Local

Just get rid of it!

My wife and I are relocating and planning to drive across provinces to a new city taking only things we can fit in our van. In order to do this we’ve had to purge quite a bit of material (even though we both identify as minimalists to begin with ). On more than one occasion during this purge I felt that tang of regret thinking one of the following

  • But I might need this in the future!!
  • But I spent $300 on that!
  • But there are so many memories!
  • Why don’t I hang onto it until I find the perfect person to give it to?

One of the things I always try to stress to people during our minimalist meetings is that they need to focus on their goal, is it to recoup costs or is it to get rid of stuff so they can refocus their life? I understand totally the desire to make sure the perfect person gets your old used cross country ski’s…or that you just last year dropped $500 on something. In my case we are moving into a 300sq feet home so we have a really good motivation to remove as many things as possible.

I also somewhat believe in karma…I have given away quite a bit of stuff over the last week, many things I hand built or spent some good money on…but I also got gifted a pretty wicked bicycle that definitely makes up for everything gifted away. Sometimes giving things away pays back way more than the $40 you could have gotten from a stranger on kijiji.

 

My mother in law drove in today to pick up a piece of furniture that she wanted to “keep in the family”, a 1940’s dresser that her parents had owned and had always been in their household. This dresser has been bouncing around the family for decades and spent the last several years living here. I hope this isn’t that the following comment doesn’t come across as rude but I feel I should also point out that this dresser is UGLY.

Once my mum-in law came out and saw the dresser she became really truthful with herself and realized that this large ugly dresser was really just an embodiment of misplaced sentiment. She wasn’t going to use this dresser…it was going to sit in a corner of her basement and collect dust and then, in all likelihood, be tossed out by one of her kids when she eventually moved on to the next great adventure.

Remember…it’s not things that hold memories…at best they are just triggers to those memories…so…in closing…if anyone wants an ugly 1940’s dresser drop me a note…free…to a good home or I will drop it off at Earth General’s Free Store sometime this week.

dresser3

*ps: it looks better in the picture…

 

Bone Broth

I love making bone broth…it is so nice to have once it starts to get cooler outside…and it has many nutritional benefits as it is loaded with minerals, it helps aid with digestion and the collagen helps to rebuild joints – these are just to name a few!

I have been using organic chicken necks and backs which I get through TK Ranch. Here is how I make it 🙂

I first roast the chicken parts I use for about 45 minutes..this will help to make the broth more flavourful.

Then I put the chicken parts  in a stock pot filled with water and add about 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar…I let it sit there for about an hour..the apple cider vinegar helps to pull the collagen and nutrients of the bones out of the chicken.

Next I add some chopped vegetables and spices to the broth – then bring it to a boil and simmer on low for about 24 hours..and then voilĂ  it is done…almost! All you will need to do next is strain the chicken and vegetables from the broth…let the bone broth cool to room temperature and then put into mason jars..make sure to leave about 3 inches space in the mason jar…as the jars can crack if they are filled to full. Enjoy 🙂 I often will drink bone broth for breakfast and as a snack throughout the day…delicious 🙂

 

 

 

Why Amazon is better than the local bookstore.

I recently wanted to buy 10 copies of a book that was very important to me and distribute them out as gifts this holiday season.

As I am a huge ‘buy local” enthusiast my first thought was to head down to my (last) local bookstore and ask them for a price on 10 copies. They came back with an estimate of $160 and “they would call me in a few weeks when it was in”. I then went over to Amazon and realized I could have those same books…delivered to my door within 2 days for about $60 less.

That’s a pretty big difference and it really got me thinking about buying local vs amazon when it comes to books. So I wanted to create a list that summarized all of the major points that were important to me and see which one would win.

Cost:

Winner: Amazon

This one isn’t too much of a surprise that Amazon wins based purely on the book cover price…we all know they are cheaper. But I’m also a big fan of looking at the “hidden costs” of an item and I have many many times paid a premium for a local service so why not this time? Well…the book isn’t printed here locally…the author probably isn’t local either…also…the dollars I “save” here by using Amazon will almost assuredly be spent locally. At best a couple of dollars might be put into the local community…into arguably a pretty inefficient business.

 

Customer service:

Winner: Tie

You probably thought that I would have given this to the local store….they are great and there is something about wandering around a store sipping a coffee and getting a personal recommendation. The problem with a personal recommendation by a single book dweeb is that it’s really more his opinion than understanding of your own tastes…Amazon has complex formula’s from hundreds (or thousands) of reviews and buying history.There is no way the local book dweeb can compete with that and in my own experience Amazon is way more accurate at suggesting something I would enjoy.

Now I do love the fact that my local bookstore has an area for authors to come in and talk to the public..I’ve used that space many a time in fact…this is something that Amazon simply can’t compete with. Naysayers will say if we don’t support the local bookstore this type of facility would disappear…I would argue that the cost even for this single purchase could rent me an appropriate space for an evening.

Literary/Selection:

Winner: Amazon

We all “know” that a local bookstore is a pivotal part of a neighborhood and community and encourages people to read more books…or does it? Nope actually people that use Amazon/Kindle read more books. It’s just so easy…maybe it’s a sign of myself getting older but after a bottle of wine now instead of going out to the club I might hop onto my kindle and buy 2-3 books. Checking my kindle the next morning to find out what I bought is way better than the fear of what text messages I might have sent!

Amazon can of course draw on a huge amount of physical space that would dwarf any real bookstore.

Final Thoughts:

The Minimalist in me also loves the appeal of e-books…but the anti-mega corporation part of me is concerned that once Amazon has ran everyone out of business they will no longer have the same level of customer service/amenities and cost savings they once did. So those concerns cancel themselves out. For now I still plan to use both…books that I

 

I also want to give an Honorable mention to Albrahama books here in Edmonton, they are a fantastic local bookstore but have really carved out a niche that sets them apart in dealing with older hard to find books…most of the above does not apply to them. In fact I think bookstores are going to have to really work hard (but that it’s totally doable) to diversify their business. Get more authors in…get prices down…setup coffee shops instore…offer things amazon can’t.

 

In case anyone is wondering the book I was Great Idea’s “Where I lived and what I lived for” by Thoreau. I know it’s almost cliche but have to say that this book is one of the most important I have ever read. I actually carry a copy on me almost always.

 

Tiny House Stuff

I realized that I have actually neglected updating this personal blog about the Tiny House activities I have been involved in here in Edmonton, last year a couple of us enthusiasts noticed that a few people in the area were starting up websites and started to get really interested in Tiny Homes. Rather than competing against each other for attention we opted to join forces, such as it were, and launched http://yegtinyhome.com. We also have our Meetup Group as well which I suggest anyone check out if they want to know and for those of us that are more “social media minded” you an check out our facebook group.

It’s actually been an exciting ride the last year or so, our group went from a handful of people at a pub to pretty much taking over entire coffeeshops and seeing such a wide range of different people who are interested in this “movement” for a huge amount of different reasons.

Some of the top reasons in my opinion:

  • Lower costs
  • Better Community Support
  • Solve Homelessness
  • Retirement Options
  • Sense of home ownership with mobility options

I’ve had the pleasure of being in a few Tiny homes and am actually visiting a professionally built one tonight. It’s also allowed me to expand my social circle in unexpected ways. Recently I was interviewed by a local radio station:

Click here to listen!

and the Edmonton journal spoke to us recently as well:

edm_journal

Edmonton Journal Article

So I’m very excited to see where this movement goes, whether or not most people will end up living in a Tiny House I think is secondary to us building a strong like minded community.

 

I’m also going to get more involved in a meaningful way with our local minimalism group here in Edmonton. A video I watched once mentioned that “editing” is going to be one of the most important skills for the new century and I’ve ponder that for a long time. Humanity has fought tooth and nail for centuries to get to a point of abundance and now we’ve (at least in Western culture) have largely hit that point and moved past it to excess. This excess is turning out to be just as dangerous and hunger in many ways.  Learning how to ‘right-size’ your life and make it fit is a brand new skill for us humans and one we are going to need to pick up if we want to be around in another century.

Peace out! Well wishes to all!

Commute

I commute an average of 25.4 minutes to work according to google tracks, one way, each and every day that I work. My job could easily be done remotely without me having to get in the car…but I do because that is the way it is supposed to be done…

With only a bit or irony the average amount that an average Canadian commutes…according to statscan is..

 In 2011, commuters spent an average of 25.4 minutes travelling to work. This was almost the same as the average in the United States for the same year (25.5 minutes).Note3

source

Scott Adams once said (and I paraphrase) that you can live in a nice house in a nice neighbourhood…or you can have a good job…but the two could never be close together…..and for that reason we move from our cubed houses to our cubed cars…driving them down straight roads to other cubed building to sit in a small grey cube and type on a cube into a viewing cube…cubes..

Anyways…for reasons I can’t quite pin point I’ve decided to walk from my home in Allendale Edmonton to my job…which is in the far North East…pretty much in St. Albert….I estimate it will take me about 4 hours to get there….nonstop….each way….

Getting in a car and transporting yourself great distances with relative ease is easy…so easy we don’t even think about it…at my work it’s totally normal for 15 cars…weighing an combined total of close to 100,000 pounds….drive an average of 2.2km at lunch…..to buy about 10 pounds of shitty food…and then drive back…..and we think nothing of it.

That’s the equivalent of 100 blue whale testicles rolling down the highway!!!

source

So I’m decided that I am going to walk across the city to my work….the average distance an average Canadian commutes on September 18th…it’s a long walk…I figure it will take me about 4 hours each way…but I really think it’s going to give me a perspective just on how much we rely on the old fossil fuels…so yes…doing it.

Along the way I plan to post a few pictures to my twitter account (@justindechaine) unless it’s suspended…which it often is….because I seem to post some pretty pro ISIS type content on there….even though I don’t recall doing it…

I’m hoping to stop at a few places so if you are anywhere on the route (or close to it) feel free to offer me a muffin or a cup of coffee along my travels.

approx route