Posts Tagged ‘Simplify’

Quick Frugal Tip: Leggings Refashioned

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

My daughter has an unbelievable collection of leggings that we have relied upon all year, since she loves wearing a dress almost every day. Now that summer season is finally here, our legging collection has gotten a little short and a little worn out. I hated to give these a toss though and just knew there had to be a good purpose to these.

With a set of scissors, I cut these off just below the knee. Now we have a perfect pair of shorts that can be worn underneath our sun dresses! Leggings that were too short and leggings with worn out knees,  have a fresh new purpose in our wardrobe.

Cute, chic, ladylike, and frugal.

Revealed: 30 Day Cut the Clutter Challenge Results

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Last month I decided to challenge myself to cut the clutter in our home over the course of thirty days. My house and my life has been feeling chaotic these days and I knew that a thirty day challenge is just what I needed to get back to the roots of the organization in my home. If you have been a long time reader, you may remember the results from my clutter challenge last year. I am finding by making this clutter challenge a yearly one that it helps bring me back to center again in my home.

The closet, pictured above, is representative of what my home has been looking like. The bones of organization are there, but they are hiding amidst the overflowing drawers, shelves, and cupboards of endless amounts of unnecessary items. I planned to get rid of four car loads of items from my home and challenged myself to a weekly stop at Goodwill.

Pictured here are my first three drops to Goodwill. I have another round of items leftover from our home renovation to take over to the ReStore that are currently sitting in my garage. Once our weather finally warms up, my husband & I have a Saturday date planned with our cluttered garage.  All in all, I removed FIFTEEN garbage bags and three totes of random uselessness from our home. In these bags you would find books that we will never read, toys that the children have outgrown, clothing that is too small, a bazillion plastic containers that I do not need, bedding & blankets that are never used, shoes, & items from household projects that have been abandoned.

Can I say,  I was not sad to see any of these items leave our home?

Maybe when you see some of the corners of my home now, you will know why!

There is still much more clutter to be conquered in our home, but these corners that I have worked on really have me reassured that having our home organized is an attainable goal. If I was going to offer any advice on tackling the clutter in  your home, I would say this:

Start Small…Really Small- When I would survey my house as a whole, I could immediately become defeated. There is so much to do and my to-do list on any given day is enormous. Adding on trying to organize my house to the list and it just did not even seem like a feasible goal. Instead, start with one small spot in your home that has been bothering you. It could be as small as the kid’s bath toys, a junk drawer that could give under its weight of uselessness, or simply a single shelf in your home office.  I found that once I began a junk drawer, for example, I would then start moving into the drawer below it, and then I would move to the next drawer. Most of the time it is just getting the momentum to climb that cluttered hill that holds us back from achieving a little organization that is the hardest part.

You Don’t Need Another Basket, But You Might Need Another Donation Bag- I remember when I first began organizing my home, I considered home organization to be about buying organizers, storage containers, and pretty baskets to house everything. All of a sudden my home was filled with a dozen baskets of items I didn’t need or never used. Instead of thinking of how to make the items you have more attractive, consider if you really need the items themselves. If you don’t really and truly love or use them, get rid of them!

Sentimentality & “This Was So Expensive” Has To Be Set Aside- Two things get in the way of me letting the items go in my home. The first is the sentimental feelings that I have about things in our house. Usually it is a gift, an item that was special to my children when they were small, or something that was special to me that I would like to push my children into also loving. The other thing that gets in the way is my, “This Was So Expensive,” feeling about items that we spent too much money on, but no longer have love for.  If I could get rid of these two feelings about things, I could almost gather another car load of items. Instead, I have dedicated one tote in our basement that is specifically for sentimental mementos and we are working on passing on the gadgets in our life that we don’t use on to others that can use them.

Your feelings about items might be different than mine and it may take some time to figure out what holds you back from letting things go in your life. When you feel an attachment to an item, try to address where that attachment is coming from and if there is a way that you can manage those attachments to achieve the space you desire.

Embrace Your Power to Live Small- The more I cut the clutter in my home, the more I find that I have just the amount of space that I need in my home. When my closets began to feel too small, when the cupboards are bursting at the seams, when the basement is overflowing…those are the times when I think how nice it would be to move to a bigger home. Each time I cut the clutter in those spaces, I rediscover how perfect our home is for us. Basically, I save myself from a heftier mortgage payment AND I find a renewed sense of commitment to stay right where we are.

Our story of giving things away didn’t end there though, in fact, this is a story about the coolest thing that I have ever gotten to give away.  My husband had his ’99 Ford Focus for almost eight years and it was very good to us over the years. For the last five years though, he had been price researching his dream car and dreaming of the day that he could own a Lexus.  At the end of this month, his dream car dropped below the price of my Subaru wagon and with some serious negotiating and a couple of hours in the hot seat at the dealership, he drove that car home.

We talked a lot about what we wanted to do with our Ford Focus. While we could have gotten a little money to trade it in, we knew we could make my brother’s whole year if we gave him our old car. That very day we bought our new car, his car began to leak gas and he had no idea how he was going to get around. Later that afternoon I called to tell him that we had a birthday present for him.

I felt a little like Oprah handing over those keys.

He told me he felt like he won the lottery.

We both couldn’t stop grinning.

I don’t say this to brag, but to showcase how wonderful it can be to pass on the things we have in our lives to others. No matter how much or how little you have, you can always give with your whole heart. Look for creative ways to give back to your community, pass the items on that you no longer use to someone in need, use your talents to bless someone else in your life, and live a life of great thankfulness for all that you have.

If you have taken the clutter challenge, feel free to link up below and share some of the spots in your home that have been transformed or what you plan to work on this month. I can’t wait to see your projects and hear what you have learned from this experience!

Wordless Wednesday: Christmas Beauty

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009



Wishing you a moment today to pause and enjoy all of this Christmas beauty around you! Pause for just a moment- you deserve it!

Simple Writings Bring Simple Pleasures

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

One of my dearest friends and I built our relationship up through daily email exchanges about our lives. We started emailing when my husband and I were just newlyweds and she was in a committed relationship. Our emails continued as we journeyed to Massachusetts and settled down in our first home, through my pregnancy, her engagement, her marriage, and her first baby, my second baby, her second baby… each email carefully documented our daily joys and struggles. When I became a mother my emails were full of joy, but a lot of whining about sleep, difficulty transitioning into motherhood, problems nursing, and general woes. Her emails were filled with encouragement and hope of a light at the end of the tunnel. When she wrote about motherhood though, she rarely complained but just reveled in the joy of being a mother. She was like that, she just enjoyed life.

Whatever she wrote about though, I seemed to want. It wasn’t belongings, but a sense of peace and of tranquility that she seemed to capture, that I had never had. I was always running, always going, always busy…I now realize that I didn’t take the time to enjoy the simple things, the simple life, and the simple goodness that could be created by being still for a moment.

I am trying to transition out of the busy bee world and into a more quiet time with my children. Perhaps it is melancholy because my firstborn will be attending first grade next year or perhaps it is just the realization that I don’t need to be running or constantly entertained to enjoy a quiet spell in my life.

Today was just one example of what a quiet day for us is like. The windows were cracked and I could feel the fresh air blowing into our house and the smell of freshly cut grass. I look down at my daughter as I feel her deliberate and persistent tapping on my leg. As I look down at her, I smile because she is wearing a pair of my shoes on her chubby little feet. Of all her toys, it is these shoes she loves and she calls them her “tap shoes” as she scoots the sandals across the floor. I look over at my son who is curled at one end of our sofa with a book. I can hear him as he sounds out each word very carefully and slowly, just as he has been taught in school. I revel in his growing vocabulary and how much he has learned this year- he has grown so much.

The smell of fresh muffins travels through the room as I wrap up my baking for the week ahead. This batch of muffins is stuffed to the brim with oatmeal and a little bit of chocolate, to balance out the heartiness and make them more appealing to my children. The muffins smell like freshly baked cookies and the kids begin to count down the minutes until they will be cool enough to handle.

I hum a little bit as I tidy up the kitchen, from the day spent baking, and fill the sink with the dirty dishes. The suds and warm water fill the sink and I dip my hands into the bubbles to finish the day’s dishes. As I scrub, I look out the window at our sweet little garden that we planted together. I recall the tender way my son wanted to help plant each and every plant, asking each time, “What can I do, mommy?” He was there for each step of the process and helped to water our finished product. He was just as proud and dirty as me that day.

I then sit at the other end of the sofa with my son and the sound of my knitting needles, Emily’s tap shoes, and my son’s quiet readings are all you hear. We enjoy the quiet of this day and look forward to our idyllic summer together. This stillness is what I need and I see our children growing from it. Not from the organized activities, the well-thought and well-executed organized crafts, the busy running. No, they thrive in the quiet and stillness…and so do I.

Do you see how the mundane can be made to sound lovely? Just as advertisers would have us believe that a new car will give us this amazing life we have always dreamed of, simple writing about simple pleasures may invoke that same enthusiasm. Suddenly baking muffins, knitting, quiet moments, a tiny garden, and doing dishes sound lovely…and you begin to want that. Imagine if the whole world returned to these simple pleasures- joy in the laundry hanging on the line, kids playing in sprinklers instead of with electronic gadgets, freshly baked goodies straight from your own oven, an appreciation for the beauty in nature instead of the beauty of our exterior selves…I would imagine that it would put a lot of companies out of business.

Today I challenge you to a day of simplicity and I look forward to hearing what special and simple things bring you the most joy in your life.

Is it your children’s laughter? Is it a freshly cracked library book? Is it the quiet time you spend with your spouse after your children have went to bed? Is it that first cup of morning coffee with a dash of cream? What are some simple pleasures that bring you happiness? Revel in those things, bring those things into your life, focus on those simple and amazing pleasures and see if it doesn’t bring into perspective the beautiful life you are already leading.

What simple pleasures in life do you enjoy the most?

Simplify: The To-Do List

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Have you ever looked at your to-do list and just felt completely and utterly overwhelmed before you even start? My day was often looking like that and rarely did I actually ever complete all of the things off of the list. I would end my day defeated before the next day had ever begun. While the high of checking things off the list was there, the items left unchecked left me feeling less euphoric about what was actually accomplished.

For the past couple of months, I have had the great opportunity to work with a business coach to help make my business better. Charrise McCorey, from Emergence Business Coaching, has been working with me to help me reach my business goals. It has been such a unique experience for me because I am able to actually discover how valuable my time is, increase my productivity, and discover what can emerge from finding balance in my life.

The first thing on our project list was tackling my to-do list and my feelings of constantly being overwhelmed. I felt like I was juggling way too many balls in the air so I wasn’t sleeping well, eating well, or feeling like a very good parent. I would start a project, abandon it or do a bad job on it, and then move on to the next thing.

The first thing we did was revamp what my to-do list looked like. Here is an example of what my to-do list looked like for my Monday routine- perhaps it looks like yours?

Amy’s Monday To-Do List

Sweep Kitchen Floors
Unload dishwasher
Load dishwasher
Swipe both bathrooms
Make beds
One load of laundry
Clean bathtub
Empty upper level trash
Make grocery list and menu plan
Change sheets on all beds
Clean windows and mirrors on upper level
Dust upper level
Steam floors on upper level
Sweep upper level
Organize the bedrooms

Now those were just my home management goals, we aren’t even tackling the business goals for the day. What ended up happening was that I would get a portion of the list done and then have to carry it over for Tuesday. Let’s say I got three of those things done. Now we will move on to Tuesday’s schedule and it will look like this:

Amy’s Tuesday To-Do List

Swipe both bathrooms
Make beds
One load of laundry
Clean bathtub
Empty upper level trash
Make grocery list and menu plan
Change sheets on all beds
Clean windows and mirrors on upper level
Dust upper level
Steam floors on upper level
Sweep upper level
Organize the bedrooms
Dust main level
Sweep main level
Steam kitchen floors
Clean windows and mirrors
Run errands

And then, let’s say I got five things done, then Wednesday would carry over to this:

Amy’s Wednesday To-Do List

Make grocery list and menu plan
Change sheets on all beds
Clean windows and mirrors on upper level
Dust upper level
Steam floors on upper level
Sweep upper level
Organize the bedrooms
Dust main level
Sweep main level
Steam kitchen floors
Clean windows and mirrors
Run errands
Do one thing I hate
Catch Up on Everything

Usually by Friday, my list looked something like this:

Amy’s Friday To-Do List

Clean windows and mirrors on upper level
Dust upper level
Steam floors on upper level
Sweep upper level
Organize the bedrooms
Dust main level
Sweep main level
Steam kitchen floors
Clean windows and mirrors
Run errands
Do one thing I hate
Catch Up on Everything
Empty lower level trash
Dust lower level
Sweep lower level
Clean windows and mirrors on lower level
Clean and organize the home office
Visit the library
Clean out car
Update our Quicken software
Mow lawn
Baking day
Hate myself for accomplishing absolutely nothing
Defeat
Defeat
Defeat

Oh, and did I mention I haven’t tackled anything in my business? Obviously, this to-do list was just a running list of things I would never get to and I would hate myself for accomplishing nothing. In tears, I explained to Charrise that I often feel like a bad mom because I had to keep up with my business AND my house and neither was looking good at all. As Charrise says over and over again to me when I say negative things, “That is a story you like to tell yourself. You can change your story.”


We decided to change my story. She advised completely revamping the to-do list. Instead of keeping a running list of things I would never do, why not make a shorter list that I could actually accomplish with great success? How would it feel if I could go to bed each night knowing that I had accomplished what was on my list? How would I sleep? Her advice was simple a list of only six things.

Make 3 Business Goals
Make 3 Personal Goals

Now my list looks something like this:

Amy’s Revamped Monday To-Do List

1. Set up contests for Tuesday on the blog
2. Complete my to-do list entry
3. Conference Call with Kenmore
4. Play on the floor with the kids for one hour
5. One load of laundry- whites
6. Pay Bills

At night before I go to bed, I make my list of six and go to sleep. At the end of the day, I usually can check most of the things off of the list and if something doesn’t get done, it just gets carried over to the next day. I have to say, it is a lot easier to carry over two things rather than twenty each day.

But, what about the bigger goals? I had so many things I needed to do on my list for the website and in my home, but I knew they would never fit on such a limited list.

This is where this comes into play:

Giant Wish List

Instead of adding these to my to-do list each day, take a piece of poster board and begin writing what your bigger goals are. She suggested writing down things you might be afraid to say out loud so that you can see your dreams come into fruition.

Amy’s Giant Wish List

Podcast Radio Show With Huge Corporate Sponsorship
Food Network Television Show
Get Featured in Real Simple Magazine
Regular Column in Good Housekeeping
Book Deal
Meet Brad Pitt
Possibly Marry Him

When I think of things that I want to do in the future, I just jot it down on my giant wish list. It is there, I won’t lose the idea or goal, but it isn’t on
my running list of six…yet.

Yes, one day I will have an opening on the list of six and when that happens maybe I might say, “Today is the day to meet Brad Pitt and possibly marry him.” I will add it to the list of six and just maybe, I might accomplish it.

You might ask what happened to all the cleaning on the list? Well, instead of writing it down, I just try and do it when I get my goals accomplished for the day. I either make it my goal to clean one day of the week or I just clean when I need to clean. I don’t hold myself to commitments about it. I know what needs to get done and when I need to do it, and I do the best I can.

It might not be perfect, but it doesn’t keep me up at night anymore.

Simplify.

(photo credits: image 1- one pretty thing image 2-gamookie)

What does your to-do list look like? Could you simplify it? What would you put on a giant wish list?