It's been a while (maybe not?) since I've revealed just how weird I am...you know...since writing about how I cut all the hairs in this house...or...well...showed a picture of my cell phone. (I'll link that later, or I just might lose everyone right there.) :)
Cell phones are nonnegotiables for a lot of us these days. (Understatement.) :) Even if we're making a focused effort to pay down debt...or trying to keep our budget under control (because we've got more important ways to put our money to work), cell phone coverage may seem like a line item without wiggle room. But...it just might actually be a place to consider making some changes worth quite a bit of savings.
Cell phones + children is a whole issue of its own. I don't really want to discuss the feelings + values + fears that are involved with that...but I thought I would share a little of what I've discovered while looking into budget conscious cell phone coverage (in order to stay connected with my daughter) lately...in case anyone is interested. I only spent a little while looking, so this is no comprehensive list...and it is USA specific. The point is...there are some surprising options to be found!
Before we move on to the list...we need to really get honest about exactly what is "enough" when it comes to cell phone coverage. Do I need unlimited data, or could I actually stand to feel the sun on my face...to take some deep breaths + enjoy the wait? Do I need to make phone calls all the way to work, or could I just listen to the radio + call them when I get to work or home? (Cheaper home phone coverage.) In this particular case I'm looking for a way to be connected to my daughter when she is at her activities away from home. I would like to be able to text with her + I'd like her to have access to making calls in case of an emergency. If she needs access to data, she will be able to use wifi. This phone will not live in her room + she won't need it every day of the week.
The types of plans listed here could work just as well for someone who wants or needs the savings...is just willing to adjust priorities + be disciplined. It may just require us to use our phones as a tools rather than as entertainment.
I've listed the plan specifics that fit our needs, but there are different combinations available in most cases that will still yield major savings in comparison to a lot of plans out there. For example, I like to have access to maps...but I don't use them very often...so maybe a very small amount of data added to one of these plans might be enough. Discernment + discipline are where it's at! :)
Relay :: This is a tool that might be just right for children :: $7 per month to be able to talk to them + GPS locate them
Republic Wireless :: Wireless Unlimited Talk + Text plan :: (uses Sprint/T-Mobile networks) $15 per month for unlimited minutes + texts + no data
Tello :: Build Your Own plan :: (uses Sprint network) $5 per month for 100 minutes + unlimited texts + no data
Ting :: Pay for What You Use :: $12 per month for 100 minutes + 100 texts + no data :: if nothing is used in a month, $6
T-Mobile :: Prepaid Pay as You Go plan :: $3 for any combination of 30 minutes or texts, 10 cents per minute or text over that
AT+T :: Gophone Daily plan :: $2 per day of use for unlimited minutes + texts :: data costs 1 cent per 5KB :: only pay for the days the phone is used
Up until 2 years ago, this is how we cell phoned it. Up until now, that little phone was going strong for keeping Julia + I connected...until it just stopped working. The phone itself still works...we just can't load it anymore + no one seems to be able to help us rectify that. So here we are.
Because cell phones involve values + priorities (they do!), we can apply discipline. A budget is a discipline. Putting our priorities first is it's own reward!
Whimsy + Row takes sustainability seriously. They utilize deadstock, biodegradable fabric + Los Angeles sewing. Unnecessary plastic + waste are avoided. Their shapes are simple + straightforward. This is the type of clothing that would mix well into an existing collection + will get worn over + over again for all kinds of occasions.
Whimsy + Row will join our growing list of ethical brands, so that when a need strikes...we have a few places to start the search. :)
All photos via Whimsy + Row.
Last year's commitment to buying only replacements as a way of decreasing spending proved to be an eye-opening focus worthy of carrying forward. Now I'm working on a sort of master list of "necessities", which can be used as a list of things to keep in good working order...and to stick to in terms of replacements, as necessary.
As I've worked on this post, I've thought about how it can feel like I spend more time thinking + writing about "things" now that I'm intentionally thinking about simplicity than before. More thought, however, leads me to the conclusion that that is not really the case. :) Intentionally thinking about "things" is different from being dissatisfied with or wanting different things.
I'm hoping that this master list will enhance my sense of "enough". I can use it to see that we already have everything we need...and do not need more.
As I'm going room by room in the everyday zero-waste department noting the things we don't need, I thought this might be a good time to make note of what we do "need" + enjoy. I put "necessities" + "need" in quotation marks, because we could surely get by without many of these items...but life is so much for comfortable with them. :)
Living room master list:
Seating :: Enough for the people who live here. (Extras can be brought from other rooms.)
Place for feet :: For comfort + also to perch a computer on for collective watching.
Lighting :: Enough to read by.
Curtains :: Only for privacy, because...sunlight!
Blankets :: During cold weather, we keep the heat lowered in order to save gas + money.
Clock :: A small one helps me stay on schedule.
A few things that lend themselves toward style :: A little goes a long way. Currently I have about ten small things spaced out on shelves + hung above the mantle that communicate a vibe I love.
Candle :: The flicker + scent add so much joy + coziness in the colder months.
Ceiling fan :: An essential (if possible) for me. It cools so much in the summer allowing us to keep the air conditioning lower (saving both electricity + money).
Books :: A few of my favorites + a spot for a few library books = enough for me. Mr. Tribe + Jo each have a shelf full of books here.
Rug :: I sold our Craigslist, wool rug six months ago + am still considering whether we want to replacement it.
It may seem like I'd add a bookshelf to our master list, but I don't think it's a necessity. In our last home, we stacked our books on the floor in a nonfunctioning fireplace. We had a small mantle for candles + small objects. Since I don't have a lot of books anymore, I would think creatively before purchasing bookshelves.
Honorable mention: versatility...the pictures above were taken last month (on a good library day!). Here is what our living room looks like today. :)
Read Meet the Frugalwoods by Elizabeth Willard Thames in a weekend. One point of view. Food for thought.
Had the chance to read an advanced copy of The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees by Don Brown. A great way to put the progression of events together for + in front of all of us...including younger readers.
Finally read The Giver by Lois Lowry at my girls' urging. So much to think about + discuss.
Reading Searching for Sunday by Rachel Held Evans.
YES! YES! YES!
This is how it starts...
There's no longer a place for a retailer trying to sell a reasonable amount of clothes at healthy margins.
More positive news.
Expanded size offerings.
Mentioned Caliphate this week...but just in case it was missed...so good.
Also really enjoyed this chat with one of the original (to me) fair brand founders.
Have a lovely (cool) weekend! :)
My personal basics comprise the bulk of my simple wardrobe. It would not be an overstatement to say that I could function well with only a small selection of my personal basics. Chosen with care, these pieces could take me into most of the everyday, indoor situations + temperatures in which I find myself.
And yet...I've been wrestling these past few months with that just a little.
Over the past number of years, I've worked toward a more minimalist wardrobe. I haven't really subscribed to any rules. I've just been trying to feel my way to my sweet spot with the amount of clothing I have...a very personal sweet spot that lies at just the right point between too much + too little.* For years, I've been able to slowly reduce...reduce...reduce...as I've found "enough" in less + less.
And now...I've gotten to a point where I can function with a very few pieces (this is relative, obviously). In the past few months, however, I was feeling the loss of some of the joy of getting dressed. I'd reduced my pieces to a very few items in a very narrow color palette. Almost every piece was either black or white...and that was never intentional. I found myself feeling like I didn't look good in colors...shying away from patterns that I might get tired of quickly...choosing safe shapes for their versatility.
Yes, I could get dressed + feel good + appropriate...but I wasn't having a whole lot of fun doing it. I started to wonder if I'd pushed minimalism just a touch too far...and concluded that this just depends on my ultimate goal.
Is my goal to fit my entire wardrobe into a backpack so that I can travel the world? Is my goal to see how few pieces I can function with? Is my goal to curate the perfect capsule collection? Is my goal to find a sort of system I can use to keep my wardrobe manageable, functional, fair to farmers, garment, workers + the environment, and a joy to wear? There are many worthy goals that could involve using minimalism as a tool in the wardrobe, but for me, that last one is most in line with what I'd like to achieve.
I've decided that the recognition of my personal basics...combined with my knowledge of how few pieces I can dress with...has given me the freedom to add in a few wild card pieces to my functional wardrobe...like sprinkles on my unicorn toast. These pieces may not be strictly necessary for "enough"...but they do provide joy!
*It's always a good idea to remind myself here that this is a very privileged thing to be able to spend my time thinking through. The vast majority of people on this planet do not have the opportunity for any such luxury. They will never experience the tipping point toward "too much" or perhaps even reach "enough". It is with this knowledge that I am partly fueled to assess the amount of things that I hold away from others...the amount of resources that I take...the levels of harm + waste that my consumption produces...the quality of wages that my possessions provided.
Compassion, "enough" + a few sprinkles for all of us...that's what I'm after.
I wanted this dress to be drapey rather than crisp...loose + breezy...not too short. The pattern is Lou Box Dress 1 by the talented Beth of Sew DIY. It would be a great beginner pattern, since the fit is forgiving + the techniques are quite straight forward. The fabric is a rayon/linen blend with a lovely drape.
As far as alterations go, I left the button opening off the back, raised the front neckline by 2 inches, and lengthened the front + back by 6 inches. I was able to lengthen the front + back without purchasing more fabric by piecing the back (the top of the back has horizontal stripes). I enclosed all of the seams (with french seams as possible) and by hand sewing the facing of the "sleeves". The fabric ravels easily, so enclosed seams were definitely a priority (although, they are always my preference). My dress has no pockets, because I didn't like the look of them outside with the stripes + didn't want the bulk inside.
I like the lines of this dress a lot + look forward to trying it one size smaller, a little shorter, without such a pronounced drop back hem, + in a fabric with less drape. I love the fabric, but the weight of it makes the dress feel a little bit droopy.
Truth #1 :: Anyone who has ever been a gardener or lived in the vicinity of a gardener, knows that when zucchini are planted...they are plentiful. Gardeners are notoriously generous with zucchini...so when five large zucchini showed up in our CSA box, I should not have been surprised. Likewise, when the following week brought five more! :)
Truth #2 :: I don't like single use gadgets. There is a whole series in this space lauding the merits of multifunctional items in my kitchen.
I made zucchini bread (yum!), but it only uses up one (!) zucchini at a time.
Truth #3 :: I had been intrigued by zoodles a number of times in the past + had even scouted out which (compact/less expensive/less complicated) spiralizer I would choose. I know that my tribe likes spaghetti squash (Julia even asked for it as her birthday meal once upon a time), these noodles would be a great gluten-free noodle alternative...they would be nutritious...the spiralizer is compact...and I had a lot of zucchini! So...I decided that it was time. (I was even able to find the one I wanted at the grocery store!)
Truth #4 :: We like zoodles a lot! I've made this dish twice in a week (+ those zucchini in the top picture are the ones we still have left)! I'm not at all sad about adding this little gadget to my kitchen. (This is not a recommendation to go out + buy anything...just relating my experience. This recipe is just as good with spaghetti squash!)
Zoodles + Sauce
2 zucchini (spiralized)
2 tomatoes (chopped)
2 spoonfuls of besan/chickpea flour (optional- to thicken)
pepper jack cheese (grated)
Sauté zucchini in a bit of olive oil for a few minutes over medium heat. Move zucchini to bowls. Add other ingredients (minus the cheese) to the pan with a little olive oil. Stir until thickened. Assemble + enjoy!
We enjoyed some leftover zoodles for lunch the next day with these simple toppings.
Slow fashion is encouraging us as consumers to make peace with the fact that we can't own or wear it all, and we shouldn't. You can have great admiration for a designer, a trend, or a clothing item, but not wear it yourself. Some things are better appreciated from afar. ~Audrey Stanton (via)
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time