Slow and Steady Can Lead to Big Things

Turtle in the grass

Allow me to introduce Turnip, a beautiful female turtle my son and I are caring for this weekend. Her photo seems fitting for this final day of my six-day experiment to take photographs daily for 15 minutes.

Slow and steady is a concept I’ve learned to embrace. Big projects can be overwhelming, but I’ve discovered that working in small increments can help me make real progress. The key, for me, is to honor those small chunks of time and create space for them in my busy schedule.

How about you? Were you successful in devoting a little time to something meaningful this week? What would you like to focus on next? I always love hearing your comments and thoughts.

Enjoy the weekend and thanks for joining me in this endeavor. Here’s to slow and steady progress on the things that matter, for all of us.

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

P.S. Georgina, a signed copy of The Quinoa Quookbook is headed your way. Congratulations on making time to write in your journal during a busy week.

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of seven books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Let’s Talk About Resistance

face in a tree

Yesterday’s photo – a whimsical tree face

Most of us can identify a handful of activities that make us feel extraordinarily satisfied when we do them. A few on my list include exercising, writing, meditating, spending time with my family, praying, walking, gardening and creating. So why do I so often get to the end of the day and realize I’ve squandered most of my precious minutes on everything but those things?

Resistance comes in many forms. “You have too many important things to get done right now. Maybe you can take a walk later in the day,” that little voice says.

Or: “It’s only fifteen minutes anyway. It won’t really matter if you skip meditating today.”

Or: “What you really need is a weekend away in a quiet cabin. Then you can focus on your novel and do some great writing.”

My friend Diane Sieg—an author, speaker and yoga instructor who is one of the most active and productive people I know—says she talks to her resistance. “I’m not going to listen to you!” she says. “You’re not going to sidetrack me today.” And then she gets busy doing the things that matter.

How about you? Do you ever feel that mysterious pull to ignore those few actions that mean so much? How do you handle resistance? How would you feel if you devoted 15 minutes today to something worthwhile?

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

P.S. Congratulations to Denise at Wisdom From My Parents who won the giveaway of sunscreen from Block Island Organics. Check back again soon for more giveaways.

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of seven books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

A Better Glass of Water

Better glass of water

When I was a kid, our mom did an interesting thing with our water. She filled a pitcher with tap water and left it to sit out overnight, uncovered. In the morning, she covered it and put it in the refrigerator for our drinking water. My brain may be embellishing this memory, but as I recall the water was a pure and delicious for drinking as any bottle of designer spring water today.

These days, I fill a clean glass pitcher with water from our refrigerator’s water filtration system and let it sit out overnight. The filter removes contaminants and impurities (ours claims to even remove pharmaceutical residues), and letting the water sit uncovered for eight hours evaporates any traces of chlorine that might have been added to the water for sanitation. Refrigerating it ensures that we always have good drinking water, and my family loves it. It’s a free, easy way to help us all drink more water.

How about you? Do you filter your water, or do you have to buy bottled water? Do you have good tap water where you live, and have you ever tried this trick?

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of seven books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Eliminate Weeds When They are Small, and Other Thoughts of Spring

Pulling dandelions

It’s the first week of April, and I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m bragging but our front yard is mostly free of dandelions. You heard me right.

We had snow followed by warm temperatures this week, and the ground is nice and soft. So I spent a very pleasant hour in the sunshine, absorbing Vitamin D and pulling dandelions – many of them very small. Of course, dandelion season hasn’t really started and we don’t use chemicals so the battle has just begun. But still. Today, I feel good about myself.

What about the back yard, you ask?

The back yard?

Dandelions

The back yard is a topic for another day, my friends. Because as I was pulling up the small dandelions in front, I was thinking about parallels to my life. Do you do that when you garden—sometimes think deep thoughts? I find that I do.

Deep Thought

So today, as I was pulling up small dandelions I was thinking about the areas of life where I might figuratively “pull weeds” earlier, with positive benefits. Here are some of the ideas I had:

  • Paying off small debts before they accumulate into bigger debts and big problems.
  • Aside from an occasional splurge, not over-eating or drinking too much wine. Weighing myself every day, and making adjustments as necessary.
  • Staying in touch with people I care about, and not letting too much time go by before we connect.
  • Speaking up if something is bothering me, instead of keeping it inside and giving resentment a chance to grow.
  • Setting aside quiet time every day for rest and reflection, so my brain doesn’t get burned out.
  • Asking for forgiveness quickly, and being quicker to forgive others.

How about you? Do you have any figurative weed-pulling strategies? Heck, I’d love to hear your literal weed-pulling strategies, too, since I’ve got that back yard to think about…

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of seven books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

January Money Diet Day 11 – Create Something

Pottery making at Happy Simple Living blog

Photo by BLW Photography

What can you make this month, from materials you already have? Do your thing, whatever that may be.

Take a photograph, paint a watercolor, make a sculpture, create string art, write a poem, draw, make a pair of beaded earrings, bake a chocolate cake, punch a design in a tin can, create a terrarium in a glass jar, make wall art from toilet paper tubes (that’s right), sew an apron, paint a rock, make a video on your iPhone, build a birdfeeder or try something completely new.

If you need inspiration, Pinterest can be a fun place to find ideas. I collect mine on a board called Made by Hand.

If you’re especially creative, you may want to take some time this month to research online venues where you might sell your art to generate extra income, like Etsy, Fine Art America or Red Bubble. Or perhaps your art belongs on a t-shirt or a coffee mug; in that case, check out sites like CafePress and Zazzle.

Today’s Homework Assignment: Unleash your inner Michelangelo and create something this month — and don’t forget to tell us about it.

Enjoy the weekend,

The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of seven books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

January Money Diet Day 3 – Plan Your Meals

Fresh pizza recipe at Happy Simple Living blog

During the January Money Diet we take a break from nonessential spending. Since meals are considered essential, however, we do get to spend money on groceries. But lest we get carried away, this month we’ll challenge ourselves to eat really well while also spending much less. One of the best ways to trim the food budget is to create a meal plan.

I’ll be honest; a typical non-diet month in our household usually includes several restaurant meals and the occasional Chinese take-out dinner. Cooking every meal at home is usually a significant area of savings for us during the January Money Diet, especially if we plan carefully, cook low-cost meals and watch for savings on seasonal items at the store.

If you participated in yesterday’s “Shop At Home” challenge, you likely unearthed some pantry items that you can incorporate in meals this month. Take a few minutes to make an inventory of your other basic ingredients so you can use up food from the freezer and refrigerator this month. For inspiration, you might enjoy checking out the oddly-named but helpful site Recipe Puppy. You simply plug in the ingredients you have on hand, and Recipe Puppy provides recipes that match those ingredients. Woof woof!?

It’s usually more economical to plan meals using the grocery store circular for inspiration, so that you can choose meals utilizing seasonal, lower-priced ingredients. If you don’t receive one in the newspaper or mail, your local store probably posts it online.

I also keep a running list in a small notebook of meals my family especially likes; then, when I’m low on inspiration I can review the list and get some ideas for sure-to-please meals.

To further streamline meals this month, you may want to schedule some of your favorites for certain nights of the week. For instance, Sunday night is homemade pizza night here during the month of January. (Here’s my homemade pizza recipe, including detailed instructions, two crust recipes, a homemade sauce recipe, dozens of topping ideas and lots of photos.) If you make a big batch of pizza dough early in the month and freeze the extra rounds of dough, you’ll have an easy, economical meal half-prepared with very little work or expense.

Soup is another great choice in January, as are slow-cooker meals. To keep things simple, you could, for instance, designate Mondays as casserole night, Tuesdays as stir-fry night, Wednesdays as soup night, Thursdays as pasta night, Fridays as Crock-Pot night, Saturdays as cook-on-the-grill night and Sundays as pizza night – or whatever fits you and your family.

For breakfast, I like to make a big batch of breakfast burritos and put them in the freezer. We also like homemade Greek yogurt (the recipe happens to be Happy Simple Living’s #1 post of all time) and fresh-baked granola.

Some people save money with coupons and online grocery games, while others don’t think the time justifies the payoff. If you’re a whiz at saving with coupons, that’s all the better! Just try to figure out the meals you want to prepare and serve for the next week, take advantage of seasonal foods and specials, stay within your budget, and purchase the groceries. You’ll be way ahead in the challenge to spend less and eat well this month.

Today’s homework assignment: Plan every meal for at least the next 7 days, utilizing what you already have on hand and taking advantage of any good deals at the grocery store. Share a few of the meals you plan to cook in the comments section below, and if you find some amazing deals at the store we want to hear about those, too!

I hope your new year is off to a very good start, and I’m so glad we’re in this together.

Hugs to all of you,

The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of seven books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.