Friday, 26 May 2017

My journey to Europe

Mr. Romantic and I went to Europe!

We planned a 16-day trip to visit Paris, London, Bath and Salisbury. I was very excited to go! … and a little nervous… 

My only plane trips until then were the ones Mr. Romantic and I took last year to NYC and back. 

This plane trip from Montreal to Paris was a significantly longer one (7 hours or so). I handled it well.

"So, 16 days… whaddya bring with you, minimalist?” 

I’m glad you asked! Just like with our trip to NYC, I packed light. I only brought what fit in my carry-on, travel belt, and purse.

To prepare for the trip, I read blogs and other articles giving advice on what to wear in the cities we were to visit to blend in and not look like a tourist. It mentioned the type of shoes you should wear. A little boot with a heel and fancier, but casual flats. Finding comfortable shoes is difficult for me. The only pair of shoes I could find that didn’t hurt my feet were dark grey athletic shoes. I was feeling a little self-conscious about wearing them when I left. But if I was to be comfortable and enjoy my trip, the athletic shoe it had to be.

Well you know what? Almost everyone I saw no matter where I went was wearing some kind of athletic shoe. Some of them where quite flashy with neon or metallic colours.

These cities are very much walking cities. It’s hard to be comfortable navigating cobble stoned streets in heels. Heck! It’s hard to be comfortable in heels no matter where you are, period!

In my carry-on:
  1. Black jeans 
  2. Burgundy jeans
  3. Black capris with little white polka-dots (in case it got warm)
  4. Black tank-top 
  5. Blue tank-top
  6. Black t-shirt
  7. Black jersey cardigan
  8. Black wool sweater
  9. Nightgown
  10. Light jacket
  11. 1 bra
  12. 6 panties
  13. 6 pairs of socks
  14. Ballerina flats
  15. Toothbrush and tooth paste
  16. Deodorant
  17. Razor
  18. 4 face cloths (Just in case. I read somewhere that face cloths apparently aren’t common in Europe.)
  19. Scrubba (It’s a clothes washing bag. I’ll be using shampoo from the hotels or dish soap I buy in Europe as laundry detergent.)
  20. Camping elastic cord that I can use as a clothes line
  21. Pain relief medication and other prescription
  22. Bathing suit
In my travel belt:
  1. Passport
  2. Money
  3. Credit and debit cards
In my purse:
  1. Hairbrush, hair-tie and barrette
  2. Lubricating eye drops
  3. Tweezers and compact mirror
  4. Digital camera
  5. Cell phone (although I might keep it in my travel belt)
  6. Sunglasses
  7. Feminine hygiene supplies
  8. Light and compact umbrella
  9. Rag to wipe my sunglasses
  10. Notebook
  11. Pen
  12. Health card
  13. Driver’s license
On the plane, I wore:
  1. Blue jeans
  2. Black ¾-sleve t-shirt
  3. Rain jacket
  4. Comfortable walking shoes
Until the last minute, I was debating bringing mascara, eye-liner, and lipstick. I very rarely wear make-up. If I’d brought these items, I would’ve needed to bring make-up remover. So that would mean 4 extra items (the make-up in my purse and the make-up remover in my carry-on). So I decided against it.
 
For this trip, I bought a carry-on with several security features. Paris is notorious for pick-pockets and thieves. So I didn’t want to take a chance. However, I realized that whatever I had that was valuable, I kept in my purse (which is also equipped with security features). Therefore, the carry-on turned out to be an unnecessary purchase. There was nothing in it that I would have been sad to lose.
 
Speaking of the things in my carry-on, you can’t pack 16 days’ worth of clothing in a carry-on, unless you’re willing to stink, or do a few loads of laundry during your trip. And that’s just what we did. Not stink, but laundry.
 
I tried using my Scrubba for the first wash. I didn’t like the results. And our hotel rooms were too small to efficiently dry hand-washed clothes. Maybe it just takes some getting used to.
 
So we did a total of three washes and spent about 1 hour in the Laundromat each time.
 
The only casualty was when I got a little careless and ruined my wool sweater by putting it in the dryer. I got rid of it because it shrunk so much, it no longer fit me.
 
I must say that I was pretty happy having only a carry-on. I was watching other travelers having to lug around huge bulky luggage. Traveling is tiring enough without adding the extra weight and trouble of multiple suitcases.
 
When I went to NYC, I brought my e-reader. However, I didn’t use it. I didn’t bring it along this time. I figured that if I really want to read, I’d use a phone app.
 
Well turns out that I couldn’t control the screen brightness with the app on my phone. So it was way too bright to read in a dark room. I missed my e-reader.
 
I'm lucky and grateful that I have a Mr. Romantic who likes to plan and take care of logistics. I just get to go along and enjoy the experience.
Everything was beautiful, but Bath was definitely my favourite city. I was utterly charmed by it!
 
Although I loved my trip and was excited to see what I saw, it made me appreciate home.

Friday, 28 April 2017

When a minimalist upsizes her home

Can I still be called a minimalist if I'm contemplating getting a bigger house for my family? I sure think so!

Let me explain...

Back in December 2015, I met Mr. Romantic. We hit it off right away. We had our first date on December 4 and our second on the 5th. We've pretty much been inseparable ever since.

Yep, it was that easy!

My condo lease was coming to an end in August 2016, so I could move if I wanted to. And I wanted to! I was unhappy with the condo. So it was either find a new place to rent, or move in with Mr. Romantic.

Within about 5 months into our relationship, we were basically spending all of our time together anyway. Either in the downtown condo or in his suburban townhouse on the weeks he had his kids.

So after much talk and going through my ultimate should we live together questionnaire, we decided to take the plunge.

We've been living in his three-bedroom townhouse for a little over eight months now. Two adults and three kids. My daughter doesn't have her own bedroom with a door. She's been using the basement family room. It makes for a big bedroom, but it has no door and we need to go through it for laundry. Teenagers need their own space. At least, my teenager does.

So, Mr. Romantic and I have decided to try to find a four-bedroom house.But don't worry, it's not all up-sizing. It's lots of purging too! My favourite!!

Having to move can light a fire under you and make you face your stuff.

We don't ask ourselves "is it still good?" as we decide what to keep. The answer to that question would be yes, more often than not. We normally get rid of our trash, so what's left is in good condition.

We ask ourselves "can we remember the last time we used it?", "do we really want to take it with us and pay to have it moved to the new place?" And if we do have it moved to the new place, "do we really want to try and find a spot for it?".

Most four-bedroom homes in our area that interest us have way more space than we need. Tons of storage space. So I expect that whatever house we find, we'll be leaving many of those storage spaces empty. And I'm perfectly fine with that!

Once the kids are all grown up and in their own homes, we'll downsize again. Maybe back to a smaller downtown condo. Maybe in another part of the country. Maybe in a whole other country.

But for now, this minimalist is upsizing her home.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Constantly and consistently work towards minimalism

I apologize for posting later in the day than I usually do on post day. I changed my mind a few times on what to write. Things have been somewhat hectic lately... 

Many things have changed in my life over the past year:
  • My teenage daughter moved out and moved back in.
  • Then, we moved from downtown Ottawa to the suburbs of Kanata where my daughter and I’ve had to learn to live with more people – Mr. Romantic, his cat, and every other week his two kids. (It had been just the two of us for about 13 years.)
  • My daughter has changed schools three times. Once, because of our move. And the other two times so that she could be in a school and program better suited to her needs and wants.
  • I’ve changed jobs in October. The original work team I joined when I changed jobs in October has since been dismantled and I’m now on another team. (I’m still transitioning.)
  • And this month, I’ve had laser eye surgery. My vision is still adjusting, as is my brain. Thirty years of wearing glasses is not easily forgotten. I still have the reflex of adjusting my glasses, even though they’re not there. Or wanting to put them on or take them off a few times during the day. I wouldn’t say that I miss them, but it’s like my brain isn’t quite sure what to do with all that new found “free time”. 
Anyway, with all this life going on, I feel like I’ve kind of lost my minimalist way. Mr. Romantic and I have purchased a few things in our quest to adjust to our new life together. However, we’ve also let go of many, many, things (like when we went through our combined kitchen gear and got rid of any duplicates, keeping only the best version of any given item).

My default is to go out and buy something to "fix the problem". I have to make an effort to talk myself out of impulse purchases. Even though I want a minimalist home, I have to constantly and consistently work towards it – re-examining my true needs and my unnecessary wants.

We’re still adjusting and trying to figure how to best set up our home. A minimalist's work is never done!