The Minimal Refrigerator

I placed my containers of fruits and veggies in the fridge, barely able to fit them on the narrow shelves. Our fridge was stocked, filled from top to bottom, and there are only two of us in our home. We had more food than we needed. But our fridge was full, and I felt good.

It made me think about refrigerators from the past, and I wondered, when did they begin to change, and why?

In the 1950s, refrigerators were pretty pastels, round edges, and short in stature, much different than the boxy ones of the 1970s.

Refrigerators more than doubled in size since the 1950s, when a fridge in the typical American home was a mere 9 cubic feet. By 1980, refrigerators grew to 19.6 cubic feet, and in 2012, 22.5 (tested.com)

But let’s go back a bit. The first home refrigerators were in Indiana in 1911. In the 1920s, freezers were introduced. And by the 1940s, frozen food storage was popular. Refrigerators were small, not like the monsters of today.

Why, and how, did they become so big?

As our homes grew, nearly tripling in square footage since the 50s, so did our appliances. But there is more to it than that.

In the 50s, a larger percentage of moms stayed home and cooked for the family, making multiple trips to the store within a week, and placing whole foods on the table. Much of what was served was not what you see in today’s freezers and stocked on the grocery store shelves. (Though it did exist, and it was around this time frozen dinners came on the market.)

The Big Box Store

Today, in many families, both parents work. Time is short, convenience a necessity, shopping more than once a week is nearly impossible, and the desire (and thus perceived need) is for a larger refrigerator. But there is even more.

When families desired convenience, a few brilliant minds got into the game and created The Big Box Store.

The Big Box Store has everything, multiple boxes of tissues, dozens of batteries, packages with more flashlights than anyone knows what to do with, restaurant size mayonnaise containers, bags of beans larger than a small child, and almost anything one can imagine.

My husband and I have (more than once) fallen victim to the Big Box Store, purchasing large packages of tomatoes and sauce that went bad, and a huge bag of rice that ended up with bugs.

But this isn’t an article about the good, bad, or ugly of a big box store. This is about the size of our refrigerators.

With a large refrigerator comes a desire to fill it, much like the 2500 square foot home with empty space in the corner. Beverages are stuffed in the door, little pudding containers and multiple cheese sticks piled in drawers, and sauces and jams of every flavor are placed on the shelves.

All that food makes us feel rich, look prosperous and well-off, makes us well-fed, and ready for any type of disaster. But are these things true?

How Rich Are We?

Having a lot doesn’t mean richness. It might mean we’ve spent more than we needed to. According to feedingamerica.org and mercola.com, between 40 and 50 percent of food is thrown away. If all that food hadn’t been bought, think of the money that could have been saved. I think of that as I see all the food in my fridge, and wonder, did I need so much?

Looking Good

Prosperity is a goal many aspire to, the right clothes, the expensive car, great jewelry. Even a well-stocked fridge is a sign of being prosperous.

But trying to look good for others is deceitful and dishonest, if only to ourselves. We spend needless time and money impressing people. We often end up in debt because of it.

Well-Fed

As for being well-fed, sad to say, but stocked fridge and freezer is not necessarily the sign of a well-nourished family. Processed foods could mean malnourishment, disease, chemicals fed into growing bodies. Processed foods are not a healthier choice, and often, processed foods are expensive.

Being Prepared

If you want to be ready for a disaster, the fridge is not the way to go. Non-perishables, just the necessities, are your best bet. But be careful, because as I mentioned earlier, even non-perishables expire.

It’s hard to get away from an over-sized fridge. You’d be hard-pressed to find a small fridge in any new home today. But we can get away from the attitude associated with huge appliances. We don’t need to fill our fridge any more than we need to fill our home.

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Enjoy the Now

Sometimes a day trip is all that’s needed to remind me what life is about.

Sunday morning, the sun rose high in the sky, grass glittered like tiny wet diamonds, little buds burst from trees, and daffodils spread their yellow cheer. My husband and I packed a lunch and set out on our first day trip of the year. No plan. No calendar. No list. No reminders of what needed to be done.

It was a badly needed day away, one that hadn’t been planned. Sad to say, that’s how my life usually is – one plan followed by another. I plan everything – vacations, meals, career ambitions, errands, home improvements – my calendar is a list of goals for this year, and even years beyond. It’s safe to say my life often feels like one big planning session.

I like plans, the anticipation, the wonderment, thinking about the next big adventure. I love dreaming about what’s to come. But sometimes when I plan, I forget to enjoy where I am.

The road trip reminded me.

Grass bowed as we sped the rural highway. Tall evergreens stood majestic against a background of a snow-capped mountain. My husband and I spoke of many things, enjoyed the scenery, the parks, the life around us. Nothing existed but the moment we were in. I had forgotten what that was like.

It is true, plans need to be made. We’d never go on vacations if we didn’t think ahead. Careers would fail. Family would get neglected. But sometimes, it seems as if we are so busy thinking of the future, we forget about the life in front of us.

Believe me, I’m as guilty as anyone. I plan next week’s meals while eating dinner, think about vacations while watching a documentary. I’m half here, half someplace else. Distracted, always looking forward.

The road trip reminded me what I knew all along. That to truly enjoy life, we must stop and enjoy the moment.

It got me wondering, what if we didn’t wait for a road trip? What if we stopped every day to enjoy the now? What would happen?

The world wouldn’t end, I guarantee it. But maybe it would change.

We could make our own little worlds calmer, quieter, full of what really matters. I want my life to feel that way.

So, as silly as it sounds, I’m making a plan to not plan. My calendar now contains three little words, “Enjoy the now.” It is my reminder to take time each day to remember where I am. Because in this crazy-busy society, sometimes we need to plan for the quiet.

It won’t be easy. I’m always thinking ahead. Most of us are. But I don’t want the road trip to be the only reminder that life is right here in front of me. Right now.

Life is in front of you, too. In the friend on the phone, the spouse next to you, the child in your arms. It’s in your dishes, your work-out routine, and the meal you prepare.

I encourage you, stop constantly thinking ahead. Enjoy where you are at.

Enjoy the Now

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Learning to Let Go

I have too many ideas in my head. It’s true. They never stop bombarding me. Usually, they arrive at the most inconvenient times. Like when I’m driving. Or showering. Or standing in line at the supermarket. It’s in those moments I get big ideas, and I can’t do a single thing about them. Because apparently, it’s illegal to write and drive at the same time, and showering while writing doesn’t work well, either. As for being at the supermarket, or anywhere there’s a crowd, take it from me when I say people don’t like it when you pull out your phone, or tablet and pen, and start taking notes while they’re talking. They get paranoid.

I know, some people would kill to have too many ideas. But I’m telling you, it’s not always that great. Believe me, the grass isn’t greener in my head than yours. I would love a brain that silences itself, if only for a moment.

My brain nudges me as I drift to sleep, or if I dare wake in the wee hours of the morning, it starts chattering. It begs me to listen while I watch a movie, and invents stories while I try to read. It never shuts off.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for the many ideas – I will always have something to write about. But the problem is, it’s impossible to write everything down. I’ve tried. My fingers just don’t write as fast as I think.

I used to get upset when ideas and ramblings popped into my brain, and I couldn’t jot them down. I’d try and keep the words until later, only I’d usually forget. I’d fret, moan, and be a stressed-out mess, certain I would use up all my creativity. I used to feel like I would fail.

I couldn’t think with all those thoughts running around, wondering what I should remember, and what I should let go. And when I sat down to write, it got worse. If you could get inside my head (and believe me, you don’t want to), I’m pretty certain it would look like a carnival gone amuck.

I started getting panicky, and knew I needed a plan. I thought of buying a recorder for the car, extra notebooks to place by the bed, and one of those waterproof shower pads to write on. But none of them interested me. They seemed more of a hassle than they were worth, and not really a part of that simple lifestyle I desired.

One day I was driving in my car, and sentences filled my head. I wanted those words to remain, I wanted to use them one day in a future story. And then it hit me. Yes, I had an epiphany.

I came up with this brilliant plan for all those random thoughts. And let me tell you, it’s been a life-changer.

Do you want to hear it? Do you want to change your life forever? Listen close. This is my secret when I can’t write my ideas down.

I let them go. I do nothing.

You read that right. Absolutely Nothing. Do you know why? I’ll tell you, but just to warn you, you may not like it. Because, and this is big, it Just Doesn’t Matter.

It’s true. It doesn’t. Because the fact is, we can never run out of ideas. Our brains are a constant source of energy, always creating, forever thinking. Whether we are receptive to listen or not, that part is up to us. But we can never stop creating. I truly believe that. No matter what our gift is – writing, selling, painting, or one of a million other things – our creative resources can never be depleted.

Sure, some ideas enter at the most inopportune times (I think it’s some weird law that says they must), but still, they come. They always do.

And when they do, let them. Let them sit and stew and make a fuss. But don’t let them consume you. If you are meant to have them, they will stay. If not, another will arrive another day, and chances are, it will be even better.

We can’t hang on to everything, whether physical ‘stuff,’ or mental thoughts, we need to release. When we do, the most amazing thing happens. It happened to me.

I am calmer now, and more importantly, I am in the moment. When I write, I think about what I am writing. While I drive, I see the cars around me. And when I shower (and this is the best), I enjoy the hot water that rushes over my face.

It’s not to say that thoughts don’t still flit through my head at the worst times ever. I am human, after all. But I am learning to let go.

I dare you to try this plan, to be where you when you are there. I dare you to let ideas flit away, just like the tiny creative butterflies they are. I guarantee they will come back. And if not, there will be more to take their place.

Live the simple life.

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Material Girls (And Boys)

Why is clothing so cheap? Not in the money sense (thought that’s true as well), but in quality. It seems I barely purchase a new pair of jeans, and they rip, tear, stretch, or shrink, and before you know it, I’m at the mall, searching for a new pair. But before I even find my next pair of favorite jeans, my shoes fall apart, my sweater gets tiny balls all over it, my underwear loses its elasticity, and my shirt splits at the seams. It seems I am always shopping for something new. And I am tired of it.

Lately, I’ve been on a search for quality clothing. It’s hard to find. Most of what is out there is cheap and disposable, tossed in a landfill sometimes after just a few washings.

It isn’t only the landfill part that bothers me, it’s how much time I spend shopping, and how much money I throw away. A complete opposite of the simple hippie life I desire.

So, I’m on a quest for great quality clothing. And what better place to start than the internet? As I perused a few sites (I never did find any clothing), I came upon a cool blog. The name is The Graceful Geek, written by Grace Bush. Grace hits upon the very subject I am struggling with.

Grace calls our society’s shopping habit fast-fashion, a disposable type of clothing that brings us quickly from one fad to another. See how Grace is dealing with the problem.

http://www.thegracefulgeek.com/im-avoiding-fast-fashion/

I hope you join Grace and I in our desire to have less, and better, clothing. And if you know where I can purchase quality clothing, please drop me a line.

Have a beautiful day!

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Simple Hygge

Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah), a Danish word meaning comfort and coziness, warmth and connection. (Though it is said there really is no good English translation.)

Hygge was one of the most popular words of 2016. But I’d like to think it wasn’t the word, but the interpretation, that people fell in love with.

Pictures across the internet portray hygge scenes: friends gathered by a fire; a woman quietly sipping tea; someone reading a book with nothing but nature to distract. Hygge is, in my words, tranquility. Peace. Serenity. I love hygge, and I’m trying to practice it daily.

My morning begins with a session of hygge-ness.(Is that even a word?) Sipping tea. Reading a book. Glancing out the window, seeing nothing but the trees in the distance, and the elderly man who walks his dog in the early morning hours.

Hygge is found in the middle of my day, though sometimes it slips between the pages of my calendar. But usually, I can pull it out, find time to just breathe and whisper a few words of prayer, or maybe jot notes in my journal. Hygge keeps my day relaxing, even in a sometimes hectic world.

My day ends with hygge, quiet reading in bed, sipping more tea as my husband and I cuddle on the sofa. I take a few breaths as I lull into slumber.

But my favorite hygge practice is on the weekend, when all cares are cast aside, all chores forgotten. The dark morning calls my name. As I slip out of the bedroom, careful not to wake my husband, the cool crisp air touches my skin. I hear nothing. It is silence. The world is still asleep.

I pull out my mug, listen to the teapot whistle my name, and crack open a book. Nothing but me, darkness, and hygge.

It is then I know, I have hit upon something great.

The concept of hygge is changing my life. It is changing me.

Hygge may not have a perfect English definition, but the concept is about as perfect as it can get.

What can you do to have a little hygge in your day?

Need a little inspiration? Check out these pictures of hygge.

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