Hygge 3-Bean Chili

Vegetarian Friendly

I would like to share with you one of our all time favorite recipes.  In true hygge fashion, enjoying the process of preparing the ingredients and having the wonderful aroma fill the house while you slowly cook this chili, is nearly as rewarding as sitting down as a family to enjoy it.

While this meal can be enjoyed at any time on any day, if you were to prepare this meal on a cold snowy Sunday morning after your morning coffee or tea listening to some relaxing music, you will have all the makings for a complete day of memorable hygge moments.

Ingredients: 

1 – Red Bell Pepper

1 – Green Bell Pepper

1 – Yellow Bell Pepper

3 Tablespoons – Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 cup – Chopped Onion

2 Teaspoons – Ground Cumin

1 Teaspoon – Crushed Red Pepper

1 Teaspoon – Paprika

¼ Teaspoon – Salt

4 – Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced

2 cups – Organic Vegetable Broth

1 can (28 ounce) – No Salt Added Tomatoes, chopped and undrained

1 can (15 ounce) – Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (15 ounce) – Cannellini Beans, drained and rinsed

1 can (15 ounce) – Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed

½ cup – Green Onions, thinly sliced

Process:

  1. Preheat Broiler.
  2. Cut the Bell Peppers in half lengthwise.  Remove the seeds and membranes. On a foil lined baking sheet, place the pepper halves skin side up.  Put the peppers in the broiler for 15 minutes or until the skin is blackened.
  3. Remove the peppers from the broiler and place the pepper halves in a zip lock bag for 15 minutes.  Afterwards, remove and discard the skin from the peppers. Dice the peppers.
  4. In a large pot, heat the Extra Virgin Olive Oil over Medium-Low heat.  Add the Chopped Onion; cook for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
  5. Add and Stir in; Cumin, Crushed Red Pepper; Paprika; Salt; Sliced Garlic Cloves.  Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Add; Bell Peppers; Vegetable Broth; Tomatoes and bring to a simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Add; Pinto, Cannellini and Red Kidney Beans.  Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Remove from heat and sprinkle with Green Onions.

Serve with a freshly sliced loaf of french bread or freshly baked corn bread.

Mirror rorriM

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So…I wrote a book a while back.

I did not get it published, but I am proud of it. It is a fiction story tailored towards young adults with a touch of science fiction. I would like to post a few chapters – if there is interest I will continue to share the story with you all.

Seth Matthews is a high school student in a small town. When one of the girls in his grade goes missing, Seth, his brother and his best friends decide to do some investigating of their own.

What they uncover forces them to question reality, and threatens to destroy this otherwise peaceful town. As two worlds collide, Seth finds himself in the middle of a civil war in search of his friend.

Will he be able to survive both worlds, save his friend and return order to his small town?

Decision Fatigue

What, Why & How

One of the hidden benefits of minimalism and hygge is a reduction in decision fatigue.  Yes that is a real thing, and yes it happens to you. In fact, it happens to just about everyone, every single day, from the most influential people in the world to a small child wandering between toy store shelves.

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The key, which the most successful and powerful people in the world have found, is to recognize it, acknowledge it and combat it.  From the moment that you wake up in the morning, decisions are being made, snooze button or get up? Shower? Green shirt or blue? Breakfast? Coffee?  Research shows that we make upwards of 35,000 decisions every single day, some of them are significant, but most are trivial. When the time comes to make an important decision you need to be at your best.  In order to be at your best, you need to gauge your decision fatigue. In order to gauge your decision fatigue you first need to know what causes it.

Causes

The primary cause of decision fatigue is – get this – decisions.  Who could have imagined that? 35 thousand decisions a day. You do 35 thousand anything a day beside breathing or blinking and you will be exhausted.

Other causes include:

Low glucose levels – A poor diet affects every facet of your life.  Glucose levels play a large role in decision making and self-control.  Low glucose will reduce your patience and cause you to make more intuitive rather than deliberate decisions.

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Income level – This may sound odd, but studies have shown that income level and decision fatigue are closely aligned.  Having a smaller income increases the significance of smaller decisions. Often decisions about the purchase of food and everyday items will be weighed more heavily due to the money trade-off that is associated with it.

Children – Children = Questions, lots and lots of questions.

Time of day – This may go without saying, but I will say it anyway.  First thing in the morning and right after lunch is when we are at our best and our decisions are at their most trustworthy.  Adversely, when you get hungry before lunch and the late afternoon into the evening should not be prime decision time if you want to be of sound mind.

Effects

When all of these factors combine you open yourself up to some regrettable purchases and bad habits.  As well as putting yourself in a position to fall victim to marketing ploys.  

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Most notably, supermarkets capitalize on decision fatigue.  Candy and snacks are placed in the checkout aisle because after wandering up and down the aisles you have made hundreds of decisions already and are more susceptible to a bite size snack purchase.  Cookies and candy are placed at children’s eye level because a tired parent is more likely to fold to a child’s wants in order to placate them quickly and easily.  

Research has found that consumer emails sent out between 8 and 10 p.m. is more likely to create revenue because marketers have associated decision fatigue with impulse buys. 

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Fast food restaurants placed along your daily commute are counting on your avoidance of making yet another decision.  It is much easier to pull into a drive thru, than it would be to decide what to cook and take the time to cook it.

The path of least resistance is the go to for someone who has surpassed his decision stamina.  Sticking with the status quo as well, feels like the easy choice when faced with a hard decision at the end of a day.

Remedies

You know what it is, you know why it happens and you feel the side effects in your wallet and belly.  What are you going to do about it?

It all starts in the morning, the less decisions you have to make before your day truly begins the better.

Routines – Establish a routine wherever you can.  If you have a set routine every morning, options and decisions become obsolete.

Wardrobe Hygge-lism – See my article on a minimal, hygge wardrobe to eliminate the choice of what you will wear on any given day by clicking this link.

Meal Plans – A meal plan will reduce so many decisions, save you so much time and so much money that you will never go without one again.  You will never have to decide on what meal to cook after a long day. What you need to purchase at the grocery store will be precise. Impulse buys in the grocery market will cease to exist.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – Adding a disproportionate level of importance on a small decision will wear you down quickly.  

Diet/Snacks – A good diet and healthy snacks will balance your glucose levels and allow you to stay on top of your game longer.

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Schedule – If you have a meeting heavy career, only schedule them for mornings and directly after lunch, avoid late afternoon and end of the week meetings as often as you can.

Unplug – As the afternoon progresses to evening, unplug from technology.  Put your phone away, close out your email and drop off social media. Not only will this allow your mind to relax, it will allow for more quality time with the family and the absence of blue light will start to prepare you for a good night’s rest.

Minimalism – The minimalism lifestyle is simple and easy.  You only have what you need, like and use.

What ways do you recognize and combat decision fatigue?  How has it changed your daily life?

Bike Build Step #2

Refinishing

My Frankenstein bike is stripped down to the frame and its original chrome frame is mocking me every time I walk past it.  I can hardly stand it anymore, after a quick check on this afternoon’s weather I decide, today’s the day.  

We have some sandpaper left from my wife’s last furniture refinishing project.  I deface my mountain bike frame with vigor, sparing no nook or cranny. A thorough sanding and wipe down and this monster is almost ready for some paint.  I mask off the internal cups in the headset and bottom bracket and set out to get the paint.

A moment of deep thought and contemplation in the spray paint aisle at the hardware store and a decision is made.  I go with a darker shade matte green, not unlike the shade you would see on the old military style Jeeps.

I hang my frame up from the swing set in the backyard with some twine, and go at it with the spray paint.  

Happy Accident – The slight breeze causes the frame to rotate slightly allowing me to look over the frame from all angles while I paint.

Multiple coats later I am satisfied that I have covered all areas with a smooth even finish.  I leave the frame hanging for a couple hours to ensure it is dry, then lock it back into the maintenance stand to await the next step.  

Coming soon – Reassembly.

Tools used for this step:

Sandpaper

Masking Tape

Twine

Spray Paint

Total cost so far: 8.99 Euro.

Wardrobe Hygge-lism

Men’s Addition – A “How To”

A minimalist wardrobe is often the first step when exploring the world of minimalism.  Opening your closet door and seeing your clothes packed floor to ceiling and wall to wall can both be daunting and inspiring.  Being overwhelmed with the sheer amount of items packed into this small space can be enough to kickstart the urge to minimise. It can also be discouraging to think about delving into this space with its unimaginable number of items.  

The inaccurate portrayal of a men’s minimalist wardrobe is usually one of two variations; that of a stark, colorless, half-empty closet.  Nothing but shades of grey and black, with one or two pair of shoes sitting on floor. Or, a line of five to ten of the exact same shirt, with two or three pairs of the exact same pants neatly hung and evenly spaced with the same one or two pair of shoes, sitting on the floor under them.

While this may be an aspiration for some, it is not an accurate or even practical representation for most.  Different situations, seasons, occasions and occupations all consist of different wardrobe needs. There are no rules about how many shirts you may own, or what colors you must wear.  Having more pairs of shoes than someone else doesn’t disqualify you from being a minimalist.

A minimalist wardrobe follows only a few guidelines:

  1. Only wear clothes that you like.  

If you don’t like the way an item feels when you wear it, or you don’t like the way it looks on you and it doesn’t instill you with confidence, then why would you wear it?  This may seem like a no brainer yet you will inevitably come across items in your closet with a pattern you don’t like or with a collar that is too large or small to be comfortable.  Maybe a t-shirt or two that have stretched out, lost their shape or are just the wrong size all together.

  1. Wear everything you own.  

This is pretty self explanatory, if you have clothes that you don’t wear, then why do you have them?  There are a couple caveats with this though of course. Season specific clothing, I don’t expect you to be slapping on sweaters and jackets in the middle of August.  On a cold February morning however… Secondly, the obligatory wedding/funeral formal wear. Minimalism is no excuse for showing up at a wedding or funeral in a t-shirt and ripped pair of jeans.  On the other hand, the occasional wedding or funeral is not an excuse to own five different suits either. One suit will typically cover both occasions, two at the most. In addition to this, if you are in an occupation that requires business attire, you may have killed two birds with one stone.

  1. When acquiring new clothes, do it responsibly.

A big part of minimalism is living intentionally and responsibly, peoples style and tastes change with time, clothes wear out, it’s inevitable.  Invest some time and thought into what you are buying, quality over quantity. Replacing a stretched out t-shirt with one made in the cheapest way possible, in a place with questionable labor laws, in an effort to save a dollar will only empower the cheap, disposable, fast fashion industry.

Now that we have covered the what, let’s look at the how.  Minimizing your wardrobe does not have to be an all or nothing approach.  In fact, it will be a longer lasting more rewarding experience if you approach it with patience and consideration.

Taking everything that you own, dumping it on your bed, trying to sort it all and deciding then and there whether or not it’s worth keeping may be how you picture attacking this project.  This path would result in a satisfying pile of clothes earmarked for donation and a dramatically more organized and roomy look to your closet, but will be immediately followed by remorse and second thoughts about your snap decisions.

I encourage more of a time release method.  I will reference everyday clothes for this example, if you have work clothes that are separate from your everyday clothes it will apply the same, you will just have two different pools of clothes to apply it to.

  1. Hang or fold and stack your clothes into two categories, shirts and pants.  Only include the clothes that you wear in the season that you are in.
  2. Every morning – put on the shirt and pants that are on the top of the pile, or hanging on the furthest right side of the closet if you hang your clothes. 
  3. Return washed clothes to the bottom of the pile or hang them at the furthest left side of your closet.

If you take an item off the top of the pile or from the furthest right hanger and you don’t want to wear it, ask yourself why.  If it doesn’t fit quite right, it’s worn out, it’s not your style anymore or you just don’t like it, then donate it.

If you wear an item, but by the end of the day you realize that you didn’t feel comfortable or confidant in it, or maybe you just didn’t like how you looked in it, then donate it.

If you wore it and you liked it.  Wash it, and return it to the bottom of the pile or the left side of the closet.

Continue this process indefinitely, with the exception of special occasions requiring specific articles of clothing.

It is that simple.

Duplicate the above process with your work clothes, jackets, shoes etc.  When the seasons change, inject the applicable clothing items.

The end result will be a minimalist wardrobe consisting of only clothes that you enjoy, feel comfortable in, and are confident wearing.  

Where does the Hygge of hygge-lism fall into this?  Warm colors, soft fabrics, comfortable fits. Every piece of clothing can spark memories of good times and inspire confidence.  Need I say more…?

Financial Freedom Day 1

Initial Investment Day

January 1st, 2020; new day; new month; new year; new decade.

This morning we awake with our eyes facing towards what could be.  We look forward towards the future after spending the last month reminiscing on what was coming to an end.  While everyone was enjoying the end of year countdowns and recaps, I spent the last month of the year researching what I could do better with my money.

I am just a couple years away from 40, and it hit me this year just how much I don’t want to be working for the rest of my life.  Retirement investment has always been in the back of my mind and I had taken the steps to supplement my career supplied 401K with an additional retirement savings plan, but is it enough?  We have a standard checking and savings account, our checking account is fine for everyday spending, and we have a decent allotment to our savings. Our savings account allotment has been going on long enough now that we have a not extraordinary, but not an insignificant amount of money accumulated.  The returns on our savings account though are…well…minimal, and that’s not the minimalism that I am so fond of.

With all of our recent travels, my wife has taken steps to really lock down a budget plan which I will share with you in the future if your interested, so be sure to subscribe.  Our budgeting allows us to track our spending down to the penny, maximize our saving efforts and increase our feeling of security concerning our current income. This also allows us to invest what we have saved, minus a small emergency fund, without having to worry about needing to pull the money right back out again for one reason or another.

So after much research, deliberation and contemplation, the investment platform of choice for us is Betterment.  I am not a finance major, I didn’t know what index funds were, annual percentage yield and compound interest were just fancy terms that financial managers threw around to sound smart as far as I knew.  Betterment suited my level of expertise perfectly, set a few goals and timelines, invest it and forget it for a low annual fee. Then, log in once in a while to see how much money I earned for doing nothing. Free money is my favorite kind of money. 

For the sake of this blog, I plan on logging in on the first of every month to add our monthly savings to our current investment and for a summary of our investment performance to share with you all.  So stay tuned.

Without further ado, initial investment day had arrived.  Creating an account with Betterment.com involved a short questionnaire to establish our current situation and our investment goals to go along with an email address, physical address, cell phone number and establishing a password.  The whole process took ten minutes at the most. Once the account was established, I linked my current checking and savings account with a simple online username, password and emailed pin number. As well as my supplementary retirement savings account for all in one place, simplicity purposes.  I like simple, and Betterment is excellent at making things simple.

We decided on two investment accounts to begin with.  A high interest savings account, and a general investment account.  The savings account is geared towards money that we expect to have a need for in 1 to 5 years, but would like to get the highest return possible on in the meantime.  Initial deposit: $5,000.00.

The general investment account is for money that can be invested for the long term, in this case, my target timeline of 22 years (when I turn 60).  At 60 I fully intend to retire, or already be retired. Between my investment into this account and my supplementary retirement account, I set a lofty goal of having 1 million dollars by the end of my timeline. Initial deposit: $10,000.00.

My supplementary account will not be managed by Betterment, just tracked and reported on, so it’s balance and performance will not be tracked on this blog for now.

If you are interested in investing with Betterment, my established account could benefit you with 3 months of fee free account management by clicking this Betterment.com referral link.