SOCIAL MEDIA

16 February 2016

Minimalism Beyond Reason

I have natural minimalist tendencies--I don't find myself interested in minimalist lifestyles because I want to curb any sort of shopping habit--it's more as if minimalism fits my natural desire for clean counter tops and empty cupboards (but what, oh, what is the purpose of an empty cupboard, I might ask? That I do not claim to know.).

My naturally minimalist self has become ever more so since moving overseas. Something about having to give up nearly everything you own makes you very reluctant to expend time, energy, and money acquiring things all over again. In America, I had a normally-stocked kitchen with all the normal appliances and cans that had been in the cupboard so long I couldn't even remember putting them there. The appliances were mostly wedding gifts and the food...I still don't know how it got there.

Now, I've been living the minimalist kitchen lifestyle for more than a year and a half. In China, we bought the groceries we needed for the day on the day itself--or else bought enough for two days at a time. That's what you'll do if you live across the street from the grocery store and have to carry anything you buy up three flights of stairs...and have a kitchen that isn't quite big enough for two adults to stand in at the same time.

Here, we buy more food at once, since we do have a car, but our kitchen remains noticeably bare. We have two knives, 6 pans (I only bought two, but then was given hand-me-downs, hurrah!), and a fridge and a stove, but gradually have almost forgotten that specific appliances exist to do the things we've found other ways of doing. 


We held off on buying a microwave because they take up so much counter space, and at this point, I've found that heating up leftovers on the stove just seems normal. After all, that's what everyone did before microwaves, right (although we can't take that line of reasoning too far or we'll be trying to convince ourselves that we can live without refrigerators). Some things don't heat up as well as others, I'll admit (ever tried heating cold mashed potatoes in a frying pan?), but overall, I don't notice the inconvenience--Angel does, but that's because he dislikes washing the pot after he warms up his food. All of our plates are metal, so we'd have to get new microwave-safe dishes if we bought one, anyways, so I'm happy without one.


If we want toast, we 'toast' the bread in the frying pan--works just fine. Who need an entire appliance to satisfy random toast cravings? Pretty much everything goes in either the soup pot or the frying pan. I have tried experiments that were only semi-successful concerning trying to make hot hoagies in a frying pan (a baked sandwich is usually baked in, you know, an oven? That baking thing?). Turns out, frying pans don't make the best ovens. Who woulda thought? We still ate the frying-pan-baked sandwiches.

Angel got a blender for Christmas, so now we have smoothies. Our parents might occasionally regret giving that gift, as we used to make all of our smoothies at their house, using their blender, and then we shared with whoever was around. Now we keep them all to ourselves. 

Minimalism has taught me that a frying pan can be a microwave and a toaster in a pinch (though not quite an oven...), but it's also taught me that sometimes it's plain old worth it to spend the money and devote the counter space to the really useful appliance that will make life better and easier. There is a point when minimalism goes beyond reason and functionality, and it's important to stop it before it gets to that point. We have a rice cooker and a slow-cooker, an electric tea-kettle, a blender, a stove, and a fridge, all of which certainly add to our quality of life. For now, a toaster wouldn't because we go weeks at a time without buying bread, let alone wanting to toast it. The blender is cool. I'm not sure if I could go back to sharing my smoothies, although sharing is better for my character than keeping it all to myself in my naturally greedy way.

The 6-appliance kitchen works for us. Many people have fewer appliances than we do, others have many more. Ideally, those of us who are naturally minimalistic won't let the desire for nice clean empty spaces deprive us of perfectly useful modern conveniences, and those to whom stuff-accumulation comes naturally will have the self-restraint to realize when it's not worth devoting counter space to an appliance used once every two months. It's very possible for minimalism to be taken beyond what's reasonable, and it's important not to view minimal belongings as the goal, but rather as a tool by which some of us find it easier to live a peaceful life.


What appliances are worth buying and storing in your kitchen because they add to your life? And which do you wish you could just get rid of already?

24 comments :

  1. Wait you don't have an oven?? How do you live. Baking bread? Cake??? O.o we don't use the microwave here...I hate them.

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  2. Hey angel you don't have to wash the pot when you reheat it you know...you could just eat the leftovers in the state they are in, i.e cold :P

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  3. I think it's great that you're a balanced minimalist-acknowledging that simplicity is good, but sometimes it is worth it to buy a certain appliance! I feel very similarly-I don't feel the need to have lots of complicated things, but sometimes, the convenience is really nice (and when the vast majority of our kitchen appliances were wedding gifts, I don't feel bad about having them. I do feel weird about giving away things that we were gifted with recently, and figure we'll just use them since people generously gave them to us). My in-laws do most of their cooking and reheating in a cast iron skillet, and I think it's the coolest thing. So, if our wedding-present pan collection ever needs to be retired or given away, I'd love to minimize kitchen tools and do something like that.

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  4. I'm minimalist by nature but somehow in our society - always seems get more than what is really needed. Oh - well - but true nature still comes through when I have my annual de-clutter and new aim to keep it super simple :)

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  5. I admire you as I know I have pots and pans that I don't use but have either been given as a wedding gift or it was handed down. Our society has become spoiled by thinking that every task needs to be done by another appliance or gadget. I've been slowly removing things from my life that I do not use.

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  6. I've been getting into minimalism and it really is across a long spectrum. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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  7. I would consider myself a minimalist in my home decor. I do not have knickknacks around the house as they just collect dust and it is more for me to clean. However, I am not minimal on any appliance or item that will make my life easier.

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  8. I will freely admit that I love my appliances. That said, we have been without a dishwasher for about 4 months now and seem to be managing just fine.

    I do have a large kitchen (90% of the reason we bought this house in the first place) so I have plenty of space for storage of my appliances, except my Kitchen Aide which is far too large for any spot. I wouldn't get rid of it though. I use it too often.

    When I lived overseas I was like you, making due, although I was lucky enough to have an oven most of the time. Otherwise...no cookies! What is life without cookies?

    bisous
    Suzanne

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  9. I have more appliances than you, but I agree that there are no end to the kitchen gadgets you can have! Someone bought me a special cookie dough scooper once. A cookie dough scooper! We don't make cookies that often and when we do, I have absolutely zero problems with using a spoon to drop it on the cookie sheet, so for us it was not worth having it taking up space in a drawer making it harder to find the stuff we actually use!

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  10. I always feel like I live a semi-minimalist lifestyle and always wish to be more so. I could never get rid of my coffee maker though...that is a MUST for me! ;)

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  11. wow, I can't imagine living without an oven - seriously bake everything haha. crazy awesome how you've made it work though!

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  12. We lived without a microwave for awhile as well and it was refreshing! We ended up getting one eventually because with my daughter now eating solid food it was taking too long to heat up her food for meal times. :)

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  13. I was just thinking about this yesterday when I was cleaning out my kitchen cabinets and found a cake pan in the shape of the number 1. It was for my son's first birthday. Clearly something you can only use once and I obviously never used again. That's going in the donation pile! I agree that people have grown to accustomed to convenience and buying things just because - even though the cost is more than the usefulness of the item. I like that you are resourceful and can do so much with so little! :)

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  14. I hate our microwave. It gets used maybe once a week and takes up so much space. Plus it's ugly!!

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  15. You should get a toaster oven. It would make heating things up much easier. I don't use the microwave either, just the stove top and oven.

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  16. That's incredible!! Its funny because I was just looking at my toaster trying to recall the last time I used it...wondering is this really a need? I imagine that moving and living internationally has been one way to help you not acquire extra stuff over the years too? ...

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  17. This post makes me want to clear the clutter in our apartment! thanks for sharing with us!

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  18. I've been doing a lot of purging in my kitchen lately. There really is so much you don't need! The one unnecessary appliance I love and will forever make space for is my waffle maker. I begged and pleaded for one for my birthday years ago, and I still love it as much as I used to. I don't use it as much as I would like, but I love it when I do.

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  19. I don't think I could live without an oven. Although, since it's just the two of us, the toaster oven might suffice. And we reheat most of our leftovers on the stove or in the oven. We hardly ever use the microwave! Although it's mounted beneath the cabinets, so I'm not bothered by it taking up counter space!

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  20. Wow amazing that you don't have an oven. Mine doesn't work properly right now and it really annoys me. I try to stay away from using the microwave as much as possible, but the oven is definitely something I use!

    Cameron Proffitt

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  21. I definitely have minimalistic tendencies, too, though you'd never know from looking at my house! My husband complains all of the time that I throw out perfectly good clothes (which are, in reality, his stained, gross t-shirts) and donate stuff all of the time. Like you, if I'm not using something, I think it needs to find a new home. :) I've been contemplating donating some of my daughter's baby toys that are too young for her anymore, but I'll have to do it in the middle of the night so she doesn't hate me!

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  22. I love this SO MUCH!! I admire your abilities to be so minimalistic - my brain says I am, but my apartment would say otherwise... but hey, I'm trying! Every time I let something go or donate something I feel like I can breathe a little better, so I think I'm heading in the right direction even if it's taking me awhile to get there!

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  23. This is very interesting however I do not think I could function without a microwave

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  24. I have a very similar attitude to you about minimalism, and I think living in a foreign country helps! I agree about the microwaves... they're just such a huge appliance to take up space when there's other things that can do the same job (this coming from someone who used to think that you've just GOT to have a microwave in a kitchen). I have these sweet metal plates I use to reheat food, just stick 'em in the oven, and can eat right from the plate. (pretty, no, but so functional) I couldn't see an oven in your kitchen pictures, so perhaps the stove would be the next best option.

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