Ready to go in 10 minutes

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.


It’s a time of great unrest. In addition to the possibility of the EPA either being eliminated or otherwise losing the authority to protect our health, there’s a lot of debate over our country’s responsibilities for residents who are not yet legal citizens. The past couple of days, there have been protests just down the street in response to recent ICE activities here in Austin.


During the day it’s been pretty tame, but as it gets later and more people join in, things start to break down a bit.


While the worry may be sometimes grating, it’s helpful to take a step back and think about those things that I’m grateful for with respect to everything going on.

Freedom of Speech / Freedom of Assembly

I’m grateful for our constitutional rights which allow people to speak their mind and have open discussions. People may not always say things that I agree with, but it’s also important to understand what the people around you are thinking and feeling and that’s just not possible without free speech.

Helpful Neighbors

My neighbors may not all be on the same side of the immigration issues, but everyone agrees that helicopters flying low through the neighborhood keeps us from getting to sleep at night. A few neighbors shared info on NextDoor about how to properly submit complaints about the helicopters that were buzzing the walls when passing over but which weren’t actually doing anything useful. And I’ll share my gratitude with these folks for the helicopters finally leaving so everyone could get some sleep.

Internet Video

Ok, so I’ll admit that I can get a bit annoyed about overconsumption. Do people really need a video camera on their person at all times? Do they really need to share their videos with the whole world? Do they really need the ability to upload it immediately?

But I’ve gained something from this event and I really do appreciate people sharing video of the protests. It was easy for anyone to see that it was a peaceful protest. And as someone living in the vicinity, it was the quickest way to confirm that a series of shots going off was actually fireworks.

Respectful Drivers

At times the protesters were blocking traffic as they paraded around the intersection. Naturally this led to a couple of incidents, but I’m really grateful that most of the drivers just continued on their way without escalating things.

Respectful Police

Yes, there were a few incidents here also, but for the most part there was respect all around. From the protesters, who respected the police who were there to keep both them and everyone else safe. (The protest happened to be at one of the most dangerous intersections in Austin.) And from the Austin police, who respected everyone’s rights. Protesters and police generally had open conversation (rather than yelling at each other as I’ve seen elsewhere). And I’m glad the police eventually shut down the intersection to vehicle traffic to ensure everyone’s safety.


Whew, just writing that down makes me feel a little better. Now I just need a little time in the garden to find my balance again. No stressful shopping for me, folks!

Gratitude Journal #4

I’m grateful to have clean running water, for the amazing social powers of the internet, for having a comfortable bed to sleep in every night. But here are just a few other things I’d like to call out this month.

My Mom

For many reasons, but in this case because she let me borrow her loppers. These trees were covered with poison ivy and virginia creeper, but after a couple of sessions with the loppers attacking the lower vines, the poison ivy leaves above have shriveled up and died.

So many trees! 🙂

This mouse

Because it’s cute. I pass by this construction site every day on my way from work. As soon as I approach, this little guy darts off to hide. Not sure if it’s the same mouse or if I’ve seen many different ones, but if so they’re all cute. It draws my attention away from the ugly parking garages recently built.

Construction-site mouse

The squirrel that ate my melon

One day I was sitting by my bedroom window staring out into the garden when I noticed some quick movements in the melon patch. It was a squirrel engaging in a most curious behaviour. It would quickly stand up tall, look around in every direction, and then crouch back down again, and was doing this repeatedly.

There was something yellowish in its hands. And then in its mouth. The squirrel somehow knew that the treasure it had found doesn’t normally appear on its own, and that its rightful owner might come to claim it. It looked all around but didn’t see me, all the while chomping and chewing away guiltily.

I hadn’t noticed a melon outside earlier, but sure enough when I went outside to check (after the squirrel had left) there was a canary melon sitting there under some vines and weeds. I don’t believe squirrels should ever have to feel guilty about anything. I took the melon from the patch and placed it in a clear area where the squirrel could return and eat guilt-free.

And it did.

Squirrel-damaged canary melon

Mother Nature

Because she rewards those who share.

Another melon in the making

Gratitude Journal #3

There are so many things I’m grateful for, and recognizing the importance of gratitude is one of them. Every day recently I’ve been making an active effort to recognize the things that make life wonderful. Here are just a few recent items for which I’d like to offer my thanks.

Natural Beauty

Pink fireworks flower

I found these pretty pink flowers by the bus stop a week ago and was immediately struck by their beauty. Although I feel a bit bad about doing so, I plucked one for myself and kept it with me to admire throughout the day.

I’m also grateful for the internet which has helped identify this plant as a mimosa pudica, also known as the sensitive plant because it closes its leaves when touched. Will definitely have to try that out the next time I stop by.

Our Box Fan

We got it from a garage sale earlier this year, and keeping it aimed right in my direction keeps my much cooler without having to turn down the thermostat as much. It’s a net win for energy savings and comfort.

Local Wildlife

In addition to the turtles in the creek next door, there are almost always some fish swimming around. Birds and squirrels like to hang out in my lawn. And when they get into the garden it’s usually something innocuous like eating one of my plentiful tomatoes which I don’t mind sharing. They did manage to wreak havoc with the cantaloupes, but I’m glad they enjoyed them.

The Library

Living right next to the library is great. I love reading and even this smaller library has plenty of variety to offer. This week I even picked up a tree field guide and now know how to recognize an American Elm. There are quite a few around my house.

My Job

It’s not my dream job, but I really enjoy most of my work. And the casual environment means I don’t need to worry if my jeans are starting to get a little worn out. Plus, it’s helped me finally get to a phase of my life where I feel comfortable sharing some of my income with causes I support.

Surprise vegetables

Baby pumpkin

Every time I’ve thought that the cucumber harvest was over, I kept finding one more. Will another appear? Only time will tell. And in my mom’s yard (my previous garden) one of the pumpkin seeds from last year finally decided it was time to start growing.


My parents and siblings are all in good health. A little over a week ago, I got to meet my new nephew for the first time when my sister and her husband came down to visit. He’s not only in good health but very active. He’ll be walking before they know it. 🙂

This Guy

Empty soda can on the floor of a bus

If a can or bottle is rolling around on the floor bus, I’m usually too lazy to pick it up and just let it roll around some more. The man with the shoes in this pic saw the can rolling around and not only picked it up but checked the rest of the bus for careless discards to dispose of at the trashbin at the next stop. It may not have gotten as far as recycling, which we sadly don’t have at bus stops here, but it’s a huge step in the right direction and has inspired me to do what I can to make a positive difference.

Gratitude Journal #2

It’s been a little while since Journal #1, so I’m sharing just a few more of the things that I’m grateful for. The first brightens my day every time I walk up to the front door.


When this flower bloomed recently, I was really surprised how a weed could be so beautiful. As it turns out, these are from the zinnia seeds that I planted months ago and which I had given up on. They look totally different from the picture I remember on the seed packet, but no matter, these are stunning. More are just starting to bloom now.

Our New Air Conditioner

When it’s really hot and humid out, the cool air in the house feels so good. It should be saving energy compared to our old unit. And it definitely helps me sleep better, which is worth anything. I’m also really thankful that we were able to afford it without having to borrow money.

A Backyard Bounty

So many tomatoes!

There’s not as much going on in the veggie garden at the moment, but I’m still harvesting a bunch of Roma tomatoes. We’ve been slicing them on pizza and chopping them up into chili and spaghetti sauce. It might soon be time to make some salsa.


Our neighbor, Leonardo

For a while now, my husband has occasionally been seeing a turtle or two in the creek near our house, but today was my first sighting. I’ll call him Leonardo, after my favorite ninja turtle. 🙂

The Library

Because in addition to everything else they recently got new copies of The Monkees on DVD, which I’ll be enjoying over my summer vacation.

Curbside Free Piles

Because I was able to get rid of the dirty and not needed yet fully functional ice chest from the back yard (that came with the house) without doing anything more than dragging it over near the sidewalk out front.

Gratitude Journal #1

Being a zero waste afficionado can sometimes get you down. After all, there’s a lot of waste in the world. Taking inspiration from some other bloggers, I’m taking note of some of the things that I’m grateful for and which keep me from getting down.

  1. After recent flooding in the area, our home is still safe and unaffected.
  2. I’ve seen far more beneficial than less desirable bugs in my veggie garden so far this year.
  3. My poison ivy rash is subsiding, and fortunately it looks like my carelessness didn’t result in my husband being affected. He has been happily itch-free. 🙂
  4. We had enough money saved up to replace our air conditioning system after having it checked out by an expert and finding it to be in even worse shape than expected. And all taken care of before the real heat of a Texas summer begins.
  5. We have delicious, clean tap water.
  6. There’s a library right next door with awesome free books, movies, and magazines. We can even use its bathroom in an emergency if ours is inaccessible.
  7. The first cucumber of the season.
For tomorrow’s salad