#MinimalismJune :: The Minimalism Game

Minimalism

So I haven’t talked much about minimalism this month but trust me when I say I am still full speed ahead going at it!

This month, my BFF Jackie and I decided to play the “minimalism game”, where, for every day of the month, you get rid of that number of things.  On day 1 you part with 1 thing, on day 2 you part with 2 things, and so on and so forth.  This month has been VERY interesting for me, because when we started I really didn’t think that I’d make it through the whole month.  But look!

Minimalism June

All that stuff is going to the Vietnam Veterans of America charity organization.

All that stuff – I didn’t even need to pack!  Or store!  Or move!  Argh!

But it’s ok.  I knew when I began this journey that I would be encountering some things that I knew I probably should have parted with when I packed up the old house, but wasn’t in the right mental space to do so.  I honestly think that this game really helps you decide what you can truly part with.  It puts you on the spot.  And if you’re even remotely competitive like I am, you WILL want to finish the game, and gosh darn it, you WILL decide much more easily to part with something!  I can’t tell you how many times I came across something this month that, previously, I was like, “Well I just don’t know about getting rid of this just yet”, but, as a result of this game, found myself thinking, “NOPE TIME FOR YOU TO GO UNWANTED THING, I GOTTA FIND 23 THINGS TO GET RID OF TODAY.”

This month I did focus a lot on my house.  There were some specific spaces inside my house that I knew needed my attention, and I focused there.  I also turned my attention to the barn to finish unpacking the boxes there.  I am proud to say that, FINALLY, TEN MONTHS AFTER MOVING IN, we are fully unpacked.  👏  I am not able to say that we are exactly where I’d hoped we’d be, as far as stuff we kept vs. stuff we got rid of, but, I am learning to make peace with it.  It is 99% my daughter’s stuff.  She was very involved in the unpacking/trashing/donating process, and did a very good job deciding what to let go of – though of course I wish she’d let go of more, but that’s okay.  I think she will get there one day.  I think this month has been a good lesson for her on intentional living.  By the end of the month, she even kind of joined in on the game.  She’d ask me, “How many things do we have to get rid of today?” and would figure out how she could contribute to the count.  🙂

So, even though my daughter was super into it, like I said, she still kept a LOT of stuff that I thought she could part with.  Things she obviously hasn’t needed in a year, hasn’t seen in a year, baby toys, broken toys, puzzles she’s never even opened and is now too old for, etc.  Now that all her stuff is unpacked and into her playroom and bedroom, I think for the rest of the summer, what I’d like to do is pick an area in her playroom or bedroom, and minimize it.  With her help.  We talked about it last night and she’s totally on board.  I told her we could be really lazy about it, we could do a little bit every weekend or skip a weekend, it doesn’t matter.  I offered her a “weekend chores bonus” – I told her that she could pick the area of the rooms that needs some attention, she could decide what stays and what goes, and if we can finish that area of the room then she would get a $2 bonus added to her chore money.  She actually laughed and asked for $20, and then I launched into a bit of a diatribe about why we are doing this in the first place, how it’s about giving, and having less unimportant things so you can focus more on your important things.  She gets it, and I think it helped her to know that her Aunt Jackie and her family are going through the same thing right now.

I really can’t believe that I got through all the boxes in my barn though, AND got through some areas in my house.  When I started this month I really was not sure I would make it to the end, and it WAS touch-and-go there towards the middle of the month before I started digging into my barn.  But alas!  I got rid of OVER 500 items this month, EASILY.  It wouldn’t have been so easy if I didn’t have so much to unpack, but wow!  I think I will do this game again in the fall or towards the end of the year.  It will definitely be more of a challenge!

I also wanted to say that I do think that my actual mindset is starting to change towards a more minimalist one.  For example, we have Amazon Prime, and my husband used to joke that I would order things and the box would come 2 days later and I would forget what I ordered.  It’s only funny because it’s actually true.  Now, in my defense, we HAVE “needed” a lot of stuff for this house.  But, there is some truth in that.  I have been much more mindful of my Amazon spending over the last month or so.  I went to Amazon just 2 days ago to order something for a little BBQ we are having this weekend, and I hadn’t ordered anything in almost a month.  A MONTH!  Previously completely unheard of.  Also, this minimalist way of thinking has creeped into my grocery shopping and menu planning.  My lovely minimalist inspos over at //The Practical Minimalists// mentioned that one of the things they do is have a ‘smorgasbord’ night at home for dinner once in a while.  There is no meal planned, you can just pick whatever you want out of the fridge and cupboards for dinner.  I’ve tried that a couple times this month and it’s not a bad idea!  It certainly makes me think more creatively about what we eat for dinner.  You know, we aren’t going to die if we have onion rings and cous cous and chips and salsa for dinner one night.  Is it ideal?  No.  Is it food blog-worthy?  Certainly not.  But is it helping me clean out my cupboards?  YES.  Is it saving me money on my grocery bill?  ALSO YES.

I am so jazzed about my progress with minimalism and my journey isn’t over yet.  I am actually looking forward to what’s to come and how this journey evolves.  And I highly recommend it for anyone looking to declutter their lives in any way!

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#52NewEats :: Week 26 :: Broccoli Cheese Risotto

Broccoli Cheese Risotto

Since making my very first risotto a few months back and discovering exactly how not hard it was, I have sort of been on a risotto kick.  This is the third one I’ve made, and I can’t wait to try more.  I especially love this one because it’s a good way for me to get broccoli in my system!

Broccoli is my vegetable nemesis.  I don’t mind it, but I honestly could care less for it unless it’s covered in some kind of sauce or baked into a casserole.  We have sauteed it with garlic, roasted it with parmesan, all the healthier ways to eat broccoli, and it’s just, meh.  If I have to eat it that way, I do so begrudgingly.  I am way more inclined to eat it happily if it’s covered in cheese or alfredo sauce though.  😊

Hence, why I really love //this recipe//!!  Broccoli mixed with cheddar cheese risotto means I can eat as much as I want, right?  The first time I made this, I left the florets a little too big, so they took longer to steam to my liking.  But I recently made it for a second time, and had my daughter help me – which she absolutely loved – and cut the florets smaller.  It was all around a little easier to eat, with the small florets matching better with the small grains of rice.  Speaking of my daughter – she LOVES this risotto, but without the broccoli of course.  😂

This recipe is definitely a favorite and has made it into the regular recipe rotation.  Risotto is DEFINITELY weeknight-worthy.  It is NOT that bad.  Especially this one – you can absolutely prep it all ahead of time.  And if you have a kid helping you, you’ll get it done even faster.  I had my daughter stir the risotto (yes I had her do the hard work lol) while I added the stock for her, and chopped and steamed the broccoli, and shredded the cheese.  Thirty minutes or less, easily!

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#12NewTreats :: May :: Unicorn Fudge

Unicorn Fudge

So we are a little late on posting about our May recipe for #12NewTreats… oops!  We totally made this at the end of May and then I blinked and the month of June was gone and July was upon us…

So anyway.  My daughter is all pink and purple and rainbows and unicorns and mermaids these days, so when we were scrolling through Pinterest looking for a dessert to make for May, she stuck her finger onto the screen of my phone to stop the scrolling and said, “WAIT!  STOP!  THAT!  Let’s make that!”  And so //unicorn fudge// it was.

We picked up some special unicorn-y sprinkles for the occasion and used purple food coloring like the picture, which she preferred.  And she helped me make the whole thing – this is a great recipe for kids to help with, because the stovetop isn’t involved, and what kid doesn’t like stirring food coloring into things and watching it change colors, or sprinkle massive amounts of sprinkles onto something?!  She loved this project, and so will you guys.  The fudge itself was a bit too sweet for me (I am not much of a white chocolate fan to begin with), but she loved it, and that’s all that matters.  💕

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#52NewEats :: Week 25 :: Italian Bread Dipping Oil

Italian Bread Dipping Oil

Several years ago, I went to visit my friend Sara in Kansas City with some girlfriends, and we went out to dinner at this Italian place called Garozzo’s.  On the way there, Sara raved about the bread dipping oil.  WAIT TILL YOU DIP YOUR BREAD IN THAT OIL… OMG.  And I chuckled a little, thinking, this restaurant is famous for their bread dipping oil?  Like THAT’S what put them on the map?

But alas, I was eyes-rolled-up-to-heaven when I took my first delectable bite of warm, crusty bread, dipped in that herby, slutty oil.  I have no idea what the secret ingredient was, what made it so amazing, but I can tell you that I have never had anything like it since.  I am pretty sure we ordered extra bowls of it, and more bread, because you know, we foodies and all.

So, one day, I happened upon //this recipe// for Italian Bread Dipping Oil, and I thought HEY THAT LOOKS LIKE THAT STUFF I ATE AT THAT RESTAURANT IN KC.  And you know, I HAD to try it, so, I pinned it and promptly got around to making it about 2,000 years later.  It wasn’t exactly like the heaven in a bowl in KC, but it was pretty darn delicious.  I omitted the cheese here, and I used dried herbs instead of fresh, and I probably went a little heavy-handed on the balsamic bc duh balsamic, and it was very, very tasty.  I would highly recommend whipping this up to go with your baguette at your next pasta dinner.  You probably have all the ingredients on hand anyway!

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#52NewEats :: Week 24 :: Vegetarian Enchilada Skillet

Vegetarian Enchilada Skillet

While I was vegetarian in May, I ate a TON of Mexican recipes.  It wasn’t even really on purpose… okay, maybe subconsciously it was, but… there are just a lot of options out there for vegetarians in Mexican cuisine.  This dish has become one of the ‘keepers’ out of all the new recipes I tried last month!

I was stoked to find this skillet because a) I love skillet meals, can’t beat one dirty pan, and b) I love any opportunity to get sweet potatoes into my diet.  I just learned to love sweet potatoes in maybe the last couple of years #adulting but I still only like them certain ways in certain things.  I don’t eat them with sweet toppings, only savory.  I like them spicy, particularly with smoked paprika, or dipped in //chipotle mayo//.  But I really liked this skillet because the sweet potatoes gave it some heft without making me feel like a slug.  A lot of the vegetarian recipes I ate were so pleasantly filling!

You can find the original recipe //here//.  I tweaked it a little bit and will probably tweak it again next time I make it (next week), by using grain-free tortillas instead of corn tortillas.

🍴  I used Hatch Tex-Mex enchilada sauce and it was soooo yummy.

🍴  I also used 1 cup leftover rice, even though it’s listed as optional – I actually planned it out so that I would make my //Spanish rice// the day prior and set aside 1 cup to have leftover for this dish.

🍴  I did not use mozzarella cheese though (this is Mexican food sacrilege to me, Mozzarella is ITALIAN, if you want white stretchy cheese in Mexican food please use Chihuahua cheese or Monterey Jack cheese!) – I used a mix of Monterey Jack and cheddar.

All in all, a very good dish that I look forward to making again and again!

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#52NewEats :: Week 23 :: Mexican Street Corn Tostadas

Mexican Street Corn Tostadas

These tostadas were quite possibly my most favorite new recipe that I made when we went vegetarian during the month of May.  Oh GOSH these were so good!  Also, as a result of making this, I was inspired to create a delicious corn dip recipe, so stay tuned for that!  I have already made these twice and have no plans to drop them from my regular recipe rotation!

You can find the original recipe //here//, but I did make a couple of tweaks:

🍴  First, instead of using plain mayo, I used some //chipotle mayo// instead.  I had a batch hanging out in my fridge, and when I was making this, I remembered that one of the Mexican restaurants near me makes their street corn side dish with chipotle mayo instead of plain, and I love it.  That simple tweak made this corn concoction so flavorful!

🍴  I used refried black beans instead of refried pinto beans.  I just prefer their flavor, and I love the way corn and black beans taste together.

🍴  I used crumbled queso fresco cheese instead of cotija, as it’s what I had on hand, but either cheese would work!

 

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#52NewEats :: Week 22 :: Slow Cooker Enchilada Quinoa

Slow Cooker Enchilada Quinoa

I found this recipe on Pinterest a while ago while looking for vegetarian meals.  I wasn’t sure how ‘on board’ hubby would be with a vegetarian chili-style meal, so when we decided to go vegetarian for a month back in May, I jumped at the chance to make this!

This recipe was very, very tasty, and very filling!  You will definitely want to add chili-style toppings.  I added diced avocado and cilantro, and that squeeze of fresh lime juice really kicked it up a notch.  And the sour cream?  Oh gosh.  Just stir that in and it turns so creamy and delicious!  I was really happy I put the extra toppings on!

You can find the original recipe //here//, and I didn’t do anything to change it!  It was incredibly easy to make!

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#52NewEats :: Week 21 :: Roasted Tomato Risotto

Roasted Tomato Risotto

Risotto is one of those dishes that intimidates people, and I am not even really sure why.  A few months back, I tried my hand at risotto by making The Pioneer Woman’s //sun-dried tomato risotto//, and it was FABULOUS.  And it was amazingly NOT HARD.

I don’t know if you guys know me?  Or if you’ve ever read this blog before?  But obviously what I love most in this world is slutty food, food that is sinfully creamy and delicious and rich and amazing.  Well, risotto is like, all of those things, so once I learned how to make it I needed to make it become a part of my life.

This was the second risotto I have ever made in my entire life, and I will tell you that it’s really flippin’ easy.  I mean literally, the hardest part is getting all the ingredients ready.  It is NOT HARD to stand at a stove and stir rice until stock is absorbed.  It really is not.

So stop making excuses, and make some risotto.  I highly recommend this one!  You can find the original recipe //here//, and below are some notes about what I did slightly differently.  I do have an idea or two about how I might make a different risotto with some of these methods, so stay tuned to see if that ever pans out.  But this specific risotto is so rich and delicious, and it makes a GREAT office lunch!  Make a batch on a Sunday night and you’re fed for several days!

🍴  So the first thing I did differently was, after I blended the roasted tomatoes and the stock, I strained this mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into the saucepan.  I mainly did this because I don’t have the best blender in the world, so in an effort to get rid of the seeds and un-blitzed tomato skins, I strained it so that it would be more of a stock.

🍴  The other thing I did differently was I omitted the wine, and this is only because I don’t typically have dry white wine in my house, let alone only a little bit of it.  I didn’t add any extra stock at this step or anything.  But I can tell you it was plenty delicious without the wine.

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