Weekend Reading

Here are some great blog posts for your weekend reading pleasure:

How to Declutter for Good by Little Green Dot

How I Demoted Money and Promoted Peace of Mind by Value of Simple

8 Things That Make You Happier:  Backed by Research – Time Magazine

Can’t Store Your Stuff, Then You Have Too Much by Two Less Things

Stop Buying in Bulk – Mother Jones

Minimalism Misconceptions – by Be More With Less (not a recent post, but really good!)

Enjoy your weekend!

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A Tall, Cool Glass of Jamaica

I first had this refreshing drink when I visited Tijuana Mexico to pick up my son who had spent two years there doing volunteer work for our church.  We were invited to dinner by the president of the mission where he was working, and we were served the delicious beverage with our meal  At first, I thought maybe it was cranberry juice mixed with something else – it had a similar tart-ness to it – but after inquiring, I learned it was Jamaica. (pronounced ha-mike-ah)

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Jamaica or hibiscus flowers are dried and sold in bulk in plastic bags.  You can find them in almost every corner market in Mexico and in the US in a variety of Latino grocery stores.  Here’s the recipe for making a cool, refreshing drink that is perfect for a hot summer day.

2 c. dried jamaica blossoms
3 c. water
4 c. cold water
sugar (or artificial sweetener) to taste
ice

Place the flowers in 3 cups water and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Boil for about 2 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let rest for 4 hours, or overnight.

Strain the liquid and discard the flowers.  Combine the liquid with the 4 c. cold water and sugar, adjusting to your desired sweetness.  I like mine a little on the tart side, so I don’t add much sweetener.

Pour over ice and enjoy!

Jamaica doesn’t just taste good — it’s good for you as well.  It is rich in antioxidants and can speed up your metabolism, giving you more energy.  It has been shown to maintain fluid levels in your body and lower bad cholesterol too.

Give it a try.  I bet you will like it!

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Jalisco-Style Salmon and Avocado Lettuce Cups

It has been so hot here in Northern California, and I have been searching for ways to eat healthy and keep the kitchen cool at the same time.  We had these for dinner last night and they were amazing.  This recipe is based on a taco recipe by Cooking Classy, with just a few changes due to my Paleo-ish eating style.

Jalisco-Style Salmon and Avocado Lettuce Cups

Ingredients

Salmon
    • 1 1/2 lbs boneless salmon, skinned and sliced into 3 equal portions
    • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, plus more for pan
    • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
    • 1 tsp chili powder
    • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
    • 3/4 tsp onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp paprika
    • 1/2 tsp oregano
    • 1/2 tsp salt, then more to taste
    • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Avocado Salsa
    • 2 medium avocados (ripe but semi-firm), peeled, cored and diced
    • 1/3 cup small diced red onion, run under cool water to remove harsh bite and drain
    • 3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
    • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
    • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For serving
  • 1 head of butter lettuce, separate leaves, wash and dry
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Cotija cheese or 1/2 cup of other soft mexican-style cheese

For salmon, mix all ingredients (except salmon) together to form a paste.  Lightly coat all surfaces of each piece of fish with the paste.  Heat coconut oil in a well-seasoned cast iron pan to medium heat.  Cook salmon pieces for 3-4 minutes on each side or until done – fish flakes easily.

Make salsa by combining all ingredients well.

To serve, place lettuce leaves on plates and top with pieces of salmon, a spoonful of avocado salsa and a bit of cheese.  Then sit back and enjoy!

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Evaluation: June 2015

Recently I discovered a sweet new blogger at Rich as Kings.  I just love the all the posts about gratitude and the simple pleasures of life.  Anna did a post this month called Taking Stock and I thought I would follow her example and do a little evaluating of my life too.  Here’s what I came up with:

Drinking: lots more water.  Summer is in full swing in Northern California and its HOT!
Reading: new blogs:  Rich as Kings, Becoming Minimalist, The Art of Simple, and a good book called, Hurry Less, Worry Less by Judy Christie
Wanting: a new black and white summer skirt
Looking: forward to my summer vacation on the Oregon Coast
Playing: with my dog, Jane
Wasting: time watching YouTube videos.  My guilty pleasure.
Sewing: (Sowing) seeds of minimalism with my family and friends
Wishing: I could retire early
Enjoying: evenings on the back patio
Waiting: to see what will happen next
Liking: a little time by myself
Wondering: why I have a hard time saying “no”.
Loving: my husband more and more each day
Hoping: that my RA will stay under control.
Marveling: at how far I have come in my career.
Needing: just a few more hours everyday.
Smelling: summer rain in the air
Wearing: my hoop earrings with everything!
Following: the prophet
Noticing: how pretty and blue the sky is in contrast to the green trees
Knowing: that everything will be alright.
Thinking: more about being honest
Bookmarking: recipes for cool summer meals
Opening: the back door a million times a day for the dogs.
Feeling: grateful for my family

Do you want to try this too?  Head on over to Anna’s post at RichasKings.com and copy and paste her blank list.

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Minimalist Tag

As some of you may have guessed, I am a budding minimalism enthusiast.  I still have lots to learn, but I have been successful in decluttering a lot of my home and I have been able to simplify my work schedule a little too.  Several of the minimalist and simple living bloggers that I follow have answered the following questions, so I thought I would too — just to give you some more background on why have chosen to live this way.

1. What drew you to minimalism?

In the fall of 2014, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, an auto-immune disease that attacks the joints.  It was a wakeup call of sorts, and prompted me to take a look at my life and my lifestyle and make some changes.  In doing research, (I always do research), I started reading blogs and watching YouTube videos about the minimalist lifestyle.  It struck a cord with me, and I immediately began implementing some of the processes I was learning.   Despite my extended family thinking that this is just a fad, I have no plans to go back to my previous way of life.

2. How did you start the de-cluttering process?

I started with my wardrobe first.  It seemed the easiest, and there were plenty of decluttering how-to’s.  Project 333 was an inspiration as well.  Since then,  I have decluttered and simplified most of our little cottage, and I am now beginning the really difficult process of working on the garage.  Read why this is such a daunting task here.

3. Have you ever counted all your things? If so, how many things do you own?

Nope and I’m not gonna do it.  I do count and keep track of my clothing and accessories, but that’s it.  For me, minimalism is a feeling more than set rules.  If my home feels cluttered, then it’s time to get rid of stuff.  This may change in the next year or two as I have plans to move, but for right now, I’ll just stick with how I feel.

4. What are your tips for dealing with the desire for more?

I like to shop online.  I don’t buy much, but I like to look at stuff.  This satisfies my desire to have the item more than actually buying it would.  I know, it’s strange, but it works for me.  When I actually do need something, I do a ton of research first before I make a purchase.  I also talk to my husband about my plans to purchase anything.  This helps me decide if I even really need it or not.  About half the time, I decide I really don’t need it and I can make do with what I already have.  If I do purchase something, then something else has to leave the house.

5. How do you deal with non-minimalists in your life?

As I mentioned above, some of my extended family believes that this is just a phase I am going through and they have actually made fun of me.  This doesn’t bother me because I know how I feel and how minimizing and simplifying has enriched my life.  Why would I ever want to go back to my cluttered, busy life before?  I try not to push my way of thinking on others, even when I see that they could benefit.  It is a little difficult when my boys come home, since neither one is a minimalist, and their stuff tends to take over our small little house.  I just try to remember that it’s just for a short time and that I love them.

6. Do you have any guilty pleasures where minimalism doesn’t apply?

As far as stuff goes, no.  I mean, there are possessions that I really like — like my computer, cell phone, and camera gear — but I since I use them all the time, I don’t think that actually counts.  Unfortunately, there are parts of my life that I still need to work on.  I am a social media junky.  I love to be on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook quite a bit, and it probably is too much.  So, yeah, that would be my guilt pleasure where minimalism doesn’t apply — but probably should!

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Do You Really Need That?

As budding minimalists, we have been steadily decluttering our home and our lives. Today we cleared out about half of what was on the “work bench” in the garage. Several boxes will go to the thrift store, one box will be saved for the “estate sale” next summer, and we ended up with a dozen bottles and cans of car care products and a complete tool box. Lots of stuff went in the garbage or recycling. The question we kept asking was, “Do you really need that?”

While clearing out the junk, we came upon a box with a bunch of music CD’s (which we don’t use anymore since we have iTunes on the computers and phones). Along with those CD’s there were at lease a dozen or more DVD’s with home movies. Of course, we realized that we hadn’t watched them in a long time, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to throw them out. This was history!

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So the rest of my day is spent re-encoding the videos and uploading them to a private channel on YouTube. That way, we can watch them whenever we want, share then with family, and get rid of these DVD’s that are taking up space in the garage. I found out that, if you are in good standing with YouTube, you can upload movies up to 12 hours in length. No copyrighted stuff here, folks! Just your own stuff.

In keeping with the DVD declutter, I posted a list of most the movie DVD’s we still owned on our family Facebook page and am sharing them with family members. The rest will go to the public library.

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I am feeling really grateful for the digital age we live in now.  All these home movies can be stored on a cloud and retrieved and shared whenever we want and wherever we are.

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“Happiness can not be traveled to, owned, earned, won or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every moment with love, grace & gratitude.”
~ Denis Waitley .

Little Thoughts on Kindness

“When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.” —The 14th Dalai Lama

“We rise by lifting others.”  —Robert Ingersoll

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” -Henry James

“There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity.” -Nathaniel Branden

“Tenderness and kindness are not signs of weakness and despair, but manifestations of strength and resolution.” —Kahlil Gibran

“Kindness can transform someone’s dark moment with a blaze of light. You’ll never know how much your caring matters. Make a difference for another today.” —Amy Leigh Mercree.