Minimalism Update: Finances

Created with Nokia Smart Cam In January of this year (2014), I initiated the plan to minimalize our household. This undertaking was prompted by the hideous filth I encountered while retrieving an item under our bed and subsequently inspired by two books I’d read on recommendation from a good friend (Minimalism: Live A Meaningful Life, by Ryan Nicodemus and Joshua Fields Millburn, and The Simple Guide to A Minimalist Life, by Leo Babauta). In the ten months between initiation and today, I’ve emptied our property of over half its possessions, including furniture, paperwork, clothing, technology, tools, paperwork, photographs, redundant household cleaning products, and just about any other category I can’t think of off the top of my head. The results have been, as I predicted, profound. Order has emerged from chaos, organization from anarchy, workflow from confusion, prosperity from debt, and cleanliness from filth have been only a few of the most obvious benefits. Continue reading

Minimalism Update: Bedroom Makeover and Technology Purge

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Gone...

Gone…

In furthering my mission to minimalize our home, I turned my attention once again to our bedroom and decided to part with my wooden office desk, which I don’t really use much anymore due to the portability of my technology and my desire to work in a room other than our bedroom (the only room it fits into comfortably). After trying to sell it on Craigslist without much luck, I found a friend who wanted it for his new apartment, and who showed his gratitude by bringing over a first class meal to share when he picked it up. In place of the desk setup sits a comfy chair that we can snuggle on with a view of our backyard, along with a second chair (out of view) that Kealii likes to sit on after school each day to catch us up on what’s going on in his life. The final items to go will be our dresser and wooden bed frame (pictured). Created with Nokia Smart CamWe are installing shelving into our closet to hold the clothes currently in our dresser and we’ve both wanted to get rid of the bed frame for years; it’s far too bulky for the dimensions of our room and we’ve broken and/or sprained our toes smashing into it on way too many occasions. Buh-bye! Once those last pieces are gone, we will pull up the white – I use the term “white” loosely – carpet that we had installed 17 years ago and replace it with hardwood to match the rest of the house. The room will also be repainted, with the walls getting a much-needed patching from dozens of pictures being hung and moved in our decade and a half in residence. Continue reading

Resource: Growing Your Greens

John Kohler is passionate about organic gardening, and this description may be a bit lacking. In fact, John is downright obsessed with finding ways to improve his crop yields in his Las Vegas urban farm (he was actually raided by police thinking he was growing marijuana) and his zeal jumps forth from his videos with conviction normally associated with the most ardent religious preachers. That said, we find almost every topic he covers relevant, even if his videos are a bit on the lengthy side, and John will eventually win you over with his sheer earnestness and honesty. Whether you want to start your first container garden, re-mineralize your soil, eliminate pests, or learn the benefits of different types of produce and how to properly compost, this is the resource to visit. So if you have a gardening question, visit him – now!

To visit Growing Your Greens, click here.

A Midsummer Day’s Dream

raised garden bed

Alicia seeds a garden box with carrot seeds before planting other vegetables in-between the rows.

By Ian Denchasy

After a very successful spring and summer planting season, it was time to revisit the “farm” in Our Urban Farm, cleaning out our various planter boxes, moving them to maximum exposure spots throughout our property, and finally dealing with the old backyard lawn we had allowed to die off over the past few months. It was a hard weekend worth of effort, but there’s just something magical about putting in a solid few hours of manual labor that will eventually pay in vegetable currency. Continue reading

This Dream Home Only Cost Them $22,000. Just Wait Til You Go Inside…Wow!

In our quest to minimalize, we are always looking at the future of our living arrangements. As it stands (and once our son moves away to college in three years), we plan to move into our back apartment unit, renting out our main house to effectively eliminate our mortgage and give us the flexibility to travel and live a more stress-free existence. This article on Distractify has us rethinking things…

It only cost the Morrisons $22,000 to build their dream home.

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Continue reading

See How One Couple Squeezes An Entire Farm Onto Their Small Los Angeles Property

By Carolyn Silveira (via Upworthy)

Erik and Kelly decided they’d rather grow their own artichokes than have to work at crummy jobs in order to buy them at the store. So naturally, they turned their urban house into a mini-farm.

I loved this home tour because it’s also a radical reminder of what “home economics” really means. Learn why they actually hate the idea of “self-sufficiency” at 2:00, hear about a time when everyone in L.A. had chickens at 6:00, and check out their exotic milk-crate toilet at 11:00.

Sadness In A Miracle

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Since my last post on our ongoing care situation with Anita Dong-Miller (my mother-in-law), a few radical changes have taken place, some good, some not so good, and even a few downright heartbreaking. To recap, we brought Anita home in November of 2013 to live out her final months in our care as she struggles with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s diseases. Now well into our fifth month of providing round-the-clock diaper changing, administration of medications, feeding, bathing, and exercise, Anita’s radical mood swings finally became too much to handle, resulting in a reduction of said meds and entry into hospice care. Continue reading

How to Grow Green Beans Even If You Have A Brown Thumb (via Treehugger.com)

green beans seedling pole beans         CC BY 3.0 Richard Stephenson

Whether you call them string beans, snap beans, or haricots verts, green beans are a great addition to any backyard garden, and because they’re easy to grow and harvest, they can be a good gateway crop for beginning gardeners. Green beans come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, and two distinctly different growing habits, so they can be grown to suit just about any garden space in most climates. And in addition to being a tasty garden treat, green beans can improve soil fertility by fixing nitrogen with their roots. Continue reading

In Care of… Anita Dong Miller

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By Ian Denchasy

In November of 2013, we made the decision to bring Alicia’s mother home from convalescent care to live on Our Urban Farm. Our main motivation was her doctor’s diagnosis that Anita (her real name) was losing her battle with the triple-headed monster of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and dementia and would soon (within a few months time) turn for the worse and end her stay in this life. Continue reading

2014 Garden Refresh… Time to Thin, Clean, and Replant

With spring suddenly upon us – at least according to theWP_20140301_002 calendar as we really don’t have traditional winters here in Southern California – we decided to combine our minimalistic approach to our outdoor spaces, cleaning out all the old leaves, furniture, and general clutter inhabiting the backyard, area behind our laundry room, patio, and side entrance on the south side of our property. Out went the old plastic lawn chairs, corroded fire pit, and rusty smoker (retrieved by the unseen curbside pickers in the middle of the night), leaving behind only our patio table and matching chairs, chicken coop, and propane BBQ. Our vegetable boxes also remained, but they survived the cut due to both their productivity and attractiveness (and they occupy former lawn space). Continue reading