One of the greatest things about simplifying your lifestyle is less stress and having more time for the things you care about. In my case, I now have the choice to either get up when my alarm goes off in the morning for a slower morning routine or to caress the snooze button a couple of times and be out the door in under ten minutes of when I do get up.
Obviously, if you have a job where a perfectly polished appearance is required, you won’t be able to do this. I am extremely grateful to have a job with a more casual dress code and where you could probably even get away with a vicious cowlick without any snarky comments.
My morning routine…
I give my face a quick scrub with a wet washcloth. For this purpose, the slight abrasiveness cleans as well as soap (better actually since it doesn’t dry out my skin). And after years of feeling ashamed of going out without at least a bit of foundation, I’ve finally grown comfortable with my own skin instead taking time every morning to apply product all over my face.
Clothing takes only a moment to throw on. My shirts are sorted on the closet rod based on how recently they’ve been worn, so it’s easy to quickly grab the next shirt due. (If I find myself wanting to skip a shirt more than once, that’s a pretty good sign that it should be passed on to someone else.) Then I just have to grab one of three pairs of jeans as well as one of three pairs of shoes to go with it. There are few requirements for matching outfits, other than that one of my pairs of jeans is slightly longer and works best with the sneakers which are taller than the other shoes.
My weekly hair washing is on the weekend. On a work morning, all it takes is a few quick swipes with the brush, and done! On the same note, I almost never take a morning shower. Even during the summer when I can use a shower more frequently, I’ll usually do that in the evening as soon as I get in from the evening.
This leaves plenty of time in those ten minutes to use the bathroom, brush my teeth if I want, check emails or the weather forecast, etc.
When it’s time to go I’ll give my husband a kiss goodbye. He’s still in bed when I leave the house (great for me because it means uninterrupted access to the bathroom).
Finally, I grab my backpack, wallet, keys, phone, and lunch bag or snacks if I have anything prepared. And that’s it. I’m out the door and can read or listen to music during the short bus ride to work. It’s a super-low-stress way to start my day and incredibly freeing. My only complaint is not learning about this sooner.
There have already been several days in the 80s this year, so you know it’ll be just moments before the unbearable heat of summer hits us here in central Texas. March may be the best time to be out in the garden, so here’s a quick pictorial of what’s in my Austin backyard garden right now. Apologies for an exceptional amount of blur on some of the photos. The mosquitoes are already out, and I had to keep moving to keep them away.
Some of the swiss chard that I planted a month ago in unamended soil has finally sprouted. We’ll see how well that grows.
One of my coworkers shared some extra beans. I soaked them overnight before planting and they started sprouting within a few days. Beans seem to grow so well here in Austin, and I’m looking forward to getting my cowpeas in the ground soon.
A couple more spinach plants are starting to come up. These have grown way more slowly than I expected, though, and I’ve only had a few leaves most weeks. Next year I’ll try planting more.
The garlic looks pretty healthy. I have about 20 of these scattered around the garden.
Radishes haven’t turned out that great for me previously, so I’ve gotten lazy recently and just scattered seed on top of the soil. Still, there are some nice little plants forming which I can either use for radish greens or let them go to seed. I read you need quite a few radish plants for them to be pollinated correctly, so I may just let the radish bunches all go to seed.
The one broccoli plant that grew has already bolted without producing any florets. Next season I’ll try collard greens instead since I’ve seen those grow well in other gardens in the area.
You can just make the edges of carrot fronds in these pics. The number is really disappointing considering I scattered three packets of carrot seeds this year. Next season will require some strategy because I love carrots.
I only have a handful of onion plants that grew from seed (planted in October), but I have confidence that these are the toughest ones and they’ll grow into delicious onions.
Most of the onion transplants that I bought last month are doing alright. This picture is from a few days ago. I actually did weed and mulch a bit around them today. I just hope the rain stops knocking them over before they can put out some better roots.
The fava beans have grown tall and have sweet white flowers on them. They’ve been covered with unidentified tiny dark insects much of the time, but then ladybugs came and enjoyed chowing down so I left them as is.
The cilantro is doing well. If I actually liked cilantro (it tastes like soap!) I’d be using it already, unlike almost everything else in the garden. I will pick a bit for my husband to enjoy, but really I’m growing it for the (coriander) seeds which is great seasoning for soups, pasta sauce, and many other things.
Also of note is the garlic chives, which didn’t grow anywhere I planted them in my garden but did grow from the few seeds I scattered in the side yard by the creek. If they survive until the fall, I’ll transplant a few for convenience.
Also not pictured is the cherry tomato plant–the one tomato plant I grew that hasn’t died on me while still a seedling. The plant is still fairly small though, and the tomato I took the seeds from was possibly a hybrid so there’s no telling how it will produce.
Indoors the only plants alive at the moment are a couple of eggplant sprouts, a couple of bell pepper sprouts, and a few tomato sprouts that just this afternoon poked up from the dirt.
I’m tired of seeing seedlings die but may get some more Roma tomato seeds anyway as I really want to make and freeze some more tomato paste this year.
The Mexican Mint Marigold is coming back to life after its winter slumber. This area also got the weeding and mulching treatment today so it looks a bit better than this now.
The Mexican Honeysuckle looks almost exactly like it looked when I planted it a month ago. I was hoping it would grow into a small shrub. Maybe as the weather continues to get warmer.
Not pictured are the spearmint, a couple of rosemary plants, oregano, a couple of salvias, and a lavender. My trials of santolini, dichondra, and sedum also aren’t pictured because they still look exactly like they did when planted recently. Grow, plants, grow, come on!
In sad news, the lemon balm didn’t survive my attempt to keep it as a houseplant. The chile pequin and lemon verbena which I planted late last year also appear not to have survived the winter, but I’ll keep checking.
The esperanza that I recently bought and planted is also not yet showing signs of life, while other estabilished esperanza plants in the neighborhood have. Hoping mine is just still putting down roots and will give some green soon.
This year has been a big one for fruit trees. I’ve acquired a persimmon tree, which is still dormant and still looks like just a stick in the ground, but persimmons are known to require some patience.
I transplanted my two-year-old Meyer lemon also. Some of the leaves are starting to yellow, but that’s either due to too much rain or not enough of specific nutrients that I can’t feed it with well while it’s getting so much rain. It had better hang in there until the dry season starts so I can give it more targeted attention.
If that fails, I have another baby Meyer lemon tree inside that just needs a bit more time to grow big and strong .
The satsuma mandarin has the same yellowing leaves as the Meyer lemon. But it’s a survivor, I can feel it.
Finally, there’s the fig tree which is the most promising so far.
In less fruity news, there are also four baby Texas Mountain Laurel trees growing strongly in the front yard. Although just a couple of inches high now, they’ll keep growing slowly and in a couple of years become beautiful little shrubs. And someday, graceful small trees.
As a final bonus, we just discovered these growing in the side yard by the creek. From showing this pic around to coworkers, it sounds like they may be daffodils! They’re doing so well on their own that I’ll just let them be for a while longer.
But what’s this growing in a neglected part of the yard? Ugh, I don’t know how I can ever get rid of all this stuff.
I managed to stay away from the thrift shops all of February, so this shouldn’t be as long a list as last month.
However, one of the things I noticed was that last month I was eating out regularly — three or even four times a week. It’s hard to resist. Therefore, I’m giving up eating out for lent. All the food I purchase will be basics (maybe a jar or two of spaghetti sauce in there though), and I’ll be doing more cooking next month. That should get me back on the right track.
My plant-buying spree continued this month–a couple of fruit trees, some onion transplants, and a handful of small (perennial) plants to experiment with and see what grows well/easily here (I’m hoping for some of these to expand quite a bit). Fortunately, it’s already getting fairly warm out, with highs frequently in the 80s, so from this point out it’s mostly about keeping these alive. No more plant spurges until fall.
Fig tree, Texas Everlasting
Satsuma mandarin tree
Not New Stuff
Toward the end of the month, I stopped at the Really, Really Free Market again to drop off a few items and scored some great finds.
Shirt – I’m slowly refining my style, replacing one shirt at a time.
Pair of jeans – Not needed yet, but I’ll stash these as a backup pair. They’ll need hemming before I wear them anyhow.
Couple of bras – This is the first time I’ve found a bra secondhand which actually fits well, and there were two of them. So excited! Don’t worry, I did wash them.
Lentils & spices – Another rare find. Someone apparently cleaned out their panty, and I grabbed what I expected to use. Very glad to get some marjoram as I’m out of oregano, and marjoram will do in a pinch.
Kitchen lights – These are the long tubes and I’d like to switch to smaller LED lights at some point but that can wait a while longer
Things I didn’t buy
A new mailbox – Early in the month ours was hit by a car and it doesn’t quite close properly anymore. But after being re-erected, it’s functioning well enough.
Mulch – I can always use more mulch, but I stole a couple of leaf bags and an xmas tree left on the curb on lawn-waste pickup day. We’re rich with organic matter now.
Even more plants – Yes, I could have gone much further.
A new umbrella – I left my umbrella one day and got rained on slightly. It wasn’t horrible.
Shampoo – I’ve been doing water-only hair washing for several months now and am never going back.
There are a few new items on the wishlist. I may be hitting the thrift stores in March for those first two.
Rain boots or other tall sturdy boots for gardening by the creek, now that the poison ivy is starting to spring back to life.
Mini-blinds for the dining room window, for more privacy than the current curtains offer. (We’re right on street with high pedestrian traffic to look in.)
Fresh tomato seeds if I keep killing off my tomato attempts 😦
New tub? I don’t know who invented these cheap plastic tub-like shells. Not sure if this one can be saved.
Bricks/pavers – This one is difficult to score second-hand without a car, but I’ve been very slowly collecting the rogue abandoned brick for the garden and would like to pick up the pace a bit.