My Minimalism Journey

The Napkin Story

In my previous post Farm Girl Vintage, Part III I mentioned my past challenges with nearly OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) level of desire for order and neatness in my life.

When we lived in Seattle, WA I used to entertain, a lot. Game nights, holiday get-togethers at my house, random dinner parties, birthday party hosting, baby shower hosting, work parties, etc., etc. I was very social – and if I was not throwing party, I was attending a party or going to some event. Notice, I mentioned that “I” was very social, as I learned years later, Terry the Quilting Husband was only playing along, he would have preferred more quiet time at home with me and the dogs. (There is the Thanksgiving he always teases me about – when we out of obligation, courtesy and my desire, attended 3 – 4 Thanksgiving celebrations at various friends’ homes all in one day!)

I enjoyed the gatherings, but when I hosted it was secretly very stressful as I always wanted to have everything  absolutely perfect for my guests. I would spend hours before hosting a party making sure everything was perfect. I would read magazine articles about tips for being the perfect host (Martha Stewart in her heyday would have been proud…or perhaps have some concerns about my sanity).

One of the “perfect host” tips was to have a perfectly set table. I always kept a perfectly set dining room table, even when no one was coming over to dine. All the plates, flatware, and cloth napkins perfectly arranged (at least I refrained from keeping glassware set out to gather dust…) in anticipation for the next get together.

The cloth napkins, oh the cloth napkins. They were always freshly pressed, perfectly arranged in their napkin rings and never to be used. Yes, you read correctly, never to be used.

When people came over for dinner, I would pull out disposable napkins and place them next to the cloth napkins. I did not realize how much weirdness this was, but my friends quietly accepted my weirdness and would use the paper napkins while the cloth napkins remained untouched.

Then my sister visited…

My younger sister Rianna is awesome and has helped me evolve to a more “chilled-out” person. I had a dinner party in her honor when she visited with some of my closest Seattle friends.

Rianna did not know of my “napkin weirdness” and sat down at the dining table to eat and proceeded to remove the cloth napkin from its napkin ring and place it on her lap.

A hush fell over the dining room table…

My sister tells the story much better than I but it was like she had climbed on top of the table and started dancing through our plates of food – it was that shocking to me and my other guests (who unfortunately I had obviously trained to accept my weirdness). I am sure I behaved very tensely for a moment but I had no choice but to see the silliness of the situation – being upset that someone was actually using a cloth napkin I had set out on the table.

My sister was patient and understanding (though she thought it was hysterical once she realized what happened). When she returned home from her visit she sent me a HUGE collection of cloth napkins and kindly suggested I actually USE them.

Fast forward many years. Now having embraced minimalism, living with less, and a desire to be thoughtful to the environment, I have completely given up paper napkins and only use cloth napkins!

As you can see from the photo below, they are very well used. We even use napkins several times before throwing them into the washing machine (unless we have a really messy meal).

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We do not entertain like we used to and we are very happy with that (notice I said “we” – Terry the Quilting Husband is over the moon that he gets to mainly spend time hanging out with just me and the dogs).

I still keep my house fairly neat and I like things in order. If you read my series of posts on My Minimalism Journey you will see that I have much less things (so they are even easier to keep in order – ha!). I accept that order makes me happy but I try not to be obsessed about it and continually try to let go of perfection (I no longer iron my cloth napkins and I donated all my napkin rings to a local charity thrift shop!)


Postscript

Paper Towels

As I was thinking about writing this post, one of my blogging buddies who writes an awesome blog about living thrifty, @Devise.Create.Connect, posted this about paper towels: THINGS I DON’T BUY ANYMORE TO SAVE MONEY: PAPER TOWELS.

I realized that in addition to using cloth napkins, we also switched to using old tea towels and old wash cloths to clean the house; and crocheted washcloths for dishes. We keep a supply of paper towels for anything super messy and for draining fat/oil when cooking (i.e. for bacon).

We used to go through a lot of paper towels and now a roll of paper towels seems to last us forever.

Signs of Spring

It feels like it has been an endless Winter, but yesterday in my neighbor’s garden, I witnessed signs of Spring! The crocus are popping up:

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The Easter Schnauzer Bunny?

This probably belongs on Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer’s blog, Schnauzer Snips, but Terry and I were at the grocery store on Friday and came across this in the Easter display:

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Yes, nestled among the stuffed animal rabbits, chickens (or is that a duck?) and sheep, was an “Easter Schnaubunny”. No we did not buy it, as tempting as it was!