Simplifying my kitchen… not

April’s a simple year theme is cooking. To be honest, this isn’t a big issue for me (yet). I only started having a proper kitchen a year and a half ago, when I finally moved into my own place. Before that, I had been flat-sharing with people who had cookware and cutlery for me to use.

(And when I first moved out in 2008… I survived for an entire year with a single fork, spoon, and bowl. I cringe now when I remember that period of my life. I clearly did not do any cooking outside of the microwave… My excuse: “hey, I was a grad student!” When I had friends stay over, I had to borrow stuff from my roommate.)

Honestly, I still have a lot of space. I estimate I have about 60% of my existing fridge and cupboard space free. And I pretty much use everything regularly, except for:

My cast-iron pan. I’d read up on how amazing these are… but didn’t realise the work that goes into them. The first time I used it, I apparently didn’t season it properly, so my food stuck to the pan. Oh, well. Then I didn’t store it properly and it rusted a bit… I cleaned it last weekend and re-seasoned it.

A pair of ramekins. I bought them after seeing my co-worker with them, thinking it would be an awesome way to prepare a quick meal. Sadly, did not happen for me. I haven’t used them yet!

A loaf pan. I wanted to try making my own bread… then got overwhelmed at the prospect of kneading it. I haven’t used this yet, either!! I’ve been chatting to a friend of mine about making my own bread, and I’ve been making my own pizza dough anyway, so hopefully making my own loaves will be an easy next step.

I’m not really at the “give my unused cookware away” phase yet. I’ve pretty much just been on “cooking for survival” mode the past 8 years, and it’s only now that I finally have my own kitchen that I’ve had the opportunity to experiment! So I’m going to see if I can get more use out of these babies. 😛

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My decluttering Saturday!

So I spent half of my Saturday decluttering. Embarrassingly, this was something I’d built up in my head — I’d been feeling antsy the entire week about the amount of clothing I knew I could donate. Funnily enough, decluttering my clothes (which I imagined would take hours) took a measly 30 minutes. Haha. I think I’ve culled enough from my previous sessions that I didn’t really have much left. (I’ll probably have another sesh after Autumn/Winter to see if any of my seasonal clothes can be donated.)

I also decluttered my shoes, bags, accessories, makeup, fridge, electronics, and toiletries. It was a pretty productive day. 😛

I still feel a pang when I mark stuff for donation, mostly because I hate wasting money. I can still remember making those purchases and I HATE WASTING MONEY! 🙁 (Hopefully, this feeling will remind me to make smarter purchases in the future.) Some of the stuff were gifts, too — they were great items, but they just didn’t suit me. In particular, my mom loves buying clothes for me. Unfortunately, our styles don’t always match. Or, she gets my size wrong… like two sizes too big. (Damn you vanity sizing!) Or the clothes just don’t sit on me properly. Oh, well.

I ended up with several bags ready for the donation bin, and a few for the garbage bin, too. There was stuff like my Kindle (which died a few years ago) and wheat bags which I haven’t used in years because they were too bulky and cumbersome to use, and which I’m a bit scared to use again. There was a bunch of expired food, too… I’ve sadly given myself food poisoning before (haha) so I decided to toss them.

For stuff I’ve been on the fence about, I’ve employed a try before I toss mindset. See, I’m a creature of habit. I’ve worn clothes til they fell apart, then went out to buy the exact same style. So the past couple of weeks, I’ve been wearing clothes that I don’t usually wear, but kept because “they’re super cute and I really should wear them someday!” I decided that “someday” would be that day.

There were a few hits, where I realised that I’d been missing out, so those clothes have graduated to my regular rotation. 😀

Obviously, there were several misses. I wore a skirt, whose print I loved, but it fit me like a sack and I hated wearing it. (As soon as I wash it, it’s going into the donate pile.) There was a pair of nude pumps that I kept around for the longest time. I kept telling myself to save them because — they’re nude pumps! They’re versatile! I might need them for a business meeting! I got as far as the next street when I realised they were painful on my feet and I could barely walk in them. I went back home to change. Maybe someone will have better luck with them…

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Minimalism is not the end goal

I finished reading the Stuffocation book last week and there were a few things that stuck out to me.

The most important is that minimalism isn’t the end goal. Rather, it’s an enabler for the life I want to live. Admittedly, when I first started this journey, my goal was to have the least amount of things possible. I would worry about the clothes that I should/could throw out or donate. I would obsess about the number of shoes I had in my closet.

A lot of the books I’d read focused on the throwing-away part. But this book really stressed the importance of striking a balance. It’s not a contest about having the least amount of stuff — it’s about finding that state where I have enough, but not excess. It shouldn’t be a fixation on decreasing the number of things that I own — which I’ve been guilty of — but the focus should be on spending my time wisely (of which throwing away stuff can be a contributor since it frees up a lot of time… but it shouldn’t be the end goal, see?). After all, what’s the point of having all this free time to myself, only to squander it on mindless online surfing?

The book talked about breaking the hold that stuff has on me. Whether it’s an obsession to accumulate stuff or an obsession to live with the least amount of stuff — it’s still an obsession. I think this is where my new and renewed routines come in — meditating, reading, writing, connecting with people, cooking, exercising…

Another point I liked was that things should be made to last. I’ve used things til they fell apart. I’ve thrown out a lot of clothes and shoes because I’d torn holes in them. (I had one particular pair of jeans… I tore a hole in one knee. I still kept wearing it — I convinced myself it looked fashionable. Haha. Then, I tore the other knee as well. I threw it out soon after that because I noticed the butt area was getting reallllyyy thin and I was probably going to tear a hole in that area next…)

I’ve also gone through phases where I was especially attracted to cute, cheap things, but fortunately that isn’t the case now. None of those items are in my closet now… they’ve fallen apart ages ago.

I keep thinking back to how people used to live decades ago, where people had things that lasted years and years, and didn’t replace them til they fell apart. That’s something I now aspire to.

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Still alive

I went on holiday for 2.5 weeks end of March/early April and I’m still trying to get back into my groove.

I’ve admittedly gone off my morning routine — I didn’t follow it at all when I went on holiday — and I can tell the difference. I’m trying to get back on it, but haven’t been able to wake up earlier. I haven’t checked a simple year or my reflections either. I’ve been blaming jetlag, but I think I’ve sufficiently recovered now, so no more excuses!

I am typing this in a clean apartment (‘cept the bathroom, doing that tomorrow), with two days worth of lunch cooling on the counter before I pop it in the fridge, a load of laundry drying and pillows tumbling in the dryer, so I guess things aren’t so bad. 😛

Random stuff

I don’t think I will ever be a super-minimalist. Most of the books and articles I’ve read and podcasts I’ve listened to stress how minimalism isn’t about having the least amount of stuff. It’s about not having excess. The exact number will vary from person to person. It is fine for me to surround myself with things that make me happy or are useful.

That being said, I still need a major cleaning session. I spend waaaay too much time tidying up, and I still have a lot of things I no longer use. Fortunately, there’s a long weekend coming up, so hopefully I’ll have time to really clean out my place then!

I’ve been trying to read more! Here’s my reading list if anyone’s interested what I’ve been up to. I think I’ve read more books so far than I did the past couple of years, haha. But anyway, I want to get back into reading not only because of the things I learn from the books themselves, but the fact that reading displaces my idle time. My wasted-on-social-media time. My mindless-surfing time.

(This post was really boring. I just wanted to jump start myself and put something up here! This is my getting-back-on-the-wagon-after-falling-off post, just like what I’m trying to do with my daily routine.)

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Travel as a metaphor

This month’s theme for a simple year is travel, which is pretty good timing considering I’m going on a 2.5 week holiday over Easter! Anyway, the writer wrote how travel can be a metaphor for life. How much I choose to pack on my travels reflects how I choose to live my life.

So how do I pack for travel?

OK, so my colleagues will probably laugh at me. I’ve been known to check in luggage for short trips to Melbourne. My reasoning, being:

I hate carry-on luggage. I’d rather carry my purse with me on the plane and have everything else checked in. I don’t want to worry about cramming everything into my carry-on, dragging it around with me at the airport, then struggling to find space in the overhead locker. I’ve already paid for checking in luggage. I might as well make the best use of space. I honestly don’t mind the extra time it takes for me to have to wait for my luggage to come. I prioritise my convenience over that.

I’d rather be over than under prepared. I don’t want to risk not having a fresh piece of underwear. To be fair, if it’s a short trip, I already lay out my outfits for each day so I don’t have to worry about mixing and matching. Also, I like doing other stuff when I’m out. (Vague, I know.) I mean, I like exercising or checking out the hotel pool. So I bring stuff like gym gear or my swimwear in case I have the time to make use of the facilities.

Granted, those are pretty short trips, and they’re mostly to hotels. (I don’t backpack much.) I don’t think I over-pack… I just don’t under-pack. I’m not super efficient at packing and I’m honestly fine with it, considering I’m still within my luggage limits. I don’t want to struggle with laundry or stressing over optimal combinations of tops and bottoms unless I really have to.

So… upcoming 2.5 week trip. I’m already wondering about the best way to pack for this. I definitely think I’ll have to do laundry at some point… hmmm. Challenge is that I’m going to colder climate, so I’ll have to pack my cold weather stuff, too.

So… what does this mean about how I “pack” for my life?

I guess it means I don’t want to be a super minimalist? Haha. I still think there’s room for me to declutter, but I’m not too fussed about having my apartment become really bare. I value convenience over effort, which probably means I’m fine with having slightly more clothes if it means I don’t have to do laundry as often, or something.

But yeah, still figuring this thing out.

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