What you can do,
Or dream you can,
Boldness has genius,
and magic in it.
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Happy New Year, friends!
In an effort to keep things simple + to reduce my spending, I committed to purchasing only replacements this year. The replacements I was talking about were the things that needed to be replaced. Things like batteries + lightbulbs...kitchen towels + intimates...working plumbing and such. :) It's a bit surprising to me, but there were actually some significant lessons to be learned from the focus on replacements only:
-In a simple home, this is a great way to live. Period. Since we've moved quite a few times (+ twice overseas...without a shipping container), I've spent quite a bit of time thinking about what we truly need to live comfortably. Once we have these necessities, there is really nothing left to do...but live...and replace as necessary.
-This is a great way to slowly + thoughtfully convert to fair. I don't mean that we just replace good, functional pieces with fair pieces. That would be wasteful in most cases. But as things wear out or cease to work over time, we can replace them with sustainable, fairly made pieces...that, yes, may cost a little bit more.
-Replacements often feel like boring purchases, but when we buy less...they just might become exciting. Maybe replacing worn, cream towels with white towels sounds boring...but when the new, white towels are fair-trade certified + organic cotton + dry faster + can be bleached + you've waited and saved...it is sort of exciting. Drying off with that new towel is a notable experience each morning + they look so nice and bright hanging there.
-Not everything needs to be replaced. If the item is not necessary, take this chance to realize that... + don't replace it. Try living without it for a while. Empty space is often a valid + desirable replacement. :)
-Replacements often make the best gifts. Mr. Tribe received replacement (+ upgraded) headphones for his birthday. Jo received a replacement (+ handmade) bathrobe for Christmas. Julia received that replacement, wooden comb in her stocking. All were genuinely appreciated, happy makers. :)
I'm definitely carrying this habit through to 2018!
I started this year with the goal of paying down our mortgage with any extra money that could be squeezed out of our already tight budget. In addition to all of the cost cutting measures already in place, I committed to purchasing replacements only + sewing any clothes that I would need this year. First the bad news:
Things I bought too much of in 2017:
-fabric + patterns :: I made the commitment to sew my clothes this year. Suitable garment fabric can be difficult to find, and there were a couple of times that I bought too much fabric out of fear that the fabric I (thought I) wanted would not be there when I wanted to sew with it. I ended up selling (at a loss) a bunch of fabric + patterns (some that I bought this year!), because I knew I didn't need them. Fail.
-clothes :: Um, yeah. I was supposed to be sewing all of them. I didn't buy a lot of pieces, but I did buy a some, mostly thrifted, things. This was, again, out of fear. When I thrift, I know that it is probably my only chance to buy what I see. Also, things are not (relatively) expensive. But money is money + when I sold excess things that I bought, I didn't usually get as much money for them. (I have high hopes for my list to help in this area.)
-magazines + books :: I bought 3 magazines + 3 books. Two of the magazines were bought on vacation. We don't bring laptops on vacation + these were magazines that I hadn't seen before. I couldn't find 2 of the books at the library + wanted more time with the third. This really isn't a big deal, but 4 out of the 6 purchases really weren't worth it + I want to remind myself.
And the good news:
-With careful tracking of each purchase + monthly review of these purchases, we were able to send an extra payment toward our mortgage principle 8 out of the 11 (so far) months of 2017! (Fingers crossed for one more.) We reached a significant milestone in the principal left to pay as well, which was very exciting (+ motivating).
-This was accomplished as our budget was squeezed even further. We decided to send a little more money toward retirement savings + our car insurance payment went up significantly (due to some unfortunate events). :(
-I exist mostly on the side of feeling hopeful about our circumstances + prospects for the future.
How has your year been budget wise + otherwise? Living within our means seems to offer a bit of struggle at quite a few income levels. As pay increases (if we are so lucky), often expectations rise as well...and then the new normal feels like necessity. Also, it's hard to anticipate all that will come our way in a year. I am inclined to think, however, that a look back is usually helpful. :)
Lots of love to all of you,
It's probably no surprise, since I mention it often, that one of my favorite personal developments of 2017 was my list of everyday, year round pieces. The idea is to have a list of items that see me through most situations + feel like enough. (Creativity helps.) I chose to keep my list at around 25 items. Armed with this list, I hope to overcome lots of feelings that lead me to want what I don't have + to over consume.
Oh boy, has this list come through for me!! According to this space, I started seriously thinking about + planning my list in early August. It took me a number of weeks to sort through my clothing, decide what to keep, and let go of the rest as responsibly as possible. As I worked through what I had, my numbers shifted minimally...and I ended up with a list that has worked since.
At the beginning of August, my wardrobe contained around 45 pieces including shoes (but excluding athletic wear, pajamas, and outerwear). At the moment it contains 28 pieces including shoes (but still excluding those categories). Coming into the colder season, I would normally have thought that I needed a few new things. This year I felt (+ feel) like I have enough.
Every time I saw a pair of pants or sweater that I thought I might like to own, I considered if I liked it more than the one that already filled that blank in my list. I know what I need + don't need. That feels like freedom to me.
I am so happy with that results of my list! I'm not opposed to trading pieces out (especially thrift for thrift). I like what I have + it is enough. I am definitely bringing my list into the new year. This is my current closet motto:
Less, but enough.
Style, but mine.
An Angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord. Luke 2:9-11
Wishing you the merriest of Christmases, friends!
May you experience all the light + love this season has to offer!
The light shines in the darkness + the darkness will not overcome it. John 1:5
Loads of love,
This is my favorite way to eat sweet potatoes. It looks super simple + there have been moments when I have thought I should perhaps add a little something more. And then I take a bite + am reminded that nothing extra is needed.
Last time I made this meal, another sweet potato was roasted + another cup of rice was cooked for another night. The sweet potato was made into soup + some beans + spinach for an easy encore. (This meal is still my favorite though.) :)
Zero-waste Sweet Potato + Pecans
One large sweet potato
1 cup dry rice, cooked
Peel + dice the sweet potato. Toss with a little olive oil + roast (at 420F) until soft (which is about the amount of time it takes for the rice to cook on the stovetop) (around 20 minutes for me). Assemble, season, + enjoy. (Feeds 4.)
A variation on this meal is to add some dry lentils to the rice (they can cook together) + to throw some chopped kale onto the rice/lentil mixture just as they are almost finished cooking. (Good, but not necessary.) :)
If you've been around these parts for a while or flipped through our archives, you'll know that this started out as a blog named jane + jo + julia. My girls used to pop up here a bit more often, but college + high school are demanding. It's a real treat to have Jo share a little about her skin routine today! Thank you, love bug!
I'm Jo, and Jane is my mama. It's been about a year and a half of struggle, but I have finally done it: I have found a natural, mostly zero-waste, quick and easy skin care routine that satisfies skin a tad too beloved by acne. I'm twenty-one and had anticipated being done with acne by this age, but alas, at nineteen or twenty, it got worse. Hurray. However, after trying a slew of products full of harsh chemicals, I have landed on just a few that are gentle, natural and bring me joy. Finally.
Since everyone's skin is different, this might not help yours, but my skin is quite oily in summer, more dry in the winter, and will peel if I use too much product based on harsh chemicals.
burt's bees cleansing oil: as needed
If I am wearing makeup, I will begin by removing it with cleansing oil. I find it to be very easy and effective in removing makeup and hydrating to my skin. It does come in a bottle. however, I can usually go 9+ months without buying a new one... and your fingers? good tools. No need for a cleansing pad, though if they make you feel better? great! reusable organic cotton rounds work.
lush's coalface bar soap: 2 x day
After trying and loving, lush's dark angel mask, I was seeking an alternative that a) is not messy and b) does not require so much water to remove. Luckily, Lush has a solid charcoal soap, and it is incredible. It lasts a long time and has cleared my face more than medicated cleansers. I use this morning and night. I love the way this smells, feels, and works. In addition, I can get the bar cut and put it into a container of my own, making it completely zero-waste.
lush's grease lightning gel: 2 x day
This is a tea tree oil and aloe gel spot treatment, also including ingredients like thyme and grape juice. Not only does it last forever, but also it works on my cystic acne. I've had my small bottle for nine months and I'm half through.
lush's ocean salt scrub: 2 x week
Once a week or so I will dip into this scrub to exfoliate and clear my face, before using healing clay. I love Lush's scrubs, because when you return five empty pots, you receive a mask/scrub for free, and they recycle the containers. I also use one of these containers to store my coalface.
aztec secret indian healing clay : 2 x week, nighttime
I pat a very small pile into my palm and drip over some diluted vinegar. The clay fizzles into a cream, and I use this as a spot treatment or mask. The clay can be left on for around 5-10 minutes. Truly magic and 100% natural. I think Jane and I bought the 24oz pot to share two or three years ago, and it looks like we haven't made a dent, as the powder is extremely fine. This helps my acne so much, but I deeply recommend moisturizing afterwards. Sometimes I use a very small amount of the cleansing oil and rinse before moisturizing.
For the most part, this routine keeps my skin on the clear side. On the topic of products I'm reluctant to admit I still use, I do occasionally use Clean and Clear's Persa-gel for very stubborn acne, and Neutrogena's Oil-free Acne Moisturizer twice a day. I have high hopes of phasing these products out, and I've made progress on doing so. I would love any recommendations for a natural moisturizer that will jive with acne.
I wholeheartedly recommend Lush, as they ethically create natural, effective products. They are also creating more and more zero-waste products. These products have been absolutely worth it.
x Take care,
p.s. On the topic of acne scars, of which I have many, vitamin-e oil works quite well! And acceptance. There's that too.
p.p.s. And supplements too! I have noticeably clearer skin while I take fish oil and zinc supplements.
p.p.p.s. Aaand for some reason I included my deodorant in a photo. I use the travel size of the crystal Jane has previously mentioned. What a darlin'....both Jane and the deodorant. Haha. Both keep me tolerable. Haha. Okay, thanks for having me.
I've been on a mission to live a Christmas this year that leaves our tribe with the sense of having experienced love + light. One of the ways that we are looking to experience this is through a different kind of giving. I don't at all wish to call attention to or garner credit for ourselves. I just thought that sharing here could possibly spark some further creativity out there. :)
This weekend these girls + I spent a little time writing notes of encouragement + rolling them up with dollar bills. This idea was sparked by someone else who shared doing something similar...so I thought I'd share too in case anyone else might have fun with it. (Highly recommended! No dollars even necessary.)
Before we got out at our first stop, we said a prayer + asked that these tiny gifts would communicate a message of love + encouragement just where it was needed.
A dollar doesn't seem like much, but we went straight to a few places that it could actually make a little difference.
A few of these were placed on washers + dryers at a busy laundromat...among the feminine hygiene products + nerf footballs at the dollar store...in the pockets of cute winter coats + button down shirts at the thrift store...
...and among the cat food + 99cent avocados at a grocery store. This was some of the most fun we've had during this holiday season! We've got plans to keep the generosity flowing + we're all looking forward to it! :)
A few other ideas for a different kind of giving:
-discuss a cause to which the whole tribe would like to contribute some money, place an envelope under the tree + let each decide the amount they contribute
-give kids a dollar amount + let them decide how to spend it in the giving catalogs
-combine McDonalds gift cards with handmade cards for homeless neighbors
-buy some personal pizzas + pass them out
-gift feminine products, natural haircare products, toiletries, lotion, etc. to a women's shelter
-make cookies + take them to the places we love
-pass cards to the people at the grocery store who give us our milk bottle refunds, fill our bulk containers + check them out
-write cards for the garbage men + mail carrier
-take a walk + spread birdseed for the animals on Christmas Day...doing this once a year offers a day of celebration + ease to our fellow creatures
Lagom: Not Too Little, Not Too Much: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced Life by Niki Brantmark is a sweet little book that addresses so many ways to live a lovely life the Swedish way (which is mostly right in line with the simplicity movement).
Be The Gift: Let your Broken be Turned into Abundance by Ann Voskamp is a book filled with inspiration + encouragement to give our broken selves away in order to find wholeness. I'm taking this one slow.
Loving My Actual Life by Alexandra Kuykendall reads like a journal of a busy mom trying to find happiness + satisfaction right where she finds herself...with a year-long experiment.
Ellen Davis + Wendell Berry spoke with Krista Tippett a few years ago. I listened to this conversation + promptly put Ellen's book on hold at the library. What a read it is. I love how Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture (not pictured) weaves scripture into our understanding of current environmental issues + our connection with the land.
Conducting a yearly summary + gaining some perspective.
Hearing Scott Harrison talk passionately about Charity Water made me fall in love with it all over again.
2017 has been a tough year, but hope + love have been at work.
"We want you to know the full life cycle of every piece we make."
Hope you are having a cozy weekend, friends!
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time