The Wonderful Utility of Glass Jars

Well, it’s been a steep month since I last posted. I could list reasons, but the reality is that, after feeling a little overwhelmed, I took a leave of absence from certain social media sites. And that spilled over to minimal internet activity altogether, WordPress included. I could have announced my brief reprieve from blogging, but it wasn’t planned, more of a spur-of-the-moment, post-election, pre-holiday season sort of reclusiveness. At any rate, I’ve re-evaluated how I want to get along with the internet, and I’m quite pleased with my new routine: Instagram once or twice a day (there is such little opinion and bias in the accounts I follow, which simplifies the purpose so much for me), Pinterest a few times a week when looking for ways to be productive or crafty, and WordPress.

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A One-Gift Christmas

Autumn is a magical time of year, when nature reminds us of life’s cycle and reintroduces us to the promising vacancy of winter: crisp breezes, overcast skies, and that sharp scent of the cold followed by fresh wood and pumpkin spice. In Houston we don’t have the full-fledged experience; November arrived with temperatures in the 70s and what leaves have fallen are mostly brown, overlooking the rusty shades of the northern trees. During my few years in Indiana, I fell in love with autumn–the physicality of cold Octobers, bundled walks beneath gray skies and in the remnants of lake effect gales, and canvases painted with tangerine leaves that floated at my feet as I made my way from the neighborhood cafe to campus. Now, for me, what bit of that I can collect in cities on the Gulf is very welcomed–that clean smell that comes on the breeze, promising less pollen and humidity, the overcast skies between storms, and finally cool enough temperatures to warrant a jacket, jeans, and a warm mocha without being ironic.

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Today Will Be a Positive Day (Despite the Odds)

As a local radio station pointed out, if ever there was a day where a positive attitude was needed, that day is today. If you see the world as I do, you woke up to a fearful future for our country. And the shock of a cold shower was needed immediately. Coffee didn’t magically change the election results, but I did find a colorful “I didn’t vote for him” sticker that I’m thinking of ordering. So there’s that.

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A Week’s Shopping

We returned from our trip a little over a week ago and, because we had purposefully done little shopping before we left town, we had to restock our kitchen. Aside from a few meats that held over well in the freezer, we needed most items, including vegetables, fruits, and snacks. We’ve tried to be more conscious of what foods we buy with the idea that we want to control what goes into our bodies. We also have to work on a budget, however, and we only allow ourselves to splurge occasionally and on certain items, primarily organic vegetables, leaner meats such as bison, preferably locally farmed, and specialty cheeses. The first two are for healthier eating to control the ingredients; the cheeses are simply because we both love cheese and often use it to add flavor, so it is a simple way to vary our ingredients.

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Thirty-Something Minimalist Is Now on Instagram!

My partner and I stumbled into Instagram last month when my mother asked us to join a monthly challenge for her blog. How surprised we were to learn that both of our mothers had Instagram accounts and we were much more advanced in their social media accounts than we were! After playing with it for a month, we’ve become a little more comfortable with it, and I realized the benefit of it several times when I had a picture that I wanted to share on here but didn’t think it warranted its own blog post. Enter Instagram!

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A Minimalist Christmas: Homemade Gifts

It’s the beginning of November, which means two things: beautiful autumn weather has finally arrived and the planning of Christmas gifts has begun. Normally we would be worrying about lists, scouring Amazon for good deals, hoarding B&N coupons, and thinking up until Christmas Eve how we can give the best presents. This year, however, I am doing it differently. After working to live more intentionally the past few months, I realized how materialistic Christmas had become for me, thinking mostly of what the best purchases were, how to stretch my money to but the most gifts, and how to impress people with what I gave them. I didn’t like that one bit. A lot of my focus and stress involving the holiday revolved around purchasing gifts and the financials associated with that process when many times I was taking a guess at what I thought was a good gift. The season had become very centered on tangible numbers, and that felt wrong in so many ways. Continue reading

For the Love of a Cat, a Partner, and S’mores

Life partners, domestic partners, spouses, significant others: whatever you want to call them, they can be so amazing sometimes. Especially in emotional times. This past week was a little stressful for us. In addition to general issues at work and what felt like a lot of running around, it took me well into the week to realize that I had some anxiety building up over the coming weekend. Last year we let go of our older cat at the end of October, and, even though I thought I was handling it well, I wasn’t as prepared for the emotions that came with it as I thought I was.

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Farmers’ Market Finds

We had another successful trip to the farmers’ market this Saturday after several weeks without a visit. The season has led to a few missing fruits and veggies as well as the introduction of autumn crops. Our vegetable vendor has a lot of greens this week, hopefully alleviating our lettuce troubles at the local grocery store, as well as organic carrots, squash, and potatoes. The shift in offerings completes a change in the weather and color as fall settles in the gulf, and we’re excited to see what we can do in our meals with new options. Continue reading

Using Minimalism To See the Positive

I’ve talked a bit about my company’s recent changes in a previous post, but to sum up we moved to a new office that impacted many of our commutes. A lot of us now have longer commutes in worse traffic with higher costs with tolls. After downsizing to a smaller, cheaper apartment, my partner and I broke even with the cost and were surprised when my company responded to complaints by giving full-time employees a one-time payment to supplement a year’s travel expenses. I was very grateful for the gesture, especially since we had already adjusted our budget and were able to put that money directly into our savings. However, as a one-time payment, that meant that I would technically be taking a pay decrease after a year.

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A Mindful Tuesday

There is nothing that beats the smell of a fresh cup of Earl Grey tea in the morning. It’s reminiscent of early autumn mornings and makes me think of rust-colored leaves and bookshops. I imagine myself in a scene from You’ve Got Mail, discussing bouquets of sharpened pencils and walking beside small markets on a crisp October morning. Of course, my morning is nothing like that; instead, I trade lanes with other commuters along a backed up highway and a too-small toll road for forty minutes before parking in a covered structure–concrete and the bustle of city business everywhere–but that smell of Earl Grey really does make my morning better. And that fragrant flavor lasts me well into my morning. Continue reading