Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: You Can Buy Happiness

There are many things I like about Tammy Strobel's book, You Can Buy Happiness (and it's cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too. Strobel is the creator and author behind the popular blog Rowdy Kittens, and in my mind she's one of the few simplicity bloggers with a big audience who hasn't totally sold out.

First, the book has a light happy tone, which contributes to making it an easy and pleasant read. You won't find any doom and gloom here and it lacks judgement of those of us who live a more typical American lifestyle, which is a major plus in my mind. But the best thing about this book is that Strobel included lots of stories about people who have simplified their lives, in addition to her own, some radically and some much less so.

You Can Buy Happiness did not make me want to run out and move to a tiny home, but that's never been one of my goals. I think this book will be more powerful for those who are new to the idea of simplicity and minimalism, but the personal stories make it interesting even to those who are voracious readers of the genre.

Friday, October 26, 2012

How's a Fragrance Junkie Supposed to Get a Fix?

flickr user: Dennis Wong
Eucalyptus spearmint, pearberry, brown sugar & fig

These are words that fill my heart with glee. Why? Because to me they mean one thing: yummy smells. I love things that smell good.

Plus, when you live with three cats and a boy, well, sometimes there are bad smells that need to be dealt with. And I'm sorry, but opening a window rarely cuts it. Plus, in my neck of the woods that's only a plausible solution about 20% of the time; it's usually too hot or too cold.

But if you've taken, or read about taking, even the smallest steps to free your life from toxic products, then you know that the vague term fragrance is a big, bad no no. It's code for toxic, carcinogenic chemicals.

I made what I consider to be major progress. I weaned myself off my favorite dealer, Bath & Body Works. No more plug-in air fresheners, spray or candles. My lotion is Burt's Bees and my shower gel has natural fragrances. I even stopped buying candles and switched to natural form of fragrance: essential oils. And everything was working pretty well actually.

Then I begin to see the cracks in my plan.

The Burt's Bees and Say Yes products I like (not love) may be 97-98% natural, but they still list the ever vague fragrance. Whhhyyyy?

And then the real kick to the gut. My beloved essential oils, that I've been using in everything from my homemade all-purpose cleaning spray to diffusing, are (may be?) toxic to cats. At least according to some sources. Toxic as in kill them if a drop gets on them. And even having them breathe in the diffused oils can be dangerous.

If you have cats in your home and are an essential oil lover, did you know about this? And if so, what did you do next? Now my choice is between killing the cats quickly with natural oils, killing us all slowly with synthetic fragrances, or dealing with a stinky house? Ugh.

I'm already jonesing to smell something good and it's only been a few days.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Update: The World's Longest Kitchen Reno

Well, I did manage to finish painting the kitchen cabinets (cabinets only, not the doors) during my week off. If you missed my earlier whining, it was six fun-filled days of sanding, scrubbing, scraping and, oh yeah, a little painting. And afterwards I didn't touch a paint brush or piece of sandpaper for nearly three weeks.

I guess I was suffering from DIY overload. Still am really.

I love seeing the bright white cabinets, however. So much better than that hideous midnight blue.

the before
But there's still the issue of all those drawers and doors. Living without them has just proved that I really couldn't live with all open shelving. Seeing all that stuff all the time drives me NUTS.

But apparently not nuts enough to rush the door paint job.

I finally got back on the horse this past weekend and we tackled the trim issue. When I say we, I mean the boyfriend. After a post-work sanding session last night, the doors are almost ready for paint. Just in time for a cold snap. Did I mention the unheated garage is our makeshift paint studio? Maybe I shouldn't have procrastinated quite this long. Sigh.


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