Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thoughts on Minimalism

I'm a minimalist at heart. I like things clean and neat. The things that I do have I like to be compartmentalized and orderly. I live with four other people who don't have these goals. I don't collect knick knacks. I truly have no use for them in my life. I think it comes from growing up in a house filled with knick knacks and expensive figurines (Hummels, LLadros and silk Japanese dolls) and being the one who had to dust them all the time. Every week without fail, each item had to be taken off the shelves. They had to be dusted. The shelves had to be dusted and polished. The figurines had to be put back on the shelves in the right place and angle. So I don't care too much for things that just sit there collecting dust. I'm an adult now. I can choose to dust or not. I choose not to very often.

While I have a lovely stash of yarn, I can't say that it is as large as other knitters. In fact I try not to purchase yarns just because they are on sale or because they are pretty. I have enough pretty sale yarn that I've yet to knit. As I said yesterday I have enough yarn that I can knit for several years without fear of running out, but I would eventually run out before I die. Actually long before I die. I don't, however, have a large stash of needles. I have Knit Picks' interchangeable set all in metal and with a few of the wood needles as well. I have a good collection of DPN's for sock, hat and mitten making. I have yet, though, found a need to purchase other needles just because they are "very cool" or "exotic." I don't need very cool or exotic needles. I just need solid dependable functional ones.

My kitchen is the same. I really don't have every gadget under the sun. Why? Many tools are multifunctional. For some reason I have a citrus press. I use quite a bit of citrus (I mean, come on, I live in the Sunshine State so citrus is fairly inexpensive). However, I mostly end up not using the citrus press. I just roll the lemon or orange around for a bit and then slice it in half and squeeze the juice out with my hand. Sure some seeds get in, but they are easily removed and I usually already have a cutting board and knife out so there is less work to do afterwards. I also got a new stove (remember the new stove that's flat top and shiny cobalt blue on the inside?) When I emptied out the old stove drawer I put all the things that were down there in a box. I've only removed three things from that box. I'm wondering why I have the rest of the items. In fact I think there are several lids to pots I no longer own.

I think the reason that I am drawn to Project 333 is not because my wardrobe is out of control, but for other reasons. In fact I had to purchase a few items to get to 33. Yes; I did box up quite a few things, but they are all things that have just been living in my closet for the past decade not being worn. I think that donating them when the weather warms will be much easier seeing as I have proven that I don't need them. What attracts me to this project is that I have some control over my wardrobe. I dress intentionally each day. I've created a wardrobe that lends itself to mixing and matching. I do believe that I can wear any two or three tops together without looking aesthetically offensive. It will also keep me from purchasing things just because I found them on the Beal's 70% off rack and it happened to fit with no regard as to whether it matches anything except my jeans.

I think that while I strive for minimalism in my life in some areas, there are other areas that will always be somewhat overfull. Books come to mind. I have shelves and shelves of books and boxes and boxes that don't fit on the shelves. I love my books. They are an indulgence. I also refuse to have minimalism in cuisine. I don't want to ever eat simply. I love flavour and colour and texture and aroma in my kitchen. I love filling my kitchen with beautiful and delicious food. I will never be able to eat simply to live. It's why I failed so badly at Weight Watchers. I would get into a rut with food and become bored and there were places where I just won't compromise when it comes to food. I will not give up real butter or homemade bread or honey.

Perhaps I am only a quasi-minimalist. I'm good with that. I like the things I like and limit the things I don't. I like finding new ways of simplifying my life, but at the same time I will always have boundaries of what is too stark and too missing in my life. One has to be happy with their level of minimalism and that is what is important. I believe in a reduction in consumption, but hold strongly that you should embrace the things you love. I will continue to embrace even while I reduce.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ten on Tuesday

Ten things I can't live without? As a striving minimalist one would think that this would be a fairly easy list to make. I'm not attached to too many things. And since people don't count as things, I had to really think hard about what I can't live without.

1. My stash which I could probably knit on for several years.
2. My Knit Picks needle set otherwise the stash is sort of moot.
3. Ibuprofen - greatest thing ever invented and if the world were going into an apocalyptic situation I would run to the store and stock up on as much of this as I could.
4. The electric tea kettle. I can do quite a bit with boiling water (in the event of the aforementioned apocalypse I would change this to my regular tea kettle that I can use on a fire or grill)
5. Paper and pen. Maybe that counts as two. I could live without my computer, but I need a way to write and I still know how to do this the old fashioned way.
6. Someway to bring music in my life. Whether it is an iPod or CD Player or even a musical instrument. I need music.
7. A good kitchen knife
8. M&M's - after the Ibuprofen I would load up on M&M's
9. Tea - it's third on the apocalyptic shopping list
10. Niji Saru. That's the sweet little meditative monkey at the top of this list. She's travelled the world and there are times when I just sit and hold her knowing all the arms that have hugged her in the past and all the places she has seen. She tells me periodically she wants to write her own book about her travels. She has a fantastic journal filled with her adventures from around the world. I'm glad she is home and sharing her stories with me.

Starting Off

It's a new year. 2011. According to my daughter we have less than two years before the world explodes and the Mayan calendar proves true. Well, in that case I think we should live it up and go reckless. The logical side of my brain says that's not such a good idea and we should be a bit more practical. Of course it is my theory that the Mayan calendar ended on the Winter Solstice in the year 2012 because the person making the calendar got tired and decided to quit and besides, no one he knew was going to be living then anyway.

Many people make New Year Resolutions this time of year. You know like, "I'm going to lose thirty pounds, get my book published and post on my blog every day." Yeah, so as you can see if those were my goals I've already failed seeing as it is the third and I am just now getting around to posting for the first time this year. That's why I don't make New Year Resolutions. I do have goals. For instance I want to knit mostly from my stash. That's a good and attainable goal. And I want to make Mr. KCW that fisherman's sweater he's been asking for over the years. I want to finish organizing my kitchen and pare down the duplicity and unused items (like the twenty year old Kenmore mixer that doesn't work). I want to spend more time writing and less time fretting about writing.

I did begin Project 333 Saturday. I'll post weekly pictures rather than daily ones. It's nice to look in my closet and see everything hanging neatly. Although this morning I hung up the clothes I had washed last night and had a panic attack because I had an extra hanger and couldn't figure out what was missing. I then realized that I hadn't washed whites yet this week and so my white and silver striped shirt was not in the closet. I was about to blame Mr. KCW for putting extra hangers in my closet just to mess with me. (He'd do that, too if he thought of it.)

My current knitting endeavour is to finish my Triangle Lace Shawl (Ravelry Link). I've got six more daisy repeats to do and then the border lace. I'm using variegated yellow and gold beads and it is looking very pretty. All the other knitters who have made this shawl have expressed that it has blocked bigger than they would have thought. I hope so because I'm wanting a larger shawl. I'm planning how I want to incorporate this shawl into my spring Project 333 wardrobe. I'm thinking it will pair well with blues and tangerines, which is good because that's what I have a lot of in my summery wardrobe.

My current cooking endeavour is learning what Mr. KCW can eat and what with his new insulin pump. It's sort of putting a cramp on our regular meals which are generally rice or pasta based meals. Coming up with new meals that work with his needs has been challenging and we've had tried very interesting recipes that won't be revisited. We all seem to like the mustard encrusted steak (except for the vegetarian in the family).

And my current writing endeavour is revisiting a book that I lost and wanted to rewrite. It's actually coming along nicely. When I finish this project I am going to edit my NaNoWriMo novel from this year. And I'm reading about a billion books all at once. Room by Emma Donoghue is what entertained me for two hours last night when I couldn't sleep. I'm also reading Jane Eyre (I don't remember that book being 1600 pages), Portal by Imogen Rose and Interred with their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell. This is why it takes me forever to "read a book" because I keep switching from one book to another. I'd change this, but I've done this since I was a young child and somehow I've managed to keep all the plots organized. Apparently that is how I write as well.

So Happy New Year and may this be a good year for all of us. Keep up the writing, knitting and cooking. I know I am.