Was Grandma a minimalist?
Yes and no.
Sometimes I feel like I have competing concepts of living. My vintage side embraces the “make do and mend” philosophy. Vintage Amanda likes to be frugal and creative with food – buying in-season, canning, preserving, using leftovers and stocking the freezer and pantry. Saving glass jars, bits of fabric and old clothes for my projects. Having a home apothecary of herbal remedies. Making all my own beauty products. Upcycling unwanted items into something new.
The other side of me embraces the minimalist lifestyle. Is it a trend? It might be, but I think they’re onto something. The idea is to live with less stuff. Less stuff means you can live in a smaller home. Less stuff is quicker to clean, cheaper to maintain, and easier to move. Buy only what you absolutely need, and buy high-quality items that will last. Instead of 6 cheap acrylic sweaters, invest in one quality cashmere or wool sweater. Digitize your photos, music and movies. Eliminate decorative clutter. Each item you own should be something you LOVE or something you NEED, everything else can go.
It’s hard to find a balance between these two seemingly opposed viewpoints. But I think Grandma was onto something. Yes, she saved jars and bits of fabric. Yes, she had a fully stocked freezer and pantry. But she only bought what she absolutely had to. If she needed something, she either borrowed it from the neighbor, or bought a high-quality item that would last a lifetime. (Remember the old refrigerator that is still ‘perfectly serviceable’, or the functioning clothes iron which she got as a wedding gift?) Instead of buying something new, the first question was “how can we use what we already have?” She didn’t have a closet-full of clothes, she had a well-edited wardrobe of essentials which were cared for. She didn’t have 17 different shades of red lipstick, she had one.
I think the essence of both philosophies is awareness of your stuff. Taking a moment to think before you buy something. Making sure the items in your home, and the items that you buy, are in line with your priorities.
Are you more ‘make do and mend’ or more minimalist? How do you find the right balance for your life?