Benefits of living a minimalist lifestyle

Benefits of living a minimalist lifestyle

The deeper we delve into minimalism, the more convinced I become that any and everyone can benefit from this mindset. Here are some benefits of a minimalist lifestyle that we’ve already found to be true in our own lives over the past couple of years, and I’m confident you could experience as well.

Less clutter, kore space, more organization

It’s probably most obvious that embracing minimalism means you will have less clutter in your life, which follows that you have more space, and organization flows naturally out of the process. The less you have, the less organization you even need!

Less laundry, less cleaning, easier maintenance

As we get rid of excess from our wardrobes, kitchen, and living spaces, we are able to spend less and less time trying to stay on top of it all. There is less laundry to do, fewer dishes, and the random piles that used to build up have dwindled and are starting to stay away. The kids have also found that it is so much easier and faster to clean up their playroom, which definitely equates to fewer headaches for us.

Save money

When you recognize that you have what you need and start to develop a more content mindset, you naturally spend less and are able to save more.

Better stuff

As you pare down, the focus becomes quality over quantity. Instead of having 10 thingamajigs that sort of work or that you sort of like, you are able to afford 1 thingamajig that you really like and that does the job right.

More time

Minimalism isn’t only about trimming away the excess “stuff” (which does also save time), it’s also about refining obligations and habits that take time away from what matters most.

Greater focus and çlarity

I can’t tell you how much switching over to a minimalist mindset has increased our clarity and focus. It’s like all the excitement of Times Square with none of the ads 😉

Less stress and worry, more peace

Refining focus and cutting out everything that isn’t life-giving lowers stress more than you can imagine. When you’re not chasing a million loose ends, and aren’t surrounded by clutter, you find yourself being able to breathe easier and be ever-so-much-more content.

Give more

As we need less time to spend cleaning and maintaining at home, our time becomes more flexible to give to others, which is one of our personal goals now. Saving more money also frees up more money to give.

More flexible life

The farther we come on this journey of minimalism, the more flexible we get. We’re no longer tied down by sentimental clutter, and we don’t have a bunch of things we never use. When we moved to this home 4 years ago it was a bit of a nightmare. Now, I think we’d be able to move in a day. Travel is also simplified, so it doesn’t feel at all overwhelming to pack and go somewhere spontaneously.

More confidence, less comparison, easier decisions

As you whittle down your stuff, time, and focus to what really matters, you know why you are doing what you’re doing, and why you are who you are and are becoming. In short, you become much more confident. Decisions are simplified. You don’t waste time playing the comparison game because you are focused on the right things.

Want to explore more of what it means to be a minimalist and the resulting space and freedom it creates in your life? Let’s take simple living from something you wish for to something you actually do. Check out the whole series here for real-life application and practical tips.

One of the best ways to dip your toes in the waters of a minimalist lifestyle is to first purge the obvious excess. Here’s a cheat sheet to get you started: 20+ Thins You Can Get Rid of Without Even Missing – Common Duplicates from Your Home | 31 Days Exploring Minimalism | simple living, declutter, unclutter, get rid of clutterdealing with sentimental clutter without losing the memories | 31 Days Exploring Minimalism | simple living | keepsakes | upcyclingThe question to ask yourself when getting rid of stuff is hard… | 31 Days Exploring Minimalism | minimalist living, simple livingWhat if having less gives you the chance to BE more? | 31 Days Exploring Minimalism | simple living

Fashion Illustration in Popular Culture

Fashion Illustration in Popular Culture

Socio economic changes that occurred during the First World War 1914-18 and became accepted, changed the role of women in a way that no amount of campaigning by a few liberated ladies could have achieved. High fashion until the twenties had been for the richer women of society. Poiret had commissioned leading avant-garde photographers to photograph his work in the early 1920s; however, until after World War II fashion magazines and store catalogs most often used line drawings in iliustrations.

Illustrators such as Patou and Erte produced highly stylized work; Benito, Christian Berard and the American artist Eric provided an image of the clothes themselves, and their designers’ intended style, elegantly and economically.

In the twenties and thirties, however, black-and-white photography was becoming an important art form and photo portraits of famous personalities of the day highlighted their clothes as well as their looks (for example, Cecil Beaton’s photographs of Nancy Cunard wearing an armful of ivory and ebony bracelets). The Hollywood portrait publicity still in the 1930s added to the association between photography and glamor.

From the 1940s, photography came completely to dominate the fashion magazine although illustration was still common into the 1960s. Initially prized for its “truthfulness”, it is often less informative than line drawing, and can be just as mannered. Irving Penn in the United States, and Anthony Annstrong-Jones in Britain moved fashion photography towards a new informality and movement in the 1950s.

Continue Reading in Popular Culture

Mao and Brief History of China

Mao and Brief History of China

No guide to the Pacific, or the world for that matter can be complete without a mention of China. Like daylight through curtains it persistently makes its presence felt in half the countires you visit through its people, its trade, its traditions and customs. It is impossible to ignore anyway, because China is larger than continental Europe, and contains over a quarter of the world’s peoples. Its processes of civilization have matched those of Europe and the so-called cradle of civilization – the Middle East.

Often Chna has led the west, and not just in the invention of gunpowder and printing – 200 years before Christ, China had a national road network, standardized coinage, weghts and measures, and script. Even now Europe can hardly match this. By 200 AD China had developed a civil service, nationwide examinations and had begun to codify its laws. Through all these and following ages the arts and sciences flourished astoundingly, leaving struggling Eurpoe for behind. Agriculture and trade were very advanced by Western standards – there was a credit exchange system in operation before the 9th century, and fairly sophisticated taxation. By the time Marco Polo and various missionaries arrived the West had a lot to learn.

A succession of wars, foreign invasions both military and trading by various powers, the revolution in 1911 that turned China into a republic, the Sino-Japanese War from 1937 – 1945 culminated in the struggles that led to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1948. During all this time, and particularly since, increasing periods of introspection and isolation have left China something of a country apart, a country of mystery. Now this giant of life and history is opening up again to visitors and trade. More and more people are going there, not just statesmen and businessmen. It is of course an incredible country and should you experience it.

Moscow: The city of millionaires

Moscow: The city of millionaires

Once a small village in the 12th century, Moscow today boasts its position amongst the largest cities of Europe and -of course- its 850-year-long history. Contrary to common belief, it is neither rather misty and foggy nor cold and bleak. Illuminated structures, avenues with luxury stores and buildings reminiscent of dreamlands are the very proof of this.

“If I invaded Kiev, it means I have conquered Russia’s feet. If I invade St. Petersburg, it means I conquered Russia’s head. However, a Moscow invasion means that I have conquered Russia’s heart.” This quote from Napoleon Bonaparte, revels secrets about Moscow.

Ranking amongst the 10 largest cities of the world, NMoscow enjoys its favorable position between Oka and Volga rivers. With the number of millionaries markedly higher than other cities, Moscow has granted the fame: The city of millionaries.

Sixties Bands – Music was so loud and so heavy

Sixties Bands – Music was so loud and so heavy

Music was so loud and so heavy that it did have an aggressive quality—so that it is no surprise that in 1969 a group formed that called itself War.

This use of high culture came from the fact that a new socio-ethnic group entered popular music in the years 1964-69: middle-class white kids who had gone to good suburban high schools as well as college. Aside from the Motown groups, Sly and the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, Otis Redding, and a few others, the major rock acts were white. Let’s take the personnel of the following sixties bands: Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, The Doors, Iron Butterfly, Jefferson Airplane, the Lovin’ Spoonful, and the Mamas and the Papas.

In the specific case of the Buffalo Springfield, the group consisted of: Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Richle Furay, Dewey Martin, and Bruce Palmer. No ethnic names there at all. In fact, there are only three ethnic names in all of these groups put together: Zal Yankowski of the Lovin’ Spoonful (Jewish); Ray Manzarek of The Doors (Czech); and Norma Kaukonen of the Jefferson Airplane (Finnish).

Inside Rome’s Jewish quarter or calm in the chaos

Inside Rome’s Jewish quarter or Calm in the chaos

Take a tour through one of the Italian capital’s oldest and most thriving cultural districts.

The history of Jews in Rome follows all the drastic twists and horrifying turns that have shaped the experience of the Jewish diaspora across the world. There has been a Jewish quarter inside the city ever since the Roman Republic began to engage in trade with the Levant in the couple of centuries before Jesus Christ. The subsequent millennia have seen massacres, apostasies and truces; bouts of intense persecution have been succeeded by periods of tolerance by, and even alliance with, the state. So if the story of the Roman Jews is relatively little told, it’s not for want of incident.

One reason may be their relatively small population – 13,000 Jews live in Rome today, compared with London’s 170,000 or New York’s 1.75 million – and, consequently, Italy’s fairly minor involvement in the defining event of recent Jewish history: the Holocaust. And yet, if nothing on the scale of what happened in Germany or Poland, Rome witnessed some horrors. The Nazis invaded Italy in September 1943 after the capitulation of Mussolini’s regime, and within a month they had smashed inside Rome’s Jewish quarter and started rounding up its inhabitants. By the war’s end, the city’s Jewish community had been literally decimated, having lost one in ten of its members to the concentration camps.

Inside Rome’s Jewish quarter or Calm in the chaos

Calm in the chaos

A smattering of memorial plaques for the dead interrupt the peace in the otherwise placid Jewish quarter of today. Situated just across from the Tiber Island on the east bank of the river, the area is a haven of tranquillity in the traffic maelstrom that is Rome. Residential courtyards branch off from the slender alleys that tie the neighbourhood’s bustling marketplaces to its dainty piazzas. Like other historically Jewish districts in Europe’s capitals, such as London’s East End and Paris’ Marais, it has shed its cramped ghetto layout and gone the way of gentrification – losing many of its Jewish inhabitants in the process.

Inside Kiryat Sefer (‘The City of Books’) [no website], a bookstore specialising in Jewish culture, a tome on display compares the plan of the ghetto circa 1850 with a map of the area as it is today. The difference is striking. After Italy was unified in 1870, the new monarchy annulled the requirement for Jews to live in the ghetto, and set about razing the area.

The wall surrounding the ghetto was torn down and the cramped labyrinth of cul-de-sacs and tenement houses was replaced by four simple blocks of thoroughfares and squares. Where once the city’s poorest lived in abominable conditions, today a one-bedroom apartment sells for half a million euros. Streets that formerly belonged to drapers and fishermen now attract the likes of Jamie Oliver and Mark Zuckerberg (who, after dining at the neighbourhood’s renowned Nonna Betta restaurant, famously left no tip).

Kosher character

Many Jews may have sold up and moved out, but enough locals remain for the area to retain a distinctive character. Strolling down its flagstoned lanes, you’re just as likely to overhear snatches of Giudeo-romanesco, an antiquated local dialect that borrows liberally from Hebrew, as you are a conversation in Italian. A visit to the famous Boccione [no website], self-styled ‘bakery of the ghetto’, yields myriad delights of Hebraic provenance: unleavened tarts, marzipan cakes studded with fruit, and the three wonderfully taciturn sisters who run the place. Even the local sushi joint, Daruma, eschews all fish without spines in accordance with kosher tradition. If you’re pining for prawn, move on.

And then there’s the Great Synagogue of Rome [no website], another product of the late 19th-century government’s regeneration project. The squat domed edifice sits astride the riverbank, its striking appearance boldly proclaiming the Jews’ freedom to build as they see fit. Sadly, its symbolic importance has turned it into a flashpoint for anti-Semitic violence: in 1982, a gang of Palestinian militants marched up to the entrance and sprayed the congregation with grenades and submachine fire, killing one and wounding dozens. One legacy of the attack is a network of security guards who keep watch over the area from their discreet booths. Their presence is a dismaying reminder of the tensions with which the Jews of Rome continue to live, even in their most peaceful time.

Secrets revealed

For an area that abounds in beautiful architecture and tourist hotspots, the Jewish quarter is often neglected by visitors who come to Rome for its classical landmarks. Which is inexcusable, given that you can cover the neighbourhood’s cultural gems in a matter of hours – from the famous (and frankly kitsch) Turtle Fountain to the surreal ruins of the Porticus Octaviae. It’s well worth getting to know this unjustly overlooked patch of Italy.

Kristen Stewart talks about her sexuality and LGBT movement

Kristen Stewart talks about her sexuality and LGBT movement

Kristen Stewart doesn’t need to put a label on her sexuality to know who she is.

The Café Society actress Kristen Stewart opens up about why she chooses to remain vague about her sexual orientation in the debut issue of Variety Magazine’s new redesigned format.

“Me not defining it right now is the whole basis of what I’m about,” she tells the mag. “If you don’t get it, I don’t have time for you.”

The actress, 26, says she’s been inspired by the way young people are able to love and view each other without labels.

“There’s acceptance that’s become really rampant and cool,” she said. “You don’t have to immediately know how to define yourself.”

Though she admits she struggled with the pressure to put a label on her herself while growing up, Stewart says she now believes in the idea of sexual fluidity.

Kristen Stewart talks about her sexuality and LGBT movement

“I had to have some answer about who I was. I felt this weird responsibility, because I didn’t want to seem fearful. But nothing seemed appropriate,” she explained. “So I was like ‘F—, how do I define that? I’m not going to.”

And while she says the LGBT movement is “so important” and something she wants to be involved in, she’s careful not to send the wrong message to people who might be struggling with their own sexuality.

“I didn’t want to be this example: it’s so easy,” she explains. “I don’t want it to seem like it was stupid for them to have a hard time.”

Related Link: View Full Production Notes for The Café Society Movie.

Shay Mitchell’s Ed-inspired outfit is just plain cool

Shay Mitchell's Ed-inspired outfit is just plain cool

Js on my feet, Js on my feet, Js on my feet… so get like me.”

Miley Cyrus’ “23” is the perfect anthem for Shay Mitchell’s latest actress off-duty outfit. Is it possible for her to look any cooler while being crazy-cozy? Don’t think so. That’s what makes this look so appealing.

It’s most likely been a while since you rocked a hoodie in public (because of their I-just-don’t-care-anymore nature), but it’s time to lengthen that hemline and reconsider. Whether it’s an oversized sweatshirt you found in the men’s section or one that was purposely made into a dress, throw a denim jacket over top (those are SO hot right now), a pair of Air Jordans on your feet and call it a day.

It’s the ideal combination of style and (insane) comfort…you can’t really get more effortless than that. So, enjoy our interpretation of the ballin’ ensemble!

The new, diet-friendly fast food items for hungry girls

The new, diet-friendly fast food items for hungry girls

There have been so many healthy developments at fast-food restaurants, it can be hard to keep track of ’em all! I’m making it easy with this list of new additions that make it worth hitting the drive-thru…

Chick-fil-A’s Superfood Side with Kale

Just 140 calories for this blend of broccolini, kale, dried cherries, roasted nuts, and maple vinaigrette. Ummm… Yummm! This actually replaced the extra-fatty coleslaw on the menu. (No word on how the coleslaw-loving regulars feel about this switcheroo.) And the latest from Chick-fil-A? The chain is test-marketing gluten-free buns. Nice!

McDonald’s Breakfast Bowls (Southern California Only)

Mickey D’s is currently testing out two b-fast bowls. One is made with eggs, chorizo, cheese, and hash browns; skip it. But check out the egg white & turkey sausage bowl: It features spinach, kale, Parmesan cheese, and a slim 250-calorie price tag. Here’s hoping this baby goes nationwide soon. In the meantime, let’s all enjoy an Egg White Delight McMuffin (250 calories).

The new, diet-friendly fast food items for hungry girls

Chipotle’s Getting Into the Burger Game

The company behind the mix-n-match Mexican chain is looking to enter the burger market. The brand recently filed a trademark application for the name “Better Burger,” which gives a pretty good idea as to what angle they’re working — and I’m all for it. Plus, if they offer a nutritional calculator as helpful as the one on the Chipotle website, that’ll be a huge bonus!

Taco Bell Revamps Dollar Menu: Now Featuring Breakfast!

Fast-food breakfast and dollar menus are both places where you need to beware of fat traps. But Taco Bell actually has a few solid Dollar Cravings b-fast items! The Mini Skillet Bowl has just 180 calories; You get egg, potatoes, cheese, and pico de gallo. Think of it as an on-the-go version of my egg-mug recipes! And the Breakfast Grilled Taco isn’t a bad choice, either – order it without cheese, and it clocks in at 210 calories.

Kneeling Hitler statue sells for $17.2 million

Kneeling Hitler statue sells for $17.2 million

A 2001 statue of a kneeling Adolf Hitler sold for a record $17.2 million at a Christie’s auction in New York.

“Him,” a wax statue of a child-like Hitler by the Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, fetched a record for one of the sculptor’s works. The statue, originally estimated at $10 million to $15 million, was part of the auction house’s “Bound to Fail” sale of themed artwork. Cattelan’s work, which features real human hair, is from an edition of three depicting Hitler praying.

“Him” has caused outrage several times when exhibited. In 2010, the mayor of Milan forbid the reproduction of a poster illustrating a black-and-white photograph of Him, and in 2012, the work was publicly exhibited in a former ghetto in Warsaw, where an estimated 300,000 Jews died of starvation or disease or were sent to their deaths in concentration camps under Nazi rule, Christie’s said in its press release.

“I wanted to destroy it myself,” Cattelan has previously said of the work, according to Christie’s, “I changed my mind a thousand times, every day. Hitler is pure fear.”

The statue was sold Sunday to an anonymous bidder by telephone.