I strive to be a minimalist. No, I am not living in a one room hut with no electricity (though somedays I would like to see if I could rise to the challenge), but living simply is my everyday mission and trying to convince others to live the same way is important to me.
From the time I was a little tyke I would go on all night cleaning binges, collect my used goods and ask my sisters to barter their goods with me. My middle sister E. likes to recount how she was so excited one time to participate in these trades that she went downstairs and lugged her favorite blocks up each step, ready to trade her prized possession for something of her older sister’s.
Luckily (though I REALLY wanted those brightly colored old wood blocks), I had a conscience and refused. Or maybe my mother made me refuse. Either way. :)
Minimalism can certainly mean ridding oneself of what you have (Matthew 19:12) to live a life of simplicity (what poverty can certainly come to mean). However, while most of us reading this are not monks, it can certainly be living within one’s means and not in gross excess. Though we could debate what “gross excess” is on a comparative world level, for this post let us try to identify excess in our own lives, period.
There is not perfect panacea to living a perfectly minimal life but I do have a few tips that keep me in check and on the right path. Though I have occasionally regretted the passing on of something I wish I had pack-ratted away, the emotion soon passes. My words to the wise? Here they are:
10 Tips on Becoming a Minimalist
1. Sweep out all cabinets, closets and corners each season. Throw what you don’t use/wear in a bag. Wait a week. If you still don’t want/need it, get rid of it.
2. Donate these goods to a thrift store or sell them on Ebay. Just do it.
3. If another kitchen gadget can do it and more, get rid of the kitchen object that can do it also. Who needs duplicates?
4. Be a tech-minimalist too. Get rid of home internet. What???!!!! Oh yeah, this may work only if you are living alone. Then you can watch TV on your phone or go to the library/coffee shop and get a coffee and a cookie each time you want to watch TV for the price of said WiFi. Oh, and you get out of the house.
3. Get rid of cable and all 400+ stations of boring. Get Hulu and Netflix for under $20 bucks and revel in your brilliance. You might even read more.
4. Speaking of the reading…..why buy books you don’t need? Go get ‘em for free at the library. THEN, and only then if you are obsessed with said book should you purchase it.
5. Need to get rid of books? I sell books on Amazon and to Half-Price Books each season for those “oops” buys. Will you REALLY read that book again or do they just make you FEEL intellectual? Keep a few shelves for the intellectual feeling. Unless you are a saint. Then I want YOUR tips.
6. Sell your DVDs. Ok, keep the “Lion King” and a few you are obsessed with. Then see tips #3 and #4 for how to make life realistic.
7. Embrace brain minimalism. Get rid of work email at home if you are not a doctor.
8. Do not play on your phone in bed. You sleep much better after having a break from the pulsing lights of electronic devices. I assume you already got rid of your bedroom TV.
9. Eat like a monk at least for one meal a week each week. Huh? Plain speak: Eat simply, repetitively & frugally even if you can afford to live large. For instance, make a large enough batch of soup for lunches for a week for the whole fam. Add bread and be done. You will come to appreciate the diversity in your other meals more.
10. Try this simple vegetable fermentation.
Fermentation is one of the most minimal foods you can make that reaps the most benefits. Take food in season, preserve for when it is out of season, reap the nutritious (vitamin & probiotic) benefits. Ferments can also help you take food you might waste (leftover veg from a CSA) and save it for when the pickings are slim.
A vegetable ferment is pretty simple. If you don’t believe me, see my previous tips in my Sister Love Series.
You can get really wiggly about vegetable fermentation and the myriad of steps involved but really it is quite simple if you can let go of your control reflex. Oh THAT is all you have to do!! Ha, ha, I say to myself. No, really, just give yourself wiggle room for non-perfection here.
Spicy Fermented Kimchi
makes approximatly one half gallon jar
- one medium sized head of napa cabbage
- one large daikon radish
- two thumb sized pieces of ginger, peeled
- two green onions
- 2 small heads of garlic
- 1 or 2 korean peppers
- 1 Tbsp salt
- filtered water
1. Slice up the cabbage and radish into pinky finger sized slices.
2. Dice up the ginger and garlic.
3. Slice the green onion and korean peppers into small, thin rounds.
4. Stuff all your veggies into a half-gallon sized jar.
5. Add salt to jar. Fill with filtered water to cover.
6. Shake until salt is dispersed.
7. Make sure that your veggies are fully covered with water and leave in a cool, dark place, covered with a plastic mason jar cap or (what I use), a pickle-pro lid. Fermentation times will vary. I would begin tasting it a week in. After one week, pour out half of the brine and refill with new water. This is what I do to remove the extra saltiness but makes sure there is enough salt to crisp up the veg early in the fermentation process. Let sit another few days to a week or until you enjoy the flavor.
8. Place in fridge to halt fermentation process. Eat within a few months for best taste. It will theoretically keep indefinitely but gets mushy.
My favorite thing to do with this kimchi is to serve it on a steamed bun with bulgogi. Delicious.
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