Friday, 29 December 2017

My Path to Minimalism

My path to Minimalism started a little over six years ago when I stumbled upon Leo Babauta's website zen habits (https://zenhabits.net) during a google search on 'how to be happier'. I remember paying the donation and downloading one of his ebooks, which I printed out (yeah not very Minimalist of me but I needed something I could carry with me to read on the go and had no iPad or smart phone at the time). I read through it in a flash as it was the most interesting concept I had ever stumbled upon. Interesting, yes, and yet too extreme for me at the time. However, despite that I was not yet ready to embark on such a serious and austere journey, it led me to more research on the topic and slowly, with the help of less extremist websites, I started my path to what at the time I called Simple Living instead.

I always loved simplicity deep down, so re-wording what I was doing to fit my idea was all I needed to start detoxifying my life whilst not feeling guilty of not going all the way. Some people might find it easier to just go from one extreme to another but I found that baby steps was what I needed to get on board with the idea of living with less stuff and commitments, yet a more meaningful life at the end of it. However, despite hacking away slowly at my hoarded clutter, I never seemed to be satisfied with the result and always felt like I was failing as a Minimalist. I even tried Courtney Carver's Project 333 on my wardrobe (https://bemorewithless.com/project-333/) and hated it for limiting me to 33 items when my wardrobe actually held more pieces that I wanted to wear. Maybe I wasn't cut out for the lifestyle after all.

Still, intent on trying to find the peace in my life that I was craving, I kept looking up more and more articles that would help me out and I came across an advertorial for Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, which the ad convinced me to buy. I have to admit, the book lived up to its title for it truly changed my life. The author, Marie Kondo, never mentions Minimalism at all yet explains very thoroughly how to go through one's entire mountain of material possessions and decide what to keep or give/throw away based on something that resonated greatly with me - feelings. Her question for each item is the now internationally famous "Does this item spark joy?" Her method dictates that clutter should be tackled by type not location, in a particular order (clothes, books, then the rest in a specific order) and each item in turn is to be picked up (yes, even all those books on the shelves must be taken out for closer inspection) so that we may decide on whether to keep it depending on whether it 'Sparks Joy'. It might sound like a crazy system before you try it out but believe me, it works, and all her criteria (sort by type, in order, etc) are the result of her self-study in the subject and she clearly explains the reasons for these ideas in her book, ideas which make a lot of sense once reasoned out.

Once I had KonMari'd my house (that is an actual term now!) I still wanted to learn on how to live a more Minimalist life and went on to read Francine Jay's The Joy of Less. It is more extreme than KonMari and specifically targeted at a Minimalist lifestyle yet not an unattainable or too idealistic idea. This author goes by the name of miss minimalist over at http://www.missminimalist.com/about/.

After reading both Marie Kondo's and Francine Jay's books at least two or three times each, I am currently reading goodbye, things by Fumio Sasaki. Whilst his book might be inspirational and full of good tips for anyone starting out on the journey, I am finding myself at that point where I have little to gain from his book. I bought it with the intention of being inspired by the man who owns only three shirts and four pairs of socks yet his book is about getting there rather than his current life, using the same old ideas for most of the time. So whilst I am enjoying the read, I think I can finally conclude that I am well-enough into my Minimalism journey that buying more books would just be counterproductive to my motto less is more.


Sunday, 24 December 2017

Merry Christmas from My Various Hues!

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Saturday, 23 December 2017

Little Thing, BIG Difference

We are nearing Christmas at a fast pace now and knowing the Maltese culture I am sure most homes are by now spick-and-span and ready for guests. There were times in the past when I managed to catch up with the Jones' in this area but more often than not, we receive no guests and so I treat my home same as always - with a little TLC but without going out of my way to have it 'ready by' Christmas.

This year due to circumstances I have even less time than usual to dedicate to the art of cleaning and to make matters worse, my son fell ill, filling my past three days with constant moans, medicine spoons and worry in addition to the multiple requests for snacks and meals that he barely touched after all. So contrary to any tradition in any region of the world, my home is screaming for a pick-me-up at this very second, as I type this on my laptop surrounded by so many things that should not be on the chest of drawers/make-shift desk. As some Minimalist books describe, once one item is carelessly put somewhere where it does not belong, it is soon joined by many other invaders till they destroy the sense of peace that would previously have dominated the spot. I mention the chest not only because it is where I have opened up my laptop to work tonight but also because I remember very distinctly just how happy I was when I cleared its top from all clutter just days ago.

Moreover, I must confess that the chest of drawers is actually no more of a concern than all the rest of my room and truly, all the rooms in the house at this point! As my son's fever spiked and the days passed in a blur of work and parental concerns, I took to leaving so many belongings here and there rather than in their designated place that I am now faced with the mountainous task of finding a 'home' for each one of these things. Which brings me to the real reason why I have been describing the chaotic state that my current house is in.

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It is true that we scrub floors and windows, plump up the Christmas-theme-covered cushions and vacuum the carpet too in time for Christmas. It is also true however that any working-mother with a demanding or sick child will be thrown off schedule in the meanest way and should she attempt to anyway catch up with sprucing up the place, be it for the festivities or throughout the rest of the year, she should always start with that little trick called 'putting it away'. It might be a small gesture towards our house, but it is the one that, alone, makes the biggest difference of all.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

More About Gifts - Essentials

In previous posts on here and on eve.com.mt, I have covered gifts I would love to receive (http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2017/12/what-id-like-for-christmas.html) and experience gifts (http://www.eve.com.mt/2017/12/08/10-non-material-christmas-gift-ideas/) but truly, since I am quite selective in keeping any material things at all and that the experience gifts I mention are alluring yet not really essential ones, I will turn today to mentioning some gifts that will always be appreciated and valued exactly because they are indispensable and will anyway have to be bought by the receiver if not gifted to him/her.

First up is a mobile top-up card. True that many people nowadays have a fixed pre-paid plan for their phone, but many does not mean all. After all the plans are pretty costly so those of us who do not as a rule use their mobile phone for work often opt for the good old manual pay-per-use top-up, online or through a card. I would appreciate such a gift as it would save me money, provide a needed service and not have an expiry date to use either.

Money with instructions to use for fuel or to top-up the public transport card is also a good idea in my opinion, for who doesn’t love a free trip or two?

A hamper full of food-stuffs that your receiver loves to use rather than one full of chocolate and alcohol that are after all, if appetizing also unhealthy would be another gift I'd love to get. Choose items with a long life. My personal favourites would include pasta, pesto, olives, herbs, pulses and tinned tuna among others but the list will vary from household to household.

Unless your gift receiver has sensitive skin or other particular requirements, a hamper full of toiletries is also an awesome money-saving gift. What’s more, it can include items for all the family, meaning you can get one big gift for all.

Any more ideas about essential gifts to give? Feel free to comment below.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

What I'd Like For Christmas

This article sounds very unlike me. I mean, the things I really want for Christmas can't be bought, as they say. However for the purpose of a more commercial version of what I'd want, there actually are a few items I would love to own, regardless that I am a Minimalist. So here is a list that is by no means exhaustive but which I would never say no to and would actually ask for. In no particular order, here are my winners:

- DVDs.
Am I weird for loving how they look all sitting next to each other on my shelves and packed in lovely storage boxes? One thing I never do is remove DVD boxes to put them all in one case all together. No thanks, it would spoil most of the fun of owning them for me!

- Special Tea, Coffee or Wine
My three comfort drinks and they are consumables to boot, leaving me with no permanent 'thing' to store after I've enjoyed them.

- Candles
I wonder why! I mean, I decorate and decoupage my own candles so I always feel bad when I crave getting store-bought ones. However if someone else were to gift them to me I would not feel that I am being wasteful and appreciate the beautifully decorated ones much more than I appreciate most other types of decor.

- A Cosy PJ
Those button-down shirts and matching comfy pants in flannel that Bridget Jones wears in her 'All By Myself' scene in that first film are really a treat to my tired self throughout the winter months. I never say no to a cosy PJ.

- An Open Voucher from One4All
It can be used in a whole list of varied outlets so you can never go wrong with this one and I might actually get something I need with it rather than random extra stuff just to use up the voucher before it expires.

- A Voucher from a Bookshop
I never say no to a good book. It is true I like to borrow books, get them sponsored, or even at times buy them and then resell after use, but I appreciate the experience of reading them nonetheless and I do have faves that I buy and never part with.

Whilst those are my fave items to get, I do also love experience gifts, maybe even more-so. In fact, I originally had a blog post planned about that but it turned into a fully-fledged article for eve.com.mt so I am linking it here:


Saturday, 2 December 2017

A Practical Item For Your Wardrobe

My blog post is overdue and whilst I have watched a film with the intention of reviewing it and even did some research and a first draft for yet another post, this time Christmas related, both ideas are still in the production phase and I might actually turn the Christmassy one into an article for Eve magazine rather than the blog. And so I am left with nothing to post today and a feeling of guilt that leads me to anyway say something, rather than leave my blog unattended for more days.

In line with my recent announcement that I will be blogging about household management, I decided today to mention a small but very practical item I found to buy online that turned out to be so useful for my wardrobe. I first found out about it through a Facebook advert that led me to a site where the cost per hanger was way too much to be worth trying. However I then looked it up on eBay and got quite a few of them at less than EUR1 each. Not only are they space-saving for those of us with little storage, but also helped me group clothes by type. Now I always know all I have to do is grab the hook and hang it up and voila - my choice of cardigans, stretch trousers, blazers, shirts, or whatever other group of items I am looking up.