Monthly Archives: January 2012

Minimalism, Some Inspirations

I checked out some youtube videos today to see how other people minimize their possesions and simplify their lifes.

Here is a video about some extreme minimalizing. You need less then you think! Most likely..

This guy puts everything he owns in his carry on luggage!

This is obviously great if you wanna lead a lifestyle of travelling, learning new things and connecting with lots of people. Not so great if you want to cook something, except if you can share a flat. If you need furniture, like a bed and a wardrobe or something you can always get that quite easily.

Woman reflecting on her minimalist experience.

Preparing for living in one room.

And here is another one that goes more into the zen direction.

Have you found any good videos about simplifying or alternative lifestyles? Post them in the comments!

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Minimalizing vs. De-cluttering

I wrote a couple of posts about de-cluttering and minimalizing now, so I thought I’d explain what the difference is to me between those two.

To me minimalizing is quite a bit different to de-cluttering and organizing. Of curz, in the beginning they may look kind of similar, you’re getting rid of stuff and tidying your shit. I think the attitude is very different though.

To me de-cluttering is about a temporary state, it’s about getting rid off shit, but if you don’t change your attitudes towards stuff and consumption, soon enough you will have to do the same process again. And often it involves buying all sorts of storage containers and systems and all this shit just adds to the stuff you already got.

Minimalzing on the other hand , even if it means different things to different people, questions consumption fundamentally. Some people do it for political reasons, like for the environment, sustainability and avoiding mass produced items made by slave labour. Some people just want to live a life away from the mall and be more in the now.

I think minimizing is a huge process. That depends of curz on how extreme you want to go. For example, people who live in tiny or tree houses, house boats or sustainable communities are to societies standards quite extreme, but not to everyone’s standards of curz.

I’m trying to minimalize all sorts of things, spending is the obvious one. But when I buy stuff, even more then ever I’ll ask myself, “Where am I going to put this?! It’s just gonna clutter up my space!” I like having a clear space. It doesn’t need to be huge, but I like it simple and organized.

But minimalizing is even much more then that. It’s about simplifying your life. Stop doing all these time-sucking activities that are not really rewarding or relevant, like wasting hours on facebook, ..that would be a big one for me. Hanging out with negative people, that drain all your energy out of you, as I’m quite anti-social in general that isn’t really a problem for me and stop wasting time with whatever bad habit it is you do. You may even find the time to study and learn something new or make something you’ve never made before! Now how exciting would that be!!

To me minimalizing is about quality over quantity. To get something of great quality that lasts many, many years, instead of several items of it that are cheap crap. To spend time with quality people. By the way I hate the phrase ‘spending quality time’, people use it for all sorts of shit, like when they spend time with just one of their kids, it’s automatically quality time. No, it’s not, you’re just spending time, if you call any time quality time, you might as well just call it time, coz it’s nothing special. Even every day activities can be “quality time”..it’s not so much what you do, it’s how you do it!

To eat quality foods, instead of a lot of junk food crap is another point some people integrate into their minimalist lifestyle, to eat more consciously. To spend time doing the things you love instead of just doing the things you are used to. Yeah, think about the things you normally do for a minute and decide which ones are the activities you like doing and which are the ones you might have neglected and would like to do more of.

In our society it’s all about more, faster, quicker and keeping up with the Joneses.

It’s no wonder the Slow Food, Slow Living, Slow Parenting Movements catching up in popularity. Most people can’t and don’t want to keep up with it anymore. And are sick of just being patronisingly told very narrow definitions of how to do things, to worship consumerism and have products sold to them to fill the voids that are left in their lives.

So yeah, I love minimizing, it’s a long process, but so far it’s fun!!
Are you thinking of minimizing parts of your life or your whole life? Which parts? What makes you excited about it?

Not Everything That Is Organic Is Good For You -Produce

I mentioned before that, at the moment, we’re going to the wholefoods shop and the farmer’s market once a week. Compared to other cities in Europe and North America, Melbourne is seriously lacking in organic shops. I’m not quite sure why, if it’s lack of demand or something? We only just started to go to the farmer’s market’s a couple of weeks ago, I find it a bit confusing to keep up with their schedule as they are every weekend at a different location.

I don’t like to buy anything from the regular supermarket anymore, but we still go there every two days to get some fresh fruit. I don’t really like produce from the regular supermarket or green grocers, stuff looks and tastes like plastic, is packaged in plastic, sprayed with all sorts of chemicals and is so modified, you almost don’t recognize it anymore. For example, I used to LOVE tomatoes, but after eating them for a couple of years from the supermarket, I just find them plain gross and hate eating them. Except for cherry tomatoes, which still have a bit of taste left.

Obviously produce from the farmer’s market is better, so I’m trying to go there now regularly, I also find it far more inspiring to cook with the vegetables they have available there, then the plastic crap from the supermarket.

Anyways, I just wanted to show you why I don’t buy my vegetables at some of the organic shops in Melbourne. I took a couple of pictures of the produce I see there every week and I think it just speaks for itself.

Gross Tomatoes

This isn’t an exception, every time we go there it looks like this.

Yummy Nectarines

Obviously some of these products are reduced, but I think they shouldn’t be sold at all.

I assume those are grapes?

I ‘m wondering if I should send some of these pics to the health authorities. I mean that shit is rotten and super mouldy, you know what mould does to your body?

When you have a piece of mouldy fruit or food in general, you are supposed to throw it, coz the mould spores will be all the way through it, even if you can’t see them. Have you ever tried some food, that tasted mouldy but had no visible mould on it? Well that means it’s mouldy, but you can’t see it yet.

Also, the mould spores go all over the other produce and might even contaminate packaged products in the store. IT’S A HEALTH HAZARD!!

It’s fucking disgusting!

Anyone want some nice fruit for dinner?

This is supposed to be a “health food shop” with “ethical trading practices”, in my opinion it is neither. Selling rotten food to people for profit is disgraceful!

And I didn’t even get a picture of the rotten black bananas they were offering for free at the counter. They were already seeping rotten fruit juice!!

Sometimes they have little signs on the rotten fruit, it’s like they are taking the piss, that say something sarcastic like “Great for juicing” or “Perfect for cooking”, I think a bunch of rotten tomatoes is anything but great for cooking. It’s great for throwing in the bin!

Coz I didn’t get my veggies from the Farmer’s Market this weekend and I don’t wanna buy them anywhere else, I decided to just eat fresh fruit for the week. It’s better anyways, because it’s raw.

Today I made myself a melon salad with rock, honeydew and water melon. And it was sooo good! I don’t wanna show you a picture of my nice salad after that horrible disgusting fruit slime straight away, so here is a picture of some tree socks.

So colourful and fluffy!

We saw them in the city yesterday. Pretty cool right, seems to be the craze in and around Melbourne as I have seen quite a couple of them lately.

And here is my fruit salad. It was very juicy and absolutely delicious.

JUICY!!

Where do you get your fruit and veggies from? What do you think of certain wholefood shop trading practices? Have you had any similar experiences?

Problem Areas – Kitchen

One problem area for a lot of people seems to be the kitchen. Especially that dreaded cupboard with the random collection of plastic storage boxes. Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about!

We used to have a cupboard like that too. But not anymore. As I quickly mentioned in this post I hate using the top shelves in our kitchen ‘Coz I Can’t Fucking Reach Them!’. And it just makes me angry using them! The storage boxes used to be on one of the top shelves, so it made me extra angry. Coz plastic boxes are so ugly and random anyways.. it makes me angry just writing about it. Well, you get the picture..

I literally used to throw the shit in there coz, well, what’s the point, I’d have to get a chair and there was just too much shit in there. And then when i tried to pull them out I had to jump up, yeah, how fucking pathetic that must have looked like and pulled out half of the shelf at the same time, which ended in a lot of yelling and frustration.

This is how the top shelf looks now

One day i decided I am not going to take this anymore.

So I got a chair, pulled it up to the shelf and threw all the plastic boxes onto the kitchen counter. All of them.

I made a plan of how to structure the kitchen cupboards more accessibly. I cleared out one of the lower cupboards to use that as well, so the top shelf only had a few items right on the edge that I could reach.

Then I sorted them. Decided what we need for each person and to clean used ones every day so we don’t need an excess amount.

Threw the scratched and old ones out. I don’t have any random ones, but PLEASE, if you have plastic containers without lids or broken ones, THROW THEM OUT! Thanks!

Then I cleaned the shelf and all the containers and put the nice ones back in.

I also reuse glass jars for dried fruit or food storage as you can see in my post about my pantry and this one where you can see how I store spices.

So now that you know how I’ve done it you can do it too.
AND REMEMBER, DON’T BUY ANY MORE CONTAINERS, rather invest money in like two or three glass dishes for each member of the household.

I like glass containers better, but I still kept the plastic ones, I will be phasing them out though. I also don’t usually put damp containers in the cupboard, but if you have to just turn the lids inside out, so you can still stack them, but the air gets in.

And this is the lower shelf. My camera takes the shittest pictures in low light!

Ok, now that you sorted that dreaded storage container nightmare(that is, if you had one of them in the first place) we move on to that cupboard or drawer where you keep all your random shit in. Yeah, that one!

Same procedure. Pull everything onto the kitchen counter or table. CLEAN the dreaded thing. And sort through everything that is in there. Do you really need ten wooden spoons or three different sets of measuring cups or whatever you got in there?! Try to go for just one item each, depending on how large your family is and do the dishes more often.

Then give the extra items away to the charity shop or throw them AND DON’T BUY ANY MORE. Give the items away that you only use once a year or those awkward ones that you don’t use at all. Then clean and put the good ones back in.

And if you have to buy something new for the kitchen make it as practical and multifunctional as possible.

We had one of these clutter drawers and it wasn’t even that bad. Now that we sorted it it actually has a system. Yeah, amazing right?! I think, once you have a system in place, with less stuff, you are less likely to just throw stuff in there.

Minimizing is like taming a beast. You gotta be on your guard constantly.

Tell me about your problem areas! What sort of clutter always seems to collect?

The Thistle And The Nettle

Kind of ironic, me trying to eat thistles and nettles, as they were definitely the most annoying plants to me when I was a kid. Thistles scratch you real badly and nettles sting like hell, I think they are even worse, coz the sting can last for quite a long time and, if you are not familiar with them, it itches and burns at the same time!

I watched this video the other week and the guy makes eating thistles sound really delicious, so I thought I’ll try them. And basically everyone knows how a thistle looks like, I thought that would be an easy start into my wild food experiment..

Well, I don’t know if Australian Thistles are different to other kinds, but the ones we tried tasted awful! We looked for the smallest ones, but even they had flowered already and might have been too old. And we really tried the smallest ones we could find!

They were just really dry and that white, dry stuff in the middle was just really nasty. It was like chewing on a twig. And I felt a bit dizzy after, but that might have been from the heat. I will try eating them again in Europe, but I don’t think I’ll have to eat them for a while.

Also, standing in a park, with gloves on, my partners gloves were black, mine were white, and with knives, doing something that was a little weird, well, I felt like we looked like serial killers..

I haven’t seen any stinging nettles in Australia, so I haven’t actually tried them yet. But I remember seeing by lots and lots of them in Germany. ..and getting stung by them.

My grandmother told me that during World War II they used to go to the forest to pick nettles to make nettle soup from. As a kid I was like “Wtf, how rough is that??” Now I’m like, yeah, let’s give it a try. I wonder what my grandmother would think if I told her I ate nettle soup. She’d probably tell me I’m crazy and ask me why I wouldn’t buy my greens in the supermarket! I haven’t actually tried eating fresh stinging nettles, I used to drink nettle tea, but don’t even really like it, it’s too weak and grassy tasting for me..

So yeah, that hasn’t been very successful, but I am not giving up yet..

Have you eaten nettles or thistles or any other crazy wild food before? What is your favourite herbal tea and why?(mine is peppermint at the moment, it’s so refreshing) Do you think eating wild foods is a good idea or is it too much effort?

Work In Progress

I always go on about my house and how i tidy up some of the cupboards and stuff, so i thought i’d show you how it looks like, just so you don’t get the idea i’m a hoarder or like really messy or something..

I would say our house is pretty tidy and clean. But i can still see some clutter around and to me it isn’t just about clutter anyways, it is about simplifying my life, but more about that in a later post.

So, that’s our lounge,

Pretty nice, right?!

I love our lounge, but for some reason we always hang out in the kitchen, which looks like this,

Simple.

I like the kitchen too. LOVE the cupboards. We cleared out a lot of space, so they are at least half empty now.

One of the shelves,

Could you live with less? I don't think i want to live with much less.

The pantry is an ongoing project. I hate using top shelves, coz i can’t reach them, so i try not to use them. This one is empty..

Our pantry, i'm aiming for more organic, unprocessed food..

Food is still a massive project. Every weekend we go to the organic shop and the Farmer’s Market. Logistically that is quite an effort as they are quite far away.

I also want to get rid off all plastics in the kitchen. Plastics are gross! I’m going to replace plastic with water bottles, i don’t use plastic containers for food storage, and i’m trying to only use glass containers for work lunches. The ones with the rubber lids are pretty cool and sturdy.

I cut down drastically on my msg, refined sugar and salt intake. I don’t eat anything with msg anymore, but i know they put flavour enhancers in foods under different names and numbers and i haven’t really figured that one out yet, so i can’t say i’m off that shit completely.

Going off most things with processed sugar and salt was easier then i thought. Of curz it gets easier the more you cut out the processed food.

But these crackers are my absolute weekeness.

OMG, THEY TASTE SOOO GOOD!!

Unfortunately they got sugar AND salt in them, no msg though, but they are just sooo tasty!!

Now here is a little tidbit about me. According to some people i’m quite sensitive to smells. People eating or cooking certain foods, makes me nearly vomit sometimes. You know people smelling of garlic, OMG, so gross!! I love the taste, but i can’t cope with the smell!

And you know when you eat chips your fingers smell even hours after, even after you washed them like three times. I HATE THAT!! So normally what i do is, put the crackers in a bowl and eat them with a spoon. Or if they are chips, i eat them with chopsticks. Yeah, this is how i roll!

Ok, back to the subject, i want to reduce all my personal items, items like markers, drawings, photo negatives and my upholstery tools so everything fits in this cupboard.

Good size, what you think?!

I have always been quite practical and i normally just get items that serve a practical purpose, i hate knick knacks. I’m also quite creative and like to make things so, yeah, as i said the items in the cupboard are gonna be all artsy, crafty stuff. I got some items that i just find cute or pretty, but not that many.

Have you got any suggestions for minimizing your stuff? Are you minimizing and struggling with something, a certain area or something? What is your most important reason to reduce stuff?

Hoarding

I love watching documentaries. They are the only films i watch at the moment. What i find interesting about documentaries on peoples lives is, that i see a different perspective, understand people’s behaviour better and learn something from it.

Hoarding to me is a lot like overeating. Building up an insulation against the outside world, it gives you a sense of security, as the woman in this video explains.
But it also isolates people and makes them socially insecure.

Some of the psychotherapists you see in these shows are a bit crap. I know that progress is slow, but i’d question how effective some kinds of therapy are. A lot of times doctors work more on the symptoms instead of the underlying issue, like the focus is predominantly on the clutter, not on why people need it. Therapists are expensive, the more drawn out a therapy becomes, the more money is to be made, just sayin’..

This video shows people explaining what triggered their hoarding and how it makes them feel safer.

Hoarding is a bit extreme, but compulsive and destructive behaviour can be triggered by life changing experiences or just start creeping up on us.

Buying too much stuff is becoming a hobby in our consumerist society. I think we all could do with a bit less stuff and more real experiences in our lives.

Just imagine how much better you will feel when you reclaim your space, get some unfinished projects done and can focus more on the favourite things in your life. Just enjoy yourself more and get rid off all this mind clutter!
Let go off the past and delusional safety nets.

I noticed that even little improvements make a difference. It’s a breath of fresh air just to rearrange one room. To get rid off and spend less time looking for things. To just have more peace of mind and the ability to focus on a few areas in your life properly, instead of being all over the place and forgetting things.

A great strategy is taking baby steps and then to really enjoy the freed up space and time you got and imagine how much better it could be if you moved  forward a bit more. That’s what i’m focusing on.

So yeah, baby steps and some imagination and don’t forget to breathe.