Book List

I have a confession.  I am a shameless bookworm.  Hours upon hours of my life are devoted each day (night, year, month…you get the picture) to devouring books.  On any given night, weekends included, I am tucked into my bed at 8pm reading.  There might be some tea involved, if I am feeling particularly wild. Luckily, I met a man that feels the exact same way about books, so this has become our nightly routine.  Books + fiancé + snuggly dog + peppermint tea = perfection.

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This year I have decided that I want to share some of my reads with my readers.  Below I have listed all of the books on my current “to-do” list.  I plan to read each of these and review them on the blog. I try to choose a wide variety of books.  My list includes: classics, biographies, informational books, educational textbooks, dystopian novels, humorous tales, and a little drama to tie it all together nicely. I am REALLY looking forward to digging into these books.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

Bossy Pants by Tina Fey

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Fight Club by Chuck Palahunik

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Road Ends by Mary Lawson

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Little House on a Small Planet by Shay Salomon

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller

The Joy of Less by Francine Jay

 Your turn…Do you have any good book suggestions for me? What is your favorite book?

I am currently listening to…Coal War- Joshua James

Downsizing: Clothes

Clothing has been one of the most difficult things about downsizing, or minimalism, for me.  I love clothes and fashion.  My Pinterest boards are teeming with cute outfits and dreamy accessories. I’ve also always been rather cheap, which means most of my clothes came from thrift stores and sale racks.  No shame!

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When the time came to start downsizing clothes I struggled.  There are soooo many posts and suggestions out there, like this one. I read this post about Project 333.  None of them seemed to fit me and my lifestyle.

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So, I decided to downsize in a way that made sense for me.  I am all about focusing more on the quality, wear-ability, and practicality of clothing items.  You absolutely can be fashionable and still live minimally. Here’s how I am doing it…

1.) Weed out the stuff you don’t need. Try taking a picture of yourself every day for 30 days (I am giving you a freebie to take a shameless selfie every day).  Keep a running tab of items that you wore.  Did you wear the same thing at least once a week?  Did you wear something one day and hate the outfit?  Keep track! This will help you weed out what you do/don’t need.  If you haven’t worn it in a month, you probably don’t need access to it in your daily closet queue.  If you live in a seasonal climate (I’m looking at you midwesterners) you should do this seasonally.  Don’t forget workout clothes and outerwear.  Include every aspect of your dressing arsenal. Rotate, donate, and pack away what you aren’t using!

2.) Only buy clothes that you absolutely love.  Too often we buy things that are “ok” because we can’t find exactly what we are looking for in the store.  Stop doing this immediately.  If you don’t love it completely…like can’t live without it kind of love…don’t buy it! It’s not worth the closet space. Put down the sweater. Walk away.

3.) Choose products that are high quality.  I have a few brands that I love, unfortunately one of these brands has a habit of falling apart.  I have to force myself not to buy clothes there because I know they won’t last.  Quality matters.

4.) Choose things that are practical.  This is especially important if you are a working girl/guy.  We spend at least 5 days a week in work clothes.  So, why do so many of us have more weekend clothes than weekday clothes?  I usually won’t buy anything new if it can’t be worn at work, or (double-score) can work for both my personal and professional life.  This is why I gravitate towards cardigans, corduroys, tunics, etc.  Also, I tend to only allow myself only one pair of jeans at a time because they aren’t allowed at my job.  Things that can translate to all aspects of your life should rule supreme.

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So, here is my challenge to you: take a picture of what you wear every day for the next month.  Donate what you aren’t using/find yourself disliking.  If you are buying new clothes you should be looking for quality, practicality, and a personal love for the item.  Try to use these techniques this month and see if it helps you downsize.  It’s worked wonders for me!

Your turn…How often do you buy new clothes? How often do you donate clothes?

I am currently listening to…Lana Del Rey- Summertime Sadness

Pumpkin Cake

It’s that time of the year! The time where I cover myself in sweaters, boots, and scarves.  The time where everything is the most brilliant shade of orange, red, and yellow.  It happens to be my favorite time of all…fall!

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One of my favorite things to do in the fall is bake pumpkin-flavored treats.  Something about the crisp air makes me want to make ridiculous amounts of desserts. Pumpkin cake is one of my favorites.  I posted about it a few weeks ago but didn’t share my personal recipe.  You’re in luck though! I am sharing the (not-so) secret recipe.  Woo!

Ingredients

1 box of yellow cake mix

1 can of pumpkin puree

1 cup of water

3 large eggs

Pumpkin Pie Spice (to taste)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Bake for 35-40 minutes (check with a toothpick to make sure it is done).  Voila!

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Now, if you are an indulgent person (like myself) then this is the perfect time to slap some cream cheese frosting on your cake. Personally, I think that everything is better with frosting.  If you’re satisfied without frosting you can go ahead and dig in ASAP.  This cake is seriously delicious and you’ll be thanking me later.  Enjoy 🙂

Your Turn…What is your favorite pumpkin-themed recipe?

I am currently listening to…The Avett Brothers- I and Love and You

 

Simple Saturday Realizations

Today I was sitting down, in my new house, and thinking to myself that I am so incredibly glad that Cody and I do not bog ourselves down with “stuff.”  We live a fairly nomadic existence.  We travel, we move.  It’s just the way we have always been as a couple.  Since we started dating we have lived in five different houses, in four different towns, in three different states.

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When I look back at our two huge moves I realize how much simpler they were made by our simple lack of stuff.  I know someone else who moved from Alaska to the lower 48 and spent $10,000.  Cody and I spent $500 on shipping everything we owned.  We spent probably equal to that on gas/lodging/food along the way.  But, we also took a sllllooooooow and leisurely trip.  Realistically, we could have probably done it for half of that if we had been traveling more cheaply. I always wonder how other people, who enjoy travel, can live with so much stuff.

I go to other people’s houses and see an entire closet (or basement) full of extra towels, old clothes, broken toys, endless amounts of decorations, etc.  This always leaves me wondering.  What is wrong with me? I have only one small drawer of “junk” and it isn’t really even junk.  It’s miscellaneous electronics (cameras, chargers, etc) writing utensils, and sticky notes.  All of the stuff in my junk drawer is stuff I use, so does it really even count?  Who knows.  I certainly don’t have a clue.

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Long story short, why do we save things that we consider junk?  Why do we feel the need to bog ourselves down with endless amounts of stuff.  When I think about this I realize that Cody and I may just be different.  We are childless, we travel, we live frugally, we avoid debt.  Maybe these are the things that set us apart.  Maybe these are the things that allow us to live such a simple existence.  There are a lot of maybes in life.  One of my certainties is that I love living simply.

Your Turn…What do you think of simple living? Do you participate in the lifestyle? Why or why not?

I am currently listening to…Bon Iver- Perth 

Lately…

Lately, I have been a bit behind the times.  I’ve had visitors come to the island multiple weekends in a row, I started coaching for the high school, hiking has been making weekly appearances in my life again, and I somehow still have time to teach three grade levels.  Basically, I am busy as hell and forgot I even owned a computer.  Whoops.

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Life has been great lately though, albeit a bit busy.  I’ve loved getting to know our little island a bit better.  There is so much to see for such a tiny place.  Most of it is pure wilderness too, which is right up my alley.

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Other than living a crazy life, I have been finding time to cook and do a little photography.  Both hobbies are a MUST for my happiness.  Luckily, I must cook food to survive and the island presents many photography opportunities.

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Here’s to hoping I don’t forget about my computer again.  I’m hoping to come at you with some awesome minimalist living posts in the near future. Maybe a few recipes too?  Cross your fingers for me!

Your turn…What has been keeping you busy lately?

Favorite Fall Recipe

Pardon my brief hiatus from participating in #Blogtober14.  My mom was in town visiting me all weekend, I felt it was necessary to set the computer down and just enjoy some company.  We had a great time, which I will recap later on this week in the blog.  Until then, enjoy this beautiful picture from our weekend.

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Now, onto catching up on Blogtober topics…lets go with my favorite fall recipe! Frankly, this is too hard for me to choose.  I love ALL fall recipes.  Anything pumpkin, nutmeg, apple, or cinnamon is totally up my alley.  I do really enjoy this pumpkin cake recipe though.  I’ve made it quite a few times already this year.  Cody and I have made it for personal consumption twice and I’ve made it for various school functions too.  It’s an easy recipe to do substitutions with too (making it vegan or GF is totally doable).

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My other favorite recipe is this PSL recipe.  Everybody loves a little PSL.  I live on a remote island with no Starbucks though.  This forces my hand and I have no choice but to make my own version of this tasty fall treat.  I mostly save this recipe for the weekends, when I have the time to sit around and actually enjoy my coffee versus inhaling it before work.   I also like to serve mine with some homemade cinnamon rolls, that’s optional though 🙂

 

Your turn…What is your favorite fall recipe??

Best/Worst Vacation: Driving the ALCAN

The #Blogtober14 topic for today is “Best and Worst Vacation.” For me, my best and worst vacation happen to be the same trip.  That trip was driving the Alaska-Canada (ALCAN) Highway.  Cody, our dog, and myself took ten days to drive from Alaska to Michigan this summer.  It was an incredible trip and I loved it dearly.  However, it was also a stressful trip at times because we were traveling with all of our belongings, without scheduled lodging, and without reprieve from the monotony of the road.

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Let’s start with the worst. It’s always better to end on a positive note, right? The trip began a bit stressfully simply because Cody and I were moving our entire lives from Alaska to Michigan.  We try to live fairly minimally since we travel a lot, it still took twelve boxes to fit all of our belongings though.  This included: clothes, toiletries, home decor, small appliances, and recreational things. Some things like our tent, camping gear, overnight bags, and other necessities went in the car.  Our car was packed to the ceiling, which was honestly the most stressful part of the trip.  We had to have the backseat open for the dog and the two front seats open for the humans.  This left very little room for everything else.  It was a very high stakes game of tetras trying to fit everything in the car juuuuuust right.

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Other than the packing/moving aspect of the trip though it was amazing.  We started the trip with a ferry ride from Juneau to Haines.  The ferry was absolutely gorgeous.  It also gave Cody and I a break from the busy-ness that had settled into our routine.  We got to just kick back and relax on the ferry.

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After the ferry ride we started the real trip.  We drove through these Canadian territories: Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan.  We also drove through these US states: Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. That’s covering more than 3,500miles, two countries,  and ten states/territories! It was a blast! We alternated driving short/long days so that we could stop at any and all attractions that we wanted. It made the days go so smoothly.

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My favorite place we drove through was the Yukon in Canada. I’ve never seen so much wildlife and so many incredible natural landforms before! In the Yukon we saw wild horses, bison, moose, elk, caribou,  black bears, and  grizzly bears. We actually had to just stop and wait for a herd of 50+ bison to cross the road at one point.  The Northern Rockies are HUGE too and they were incredible to drive through.  Driving through crazy mountains is much more fun when you’re the only car for 100miles. We just cruised and relaxed.  I’ve never loved a trip more than this one.  I felt so connected to my little family and nature.  It was just beautiful.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Your turn: What are your best/worst vacation stories? 

Beginning Blogger

#Blogtober14 is still going strong and the topic for today is “10 things I wish I told myself when I first started blogging.”

Personally, I’ve been blogging since 2010. My first foray into the blogging world was Naknek Grime, which chronicled my life in rural Alaska while working for a commercial fishing company.  My second foray was called Tales From The Last Frontier.  I kept TFTLF for over two years and wrote all about my adventure living in SE Alaska.  This blog, The Middle(tons) of Nowhere, started when I moved to Michigan from Alaska a few short months ago.  Honestly, my blogging journey has been a bit kooky because my original blogs were both aimed at keeping my friends and family in the loop.  As my second blog evolved, I started to collect a much wider range of readers. Honestly, I wish I would have known LOTS of things when I first started blogging, today I think I will stick to listing just my top 5 though.  Here are just a few of the tips I’d give myself!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 1.) Try out lots of different sites.  Not all sites are created equal! Also, you really need to test them out to know which one fits your style of writing and your audience.  Don’t settle on the first one you see.

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2.) Pick a topic or genre.  I can be little all over the place.  My writing definitely reflects that.  Even as a seasoned blogger I still feel that I have trouble reigning myself in on occasion.

3.) Get a good camera (or at least some good editing apps) and take lots of pictures. My true love is photography so as my blog evolved I felt more confident featuring my own photos.

4.) Read other blogs. One way you gain readership by being featured in other blogs and by befriending other bloggers.  The blogging community is a competitive one and making friends is important.  Network!

5.) Be yourself! Nobody wants to read a forced opinion or outlook.  Readers can tell when you are being genuine.  Make sure you are always using your own voice to convey a message.  This is how readers get to know and love you!

 

Well, there you have it! Be an individual and be creative! Blogging is fun so don’t take it too seriously.  Love what you do and love getting your message out there in the world.  This is what blogging is all about 🙂

My Fall Bucket List

Fall is officially my favorite time of year.  It always has been.  There is just something about sweater weather, falling leaves, apple orchards, hearty meals, chilly days, and brilliant sunsets.  For the last two years, I was living in the land of perpetual crappy fall weather.  You see, I lived in the Alaskan rainforest.  We got 300days of rain/snow per year.  The temperatures were always between 30°-60°F, and the leaves never changed color. The thing that I was most excited about when I pictured myself moving to the Midwest again was the awesomeness that having four distinct seasons brings. We enjoyed a hot, beautiful summer and now we are transitioning into an incredible fall.  When I think about fall, I think about all of the things I want to do this season.  My fall bucket list is admittedly rather long.  But, can you blame me? I’ve gone two years without celebrating a true fall season.

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1.) Go apple picking.

2.) Carve a pumpkin.

3.)Watch the sunset from a blanket on the beach.

4.) Read a spooky book.

5.) Bake a pie (apple or pumpkin).

6.) Press my favorite leaves between the pages of a book.

7.) Have a bonfire.

8.) Roast s’mores over the fire.

9.) Make apple cider.

10.) Drink a cup of hot cocoa with the windows open.

11.) Go for a hike to see the fall colors.

12.) Drink a pumpkin beer.

13.) Go on a fall-themed date.

14.) Watch a scary movie.

15.) Hand out candy on Halloween.

So, there you have it.  I am incredibly thrilled to get to participate in some of my favorite fall activities again this year.  On the island we have an abundance of wild apple trees.  Cody and I are picking 5-10 apples per week right now.  I foresee lots of apple goodies making it into my kitchen.  The other items on my bucket list might not be as easy to obtain, but I have faith.  Here’s to hoping for an amazingly beautiful fall season! 🙂

#Blogtober14

Welcome to #Blogtober14!!

Ok, I am a little behind on this one.  I think that this October blogging challenge will be a great way for me to reintroduce myself to blogging.  I was excited to see a challenge that celebrates my favorite month too.  So, to play catchup a little I am going to be blogging about the first four items on the Blogtober list today. Here goes nothing…

1.) If I won the lottery I would start by paying off all of my debt.  I only have outstanding debt on my student loans and my car.  I could pay them both off for under $15,000.  Doing this all at once would be amazing.  Next, I would probably work on setting some money aside for the future.  My future plans include another college degree, a house, traveling the world, buying/building a house, and having a kiddo or two.  It’d be so nice to be prepared for the future in this way.  I’d also like to set aside some money for my family and my local animal shelters.  If there was some leftover cash I would just save it.

2.) My dream job when I was a little girl was to be a teacher, which is exactly what I grew up to be! I don’t think I was anticipating being bogged down with standardized testing, low salaries, and insane amounts of “other duties as assigned.”  Either way I love teaching so it worked out well in the end.

3.) One thing I can’t live without is my (embarrassment alert) baby pillow. My grandmother made me a pillow to use in my crib.  Somehow I have kept it alive and in one piece over the last 20+ years. I still sleep with it every night and even as an adult I take it to sleepovers.  As a kid, I once cried all night when I left it at my daycare. The years have not changed this. Haha.

4.) My favorite photo that I have posted on Instagram is probably…all of them! I love Instagram and I love photography.  My favorite photo that I’ve ever taken is the background on my blog header.  Check out my page to see some of my other pictures!

Check back tomorrow for a full-length post about #5 on the Blogtober list! 🙂