One of my favorite authors, Alexandra Stoddard, provides some insights on how we spend our two most valuable resources: time and money. Her observations have been summarized in the “5 Percent Rule.”
We spend 95% of our resources on five percent of our lives. Simply put, we work hard all year long in order to splurge on a few events like birthdays, holidays and vacations. The larger remaining balance of our life trudges on with little fanfare.
Spend Your Money on Everyday Rituals
Furthermore, as a designer, Ms. Stoddard has also observed that people spend the majority of their decorating budget on the two rooms least used in the home–the formal dining room and living room. They are the most public places in our homes, but not where the real living takes place. She proposes we turn our lives upside right and spend 95% of our resources throughout the year on everyday rituals.
I am so grateful I read her books when I was a young wife and mother as her philosophy sent me down a path where daily living was the priority. How our family “Slept and Ate” guided expenditures and there is no formal living or dining room in our home!
The importance of a good night’s rest is essential to the quality of everyday living. I distinctly remember the first time that the quality of bed sheets became a priority. It was 1989 and I had just given birth to my first child. I spent several weeks in my bedroom nursing, resting, and reading. Consequently I became keenly aware of the color, design and feel of the linen.
Splurge on Dishes and Sheets
My first post-labor excursion was to the local mall to buy a new set of sheets. It was then I was introduced to the secret language of bedding: thread count, types of cotton, types of weave, sizes to match the thickness of the mattress….the details to consider were overwhelming but my first purchase was a winner. I still remember the specs: Wamsutta, queen size, 300 count, 100% combed cotton. I have since done away with multiple layers of blankets and comforters. A single duvet now rests on every bed, an idea I picked up from a fortnight in Germany.
How You Serve Food Makes for Graceful Living
There is a most excellent quote from the movie Kate and Leopold, which eloquently conveys the stature of mealtime, “without the culinary arts the crudeness of reality would be unbearable.” A meal is a ritual which deserves to be both well prepared and when possible, presented with flair.
I use the good dishes for more than just special occasions. I take time to pick out one of my environmentally-friendly yet easily cleaned PEVA tablecloth for each meal. I drink iced tea from tall goblets and hot tea from bone china. I am a self confessed seasoning snob. Using a Pepper Mill and fresh ground Himalayan salt makes eating a little more special.
Forgo a weekend getaway for a new pillow-top mattress, use candles with Sunday dinner and switch to mill grinders for your seasoning. Life happens everyday, not just on a few special occasions.