Green Eyes on: Day of Decadence Done? Simplify.

Sara and her mom discovering the great outdoors.

I think, and I think you'll agree, that our days of decadence are done. I mean, who can afford a $5 daily coffee fix everyday anymore? Who can afford the bottomless tank of yesteryear's monster SUVs? Who can afford to travel? Or heat and cool their McMansion? It seems that we have been living in a time of decadence; a time of $100 burgers and $12.5 million bras. Key words: have been. Is it safe to say that those times have come, or are coming to, a close? So what now? Well, times like this, there's only one thing to do. Simplify!I know, sounds boring, right? It doesn't have to be. When I was growing up we didn't have a furnace (a wood burning stove and solar heat did the trick), we grew a good portion of the food we ate, we stayed home unless we really needed to go out . It was simple living; tough on the body but easy on the planet. Sure, today I live with my share of excess too. I drink the occasional bottle of water from a single-serve (when I'm on the road and have forgotten my Sigg), I eat some foods that come from far away (though I much prefer my CSA!), and stuff like that. Not as much as some but I'd be lying if I pretended to be perfect. Regardless, the idea of simplifying sometimes sends shivers down one's spine, so here are my Top Five Tips to Simplify; When the Bottom Falls Out of the Economy:

1. Rediscover Your Kitchen
If it's been a while since you went a whole week or even month without eating out, it's time for you to rediscover your kitchen. You'll be amazed, I hope, at how easy it is to actually make your lunch and your dinner. Here's what I did for dinner tonight. I took: 1 bunch of beets-greens (leaves) intact, 1 onion, 1 double handful of mushrooms (a blend is good but use what you've got), a little olive oil, salt and soy sauce. I thinly sliced the onion and beets and threw those into a sauté pan with some olive oil, pepper and salt (lid on). Once they got a little softer (but far from soft) I added the chopped mushrooms and cooked for about 3 minutes then tossed in the chopped beet greens for another 2 minutes. I finished with some soy sauce and pepper. On the side I cooked some brown rice (according to package directions). I put the sautéed vegetables on the rice, poured a little organic wine, and voila! Ready to try a few others? Here are some of my favorites.

2. Eat Leftovers Again
You know the dinner you just fixed? Put what you can't eat in a bowl and throw it back in a sauté pan (rice included) tomorrow for lunch or dinner. Or the next time you do hit a restaurant, don't finish everything on your plate. You're probably not hungry enough to eat it all anyway and you might be surprised at how it's the perfect amount for lunch or dinner in a day or two.

3. Forgo the Coffee Fix
Ok, so maybe you don't have to forgo the fix altogether, but how about trying some home brew for a change? My method of choice involves two things: yerba mate (my coffee alternative), and a french press (better than an electric coffee maker that clutters up the counter and siphons electricity to run it's clock when you're not around).

4. Shift Gears on your bike.
Surrender the gym membership and get outside again! Ride a bike, go for walks, runs, rake leaves you get the picture.

5. Buy Less, Share More
This is my favorite of them all! A swap party is what happens when you get all of your stuff (the stuff you're not in love with anymore) and a bunch of your friends get all of their stuff and you meet together somewhere, drop all your stuff, and then take turns sharing around. I want your sweater, you want my purse, she wants his ipod, he wants her roasting pan. It's free, it's liberating, and it's SO MUCH FUN!!!

Five "simplify" tips. And I'm sure you can think of five to ten more. If you can, post them below. We'd all love to see them!

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