Minimalist Monday: Meal Planning

Since September I’ve been horrendously busy with school and student teaching and as a result my diet took a turn for the worse. My days start at 5:30 am and don’t end until 7:30 pm, at which point I am far too exhausted to cook myself a healthy meal. On top of that, the holidays and the fact that I’m making no income has taken a toll on our food budget. So take out and frozen dinners it has been.

A few weeks ago I decided that needed to change. I needed a plan of attack, some organization, a way to make easy healthy meals on a budget. I needed a meal plan. I did a quick Google search and read this article on how to make a meal plan and went on my way creating a meal plan. It’s done wonders for our diet and makes my life so easy.

If you’re interested in a meal plan here’s what I did:

1. Flipped through the Fresh and Easy cookbook for recipes. If there is one cookbook everyone should own it’s this one. The meals are simple and fresh, and it has photos of all of the ingredients and each step. Best cookbook I’ve ever used.

2. Made a list of recipes I liked. My criteria was that they take less than 20 minutes and, of course, that they look delicious.

3. Use the recipes to make menus. I used 10 recipes to make 5 menus as follows:

-Middle Eastern: Falafel and Tabouli

-Italian: Pasta with tomato pesto, caprese salad

-Light & Fresh: Poached eggs over asparagus, beet/goat cheese salad

-Country Picnic: Pan Bagnats and Gazpacho Soup

-Fish Dinner: Baked Fish, Cooked Spinach

4. Make a printable grocery list. You can see mine here. I have it broken down into the ingredients needed for each meal. I left off things like garlic, onion, and spices that I always have in stock.

5. Get shopping and cooking!

Notes: I have been choosing 3 menus a week to cook on MWF. On the off days I have leftovers. There are also some fabulous apps and websites for meal planning. I played around with Pepper Plate and I really liked it.

Bouquets are expensive, these are not!

Paper flowers


Holy florist batman!  Most things wedding related are expensive.  I know that.  Spending a bunch of money on flowers that will most likely get tossed in the garbage can.  Now, that may not be the case with you, but I would not preserve them.  So yet again, I took my love for all things tedious and made all the flowers for our bridal party, groomsmen, parents and grandparents.  I do mean made.  I looked up how to make paper roses and was pleasantly surprised to see how easy it is.

It really came down to finding the time to roll hundreds of book pages and card stock into beautiful flowers.  The bouquets have anywhere from 40-60 flowers in them.  The book pages were from a book I had purchased years ago at the library book sale for 50 cents.  I picked it up because it had some of the most…

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Minimalist Monday: Wabi-Sabi

Last week I was catsitting for my friend and visiting her apartment for the first time I fell in love. There was something beautiful and comforting about the space with its aged wood floors, candles, ancient stove, and consignment store furniture. I had been contemplating redecorating for a while (since I perpetually crave change) and her space just spoke to me.

As I sat on the couch petting the cat I spotted this book on the bookshelf:

The dust jacket read, “Simply put, wabi-sabi is the marriage of the Japanese wabi, meaning humble, and sabi, which connotes beauty in the natural progression of time. Together, the phrase invites us to set aside our pursuit of perfection and learn to appreciate the simple, unaffected beauty of things as they are.”

Intrigued, I began paging through the book. I read about the origin of wabi-sabi in Japanese tea ceremonies. I skimmed the chapter on creating space. I read passages about forgoing complexity for simplicity, celebrating damaged goods, and opting for the handmade over the mass-produced.

I’m hooked. This idea of wabi-sabi is a merger of minimalism and sustainability. In a nutshell, it encourages letting go of things that are not beautiful, functional, and meaningful (minimalism), repairing rather than replacing (sustainability), and making (or if you aren’t crafty purchasing) good quality handcrafted items from available resources. It also embraces celebration of aging and imperfection rather than pursuing eternal youth and imperfection. Simply put, age and imperfection gives character.

Friday Rant: T-Mobile’s JUMP Program

You may have heard of T-Mobile’s Just Upgrade My Phone program, you know, the one with those commercials of Bill Hader trying to sabotage his phone (or being embarrassed by it). With this program you don’t have to wait a whole 2 years to upgrade your phone, get a new one every 6 months! It’s totally out of control. I have an iPhone 4, as in 4 models ago, released over 3 years ago, and it is still fully functional. Why would I need to upgrade my phone but to have the latest gadget? As if planned obsolescence wasn’t disturbing enough, at least it’s subtle. This is just a consumer industry BLATANTLY telling you to ditch perfectly good phones so you can get a shiny new one. I’m blown away.

WEDnesday: Recycle Your Wedding

This one is for those who may be in the throes of wedding planning, or maybe those who have recently made it legal and have 156 votives without a further purpose.

The site is called Ruffled Blog and it has a section called Recycle Your WeddingCouples post items leftover from their recent weddings for new brides-to-be (or grooms-to-be) to give second life. They have everything from stationary to favors to decorations to gowns. Table numbers, unused raffia, linens. It’s all there. They even have a WANTED section where you can post items you are seeking.

So far I’ve snagged 3 gallons of clear glass rocks and 2000 silk rose petals for less than $50.

Benefits of “Recycle Your Wedding”

  • Those leftovers from your wedding can make someone else’s wedding beautiful
  • Money. If you’re selling you can make back some of what you spent on decorations etc. If you’re buying it is way cheaper than getting everything brand new.
  • A lot of things have been crafted, if you’re going for that homegrown feel without the labor.
  • You aren’t creating more consumption by buying something brand new.

So far I’m a fan. Hopefully it’s beneficial for others!

Minimalist Monday: Stress Shopping

I’ve had a revelation. I’m a stress shopper. Since I’ve delved deeper into grad school and teaching I’ve been pulling 14 hour days every day. At the same time I’ve been doing my best to prop up my grieving, insomniatic fiance who is dealing with the double loss of his friend and father over summer. I’ve been stressed, to say the least. But I believed I was handling it well. I’ve been keeping on top of my schoolwork (although the apartment has gotten a bit messy and my diet has become more fast food than I care to admit). I’ve kept up my twice a week yoga and twice a week 3 mile run. I was feeling like superwoman.

It turns out I’ve been taking my stress out on Amazon. Archery equipment, accessories for my iThings, boots, sandals, a Bill Nye the Science Guy DVD. I’m out of control. When I realized I had ordered 7 items from Amazon in 3 days it dawned on me that I was having a compulsion. I was stress shopping. All of my minimalist philosophy went out the window because, damn, those boots were cute.

So I may just have to put my credit cards on ice until I get my stress under control. Literally.

Long Overdue Update and Guest Post

Hey guys, I realize I’ve been radio silent for quite a while. I’ve been a bit overextended since July. Summer brought yet another death of a loved one amidst the chaos of starting graduate school and student teaching so I’ve had little energy for much else besides family, school and teaching.
Since leaving my job and beginning school and teaching my life satisfaction has taken a drastic upswing. I’m actually excited to wake up every day and my brain has been a whirlwind of ideas for lessons and activities. I finally feel like I have a purpose that had been previously missing.
Lastly, I have a guest post over at Minimalist Couple today. You should check it out!