My Minimalism

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I often read or hear people asking quantitative questions with regard to minimalism.  These generally revolve around how many of something you need.  Examples include, “How many pairs of shoes do you have?” or “How many sets of clothes do I need for a 2 year old?”

Additionally, there are numerous blogs and articles out there which exhort you to get rid of appliances or say that one set of crockery per person is all you need.

Conversely, I maintain that minimalism should not be prescriptive and that each person has different circumstances and will make their own choices.

The thing that defines minimalism to me is that whatever you own is mindfully curated and limits are set.

In particular, I have been reminded recently of variations in kitchen requirements.  We grow some of our own food and naturally we end up with a glut of certain produce from time to time.  I do my best not to waste it.  Processing a large quantity of produce is generally when appliances come into their own.

I can happily squeeze 2 or 3 oranges using this vintage glass juicer.

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But when it comes to juicing the 160 grapefruit that we have picked in the last 2 weeks I have neither the time or energy to do them by hand.  My trusty food processor with the citrus juicer attachment comes into its own.

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This was one batch of about 60 grapefruit that I juiced last weekend.  In the space of 30 minutes I had several bottles of juice for GMan plus containers of juice to freeze for future use.

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Citrus are not the only produce that I deal with in bulk amounts.

Some time ago I bought a 20kg bag of onions.  Once again, I routinely dice one or two onions using a sharp knife but the food processor with the cutting blade is invaluable for processing larger quantities of onions.

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I chopped 3kg of onions and then used another appliance – my dehydrator – to dry them.

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24 hours later  – back to the food processor, but this time with the spice grinder attachment.

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The end result was dried onion flakes and onion powder which cost me $3 and a little time as compared to nearly $13 to buy the same quantity from the supermarket.  As an added bonus there is no packaging either.

I have used the deydrator to make garlic powder, tomato powder and vegetable stock powder using the same general method.

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Then there is the Kitchen Aid mixer which I regularly use to make spreadable butter, pizza bases, combine various flours for my gluten-free flour mix, the occasional cake and GMan uses it when making sourdough bread.  It also has a pasta attachment which I use occasionally.

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The high-speed blender is also used regularly to make smoothies, mango sorbet and peanut paste to name but a few.

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So, my minimalist kitchen is probably a joke in some people’s eyes but it works for me.

However, I do not have single-purpose appliances such as a waffle maker, ice-cream maker, hot dog maker and so on.

You see, minimalism really is what is right for the individual and their circumstances.

 

 

 

 

 

The Useful Drawer

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Many people have what they refer to as ‘the junk drawer’, however, if you embrace the concept of minimalism in any way or have simply decluttered, there is really no reason to have a drawer full of junk.

Therefore, I actually have a carefully curated drawer of useful things.

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Some of the things are probably a bit difficult to identify so I will list them below.

Top of photo from left to right:

2 boxes of extra-long matches
Set of mini screwdrivers
Candle
Screwdriver with multiple heads
Heavy-duty ziplock bags for reuse
Bread bags for reuse (under ziplock bags)
Small bags for reuse
Brown paper
Teatowel and muslin cloth

Bottom of photo from left to right:

Cut down milk bottle containing twist ties
Cut down milk bottle containing boxes of matches, compass, mini steel measuring tape, rubber bands, tiny ziplock bags, reusable plastic tags cut from an ice-cream container
String tin
Gas gun
Baking paper
Case containing torch and charger
Bag containing pieces of plastic from cereal box liners for reusing to separate food in the freezer
Ziplock bags for reuse

The contents are very useful as evidenced by the fact that my useful drawer is opened multiple times every day.

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Do you still have a junk drawer that looks like the one above?  It is a great place to start decluttering.  Why don’t you try it and see?

The Last Drop

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It is often difficult to extract the last of a product from the container using the regular method of dispensing.  However, there are ways of getting the best value from what you have bought and minimising the amount of waste.

Bottles of shampoo and tubes of toothpaste are classic examples of where there is often unused product which is discard.  Buying the largest bottle available is a good strategy because you come to the end of the bottle less frequently.  You can add a little water to shampoo, conditioner and laundry liquid bottles and get several more uses from them.

Tubes can be cut open to reveal more than you can ever hope to extract via the nozzle.  Here is a tube of face wash which I have cut the end off.

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This is not the face wash I usually use but it was left behind some months ago by a guest and I felt it would be a waste to just throw it out so a few weeks ago I decided to use it.  There was not a lot left in the tube but once I had squeezed out what I could I then unscrewed the lid and was able to get a bit more on the tip of my finger for several more days.

I cut the end off yesterday and discovered that there was quite a bit more.

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I estimate that there is at least enough for another week, possibly longer.  It is definitely a worthwhile exercise to spend 2 seconds to cut off the end of the tube rather than tossing all of this in the bin.

What do you do to make sure that nothing gets wasted?

Something Different

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As I mentioned at the end I my previous post, I spent the remainder of yesterday far away from my sewing machine.

If you think of the room with my sewing machine as my hobby area then the workshop is GMan’s hobby space.  From time to time we have a clean up and usually declutter a few more things.  Yesterday we had another go but this time the focus was the contents of the storage cupboards under the bench rather than some of the bigger garden items.

We decided to move all of the various jars and containers of nails, screws, rivets etc from the shelf in the cupboard to this set of shelves which we had inherited and mounted on the wall some time ago.  We had not really used the shelves but it is now much easier to see what we actually have.

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I finally found a solution for storing the various extension cords.  This metal bracket which came from my father’s workshop has been mounted just above the bench.

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We could not complete the final bit of organisation until today as we needed to buy some plastic plugs to allow us the screw into the concrete block wall to mount the shelf to the left of this photo.

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We have yet to put anything on it but there is plenty to choose from.  The shelf beside it was the subject of one of my very early blog posts – almost 6 years ago.

I found it interesting to re-read that old post because I realised that all of the items mentioned today actually belonged to my father – even the re-purposed tins cans for storing screws – on the bottom shelf of the first photograph.

And what inspired us to do all of this?  It was trying to find suitable screws and the correct size drill bit for another handyman project.  That will be revealed tomorrow.

A Particular Passion

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During the holiday break I have had time to read and post in various groups and forums.  I participate to varying degrees in several groups.  I find that many of them have quite a narrow focus, sometimes to the exclusion of all else.

Some of the topics covered include:

Frugal Living
Zero Waste
DeclutteringMinimalism
Veganism
Upcycling
Buying Nothing New
Simple Living
Plastic Free Living

I dabble in all of these to some degree apart from veganism although we have reduced our intake of red meat to quite a modest level.

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At times it seems that I am not sufficiently passionate about any single topic, however, I feel that they are all inter-related and one aspect can support another.

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Hence, this blog contains posts which cover and wide range of topics and I hope you will find something of interest to you.

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Please let me know if there are particular topics which you would prefer to see more of or less.

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One Year On

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It is almost exactly a year since I wrote this post about decluttering emails in October last year.

I was astounded to see the number of emails which I mentioned was well in excess of 4,000 in all folders at the time.

I had regularly kept it to around 500 or less since then until it blew out of control a bit while we were on holidays and I have not been super diligent since our return.

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Last night I made a start on clearing out the emails and made some more progress with the task this morning.  After being at about 1,900 emails we are now back to a more manageable 470 or so.

Despite the number of emails, I am pleased that I have generally been better at regularly cleaning and culling my inbox and have renewed enthusiasm to keep it this way in the future.

During the process of tidying up the emails, I have also taken the opportunity to action some emails that I had been hanging onto as I needed to ‘do something’ before deleting them.  Sometimes this was as simple as adding some details to my ‘Contacts’.

Downsizing by Design

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For the past couple of weeks I have been working from the Microsoft Surface Pro which we bought before we went overseas.  I looked long and hard but in the end we opted for it instead of an iPad.  The main reason was that it has a USB port (so that I can connect my camera to download photos) and a keyboard cover which functionally turns it into a laptop in addition to the features of a tablet.

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The main desktop computer had really reached the end of its useful life so we went to our local computer shop to buy a new ‘tower’.  In the process we discovered a ‘mini’ computer which is 10cm square and about 5cm deep.  Obviously, it is not suitable for everyone as it would depend on how you use your computer.  We decided to purchase this little box and had all of the data and files from the old computer transferred over.

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We picked up the new computer on Saturday and intended to sit it on one of the small shelves above the desk.  Imagine our surprise when we unpacked it and found that it could be mounted on the rear of the screen.

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Since the tower is no longer in the cupboard on the left-hand side of the desk and requiring ventilation, we have replaced the door and relocated the boxes of computer-related manuals and accessories from the top of the linen cupboard.  The battery charger for the rechargeable batteries is also in there.

I decided that the small desk that was beside the computer desk could go in the guest room and I re-arranged the armchairs.  Finally, I moved the office chair out and have temporarily replaced it with a ‘spare’ dining room chair.  The office chair had arms on it which consistently banged the front of the desk.  Since the chair could not be rolled in under the desk, it took up a lot of space in what is essentially quite a small room.  I am going to replace it with another office chair without arms.

The office/library decluttering has been a long journey but it is interesting to contrast the photos from today with this one from a little over 5 years ago.

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