”.  This is something I’ve been thinking about recently and it’s kind of a broad topic and I’m still trying to figure it out.  One thing I do know about simplifying is getting rid of clutter and things that I don’t need or love.  I’m still working on that and I’m trying to “diversify” my givings so I can get rid of more things faster.  There are some things that I just don’t want to donate to a Goodwill for whatever reason and that’s when friends come in handy.  A friend of mine works at a youth center in Chinatown so I’m giving the center a guitar and extra craft supplies.   Another friend has decided to give only handmade gifts to others so I’m giving her some of the handmade stuff I have.  I’m also going to try to sell some stuff on Ebay, Etsy, and Craigslist … a little extra money never hurts.

So that brings me to breakfast.  Another part of simplifying for me is making my own meals as much as I can.  I’ll still eat out with friends but I don’t want to buy meals for convenience.  I try to eat breakfast at home but most of the time I don’t have enough time so I end up buying a muffin or oatmeal at the cafeteria.  These pumpkin chocolate chip muffins make great on-the-go snacks and they are much healthier than the ones at the cafeteria (even with the chocolate chips).  I used this recipe but cut out half the sugar and replaced half the white flour with wheat flour and threw in some oatmeal.  Now I’m all set for breakfast for the next 2 weeks and it didn’t take that much time to make.  The house smells good, I’m saving money, and I’m eating something good for me … it doesn’t get much better than this.

Reducing junk mail

I just stumbled onto this website, GreenDimes.  This company helps you reduce the junk mail you receive by up to 90% AND they’ll plant 10 trees on your behalf (all this for $15).  Sounds pretty good to me.  Check it out for yourself.

Here are some facts from the GreenDimes website about junk mail:

  • 100 million trees are cut down each year to create the approximately 4.5 million tons of junk mail in the United States 
  • 28 billion gallons of water go into the production of American junk mail annually

Argh, all this tree cutting and wasting just makes me mad!!