The Minimalist Me

A couple of months ago, my friend Vera posted a link on Facebook from The Everyday Minimalist.  As I read through the blog, I became interested in this minimalism thing.  Then I found The MInimalist Mom, and it’s been all downhill from there.  Less kids’ toys? Less clutter? Less to dust? SIGN THIS CHICK UP.  I’m so bad about bringing home all sorts of vintage “treasures” (read: crap that no one else would touch with a 10 foot pole). Some of that is fine, but my God, how many porcelain chickens does one person need?  I have no less than 65 REAL chickens…do I really need a flock of fake ones eyeing me suspiciously from my kitchen shelves, all the while collecting dust? Do I really need items just for ‘decoration’, period?  I loathe dusting my shelves in my living room.  Why do I pack them full of useless crap?  Why am I hanging on to my black dress with the leopard collar whose hemline hits my legs at just the wrong place that I have worn a total of 3 times in the past 11 years? (all to funerals) How many pens does one household need?  I had about 50 pens in my ‘junk’ drawer, and I hated 48 of them.  I’m a super picky pen person. 

Well, I’m happy to report that I no longer even have a junk drawer (seriously), and the pens have mostly been relocated to work, aside from my favorites.  I still have the depressing black dress (for now), and my porcelain chickens are still crowing and pecking from their perch in my kitchen, but I’ve made progress.  Another part of the minimalism ‘thing’ is only buying quality items.  One of the things that really caught my attention was buying well-made clothes. Though I am usually a total Goodwill girl, I do occasionally buy things from Target. Now, we all know that Target usually is pretty cheap, and a lot of their clothes look like a hot mess after you’ve worn and washed them a few times. The fabrics are cheap and pretty junky and I don’t know who designs some of the clothes, but I think they are intended for 2 kinds of people: those who weigh about 85 pounds and those who are shaped like a trapezoid.  At least, that’s how many of the clothes are shaped.  By the way, I’ve never met a person shaped like a trapezoid, but wherever they are, I’m pretty sure they buy their clothes at Target.

Anyhoo, so I really started paying attention to how clothes are made.  I know that in my own closet, I have a pair of jeans (very expensive, supposedly high quality) that look great on the hanger, but when I put them on, they pull to the right.  I don’t have a particularly large right butt cheek, (nor am I trapezoidial (?)) so I know that the cut is ‘off’.  Glad I didn’t pay full price! It’s still irritating that they were touted as top of the line and ‘quality’ when they obviously aren’t. If anyone is out there with a significantly smaller right leg and a size 8, you let me know.  I have a pair of jeans for you.

So, my mantra has been “Minimalism, minimalism” everytime I go to a store.  So far, it’s been working, I am glad to report. Last week, we went to the pinnacle of consumerism: the Galleria Mall in Dallas.  I haven’t been to a mall in years.  Now, the Galleria is a very, very nice and clean mall. Still, I guess I didn’t realize how there is a store for everything.  We went into a flip flop store.  Nothing else, just flip flops.  Cool idea, except the cheapest flip flop was almost 60 dollars, with many of them topping 100 or more. I’m sure that mall rent isn’t cheap. 

Then, we took our youngest to the American Girl store.  Oh, my Lord.  It is a neat store, it really is.  However, the cheapest thing I found was an eight dollar hairbrush.  I starting sweating from the moment we entered the store.  I did buy my girls some 18 inch dolls the other day.  From Target. They were about 25 bucks each.  I call them “Ghetto Girls” (only because they were cheap in comparison to A.G. dolls) True, their hair and their joints aren’t American Girl quality, and their feet are bigger for some reason, but it was hard for me to justify spending an extra 85 bucks per doll for something that may get its fingers chewed off by our dogs. Anyway, my child went running from display to display.  Does your doll need a violin, horse, piano, wheelchair, crutches, braces, VW bug, iron bed, birthday party tea set, allergic food kit with epinephrine shot, ears pierced, or hair styled? Cause they have it ALL.  We even asked about the Bug.  Real rubber wheels and trunk and hood open.  It was 350 dollars.  Yes, that is correct. I think Jason turned a little pale. 

I admit that I love Kit, from the historical dolls section.  She looks like my daughter, and her era (the 40s, I think) is something that I really love.  There is even a canning kit complete with a real enamel canning pot, an enamel colander, canning jars, and little fake tomatoes.  Sigh.  (MINIMALISM, MINIMALISM. WALK AWAY FROM THE DOLL)

I’m happy to report that we walked out with nothing at all.  There was no crying or begging or any silliness when we left the store.  Let’s be honest…I know that the cute little enamel pot will end up buried in the sandbox, the dog will eat the tomatoes (which will end up in the yard…eventually), and I will break my foot stepping on the oh-so-cute faux glass canning jars.  If I’m going to drop 30 bucks on something, it likely won’t be Kit’s canning set.

Then, I went into a Williams-Sonoma store.  Never been in one, but I’ve been wanting to.  This is like the American Girl store for cooking moms (and dads). I drooled over the Peugeot pepper mills (I wiped it up), the Kitchenaid attachments, and All Clad cookware.  I asked about a tomato corer, since I have stabbed my hand no less than 10 times this year coring tomatoes. The salesman handed me one. It was made in France with a wooden handle. It was a very nice corer. It was seventeen dollars.  I waited until he walked into the back room, replaced the corer and got the hell out of there.  I’m sure it would have lasted me the rest of my life, but the Goodwill girl in me was screaming that there has to been a coupon somewhere.  So I, too, walked out of my dream store empty handed.  As I walked back to my family, my daughter excitedly informed me she had ridden the escalator ten times. It was her first escalator experience. Then she told me that she ran back to her daddy because she thought people would think she was an orphan and try to take her home (???) You gotta love some farm kids.

As we walked back to the entrance, I paid close attention to the clothes on display in the store windows. The blogs I have been reading were correct: most clothing is now made of cheap material, bad cuts, too trendy, and just bad overall styling. On most of the clothes, there were already loose buttons, and uncut threads.  In other words, it won’t be a season or two and they’ll likely end up in your thrift store pile.  Hmm. We were probably the only couple in the mall that day that left with nothing, besides the older couples who mall walk for fitness.

My Minimalism Mantra worked! 

I have gotten rid of so much stuff, I’m afraid that my house may appear semi-vacant to observers.  Okay, well not really, but I’m working on that.  Anyone need a flock of porcelain chickens?


Grass: 1, Me: 0

Okay, I give up.  I’m crying ‘Uncle’.  I’m tossing in my chips and hanging up my hat.  The Bermuda grass has won.  It has seeped into, and infected, my entire front yard.  There is no denying it is the dominant vegetative growth out there.  Forget the vegetables and my poor little flowers.  The Bermuda has ruined all of my beds and has choked out many of my plantings.

A couple of weeks ago, Jason was lamenting about the grass.  That’s a really nice way of putting it.  What really happened is that he was having to weedeat the front yard YET AGAIN and lost it.  Or maybe I should say he tossed it, because he threw the weedeater, and I do mean he slung it while screaming obscenities, across the yard.  I can only hope that the muffler burned a few blades of Bermuda grass in retaliation.  It was all about the grass.

Ten minutes later, he came back to the front yard.  I was (YET AGAIN) weeding and wisely had kept my head down and mouth shut during his grass tirade.

J: (loudly) Don’t you think this front yard looks like CRAP?  I mean, REALLY LOOKS LIKE CRAP?

Me: Yep.  (still weeding)

J: I have been weedeating for 25 years and I’m not doing it ANYMORE! NOT ANYMORE! (How I would love to see a photo of him with a weedeater held high above his head with a caption that read: AS GOD AS MY WITNESS, I WILL NEVER WEEDEAT AGAIN”)

Me:  Okay, well, you’re a fix-it type person, so figure out what we need to do.

Jason sits down and thinks for a bit.

J: I think we should scrap the whole yard. Fence, beds,brick path, landscape timbers, gates…everything.

I sigh.

Me: I think you’re right.

It’s a very hard thing to look at all of the work you put into something and realize you have to scrap it. I think about all of the hours of planting, laying the brick path, making the beds, putting up the fence…and weeding. Endless hours of ripping up grass.  I’ll be starting over at Square One, yet again, four years after moving in.  Still, there is also a part of me that is very excited. True, everything we did will pretty much be going down the toilet, but we get to start fresh. With no grass this time.

So, we’ll be tearing out the beds, fence, paths, timbers, arbor, and then using a box blade on the tractor to take it all back to sand.  My front yard is going to look like a sand pit for about 6 months.  I am giving us a 6 month break from our yard.  Well, kind of. I’ll still have to yank out the errant weeds, but at least there will be no need for weedeating, anyway.  I’m not sure Jason could handle that anymore.

We will stockpile the compost in the raised beds and I’ll have the fun and exciting job of picking out every sprig of Bermuda I can find.  FUN TIMES. Then, instead of raised beds, we are going to do direct planting from here on out.  The Bermuda just uses the frames as a hiding spot, and I can’t get it all out.  So no more raised beds for us.

Wish us luck. We’re gonna need it.  But at least there won’t be any more flying weedwhackers on our farm.