Partners in Minimalism

And so it begins. My husband and I have had “the talk” several times before we were married, but now we’re putting it into practice: he’s making the shift into his own kind of minimalism. What we’ve learned so far is that simplicity means different things to us individually, so it’s fun getting to know each other’s needs vs. wants!

Emily and Victor

Shot by the lovely and talented Elise from Lusicovi Creative

It started a couple of weeks ago with my first challenge to him: get rid of 100 things. This was motivating for him, since he likes having an end goal in mind.

We then decided that our next move will likely require downsizing. Right now, we live in a 680-square foot one bedroom apartment, and the amount of space we truly use is way less. I’m pushing for a 450-square foot studio, but we’ll see.

So, we’ve been taking inventory of our furniture. Do we really need that old record player that doesn’t work? Of course not. Could we go without such a large coffee table? YES please (that thing collects junk like crazy).

The pieces of furniture that are absolutely necessary for our next space include the following:

  • Rorschach’s dog crate cage (made for a 50 lb. dog – this rabbit is spoiled)
  • Our bed

…and that’s it. My parents generously gifted me with a beautiful bedroom set years ago that includes a chest, nightstand, armoire and two gorgeous benches, but as we move around in apartments, I may send them back to my parent’s home for guest bedroom furniture. We’re not settling into a house, so right now these things would only get dented and damaged in the many moves that lie ahead.

Essentially, I want to pack everything I own into a Honda Civic and drive off into the sunset. But, we’ll see about what our next steps actually are before I take it that far.

So, what was “the talk” like?

While it was definitely a recurring topic, I can’t point to one single conversation that tipped the scale. I first led by example – I showed my husband what I had gotten rid of, and I exhibited how easily I could let go of certain things. Then I started to explain to him how much better I was feeling by reducing my possessions.

Finally, I started to talk to him about what he had – his clothes were starting to fall out of our shared armoire and he could go a surprising number of weeks without having to do laundry (the man had more clothes than I do). So I started with anything ripped or torn and asked if I could toss it, and it was an easy “yes.” Those clothes were followed by others that he realized he no longer needed.

Finally, after an influx of gifts from our wedding, he finally rose to the challenge of getting rid of 100 things.

I’ve noticed his eyes looking around the apartment these days, looking for additional things to get rid of. We’re both still chipping away at simplifying and now we’re both looking forward to having less space for fewer things.

What have you experienced when getting a partner or a roommate on board with this journey?

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Settling in and starting back up

The thank you notes have been sent, the work has been caught up. The flowers are all put away, and the wedding photos are in. The final checks have been cashed. The wedding is over.

I am tired. I am grateful. I am married.

Flowers and a bowl

I am also sad that it’s been this long since I’ve posted! I may recap the wedding on a later day, but for now I thought I’d take a chance to reflect on what’s been changing in my life this past month.

A bit before, but especially after the wedding I started to realize that my husband is now my priority. Jobs come and go, apartments and bills get taken care of one way or another…but the one thing that needs to be at the top of my list is so easily pushed to third or fourth.

I’ve begun to think deeply about this, and what it means for my life. It means a lot! It means that we work together as a team – support each other when we’re down, encourage the other to go above and beyond to live the life that they dreamed. It means sacrifices and challenges, but it also opens up some great opportunities.

While focusing in on this need for selflessness, I’ve had to become more selfish than ever. A well rested, fed and healthy Emily makes for a happy Emily – which helps bring peace in times of stress (which, ironically is what causes the lack of rest, proper food and care). When I put both myself and my new husband second to anything else in my life, things seem to fall to pieces.

What realizations did you all come to in the beginnings of a marriage or a relationship? Or what have you found in the beginnings of new journeys you’ve experienced?

The Minimalist Wedding Registry

Minimalist Wedding Registry

After much debate and several conversations, my fiance and I decided to create a wedding registry of items we need or that we’d like to update. It seems a bit off from what I’ve been working towards lately, so I thought I’d write up a post that explains (or maybe tries to justify?) our decision. So why did we do it?

The pressure of “tradition”

The main thing that frustrates me about wedding planning has been that the word “tradition” gets thrown around a lot, and often carries with it a hefty weight of guilt. It’s tradition to have a registry. It’s a tradition to not include that info on the invitation – people just have to ask.

It’s a lame excuse, yes, but it’s also better than having people confused about our choice, calling us out of frustration and asking, “well what do you want? Just cash? Do you just want money from us?” This way, our more traditional guests get what they want, and through a carefully curated list, we get what we want, too.

If you’re getting us a gift, make it something we need

I’m looking forward to getting a lot of handmade gifts, especially since my friends and family are a creative and generous bunch. But, what I was worried about without a registry was getting strange trinkets that my husband-to-be and I really don’t need.

Having specific requests takes the guesswork out of what we really want, need or even like.

This is our chance to be “real adults”

Most of our cookware, utensils and place settings are mismatched Goodwill finds – and not in the quirky, cute way. We picked them up throughout college, finding them in dark corners of new apartments when we moved, picking them up for under a dollar at garage sales…you get the picture.

Having a registry is a good opportunity to upgrade our kitchen appliances, our linens and our tableware so that we have uniform, high-quality essentials that will last us forever. As a friend reminded me, one of my central tenets as I go through minimizing is keeping what is useful and beautiful, but with a high focus on quality so I don’t have to ever purchase the item again.

It’s still not that traditional

Since I didn’t want to get too tempted by exploring beautiful stores like Crate & Barrel, I decided not to do an in-store registry. I’ve been having fun, snooping around Amazon for great deals and quality items. While I’m not sure how the convenience of it will work out for our guests, I feel good about being able to check prices and reviews before adding anything to the registry without a salesperson telling me what I need and what I don’t.

For example, I’ve heard friends talk about how the salesperson told them that it was traditional to register for 12, but they thought it was too much and registered for 10 instead. My fiance and I are doing fine with 4, and we’re not planning on hosting massive formal dinner parties any time soon. Those, however, will be replaced soon by 6 settings of the much thinner and lighter Corelle dishes so we can maximize our space in our cupboards wherever we move next.

So, what did we register for?

I must admit, it’s been tough to not let the registry get away from me. There are so many beautiful things on the internet, and it’s so easy to fall down a rabbit hole, chasing fine bone china and fancy kitchen gizmos. But here are some of the things that we registered for:

  • Bakeware, including a muffin pan and some real baking sheets that don’t have years of mystery food (not all mine) burned into them
  • A real vacuum – ours is clogged, again with years of mystery “stuff” and has duct tape covering the wire
  • A blender – it’s been far too long without. I broke my last one blending paper pulp, and I’ve learned my lesson
  • Knives, because knives
  • Updated kitchenware and an actual oven mitt (again, I’ve been without for over a year)
  • Tea and soap – who says consumables can’t make the list?
  • Linens, linens, linens. At my fiance’s request, we’re going to work on making the apartment a little less “girly” (understandable, since I’ve covered the place with pink & purple blankets and fake flowers)
  • A tent. I don’t know, if we ever get a weekend off at the same time, maybe we’ll go on adventures!
  • Glass spray bottles for our homemade cleaning supplies!
  • Baskets – it’s time to get rid of the cracked, dollar-store plastic baskets that we’ve been keeping produce and toiletries in and get some baskets that won’t break. I requested metal for the kitchen, wicker for the bedroom and bath.

What do you think about the strange conflict between minimalism and wedding registries? Or, minimalism and weddings in general? Is there anything I left off, or anything you wouldn’t add to the list? It really varies from person to person, so I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

 

No Glut November

Last night I went to a beautiful wedding and saw some of my very best friends from high school. We danced and had the most amazing time, and I got through the whole afternoon and evening on three drinks. As opposed to the previous weekend’s bachelorette party where I had…more than three drinks.

I’m trying, this November, to cut out excessive and unnecessary drinking (it all really is unneccessary, isn’t it?) What that means is when I go out, I can’t drink to the point where I can’t drive, and especially can’t drink to the point where I regret it the next day. I hate the cloudy feeling I have the day after I even have just ever so slightly too much. Last night was an encouraging start to this month of moderation!

I managed to keep the drinking to a minimum by dancing without a cup in my hand (it was more fun and less mess, too), and I was sure to stick with water and an absurd amount of grapes for the last couple of hours of the reception. My friends appreciated the ride home and the bride seemed grateful to not have to deal with us being too much more rambunctious than we usually are when we’re sober. Kudos to her and her groom as well, who didn’t have a drop of alcohol to drink!

Basically, what I’m trying to do this month is to experiment with moderation in drinking. My goal is to find the perfect balance, to save a little money, and to improve my Sunday mornings (I’m not always hungover, but when I am, I tend to mope around feeling that I’m draining years from my life).

Millennials who are just out of college, like me, are probably in the same boat – at what point do you start cutting back? I don’t want to cut it out all together but it’s something that’s weighed heavily on my mind recently.

I find myself more creative after a cup of coffee or tea than I do after a glass of wine or beer. What is your favorite? Is there something you can work to improve this November? What could you give up or cut back on?

Happy November all, and congrats and the happiest of happy wishes to my beautiful friend and her new husband!

The Fear of Imperfection

This is my first post on the blog in 11 days. I know this because I quietly check off another day each night before I go to bed not having written a blog post. I could say that it’s just too busy, or that I’ve been tired, or that I have nothing to say. But the truth is, I was paralyzed by fear of imperfection.

I’ve always wanted to get into the practice of writing every day. But there’s always been an excuse to not show up, to put it off until later in the day. Until tomorrow. Until next week. It’s easy to use excuses as band-aids to cover up the injuries you choose to inflict upon yourself. In my case, I complain that I don’t write enough; yet, I so easily excuse myself for not writing enough.

So I’ve taken a lesson from my wedding planning, and I think it’s going to help me get over this fear.

Currently, I’m working on creating hundreds – I mean literally hundreds and hundreds – of tissue paper flowers for my wedding. I realize that I won’t make the perfect flower the first time, or even the hundredth time I make one. But you can bet that by the time I’m making number 650, I’ll not only be making gorgeous flowers, but I’ll be doing it quickly and without much strain. And all of the imperfect flowers? They’ll be there, adorning walls and tables while my most perfect flowers grace the bouquets of my closest friends.

Wedding Flowers

What I mean to say by this is that  too often our fear of imperfection slows us down to the point of complete inaction. I could wait until I perfected the flower before cranking them out for my wedding, but would all that time be worth it? I want to share my work, not throw away hundreds of “failures” before I start making the real thing.

This blog is a compilation of imperfect posts. They’re not all researched and targeted to just the right niche, and they’re far from refined. So often we get caught up in the technical side of things, the numbers of shares, the views, the buzz we’ve generated. But if, at the end of the day, we haven’t said what we wanted to say, we’ve wasted our opportunity.

If you have a personal blog, let go of this immense and unnecessary worry. You don’t have to be perfect before you publish.

Let’s Plan a Minimal Wedding!

As you know by now, I’m starting to plan a wedding. And with that, there comes certain expectations. For example, I not only have to rent a hall (which is going to be finalized this week hopefully), but now I’ll have to consider renting dishes, glasses, tablecloths, and cutlery. That’s right. I’ve already scouted out prices on renting cloth napkins.

All of this seems a little ridiculous to me, so my fiance and I are focusing on identifying everything we want, and more importantly don’t want on our wedding day. For example, we want color, but we don’t want cost, so we’re going to be making all of our flowers out of tissue paper:

Paper Wedding Flowers

We want our closest friends and family to be there to give witness to the promise we’ve already made to each other: that we’re sticking it out, through good times and bad, until death do us part. We want to get married, and then we want to party. Maybe we’ll snap some photos in between those two main events, but those are less essential than marrying and partying.

So, as I progress through planning, I’ll be focusing on the essentials. I’ll cut up my own fabric to make napkins (seriously, 55 cents to rent a cloth napkin for a day?) and I’ll spend time with my fiance discussing our future.

For me, planning a minimal wedding means focusing on what the day means and not the circumference of tablecloths and the freshness of the bouquets. A minimal wedding means focusing most of my energy on the person I’ve chosen to spend the rest of my life with.

Trilliant Cut Engagement Ring

What were/are/will be your wedding essentials?