It’s that time of year again: birthday time.
Actually, since I have been on birthday time I’m a little late in posting this! I began the 29th year of my life on September 1st. Only 12 months until 30. Can you imagine/remember? Sometimes I can hardly believe I’m not 15 any more–I just blinked and here I am with a husband and a little boy full of joy and a prowling cat.
What pretty much sums up how I feel about life right now is this quote from my beloved Anne of Green Gables: “’Dear old world’, she murmured, ‘you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.’”
Life is fast, but it’s beautiful.
As is my custom, I’m sharing a “get to know me” post for my birthday! You already know I love pursuing simple living, so I thought I’d let you in on 29 things that keep my life simple. I’ve included simple habits, items that simplify my days, and recipes that make my life easier. Enjoy!
9 Habits That Simplify My Life
1. Closing out Facebook when I work
This sounds like a no-brainer, but when you’re a blogger the boundaries of work and recreation are a little more blurry(: I got into a bad habit of having Facebook always open in another browser tab. I’d take breaks from writing a blog post and hop over to Facebook to “check in” with my groups or to post something to my blog’s Facebook page.
It was all blogging related, so I figured it couldn’t hurt. But it was terribly distracting. Now I’m being more conscientious about only opening Facebook during dedicated breaks or when I’m done working for the day.
2. Prepping Sunday breakfast on Saturday
Planning a make-ahead breakfast has been a huge preserver of the peace on Sunday mornings! I usually do baked oatmeal, breakfast pie, or casserole. Breakfast freezer meals also do the trick!
3. Not working on Sunday
This is a habit I always wanted to get to, but it took me years of adult life to be truly consistent about it. “But working is fun!” <<<That would be my excuse when Eric asked me why I was pulling out my laptop–again–on a Sunday afternoon. But even when that’s true there are other things that need my time. I think one of the keys to feeling less stressed is to take both work and play seriously. So now it’s family time and self care for me on Sunday afternoons and evenings!
4. Only watching one “show” at a time
Since graduating college 7 years ago, I’ve watched through several complete TV series by myself. But I decided right from the start that I’d only have one show going on at a time. I knew that if I was watching through multiple series at once I’d end up overdosing on TV time. For years, I’d watch one episode of my current show each day when I got off work.
Then, I became a mom…(; My basic routine now is to watch one episode per week in the evening during the fall and spring. I take a break in the summer because we have longer evenings outside or we’re traveling more.
5. Grocery shopping at Aldi
I get overstimulated and exhausted by the big-box stores, but Aldi is simple and streamlined. It doesn’t have all of the overwhelming options of a typical grocery store, but the options it does have are good and inexpensive. In fact, I get a lot of natural and organic options for less than their non-organic counterparts would cost at Walmart!
6. Not straightening or curling my hair
I’ve saved myself countless hours over the years by simply not bothering to straighten or curl my hair on a regular basis. Also, the idea of repeated heat damage never appealed to me. That’s not to say I’ve always had happy trails with my hair, but I’ve gotten to a good place and now I’m just improving it (see #1 in this post).
Walking will always be my preferred form of exercise! It’s free, and good for you on more than just a calorie-burning level. It lifts me mentally and emotionally to be outdoors, and it’s the perfect medium for conversation with a kindred walking partner.
8. Doing laundry all on one day
I’m not one of those people who hate laundry, but I don’t want to drag out the process either. I’m all about knocking it out in one day, so it’s one and done for the week. Of course, having a minimal wardrobe helps make that possible. Somehow, owning less clothes breeds less dirty laundry.
9. Being a water-mostly family
My husband, son, and I are all in the habit of drinking primarily water. This keeps things cheap, healthy, and doesn’t set an expectation for Little Dude to ask for other beverages.
13 Favourite Things That Simplify My Life
1. My list journal
I use a purse-sized, loose-leaf notebook to jot down reminders, quotes from the books I’m reading, and most of all LISTS. I keep lists for things I want to buy, make for supper, pack on a trip, check out from the library…you name it! You can read more about my list journal method HERE.
2. My rice cooker
We eat a lot of Basmati rice in this house (a couple big batches each week!), so it simplifies our lives tremendously to have a good rice cooker. Our Aroma rice cooker makes perfect rice, every time, with no messes and spills. It’s much easier to clean than a saucepan of stove top rice. (Here’s my full review of our rice maker!)
3. Black skirt
A classic, cotton poplin black skirt with simple lines has become my go-to wardrobe staple. I have one from L.L. Bean, which I can dress up or down. I typically wear it as an everyday skirt. It has pockets, which every mom needs.
4. Packing cubes from EzPacking
Packing cubes were a new acquisition for us this year, and we’ve been surprised at how incredibly useful they’ve been for trips! I consider myself a pretty good packer, but packing cubes keep our suitcases so much more tidy and organized throughout our travels. We got ours from EzPacking. Check out my complete review of EzPacking here, plus see some pictures of the cubes in action! Also, you can grab a 15% off discount code here(:
5. A minimal wardrobe
A lean and simple wardrobe simplifies my life immensely! It’s easy–fun–to get dressed in the morning. Shopping for clothes is succinct and targeted; I know what I need to add or replace in my wardrobe that season, and I know what works for me and what doesn’t. Here’s how I simplified half my wardrobe, and here are 25 wardrobe essentials to use as a springboard for your own simple wardrobe.
6. Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey
I’ve found that it’s a beautiful thing to have a color that looks good on you no matter what. No matter how your skin looks that day, no matter what you’re wearing. I didn’t want to spend money sampling endless lip colours trying to find my perfect match, so I decided to opt for a universally-flattering color. The cult classic Black Honey fit the bill exactly, and I’ve never looked back.
You can check the current price on Amazon, but sometimes it’s cheaper to purchase Black Honey at Sephora or a similar beauty store!
7. Argan oil as an all-purpose moisturizer
I’ve tried a number of different natural oils, but Argan oil is my overall, catchall favourite. I use it to moisturize my face, body, nails, even hair! I get my Argan oil from Wilder Supply Co., a family business up in Alaska. You can read about my experience with Wilder Supply Co. products (and get a coupon code!) in this post.
8. Spin pins
These simple little pins hold my hair up in a bun when I need the easiest, all-occasion hairstyle.
9. Castile soap
I use this handy concentrate to make foaming handsoap, to wash my little son, to wash my hairbrush and makeup brushes, and for homemade cleaning recipes. It’s frugal and all-natural. I love the almond-scented variety, which I get online from Grove Collaborative.
10. Crock pot
11. Google drive
I love Google’s suite of tools for keeping my business and personal life organised. My family uses shared Google docs and calendars to keep track of Christmas wishlists and family activities. I use Google spreadsheets to track and plan blog posts, to-dos, expenses, income, etc. Google docs are my brainstorming pages. I’ve been experimenting with Evernote, too, but I really love the simplicity and old-schoolness of Google Drive.
12. My planner
This daily planner is my on-the-goal calendar. It’s where I write down my tasks for the day and week, and my menu plan for supper. I reviewed past editions of the planner and showed pictures here and here.
I love my rolodex as an analog method for keeping track of contacts! Previously, I’d written out contact information in my planner, but it was inconvenient to copy out all the info again when I switched planners during the new year. You can read a little more about my rolodex in my gift guide for organized homemakers.
7 Recipes That Simplify My Life
I’ve been making this easy homemade yogurt recipe for 7 years now, and it hasn’t failed me yet! It keeps weekday breakfasts simple: we have it a couple times a week, loaded up with oats, chia seeds, and whatever fruit we have on hand. And it’s saved us a lot of money over buying the pre-made tubs or the individual yogurt cups!
2. Fried Rice
We make fried rice every week–a big batch, so we can enjoy leftovers for lunch. It’s cheap but healthy comfort food!
This easy, crowd-pleasing meal is fast becoming my go-to for family get togethers or company meals. I can scale it up easily to make a big batch.
4. Cozy Lentils
Cozy Lentils is another homey comfort food dish that we turn to again and again. And it’s extremely frugal.
5. Thick Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
I created this recipe for chocolate chip cookie bars a few years ago, and it’s the perfect all-occasion dessert. It packs well for picnics, is a hit for potlucks, and satisfies those occasional cravings for something sweet but filling.
6. Cinnamon Roll Baked Oatmeal
This delicious recipe for baked oatmeal is my favourite make-ahead breakfast. I make a double batch in a 9×13 pan when we have house guests.
7. Korean Beef
Korean beef is a ridiculously easy recipe that’s ridiculously tasty. This makes it onto our table a couple of times per month, using the grass-fed beef we buy from Aldi! Even though it’s so easy, it always feels like a special night when we have it.
That all, folks! Check back next year for my list of 30 something….