How to Live with Less Stuff and More Adventure
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When the Anderson family embarked on a year-long shopping pause, it changed their values and perspective. Now, Miranda, an author, podcaster, speaker, and the founder of Live Free Creative Co. is helping women live with less and gain freedom instead.
The Propane Education & Research Council is partnering with social influencers like Miranda to share real-life stories of how American families use clean energy like propane to support their sustainable and independent lifestyles.
What was the inspiration for your company name, Live Free Creative?
My husband and I moved to New Hampshire shortly after I graduated from college. The state motto is “Live Free or Die!” dating back to the revolutionary war when the leaders of the small state valued assertive independence. When my company was going through a transitional rebrand several years ago, I realized that “Live Free” really embodied the values I was trying to convey to my community online. I added “creative” to include another of my core values, which is creativity in all aspects of life. Live Free Creative has been the perfect umbrella name for the different types of intentional living tips and ideas I share.
You’re a DIY wizard! What has been one of your favorite DIYs, and do you have any tips for others wanting to start their own DIY projects?
I have been DIYing since I can remember. It is in my blood, as I was raised by a contractor and an artist. One of my favorite DIY projects has been our Little Free Library! I repurposed an old kitchen cabinet into a miniature house with shelves for both adult and children’s books. We planted it in front of our own home, and it serves as a free neighborhood book exchange!
My best piece of advice for beginning a DIY project is to embrace flexibility with the process. It is almost inevitable that something will go wrong, and that is exactly how you will learn, grow, and get even better at making things! So, remain flexible and recognize that when things go awry, you’re actually on the right track!
Living a minimalist lifestyle is something you preach. How did you get interested in that?
After my third child was born, I felt really overwhelmed. Both with mothering three little kids, and with maintaining my home, schedule, and trying to get a shower occasionally! Over time, I recognized that the more I pared away from my to-do list, my décor in need of dusting, and my overflowing closet, the more time and energy I freed up for doing other things (like taking a nap!)
One small minimalism experiment led to another, and another, until eventually we decided to embark on a year-long shopping pause, downsize our house and belongings by over half, and reinvest the resources we saved into building a life full of experiences and adventures instead of stuff.
How does propane fit into your values of minimalism, creativity, and feeling free to live the life you want to live?
Propane has always been part of my family adventures and the accompanying feelings of freedom and creativity. Growing up, my dad would take us backpacking and camping, and I learned early how to cook over a propane camp stove and portable barbecue. Having clean-burning, lightweight, accessible heat enabled us to venture into the wilderness and soak up the stillness.
As an adult, I now recognize even more ways the simplicity and sustainably of propane supports our lifestyle. We love to barbeque and invite neighbors over for easy, delicious meals on the patio. We love the simple heat and entertainment of sitting outside around our propane fire pit. We can pack our own propane camp stove when we head out on family adventures.
How does your family use propane?
We barbeque on our beloved propane grill at least once weekly, often inviting neighbors and friends to join us for the outdoor meals. Our backyard fire pit is fueled by propane, which makes using it such a breeze. We also take propane on all of our family camping and backpacking adventures to light our lanterns and heat our stoves.
What are some of the benefits of using a propane fire pit in your outdoor space?
I absolutely love the ease of flipping a switch to turn our fire pit on! My three kids don’t have to wait through a smokey beginning for their fire to be up and running and ready for roasting. I also love the ease of cleanup, the accessibility of propane tanks and refills at several nearby stores, and the ability to turn the fire up and down with a knob to adjust for the type of heat and light we need for our gathering.
Your family prioritizes eating meals together –- what are some of your favorite recipes?
Everyone loves grilled vegetable and pineapple kabobs around here. There isn’t much of a recipe, we just cut up peppers, onion, zucchini, and pineapple and slide them onto bamboo skewers with cherry tomatoes and mushrooms as well. Brush on a little olive oil and salt, and then grill on medium to tender. We serve them over rice or with pita and hummus.
Another family favorite is a build-your-own power bowl. We begin with cooked quinoa or farro in the bottom of a bowl, then spread out fresh toppings for each person to add on their own. Some usuals include: roasted sweet potato, shredded kale or arugula, sliced avocado, soft boiled eggs, salted almonds, pickled red onion, feta cheese crumbles, and everything but the bagel seasoning!
How can people begin to live a more minimalist and sustainable lifestyle?
I believe a pause for reflection is the best way to begin any lifestyle change. This gives you a chance to evaluate how you have been living, what works and what doesn’t, and then make clear plans for how you want to feel in the future. The better we understand how we want to feel, the more easily we can make choices that create those emotions — or the situations where they are more easily accessible.
I also believe in the transformative power of gratitude. When we begin to see our lives as presently abundant and beautiful, we are able to set down the constant striving for more, and instead live fully in the beautiful enough that surrounds us.