Simple living: What would you keep?

This morning there was a feature on the Today Show about a couple in Portland (with a very fun and interesting blog) who gave up all but 100 possessions, downsized to a 400 square foot apartment, and got rid of their car. See below:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Of course it got me thinking. We live in such a materialistic society… would we really be happier with less?

My husband has always said that he wants to live simply. And I love the idea, but to be honest, I also love stuff. How shallow am I? Ha! But for a while I have been wanting to clean house. So here's my top ten list of things that I absolutely would not give up if I were forced to get rid of everything else besides the bare essentials (which includes at least one car- we live in the most sprawling city in the country- not to mention the hottest!- so a car is a must- even more so with a baby!):

1. My iMac. I make my living by this thing- not to mention it houses all of our music and photographs!

2. My camera.

3. My sewing machine.

IMG_1385

4. My Amma's china set. She bought it one piece at a time while she was working hard and living in Iceland. Priceless!

IMG_1377

5. These two Bibles (yes, I'm cheating): the first I carried down the aisle on our wedding day. The second belonged to Mum Mum.

IMG_1392 

IMG_1399

6. The artwork that our friend Trish painted that was displayed at our wedding.

IMG_1397

7. My Hummell music box… it's beaten up and cracked and worth nothing to anyone but me, but I used to fall asleep to its music every night when I was a kid. It's now in LJ's room.

IMG_1379

8. This photo of Mum Mum and me.

IMG_1389

9. Henry. 

IMG_1387 

10. This silhouette of Linnea:

IMG_1403

I'll tell you what, this exercise sure does make you realize how much crap is sitting around in your house that is completely ignored and also makes you realize that perhaps you don't need all this stuff after all. But then again, even though we could get rid of so many things and never miss them, it's hard to imagine a virtually empty house… my head might explode. Is that wrong? Maybe we need a smaller house so it will feel more full with only the things we need… hmmm… I don't know. Either way, I prefer to live in a home that has character because of its decor. Do I need the decor? Nope. But because it's something I personally love- to be surrounded by beauty- it's meaningful enough to me to warrant staying in my home. Cody and I also love entertaining- so that requires a fair amount of kitchen ware and enough place settings for everyone. It's all a matter of what your priorities are- and that's different for everyone.

It's the things sitting in my closet that I haven't seen in ages that I question. And lots of other things.

Stuff isn't what makes me happy ultimately… it isn't what makes anyone happy. My family and friends and the experiences we share together are what bring me joy, and I'm sure you would say the same of your own. I think it's about time to start cleaning out our closets, organizing, and passing along the things we don't really need to others who would appreciate and have a need for them.

So what are your thoughts on this? What are some of the things you would never give up?

p.s. I think I would die without a car in Portland. Have you BEEN there? SO MUCH TO DO AND EXPLORE.

Goodwill finds.

I am not ashamed to admit it: I LOVE GOODWILL. Linnea and I went there yesterday just for kicks, and I totally scored! All it takes is a little time, a discerning eye, and a little bit of fashion inspiration (mine was the July issue of InStyle). I found a book I've been wanting to read for a while, a like-new pair of strappy nude heels (for $5!!!), a denim shirtdress, a floral belt, four tops, two pairs of shorts, a denim mini with a pleated ruffle bottom, and two adorable summery outfits for the small one. Here are a couple of outfit ideas that have been floating around. These are very similar to my new finds:

Denim Dress

I love the idea of pairing a bright belt with nude shoes. And my Amma gave me a gorgeous silver tassel necklace for my birthday… love it.

Plaid top

I found some killer wedges very similar to these at anthropologie over the weekend- not only were they on clearance, I had my birthday discount as well! I love that place. My fashionista friend Alex gave me a similar ring to the one above for my birthday… chunky rings are a favorite of mine!


chiffon shirt

I love all things vintage and girly… so when I found a cute, ruffly, floral chiffon top to pair with the jeans I planned to turn into cutoffs, I decided I must head out to find the perfect sun hat to wear with them as well.

Anyway… just some ideas. I have to work on accessorizing better, but it's a lot of fun finding random things and putting together a cute outfit!

Thoughts on Food, Inc. and a carrot massacre.

Yesterday we made carrots for Linnea- and boy, was it ever a mess! Our pediatrician warned us about this… but of course, the messier the feeding process, the CUTER the baby! It was simply amazing. Here's a video:

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=12529926&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=0&show_portrait=0&color=ff0179&fullscreen=1

We used a nifty little baby food steamer and processor that my father-in-law and stepmother dearest gave to us- it's fantastic! It's called the Beaba Babycook Baby Food Maker and although we steamed the carrots seperately (I jumped the gun- we'll try it with the next round of food!) it worked wonders as a processor. I got the recipe from Top 100 Baby Purees: 100 Quick and Easy Meals for a Healthy and Happy Baby and it was so simple. Next on the menu: sweet potatoes!

We watched Food, Inc. last night, and it was fascinating. I read The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals a couple of years ago, and this movie sums up a lot of the ideas in the book. It definitely made me re-think the way our family eats and especially what we eat and where our food comes from.

One of the things we plan to do in our backyard is start a garden, but
we need to learn what we are doing first. There is a community garden
at Agritopia that I may look into to get a handle on what I'm doing-
and what a great way to learn! My dear friend Vanessa gave us some
zucchini, a red onion and parsley from her garden plot there and they were simply
delicious. I must say- any time we make anything from scratch with
home-grown or organic, locally-grown produce,it tastes amazing in comparison to the regular produce at the store! For now, we're starting small- we have some potted basil, yellow bell pepper and cherry tomatoes sitting on our front porch:

P1000811
P1000812

P1000813 

We've already managed to kill a strawberry plant. The pot didn't have a hole for drainage… oops. It's a learning process!

I would love to hear from you about your family's eating habits. It seems as if healthy, whole food is not interchangable with a tight budget. Saving money is top on our list of priorities, but not at the cost of our family's long-term health. It's sad that a healthy lifestyle seems to come at a steep price in our society. So if you are feeding your family organic fruits and veggies, whole grains, and grass-fed meats, how do you make it work? Do you have any tips on how to save money while doing so? Do you grow your own fruits and veggies?

Cloth diapering FTW!

That's "for the win," in case you weren't ITK ("in the know") with the Twitter lingo.

As you know (what the heck is this, a poetry contest? With all the rhyming?), we made the jump into full-time cloth diapering and… wait for it… it's been fantastic! I seriously can't say enough good things about it. When I was out of town, I decided not to bring the cloth diapers because I was sure my BFF wouldn't want to deal with poopy diapers in her washing machine, and boy did I miss them! I especially missed them when I was burping Linnea and she pooped, and then peed, and IT CAME OUT THE FRONT AND GOT ALL OVER MY SHIRT. Yep, I've never missed anything more in my life. The sad thing is that the expensive disposables are the only ones she didn't leak out of on a regular basis, and they still didn't do the job.

That being said, there is no comparison between any disposable I've tried and the Fuzzibunz one-size diapers we invested in. We got a screaming deal from Go Go Natural when they were clearancing out the old color collection to make room for the new Fuzzibunz colors. Typically, when you buy larger quantities of Fuzzibunz at most retailers  – in our case, 12 or more – you get a $1.00 off per diaper. So we ordered 28. And then we got 15% off on top of that! SCORE! The $700+ investment we were preparing for ended up being less than $450, and she is set for the rest of her diapering days! And so are any future kids we may have. And they work better than any disposable we tried – and we tried many. Ahh, it's a beautiful thing.

Not to mention… her li'l fluffy bum could not possibly be any cuter in these cloth diapers if she tried. We got a slew of colors so she'll always be coordinated. Check her out:

P1000743
P1000747

The laundry process is for a whole other blog. So stay tuned, and I'll keep you ITK.

By the way, the bow she is wearing is a very special bow. It's called the Taylor Bow, and it was made in honor of a tiny baby girl who died of SIDS in mid-April at five months of age. All proceeds were donated to Taylor's family. You can read their story and find additional links here, and I purchased the bow here (I didn't realize it sold out- otherwise I would have posted the info so much sooner!).

Novice cloth diapering.

When we found out I was pregnant, Cody and I immediately began stocking up on diapers at the recommendation of… well… every parent we knew. We stocked up on size ones because we didn't know what to expect as far as what her weight would be, and most people had big babies, and we might too, and even if we had a small baby she would eventually grow into the size ones so let's just go with that. And before we knew it, we had a closet full of size one diapers, mostly the value brand from Fry's. Dirt cheap and we heard they work just as well as the more expensive brands!

Not so for us. Apparently we have a little diaper snob on our hands. Sad, sad day.

As soon as Linnea grew into the size ones (three months after she was born!), we ripped into the packages, stoked to try out the cheap diapers because, what can I say, it doesn't take much to excite us these days. Cheap diapers that work is pretty rad to a new set of parents. But her first night into it, she woke up in a puddle of her own pee. Poor baby. Poor Mom and Dad. Poor Mom and Dad's bank account.

So we had two options: spend big bucks on the diapers that work… or start a gradual investment in cloth diapers. At the rate our child goes through diapers, the thought of bankruptcy via Pampers started to sink in, and I started to revisit the cloth diapering idea. If you remember, it was an idea we tossed around for a while but never fully embraced. We had visited Wildflower Diapers up in Scottsdale but weren't married to the cloth diapering trend… yet. They were very helpful and answered all of our questions, and we were able to narrow it down to the type of diaper we wanted to invest in if we decided to make the leap and commitment it required to cloth diaper Linnea. 

Last week, we made our first purchase: a pair of Fuzzibunz One-size Pocket Diapers in pink. In order to diaper full-time, we need to purchase at least 24 (and maybe even 36, because apparently THE UNIVERSE IS IMPLODING any time Linnea has even the slightest wet diaper), so we decided that we will use my income for that purpose until we have everything we need. The colors we get from here on out will be gender-neutral, which- I'm not gonna lie- kind of breaks my heart a little bit, but I know it's better to go that route instead of buying all the girly colors like I want to. I'm already itching to have another baby (but we're not any time soon… just saying. We'll be diaper-ready when the time comes), and the thought of never having to drop another dime on diapers for our kids is definitely an appealing one!

The poop, on the other hand… not so much. I know that people cloth-diaper all the time and there was a time when that was the only option anyone had, so it's not like it's this impossible thing. But my two biggest reservations about this whole ordeal is the poop and cloth-diapering on-the-go. But have no fear, dear readers. Cody and I will be brave and face the Poop Demon head on. Because you know it's coming.

YOU KNOW IT'S COMING.

***

Are you a cloth-diapering mama? I want to hear from you! Share your experience with my readers and me and tell us what you love (and maybe even what you hate) about cloth-diapering your little one.

Wardrobe.

I love shopping… well, most of the time. I'm not a fan of shoe shopping because shoes never fit my outrageously narrow feet, and I tend to wear sneakers and flip flops most of the time anyway, so my trusty old stand-bys do the job just fine. I also prefer to shop alone because I tend to take way longer to shop than normal people, and I don't like to torture others with hours-long browsing through the mall. My poor husband can't take ten minutes in a store so I leave him out of the process altogether, something I'm sure he appreciates immensely.

Lately, however, shopping has become a different experience- more of a treasure hunt than anything else. I've avoided the malls and have lapsed into some sort of reverse snobbery when I see people carrying around shopping bags from Nordstrom or Barneys or some other fancy store. I scoff at them and think, if only they knew the DEALS that are out there! I don't buy anything anymore unless it's on sale, and I've started to explore the art of thrift shopping, coupons and extreme sales. It's actually quite a bit of fun- more fun than running up a huge credit card bill that I'll still be paying off ten years down the line with nothing to show for it! Been there, done that.

I pop into Goodwill every now and then and rarely leave without a good find- and I have yet to spend more than $11 there. It takes time to fish through the racks for the deals, but it's worth it, and they're there. The best part is when you go to check out, and they ring up the total, and it ends up being less than you expected to spend. That's happened to me every time I've gone- it's such a nice surprise!

For instance, Cody and I went there last weekend, and picked up a brand new, unopened game of Scene It (which he's been wanting FOREVER) for $8, a genuine Funshine Carebear for $0.69, and the cutest little denim dress and floral onesie for $4. Then we had a coupon for 20% off so it came out to a little more than $10!

IMG_7589

A couple days later, I went to the Scottsdale location hoping to find a dresser that we could refurbish, but no luck there. I did find an adorable Gymboree dress and two onesies and spent less than $5- my lunch that day cost more than that! My friend and I happened to be at Gymboree earlier that day, and single dresses for babies start at $20 or more. I got this little dress for $3:

IMG_7591

I found the little flowery shoes (brand new with tags still intact) and the white Converse along with a pair of pink fuzzy newborn slippers at the cutest little children's consignment shop called Once Upon A Child. Paid $9 for all three. Our friends Cassie and Matt recommended this place to us, and when we found out that we were having a girl, they bought her first outfit from there- a brown polka dot dress and matching bloomers. I was amazed by their selection and definitely will be heading there first to find clothes for our little one once she starts growing.

Because for now, it's safe to say she has PLENTY of newborn/0-3 mo. clothes. Goodness.

A couple nights ago I found an ad on Craigslist for a bag of newborn clothes for $20 that a mom-to-be needed to offload because she had stocked up WAY too much. She got tons of responses but chose to sell them to me. When I met her to pick up the bag, I couldn't believe it- it was a huge shopping bag overflowing with clothes! Onesies galore, dresses, pants, skirts, etc.- so many that I wasn't even sure little Elska would ever use them all. I was so excited when I got home that I went straight into crafty mode and made a little gold tutu to go with an adorable star onesie:

IMG_7596

Next project: embellishing a pink onesie with a little bird stencil or applique on the butt.

My mom and I are heading to Hissyfits Resale this weekend for the Hissyfits Hullabaloo. They will have 70 vendors selling handmade goods in their children's resale store, which I'm so stoked to check out. I love handmade.

This little one will have a better wardrobe than me- and I paid less than the cost of a pair of jeans for all of it! Not only that, we have friends with baby girls who offered to give us the clothes that no longer fit their little ones. It's safe to say that clothes are the LAST thing we'll need, for a while at least. I'm enjoying the process and can't wait to dress her up 🙂 Every day that brings me closer to meeting her is another day I become more excited. I can't wait to see what she looks like, what her little personality is going to blossom into, the things she will like and not like, the way her daddy will take care of and love her. That will probably be my favorite part- watching my husband with our daughter. There's nothing more precious than a daddy and his little girl, and the upcoming adventures we have ahead of us will certainly be no exception.

Now, whether or not he'll know how to put an outfit together…

🙂

A little extra sleep…

…can go a LONG way. Cody and I have been experimenting with earlier bedtimes this week and let me just say it has been fantastic. We haven't turned on the TV once, we eat meals together, work on home or business projects, read, and head upstairs around 9:15, and the lights are always out by 10:00. When the alarm went off at 6:00 a.m., we practically jumped out of bed ready to tackle the day ahead of us. With bells on. And smiles on our faces. Not to mention, morning time is our favorite time of day, and we have missed out on it for far too long now, either because we slept in or we were just generally miserable due to lack of sleep. I. LOVE. LIFE. with enough rest and a night routine that allows me to have a productive, relaxing morning routine. And! Breakfast with my husband!

Now, I know these days will be short-lived. I'm not trying to be a pessimist in that sense; I just know it's going to change. Mornings will soon be filled with delirium, diaper changes, feedings, and general mass hysteria in our household. But somehow all of that will be OK because of this new little person we'll have in our lives. I wonder every day what kind of person she will be, what she will look like, what color her hair and her eyes will be. This whole process has been so marvelous and I am trying to savor it while I can.

We only have 100 days to go until we meet our daughter! Gah! It's amazing.

On another note, our second anniversary is a little more than a month away. We have been trying to figure out somewhere to go on-the-cheap up in northern AZ because we can't afford much right now, but doing something is incredibly important to us because it is our last anniversary before there will be a little tag-a-long who wears cute dresses and bows in her hair. We had a fantastic time last year when we stayed one night at Little America in Flagstaff and two nights at the Junipine in Oak Creek. It was beautiful and cozy and chilly and rainy and such a wonderful trip. We would give anything to do a repeat of it but unless I get bombarded with clients in the next week or so, we'll be looking for something comfortable but a little less pricey.

Any ideas?

Some pics from last year:

IMG_7135
(At Oak Creek)
IMG_7155
(This is what we woke up to every morning!)
IMG_7173
(Fireplace in the bedroom)
IMG_7177
(Our digs for the weekend)
IMG_7212
(This was taken on our anniversary. It was a GLORIOUS day!)
IMG_7190
(Love. Him. So. Much!)
IMG_7196