Now that we're a few months into this blog project, we've had requests from readers to share what we think was feasible from each month, what we hated most, and what we've kept doing after the month is over. That seems reasonable. So here are our reflections.
APRIL: What We Learned about Decluttering and Minimal Living
At first the idea of reorganizing the entire house according to someone else's rules seemed ludicrous. Miranda was completely annoyed with the KonMari method of folding all our clothes into certain shapes, while Chuck seemed to love it. Three months later, here's an update:
- WIN: We are still folding all our clothes using the "KonMari" method.
- WIN: We did purge a lot of old clothes and boxes of childhood crap.
- WIN: We think harder before we buy something material.
- WIN: We've officially used up all our tiny shampoos and other toiletries that we had been hoarding for years!
- FAIL: We loved "zenifying" the bedroom with nice smells, sounds, etc. (especially croissants and tea in bed). But we're back to old habits now. There are piles of laundry and it smells like our dog.
- FAIL: We don't think it's realistic to live with only 100 possessions. We didn't think it was possible back in April, we still don't now.
- FAIL: Having only 33 items of clothing is bonkers. We aren't ready to commit to that level of minimalism. Maybe some day.
MAY: What Our D.I.Y. Experiments Taught Us
With a couple Youtube videos, and a good online tutorial, you can do just about anything yourself. However, you really have to evaluate whether it's worth your time to make something from scratch. Some things are worth buying (cough, cough, cornflakes).
- WIN: Miranda is still giving Chuck D.I.Y. haircuts, and she's getting faster every time. It saves money and it's a handy skill to have.
- WIN: We found recipes for all kinds of kitchen 'staples' (bread, ketchup, salad dressings, mayo, mustard) and some indulgences (fancy cocktails with simple syrups, Nilla Wafers). It's nice to know how all those things are made. But it takes a ton of time.
- WIN: It's fun to tackle a big project together and make something that you can proudly display. We love our outdoor shutters!
- FAIL: The tiki-torch planters didn't work. The plants dried out and died. Booooo. If you're going to D.I.Y. something, you have to be prepared for it to fail.
- FAIL: Um, that hottub enclosure is still sitting in pieces in our garage. We still have no idea what to do with it.
JUNE: What We Learned from Cheap Entertainment and Staycation Month
This month was the best! We found so many ways to entertain ourselves without spending a ton of cash. Among our favorites were:
- WIN: Backyard Staycations
- WIN: Game nights with friends
- WIN: Drive-in movies
- WIN: Free festivals around town
More importantly, we don't recommend:
- FAIL: Exercising as "entertainment"
- FAIL: Writing your will (a real suggestion from a post we found)
JULY: What Happen When We Attempted to Reduce Our Impact on the Environment
We tried hard to be environmentally responsible in every way possible. Everything ended up being hot, sweaty, and smelly.
- WIN: We reduced car travel! Chuck is still biking to work, at least until it starts snowing.
- WIN: We cut our electricity bills a little by not running the A/C or using the lights. But the heat made us cranky. And sweaty. (This did not pair well with our plan to reduce water usage by not showering.)
- FAIL: Reducing water usage is hard in the summer time. Not flushing for #1 is kind of gross. Our yard is a shriveled brown mess that makes The Sandlot look lush.
- FAIL: The instructions for our new solar devices said, "Don't place this device in direct sunlight." And it just got worse from there.
AUGUST/SEPTEMBER What We Learned When We Tried to Homestead
Growing your own food is hard. Really hard. Anyone who claims they moved to the country on a whim and started living off the land like a pro is lying to you.
- WIN: A lot of our seeds turned into food! Hooray!
- WIN: We learned a ton about crop rotation, watering patterns, sun/shade balance, and soil acidity.
- WIN: We were pushed out of our comfort zone and tried new recipes, including pickles and jam.
- FAIL: A lot of crops died along the way. Sorry to all the things we killed: little jalapeños, and radishes, and cauliflower, and...the list is really long.
- FAIL: We spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours on the garden, and we didn't grow enough to feed two people. We also racked up a monster water bill.
- FAIL: We were so exhausted after tending the garden every day, we never even attempted to make our own socks or our own soap.