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The Simple Year by Hannah Middleton - 3w ago

Greetings, readers! I am coming to you today to share a little exciting news – The Simple Year is getting an Instagram! As I am sure many of you know, social media is one of the most popular tools of communication these days. We already have a Twitter and a Facebook (click on any of the blue links to check them out). However, my new little pet project is going to be adding an Instagram page, as well as upping the amount we are using our Twitter and Facebook. The goal of this is to communicate with you – the readers – even more than we do now. The other awesome Simple Year authors will also be contributing to these. You’ll be able to see updates from all of your favorite writers and new content regularly.

While all of this is going on, I’ll still be stopping by with weekly posts. You may also be getting some update posts from our lovely former Simple Year ladies, as well as some fun guest posts from other simple living folks that you don’t know yet. We are still taking applications for next years blogger too, so do feel free to send in your information if you’re interested.

In the meantime, stop on over at our Instagram page and follow us!

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The Simple Year by Hannah Middleton - 1M ago

Some of you may remember this post about mindfulness that I made a few months ago. At that time, I was living in the Bush, free from most distractions, with few responsibilities, and I was also very pregnant with my first child. I talked a lot about how I use my Commit30 Planner to stay on top of things in my life. I thought that now, after my life has changed so drastically, it might be a fun topic to revisit.

I am happy to report that after the first month, I was able to adjust back to using my planner regularly. That first month was really just about survival and focusing solely on baby, especially her health. Cody and I’s parents visited and helped us take care of moving and everything else. However, finally the last two weekends I have sat down, while Annika plays or naps, and have written out some goals and plans for the week. I’m not always doing it on Sundays anymore because frankly I’m not always sure what day it is (haha), but I am trying to get to it at some point over the weekend – Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Luckily, I have been blessed with a pretty happy baby and she does let me get things done occasionally.

Some of my goals have changed and are much smaller. For example, cleaning the house was kind of a given before having a baby. Now, I write, “do dishes and laundry,” into my schedule every day to remind myself that those two things at least have to get completed because we need bottles, dishes, and clothes to wear. I’m also trying to schedule activities, like going for a walk, making a fun dinner, taking the baby out of the house, and etc. Taking the baby out has probably been the scariest because I’m still pretty nervous about getting out with her. I’ve found it improves everyone’s mood to get a little fresh air and change of scenery though. This week we’ve driven up to Hatcher’s Pass, gone grocery shopping, gone for a walk in downtown Palmer, gone to the library and gotten library cards, and today we are going to the Friday Fling in downtown Palmer.

So, mindfulness does look a bit different now. I’m sure it will continue to evolve as we move into different stages of babyhood and as I transition back to work later this summer. Until then, mindfulness is pretty much about staying on top of things around the house and spending as much time as possible savoring time with my newborn daughter.

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Greetings, readers! I’m taking a break from my regular posting about simple living in Alaska today to let you all know that we are currently in the market for a new blogger for the upcoming year. My journey will be coming to an end on this blog shortly (although, I’m planning to continue to write in my personal blog as I transition away from this one). If you think you might be interested in blogging for this site for next year, let us know! The blog has been many things over the last six years and it’s time for someone new to come in and share their own journey – whether that be through simplifying your material possessions, finding a way to reduce your waste, living off the grid, being more mindful in your life, or whatever else you feel would be a good fit for this little corner of the internet.

So, if you’re interested, please checkout The Handoff page of the blog for more information and make sure to submit your application by June 30th. Those of us who have blogged in this space over the last six years will hopefully be choosing someone new and awesome over the next few weeks. In the meantime, I hope to get up some last minute fun posts. Stay tuned! : )

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The Simple Year by Hannah Middleton - 1M ago

I’m back! Annika is doing so incredibly well and even though we are still going to regular doctors appointments and adjusting to life at home, I am starting to get in a bit of groove. I appreciate all of you wonderful people for allowing me to take some space while we adjusted to life with a NICU baby and then as we transitioned home.

In today’s post I want to talk about some baby essentials that I’ve found over the last few weeks. Prior to Annika’s birth, I tried not to overbuy and just allow myself to discover what we really needed as we progressed into our lives as a little family. Now that we’ve gotten into a bit of a groove though, I wanted to post about some items that I have found to be incredibly valuable.

Let’s start with postpartum essentials:

  • Haakaa This glorious manual breast pump is the absolute best. It allows you to pump without being plugged in and it is tiny and stores so much easier than a big electric one does. I highly recommend it for breastfeeding mamas, especially those trying to keep things small and simple.
  • Earth Mama Perineal Spray – The recovery from birth isn’t always the easiest process. This spray has been so wonderful for recovery. It’s a great consumable product and comes in small sizes so that you can see if it will be a good fit for your recovery.
  • Bamboobies Reusable Nursing Pads – Nobody wants to ruin their nice, overpriced nursing bras. These reusable nursing pads are a great investment because they are super soft and you aren’t creating tons of waste.

As far as baby essentials go, my list could be 100 items long, but let’s keep it to the great products that are either sustainable, reusable/recyclable, or lend themselves to minimalism. Here are a few of my baby essentials:

  • Bum Genius Cloth Diapers This is something we are just working to transition to using. We didn’t want to buy a ton of newborn sized cloth diapers that Annika would grow out of quickly, so we did disposables until she outgrew that size. She has officially graduated to the next size though and can fit into OS cloth diapers now, which we will be working to transition to over the next couple of weeks.
  • Moby Wrap and the Ergo – Annika loves to nap in her baby carriers. She’s actually sleeping in the Moby right now while I type this. The Moby allows me to wear her around the house while I get stuff done and she naps. It’s so soft and I really like it for house use. The Ergo is better for walks, hiking, or grocery shopping. We probably could have gotten away with just one wrap, but we were lucky to get the Moby as a gift and the Ergo secondhand. They both have great resale value on local Buy, Sell, Trade pages too.
  • Fan – This one is simple. Our baby loves white noise. We could have bought some expensive white noise machine, but a box fan works great and serves more than one purpose. No link for this one because you can buy any kind that works for you. : )

And those are six of my postpartum and baby essential recommendations! I’ll be coming back at you guys with another minimalist baby-related post very soon. Until then, enjoy your weekend!

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The Simple Year by Hannah Middleton - 2M ago

Hello, all! I’m happy to announce that the Simple Year Six Baby has arrived! Annika Lenore arrived 10 days late, on 4/23/18. Those of you who follow us on Facebook know that I took a hiatus from the blog after she was born because we’ve been spending some time in the NICU. However, we are home now and are happily settling into life as a new little family. Cody and I are over the moon in love with our sweet, sweet girl. It may take a couple of weeks for me to get back in the groove with blogging, as adjusting to life with a newborn while also moving to a new house is a bit hectic. I’ll update as frequently as I can though and I look forward to continuing to share our journey with all of you lovely people. Thank you for your support and readership!

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As some of you know, we are in a bit of a transition period in our lives right now. We are currently in an AirBnB in Anchorage while we wait for Baby Middleton to make her arrival (which is now apparently going to be a late arrival). After she arrives, we are moving out of this AirBnB and into a new downsized house in Palmer, Alaska. Because of this, we’ve been really trying to approach life with a newborn from a minimalist place. We haven’t bought furniture yet because we don’t have a house to put it in until May, we haven’t really bought any clothes because Cody and I both have older siblings who happily supplied us with hand-me-downs, and we are trying to be a bit creative with what we already had available in our AirBnB rental.

Our current set-up is pictured above. We’ve got a pack-and-play, which features detachable newborn napper and diaper changing station. The pack-and-play also has a newborn bassinet feature, so that’s where we plan for her to sleep for now. Next to the pack-and-play, we’ve got a comfy chair, which I am hoping to use for breastfeeding. I’d love to have a glider when we move into our actual house, but this chair was the next best thing using the furniture we have available at the rental. On the other side of the pack-and-play there is a diaper pail. We probably could have used a regular trashcan, but there aren’t any trashcans with lids at the AirBnB and we didn’t want to be smelling diapers, or for the dogs to get into it (Note: we are switching to cloth diapers once she’s out of the newborn size).

Not pictured are our tote of baby clothes, which fits snugly under the pack-and-play because it is one of the those super flat, long totes. Also, next to the chair we have a small three-drawer organizer that contains diapers, wipes, a breast pump, and other essentials. We also have a baby swing downstairs and a small box filled with a few special toys, blankets, and books.

And that’s pretty much it! I have lots of ideas for Baby Middleton’s room once we get settled into our new place in May, but until then we will make due with this set-up. I don’t want to clutter her new room up either though and hope to keep that fairly minimal as well. I’m getting anxious to get into the new house and start on all of these little projects, but until then we are happy just relaxing and waiting for Baby to make her arrival, which is hopefully soon!

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The Simple Year by Hannah Middleton - 3M ago

Now that Cody and I are all settled in Anchorage to wait for the arrival of Baby Middleton, we’ve been trying to get ahead on some of our upcoming commitments. One of the biggest commitments we needed to get ahead on was preparing for our big move for next year. We knew that we wanted to secure a new rental home while we were out here because we didn’t want to be scrambling and looking for a place to live (and making the hour drive between Anchorage and Palmer) with a newborn when our AirBnB contract is up in mid-May. So, the last couple of weeks that we’ve been here have been spent house hunting. As you can imagine, we had a wish list. Our wish list included:

  • Close proximity to my new job
  • A minimum of 2b/1ba
  • A fenced yard for the dogs
  • Updated appliances, including a dishwasher
  • A safe neighborhood
  • Good outdoor space
  • Close proximity to hiking trails and/or some sort of recreation area
  • Preferably a single-family home
  • A garage

Well, we ended up getting pretty lucky! We toured a lot of places, but in the end this little place won us over. It hit everything on our wish list with the exception of a garage, but we knew we’d have to be willing to be flexible and the garage wasn’t the most important thing to us.

Now that we have the house secured, we are starting the process of looking at downsizing and good storage solutions. Our house in the Bush is about 2,000 sq. ft. and has 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. This new house is about 800 sq. ft. and has 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom. Even though Cody and I don’t have a ton of stuff and won’t be bringing anything large like furniture with us, we will be moving into this new little space with the two of us, the new baby, and two rather rambunctious dogs. Because of this change, I’ve been working hard (ok, it’s actually been pretty fun) to brainstorm some ideas for our new, much smaller digs.

Things I’m liking, so far:

This doggy crate coffee table. One of our pups doesn’t need to be crated, but the other absolutely does (she’s young and super high energy, which leads to her getting into everything). In our big house we just have a bedroom that we put her crate in, but that won’t be an option at the new place and I don’t want to take up valuable floor space with something unattractive and not usable for any other purpose.

Vertical wall storage ideas for the baby’s room. The baby’s room is pretty tiny, so I think the more vertical storage, the better! I also don’t plan to get a changing table and instead doing a dresser/changing table combo, so I love this set-up.

A sleek platform bed for our bedroom. I think having a smaller, less cumbersome frame that doubles as storage would be super nice for us.

If you can’t tell, I’ve been going a bit Pinterest crazy looking at ideas. I’m excited to share more as we get closer to the move-in and work more on downsizing. In the meantime, if you want to check out some more of my ideas you can head on over to my Pinterest page!

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The Simple Year by Hannah Middleton - 3M ago

Baby showers are an almost inevitable part of pregnancy, and for good reason! It is fun to get together with friends and family and celebrate the upcoming birth of your child. Also, let’s get real, babies are expensive. Showers are a nice way help offset some of the costs of bringing home a baby. There are a million ways to do a baby shower, but I knew we’d have to get creative with mine for two big reasons. First, Cody and I try not to accumulate too much stuff. We’ve accepted a lot of hand-me-downs and already have a decent store of baby stuff, but we also didn’t want to go overboard and just have a ton of (for lack of a better word) junk sitting around. Second, I live over 3,000 miles away from all of my family and most of my friends. This led us to to decide to do a virtual baby shower.

You might be wondering what in the world a virtual baby shower actually is? Well, I’m sure it can be many things to different people. For us, it involved making a private Facebook group and then inviting friends and family to attend a week long “party.” Every day my sister would post different fun games and chat threads, which people would then participate in. Then, on the last day of the shower I went Live on Facebook to announce the winners of the games and thank everyone for participating. All of our gifts for the winners were practical too – things like gift cards, or cruelty-free home products (everything is consumable).  It ended up being a lot of fun and extremely low maintenance.

A few main things made hosting a baby shower this way very low waste. First, because of crazy shipping restrictions in Alaska, we asked for gift cards only. This limited the waste of wrapping paper and cards. It also allowed us to decide what we actually needed to purchase. Cody’s sister recently had a little girl and she’s been sending us tons of cute stuff when her daughter outgrows it, so we are 100% set on clothing. But, there were a lot of things that we just couldn’t buy ahead of time with being out in Pilot Point (the cost of shipping anything out there and then shipping it back out to Anchorage with us would have been insane) and having the gift cards allowed us to buy things like a crib, a diaper bag, a carseat, and a few other things we’d been waiting to purchase.

Another big way that the virtual shower was more low waste and low maintenance was that we weren’t dealing with food waste. Cody got me a small cake for the two of us to eat, but other than that we weren’t supplying any food items that would end up getting thrown out or left unused. I really appreciated this aspect of it because I am a big fan of eliminating food waste in any way possible.

I’m sure there are many aspects of having a traditional baby shower that I would have loved and, if we went that direction, I absolutely could have made a traditional shower more low waste in a ton of different ways. I felt like the simplicity of the virtual shower was more my style though and I appreciated it so very much. It was a blast to connect with my family and friends in such a unique way and I loved incorporating a more minimalist approach to the shower.

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The Simple Year by Hannah Middleton - 4M ago

In an effort to simplify my clothing routine and reduce our household waste this year, I’ve been working on different ways change our laundry. We’d already reduced our laundry routine a lot in the past through making our own laundry detergent, ditching dryer sheets, and limiting the amount of clothing we buy/wear. Something new I’ve been trying this year involves laundry planning though.

I know that planning your laundry sounds kind of crazy, but hear me out because it has actually been great! The biggest thing that I do to plan out our laundry is laying out my clothing for the week every Sunday (note: we do laundry on the weekends, so everything is always clean on Sunday nights). On Sunday nights, I look through my wardrobe and pick out my five work outfits for the week. However, instead of just picking five random things. I choose clothing items that are versatile and can be worn with multiple outfits (I might choose a sweater that goes with two different shirts, or only pick out a couple of pairs of pants and wear them multiple days) and are similar colors. Planning your clothing to be similar colors is huge here.

You see, my laundry for this particular week is basically is all blue or black. This greatly reduces the amount of loads of laundry I need to do. Other weeks I might go with more reds and browns in my wardrobe or more yellows and whites. The biggest thing in consistency in color though. I’ve found that it has simplified my laundry routine a ton. Cody pretty much only wears dark colored clothing and I tend to wear dark pants or leggings for work, so we always have a load of darks. Then, I can just have one other load of colored items based on what I wore for the week. It really simplifies the whole routine from start to finish, even the sorting of the weekly laundry when it is time to wash is way quicker.

If you’re looking to simplify your laundry routine, I highly recommend trying this out for a couple weeks and see if it works for you!

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