December 25th, 2014

Brief Book Review – Living With Less: December 25th, 2014

It’s Christmas.  It’s been a wonderful day with lots of great surprises and extremely happy children (and grown-ups, too!).

Mike gave me two books about downsizing.  One was mildly interesting – about a woman who downsized to 100 possessions.  I only say “mildly” because it was very repetitive, somewhat arbitrary (her list was item-by-item before the purge, and then grouped in some regards after the purge), it has no real insights about the philosophy behind downsizing, and she’s rather too fixated on the feng shui of things.  Stuff like feng shui make me snake-oil-salesman senses tingle, but I will agree that having clean and minimal surroundings definitely imparts a sense of calmness and relaxation.  Since we’ve emptied our bedroom of most of its furniture, it’s been amazingly soothing in here and I love to gaze at it.  As for the book, I burned through it this afternoon, and you’re welcome to borrow it if you’d like (after that resounding endorsement).

The other book is going to provide me with much more of a challenge and provide far more food for thought.  The writing is absolutely excellent and the premise is intriguing: to become a zero waste household. I am definitely not dedicated enough to commit to such a radical lifestyle change, but it’s fascinating to read how she encounters problems and finds solutions to them.  I’m only on the food waste section, but even so I’ve learned some new things and I’ve looked at my own practices differently.  One dead simple idea she uses is that the grocery list starts from the bottom up, so that a whole piece of paper is not needed: the shopper simply tears off the sheet where the entries stop. How cool is that?

At the beginning of her journey toward zero waste, she and her family moved to a far smaller house in an area closer to town.  This necessitated storing things for over a year. Of course, as most people do, when she’d gone without her stuff for long enough, she realized that most of it (if not all of it) was really unnecessary crap. I’ve said that books are my easy “go to” when I don’t feel like putting much effort into gathering up things for 5 Down, but the other “cheat sheet” location is anywhere that is used for storage.

Many de-cluttering books/sites/advisers suggest you put a time limit on an item and if you don’t use it within that time frame, out it should go.  I can’t say that I totally agree with this. For one thing, our fondue set would have gone long ago if we subscribed to that point of view, but we adore the times we break it out and dip in. I really think it’s okay to have some things like this…as long as there are those occasions.

Our kitchen is very tiny with very limited cupboard space.  Therefore, we have over-flow kitchen storage in a footstool, a wardrobe, a closet in the office, and the two top shelves in Max’s bedroom.   You can be sure many of the items located outside of the kitchen are seldom or never-used items.  It’s a great place to rummage through when looking for 5 Down material!

Today I found some serving dishes which we neither knew we owned, nor what we would do with them.  I also found a vacuum sealer with extra bags that I got from my sister when she was getting rid of it because she never used it (full disclosure: we never used it either).  There were two pots from the set we had owned before we got our new, better, set.  Why did we hang on to the old set?  Well, we had a shelf to put it on and, well, you never know, right?  I do know, now, I know that I will never, ever have need of an extra double boiler or a second small saucepan.  Not a chance.

And finally, the bodum.  This was given to me courtesy of a cousin purge.  I’ve not used it, and I was getting ready to rid myself of it when Mike looked at me with agony written all over his face.  Apparently he would like to take it to his (work) office to make loose tea.  What do I care – it’s out of the house – it’s 5 Down!

I hope you had a fantastic Christmas without burdensome clutter!

Day 55 Scorecard: 275 down, 1550 to go

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