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A couple of years ago, I shared a post about hosting & entertaining well; it’s all about how to focus on people, but also offered a number of practical tips for creating a welcoming, homey atmosphere to put guests at ease for enjoyment.
I still think that these suggestions are awesome, and my friend Carolyn, who wrote the article, continues to hold the trophy as the best hostess I know.
But, what about the times when capacities are low, when the ideal setup can’t come together, or when all you have to offer is takeout and paper towels as plates??
The last two weeks have been a bold reminder to me that the best tip for hosting is:
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You’ve heard of the "seven-year itch", right? I'm not so sure about its validity, but the struggle that is real in my marriage is what I will call the twelve-year break! Not of our relationship... of our stuff.
We’ve been married for 12.5 years, and moved into our same, current home at around that time. The past year or so has felt like a constant stream of replacing broken things: refrigerator, dishwasher, washing machine, hot water machine, blender… even my can opener!
This past weekend, we hosted 3 other couples at our house for adults-only dinner and I realized how functional our household is for everyday use, but how inadequate it is for a dinner party of 8! Of our original 10 place settings that we received as wedding gifts, my dishware on hand is now:
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it… but what if it is broke? What if it is incomplete? What if I’m broke?
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I have no false pretense that I am some kind of expert in the reading category. Reading is a hobby, but I have several other things I enjoy. I read every night before bed, and more if I’m super compelled (or trying to cram in a book club read), but my books-I’ve-read-this-year-list usually fits on a notebook page. I adore the library, and rarely buy books (and almost never buy hardcover), so that affects reading patterns, too.
I would say that I read more than most friends I know, but far less than the hardcore book nerds of the internet.
All that is to say, if you are looking for brand new books, check out Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading List, and if these picks don’t suit, you might really enjoy the same gal (Anne Bogel)’s podcast, What Should I Read Next? She asks guests about 3 books they love, one book they hate, and what they are reading now; then, she suggests 3 recommendations that they might like (to read next). Listen to a few eps and you will have a long list to books to-be-read (TBR for those in the know ;).
As for this post, it is just a completely subjective list of suggestions of not-particularly-new books that you might enjoy for your summer reading. Let me know what you are reading (and, what you think of these picks!) by commenting below, emailing me or on IG or FB.View full article →
I recently read an article about a woman who did a shopping ban that eventually spanned two years. Now, this was in 2014-2016, so the early days of KonMari decluttering mania. By now, many people have tried all kinds of quirky, extreme experiments like this, for financial or anti-consumerist reasons. Many a website is devoted to the “spend nothing”, “buy nothing” “waste nothing” warriors and their journeys, bless their minimalist hearts.
[Sidenote: In my non-exhaustive experience, none of these experimenters have children. I’m not saying you can’t do it with kids… actually, yes, I am. It would be a totally different ballgame, and parenting is stressful enough as is! But, there are loads of helpful learnings that come from their experiences, even for parents ;)]
Anyhow, one of Cait’s biggest takeaways after year one?
“the toughest part of the ban isn’t that I’m “going without” anything; it’s simply the act of trying to change my habits”
When we’re on spending auto-pilot, how many mindless habits are informing our purchases?
I’ve rounded up some everyday spending habits/triggers below. KEEP IN MIND that this is not a wholesale rejection of spending in these areas! Absolutely not. Values on value (in spending) can be totally objective; what is worth it for someone may not be worth it for her friend. (e.g. I don’t want to go to the spa, but my spa-loving friend would spend all her spare pennies there, gladly).
The point is: do I want to spend money this way? Does it align with my financial goals? Do I feel good about the dollar spent?
If the answer is YES — excellent! Well done, you.
If NO, then no problem; paying attention is a great place to start. Then, small steps in the direction you want to go!
Maybe some of these resound with you:View full article →
Last year, I shared this post of AWESOME tips from my friend C on how to host & entertain well throughout this busy season. There are practical tips, as well as a general mentality on how to host people so that they really feel cared for; entertaining not for the sake of looking good or putting on a show, but serving the ones we love.
One of the tips she shared was that long ago she bought a set of plain, white dishes that they use for hosting events. Great idea, but many of the comments afterwards referred to the extra space it would take, the extra stuff to manage, etc.
Minimalism is the new black (perhaps a cultural response to our over-stuffed lives), so the concept of hoarding extra, occasional items may be frowned upon. It’s very un-KonMarie.
May I suggest an age-old solution that we learned way back in kindergarten?
It seems like something we should be good at by now. We want kids to learn to share, and in fact we DELIGHT to see children working together or trading toys back & forth. There’s always plenty to go around, after all, and it would seem strange for children to sit each in their own corners of a playroom with their own set of the same toys.
However, when it’s me, I am MORE THAN HAPPY for that to be my reality!
I don’t want to go and borrow my neighbor’s ladder “all the time” (or is it the two times per year that I use one?). I’ve got to go over to there, when they are home, arrange for a timeline (how long will it take me?! I don’t know! The pressure!)
And shouldn’t I just own my own ladder? I’m sure that future issues will arise that will require a ladder; it seems like something that is a mark of being a responsible, grown-up homeowner: ladder ownership.
Sharing possessions, as adults, feels so… inconvenient. It feels dependent. And independence & convenience are two qualities that we value extremely highly in our culture.
I’ve resisted borrowing goods because it feels like I’m too cheap or too lazy to get my own; I’ve bought seldom-used tools or kitchen gadgets simply because I’m embarrassed by how it looks if I “keep” asking someone else.
A turning point came for me when I met a neighbor of ours with a backyard pool. He saw us in the sprinkler one day and said, “I have a pool! Come use it whenever I am home!” It took me about 2 years to take him up on the offer, but once I did, it was fantastic! My fear of feeling imposing (“Oh, we should just pay to use the community public pool”) was slowly overcome by 1) our neighbor’s easygoing generosity 2) the convenience — the pool is 6 houses away 3) the free-ness of it all: it only cost me making them one pie! (and, in fact, I often went home with lettuce & other spoils of their garden!)
Pride can be such an unhelpful companion, and I realized that by hiding behind my pride & fear, I was missing out on so much:
I can admit, at this point I may have swung to the far opposite end of the spectrum, as I’ve now borrowed everything from rakes to limes to coffee urns from my neighbors & family! But, though I joke about being the needy neighbor, I think that more than anything, it bonds us. It certainly provides me with more excuses to pop by and check in with how they are doing, or what is happening in their lives.
The most embarrassing thing I've ever borrowed is an artificial Christmas tree (to use as a prop for photographs of our holiday kantha quilts). Have you ever borrowed or lent something completely strange or surprising? Share in the comments below!
Aka, How to Legitimately Enjoy Everyone Else’s Hawaii Photos Without Secretly Rolling Your Eyes
Pre- Spring Break, I wrote the following intro to my weekly email:
This is about the time I need to take a break from Instagram... because Hawaii. It's nice. I want to be there. I will not be. It will feel like ALL THE PEOPLE are there. My coping method will be putting down the phone and instead looking out the window. At the brown grass.
Ultimately, I didn’t include this, because it was too negative and petty. Also: it didn’t account for Disneyland! 😉
My husband commented, “Remember when people used to take trips, and it was so exciting to see their photos afterwards?”
Now, it seems, as we experience (via social media) all the beachy, good food-y, relaxing glory in real time, our response is more of an eye-rolling, “I get it. You’re having fun. [That place] is AMAZing.”
Even writing those words feels gross! Maybe it's just me for whom #thestruggleisreal... but, I don't think so.
Envy is oppressive to community as well as our enjoyment of life. Joshua Becker pointed out, "Joy is not a finite resource," and I'd like to live as it that is true!
I am ready to break free of my vacation envy & replace it with celebration & enjoyment. Who's with me?!
John D. Rockefeller was an American industrialist, oil-man, and — at one point in the early 1900's — the world's richest man & first ever American billionaire. When he was asked by a reporter,
“How much money is enough?”
He famously replied,
“Just a little bit more.”
I’ve heard varying accounts about when people feel like they have enough money to be satisfied, or happy. One recounted: from Donald Trump to a Manila garbage dump-picker, people would be satisfied with "about 10% more than I'm making now." I’ve read elsewhere that it’s double: if we made twice as much, then we would feel settled & satisfied.
Regardless of the study (or anecdotal “study”), what’s common is that the satisfaction is not tied to a specific number, it is completely subjective by person. The other thing that’s clear is: we all (pretty much) want more.
There is a great little piece of advice that swirls around parenting books & mom blogs (& all of those fun and exciting places…) The setup is like this:
Pretty good advice, I think. And it even (more or less) works!
Last summer, I came home from our family vacation to face the realities of life .
I had felt weary from the responsibilities of family, home, business, self, and so, naturally, vacation is when I ignore all of those things and do whatever I want! (it helps when you tag along with grandparents). Eating ALL THE THINGS was part of my responsibility-rebellion, so when I came back to life, I wasn’t surprised (but nonetheless horrified) that my clothes were ill-fitting and I looked, to myself in the mirror, well… vacaction-y (and I don’t mean tanned & relaxed).
I resolved that I would find some kind of exercise solution that would help get things back on track, and ultimately, signed up for a membership at my local YMCA. It made sense financially, because I was going to register my kids for various programs (there are discounted rates for members), it had dozens of drop-in classes included in membership, as well as a pool & the usual fitness facilities.
I have always been very motivated by the commitment of spending money. If I pay for a program, I am going to show up. Otherwise, what a waste of money! I know this isn’t a motivator for everyone (see: Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies), but it has worked for me.
This so-obvious tip has been a game changer for food management (and waste minimization) in our home...
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