The “Use it Up” principle

african home decor, wall art

I bought this canvas from a flea market. I fell in love with her haunting gaze. Evans is creeped out by it, but she shall linger in my basement no more! I hung her up in the foyer…to scare away annoying solicitors perhaps, and set the kids straight.

Recently, I picked up a quick read of a book from my local thrift store. It’s called, Living Well on One Income; In a Two-Income world, by Cynthia Yates.
We’ve been a one income household for about 4 years now, and I didn’t think there was anymore knowledge I could gain on the subject. But eh…, I gave it a look anyway.

The book was full of sound reasoning and useful tips on how to live well and mindfully while rejecting the new consumerism.

One tip has stayed on my conscience since finishing the book a couple of weeks ago: “Use it Up.”

The simple concept has become a meditative(?) truism for me. Simple, but effective.

How many times have I spent money on something, say, a face cleanser, a household cleaning product (the intoxicating fragrances of these money traps lure me in every time I pass by the cleaning isle in Target), fresh produce, a new book, paint, nail polish…etc… that never gets used up? The half-full bottles take up space in my home and in my subconscious. They idle there until I eventually get rid of it; donate it, or throw it in the trash.

empty paint cans

Half empty paint cans idle away in my garage.

How to store fresh greens kale and basil

Fresh produce now get prepped and frozen before they go bad

picture frames

frames, frames, frames and more frames! In my basement waiting to be repurposed and hung (the girls sprinkled them with easter basket grass)

Every year, I get lured into sexy wrapping paper.

Every year, I get lured into sexy wrapping paper.

Until I read all my unread books, I vow to only check things out of the library, for now.

Until I read all my unread books (I’ve read most of these #noJudgement!), I vow to only check things out of the library, for now.

What the book hammered home was that each thing we have has a dollar sign attached to it. Be it the peach that’s withering away on my counter to the home I live in and love in.  So, If I bought it, I must use it up! (before buying something else, presumably)

This principle can be applied to everything in life; my purchases, my relationships…the present moment.  If I choose to invest in it, I will use it up and give it my all. I will be purposeful with my purchases or, if all else fails, repurpose, in an effort to, as the book suggests, take the “path of least expense.”

In practicing the “Use it Up” principle, I notice that:

  • I value everything I buy more
  • I’ve become selective and discerning about all my purchases
  • I buy things to last, things that are reliable, and that I will get more than one use out of, An example would be in buying clothing.
  • Using things up makes me feel great! Like I’m the most efficient person in the world. It’s zen-like and limits clutter in my home and guilt in my mind
  • I save money
  • Practicing it has cleared up room for other things; I can move on to the next thing on my list. It frees time, money, and space for other endeavors and interests.

Like I said, benignly simple, but mindblowingly effective. Try it! Right now, I have a hankering for yummy, hot, crusty bread, but before I rush to the store, I’ll use up the flour sitting in my pantry, first. See! I saved the money and the toxic ingredients.

Vegan Scones and houseguests

I’m never eating another Panera Bread scone again!

Have u ever had a real scone? I mean one not glazed over with sugar glaze? Straight out of the oven homemade scones taste AMAZING! Even better when they’re vegan.

Vegan cinammon raisin scones

My 4 year old helped me make these cinnamon raisin scones for her (first ever!) guest who came over for a playdate, so presentation and perfect triangles were thrown to the dogs. My house smelled good though.

Ellie and her BFF from preschool, also named Elyse. Ellie’s first non-cousin playdate at our home. They had a blast!

My god! These were yummy! They are from my cherished Joy of Vegan Baking cook book.

yummy scones Ellie purred with delight and savoured each bite of her “scome.” Each bite elicited an adoring “mmm…” “Hunmm” it was funny to watch. Until she caught me capturing the moment. Then I got this:

image 2
I’m keeping up with a challenge I gave myself to stay within budget for food and household items by cooking at home everyday. To say the least this challenge has motivated me to be creative, mindful, and less wasteful.

The best part is we haven’t been to a restaurant in two weeks. I’ve been intentional about each thing I buy, by sticking to the weekly menu I plan out in advance of grocery shopping for the week.

I make sure we eat or repurpose all leftovers as well.

I think I’ve saved about $200 in waste and unnecessary purchases in the last two weeks! Enough to afford myself a facial and a massage from my new favorite local day spa. #noJudgement lol!

Simple Food, Meal Planning, and Food Allergies

A heavy summer storm passed though our neighborhood today. Just before we decided to take a walk, I stepped out the front door and saw beautiful dark clouds. We stayed on the front porch and watched the rain instead.

Ghana trip with kids

Watching rainfall on the front porch in Ghana.

I’ve been crazy organized this week. And I LOVE it! I planned our menu for the week and stuck with it. I haven’t made one impulse run to the grocery store for not. one. thing. Nada. And that makes me happy. You know what makes me even happier? Knowing what’s for dinner at 5 o clock. God, there’s no stress, like the stress of opening up your semi-full fridge and not knowing what the heck you’re feeding everyone for supper. I’m over that. That’s not my portion anymore.

I made spaghetti for dinner; with plain homemade marinara sauce, I make in bulk from scratch. I used it in lasagna earlier this week, for spaghetti today and I’ll use it for homemade pizzas on Friday.

homemade vegan pizza, african vegan

I picked up some fresh tomatoes from the farmers market on Sunday, so we had a fresh tomato salad with homemade croutons as a side salad. The kids ate it (the yummy croutons especially!). I didn’t think they would care for simple fresh tomatoes, but they really enjoyed the dish. I wonder if we adults over complicate things when it comes to the feeding of children. We assume they won’t appreciate the candid taste of fresh produce for what it is. But I find that children prefer the simpler things best.

summer tomato, fresh tomato, tomato plant

I picked up watermelon and fresh farmers’ market peaches as part of plan for this week. I even made a fresh vegan peach cobbler with homemade Vitamix banana ice-cream that got inhaled before I could take pictures. I love summer for the fresh food!

fresh summer fruit

farmers market fresh flowers

Farmers’ Market fresh flowers for Ellie

Speaking of summer, and things that grow, I recently found out that I’m allergic to carrots, peanuts, soy, walnuts, hazelnuts…and all of the grass and trees that grow in my backyard. Lol! After almost 30 years of muddling through seasonal allergies, suffering through bouts of eczema flare-ups (most recently on my FEET!) I finally decided to wrangle some control and dignity out of my unfortunate situation of not being able to wear sandals, and get allergy tested.

Thank GOD, I did! Do you know how much peanut butter I’ve eaten in my short lifetime? Think of all the peanut butter soups, “nkateb3” soups, cassava leaf stews, “plassass,” plain ol’ roasted peanuts, ferro rocher hazelnut chocolates, Cadbury’s fruit and nut chocolate bars, Nutella (oh Nutella!!), tofu scrambles, banana breads covered with walnuts…all the nut dips, veggie sushi rolls loaded with raw carrots, nut spreads, salad dressings with soy, nut oils…

Oh. My. Lord.

Had me feelin’ like this chick right here:

baby in crib

Came across this gem while getting images for this post. I miss baby Olivia.

No wonder my feet refuse to be adorned by pretty jewel-encrusted sandals in the heat of summer. I’m killing myself.

Anyway, I’m glad I know better. Now I can do better.  Besides allergies, and a strong urge to just concrete my backyard, I’ve been well. How are you doing?