After a much-needed break, we’re back and ready to blog like 2020 never happened. We’re pretty much the same folks, just a bit wiser and more focused than we’ve probably been in a while, but nonetheless, still just two non-conformist weirdos (self-described) making the best out of living with less. If you’re new here (or just want to know what we’re all about), we’d like to take a moment to introduce ourselves (or re-introduce, as the case may be).
I’m Melody. I’m the voice of this blog. I do all the writing, editing, planning, erasing, rewriting, and replying. I’ve always been an introvert, so while I very much want to say something awesome and awe-inspiring in response to each of your comments, I fumble that ball more often than I carry it. Just know, I do love comments, even if I don’t always know what to say in return. Anyway…here’s a little about me.
I grew up in the suburbs of Nashville, was educated at a community college and later a Christian university, and once worked as a District Manager for a large marketing firm that specializes in pet products. My job took me to a lot of cool places and introduced me to a lot of new things – most of which were not that good for me – like flying the red-eye, wining and dining clients and employees, staying up all hours of the night cramming for presentations, eating fast food in hotel rooms, and drinking a pot or two of coffee a day just to stay awake. In 2008, I exited stage left and spent the summer selling souvenirs at a wildlife museum and riding a scooter around Colorado with my 10-year-old niece on the back. We went camping, watched a dozen $2 matinees of Mama Mia, wandered through wildflowers, and shopped all the local thrift stores. It was life-changing and I knew then, I never wanted to go back to “work” again.
My partner is life, and the other half of this blogging project, is an amazing woman named Angie. She listens patiently as I read each post aloud to her before publishing them, and while she always says the same thing (“It’s good”), I adore her and know that without her, I’d have nothing to write about. She is the motivator or our duo, the one who has lunch packed before breakfast and prods me out the door with a hiking pole to slog 3 miles uphill in the rain to a waterfall. Did I mention that I adore her?
Angie and I met in Denver. Living with roommates to keep her rent low and practicing extreme couponing, she was the 2nd most frugal person I’d ever encountered. The night we met, we were both out with friends who were “looking for love”, and we happened to bump into each other (literally) while awkwardly trying to dance. Our first conversation was about football. For our first date, Angie used a gift card and a coupon. When we realized that neither of us had any debt (except our student loans) nor did we want any, that we preferred the beach to the mountains, and that Law & Order was our favorite show to clean the house to, we knew we were stuck (with each other, that is).
In 2012, we discovered minimalism. We were still in Colorado and as beach people, we weren’t very happy being landlocked in a mountainous state. On a whim that spring, we flew to Seattle to see if we might like to move there. It took about 20 minutes to decide that we did not. So instead, we sold nearly 50% of our possessions, loaded our cat and dog into our Xterra, and moved 2,200 miles away to a place we’d never even visited – North Port, Florida. Angie retired that year, at the age of 37, and I continued to work full-time (remotely) for a non-profit until 2015, when I cut back to part-time. In 2019, I left that job to give self-employment (or rather, gigwork) a try. While it was frustrating and scary at times, the first year without a real job was also a real morale booster. We learned that, not only could we live with less stuff, but we could live on a whole lot less money than we ever thought possible too.
Today, we are back in my hometown in Tennessee. A health scare with my mom and the birth of our grand-niece brought us here 5 years ago. The abundance of outdoor activities makes it easier to stay, but our heart will always be in Florida, and one day, we do plan to return to the beach. In the meantime though, we’re living the life of everyday minimalists. So what does that mean exactly?
Well, for starters, we try not to have a lot of stuff. The optimal word here is “try”. Stuff has a way of creeping in, as you undoubtedly saw in my last post, so decluttering is an active, ongoing process in our home. We’ve found that with added stuff comes added responsibility, and while we’re not opposed to being “responsible adults”, there are a lot more fun ways to live our one and only life on this Earth. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather spend the day reading a book than cleaning out the garage…so we just don’t have a garage, or any of the stuff that goes in it.
We live in a 730 square foot apartment, with our cat, Caesar. We love to grow things, so the windowsills and balcony serve as a mini-garden for greens and herbs. We also have a small garden spot in my mom’s backyard where we grow tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and other veggies in the summer. We prepare 95% of our meals at home, only dining out for special occasions or to try new foods when we travel. Speaking of which…food and travel are probably the two things we love the most in this world. We live to explore new places and try new recipes, and it’s a real win-win when we can do both at the same time.
For the past few years, we’ve limited meat consumption to only what we were served at my mom’s house or sometimes seafood, but recently we went full vegan. Some of our friends and family have not taken the news very well, which is okay. We haven’t quite come to terms with some of their choices either, like smoking, but we try to accept them anyway 🙂
By the way…this was the first holiday season that we attended a family dinner and did not feel obligated to keep the peace by eating a bit of the turkey or ham (and truthfully, we were all having such a good time that no one seemed to even notice!).
Now back to the story…
We have one car – a 2015 Chevrolet Spark named Peanut – that serves as our adventure-mobile, grocery getter, and occasional truck for hauling dirt and mulch. Peanut is small but mighty and has carried its fair share of hefty loads. We bought Peanut used in December 2016 from Carvana and mailed the final payment just 2 months later. It was one of the proudest moments of our life (and one of our most viewed posts too!). A few months ago, we put a map on Peanut’s back window to keep track of all the places we plan to go…and there are a lot of them.
We have many hobbies, which is one of the perks of being minimalist. Fewer responsibilities means more time to pursue your passions and besides travel and food, ours are reading, hiking, and letterboxing. If you’ve never heard of letterboxing, you should really Google it (or read this post). Basically, it’s the low-tech version of geocaching. You follow written clues to find hidden boxes containing hand-carved rubber stamps, which you then ink and stamp into a notebook that you carry just for the purpose of letterboxing. It’s a great way to see places you might not know exist and be outdoors. Since 2013, we’ve letterboxed in 13 states and are only a few boxes away from hitting 500 found.
So, that’s us in a nutshell…the Minimalists Next Door. Our blog is a place where we reflect on our every day life. It’s a journal really, not a monetized site or a how-to guide on being minimalist, though we might make a few suggestions along the way. This is a place where we share our story and invite you to share yours as well. Minimalism, after all, is a journey and we’re all going to travel our own path toward it. So, if you’re into minimalism, veganism, adventurism, or any other ism of simple living, you’re in the right place. Welcome!
To follow the blog, visit www.minimalistnextdoor.com
To follow our outdoor adventures (which we post separately from this blog), visit www.goingsightseeing.wordpress.com.