Monday, March 22, 2010

Seeking simplicity

A few days ago, someone asked me why I'm always on the hunt for quick and simple recipes, and although I already answered in the comments, I would like to dedicate some time right now to talk about simplicity.

It's not only about food; I'm seeking to simplify in many areas of life and homemaking. It means getting rid of various knick-knacks I don't need, so I have less to dust and put into place, and giving away items of clothing we don't use, to free up space in the closet. It means buying and wearing mainly clothes which will be sturdy and easy to care for. It means trying to minimize time-consuming pursuits. It means, even, remaining in touch only with a limited number of people who bring peace and joy into my life, so I won't have to spare the time and energy to deal with needless anxiety and stress.

Time and energy. Two limited, precious resources we must carefully delegate, taking our needs and the needs of our loved ones into consideration. It would be lovely, of course, to have lots of time for everything. I would love to have whole days free to clean and organize now, before Pesach. I would love to have several hours straight to spend in the kitchen and cook. But the life of a wife and mother is busy, and the needs of the our loved ones, and our domestic duties, are numerous, and must be attended throughout each day.

So in practice, the way it works for me and my family, every day I have time to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Some laundry, some cleaning, some cooking, some ironing. Some long-term projects and some everyday tasks, such as doing the dishes and making the beds. There is also a little one I don't want to brush aside even on the busiest of days. So there is usually a walk in the fresh air and sunshine, games and stories and songs, and of course, bath time.

However, simple doesn't have to mean boring and unsatisfying. A simple meal can be a true feast. How about oven-baked fish and some baby potatoes and carrots, roast whole in the oven? Or a pot of soup simmering on the stove? This way, baking or cooking will take time, but as soon as you put your dinner in the oven or on the stove, you are free to go on and do other things, perhaps occasionally checking on what is going on in the kitchen.

 Above: a simple and delicious meal - rice with fish and stir-fried veggies. 

Hard work is good, important and satisfying, but when we try to cram too much into our days, we might lose that sweet relaxed feeling we can otherwise convey to our children as being mothers at home. By simplifying and streamlining and becoming more efficiency, we free up time. You can never have too much time on your hands when you have little ones by your side throughout each day.   


Mary M said...

Oh this is such a great post...just what I needed to read today.

Thank you Anna!

Analytical Adam said...

Mrs. Anna,

I think everything in moderation. I agree none of us have unlimited time. However, only wanting to deal with those that with joy and happiness and ignore those who don't I don't think is a noble trait and I don't think is following G-d.

Some people may have legitimate greivances that they aren't so happy and ignoring them because they don't give you joy is wrong.

I guess the problem Mrs. Anna is your husband reached out to others. He should not be in his own world Abraham reached out to others and his wife helped in the home in this reaching out to others. Of course this reaching out has to be a two way street and not with this smug attitude that you are so religious and everyone else isn't (I see a lot of this). Moses learned from Yitro and listened to him. The religious world itself while keeping Kosher and Shabbas has adopted every new age ideology that really is not imitating G-d at all. They project this to others sadly.

Judaism is not a monk type existence (this type of attitude again shows the so called religious adapt other ideas that aren't torah) to just focus on oneself and one's family at a time when sadly there is much disorder in family life and the religious world openly persecutes many Jewish people and people who are partially Jewish who have family problems that don't fit a very narrow agenda and of course they can't trust the religious world.

If we want to close our eyes and only focus on those who have few problems and bring us joy we may not be doing our full duty and that applies to you as a couple Mrs. Anna. I agree at a certain point I would think it would be unhealthy that when helping others you ignore yourself. At the same time on a certain level being too focused on a few people is not understanding that you do have a responsibility to sometimes open up to others as well. This applies I think as a couple. I may be guilty of it as well at times thinking about it to be fair.

Anonymous said...

The fish "In" the dish or the fish "ON"your cloth?!!!!! Made me do a double take and gave me a giggle!

Anonymous said...

So true, Anna! This morning's meal was simply the choice of bagels or toast, & fruit juice. The lunches were considerably more substantial, & supper is a chicken & white bean chili which will cook in the crockpot all day (honestly, I don't know what I'd do without my slow cookers!). I have errands to run, & it is a load off my mind to be certain of a good & satisfying meal while I see to other tasks.

Hoping you have a good & productive week, Anna-


Hearts Surrendered to our Awesome God said...

Lovely and encouraging! Thank you. I rarely finish a task I start in a day, I start multiple things and by the end of a few days they all come to completion. Then, we start anew! The children, you are right! I often find myself brushing my husband's hugs aside, so I can get to this or that. (usually dishes!) I need to embrace what is most important at that moment.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Adam, I think you misunderstood me. I did *not* mean ignoring people who have problems and need help, but rather, staying away from those who have a lot of negative things to say about the way we live, for example, I do *not* wish to spend a lot of time around people who think it's terrible that I'm "already" pregnant again.

Anonymous said...

I really am enjoying your blog and this post especially. Though we lead different lives, I am a Christian, Childless (not by choice and we're hoping for a miracle), full-time working wife but you give me inspiration and hope.

I am thinking of removing many of what I call the "time wasters" from my life - facebook, twitter, too much television. It's a start...

Rose said...

Anna I too prefer simple meals and food, for reasons of time but also health. I love to read about traditional food practices and most were simple. there may have been long slow cooking but the preparations, method and ingredients were usually simple unless it was a time for celebration.

Stephanie said...

Ah, simplicity is something I've been pondering quite a bit lately. My husband has always sought simplicity, and blessedly he's started to rub off on me. ;) Right now we're in the process of figuring out how to simplify our lives together, as you are. Good to know even on the other side of the world there are people seeking this!

Kelly said...

I, too, seek to live a simple life. It is too easy to get caught up in too many busy things. I prefer to keep life simple and have time to enjoy my family: my husband and three boys. They are my joy.

Caroline said...

I am in complete agreement with you on this post. My goodness I don't understand why people devote so much of their time and energy to overcomplicated endeavors that could be whittled down to be more satisfying and meaningful.
My loving man doesn't like it when I spend all my time in the kitchen because it takes me away from him, so I try to do things as efficiently and simply as possible while making sure that we are eating whole, real food. It creates a bond between us when we can share more time and the food. Win, win! :)