Posts Tagged ‘simple living’

(This was originally published in error as a separate page two weeks ago.)

Notes along this journey:

I’m not made for the corporate life. I’m just not. Others are. I’m not. It’s a box I don’t fit into. Small organization, yes. Work for myself, yes. Freelance, yes. Just be, yes.

Job searches are so much about trying to fit into the corporate life. It’s a bit disorienting that way. When people ask me what kind of position I’m looking for, I need to figure out a better way to answer, a simple way to say I want to earn enough to support myself by being a writer and a maker and a mentor and a learner and a teacher and a simple living guru and a disciple and a disciple-maker. And not worry if anyone else thinks that sounds irresponsible. I’m very responsible.

I believe I am called to live in such a way that shows another way is possible. A personal way, yet a community-building way. An artisanal way. An intergenerational way. A simple way. An ancient way. A contemplative, spiritual way. A way that supports justice and participates in restoring shalom to our world.

I do not know if in that description there are ways to fully support myself. But if God calls me to it, God will make a way. I have been consumed with how to continue to make a living. After all, paying the bills is pretty necessary in our culture. But it’s had me bound. And that’s a sign of not trusting. I don’t want to be bound. I want to make a life. My life.

I have this vision of a house like Nonnatus House. If you are a fan of Call the Midwife, you know what that means. Maybe not a full blown convent, because maybe it could be co-ed. But a place where people who like each other enough to live together share expenses, thus easing income-pressure for everyone, and share common areas. Share life. Share vision. Share service. Neighbor with their neighbors.

I stand at the crossroads, and I’m looking hard. I ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, because that’s where I long to walk. There I will find rest for my soul. (Jeremiah 6:16)

God wants me to see the path, and I want to see it. So the way will open. On that I’ll rest.


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Potato salad for breakfast? Why not? We order eggs and hash browns all the time when we eat out.

I made potato salad last night, and it was my supper, along with a bowl of blueberries, au naturel. A good portion of both, lest you think I’m wasting away here.

Actually, I’m not eating potato salad again for breakfast, but I thought about it before I remembered the leftover canned pumpkin in my refrigerator that need to get used up. So I made some pumpkin oatmeal various-flours bread, which is in the oven as I write. I can anticipate the potato salad for lunch.

In a pinch, in a hurry, I might buy potato salad from the supermarket deli. But I don’t like it as well. It’s usually too goopy for my taste, more like mayonnaise with some lumps of things in it.

I make potato salad like my grandma and mom made potato salad. No written recipe, which bothered me as a newlywed but doesn’t any more. Eventually you get it.potatoes eggs

Here’s what went into yesterday’s batch:

4 good-sized potatoes that I had found in the produce clearance bin at the supermarket about a week ago. Peeled, chopped into the size pieces I wanted for the salad, boiled in water until tender. More than once I’ve cooked the potatoes too long and they’ve more or less disintegrated when I stirred together the salad. No worries. At a pot luck one time someone asked me for my recipe because they liked that I used “mashed” potatoes. It’s called not setting a timer. Oh, and don’t forget to salt them. I often forget. You can salt  afterward, but it’s a bit less even than salting the potatoes in the water.

4 eggs. These were farmers market eggs, laid by happy hens that get to toddle around a pasture instead of stay squeezed into a cage or pen. The cost of the eggs probably ate up the savings on the potatoes, but well-treated hens matter to me, and the eggs taste better and are better for you, I believe. My grandmother had chickens, and I grew up with farm eggs.

Some sweet onion, chopped up.


Some sweet pickle relish, maybe 1/4 – 1/2 cup, with juice. Grandma would have chopped up sweet pickles she had put up herself from cucumbers she grew in her garden. In my gardening days I would have done the same, but now I just try to find sweet relish that is not made with high fructose corn syrup.

Enough mayonnaise to moisten it all, but not so much that it drowns it. I use olive oil mayo these days.

A healthy squirt of mustard. Yellow, brown, whatever you have. This time I had brown.

Stir this all together in a big bowl. Add more mayo if it’s too dry. Taste it. Add more mustard or salt if you think it needs it. Or more pickle relish juice. It’s your salad.

I like real food. No purist, but I try to eat as close to real food as I can, given the rest of my lifestyle. I like my potato salad. It’s one of those common sense things that got passed down to me, just hanging out with women whom I loved who knew how to do stuff.

I think Mom and Grandma would be okay with eating potato salad for breakfast, too.




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I’m thankful today for:

Spring air and birdsong and the sight of grass again.

Music and space at my house to move around to it. Raises my spirits every time. Why don’t I remember to do this every day?

Ingredients for granola, an oven to make it in, and the snacking all weekend on it. It’s not just for breakfast, you know.

Paint left over from an earlier project in a color that worked for the wall in the guest bedroom that had to be patched. Looks pretty good if I do say so.

God communicating to me through a constellation of scripture and current authors, stirring my heart about justice and mercy, hope in the face of despair. Love and grace win, and I’m entrusted to live that out. Excited to see what all that means in the future.

Rebirth. Refreshing. Awakening. ‘Tis the season. Bring it on.

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I replaced my computer last month. I won’t go in debt for such things, so that plus all the accompanying software and a car repair put a dent in my emergency fund. Over the next few months my goal is to replenish it. Therefore I’ll be even more careful to live simply, frugally.

For instance, when do I really need to buy groceries? How about shopping in my cupboard and fridge/freezer first?

My last trip to the supermarket yielded an 8-lb. bag of locally grown potatoes for $1.50. Usually I don’t use that many potatoes before they grow  sprouts and go soft (baby sprouts I just break off and use the potato anyway), but I’m determined not to waste them this time. So breakfast this morning — a day off so more time to cook — was one potato, shredded and fried in olive oil, with one egg fried in the same skillet. Yummers, and it’s real food. I know for a fact all the ingredients in my breakfast. To drink: OJ and coffee. By the way, regular coffee in a regular drip coffeemaker, black. Pennies, not dollars at a coffee shop.

Being frugal empowers me to move forward rather than being tethered to paying for the past. In fact, if you think about it, simple living is a future-oriented mindset.


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You know you’re thrifty when….

You go to Kohl’s to return a gift and shop with a gift card, and you leave with one sweater from the 80% off rack, marked down another 15%, and the rest of the money left unspent.

You iron the tissue paper you get in gift bags and stash it in your gift wrap box to reuse.

You make your own laundry soap.

You have made crackers — even if you then decided they are not worth the effort or the mess. Hey, you’re not fanatical.

The wardrobe that recently was complimented as classy is composed of things you’ve worn for years, thrift shop and deep clearance rack finds (see above sweater), hand-me-downs from wealthier friends, items you make yourself, and here and there a new piece or accessory.

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I’ve found two more frugal solutions to pesky problems. Wanna hear?

First, mosquitoes seem to love me. And when they bite, I get these hard half-dollar-sized knots that itch insanely, and sometimes a rash even comes a distance away from the bite. I usually douse myself in mosquito repellent when I’m going to be out, but if I forget or miss a spot, they find me and invite all their friends and relations. No, I don’t have a natural mosquito repellent — yet. But what I can tell you is that basil tea is a great natural itch remedy. I grew my own basil a couple of years ago and still have some dried in my cupboard. I boiled about a half cup of water in the microwave, crunched up some basil leaves into it, and left it to steep for a good ten minutes at least, then strained out the leaves and put it in the fridge to chill. A cotton makeup pad dipped in it and smeared on the mass of bite bumps, and relief comes fast. Besides, I like the way it smells. I’m keeping a jar of it in my refrigerator throughout warm weather from now on.

Second, according to home and office organizer Heidi DeCoux, salt and baking soda will open up a slow drain, if the problem is grease and not hair. I tried it in my kitchen sink, and I’m very impressed at how fast and well it worked. This costs pennies instead of whatever one pays for Drano these days, and is much less toxic.

Now about that mosquito repellent: Any natural suggestions? (Citronella makes my eyes water.)

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