Category Archives: Simplicity

Morning Routine

Over the last several months I have seen any number of YouTube videos detailing people’s morning routines. My routine is pretty solid Monday through Friday during the working part of the year.

  • 6:18: wake up
  • make bed as soon as feet hit the floor
  • shower
  • 6:30: clothes dealt with (either laundry basket or folded for another use)
  • dress
  • make breakfast (four scrambled eggs, salt)
  • eat, drink water
  • wash dishes
  • prepare lunch/think about what I have to do today (work, chores, fun)
  • 7:00: read (news, blogs, book, podcast)
  • brush teeth
  • 8:15: set off for work (some days I may go to work earlier for meetings or if there is preparation I need to accomplish)

What is on your Don’t Want List?

For me, my Don’t Want list is more of Won’t Do list. I actually began making one some time ago. Interestingly, I stopped it for ultimately, I didn’t want to make such a list.

  • collecting
  • letterboxing
  • Toastmasters
  • amateur radio
  • barbecue (forced, not by choice)
  • social media
  • podcast
  • run
  • X-wing
  • physical comic books
  • marriage
  • debt
  • cable/television
  • politics
  • homebrewing
  • scuba diving
  • mow lawns
  • play Rise and Decline of the Third Reich
  • camping
  • photography
  • reunions
  • dating service
  • subscribe to magazines
  • shop at Wawa
  • drink soda
  • read physical newspaper
  • member of BJ’s/Sam’s/Costco
  • GeoVexilla
  • geodashing
  • Minute War
  • shutterspot
  • Markeroni
  • GISH
  • Pokemon Go!
  • geogolf
  • backgammon
  • benchmarks
  • tchotchkes
  • plants
  • dryer sheets
  • delivery food
  • fast food
  • pre-packaged vegetables
  • coupons
  • DVDs
  • subscriptions
  • mountain bike
  • CDs
  • Halloween costumes
  • holiday decorations
  • video games
  • gaming system
  • books
  • paper plates, bowls, etc.
  • jewelry
  • debt
  • new cars
  • ant farm
  • coding (Python, Java, JavaScript; Codecademy, Treehouse, Udemy,
  • shooting gallery
  • story slam
  • art glass (paint, pottery, glass)
  • orienteering
  • hike Batona Trail
  • CPR class
  • bucket list risotto
  • crochet
  • painting class
  • model aircraft/drones
  • cooking/food club
  • cooking class at ACC
  • biking
  • slacklining
  • racquetball/squash
  • weight lifting
  • 50 hikes in NJ
  • Burpee mile
  • Hunt a Killer
  • Chess
  • bridge?
  • LARP: live action role playing
  • MTG (Commander)
  • solo gaming
  • Game Store nights
  • D&D
  • magic
  • balloon twisting
  • origami
  • whittling
  • photography
  • juggling
  • boomerang
  • Google Educator
  • wine course
  • 3-card Monty
  • sharpen knives
  • adult coloring book
  • bass guitar
  • harmonica
  • NJ wine tour
  • parasail
  • Outward Bound
  • Lighthouse challenge
  • skydive
  • curling
  • Murder Mystery Weekend in Cape May
  • comedy show in AC
  • Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies
  • Quest Scouts
  • Santa hat photography calendar
  • crossword puzzle
  • jigsaw puzzle
  • Rubik’s Cube
  • Coursera
  • Master Class
  • Constitution course
  • community theatre
  • improv
  • Austin, TX
  • Storytelling Festival-TN
  • attend Mardi Gras
  • Star Wars
  • poetry
  • Where’s George?

That is what has been so freeing for me on this journey: I don’t do much these days I choose not to. I have opted for a simple life; one for which I hardly feel obligated to do things.

Contented. Satiated. Satisfied.

Half Sheet Pan and Grid

Half Sheet Pan and Grid

This is a post in the My Things series on this blog. In it I chronicle items I own. I seek to describe why I own the item, whence it came, and what value it provides . . . and any other tidbits of interest.

I no longer have this. Something I cooked on this (perhaps those chicken thighs I mentioned down below) absolutely destroyed this. Without the facilities to truly get it cleaned, I chucked it.

Last year, as I ramped up my cooking in the apartment, I decided I needed this. I didn’t.

Rather than spend a lot of money on a Le Creuset French oven as I was planning on doing, I opted to cook my duck on this. Mistake. Grease sprayed the inside of the oven where as the French oven would have contained that.

I haven’t used it much since. I think I will bake chicken on this. And I imagine game hens, capons, or something similar will be on this thing on Thanksgiving.

As I write this, I think a bunch of bone-in thighs would work well on this. I could see cooking Roadside Chicken. I think next week I’ll make those for lunch instead of the pulled chicken.

Strainer

3-Cubed: Strainer

This is a post in the My Things series on this blog. In it I chronicle items I own. I seek to describe why I own the item, whence it came, and what value it provides . . . and any other tidbits of interest.

A year ago I purchased this Royal Industries Bouillon Strainer Tin Plated, 8”, Stainless Steel, Commercial Grade from Amazon. My fantasy self thought with the upcoming winter, I would be making stocks, soups, and other savory liquids in the kitchen.

I like cooking. For the last many years, my cooking has been focused on the grill and smoker. That has been removed from my current life, so I thought I would be moving back into the kitchen and had some ideas of where my culinary pursuits would take me. It didn’t work out that way, however.

But a strainer, even a nice one, is still needed when your daughter likes macaroni and cheese. 🙂 And that is primarily what I have used this for. At least it has been used. Perhaps this winter stocks will actually materialize. We shall see.

All Or Nothing

The message above absolutely does not reflect my situation at all. This lady dumps on the mentality of all or nothing. She presents a messy house situation. Then her straw man is that one will look at that messy house and decide that she will wait until Saturday, when there is time, to tackle the mess. The thinking is the entire house (all) has to be accomplished at once. Until then nothing gets taken on. Then she proceeds to dump on that because there is no way to do it all at once.

But there is. And I do.

Y’see, her viewpoint is similar to many I see in the simple living/minimalist space; namely, no one can fathom a situation in which all can be accomplished. Yet, that is what I deal with. When one actually achieves what everyone in these spaces touts (getting rid of the excess), what is left can be so minimal that it can be tackled in one go.

And because I can do that, I don’t have to take those five- to 10-minute moments to do it along the way. Those moments are now free for me to do what I want to do. I don’t have to constantly be maintaining, cleaning, or organizing. That’s the payoff of this lifestyle.

Interestingly, just this week I had the messiest apartment I have had since I moved here 16 months ago. I didn’t do my Sunday clean-up after the children left. Then I had some packages delivered that I did not tackle. The children generate trash and recycling that I don’t normally accumulate, but I added to the pile this week. It was the end of the marking period, I haven’t been home much, and things just got away from me. In about 45 minutes this morning I got the place back to tip-top shape! Everything is vacuumed. The floors are mopped. I dusted. Trash and recycling were taken out. There is no laundry as I don’t need to address that for another day or two.

I’ve written elsewhere about how clubs and organizations tend cater to the newbie while disregarding the experienced member. These vloggers in the simple living/minimalism space do similarly. Everything is about the person who has yet to achieve his goal. I gather I am one of a small group who has. One’s mindset indeed can change at that point. For instance, my routine is to do laundry twice weekly. Many speak as to how minimalists would only do laundry once a week. It depends on one’s situation, like most things. First off, I don’t have enough clothes to last a week. Secondly, my life is such that throwing in a load of laundry on a Wednesday evening is trivial. Moving it along in the evening to the dryer does not inconvenience me. Finally, folding the laundry and putting it away mentally resets my framework so I am at my mellow. It’s a wonderful routine for me.

While I do not offer advice, I will say that questioning what one watches, reads, etc. is quite helpful. Seeing how others approach things can be quite useful, but I look at how I can adapt things to my life. Not everything fits with how I live. My recipe, as it were, is different from anyone else’s I have ever encountered even if it has something in common here and there.

What Is Organizing?

Organizing is actually the problem. Organizing our stuff is taking a bunch of things that are making us miserable, covering up our happiness, our joy, our genius, and they are getting us to a place where I can hide this for a while. But it still covers up all the things that make life beautiful.

Joshua Fields Millburn, 20 September 2021

Discussion of organizing within the minimalism space usually addresses the fact that organizing a lot of stuff doesn’t mitigate the issues. JFM has stated previously that he used to be an organized hoarder.

But that is not what he says above. Above is quite specific with his criticism of organization.

Organizing our stuff is taking a bunch of things that are making us miserable, covering up our happiness, our joy, our genius, and they are getting us to a place where I can hide this for a while.

I do not agree with this.

I am an organizer. I find pleasure from the activity. From the time I was a boy sitting for hours with my baseball cards to today, doing the same thing as I re-build this website, I enjoy the process of organizing.

  • The digital files are not making me miserable.
  • The digital files are not covering up my happiness, joy, or genius (I don’t understand the last thing in that list, frankly)
  • The digital files are not being hidden.

I am pretty much a bare bones minimalist, even though that is not how I approach things, usually describe myself, etc. But within the minimalism space, that is how most, I suspect would classify me.

I have very specific pursuits. One of them is this blog. It is very much my autobiography. It has been going for 18 years continuously, but there’s content from my entire life (all 56 years) presented here.

Changes in platforms, code, servers, and me just getting more specific in how I do things presented me with a big project: re-write this site. I estimate that’s 15,000 posts. It’s not a day’s job. But I am in it for the long haul.

Most likely I will be in my current living situation for four more years whether I retire or not. After that, I will be elsewhere. This bare bones apartment and lifestyle is perfect for me presently. I don’t have much on my plate other than my children. And when they aren’t here, the re-build is pretty much my focus. This isn’t keeping me from anything. I am not investing in anything around here for I am on a very limited schedule.

So, I will organize my digital life. I look forward to it. It’s my entertainment. No misery.

Whatever happened to The Minimalists’ promise to refrain from judgement and advice? I thought they proclaimed that from now on they were only going to speak as to what has worked for them. That may resonate with others.

Telling me I am miserable because I am doing what I want to do is arrogant, wrong, and off-message.

No Lists

As I consider my processes, it occurs to me that lists are problematic for me. I did not always consider that to be the case.

My early adulthood was spent in Boston. Steve was the one who introduced me to making lists. I liked it. I employed lists. And then for the next 30 years I used them.

One of the areas I am working on presently is keeping my calendar as empty as possible. I realized that some of the things that end up on the calendar come from lists. Now I work at keeping but two lists in Google Keep: my accounts and the To-Do list.

That To-Do list has a piece of HTML that I use regularly for the blog. It also is where I write down my shopping list. So, as I note that I need a pound of butter or a tube of toothpaste, I add it to the note. When I am in the grocery store, I use that note to make my purchases.

No longer do I have lists for:

  • To Read
  • Christmas
  • Honey-Do
  • Chores

Without those lists, my calendar does not populate with as much.

The lack of a To Read list has been freeing. I’ll read a book. When I am done reading whatever that was, there is no obligatory next read. I can decide at that point what to read then. So, I may pivot from a philosophy book to a comic book to novel. Whatever my current whim is dictates the next read.

I purchase Christmas gifts for my children and my mother. My children are moving into the experiences mode of life. I have some surprise shows we will attend that they will love. Sure, there will be something tangible as well, but it is no longer something to stress over. My mother, on the other hand, requires a tangible gift. It’s tough to purchase for her. I am always happy when I come up with something. I have a Christmas gift already on order (since September). It’s the birthday gift that I am failing on. And, of course, there’s Mother’s Day too. At 80, she is very much like a youngster in that she very much wants a gift. It is meaningful to her. I do my best to accommodate her as she has provided so much to me over the years.

The divorce removed the Honey-Do list. To be accurate, there wasn’t much of a list, just a bunch of do this now kind of stuff.

There will always be chores. With so few things, the number of chores is reduced. There is still laundry, vacuuming, making beds, etc. Being thoughtful with the processes I build, makes those tasks smooth and efficient.

No lists needed.

Why a Uniform?

In my bedroom closet are three pairs of gray slacks and three navy blue polo shirts. There are also three pairs of gray shorts and four navy blue T-shirts.

I wear a navy blue shirt and gray pants every day. It is my uniform. It is a uniform I selected.

I am a middle-aged man. I am a school teacher. I like how gray and blue fit together. The clothes I have purchased I am comfortable in. I like how they feel. I like how they look on me.

Because I wear the same thing every day, I have no decisions to make regarding my wardrobe. All those decisions were made before I purchased the clothes.

To me, this is an efficiency issue. By establishing what I am wearing beforehand, I do not need to come up with an outfit whenever I am dressing. Because all my clothes are the same, there is no hunting for the shirt that goes with those pants. Or where are the pants I need for this outfit. Everything is interchangeable.

Why three outfits? Initially, I thought that perhaps this wouldn’t work out quite as well as I planned. I didn’t want to have too much of one thing only to discover that I wish I had something different. As it turned out, three outfits seems like the right amount for me. I complete laundry twice a week. I live in an apartment; it is easy to throw a load in and move it along and then fold it as I do my living in the apartment. It is not an inconvenience whatsoever. I know I do laundry on Wednesdays (to have work clothes for Thursday and Friday) and Sunday so I begin the week with three outfits. In addition, I have three pairs of socks (all the same).

In the summer when I am not teaching, the same process works for wearing shorts and a T-shirt. When I hike/geocache, I have three pairs of trail socks to wear with my hiking shoes.

In the end, why do I have a uniform?

  • I make fewer decisions
  • I always feel good in what I wear

No one has ever asked or pointed out to me that I wear the same thing daily. It would not matter if someone did as it would not bother me. I note, however, it has never happened.

It may be boring. I find that good. Clothes have never been a source of excitement for me.

I have written elsewhere about blending in. I do not like to stand out. I do not draw attention to myself. Solid navy blue shirts and gray pants may not be someone else’s thing, but I do not stand out ever wearing this outfit. It is boring. There is nothing to draw the eye to me because of what I am wearing. That appeals to me.

Will the color combination ever change? Who knows? I could see it doing so. I like hunter green. I would like a pair of Arizona and/or Boston Birkenstocks. I think brown is the color I would want. Brown does not go well with navy blue and gray. Perhaps someday I will switch to khaki and hunter green. But it would still be a uniform. 😉

Cutting Board

Cutting BOard

This is a post in the My Things series on this blog. In it I chronicle items I own. I seek to describe why I own the item, whence it came, and what value it provides . . . and any other tidbits of interest.

When I set up the apartment, a cutting board was definitely something I knew I would need. I considered Boos boards. But after thinking things through, I could not justify the expense.

Mulling it over, there I was in Bed, Bath & Beyond looking at their products. This is a thin plastic board. I decided to go with this as it was small and easily stored.

This stains with paprika and chili powder that I use for my pulled chicken. It works itself out after a couple washings.

There is nothing exceptional about this, but I do not need anything exceptional. I need a board to trim chicken, pull chicken, and occasionally cut some vegetables. This does the job. It stores away nicely. Because it is thin, I am able to use the door hinge of the cabinet to hold it upright on the side of the cabinet.

It does its job. It was inexpensive ($13.99). Nothing more.