week eight: the cure for the common medicine cabinet

As I opened our medicine cabinet (not really a “medicine cabinet” per se, more like a shelf in a cabinet in our kitchen) multiple times this week, a nearly empty box of Claritin would fall out. This scenario repeated itself about three times before my slow ass brain connected enough neurons to realize the medicine cabinet was stuffed with worthless shit and was ideal for a minimalism attack. Hellloooooo, week eight!

I read up a bit this week about minimalist medicine cabinets. Pulled up a lot of articles with people brushing their teeth with baking soda. Huh. Not for me. Plus, this isn’t like a bathroom medicine cabinet where I store my deodorant and butterscotch-flavored lube, it’s the place where we keep prescriptions, pain relievers, etc. And for some reason, four sets of fingernail clippers. (???)

I wanted a couple articles on the “must-haves” for a medicine cabinet/first aid station. I found Faith Janes’ Minimize Your Medicine Cabinet article at Minimalist at Home, and she had some great points. Mainly that you don’t need a cure on hand for every little thing. Pick some basics. It’s not like you can’t go to the drugstore if you wake up and need something specific. Additionally, the buying in bulk strategy may not be best when it comes to meds. If your family is going through a 1000-count bottle of ibuprofen in a year (hell, in THREE YEARS), you might have a problem. Keep it small to keep it simple and space efficient.

I also liked this article from LifeScript on the 10 items that you should have in your medicinal arsenal. I didn’t end up stocking everything on the list, but it was a handy reference list.

So here’s a before pic…

And here’s what I tossed:

1. A crapton of expired medicine.

2. Vitamins. Maybe I should take them, but I don’t. I just DON’T. I figure we use the juicer a couple times a month, so I’m good. Frozen yogurt is full of vitamins, anyways.

3. Boxes. I like using a lazy susan in the medicine cabinet and it works well for bottled meds. But cold medicine, Claritin, etc., comes in ginormous stupid boxes that tip over easily. So I tossed like items into small, stackable containers and threw out the giant half-empty boxes. I did make sure all the unboxed meds had instructions and expiry dates printed on the blister pack, though.

4. Fingernail clippers. They belong in the bathroom, not the kitchen. (I AM TALKING TO YOU, HUSBAND.)

And here’s the after pic:

Here’s my list of stuff I kept:

1. Cold remedies. This includes a bit of NyQuil/DayQuil, Zicam and a variety of Cold-Eeze lozenges. Note: if you don’t use Zicam and Cold-Eeze the minute you think you’re gettingĀ  cold YOU SHOULD GO BUY SOME RIGHT NOW. That shit is the shit. The Zicam tastes like hippie ass (seriously), but it WORKS. I found the rapid melt tablets were the least offensive and least likely to cause retching. Worth it though.

2. Ouchie boo-boo fixers. I rounded up the four half-filled bandage boxes (clear, neon, Star Wars and Hello Kitty) and combined them with a tube of Neosporin in a bin. I figure if I need Neosporin, I probably will need a Band-Aid, too.

3. Basic pain relievers. Ibuprofren, Tylenol and a small thing of low-dose aspirin. One for muscle pain, one for headaches and one in case some old person is hanging out at my house and has a heart attack.

4. Baby shit. Baby Tylenol, baby Orajel (don’t judge, it works) and hippie dippie homeopathic teething tablets. (See? We like to mix our modern medicine with a bit of annoying ass “progressive” alternative therapies.)

5. Random prescriptions we’re currently taking. Pretty much I’m talking about the Codeine-esque stuff I got post-partum that I hoarded, thinking it would be really nice to take one with a glass of wine and watch Inglourious Basterds… you know, like when our baby slept. Haha! Turns out he didn’t sleep until he was about seven months old and now I’m too tired to get faded. I’m hanging onto them, though. They’re good for another year so maybe I can abuse them in the future. Fingers crossed!

6. Tummy tamers. Gas-X and Tums are my friend.

7. Miscellaneous pregnant lady supplements. Folic acid, iron, etc. Hopefully it’s not too long before I’m pregnant again so I’ll hang onto these for now.

8. Also I posted some emergency numbers and medicine dosage info inside the cabinet as well, just in case. Seems like an adult thing to do.

So much cleaner and easier to find what I’m looking for. Plus, there’s plenty of room for additional meds as we need them. Just have to be vigilant about tossing expired stuff – that seemed to be the worst offender. And for reals, go out and buy the Zicam. Every once in a while, the hippies get it right.

week seven: yogurt pwns mini marshmallows

So I have a question. When did yogurt up and get all kinds of fucking delicious? Is it me? Am I old and now like old people food? Was good yogurt always amazeballs but I ate crap yogurt like RiteAid brand or something?

I’m not sure exactly what has happened, but when I eat yogurt now, I make love to that shit.

OK, to be honest, I know a little bit why this is. I’m nursing and baby previously balked at any dairy in my diet. That was a big give for me as I’m a whore for cereal. But baby comes first and his gas pains were a real bummer. Now, though, he’s growing up and it was time to try and introduce yogurt and a bit of cheese into his diet.

So when I fed him those first spoonfuls of plain yogurt sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon and he didn’t explode, I felt my spirit soar – dairy (at least some of it) was no longer on the verboten list.

By now you might be thinking, well, shit – I like yogurt, too. But what the fuck does it have to do with minimalism?

Decluttering my house is awesome. Necessary. Lessening my time online checking email and Facebook is fantastic. Helps me appreciate the here and now. But minimalism is also about a lifestyle shift. Being a better me, a simpler me. The best version of myself I can achieve.

And right now, the me I am just ate two chunks of raw Pillsbury cookie dough from the fridge. One hundred and fifty calories each. And completely lacking in anything redeeming, health-wise.

See, nursing moms are bottomless pits. At least I am. I’m a truffle-hunting pig, ransacking my cupboards and fridge for yummy morsels buried within. I eat three squares a day and snack liberally. Husband watches me fill my plate with a mix of admiration and horror, apparently appalled at the amount of food I can put away. The man outweighs me by 75 pounds and I can eat him under the table.

Most of the food I’m scarfing at mealtime is good. A fair amount of fruit and veg. Lean meats and protein. Not much in the way of processed food. But the in-between times? Um… that would be Pocky from the Japanese grocery store, Chuao chocolate bars, Fig Newmans, the aforementioned cookie dough… and for a few days, giant handfuls of mini marshmallows that I would shamefully stuff into my mouth as quickly as possible, before husband could see. After going through nearly a whole bag in 48 hours, I tossed them in the garbage. And then had to pour coffee grounds on them to stop myself from digging back into them. Truth.

I’ve always had a sweet tooth. But my insatiable nursing mama appetite has turned me into a sugar-coated monster and it needs to stop.

Enter good old yogurt. I realized something. For whatever reason, yogurt seems magical to me right now. Forbidden for so long and so deliciously tempting with its Greek exoticism and fancy flavors like fig and vanilla bean-boysenberry (and of course the not-so-fancy yet always tasty peach and blueberry). I should embrace yogurt – sugary and sweet enough to scratch my itch, but made with actual food, as opposed to mini marshmallows and Pocky.

So I’ve put a moratorium on processed sweets. My nightly dessert (as this course is a non-negotiable) will be yogurt. And the snacking during the day? I have three options:

1. More yogurt.

2. Shove banana in face. (This one really works, I’m usually never hungry after a banana.)

3. Nuts.

Simple, healthy and good. Wish me luck!

Oh. And the cookie dough? I tossed it into the trash. And then dumped coffee grounds on it. Only way to keep myself honest.

week six: eighteen dog sweaters

When husband and I got our first dog together, Lucky, it was like we had brought home a baby. A beautiful baby poodle with apricot-colored ringlets, happy hazel eyes and a bounding, lyrical gait that just squealed happy puppy. Enamored with people – especially children – he would charm the pants off anyone who come within a ten-foot radius. At the time, we lived in the heart of San Francisco, and neither gruff businessmen, aloof hipsters, crazy old ladies, jam-hands toddlers or over-the-top gay dudes could resist him.

In fact, I kid you not, when husband or I would walk him down Chestnut Street near our old ‘hood, people would literally DRIVE ONTO THE SIDEWALK and demand to know where we acquired such an adorable dog. He was a little local celebrity, hands-down the cutest fucking dog in the city.

Of course, the cutest fucking dog in San Francisco needed a wardrobe to suit. Dressing dogs had become fashionable, and overpriced pet stores abounded in the city, stocked not just with traditional pet items like cozy beds and leather leashes, but racks of doggie couture. Little shirts, dresses, hair accessories and more for our four-legged pals.

I ate that shit up. Of course, I erred on the more “conservative” dog-dressing aesthetic and tended to opt for simpler items, like cottons tees or knitted sweaters. I liked to think I was above the little shoes and overalls, and dressed my dog in a dignified fashion. But really, upon reflection, there is no dignified fucking way to dress up a damn dog. It’s a fucking oxymoron.

All that brings me to week six. Earlier this week, husband and I went for a walk in the park with baby. It was a pretty day and there were tons of people around. A cute girl, about 20, was sitting by the fountain with an equally cute Chihuahua. The Chihuahua was wearing a pink hoodie vest with faux fur and some sparkly bits. And I realized something.

The dog looked fucking stupid.

Look, I’m a dog person. I think Chihuahuas are adorable. But I think this minimalism kick has me looking at everything in a different way. And it’s just starting to seem over-the-top ridiculous to put tween fashions on dogs.

So next on the get the fuck out of my house list was my dog clothes. To my credit, neither pooch (we have two toy poodles now) has worn an outfit/shirt/sweater in quite a while. Which, when I realized it, made me feel as though I had already began to think dog clothes were lame, even before seeing pink hoodie Chihuahua.

I’d like to say I was surprised that I had enough stupidass dog clothing to fill a box, but I wasn’t. My shame apparently knows no bounds, as I rediscovered such gems as:

– Powder blue LaDanian Tomlinson jersey FOR THE DAMN DOG. This is actually even stupider than it sounds, as it is cut in such a way that it traps pee in a little fold of fabric, basically soaking the garment and the dog. So glad I kept that for four years.

– Itchy red Christmas sweater with a tree knitted on the back. Complete with appliqued sequins and A FUCKING BATTERY that made lights on the tree glow. Good lord, doggies, I am so sorry. I knew this bastard was itchy, too, and I still put it on Lucky. WTF is wrong with me?

– Denim vest. (WHY????)

To the thrift store they shall go. Yep, eighteen pieces in my doggie wardrobe. Insanity. For good measure, I also tossed some never-used toys and beat up old collars I think I had been saving for sentimental reasons. I’m allowed to be sentimental about my dogs. Even their puppy pictures. But old dirty collars? That’s some hoarder shit right there.

I did keep one sweater for each poodle. They each have one “dignified” (ha) knit number that I sometimes bust out at Christmastime. Non-itchy I might add. But my days of denim vests and polo shirts for my pooches are through. Hallelujah they say!

week five: the wedding dress

Do you ever watch Say Yes to the Dress? Beautiful brides visit Kleinfeld’s in New York City, gleeful entourage in tow. They bring their mothers, their best friends, their sisters, their future mother-in-laws, their future sister-in-laws, their gay husbands and their wedding planners (sometimes those last two are the same dude). They try on dresses ranging from $1500 to $15,000. There’s tears of frustration, tears of joy. And elation when they find “the one.”

Buying my wedding dress was like the exact opposite of that.

Let me back up. After husband-to-be proposed, I was ecstatic. Yes, yes, the getting married, til death do us part, found my soul mate aspect of it was great. But really I couldn’t wait to plan the wedding. I was one of those annoying brides with the binder of magazine clippings and a completely skewed view on how much husband-to-be and I would be spending on the nuptials.

So I started planning. I bought the magazines. I trolled the wedding sites. I joined an online discussion forum where other annoying ass brides would bitch about seating charts and catering minimums. And of course, I began the hunt for my wedding dress.

I settled on a gorgeous Jim Hjelm mermaid number that was $6,000. And, for some reason, this seemed perfectly reasonable to me. I deserved the wedding dress of my dreams. It’s my special day, after all, right? Yes, absolutely. I needed that dress.

As I spent my off hours and weekends planning our wedding, I noticed husband-to-be was a bit listless. I’d try to run through a list of 28 possible venues, and by the third Sonoma Valley winery, he’d get all fidgety. His answer to many of my (insane bride lady) questions like “Should our colors be tangerine and fuchsia or papaya and passionfruit!?” was infuriatingly ambivalent. His lack of enthusiasm was, at first, annoying. Then it made me mad. Then it made me think.

Looking over my clippings and list of demands, I revisited our budget. I started adding it up. And then I noticed that, well… shit didn’t add up.

Why did I think it was a good idea to blow tens of thousands of dollars on our wedding? I’d always considered myself a pretty rational, reasonable person. Do rational people buy $6,000 wedding dresses? Um, no. Rational fucking people roll their eyes at people who buy $6,000 wedding dresses and then laugh when the statement from their 401K rolls in, showing a 10% year-over-year return.

And just like that, I decided I wanted to elope. Husband-to-be could hardly contain himself.

Things came together fast, and I found myself needing a dress ASAP. So after work one night, on a rainy evening, I drove down to David’s Bridal alone. I tried on two dresses, found something cute and affordable, grabbed a veil, paid $200 and went on my way.

Fast forward five-plus years. This week, while cleaning up our guest space in preparation for my brother’s family to visit over Easter, I came across my dress in the spare closet. Zipped up with the veil and all. I had almost forgotten I had it. As soon as I saw it, I knew week five was in the bag. I gave the dress one more look and put it in the donation box. Someone else who has wised up and realized the wedding industry is balls-out insanity will find it, wear it and love it. And my favorite little thrift store should make $50 or so. Win-win-win.

I suppose it’s a bit of a cheat – as I wasn’t too attached to the dress – but I guess not every week in this minimalist crusade has to be a grind. I will come across some things in my life that are easier to part with than others. The exercise isn’t only about heartbreaking decisions to pare down, but also about realizing that many things I’ve held onto over the years just don’t hold any meaning for me.

After all, I found “the one.” But it wasn’t the dress – it was husband.