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Posted on Sep 30, 2013 in How to simplify, My Journey

Simplify Your Life: Don’t Buy it Yet

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A few weeks back, I did a whole-house cleanup, and cleared out a lot of clutter from closets and cabinets.  I was surprised to find that I had purchased a lot of things that I did not need…yet.  This meant that I had stocked up when I found a great price, only to find after as many as 6 years, that I had not used what I bought.

It’s kind of ironic that I bought these things to save money.  I MIGHT need another pair of hiking boots in the next few years, but more likely, they will sit idle on the shelf.  I might think of someone who would love to have this beautiful vase as a birthday gift.

Looking at the pile of things I am taking to donate, it is clear that these money-saving efforts were such a waste of money.  Buying those pretzels marked 50% off is only a bargain if I eat them before they are stale. Giving the boots away is not a good use of money, but they are of no use to me, and they may be useful to someone else.

This year, I will only buy what I know I will use.  This may be the best bargain ever.

Photo credit: I See Modern Britain
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Posted on Sep 28, 2013 in Menus and Recipes

…but my Mom made it Best

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I spent the weekend last week with some friends who like pie.  Pie is not my favorite dessert to eat, but it is my favorite dessert to make.  This is an ideal situation.  I made mini apple pies with apples fresh from the (neighbor’s) tree.  This is the perfect way to spend a cool-ish fall morning.

I always thought that my Mom was the only one who made cinnamon sugar cookies from leftover crust when she made a pie.  I was wrong about this.  They can be called little red hens, baby pie, piecrust cookies, or whatever you family says. Not only did everyone there remember these from their childhood, but they knew by heart the appropriate amount of cinnamon, sugar, thickness and brown-ness of the cookies.  Somehow, none of these were the same as my own plans.  So, brush them with milk first, add butter, coat them with only cinnamon, take them out when they are still soft.  Do whatever you like with them. You can even make them into raspberry tarts and leave the cinnamon out completely.

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One thing they all had in common was that they never managed to cool off.

 

What do you remember making from pie crust?

 

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Posted on Sep 27, 2013 in How to simplify, Inspiration

Can Consuming More Save the Economy?

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Recently, Narayana Kocherlakota, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, spoke in Michigan about the capacity of the Federal Reserve Bank to improve unemployment.  In this speech, he seems to be reassuring us that monetary policy can improve employment opportunities by increasing our confidence in monetary policy, which will increase the goods and services consumed and increase the number of people employed.

To begin, he argues that while the unemployment rate has declined, a better picture of the number of people are out of work is the employment-to-population ratio.

Here, I’ve plotted the fraction of the population aged 25 to 54 who have a job. This ratio has improved somewhat more from its low point, but also remains lower than at any time between 1986 and 2007.

He proposes that unemployment can be viewed as the persistence of excess labor capacity, that this is a waste, and that changing the demand for goods can be achieved without increasing inflation.

These low levels of inflation tell us that monetary policy can be useful in increasing the rate of improvement in the labor market. Here’s what I mean. At a basic level, monetary stimulus increases the demand for goods among households and firms. This higher demand for goods tends to push upward on both prices and employment. Hence, the downside with using monetary policy to stimulate employment is that, when employment is near its maximum level, further stimulus can lead to unduly high inflation. But the data show …low levels of inflation show that the FOMC has a lot of room to provide much needed stimulus to the labor market.

Here’s how this works:

If households expect their incomes to be low in the future, they will save more and spend less today. If businesses expect low future demand for their products, they will invest less today and hire fewer people today.

This has me thinking. If we tell people that consuming less makes their life better (and I do), are we hurting the economy?

What do you think?

 

Photo credit: yomanimus
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Posted on Sep 25, 2013 in Inspiration, My Journey

Do We Really Need a Bonfire of the Vanities?

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Lately, I have been reading the book “The Simple Life: Plain Living and High Thinking in American Culture” by David Shi. I’ll have a review later, but I ran across a reference in another book about the Bonfire of the Vanities, and event in Florence in 1497 that got me thinking about simplicity and how people encounter it.

The event that lent its name to the 1987 book by Tom Wolfe, occurred during the Italian Renaissance, when a priest, Girolamo Savonarola, organized the burning of objects associated with sin.  The fire was fed by books, musical instruments, cosmetics and works art. According to some, a few Botticelli paintings were burned on that fire.

Apparently, the movement behind this event felt that it was necessary to strongly encourage people to adopt a simpler life without these “vanities”, or objects that incite us to sin.

A similar vein of thought seemed to run through the founders of America.  Many of them felt that all people should live their life without material wealth, as simple pious citizens, close to the land and God.  A few felt that the inhabitants of this new country should be compelled to live this way, with simple clothes, food and homes.  Many of these leaders would fit nicely into the category of minimalist, and they felt that this was the correct lifestyle for everyone.

Now, I came to simplify my own life to focus on the activities and people who are important to me.  Simplifying my life made room for me to choose what I want in my life.  It seems strange to try to tell others to how to live their life, since I associate my own changes with increasing my options, not diminishing them.

What do you think?

Can objects make us behave badly?

Should everyone live this way?

What would the world look like if they did?

Please leave a comment below!

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Posted on Sep 23, 2013 in My Journey

What I Learned Watching the Emmys

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I dont’ watch much TV anymore. When I do, it’s on a DVD on my computer.  It was strange and fun to watch with a group of people so we could comment and critique the choices.  It’s a good thing, or I would not know what was going on.  The awards were all for TV shows.

People are beautiful. Dresses are gorgeous.  Jewels sparkle.

It’s hard to remember that is not what the awards are for.  There is a special camera to showcase the manicure now.  Also the shoes.  I even heard one person tell the interviewer who made her underwear.

There are a lot of commercials on TV.

What is it now, half of the show?  the commercials are different than I remember.  Much more funny, colorful and engaging.  Sometimes, the writing is better than the TV show. They are still selling stuff all the time, though.

People look different on large screen, high definition TV.

More real. Less glamorous. They seem very aware they are on camera, even when they are in the background shots.  I guess it’s like the kiss cam at the baseball game.  When you see you’re on screen, you have to look happy, even if you just lost to someone else.

Also-don’t chew gum on TV.

Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass
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