macro living the micro way

macro living the micro way!

As anyone who knows me well can testify, I am an unabashedly fervent Duggars fan. I don’t even know the title of the show anymore. 19 Kids and Counting? 20 Kids and Counting? 35 Kids and Counting? Who cares. I know, I know, it might seem strange as I am a big proponent of Micro Living. But this family is something special. They are a macro family living a micro life. Everything is strictly on budget, no waste in their house, not a lot of clutter, not a lot of toys, not a lot of clothing, and they support their family with their own earnings. No living off Amex here! Even though their house is huge, they seem to use every part of it well. Grocery bills must be astronomical, but they shop at Aldi and stock up on budget food. I can’t believe that everyone in that family is slim with all the food shortcuts they take…

What amazes me the most, though, is how self-sufficient those wild and crazy Duggar girls are. They know how to stretch a dollar… and look fabulous to boot! Pretty hair, clear skin, tidy, not a wrinkle on their clothing and strangely fashion-forward. I mean, really, haven’t you started noticing denim skirts and maxi skirts ALL OVER magazines lately? And headbands? And curls? Cutting edge!

I have read both of the family’s books, but I really want to read about the tips and tricks these teens have for everyone. They call it “modern modest” but I just call it darling!

I’m also pretty transparent about my faith. I don’t convert, I keep myself educated on all the world’s religions, I’ve attended a myriad of religious ceremonies, I don’t actually judge (well, unless you’re a Lutheran… then we have to talk), and I normally keep things above the board and honest about matters of faith. I feel like I behave myself in a world crowded with people from all different walks. But I also have a strong faith like the Duggars. No twenty kids here (just a dog, thank you very much), but there is something to be said for someone who lives their faith. And THAT’S what I find so attractive about those Duggar ladies. Fashion and beauty are secondary to a “pleasing countenance” (well, maybe not scripture, but Austen comes close). The outside is always secondary to the inside. I can get behind that! I think anyone can take that to heart.

Here are some fun lessons I’ve learned from the Duggar ladies about having a macro family, but living in a beautiful, micro world…

1) Sleeves to Knees and other lessons – These girls are experts on modesty. I have a few Jewish, Mormon and Muslim friends who subscribe to the “sleeves to knees” dictum when choosing clothing, so it’s nothing new. The Duggars go all the way to mid calf for skirts and don’t show collarbones, but the general idea is the same. They (and many others) believe that you should notice the girl in the clothes not the clothes on the girl. Or something like that. Notice their lovely personalities first and their rockin’ figures last. I can kind of see that. It’s not necessarily a bad philosophy and would not be a terrible idea among the youth of today. But the thing I’m most intrigued with is what freedom it brings – you don’t have to shave much (save on razors!), you don’t have to worry about racerback or convertible push up bras, with the opacity of the fabrics, you can wear whatever color of underwear you choose, VPLs and muffin tops are a thing of the past… you get the point. You can also save a TON on self-tanner. Just have to do forearms and face. Nice. Modest swimwear (though I’m not personally a fan of anything more modest than a simple one-piece) keeps bikini wax appointments to a minimum. Maybe they’re on to something…

2) “Buy used, save the difference” – This is ingenious advice from the Duggar parents, and the young Duggar girls have really taken to heart. They are masters of the thrift store. While everyone else is buying up the stores at the mall, forcing production of millions of Hollister minis, these ladies are taking whatever you feel like giving away. And if a top at Hollister is $20 and they can find something equivalent for $5 at a thrift store, they put away the $15 they saved. Brilliant. I’m also impressed at how much style they can get from seconds. Not to mention all the hand me downs… I think Plato’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange are great places to find cute, recycled clothing and accessories for cheap. I also love designer consignment shops. Though I don’t frequent them, I have gotten some gorgeous finds. A limited edition Marimekko/Anthropologie blouse for $15. Perfect. If, like me, you don’t find yourself in your local Savers very often, try giving some of your cute outfits away. That way, stylish ladies like the Duggars can find something fun to wear, and you can clean out your closet at the same time.

3) Pick a style and stick with it – The Duggar ladies are mad about stripes, polos and maxi skirts. By narrowing down their style choices, they are able to be kind of classic and timeless without having a lot of extraneous choices in the closet. They also follow the same advice for hair and makeup – KEEP IT SIMPLE! Duggar girls generally pick one feature to make up and leave the rest natural. I often see them rocking a kohl-rimmed eye with natural blush and a tinted/nude lip. It’s a great look that’s always classic. Their hair is the essence of simple. You can save a lot of time and money if you keep your hair long. Every time I’ve cut my hair short, I’ve kicked myself because I have to go every six to eight weeks to the stylist to keep it looking good. What a pain. When I have my hair long, with long layers and no bangs, it’s a cinch to do. I can always twist my pony a little and trim the ends at angles to keep it looking fresh. Or get it trimmed every six months. And headbands are a lifesaver for a quick, easy style. The Duggar jewelry style is simple to the point on non-existent. But it’s a look. Naturally, Michelle (mom) has a wedding ring. From time to time I’ll see a simple bracelet on the girls. Cousin Amy was once wearing a super cute chunky necklace that she loaned to Anna (Keller) Duggar. Keeping the style simple really helps out and borrowing from friends is always cool!

4) DIY – Duggar ladies are handily the masters of Do It Yourself. From sewing their own wedding and bridesmaid dresses to creating their own family line of “modern modest” clothing, call me very impressed. I’ve seen them repair one of the boys’ boots with duct tape and Sharpies to make them last ONE day longer. Didn’t look half bad. They also do their own perms (they love imitating one of the sisters’ natural curls) and Mom Duggar colors her own hair I’m sure. Some of the girls have learned how to trim hair as well. In addition to all that, they make their own laundry soap. No, seriously, they really do. Ok, that’s a little much for me, but it definitely saves money! They most definitely make their own food. They don’t often go out for dinner, and it shows… more on this under:

5) Thin is in? I have never seen a Duggar girl serving herself too much tater tot casserole. Compared to so many kids these days, the Duggar ladies are slim and sassy. I’m sure the modest clothes help a little with any extra weight gained over the holidays… even so, they are a good example in that department. They never get fancy food (I highly doubt they’ve ever served foie), and a lot of it is really budget friendly, but they don’t eat a ton and they make sure to get in a salad or a veggie in every meal. They also spend most of their time cleaning, playing outside and running after all the little ones. That will burn some calories!

6) Less is more – Have you ever heard of a family closet? I hadn’t until I read the Duggars’ first book. They spent tons of time on laundry, running up and down stairs, folding things, putting them away in all the rooms, picking dirty laundry up off the floor in every room… you get the point. So they decided to start a Family Closet. They have one closet with hangers and bins for all the kids in the middle of the house. While this might not be the right choice for everyone, it’s a pretty darned good idea. And the closet is only so big. So anytime there’s excess, it either goes to the next kid or out the door. And you can tell right away! For myself, I can’t tell you how much clothing clutter I’ve cleaned up by sharing a closet with my husband. When your guy gets exactly half of the closet, you really have to pick and choose what you own. And when he’s in the closet, he can easily see which items still have the tags on them… and remind you to wear them already!

7) Be nice to look nice – You knew it was coming… Those ladies look good because they seem pretty darned nice. You know the drill… if you’re a beast, you’re probably going to look like a beast. Mean girls can be hot, but they’re seldom pretty. If you focus on saying nice things about people, being sincere, forthright, honest, keeping your mind clean, keeping your entertainment clean and not letting nasty words (cursing or otherwise) slip past your lips, you are going to look good. Trust me. Look at any Real Housewife and tell me if the Duggars aren’t on to something.

While the Duggar family idea of letting God bless you with as many children as He wills may seem a little counter to the concept of micro living, I think it’s about doing well with what you already have. They may seem to use up a lot of property and resources that some say could be better allocated in South Sudan, they are, to quote Tim Gunn, “making it work.” And that is something I will always support. And just in case you feel like decluttering your life or just making it simpler, please don’t misunderstand and think I’m advising you to drop your KIDS off at the Salvation Army along with your extra clothes and shoes. Well… maybe it’s not the worst idea in the world.

Until next time…

those wild and crazy Duggar (and Keller) girls!

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