18 January

When I first left home to go to university my mother and I went shopping for kitchen basics and a few bits and pieces to make my austere room feel a little more like home. Last summer I did the same thing with my eldest daughter. We had a lovely day comparing pans and trying to solve the great mug conundrum – no mug fitted her very exacting requirements.

My husband and I have lived in our current house for 14 years and have been married for 22 years. We have collected a lot of kitchen equipment and other paraphernalia and despite an exhaustive 18 month declutter we probably still have rather more than we need. So selecting only the very key items that my daughter would need was an interesting exercise and focussed the mind. What size plastic boxes would cover her packed lunch and enable her to put some meals in the freezer? Would one sharp knife suffice? What size pan(s) and how many wine glasses would she need?

She wouldn’t have very much room so we had to simplify, to purchase items that would double up wherever possible. My own mother had made these same observations all those years ago and decided that instead of a plain pan I should have a small enamelled steamer so I could cook potatoes/rice/pasta in the bottom and steam my vegetables on top.

I still have that steamer, it is still in everyday use in my kitchen. Simplifying isn’t about doing without it is about using what you have to its best advantage. That steamer has provided sterling service for over 30 years and shows no sign of handing in its notice just yet.

When we live simply we give ourselves more time to live the life we want to live rather than the one we have to live in order to keep on top of it. There is less to wash and put away. There is less to file. There is less to maintain and repair. Living simply is about living more, with less.

What can you eliminate from your life? What would make your life more simple? What do you have that you neither need nor love?