A Simple Millionaire Christmas

I am rich.

But society says I’m not. Society tells me in order to be considered one of the fortunate, I need more ‘stuff.’ I need cars and a boat. I need useless furniture in my home. I need umpteen gadgets, piles of clothes, shoes that will never get worn, and jewelry dumped on my dresser. By society’s standards, I’m looking pretty poor about now. But I don’t feel it.

I look around and see all I’ve been given, a beautiful home, a great relationship with a man I love. I see family, friends, and food we share. Outside, beyond the flowers that bloom and wispy blades of grass, rises a mountain, showcasing its snow-capped tip in the early morning hours.

I am truly wealthy, rich beyond belief. Click To Tweet

There is nothing wrong with owning ‘things.’, a home to give shelter, a place to share with family. There is nothing wrong with gadgets, shoes, or clothes. But sometimes, with all the ‘stuff’ we own, it’s easy to forget where what richness really means.

Recently, I read a story about a woman who’d had her share of hardships, and still managed to see herself as rich. She was the true millionaire, the one who didn’t own a gadget, who found beauty in the simple side of life.

Thank you to Peter Fritz at blazeyourown.com for allowing me to share this simple millionaire story about his mom: “You’re Already a Millionaire.”

Enjoy.

Have a simply lovely, and rich beyond measure, Christmas.

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Simple Recipes for a Simple Life

The “Chow” category is back, because I can’t stay away from great food, or my love of cooking.

My affair with cooking began in junior high when I took my first cooking class. It was there I learned the most important steps, like boiling water, frying an egg, and cooking pasta.

I grew older, took more classes, and learned how to make things like (good tasting) borscht and Baked Alaska.

With each session of classes, the recipes grew harder, and the list of ingredients longer. But I didn’t mind. I saw complicated recipes as a challenge, one which I continued into my own home when I got married.

But it wasn’t long before children came along, and in between diaper-changing, homeschooling, volunteering, and working, my time was stretched, and the ability to cook long, complicated meals became difficult.

It was then I turned to the simple meals I’d grown up with, burgers, plain pork chops, vegetable soup with dumplings, and tons of casseroles.

Meals were easy, albeit a little boring at times. There are, after all, only so many ways to serve a vegetable, at least that’s what I thought at the time.

But I know better now. I’m amazed at all the meals one can make with a simple ingredient. Like sweet potatoes – they are my go-to for everything from fries to bread, soups to the base of a sloppy joe. Who knew one simple vegetable had so many uses?

The following is a list of my favorite recipe sites. Thank you to the many amazing bloggers with such incredible talent! I wish I could list all of your sites here.

Some of my favorite simple food sites.

*Minimalist Baker – The name says it all. Few ingredients. Quick, easy recipes.

*Stone Soup – The author of “5 Ingredients 10 Minutes.” Her recipes are simple and healthy.

*Sweet Phi – Join her on Friday for her “5 Ingredient Friday Recipes.”

*Simply Recipes – Simply a ton of recipes. While I haven’t had time to peruse all of them, the ones I have used are amazing, and not too difficult.

*Budget Bytes – Simple, good cooking on a budget.

* Simply Scratch – Tons of recipes, but I really love her ‘quick and easy’ category.

*Naturally Ella – The blog that just may turn me into a vegetarian. Amazing recipes, with gorgeous pictures. I want to make them all.

*Against All Grain – Easy, delicious, recipes, without the grain.

*Pinch of Yum – If you can get past the gorgeous pictures (I got stuck staring at them for a long time), you will find a ton of simple and yummy recipes.

*Gimme Some Oven – I admit, it was the name that initially drew me in, but once I was in this site, I didn’t want to leave. Tons of great recipes (and pictures).

*Chocolate Covered Katie – My list would be incomplete without this site. It’s one of my favorites, because, well, it’s full of chocolaty, yummy recipes.

There you have it, a few of my favorite simple sites. Wish I had space to list them all. What are your favorite simple meal sites? What is your favorite simple meal?

Please feel free to share this list with others.

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Simple Changes in Minimalism

We are always changing, a constant evolution from one thought to another, a continuous progress of our minds.

We change our schedules when old ones no longer work, change food to fit new diets. We change our wardrobes to fit the style of the new people we have become. We move furniture in our home, and take a new route to work.

There is certainly nothing wrong with change. It shows we are growing, moving forward, expanding our horizons.
It’s the same way with minimalism. What we need one day, we may not need another. We let it go, and become someone new.

The opposite works as well. If you’ve read my previous posts, here, and here, you know I’ve purged thousands of dollars worth of items from my home. While I’ve never regretted letting go of so much ‘stuff’, there were two things I missed.

The first was my exercise ball. It was big and bulky, and at the time I had this crazy idea of what minimalism was, and it did not include a big rubber ball sitting in the corner of my room. So I gave it away. Only, as time wore on, I missed that rubber ball. I missed how much better I felt when I used it. I purchased a new one.

The other item was my crockpot. When I gave it away, I wasn’t using it. It was old, and I had more time to cook on the stovetop. But my needs have changed, my life has changed, and that crockpot is exactly what I need. I bought new, and much better, one.

I admit, it was hard to rebuy things I had once given away. But then I remembered, I am not the same person I once was. I am someone new. Like the things in my home, I have changed.

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Why This Simple Hippie Will Always Own a Christmas Tree

It is the countdown to Christmas and I couldn’t be more excited. Honestly, I’m like a kid sometimes. I love everything about this season, lights that shimmer off tinsel, trees adorned in holiday attire, cocoa capped with mounds of marshmallows. I love the shy, excited faces of children as they stand in line to see Santa, the joy of someone buying a gift, the get-togethers with family. There’s almost nothing I don’t like.

Almost. Because this year, for the first time, I struggled with decorating my home. My husband and I purged much of what we owned, including most of our holiday decorations, some broken, some just very, very old, and what is left fits in one small box we can fit in the corner of a closet. That, and one tall, artificial, pre-lit Christmas tree.

I’ve never been much into holiday decorating. True, I’d owned a few wreaths, always had a tree, set candy canes out, and even made gingerbread houses. Never an extreme amount of holiday glitz. But this year, I didn’t even want that. I wanted nothing to do with decorating. Not one single thing.

We weren’t having Christmas at our house. It was only my husband and myself. And our home was as simple and clean as I liked it. Besides, if I set up a tree, and filled our home with decorations, wouldn’t that be hypocritical as a simple hippie? What would that be saying about who I really am?

Yet, it was Christmas. And I love Christmas. And in my heart, I knew I needed a few pieces to remind of why I loved this season.

I pulled out the box, emptied the few contents on the bed: a tiny elf, two tiny white trees, a candle, a framed picture, a fluffy little owl, and two glittery glass balls. Each item something I cherished, and for whatever reason, held meaning for me. I placed the pieces around our home. Everything except the large green artificial tree.

We wouldn’t be needing a tree this year, and truth is, I didn’t want to mess with it. In fact, I was struggling with whether or not to give it to the thrift store when I received a call.

My son and daughter-in-law, who were to have Christmas dinner this year, ran into some unexpected circumstances. Would I be willing to do it?

I didn’t hesitate. Willing? Yes! I was ecstatic. This year our whole family would be together. I loved cooking for them, loved the laughter and chatter that filled the house, loved the sound of little children in the background.

The children. I thought about them as I looked around our home, our quiet, clean, simple home, a home that didn’t look much different now than any other day of the year. A home that certainly didn’t look like Christmas.

I wondered what they’d think when they bounded through the door. I wondered what they’d see that Christmas morning. Would they know it was Christmas? Would they see twinkling lights and holiday decorations? Would they hear soft music in the background?

I thought how important senses are to a child, how inside every little sight and sound, in the mix of every smell, rests a memory waiting to be made. What would they see? What would they remember?

No glamor. No glitz. No twinkling lights. No Christmas tree.

It was a dilemma, one between the simple hippie in me, and the one who didn’t want to disappoint family, or children.

The next day, my husband pulled the tree out of the garage and placed it on the living room floor before leaving for work. I passed the tree many times that day, but every time I walked by, I couldn’t bring myself to set it up. I dragged it back to the garage.

What was it about the tree that bothered me? Was it that I felt like a hypocrite, or was I truly tired of having a tree?

Then it hit me. I wasn’t tired of the tree. I loved Christmas trees – the green, the magnificent presence, the lights that glittered on the branches. And whether others saw it as hypocritical or not, the fact is, for me, there was meaning in that green plastic artificial tree. I knew then, Christmas wasn’t about the tree, the lights, the gifts, the glitter and glitz. And it certainly wasn’t about me. I knew what I had to do.

Once again, I had my husband pull the tree into the house. This time, I watched as he put it together, branches over branches, plugging each piece in until it was lit up. When he was done, I draped thin silver garland across the branches, sparkles of glitter against holiday lights.

As I stood back and admired the tree, I recalled when my husband and I bought it, a year that, like many of my memories, is vague and washed-out. What I do remember is a husband who took me to buy a tree to replace the real ones I could no longer be around. A husband who celebrated the season with me, a season in which I appreciated life like I never had.

I will always have a tree. It is more than fake branches in our home. It is a symbol of life, celebration, and the One True Gift we’ve been given. It is a reminder that Christmas is not about me. It is family. It is memories made, and memories yet to come. And sometimes those memories rest inside the green plastic branches of an artificial tree.

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My $5000 Purge and Counting

Earlier this year I wrote about my $5000 purge, an exciting, albeit emotional, event. I loved the empty spots in my drawers, the bare space on the closet floor, and the fact I had less to clean. What I didn’t like was realizing how much money my husband and I spent on stuff we ended up giving away.

Granted, some of the items we purchased at one point we needed, or at least thought we did. (Like the kombucha maker.) But other things, Christmas decorations never used, movies watched only once, books never read, were a complete waste of money. And I hate wasting money.

But I wonder, if I had never spent money on needless things, if I had never spent time and energy in purchasing each of them, would I have ever known what it felt like to give it all away? I doubt it.

For it was in the releasing that I learned the true meaning of peace. And for that alone, every dime and dollar spent, was worth it.

Maybe money isn’t truly wasted when it teaches us what life is really about.

Here is my continuation (and confession) of more ‘stuff’ released from my life:

Christmas Mugs – I’m a sentimental Christmas nut, and couldn’t quite let go, even though they were old, chipped, and no longer used.

Glass Storage Containers – Looking pretty sitting in a closet.

Tea Light Candles – For the tea light holders we don’t own.

Old Prescription Glasses – I guess in case our eyes go back to the old prescription.

Refrigerator Magnets – It’s easy to collect these. How many does a person need?

Glass Cake Stand – For cakes I never display, or make.

Old Watches – So many watches, so little time to wear them.

Water Jug – Because one wasn’t enough.

Coffee Mugs – How many people live in our house?

Books – Still letting go. This will be a long process.

Vases, Frames, Plastic Wine Glasses – Miscellaneous items rarely used.

Candles – We could have lit up the neighborhood if the power had gone out.

File Folders, Office Supplies – To be fair, most of the supplies were from the office where my husband worked. When they closed their doors, we adopted a bunch of supplies to donate to homeschooling families and church. Whatever wasn’t needed was given to the thrift store.

Children’s Toys – Broken and battered.

Clothing – This area has improved immensely. So proud of both my husband and myself.

Baskets and Trivets and Knick-Knacks – Oh, my.

Wallet, Purses – Because a girl really only needs so many purses. Quality over quantity.

Tablecloths – Bought for an occasion, and never used again. I hate, hate, hate tablecloths. Cleaning them, ironing them, trying to get stains out. Never again will I purchase a tablecloth.

Tools – Tools are like the spices of the kitchen. It’s easy to forget what you have and buy duplicates. I think we are finally getting a solid hold on what we actually own.

Binoculars and Case – We already own another, and better, pair.

Table Base – Without a top.

Decorative Tray – No explanation, because I can’t come up with one.

Quilt – Sitting in a drawer, for a just-in-case moment.

Beach Bag – Because when we moved to a coastal state we thought we were supposed to own one.

Craft Paints and Supplies – I gave it all up. I’m so proud of me. All those crafts I never did are finally gone, and it feels so good.

Easel – Part of the craft release.

Recliner – Ripped and torn (it was getting old). We bought a new chair to put in its place, so technically, we didn’t lose an item. Just replaced it.

Desk Chair – Not needed.

Desk – Because one is enough.

Bowls and Cookbooks – The kitchen is getting emptier!

A Tripod – It sounded cool to own this. But it broke immediately, and was very awkward to carry anywhere, something we should have thought of ahead of time.

Coffee Table – Admission: I have owned four coffee tables in less than twelve years. Just recently, I discovered why: I hate coffee tables. They are big, cumbersome, awkward, and in the way. Now, we own none, and I love, love, love how open and airy my living room feels.

Sets of DVDs – Watched over and over again. And sick of them.

That is a portion of what we released, which brings our total to somewhere around the $8000 mark. Yes, initially I was upset by the amount of money spent, but maybe it was exactly what I needed. I guess you could say it was a very expensive lesson in life.

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