Friday, October 13, 2017

12 Things You Can do Today to Minimize Your Life

Stock Image

Minimalism is a lifelong journey. It doesn't happen overnight and it requires a change in mindset. Deciding to downsize your life can be overwhelming. The process of eliminating those things burdening you can be outright maddening if attempted all at once. It's an ongoing process with ups and downs just like anything else in life. Right now my upside is that the inside of my home is nearly where I want it and it brings me much more peace. The big downside is that my garage is full of everything I cleaned out of my living space and I either need to hold a garage sale or haul it off before it drives me crazy.

That said, there are simple things you can do, small steps to get you started. The following list is meant to help anyone in the beginning stages of minimalism build momentum and make those first baby steps toward a simpler life.

  1. Delete all social media from your phone. Yes, you read that right. We all know it's tempting to take a peek at Facebook while you've got your phone in your hand or upload your lunch to Instagram. Deleting social media will help you focus on the present moment and become more conscious of how you spend your time.
  2. Clean out your email inbox. Don't just delete messages, but unsubscribe from all those newsletters that pile up and never get read. If you are like me, you will need to do this in chunks, not all in one day, because I tend to allow my inbox to get overwhelmingly full. 
  3. Pick one room to start downsizing. I started with my bedroom. The kitchen is also a good place to start. Break it up even smaller and pick one drawer or one cabinet to clean out. The next day pick another one until you are done and ready to move on to the next room. 
  4. Be honest with yourself. I mean, come on, why are you really keeping that thing you don't use or care for? Is it out of guilt? Get rid of it! Especially if it has a bad feeling attached to it.
  5. Have a clear vision of the life you want to be living in your head. Do you want to move to a smaller home? Do you want to travel more? What is the end goal or goals? How minimal do you want to go?
  6. If possible, get your extended family on the same page. This can be especially hard if you have kids with well-meaning grandparents, or like me, have an ex who inundates his child with toys even though I've talked to him about it. If you can't get them on the same page, you'll just have to resort to occasional purges to get rid of things that the kids are no longer interested in. Luckily, I have a kid open to minimalism as long as I don't touch his Legos.
  7. With that in mind, respect the boundaries of the other members of your household. Don't be a jerk and secretly toss your partner's ugly sweater with holes that he really loves. This can be especially hard if you live with someone who leans more toward hoarding. I'm no expert there so I can't offer any advise, but if it's a normal situation and you want to get rid of it because YOU don't like it, just remember it's not yours to decide. My only exception to this rule is broken toys or other items that have become dangerous and/or irreparable.
  8. Practice the 24-hour rule when tempted to purchase something you see that you want but don't need. Wait 24 hours, then come back to it. Usually, by then the excitement over the thing has diminished and you will no longer want it. I do this all the time on Amazon. I'll save it to my wishlist and go back to it later to discover I'm just not interested in it anymore.
  9. When you do purchase things, buy them to last. It's not only better for your wallet, but also the environment. When you get to that point you no longer need or want it, it will still be in good enough shape to pass on to someone else or donate. 
  10. Find like-minded people to support your goals. Follow The Minimalists, No Sidebar, or other minimalist bloggers.  Join minimalist groups. Sometimes embracing minimalism can feel like a lonely journey when the world around you seems lost in over-consumerism. 
  11. Learn from my mistakes and don't fill your garage with all the stuff you cleaned out of your living space. Either hold that garage sale or donate it as you clear. If you have lots of stuff, most thrift stores have trucks that will come pick it up free of charge. You truly haven't let it go if it's still sitting around in your garage, even if you don't have to look at it every day. 
  12. Finally, don't compare yourself with other minimalists. There is no set number of things you must whittle down to or specific house you must live in. Minimalism is about simplifying YOUR life to make room for the things YOU enjoy, so it's going to be a very individualistic journey.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Single Serve Better Than Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte

It's autumn. Pumpkin everything is here. Either you love all the pumpkin things or it's like a pumpkin nightmare on Halloween. I happen to fall into the love all the pumpkin things category, including the very seasonal Pumpkin Spice Latte. I'm not willing to justify spending my money at Starbucks to enjoy one, though.

Don't get me wrong. Gift me a Starbucks card and I'll be there in a minute. I just don't have it in my budget.

Now, down here in Texas we really haven't had any days that have felt like autumn. We are supposed to get a cold front tomorrow, so maybe, just maybe we'll be blessed with autumn temperatures for a day or two. Still, the weather hasn't stopped me from enjoying a homemade pumpkin spice latte. It's actually quite easy to make.

While the recipe calls for milk, it can easily be adapted to a nondairy/vegan version. Our favorite nondairy milk right now is the Silk Vanilla Protein blend with almond and cashew milk. If you use the Silk Vanilla or any other vanilla flavored, sweetened nondairy milk, be sure to omit adding vanilla and sugar to the latte. If replacing the dairy with a plain nut milk, you'll still need to add vanilla and sugar to taste.

My coffee of choice is the Deathwish Vahalla Java blend. It's a great option for this recipe since you'll want a strong coffee, but of course, use whatever blend you favor.

Single Serve Pumpkin Spice Latte

1 C dairy or nut milk
1Tbsp pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup strong hot coffee
Optional: whipped cream, dash of nutmeg

Heat milk over medium just until hot. Whisk in pumpkin puree and sugar. Remove from heat and add vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and the hot coffee. Pour into a mug and, if desired, top with whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg. 

*Recipe may be doubled to share with a friend.