I’m researching how to get off the grid on my iPad

Simplicity is elusive, but oft sought by us humans, particularly the overworked, underpaid, overtired generations who rely on the technology of incredibly complex devices to do the simplifying for us. I go back and forth between a desire for and abjection of technology, craving life off the grid in the middle of nowhere, meanwhile blogging about it and managing it with online budgeting tools.

I’ve always had an affinity for old things. I love vintage appliances, Aqua Net, and Betty Crocker’s Cookbook. My tastes are at odds – I’m drawn to a time period that was intensely focused on convenience, but today feels like a simpler time in which kids went out to play, Mom cooked dinner, and astronauts did math by hand. Lately I’ve been wondering: if I was an adult in the 50’s, instead of the 10’s, would I be nostalgic for a “simpler time,” before cars, refrigeration, and lightbulbs? If I lived in the 1910s instead of the 2010s, would I tout indoor plumbing as an extravagant, unnecessary construct built by a generation seeking only to protect its own interests and indulge a desire for convenience? Continue reading

Advertisements

Your life is probably more complicated than it has to be. Cut it out, already.

This post is not a self-help book, but an attempt at justifying life choices that have uncomplicated and improved the past few months compared to whatever I was doing before.

Think of this like an entry from Chicken Soup for the Burnt Out Soul. Continue reading

Old School

The other day I bought an address book. It’s a tiny one that fits in my handbag and has a few notes pages in the back for important dates.

The thing is, I kept losing all my contacts when updating my phone. And, it’s annoying to try to give someone contact information in a text or over the phone when that contact information is, well, on your phone. So now I can just pull out my little address book, and bam. Everything is right there.

I know what you’re thinking… what if I lose my antiquated little address book? Well, I’ve managed to keep a passport, a set of keys, and a gaggle of cats within my grasp for 15 years, so I think I can handle an address book.

This was the most recent in a string of attempts to return to less electronic, slightly less complicated ways of doing things. Technology is great (I mean, this is a BLOG after all…), but I’ve been craving an increasingly unplugged life.

Ultimately, I’m preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse.

Wait, that’s silly and probably not going to happen. Continue reading

I did a Pinterest thing that didn’t totally suck.

I’ve had my fair share of epic domestic fails, particularly when trying to recreate things that I find from Pinterest. I think I can be pretty capable in the DIY department, but, you know, Pinterest forces us (or at least me) to set unrealistic expectations about what is actually DIY-possible.

We moved into a slightly bigger apartment a few months ago, and it’s been fun to get to settle in and figure out where things go. Our kitchen is bigger, with a huge butler’s pantry. It’s the Ritz Carlton of kitchens, as far as I’m concerned, and I’ll tell you more about that later. We’ve also now got a nice big deck, and I managed to plant some flowers out there this summer. The only problem is, the deck is shaded 90% of the time, so, not ideal for growing herbs and veggies. I’ll tell you more about that later, too.

I’ve pretty much given up on the idea of community gardening, not because I don’t believe in it, but because I’ve spent the last two summers paying $75 to watch a bunch of vegetables die. Even though our garden was only a mile a way, getting there was hard, because, life. When I was able to go, there was this walk of shame past all the beautiful, bountiful beds to our pathetic little patch filled with green beans, three strawberries, dead tomato plants and a bunch of weeds.

Anyway… where was I? Right. DIY. Continue reading

You can tear these coffee passports from my cold, dead hands.

I was repurposing a big basket tonight (as I’m apt to do in the wee hours of the morning when I’ve accidentally drank too much coffee after 6pm), and came across a stack of coffee passports and coffee master kits from my time in the trenches at Starbucks. The thought crossed my mind that it might be time to purge some of these things, but I don’t know, I just don’t want to yet.

The thing is: I have a lot of really fond memories of working at Starbucks. It’s surprising how many sentences I start with, “You know, when I worked at Starbucks…”

Starbucks was my first real job. I was set to graduate college, and, having a typical 22-year-old what-am-I-doing-with-my-life existential crisis, walked three miles from school to find a serendipitous sign on the storefront at 670 N. Michigan, Number 2548 – the busiest Starbucks in the Midwest. It went something like: “Now Hiring.”

Ok, as far as coffee art goes I get that Starbucks is the McDonald’s of premium coffee beverages (except, apparently the golden arches have their own fancy coffees now too…), but I maintain that it was, and I assume still is, a fantastic company to work for. Character building… yeah, that’s what it was.1926875_10153091662771079_3973350116197501150_n

So…. right. Purging.

In the end, I parted with the two coffee master kits, but couldn’t give up the passports even after streaming an episode of Hoarders on Netflix.

#thestruggleisreal

Paperless

There was a time when I balanced my checkbook, when I demanded paper statements, when I held 3 or 4 magazine subscriptions.

I love the feel of paper and the idea of paper. I love handwriting and stationary and print. I love reading a newspaper and getting ink on my hands.

But I think I’m over it.

I’m tiring of the stacks of mail and unread magazines on the dining room table. I’m seeking a less complicated space and a simple home that is free of the mess that paper compels me to make. About a year ago I went paperless on almost all of my bills, and many of them are enrolled in automatic deductions (something I vowed I would never do). Then, tonight, I thought I’d try and sort through the stack of magazines.

photo

It’s not so bad – I mean it’s only about a year’s worth. Every once in awhile I go through a purging. Carefully sifting through Food & Wine, I rip out pages of recipes I’d like to try, and they go into a slightly smaller pile tucked between cookbooks I seldom use. I put up a good front of domesticity and culinary prowess, but I’m also a workaholic who admittedly fed herself a dinner of Ritz crackers with peanut butter and beer tonight.

How’s that for full disclosure?

p.s. Want the old copies of Food & Wine? First in Chicago to say “dibs” wins.

Learning to Live With, and Eventually Love, my Tiny Kitchen

tumblr_mtwv2xKZ7W1qmywbko1_500It’s been nearly 18 months since I downsized from house to apartment. Downsizing can be difficult, and at first I felt like the biggest sacrifice was in the kitchen.  I love to cook (duh), and in the 12 years since dorm life I’ve accumulated, and accumulated, and accumulated some more. Each kitchen I’ve cooked in was bursting at the seams (literally… I’ve spilled over into dining rooms, coat closets, you name it).  So you can bet I was concerned when faced with the approximately 7 x 15 foot space that was to be my kitchen.  Where do I put the canning supplies? The stand mixer?!? The worms?!?!?

Apparently, I was being dramatic. 18 months later, what once felt crowded is now cozy, organized, and remarkably easy to keep clean.

As it turns out, I don’t need 2 blenders, 3 crockpots, a juicer, 2 coffee grinders, or 18 feet of counter space. As I moved in, settled in, and hunkered down in the apartment I realized that there were a lot of things I could part with – things that I hadn’t used in months to a year – things I sometimes didn’t want or need to begin with – things I would have rather done without anyway.

IMG_2020

As it turns out, all that stuff didn’t matter, and it didn’t make me a better cook. In evaluating what I wanted to keep, I discovered the things that were most precious to me, and most useful.

As it turns out, the food that comes out of my little kitchen tastes better, because this is a kitchen that only contains things that I love.

This is a kitchen that’s processed a hundred pounds of tomatoes (not all at the same time), pumpkin purees, and salsas galore. It’s frozen enough fresh vegetables to last for the winter, canned cranberry juice, and made pot after pot after pot of morning coffee. It’s churned out pies, frittatas, and an 18-pound turkey.  Everything has a place – even the worms

I can do anything in my kitchen you can do in yours – mine just takes less time to clean.