Adventures in Homemaking: Month 1

Today marks one month since Justin has lived in what will be our apartment after marriage. If Justin has off from work, and I am not sleeping or working, I am most likely there. Sometimes, I'm there even when he isn't, making food or watching TV. 

The only real complaints that we have so far, is our (upstairs) neighbor lady slams the door every time she leaves and stomps around a lot. We have determined that we never want a bottom-unit again. Justin also gets frustrated when he can hear the kitchen appliances while we are watching TV, so he's changed his mind about an open floorplan (yes!!). Finally, we have a wonky fridge shelf that has made condiments fly out about half a dozen times now. I am still practicing patience with that one. 

I am treating these six months until we marry as a trial-run, or a soft-opening into what marriage might be like. 

Before Justin was even searching for an apartment, we talked about how my contribution would look, even though I wouldn't be living there. Besides helping with rent, I have been buying most of my groceries for a couple of years now, so I volunteered to buy his as well and just keep both in that refrigerator. I just need to remember that I do not eat as much as he does, so doubling my grocery amount is still not going to cut it. I think I figured out what types of things Justin naturally gravitates towards when fixing himself a work meal. 

The biggest thing that has helped manage my grocery budget is meal planning. I have my little calendar I got for free and I write down 3-4 meals each week that will give Justin enough leftovers for lunches and days we don't want to cook. Then, I write a grocery list only including the ingredients I need that aren't already in the apartment for that week's meals only. I then add things like produce for sides and snacks, and breakfast staples that he's gone through. This so far is a pretty good system. I have inherited from my mom an intense hatred for wasting food (that's money down the drain!), so this has given me more peace of mind that we WILL be able to finish this stuff. 

The first shopping trip, I got a bit more ambitious than I should have when it came to making things "from scratch." I have yeast for bread, but no desire to have to return to it after 6 hours, or to fire up the oven on these hot days. I've been using a lot of simple cleaning products like vinegar, soda, and dish soap for basically everything, and I feel duped by all the cleaning products that have previously seemed so appealing.  

A huge blessing is that Justin's mom is an avid gardener, and it is harvest season for berries! While we froze most of what she gave us, they will be put to good use once the replacement part for the blender is ordered. I think that my family really appreciates the bounty that the get from being related to me, as well. Up next-tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini!

Things I've learned:
-just because it's fish does not mean it's better for you (tilapia)
-Justin does NOT like mushrooms
-ground turkey is disgusting to cook but potentially unnoticeable if it's in a big dish
-Mom and Dad were not silly in laying berries to freeze on a baking sheet, THEN putting them in a bag
-wood floors are more comfortable than lawn chairs, in some cases 
-family is so giving with their time and possessions to help us start out. Thank you everyone!

The Trouble with Minimalism

This subject has been on my mind recently, what with all of the different movements gaining attraction in the world today. I'm talking specifically about minimalism, sustainability, zero waste, and other movements that aim to simplify and create time to make meaningful, informed decisions. It all sounds good, when you think about it. Who doesn't want more time in their day? Who doesn't, deep down, know that they need to focus their attention on maintaining relationships than maintaining their stuff.

I will admit, I watched a Netflix documentary on the subject of minimalism and I was intrigued. I went through loads of clothes, papers, and other items that I could skimp down on and "simplify."

It was when I was helping my fiance move into his apartment that I realized I might be too distracted by the movement, the cause, that it has started down the path of obsession. I found myself getting frustrated, even a little mad at Justin as I was packing up two boxes of his DVDs, thinking how could he possibly need all of them? Thinking that there is no way that he will ever play this game again, or watch this movie. I got upset with him wanting to go out and buy a bunch of stuff for his apartment, because I was thinking about the wedding registry that I had carefully created because I wanted it to be the best, most practical, "minimalist" list for our new lives together.

How unfair it was for me to get upset with someone that does not align themselves to the minimalist philosophy. I made him feel bad for valuing the things that he has accumulated over the years. He's not a packrat, there are memories infused to every one of those games, and he actually doesn't go out and buy useless things...ever. He appreciates quality over quantity and that will help us not have to keep replacing things over the years.

It wasn't fair. I had become too obsessed with being a "good" minimalist that I was somehow making my life and my thoughts more cluttered. I do think that's the danger of movements like this. People become so wrapped up in the idea that they need to be a "good" member of the group, and they feel guilty if they indulge. It's like a diet. If you're doing well on a low carb diet and you have a two-scoop ice cream cone well, you are probably going to feel guilty for the rest of the day. And why? It is not a sin to eat ice cream, just like it is not a sin to get enjoyment out of some of your things.

So why do some feel guilty about it? Well, I believe that is a combination of a couple of things. First, it's pride. We believe that we cannot possibly do wrong if all the "rules" are laid out for us, and we are going to be perfect at following this lifestyle. Secondly, I believe that the tempter is using these outlets to distract from what is really important: being lights of the world, and thinking on things above. We have the best intentions going into these self-help programs, but we cannot help ourselves. Once again, our best bet is asking the Lord to help guide us in our everyday lives.

In conclusion, I like the thoughts behind minimalism, because it takes the focus off of earthly possessions and tries to help people free up more time. However, I'm not going to stress too much about it anymore.