Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Best of Simple

I believe in beauty. I believe in surrounding yourself with beauty every day.

I'm talking about the most subtle and quiet moments in our day-to-day lives; when you're sitting at home and your eyes land on something that makes you infinitely happy. Like a piece of art. Ripe plums in the most gorgeous shade of purple sitting in your favorite bowl. A thoughtful tableau of pottery. A wabi sabi vase of flowers.

These moments matter! And they have a cumulative effect. And just as I believe with all my heart that beautiful food is your birthright, I also believe a beautiful home is your birthright. A serviceable home is not enough. Living in surroundings that reflect our tastes and passions literally heightens our experience of being alive. We need this now more than ever.

The housewares I live with day to day are simple, quality pieces that have emotional meaning for me. My brown dishes, handmade by Arabia of Finland, and many of my serving pieces are relics from my childhood. They were a part of my everyday life growing up and I was fortunate to have them passed on to me in mint condition. I use these pieces every day, there's no special occasion-ware in my home. I love opening my dish cabinet and looking at this lovely array of workmanship, textures, colors and symmetry.

I'm reading this great book called The Soul of Money and the author, Lynne Twist, talks a lot about the myth of scarcity in our culture – you know how sometimes we can think that no matter how much we have, it’s never enough? This has a definite effect on how and what we consume. Here’s a quote:

"Ironically, the condition of scarcity breeds accumulation to excess, which only diminishes the value of what we have too much of. We become burdened by our excess; it clutters our thinking and our lives. We become attached to our possessions and, in a way, start to think that what we have is who we are, and it becomes harder and harder to share anything because as it diminishes in value from the flood of excess, we feel less valuable ourselves and must acquire more."

I don’t remember who it was that originally said, “We can never get enough of what we don’t really need,” but damn, is that ever true.

You don't need to be too terribly ambitious to create your own kitchen
; to make it a feel good place you really want to spend time in. Here are some simple ways to get started.

Make it yours! Use your buying power to express your true self. Whether it’s ten dollars or ten thousand dollars, every time you spend your money you have an opportunity to express who you are and what you value. Make an authentic statement by choosing kitchenware and decor that truly moves you and makes your meals more meaningful. Bring things into the kitchen that have meaning for you: A spiritual totem over the stove, a Madonna poster en Francais circa 1982. Make cooking and eating a personal, aesthetic experience even if you're cooking for one. It’s your home, let your style shine through! If that means skull and crossbones plates and Union Jack napkins – more power to you.

Small touches make a difference. While I believe in beautiful things, I don’t believe they have to cost a lot. I also don’t believe in excess for excess’ sake. Having a vase with flowers in my kitchen or a twelve dollar orchid from Home Depot on my ledge does wonders for my morale and makes being in my kitchen that much more pleasant.

Make your kitchen a clutter-free zone.
Your kitchen counter is not the weigh station for crap on its way to the garbage. Don’t let stuff pile up. Keep your counters clean and clear so when you’re inspired to cook or throw together a healthy meal, you can.

Get out of your head and into your body.
We spend way too much time as a culture thinking instead of feeling. Experiencing food and eating – even decorating – are best left to the senses. I’m convinced when we over think; we lose touch with what it is we truly want. Start approaching things with your senses and not your head. What colors soothe or invigorate you? What textures are you drawn to? What do you feel like eating versus what you think you should eat?

Fill your fridge and pantry with real, beautiful food.
This will keep you feeling good - physically, mentally and emotionally - and coming back for more. Mine this blog and others like it for great ideas on how to eat simply and beautifully.

Quality trumps quantity any day. Be selective. Keep it simple. Be true to yourself, your taste and your means.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this! When I was a single mom and pretty much poor all the time, I learned to live this way out of necessity, but it was -and is- a balm to my spirit. I also believe that the simple truth of what we find beautiful should be at the forefront of our lives, every day.

syrie said...

I couldn't agree more although sometimes I just get too consumed by everything else going on in life. Thanks for inspiring me to declutter the kitchen. It's long overdue!

JulesG said...

I love the wooden salad bowls in the picture on this page, where did you get them if you don't mind me asking?


Dana Joy said...

Not at all, Jules. Thanks for the compliment. They're from the early sixties and I found them at the Edgewater Antique Mall here in Chicago. I'm a scavenger!

Lindsey said...

I just found your blog. I'm ecstatic!!! This is AWESOME!!!!!! Wheeeee!!!! Thank you SO MUCH!!!!!

(off to peruse...) :) :) :)

savtipatti said...

You are truly inspiring and waking up my creative soul!

thank ~u

Dana Joy said...

thanks Satvi, hearing that makes me incredibly happy!