Category Archives: Simple Living Wednesday Tips

October 26: Take Your Vacation

Every Wednesday, I’ll (try) to post up a Simple Living Tip, with an emphasis on tips that can be done while living a more traditional 9-to-5 life. 

I’m always amazed when I hear that many Americans don’t take all their vacation time each year, considering the average person gets 2 weeks and even if you get more days off, it’s unlikely to match the average European’s vacation time.  

If you want to enjoy a simpler life even though you’re still working full-time, you have to take your vacation days.  That time off is your golden chance to experience the slower pace of life enjoyed by those who have left the rat race.

I’ve been guilty of not taking my vacation time, too, so I get it.  You’re too busy, you have no money, you can’t coordinate your schedules, your boss doesn’t take vacations, you’re indispensible (BTW, no one is indispensible..), you hate planning, you hate flying, etc…But vacations don’t have to be complicated or even that planned out now that you can find last minute travel deals everywhere.  You can stay local or go hiking or pamper yourself at a day spa.  Or stay home and pretend you’re a pioneer and can your own vegetables.  Whatever.. just take your much deserved vacation time.

Do you take all your vacation days? If not, why?

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October 19: Learn A Few Recipes Really, Really Well

Every Wednesday, I’ll (try) to post up a Simple Living Tip, with an emphasis on tips that can be done while living a more traditional 9-to-5 life. 

Unlike my husband, I’ll never think of cooking as “relaxing” or really enjoyable. However, after years of marriage, I have become more confident in the kitchen and I can make a variety of tasty dishes with minimal effort, even improvising as necessary.   I think that having several go-to “no-cook” dishes has definitely simplify my life.

Here are my go-to dishes when I’m tired, hungry and don’t want to think too much:

  1. Pasta Salad:  Easy to customize and great for lunch the next day, too.
  2. Pasta with tuna (and sometimes capers, olives and parmigiano): Pasta without any red sauce is a life saver when you’re not very inspired.  This one is quick to make; you simply dump in a can of tuna, preferably tuna in olive oil, and mix well. 
  3. A Big Salad: Italians generally don’t eat a salad as the main dish, but my husband and I do this often in the summers.  Open a bag of pre-mixed greens, mix a vinegrette of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and add in toppings such as bell peppers, avocado (a favorite of mine), carrots, tomatoes, sliced ham, artichoke hearts, cubes of cheese, goat cheese etc..
  4. Rice Salad: An Italian summer favorite. See recipe here.  Can also be lunch the next day.
  5. Frittata: I love the versatility of frittata. It’s easy to make and you can mix and match ingredients like onions, spinach, bell peppers, etc.. I prefer to keep the ingredients simple like onion and bell peppers.  Great for dinner or lunch.
  6. Oven-baked rosemary chicken and potatoes: This one takes a little more effort but you can make a big pan of chicken with potatoes for two dinners.  By effort, I mean that you do have to check the chicken and flip it around from time to time.
  7. Stir Fry: Another mix and match recipe. Saute a 3-4 ingredients in a big wok with soy sauce and oil. I generally pick 2 veggies and 1 meat or tofu. Vegetables I like include: bell peppers, mushrooms, bean sprouts, broccoli and bok choy.  Make rice in a rice cooker in the meantime.  You can also use different sauces and spices for variety.
  8. Fajitas: Saute beef (or chicken) with bell peppers, onions and a fajita mix.  Wrap in a tortilla and add hot sauce.

What are your quick and easy go-to recipes? 

I also have the vague feeling that I wrote something similar to this post before but I did not find it going through my blog archives, or it could have been an unfinished post that never saw light of day….

October 12: Too Many Choices!

Every Wednesday, I’ll (try) to post up a Simple Living Tip, with an emphasis on tips that can be done while living a more traditional 9-to-5 life. 

One step I’ve taken to simplify my life is to limit my choices whenever possible.   At night, I lay out my work outfit (clothes, shoes and jewelry) so that I don’t dig through my closet in the mornings.  Although I like stocking up during sales, for certain household goods and groceries, I try to stick to favorite brands or just go generic.  I try to keep my to-do list short and sweet (or at least put the top 3 priority to-do items at top).

Alas, life is not so simple.  I wrestle over many shopping-related choices (see post about buying a planner) and spend way too much time trying to pick the perfect lipstick.

That’s why it was rather eye-opening to read an  article about choice in  Oprah magazine.  I’ve known for years that we’re bombarded with choices in life, from major life decisions to your choice of cereal.  While the article was about making better choices, these same tips could also lead to a simpler life.  I thought I’d share a few of their best tips since I don’t have the link to the original article.

1 ) Identify your goal: Many people make bad decisions because they don’t really know what they want.  For example, a person hates his/her jobs and quits without knowing if 1) hate their field/work itself, 2) hate aspects of their job or 3) hate their bosses/coworkers.   If it’s #1, the person should change careers.  If it’s #2, he/she should stay in their job but work on delegating tasks or taking on more interesting projects.  If it’s #3, he/she should change jobs but stay in the same field.  As you can see, knowing the real reason is crucial for making a good decision.

2) Eliminate Choices: The Oprah article cited cameras as an example. Pick a few features you really want and then ignore the rest. This is a good tip when you buy anything from cars to clothes.  Identify what is really important to you and don’t focus on qualities that don’t matter as much.

3) Don’t worry about finding the best: Some people get into decision paralysis because they want to make sure they bought the best. Sometimes good enough is good enough.  One time I purchased airplane tickets at a very good price.  However, even after making this non-refundable purchase, I continued checking travel sites for plane tickets just in case I saw a better deal, (which I didn’t and couldn’t do anything about anyway).  Luckily I didn’t do this for long before realizing how silly this was!  However, I have to be more conscious of this tendency and be happy with my choices and move on…

4) Don’t sweat the small stuff.  They advise making rules for yourself that you don’t question. Decide on a certain brand of toilet paper and don’t mull over the other choices.  I really need to follow this since I spend too much time looking for good deals and then often end up just  buying from Amazon, Walmart or Target anyway.

Do you think your life would be simpler if you had fewer choices? 

I Forgot..

Every Wednesday, I’ll (try) to post up a Simple Living Tip, with an emphasis on tips that can be done while living a more traditional 9-to-5 life. 

I forgot that I have a blog…thus, I forgot about posting up a simple living tip.

September 28: Recycling Made Simpler

Every Wednesday, I’ll (try) to post up a Simple Living Tip, with an emphasis on tips that can be done while living a more traditional 9-to-5 life. 

With full-time jobs, kids, dogs and no curbside recycling at our house, it was very tempting for us to stop recycling bottles and plastics.  Very tempting.  I really don’t know how come we don’t have curbside recycling ; it should be mandatory! Anyway, the task of storing bottles and then loading these into our car and making an extra trip to the nearest recycling center was becoming just a big headache.  The nearest recycling center was located near a Ralphs supermarket but not the one closest to us.  So we had plenty of excuses to pollute the planet with empty beer bottles and plastics.

Luckily we came up with a solution that simplifies our life while helping others.  We let someone else haul away our recyclables (and they keep the recycling “income”)

Okay, this might not be revolutionary to my smarter readers but it was a perfect solution for us.  We made arrangements with someone to take away our recyclable bottles every 2 weeks or so.  They get the much-needed extra cash and we don’t have any green guilt nor too many piles of bottles.  You can find someone via Craigslist or ask around your neighborhood. You never know who can use that extra money.

At work, I give my empty plastic water bottles to the janitor after I realized that he was taking these out of the trash for recycling.  (I actually don’t drink much soda or bottled water so this isn’t too much help for him but I know he gets bottles/cans from several other employees).

Note for paranoid big city dwellers: You don’t want to advertise when you’re out of town so you should use caution.  If you can set bottles outside your fenced area, that person can come and go without knowing whether you’re home or not. Or just be smart and say you’re too busy to let them pick up if you’re out of town.

Do you recycle? Is it a simple process or extra chore?

September 21: Here’s To A Complicated Youth

Every Wednesday, I’ll (try) to post up a Simple Living Tip, with an emphasis on tips that can be done while living a more traditional 9-to-5 life. 

I wonder if there’s a certain age when people gravitate toward simpler things in life.  While there are certainly many young people who are  mature and goal-oriented, even to the point of seeming “wiser than their years”, most simple-life seekers seem older. I even know  Type A go-getters who crave a simpler life as they hit their 30s or 40s.  It may not even be the age but where the person is in life (married or not, children or not, property owners or not, secured job/career or not etc..).

Anyway as I mulled over this, I started thinking that it’s okay, even better, to have a messy, complicated youth — where you date the “wrong” people, don’t plan your vacations well, waste too much time with frenemies,  and even make money mistakes.  Youth is the time to explore and take the harder road sometimes.  Even if an “older, wiser” person suggests an easier path, many people need to learn the hard way and with first-hand experiences. 

Travel is one of the first things that comes to my mind.  I wasn’t the best travel planner and I did not do guided tours.   Instead I wasted time getting lost, figuring out sights to see once I got there, and made detours.    I look back and think I should have read better guidebooks and planned better but maybe I needed complications back then.

So I guess this is sort of an ode to dumb youthful mistakes and taking the roundabout route instead of the simpler straightforward path, until you get older and it’s not so fun anymore!

Feel free to share your youthful mistakes!

September 14: Unfinished Posts

Every Wednesday, I’ll (try) to post up a Simple Living Tip, with an emphasis on tips that can be done while living a more traditional 9-to-5 life. 

This week, I’m listing some unfinished, never to be finished (?) posts.  How does this simplify your life? It doesn’t, but it simplifies my life. Ha!

I had scheduled a post about Amazon.com but who really needs to read my opinion on this mega-retailer? We all know about it.  Some parents may want to take a look at their Amazon Mom program. Nothing saves your sanity during the first few sleep-deprived months than scheduled delivery of diapers and wipes (at very good prices).

I started tracking how much “extra” money I earned via Ebates ($44 and counting).  I should have started using them years ago as I’m quite a big online shopper. Oh well…

I had started a rant about stupid baby names. I’m talking about you Jayden, Beckett, Asher, Madison, etc..  People, let’s all agre to stop bending over backwards to give them a “unique” name and stop spelling normal names in weird ways, please….

I started a post about Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP. Then I read a few posts and liked some of it, although she obviously has a team of experts.  I also read through her newsletter with an insider look at the Venice Film Festival.  Hair, make-up, paparazzi, delicious foods, Matt Damon, exclusive parties, etc..  At one point, she goes to a jewelry shop and says that she “needs a sugardaddy”…Really? Gwyneth who hails from a wealthy Hollywood family, made millions in movies and is married to a rock star needs a sugardaddy…. at that point, I realized yet again that she lives in a freaking rich girl’s bubble. 

I also started a post about guilt.  To summarize, leave that guilty feeling for murderers and criminals.

Do you have a lot of unfinished posts?