What would you save in a fire?

Thatched house in the fog, Wherwell, Hampsire (Neil Howard, Flickr)

This weekend, we were cleaning out all that extra stuff that accumulates in a home over time. I used my favorite declutter trick to help get rid of things I was on the fence about, but it also got me thinking —

What would I save from our home if there was a fire?

This is a helpful question when thinking about what we really need in our homes. (Funny aside — this is why I always wear clothes to sleep. I grew up next door to a family with 3 boys, and I worried that if there was a fire I’d have to run outside with no pants on and have them see me. The things we think about!)

I like to think I would take a tactical approach, prioritizing things in order of 1) irreplaceability, 2) sentimental value, and 3) importance. I am of course assuming all humans and pets are already out safely.

What things in our home are irreplaceable and have high sentimental value?

I would first focus on family heirlooms and photos/journals that cannot be replaced and are of important moments in our lives:

  • My wedding and engagement rings, if I weren’t already wearing them.
  • My husband’s wedding band, if he wasn’t wearing it.
  • The quilt made by my grandmother’s grandmother, my great great grandmother.
  • The quilt made by my grandmother.
  • The coffee and tea serving set and silverware passed down from my other grandparents.
  • The three framed crochet pieces on our mantle made by my grandmother.
  • The journal my husband and I kept while on our honeymoon.
  • Photo albums and my box of cards and other memorabilia.
  • My box of my grandmother’s jewelry.
  • A box of our wedding memorabilia.
  • My grandmother’s old music box.

What other things in our home are not replaceable?

These items might hold slightly less sentimental value or be more easily replaced since the people who made and gave them to us are still in our lives:

  • Pillows, curtains, and scarves made by my mother.
  • A quilt made by my mother-in-law.
  • A handmade game score-keeping thing that my in-laws made for us.

What remaining things have high sentimental value?

Though these can be replaced, I would be sad to lose them all the same.

  • Framed family photos and canvas prints from our wedding.
  • Gifts from my husband or things bought while traveling together.
  • A set of mini bowls (perfect for ice cream!) given to us by my sister.
  • A stuffed panda given to me by my husband soon after we started dating.
  • A little jade buddha I keep on my bedside table.

What important documents are difficult to replace?

  • Medical records.
  • Passport.
  • Birth certificate.
  • Marriage certificate.
  • Social security card.
  • Car title.

I hope I’m not forgetting anything important! But I think this is such a great way to get ourselves thinking about what really matters in our lives, and what we can live without. And there’s so much we can live without!

Case in point: my husband recently lost his (handmade, by him) wedding band on a flight. It’s flying somewhere above the world on an American Airlines plane. I was incredibly sad at first — it’s the ring I put on his finger on our wedding day — but then I came to realize that it’s just a piece of metal. He’s still here, and that’s what matters. He made a new band that looks (almost) exactly like the original. And that one will see us through many great life experiences, including our first child who’s due to arrive this summer, and it will be a part of many incredible memories.

What would you save from your home in a fire? What do you have in your home but know you can live without?

(Photo credit: Neil Howard, Flickr)


Why I don’t want to own a home


I have a confession. I’m not really interested in owning a home.

I know it’s the American Dream and a step that defines adulthood. I know it means we could replace our ugly brass chandeliers with something we like. But I’m just not that interested.

Being in a rental makes me quite happy. Here are a few reasons why:

Rental living feels lighter

I think it’s the minimalist in me. I love the feeling of living lightly, feeling nimble and free. In our apartment, we’ve put down roots but are ready and able to move at any time.

Rentals are often well loved

If I scratch the paint bringing my bike inside our rental apartment, I don’t worry too much. But if it were a home that we had just spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on, and that I knew we’d want to sell at some point, I would feel seriously guilty every time I did something to mess it up.

With a rental, we have money to spend on experiences

Especially here in the Bay Area, buying a house is an incredible expense. Even if we could one day afford it, I don’t want to have so much of our life savings tied up in a home that we can’t do things we would normally like to do.

I love my hobbies, and they don’t include DIY projects

I have many hobbies, but DIY is not one of them. There are many ways I’d rather spend a weekend than at Home Depot.

Having a good landlord is like having a security blanket

We almost never call our landlord, but it’s so nice to know that we could if something major were to break. It would be hard to give that up.

Would you be happier owning or renting? Have you ever owned a home? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share below.