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Living Simply With & Without Episode 16
Sofa

Though I enjoy reading blogs and watching videos about a minimalistic lifestyle I would not say I am a minimalist. To me, a minimalist means to minimize possessions for its own sake (if you are a minimalist and think this is a wrong interpretation please let me know!)

My preferences:

  • I don't accumulate material things for their own sake
  • Material possessions I do have are personally meaningful
  • What I possess tends to contribute to simplifying daily life

Based on these preferences, I think I prefer simplism over minimalism.

This blog contains my thoughts and experiences living according to a simplist philosophy. I call it Living Simply With & Without. While this is based on my experience, perhaps you can get some ideas that encourage you to develop a simplist lifestyle. Everybody is different. I suppose there is no such thing as all ideas fit everyone. Maybe you can find ideas for what you need and what you don’t need - FOR YOU. If my ideas inspire you then I am very happy.

Living Simply Without a Sofa

When I was a child I didn't have a desire for many things. As an adult that hasn't changed. To me, less possessions mean more freedom. For example, it is easier to move and clean. Personally, I prefer not having big pieces of furniture.

As big furniture tends to be heavy, it is harder to move and clean behind and under. Though this doesn't apply to Toronto, there are many earthquakes in Japan. Big furniture can be dangerous if it falls during an earthquake.

The storage space also has room to keep several zabuton when necessary. When people have more guests, they can simply put more zabuton around the table. Therefore they don't need to keep many chairs or big sofas.

Since leaving my parent's house, I haven't owned actual sofas, in Tokyo and Toronto. We kept a sofa bed for a long time and used it as a sofa. It was handy for having guests stay over.

At this moment, we use hammocks. Hammocks can be used for both sitting on and for lying in.

At this moment we use hummocks more like chairs or sofas to lie down and relax. We kept the sofa bed until several months ago. However, there were a lot of dust under the sofa bed, which was not easy to clean often and we started seeing more cockroaches this year than last year (fortunately, some neighbours down the hall on our floor moved out. Since then, there haven't been any more issues re cockroaches). Finally, we decided to get rid of the sofa bed (actually the sofa bed frame), but kept futon.

Now we don’t have any sofas, however we don’t miss it so far.

Good points living without a sofa

  • Don’t have to carry heavy and big stuff when we move
  • Less spots, which correct dust
  • Feel more freedom to movet

Living Simply
by Masayo Laing

Living Simply With & Without Episode 15
Futon Without a Bed Frame

Though I enjoy reading blogs and watching videos about a minimalistic lifestyle I would not say I am a minimalist. To me, a minimalist means to minimize possessions for its own sake (if you are a minimalist and think this is a wrong interpretation please let me know!)

My preferences:

  • I don't accumulate material things for their own sake
  • Material possessions I do have are personally meaningful
  • What I possess tends to contribute to simplifying daily life

Based on these preferences, I think I prefer simplism over minimalism.

This blog contains my thoughts and experiences living according to a simplist philosophy. I call it Living Simply With & Without. While this is based on my experience, perhaps you can get some ideas that encourage you to develop a simplist lifestyle. Everybody is different. I suppose there is no such thing as all ideas fit everyone. Maybe you can find ideas for what you need and what you don’t need - FOR YOU. If my ideas inspire you then I am very happy.

Living Simply With a Futon Without a Bed Frame

A big difference between Western and traditional Asian domestic settings is that Asians typically use designated floor space for sitting, in place of chairs and sofas. One result is that these rooms are often used as multi-purpose rooms.

An example of a multi-purpose room is one that is used as both a living room and a bedroom. This is done by replacing the small cushion ("zabuton") and the lower table with a futon mattress on tatami flooring. Then, to convert the multi-purpose room into a living room or guest room, the futon is stored away behind sliding doors (see photo below, the futon closet is to the left of the flower).

Traditional Korean multi-purpose room
Traditional Korean multi-purpose room
Japanese tatami room
Japanese tatami room

The storage space also has room to keep several zabuton when necessary. When people have more guests, they can simply put more zabuton around the table. Therefore they don't need to keep many chairs or big sofas.

Although most of Asian houses have Western style rooms as well, they tend to have more furniture these days.

When I lived in Japan, I wanted to copy Western styles. I didn't appreciate how Tatami room suits the goal of living simply with less furniture.

So I have started my own experiment for how to create a similar style living in our Western style unit. The first approach was getting rid of the sofa bed frame, and put a futon on the floor. We used the futon as a mattress on top of a sofa bed frame. Even though I liked this sofa bed, it was always collecting dust and it was hard to clean under.

It felt weird at the beginning, as the room looked like a kid's room. I am still working on how to make this room more stylish, but am enjoying the project!

Good points to simplifying futon without a bed frame

  • Living space is more economical
  • Less dust

Living Simply
by Masayo Laing

Living Simply With & Without Episode 14
Beds

Though I enjoy reading blogs and watching videos about a minimalistic lifestyle I would not say I am a minimalist. To me, a minimalist means to minimize possessions for its own sake (if you are a minimalist and think this is a wrong interpretation please let me know!)

My preferences:

  • I don't accumulate material things for their own sake
  • Material possessions I do have are personally meaningful
  • What I possess tends to contribute to simplifying daily life

Based on these preferences, I think I prefer simplism over minimalism.

This blog contains my thoughts and experiences living according to a simplist philosophy. I call it Living Simply With & Without. While this is based on my experience, perhaps you can get some ideas that encourage you to develop a simplist lifestyle. Everybody is different. I suppose there is no such thing as all ideas fit everyone. Maybe you can find ideas for what you need and what you don’t need - FOR YOU. If my ideas inspire you then I am very happy.

Living Simply Without Beds

As I mentioned in Episode 13 HAMMOCK, we don’t have beds. Before switching to hammocks we had a queen size bed. However, indoor hammocks require indoor frames for suspension, which can take up a fair bit of floor space. Our bedroom was not large enough for two hammock stands plus a queen sized bed and frame and so we opted to get rid of the bed. We still kept our futon sofa bed, so we seldom used it as a bed.

Moving always requires a lot of work. Over a short period, we moved a few times, an unusual amount but it was necessary due to some circumstances. It was always a lot of work to move big furniture. Bed frame, bed box, mattress....they were big and we need a lot of space in a moving track.

On top of it, I didn’t like cleaning under the bed. That space always collects a lot of dust, however not easy to reach for cleaning perfectly.

After switching from bed to hammocks moving was less work, though we still carried our sofa bed with us. The sofa bed was handy as we could use it as a guest bed or as a couch for watching movies from.

Unfortunately, I still had a same problem of having to clean under the sofa bed. But, since we liked it, we decided to keep it - until we got our cute cat. He loved going under the sofa bed, like many cats do. It was ok - except when he came out from under: the dust he collected would turn him from black to grey!

Finally, I asked my husband if it was ok to throw away the wooden sofa bed frame. I still kept the futon mattress.

We haven't found any inconvenience without beds so far.

Good points to simplifying beds

  • Moving is easier and lighter
  • Less dust

Living Simply
by Masayo Laing

Living Simply With & Without Episode 13
Hammock

Though I enjoy reading blogs and watching videos about a minimalistic lifestyle I would not say I am a minimalist. To me, a minimalist means to minimize possessions for its own sake (if you are a minimalist and think this is a wrong interpretation please let me know!)

My preferences:

  • I don't accumulate material things for their own sake
  • Material possessions I do have are personally meaningful
  • What I possess tends to contribute to simplifying daily life

Based on these preferences, I think I prefer simplism over minimalism.

This blog contains my thoughts and experiences living according to a simplist philosophy. I call it Living Simply With & Without. While this is based on my experience, perhaps you can get some ideas that encourage you to develop a simplist lifestyle. Everybody is different. I suppose there is no such thing as all ideas fit everyone. Maybe you can find ideas for what you need and what you don’t need - FOR YOU. If my ideas inspire you then I am very happy.

Living Simply With A Hammock

“We don’t have any beds.”

Whenever I tell this to people - that we actually do not have any beds - their typical reaction is shock!, followed by the question “How on earth do you sleep?”

We use hammocks as beds. It was originally my husband's idea. He kept insisting it was quite comfortable for sleeping in, not just for relaxing in backyards or at cottages on hot, summer days.

Perhaps like most people, I had reservations. For example, I thought that it might not be good for lower back. Weren't mattress manufacturers always promoting their firm or orthopedic mattresses as being good for back problems? Plus, I was afraid that if I slept in a hammock I might fall out if I moved!

Then, one day, I couldn't resist trying sleeping in a hammock. It was during the hottest time of summer, and it was particularly hot and humid at night. I was sweating and wasn’t able to sleep. The bed just made it all worse. However, my husband wasn’t sweating which was very unusual because, besides the temperature and humidity, he typically sweated a lot during hot weather, much more than me. I asked him why he wasn't sweating and even seemed quite comfortable! He answered it was perhaps because of the hammock.

My husband explained that hammocks originally come from equatorial cultures - from people who live in areas that are constantly hot and humid. Therefore, they invented the hammock, which is designed to help keep you cool. The hammock does not create pressure points, like how a mattress will. It is like lying on a cloud. Also unlike mattresses hammocks allow for plenty of air circulation all around. In fact, my husband said he couldn't even stand having a light fan blowing on him when he is in the hammock because he would feel cold. And there I was a few feet away in our bed sweating!

So, I decided to try. At the beginning I was a little nervous as I was still afraid of falling out of the hammock if I moved in my sleep. However, it never happened. The hammock was plenty big enough to surround me and support me. My husband also explained that the only reason people move at night when sleeping in a bed is to find relief from the pressure points. The pressure points are created by the mattress and are not a natural part of sleeping. Because hammocks create little to no pressure points one does not move while sleeping in a hammock. Or they move very little.

Most importantly though, I was able to sleep much better in the hammock, even when the room felt very hot and humid.

In addition, when I used a bed, I sometimes had lower back problems when I was sleeping longer hours - such as when I was sick. However, since switching to a hammock, I haven’t had any lower back soreness, even when I am staying in the hammock after deciding to have a lazy off day, reading a book or using a computer for long hours.

Since we started using hammocks indoors, we realized that we can can also use them as sofas, chairs and of course for general means of relaxing. For these reasons indoor hammocks have become a central point to my goal of living simply.

Good points to simplifying a hammock

  • Don’t have lower back problems
  • One item for multi purposes
  • Feel relaxed (I feel sometimes like I am at a resort)
  • More space in rooms

Living Simply
by Masayo Laing

Living Simply With & Without Episode 12
Balance Ball

Though I enjoy reading blogs and watching videos about a minimalistic lifestyle I would not say I am a minimalist. To me, a minimalist means to minimize possessions for its own sake (if you are a minimalist and think this is a wrong interpretation please let me know!)

My preferences:

  • I don't accumulate material things for their own sake
  • Material possessions I do have are personally meaningful
  • What I possess tends to contribute to simplifying daily life

Based on these preferences, I think I prefer simplism over minimalism.

This blog contains my thoughts and experiences living according to a simplist philosophy. I call it Living Simply With & Without. While this is based on my experience, perhaps you can get some ideas that encourage you to develop a simplist lifestyle. Everybody is different. I suppose there is no such thing as all ideas fit everyone. Maybe you can find ideas for what you need and what you don’t need - FOR YOU. If my ideas inspire you then I am very happy.

Living Simply With A Balance Ball

In Episode 4, I mentioned that I prefer those items which lend themselves well for multi-use purposes. Here is an example: using a balance ball for exercises and as a chair.

How did a balance ball get turned into a chair? We have a nice size desk in the corner of the main room, beside the bookshelf. They combine to create a beautiful and functionable work space. It is one of my favorite spaces in our home. We used to have a wooden chair for the desk, however it was broken. While I was looking for a new chair I starting using the balance ball as a temporary solution. Unexpectedly, I found it was so comfortable and actually stable.

I noticed when I was sitting in the desk chair for long hours my lower back would develop stiffness and pain. My bottom was also sore. After using the balance ball for awhile, I noticed I no longer felt stiff or sore after sitting for longer periods. I asked my husband if he was ok to using the balance ball as a chair. He agreed, so we kept it. I don’t remember exactly when we made the switch, however it’s been at least 3 years. We found it’s still very comfortable and, most importantly, it requires a person maintain proper position while sitting.

I love our work place in the corner of the room a lot!

Good points for simplifying a balance ball:

  • Prevent pains commonly associated with sitting for long periods - sore back and bottom
  • Requires practicing good ergonomic and posture habits, creating a stronger core
  • Balance ball is easier to put away and takes up less room than a full-size desk chair
  • Balance ball comes in different colours and sizes

Living Simply
by Masayo Laing

Living Simply With & Without Episode 11
Bookshelves

Though I enjoy reading blogs and watching videos about a minimalistic lifestyle I would not say I am a minimalist. To me, a minimalist means to minimize possessions for its own sake (if you are a minimalist and think this is a wrong interpretation please let me know!)

My preferences:

  • I don't accumulate material things for their own sake
  • Material possessions I do have are personally meaningful
  • What I possess tends to contribute to simplifying daily life

Based on these preferences, I think I prefer simplism over minimalism.

This blog contains my thoughts and experiences living according to a simplist philosophy. I call it Living Simply With & Without. While this is based on my experience, perhaps you can get some ideas that encourage you to develop a simplist lifestyle. Everybody is different. I suppose there is no such thing as all ideas fit everyone. Maybe you can find ideas for what you need and what you don’t need - FOR YOU. If my ideas inspire you then I am very happy. Maybe you can find ideas for what you need and what you don’t need - FOR YOU.

Living Simply With Bookshelves

Ok, this post is from a little different angle. It is still about the simplism lifestyle or philosophy and my experiences, but this is about one time I went too far. This time, rather than be simplist, I became a minimalist. That is, I wanted to throw things out just to get rid of them rather than think about their meaning. It involved a certain bookshelf.

We have a bookshelf. It is a large, wooden bookshelf, around 4 x 6 or 7. Anyway, I was reducing many things at home and one result was our bookshelf was almost empty from all the things I was getting rid of. Only a few things were in the bookshelf which I later realized made it look weird and empty. But at the time I wasn’t able to see how the near empty bookshelf affects the feel of the room it is in. An empty bookshelf makes a room also feel empty, somehow. Incomplete. So, after noticing the bookshelf was almost empty my next move was to get rid of the bookshelf itself.

Then, my husband said to me that he liked it and he would like to use it. I realized that I didn’t consider what he needed. After that, I was able to understand the idea that everyone is different and that we have to respect other people’s preferences as well as our own.

My husband likes reading books. He has reasonable numbers of books and put them in the Bookshelf. It looks beautiful and I like it now.

Good points for simplifying a bookshelf:

  • I was able to understand what my husband needs
  • Make our lives meaningful
  • A full bookshelf is much better than an empty bookshelf
  • Bookshelves should contain books, and not loose papers or magazines or books with cheap covers
  • Bookshelves are not only for books but are handy for printers, laptops and stereos!

Living Simply
by Masayo Laing

Living Simply With & Without Episode 10
Chemical Cleaning Products

Though I enjoy reading blogs and watching videos about a minimalistic lifestyle I would not say I am a minimalist. To me, a minimalist means to minimize possessions for its own sake (if you are a minimalist and think this is a wrong interpretation please let me know!)

My preferences:

  • I don't accumulate material things for their own sake
  • Material possessions I do have are personally meaningful
  • What I possess tends to contribute to simplifying daily life

Based on these preferences, I think I prefer simplism over minimalism.

This blog contains my thoughts and experiences living according to a simplist philosophy. I call it “What I need and What I don’t need". While this is based on my experience, perhaps you can get some ideas that encourage you to develop a simplist lifestyle. Everybody is different. I suppose there is no such thing as all ideas fit everyone. If my ideas inspire you then I am very happy. Maybe you can find ideas for what you need and what you don’t need - FOR YOU.

Living Simply Without Chemical Cleaning Products

I used to have many different cleaning products. For -

  • toilets
  • bathtub
  • mirrors
  • kitchens
  • and so on

All of them contain chemicals, most of which I cannot even pronounce much less know what they are. One day I started replacing these products with cleaners containing only natural ingredients. This project moved forward, bit by bit.

I began it by cleaning mirrors with a solution of vinegar and water, which is a commonly used alternative to off-the-shelf cleaners. It went well. Using the same solution, I started wiping the counter of the bathroom and the counter of the kitchen as well. However, I wasn’t able to clean oil stains completely such as around the stove.

I concluded, at first, that oil removal required the reliance on liquid soaps. But then I had an idea: why not use oil to clean oil? This may sound a little strange and non-intuitive, but it works. You see, as I learned in chemistry class from my university days, oil can dissolve oil. Therefore, oil can be used to remove oil from kitchen surfaces.

I used baking powder to scrub after removed oil by oil, and wiped by a wet cloth for finishing. I tried to use baking soda to scrub very much everywhere, sinks, bathtub, toilet so on. And I also used vinegar in water everywhere.

It’s been about two years since I started the project. Now our home is clean without chemical cleaning products and I don’t find any inconvenience except tiles around the bathtub. I am still trying different experiments to find a good and easy method to clean tiles, but it is a challenging and fun project!

Good points for simplifying chemical cleaning products:

  • Safe for the body and home environment
  • Simplifies clutter removing containers piling up
  • No more need to consider how to store dangerous chemicals from small children and pets
  • Protect local ground water from contamination

Living Simply
by Masayo Laing

Living Simply With & Without Episode 9
Carpeting and Vacuuming

Though I enjoy reading blogs and watching videos about a minimalistic lifestyle I would not say I am a minimalist. To me, a minimalist means to minimize possessions for its own sake (if you are a minimalist and think this is a wrong interpretation please let me know!)

My preferences:

  • I don't accumulate material things for their own sake
  • Material possessions I do have are personally meaningful
  • What I possess tends to contribute to simplifying daily life

Based on these preferences, I think I prefer simplism over minimalism.

This blog contains my thoughts and experiences living according to a simplist philosophy. I call it Living Simply With & Without. While this is based on my experience, perhaps you can get some ideas that encourage you to develop a simplist lifestyle. Everybody is different. I suppose there is no such thing as all ideas fit everyone. Maybe you can find ideas for what you need and what you don’t need - FOR YOU. If my ideas inspire you then I am very happy.

Living Simply Without Carpeting and Vacuuming

I am not a big fan of carpets. Yes, they look nice and feel warm and soft on bare feet. However, they are a lot of work to clean (and I hate cleaning!). Unlike Japanese culture where people remove footwear before entering a room, in North America people often walk across carpets wearing outdoor shoes. Therefore, I never know what is in a carpet. Could be darts or bugs! There are good suggestions available for clean carpets, though some of them are not wallet-friendly - for example, hiring professionals or having carpets steam vacuumed.

Therefore, I prefer hard flooring to carpet. I usually sweep floors and wipe by wet cloth. It’s ok to me and looks pretty clean.

Good points for simplifying carpets & vacuum cleaners:

  • Easy to clean
  • Save time and money

Living Simply
by Masayo Laing

Living Simply With & Without Episode 8
Shampoo and Conditioner

Though I enjoy reading blogs and watching videos about a minimalistic lifestyle I would not say I am a minimalist. To me, a minimalist means to minimize possessions for its own sake (if you are a minimalist and think this is a wrong interpretation please let me know!)

My preferences:

  • I don't accumulate material things for their own sake
  • Material possessions I do have are personally meaningful
  • What I possess tends to contribute to simplifying daily life

Based on these preferences, I think I prefer simplism over minimalism.

This blog contains my thoughts and experiences living according to a simplist philosophy. I call it Living Simply With & Without. While this is based on my experience, perhaps you can get some ideas that encourage you to develop a simplist lifestyle. Everybody is different. I suppose there is no such thing as all ideas fit everyone. Maybe you can find ideas for what you need and what you don’t need - FOR YOU. If my ideas inspire you then I am very happy.

Living Simply Without Shampoos and Conditioners

I used to try different shampoos & conditioners, as I wasn’t able to satisfy my hair condition. My hair was usually too dry or too oily. But like most people, I believed washing my hair required using a shampoo as perfect as possible and that I also needed to add a conditioner, not to mention even more hair products - all to maintain my hair's "natural" moisture. And after all this effort my hair still looked dry.

One day I purchased a bar of soap made by a local, independent manufacturer . She uses only natural ingredients, and what I really like is I know all ingredients that she uses. When I asked her if she makes shampoos as well she smiled and said it’s actually all same and recommended I try this soap bar for my hair.

At first, I was skeptical. Afterall, shampoos and conditioners were supposedly much milder on hair than body soap. Right? Anyway, I used the soap on my hair for two to three months. Amazingly my hair was fine. I just needed to have a little skill how to wash my hair by a soap bar. I also stopped using a hair conditioner during the same time I was using the soap bar. As a result, my hair's health was better than ever! It was no longer dry.

It was amazing. I no longer needed to purchase three or more different products for hair care. On top of it, there are less items cluttering up the precious real estate around the bathtub. It’s easier and less work to keep the bathroom clean.

One thing, which I found a little inconvenient, is that I finish using a soap bar much faster than a liquid soap. Recently I am trying both a soap bar and a liquid soap, though I prefer using a soap bar. I am still doing experiment.

Good points for simplifying shampoo & conditioner:

  • Need only one product for body & hair
  • Hair condition is better than with any shampoo, conditioner, etc
  • Less clutter around the bathtub
  • Less disposable containers to throw out which is better for the environment

Living Simply
by Masayo Laing

Living Simply With & Without Episode 7
Slow Cooker

Though I enjoy reading blogs and watching videos about a minimalistic lifestyle I would not say I am a minimalist. To me, a minimalist means to minimize possessions for its own sake (if you are a minimalist and think this is a wrong interpretation please let me know!)

My preferences:

  • I don't accumulate material things for their own sake
  • Material possessions I do have are personally meaningful
  • What I possess tends to contribute to simplifying daily life

Based on these preferences, I think I prefer simplism over minimalism.

This blog contains my thoughts and experiences living according to a simplist philosophy. I call it Living Simply With & Without. While this is based on my experience, perhaps you can get some ideas that encourage you to develop a simplist lifestyle. Everybody is different. I suppose there is no such thing as all ideas fit everyone. Maybe you can find ideas for what you need and what you don’t need - FOR YOU. If my ideas inspire you then I am very happy.

Living Simply With A Slow Cooker

I have to admit that I don’t really like cleaning. A huge part of my effort in finding items I want goes into finding items that are easy to clean. As a result, we don’t have many electriconic kitchen items. We don’t have a microwave, a rice cooker and so on. We found that we can replace them by using tried and true pots and pans. However, I keep a slow cooker. Today, I am going to explain why.

As my husband has an amazing healthy food diet program, we usually use specific ingredients almost every day. This makes our cooking style simple and easy. One of those ingredients, which he has every day, is beans. We tried cooking them by a cooking pot, which was ok. However, I found that I had to keep checking for long hours which meant I had to stay home. As my work requires me going out often, this was too inconvenient for me. I needed to be able to start the cooking process and have it finish with me not there. Similar to the convenience of a rice cooker.

Though we have always owned a few slow cookers - two small cookers and one extra large - we had been using them only occasionally. One reason was lack of space. Since the microwave and the rice cooker were on our kitchen counter, there was no space to put the slow cookers. To use one required shuffling the other electric utilities around to make space on the counter and then putting it away immediately after use. It required both counter and shelf space. Therefore, the slow cookers tended to sit in the cupboard and I was about to throw some or all of them out.

After getting rid the rice cooker and microwave, we had more space on the counter. I now keep a slow cooker on the counter. Sometimes, kitchen items get forgotten in cupboards and get overlooked. Items you see every day are more likely to get used regularly. Plus you find more different ways to use them.

I tried to cook beans by a slow cooker and it was perfect. I usually cook beans every 2 – 3 days and now I don’t have to stay home.

I decided to keep the slow cooker!

Good points for simplifying a slow cooker:

  • Slow cookers are versatile. There are many great recipes available specifically for slow cooked food
  • Slow cookers have settings that allow for faster, slower cooking times and keeping cooked food warm without overcooking
  • Slow cookers come in pleasant oval shapes which is a nice change from the typical straight lines and right angles in the kitchen

Living Simply
by Masayo Laing

Living Simply With & Without Episode 6
Dish rack

Though I enjoy reading blogs and watching videos about a minimalistic lifestyle I would not say I am a minimalist. To me, a minimalist means to minimize possessions for its own sake (if you are a minimalist and think this is a wrong interpretation please let me know!)

My preferences:

  • I don't accumulate material things for their own sake
  • Material possessions I do have are personally meaningful
  • What I possess tends to contribute to simplifying daily life

Based on these preferences, I think I prefer simplism over minimalism.

This blog contains my thoughts and experiences living according to a simplist philosophy. I call it Living Simply With & Without. While this is based on my experience, perhaps you can get some ideas that encourage you to develop a simplist lifestyle. Everybody is different. I suppose there is no such thing as all ideas fit everyone. Maybe you can find ideas for what you need and what you don’t need - FOR YOU. If my ideas inspire you then I am very happy.

Living Simply Without A Dish rack

In my previous post I described why we don't use a dishwasher. Because we wash dishes by hand we used a dish rack to dry them. However, one thing that always bothered me was cleaning the dish rack. Almost all the time, some dishes were in the dish rack. When I washed a dish rack, I needed to put dishes away first and washed it. In addition, a dish rack itself was always wet, because wet dishes were always there.

Eventually, this led to molds forming in the tray of the dish rack due to the collection of sitting water. Molds tended to develop underneath the corners of the basket that sat on top of the tray where the water collected. It took time to clean the molds and sometimes I didn't catch all of them. (hmmm... maybe a good reason for a dishwasher?)

I tried using a towel in place of the tray, and put dishes on the towel to dry. I figured this would be better for keeping down mold because it was easier to replace towels. It seemed to work ok.

However, one day I found bugs underneath a damp towel that had been left overnight. it was a scary moment to realize that wet towels attract bugs. Though we were able to develop a good habit to wash dishes each time after having meals and put them away in cupboards we discovered we were still finding bugs in the kitchen in the morning. Since we didn't leave food or dirty dishes out overnight we thought this was odd. Finding bugs under the damp towel seemed to answer our questions.

The solution I found to replace the towel was a simple plastic tray, without a dishrack on top. The lack of dishrack is key to this solution. Essentially, I am using the plastic tray like a towel, as something to place the dishes on and also keeps the water contained from leaking across the counter. Without having to move and clean up a dishrack it is much easier to keep the plastic tray clean, dry and mold-free. After the dishes dry and are put away, I can just quickly wipe the tray with a towel and it is clean again. We don’t find any inconvenience without a basket on the tray so far.

Good points for simplifying a dish rack:

  • Helps develop good habits for washing dishes each time immediately after use (no dirty dishes in the sink or on the counter)
  • Which helps keep more kitchen area free and available for use
  • Very easy to clean and dry a tray and much harder for mold and bugs!

Living Simply
by Masayo Laing

Living Simply With & Without Episode 5
Dishwasher

Though I enjoy reading blogs and watching videos about a minimalistic lifestyle I would not say I am a minimalist. To me, a minimalist means to minimize possessions for its own sake (if you are a minimalist and think this is a wrong interpretation please let me know!)

My preferences:

  • I don't accumulate material things for their own sake
  • Material possessions I do have are personally meaningful
  • What I possess tends to contribute to simplifying daily life

Based on these preferences, I think I prefer simplism over minimalism.

This blog contains my thoughts and experiences living according to a simplist philosophy. I call it Living Simply With & Without. While this is based on my experience, perhaps you can get some ideas that encourage you to develop a simplist lifestyle. Everybody is different. I suppose there is no such thing as all ideas fit everyone. Maybe you can find ideas for what you need and what you don’t need - FOR YOU. If my ideas inspire you then I am very happy.

Living Simply Without A Dishwasher

I was born and raised in Japan. When I was growing up not many families owned a dishwasher. People usually washed dishes by hand and dried them in a dish rack. After I came to Canada, I began living in some places which had a dishwasher. This was when I first started using them.

I copied how other people were using them. Most of time, people rinsed dishes first before putting them in a dishwasher. To me, it didn't make sense. Rinsing dishes seemed almost the same as washing dishes. And, according to some research I've done, dishes don't need to be rinsed before being placed in a dishwasher. (if you know why dishes are rinsed please let me know!)

Another aspect about the dishwasher I didn't like was how dirty dishes were sitting in a dishwasher until there were enough number of dirty dishes to use the machine. It just seemed easier and quicker to wash the dishes after using them. The dishwasher seemed to complicate things. On top of all that, it seems like a lot of work actually to clean a dishwasher.

As there is just me and my husband (and a cat) we don’t use that many dishes. It’s pretty easy to wash by hands. We once lived at a place that had a dishwasher but we never used it.

Good points for simplifying a dishwasher:

  • Dishes are always clean
  • I like to keep simple processes simple, even if it requires manual maintenance
  • Technology is supposed to save work, not create work. The dishwasher required rinsing dishes and cleaning the dishwasher. Washing dishes by hand requires simply washing dishes

Living Simply
by Masayo Laing

Living Simply With & Without Episode 4
Coffee Maker

Though I enjoy reading blogs and watching videos about a minimalistic lifestyle I would not say I am a minimalist. To me, a minimalist means to minimize possessions for its own sake (if you are a minimalist and think this is a wrong interpretation please let me know!)

My preferences:

  • I don't accumulate material things for their own sake
  • Material possessions I do have are personally meaningful
  • What I possess tends to contribute to simplifying daily life

Based on these preferences, I think I prefer simplism over minimalism.

This blog contains my thoughts and experiences living according to a simplist philosophy. I call it Living Simply With & Without. While this is based on my experience, perhaps you can get some ideas that encourage you to develop a simplist lifestyle. Everybody is different. I suppose there is no such thing as all ideas fit everyone. Maybe you can find ideas for what you need and what you don’t need - FOR YOU. If my ideas inspire you then I am very happy.

Living Simply With a Coffee Maker

I often prefer multipurpose items. However, a coffee maker does only one thing - making coffee.

My husband and I both enjoy at least a couple of cups of coffee in the morning. We had been buying coffee from local coffee shops in our neighbourhood. They were very close and convenient, so it was easy. Often, though, you tend to want a coffee soon after waking up, when you are still in your pajamas. Getting dressed to go out and get a coffee felt like too much work. We decided to purchase a coffee maker and we use it every day.

My husband has a better taste than me when we need to choose kitchen items. He has chosen a beautiful, stainless coffee maker. I love the design and quality of the machine. And it’s very easy to clean which is very important to me!

I love smelling coffee in the morning, and it’s always fresh.

Good points for simplifying a coffee maker:

  • We can always drink fresh coffee
  • We can always drink fresh coffee
  • We can always drink fresh coffee

Living Simply
by Masayo Laing

Living Simply With & Without Episode 3
Iron Frying Pan

Though I enjoy reading blogs and watching videos about a minimalistic lifestyle I would not say I am a minimalist. To me, a minimalist means to minimize possessions for its own sake (if you are a minimalist and think this is a wrong interpretation please let me know!)

My preferences:

  • I don't accumulate material things for their own sake
  • Material possessions I do have are personally meaningful
  • What I possess tends to contribute to simplifying daily life

Based on these preferences, I think I prefer simplism over minimalism.

This blog contains my thoughts and experiences living according to a simplist philosophy. I call it Living Simply With & Without. While this is based on my experience, perhaps you can get some ideas that encourage you to develop a simplist lifestyle. Everybody is different. I suppose there is no such thing as all ideas fit everyone. Maybe you can find ideas for what you need and what you don’t need - FOR YOU. If my ideas inspire you then I am very happy.

Living Simply With Iron Frying Pans

From Episode 1 and 2, you know we don’t have a microwave and a rice cooker. Now, you might wonder how we warm up food? For example, most rice cookers have a function that keeps the rice warm after it is cooked. We use a small iron frying pan.

Though whatever you use doesn’t have to be made of iron, I prefer it because the surface will never peel off and we can use it with high temperature. If we take care of it properly, we can keep almost forever. A small iron pan is a perfect size for warming up a meal. If we need to warm up more we have a bigger iron frying pan, which is also perfect for cooking up stir-fried meals or making steamed mussels.

Tips how to maintain iron pans

If you are new to using an iron frying pan, it takes a bit of care:

  1. The first time you use your iron frying pan, stir fry any veggies in oil. This makes the oil absorb faster.
  2. After use, wash the pan thoroughly without soap or detergent
  3. After washing and drying, add olive oil to the surface and spread evenly with a paper towel so the entire surface is covered
  4. Repeat steps two and three every time before cooking

The reason for the treatment with oil is that the iron absorbes the oil. Over time, this makes the pan easier to clean and maintain. You may also opt to not wash the pan at all, even with water, and just wipe the surface clean after use, using a paper towel. Experiment and discover which approach you prefer.

Amazingly, what I discovered is that food doesn’t stick to iron pans during cooking after oil is absorbed enough.

One small point of inconvenience was that I found the large iron frying pan too heavy for me to with one hand.

Good points for simplifying frying pans:

  • Iron frying pans distribute heat evenly. As mentioned in an earlier post, I noticed when using a microwave for re-warming food, some areas were too hot while other areas remained unheated
  • Pans can last for many years, if not forever. I like owning sturdy and simple things that don't need to be improved upon or replaced or updated or upgraded. Iron pans have been used for centuries!
  • I love these frying pans! It's good to own things that make me happy!

Living Simply
by Masayo Laing

Living Simply With & Without Episode 2
Rice Cooker

Though I enjoy reading blogs and watching videos about a minimalistic lifestyle I would not say I am a minimalist. To me, a minimalist means to minimize possessions for its own sake (if you are a minimalist and think this is a wrong interpretation please let me know!)

My preferences:

  • I don't accumulate material things for their own sake
  • Material possessions I do have are personally meaningful
  • What I possess tends to contribute to simplifying daily life

Based on these preferences, I think I prefer simplism over minimalism.

This blog contains my thoughts and experiences living according to a simplist philosophy. I call it Living Simply. While this is based on my experience, perhaps you can get some ideas that encourage you to develop a simplist lifestyle. Everybody is different. I suppose there is no such thing as all ideas fit everyone. Maybe you can find ideas for what you need and what you don’t need - FOR YOU. If my ideas inspire you then I am very happy.

Living Simply Without A Rice Cooker

Having immigrated to Canada many years ago I have come to realize many people in North America do not own a rice cooker. However, as my heritage is Japanese, I always used it, as do most Asian cultures. Most of people in Japan have a rice cooker and if you don't it might be inconvenient to eat rice three times a day, every day.

When I came to Canada, I was not able to bring much over, just what fit into two suitcases and a backpack. My relative sent a lot of stuff later, but at first I didn’t have any furniture or kitchen utilities. I therefore started making rice on a stove, using a small pan. It wasn’t bad. I just needed to keep checking rice until it was cooked. Rice cookers are basically more convenient as you can leave the rice in the cooker after it has finished cooking and it will not burn or dry out.

When I started living with my husband he always made rice by steaming it in a pot on the stove. So, we didn’t buy a rice cooker. Once, a person who was moving back to Japan after living with us briefly left us the rice cooker he had used. Soon, we found we had got used to the its convenience, that it could cook and maintain the food in our absence.

Perhaps if one is constantly cooking for a large family and also doesn't have time for watching over rice while it cooks, then a rice cooker would make more sense. But after getting rid of, and not missing, the microwave, we decided to try the same with the rice cooker.

To be honest, at the beginning I missed the convenience of the rice cooker. Then, same as the microwave, after half a year I no longer missed it. Once I got used to making rice on the stove I found it was easier and faster than using a rice cooker.

Good points for simplifying a rice cooker:

  • Making rice on the stove is faster than using a rice cooker
  • There is more space on the kitchen counter, with less clutter of cables and cords
  • Fresh, stove-made rice tastes better (at least to me)

Living Simply
by Masayo Laing

Living Simply With & Without Episode 1
Microwave Oven

Though I enjoy reading blogs and watching videos about a minimalistic lifestyle I would not say I am a minimalist. To me, a minimalist means to minimize possessions for its own sake (if you are a minimalist and think this is a wrong interpretation please let me know!)

My preferences:

  • I don't accumulate material things for their own sake
  • Material possessions I do have are personally meaningful
  • What I possess tends to contribute to simplifying daily life

Based on these preferences, I think I prefer simplism over minimalism.

This blog contains my thoughts and experiences living according to a simplist philosophy. I call it “What I need and What I don’t need". While this is based on my experience, perhaps you can get some ideas that encourage you to develop a simplist lifestyle. Everybody is different. I suppose there is no such thing as all ideas fit everyone. Maybe you can find ideas for what you need and what you don’t need - FOR YOU. If my ideas inspire you then I am very happy.

Living Simply Without A Microwave Oven

I had grown used to owning a microwave. I owned a microwave oven in Japan and even though I hadn't used it much (I used it mainly for warming up a BENTO box purchased from at a convenience store) I immediately obtained a microwave after immigrating to Canada. It just felt for some reason like I needed it.

Years later, with my husband, the microwave which we had owned for ten years, broke down. When I asked my husband if we should replace it he surprised me by answering no. This surprised me since he was the one that used it the most. We agreed not to purchase a new one.

At the time our decision was not based on any philosophy like minimalism. We just decided we were not in any real need or hurry to replace it. After a couple of months of life without a microwave we realized neither one of us were missing it. After one year I could't even remember what it was like having a microwave.

In hindsite, I appreciate my husband’s decision to not jump to replace it, as I did when I moved to Canada. He gave us a trial opportunity not to have it, and it worked out! I think that sometimes that's all that we need to approach life in new ways. Just asking a basic honest question - in this case, do we really use a microwave oven? - and being willing to follow through on what makes the most sense, regardless of habits, trends and the status quo.

Good points for simplifying our microwave oven:

  • No more cleaning inside and around microwave (which I didn’t like)
  • There is more space available on the kitchen counter! Crammed kitchen counters with cables and cords feels stressful.
  • Food actually thaws, reheats and cooks better in a pan or pot on the stove than in a microwave
  • One less thing to have to fix or save receipts and warranty information for

Living Simply
By Masayo Laing