Books, tools, and ideas that make life simpler and more cost-effective.

Here are some of the treasures we’ve created or discovered that may inspire you.

Learning to Shine: This is a book I wrote for my daughters on all the life lessons I’ve learned so far in life. Or as I like to call it, psychological flexibility: how to master your emotions, build strong relationships, and have a positive impact on the world.

Esalen Cookbook: Healthy and Organic Recipes from Big Sur: An indispensable cookbook. I got this while I was on retreat at Esalen, a hot springs learning center in California. The hot soaking pools are right on the edge of dramatic cliffs, and you sit watching the sun set over the Pacific. I’ve made just about every recipe in this book, and it tastes like pure love, comfort and self-care.

Feeding the Whole Family: If you have babies, kids, or picky eaters in your house, this go-to cookbook will be a lifesaver. My copy is dog-eared and covered in food stains from all the delicious and nutritious recipes I keep going back to. Asian Noodle Salad is an all-time family favorite, and the magic she works with kale is incredible.

Cucina Napoletana: I learned to love cooking from my two grandmothers. Italian on one side, more specifically from Naples. These recipes remind me of being in her kitchen with my little apron on. Authentic, simple, and mouth-watering. Sausages and lentils, so much pasta, and sfogliatelle!

The Royal Touch: My other grandma was British, and could bedazzle any tea time with her sweet treats. This cookbook is from a chef to the Royal Family, and actually makes British food of all varieties taste amazing, not just the desserts. The marmalade cake and pea-and-ham risotto are so good they make me cry.

The New Self-Sufficient Gardener: Everything you need to know to grow your own food. This book walks you through any size garden, how to rotate crops, and what you can plant, harvest, and preserve at what time of year. I’m studying it well for when we can expand beyond our backyard patio pots growing kale, peas, tomatoes, and herbs.

Bialetti stovetop espresso maker: What’s better than a good strong cup of Italian espresso with milk in the morning? Hmm maybe having a portable coffee maker you can bring with you when you’re camping, say. This is our primary way to enjoy our morning mug of wakeup juice.

Building the Japanese House Today: I love Japanese architecture. It’s simple and peaceful, with natural wood all around. When we’re designing our future house I’ll be sure to incorporate these principles. A lovely book of artful inspiration.

The Solar House: Passive Heating and Cooling: Which way should a house be oriented to maximize winter sun and summer shade? How low should a roof come down to act as a natural air conditioner? What about thermal mass? All great questions if you’re considering the ingenuity of passive solar design for your house.

Awaken the Giant Within, Unlimited Power, and Money: Master the Game: Three must-read books by Tony Robbins, as far as I’m concerned. Especially if you want to upgrade your self-belief systems to maximize success in life, whatever that means to you. I come back to these every few years for a refresher, and will be giving them to all our kids when they finish high school.

Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living: Pema Chodron is an American Buddhist nun who translates ancient teachings into everyday language. This book is especially helpful if you are going through a rough patch in your life. It has gotten me through some dark times for sure.

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: This is a super powerful framework for peacefully communicating about even the most difficult or emotionally charged issue. It can save relationships and help you negotiate for anything you need. At first it felt funny since I wasn’t used to talking without judgment, but now I can kick into it whenever a tricky conversation comes up.

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High: One key gem I learned from this book is to maintain emotional safety in a conversation. If one person doesn’t feel safe, stop the content of the chat, restore safety first, then continue talking. Very helpful when I can remember to do it!
Your Money or Your Life: A classic text that is fueling the FIRE (Financial Independence, Early Retirement) movement around the world. I first read it in 2000 and immediately began changing the way I think about and track money. This version is updated as of 2018.
Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen: This is one of my favorite books of wisdom. In true zen style, not everything makes sense, but it doesn’t make sense in an enlightening way. If that makes sense! Everything changes. This is the nature of reality. 

What are your favorite books, tools, and resources for a simple, sustainable life? 

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