Tag Archives: minimalism

All In A Day’s Work

When you run out of your own stuff to declutter–at least for a while–help someone else with theirs!

That’s what my mom and I did this past Saturday.  We went over to a friend’s house and helped her declutter and reorganize her closet, and I have to say, the end result was amazing.

Please don’t misunderstand me, though.  I’m not done with my own space yet.  There’s still more to work through; I just found myself at a sort of standstill after another layer was peeled away and decided to use my nervous tidying energy to help someone else who desperately needed it.  It was so great to see how happy she was when we had finished.  I think her husband was more than a little excited about it, too.

Even though the closet was overflowing with options before, she had such difficulty finding and deciding what to wear each day due to its lack of order.  Now, all of her favorite pieces are organized and easily accessible for daily use.

Hopefully the pictures below will give you a little motivation if you’ve been dragging on the minimalism front.

xoxo

Before:

V-Before

After (My favorite part is the empty upper shelves!):

V-After

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Times They Are A-Changin’

As most of you know, I’ve been doing this minimalism thing for a while now and have gotten pretty darn good at it.  I’ve gotten rid of all except for maybe one fifth of everything I started with (maybe even less).  And, as always, it feels amazing!

You might remember me talking before about being a music person.  My husband and I are always trying to travel to see our favorite bands play.  We even timed our elopement to Ireland so that we could see The Felice Brothers three times while we were there!  Obsessed?  Probably, but we don’t care.  It’s the most fun we’ve had on all our trips!

Being the music enthusiasts that we are, I knew that my music collection would be the hardest thing to deal with in the decluttering realm.  It’s just such a huge part of my life that I didn’t think I’d be able to part with any of it.

But like I’ve mentioned before. . . .it’s all about the layers!  And I’m proud to say I finally got to the music layer!  Hallelujah!

I started with a binder book of mixed CDs, about 5 milk crates of vinyl albums, and an entire under-the-bed plastic storage container (you know the kind: HUGE, takes up half of your under bed space?) of even more CDs–all of which were perfectly lined up with side covers displayed by genre and artist.  I told you I was a very organized hoarder, didn’t I?

After throwing away dozens of mixed CDs (that I never listen to anymore as they aren’t really meaningful for where I am now in life), yard-selling mounds of what were more misses than hits (or collections I wouldn’t replace if they were lost or damaged), and selling the old vinyl–that I would have rather weightlessly carried around in digital form–to local antique stores, I feel LOADS lighter!  I can now proudly say that I only have one milk crate of albums, the one CD binder book (filled–yet not all the way so now–with purchased copies of the aforementioned under-the-bed CDs), and a very small plastic container holding only the few I didn’t want to throw the cases away for yet.

PROGRESS!!!

I hope to turn our small den into a music/reading/hangout room in the near future with a few books on the built-in wall shelves above a funky futon and a mid-century modern record cabinet holding only my favorite vinyl copies with a turntable on top.  I want it to be simple and uncluttered, yet warm and inviting for guests to linger.  I’ve always pictured this for the space, and am excited to see my visions becoming realities.

This was a very valuable lesson for me as I’m even more aware of the process than ever before.  I always thought: Well, ya know, I’m a music person, so I’ll probably never part with my music paraphernalia.  Wrong again.  I still love the scratchy pops peppered through the opiate hum of a record spinning on a turntable, and that will never change.  I just realized I’d rather enjoy this aspect with my favorite and most frequented albums than to be weighed down by every decent one I can get my hands on.  I mean, that’s how to always enjoy your favorite things, right?  To only own your favorite things?

Trust me when I say that there’s never an area you won’t be able to tackle on your de-owning journey no matter how attached you may be.  It just might take a little longer to get to it.  Or you might be surprised that it doesn’t take nearly as long as you thought it would.  The process is addictive; once you start, it’s almost impossible to stop!

The space you gain by giving up stuff is enough to get anyone hooked.  I try to think about my possessions like this: would I rather have this item here, or the open space it occupies instead?  For me, space almost always wins.  There’s nothing like the feeling of being able to breathe in your home without being weighed down by years of accumulation, most of which you forgot you even owned.

Anyway, just a little post to fill you in on where I currently stand with my junk.  I know I haven’t written in a while.  I’m hoping to change that over the next few months.  I’m even contemplating a video tour of our home.  We shall see!

Thanks for reading!

Have you triumphed over a seemingly difficult area in your own life when it comes to decluttering?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

To-Go Box

Just a quick post on this lovely fall day. . . .

I just wanted to take a minute to share one of the ways I keep decluttering on the brain.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep your less-is-more focus when life starts happening around you. You’ve worked so hard and come so far on your minimalist journey, and then, before you know it, life butts in and stops your progress in its tracks. In some cases, it may even push you back a few steps.

It’s OK. This kind of thing happens all the time. We just have to be aware of it and keep pushing through the interruptions.

One way I do this is to always have a designated spot or box in my house–usually near the back door–where I can drop any item that no longer fits in my life.

I yanked that itchy top off just as quickly as I pulled it on while getting ready for work because I knew I wouldn’t enjoy wearing it all day? In the box it goes on my way out the door.

That annoying kitchen utensil got in my way again as I was trying to find the one I use for every, single meal prep? Toss it in the box!

Even though these unwanted items still remain in my home for a few weeks after I decide to purge them, I’m still steadily making progress. The decision has already been made, and it feels good to have a visual reminder in a forgotten corner in my mud room of my constant steps forward.

I have even found when I don’t have a box or area set aside for these cast-offs, I tend to not address them in those defining moments. I’m a firm believer that everything should have a place in the home, and knowing that even my unwanted items have a designated, albeit temporary, residence helps keep the decluttering process moving.

So don’t get bogged down by setbacks, big or small. Put little plans into place to keep yourself progressing, even when you don’t have the free time in your schedule to plan a decluttering afternoon or weekend.

Baby steps!!!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Yard Sale-ing Again!

Call us crazy, but we had another yard sale this past weekend.

My brother just purchased a home, and the previous owner had left some things behind.  In an effort to get rid of the things he didn’t want of hers, and to make a little extra cash for remodeling purposes, the sale was more for his sake than anyone else’s.  However, I was beyond thrilled to cash out on a few more pieces of “junk”, as was my mother.

We took a couple of months to get everything together, as we weren’t sure if there would be another yard sale in our near future.  I mean, after all, we can’t have much left to purge, right?

Wrong.  Again, my mother’s dining room (the storage space for our to-go items until the day of the sale) was overflowing with our trash….er, treasures.  We couldn’t believe it!  The layers just keep falling away with each new purge.

In total, the three of us made over $1,300.00!  I pocketed $500 of that myself.  Not bad for the millionth yard sale we’ve hosted. Haha!

I’ve noticed this time around, I’m a lot less afraid of giving up the more sentimental items.  There are still a few things I will want to digitize for memory’s sake, but it’s becoming a lot easier to let the hard stuff go.  It feels amazing.

I had a few items out for sale that most people would probably never consider getting rid of, and someone even asked, “You don’t have a sentimental bone in your body, do you?”

Maybe, but it’s just a teeny one. 🙂

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Travel Tips (Packing Edition)

My husband and I love to see the world together.  It’s one of the most important things to us.  Forget the car payments, the fancy labels, the cable TV, and the high rent.  The open road will be all for us, thanks.

With all of our travel experiences, we’ve gained little bits of wisdom each time.  So, I figured why not share some of these discoveries we’ve made along the way.

For today, we’ll be sticking with the packing aspect of travel.  Nothing fancy–just a few pointers:

 

LUGGAGE

A carry-on plus one small bag is ideal.  If you can get away with only one or the other, even better!  The less luggage you have to haul around between destinations, the better.  Making the choice to only pack essentials is crucial in travel ease.  When we eloped to Ireland, my husband and I thought we were sticking to the bare basics, but quickly found out that we still weren’t wearing or using half of what we had packed!  Despite packing light compared to everyone else around us, we could have packed even lighter!

ESSENTIALS

If you must check a bag (which, as you already know, I’m against), make sure to pack 1-2 changes of clothes in your carry-on.  You will be thankful for this if your luggage gets lost or you spill something on your outfit between flights.  I also recommend including anything you absolutely wouldn’t want to be caught without on your trip: toothbrush/paste, deodorant, chargers, and of course money and travel documents.

LAUNDRY

Don’t be afraid to do laundry at your destination, especially when staying somewhere for longer than a week.  We planned ahead, staying in places with laundry facilities 1/3 and 2/3 of the way through our trip.  This was a lifesaver!  Knowing that we could wash everything we packed and start over after a few days gave us such peace of mind.  We just found a grocery/market type store and picked up a small container of laundry detergent once we arrived and let the clothes wash and dry while we slept or went out sightseeing.  Easy peasy.  Also keep in mind, most articles of clothing aren’t “dirty” after only one or two wears.  Get the most out of your pieces by re-wearing them when possible.  Hanging something up to air out at the end of the day while you sleep is usually just enough to make the piece feel fresh again.  (Note: quick-dry and wrinkle-resistant fabrics are your best option in travel scenarios for obvious reasons.)

VERSATILITY

Stick to a basic color palette with your clothing.  Try to stay with black or brown and not both.  This way, all your pieces (including shoes and bags) will match each other, giving you more interchangeable outfit options.  Believe me, this is important when packing as little as you can get away with.  Try to avoid anything overly trendy and stick to the basics.  That pair of jeans and solid top will be much more valuable to you on the road than a cute dress that only matches one pair of shoes.  We all like to be fashionable, but the truth is, on the road, you will probably be more excited about the day-to-day activities than you will be to get all gussied up.  To have a little fun with your wardrobe while traveling, pick a vibrant accent color to pair with your neutrals.  Game changer.  (Also, striving to not attract too much attention to yourself is a smart move.  Flashy tourists who stick out in a crowd are more likely to be pickpocketed, as it is known they tend to carry more cash on their person.)

DRESSES

If you’re a girl,  pack dresses!  Dresses were my life-saver on our elopement trip.  They take up very little space in your bag–not much more than a top–and they are a full outfit on their own.  You could almost pack a week’s worth of knee-length dresses in a medium-sized day bag.  Also, since they can be dressed up or down–for a night out or a day of sightseeing–they’re extremely versatile!

SHOES + ACCESSORIES

If you can’t help but want to feel super adorbs on your journey, pack a few pieces of statement jewelry in a Zip-lock bag.  This will keep your accessories contained, while allowing them to really help that dress go the extra mile for that fancy dinner out.  The same principle goes for shoes.  Try to only pack 1-3 pair of shoes, and wear the bulkiest ones on your flight if feasible.  This will help save your precious luggage space.  Keep the shoes neutral so they will match everything you’ve packed.  A pair of sandals or boots (depending on climate), walking shoes, and cute (yet still comfy) flats should be enough to get you through your trip.  Also, try to stick to one day bag/purse and a small night-out option, both of which should match everything in your packed wardrobe.  Don’t over-pack in this department!

UNDIES

If you’re going to over-pack anything, make it your underwear.  They take up almost zero space (especially women’s), and they definitely aren’t something you want to be caught without.  Stick to fabrics that dry more quickly (avoid cotton), so that if necessary, you can hand wash a pair or two in your hotel room sink.  Undies are not something you want to have to re-wear.  They’re not like your outer clothing.  Do yourself a favor and pack plenty.

PACKING CUBES

These suckers were lifesavers on our international vacation.  They help keep like items contained together for simple storage and stress-free retrieval.  You can find some like these on Amazon.com, or even pick them up at your local TJMaxx, Target, Wal-Mart, etc.  Another option is to separate each day’s outfits into separate Zip-Lock bags and label them according to your itinerary for a no-fuss morning routine.  It will allow you to unpack as few items as possible for the current leg of your trip.  (It is also smart to keep your shoes in plastic bags to keep them from rubbing dirt off onto your limited clothing options.)

PLASTIC BAGS

I’m a huge fan of extra plastic bags during travel.  You never know when you might have a damp or dirty garment (or liquid purchase–detergent or toiletry item) that needs to be secluded from the rest of your luggage contents.  Taking a few extra Zip-Locks, garbage bags, and/or plastic shopping bags can’t hurt.  They pack flat, weigh nothing, and may just save your wardrobe in a pinch.

WIPES

You never really know 100% what your accommodations will be like upon arrival.  There have been a few times on various trips, the cleanliness of the place wasn’t up to my germaphobe standards.  A simple  travel pack of Clorox wipes and/or Wet Wipes was usually just enough to put my mind at ease–along with my always-in-my-purse bottle of hand-sanitizer, of course!  Your surroundings can sometimes be messy, and it doesn’t hurt to be prepared for it.  Better to designate a tad bit of room for these little guys, just in case, than be caught without them.

BEAUTY

Really work on streamlining your beauty regimen for travel.  Can you just get by with a tube of mascara and lip balm?  Go for it!  If you’re comfortable going completely bare-faced, more power to you!  We actually found it easier to purchase a few toiletry items once we arrived at our destination.  This saved us the aggravation of trudging through airport security with all those liquids.  Then, we just left them behind at our last stop before we boarded the flight home.  Also, try finding ways to spend minimal time on your hair.  Letting it air-dry while allowing your natural waves and texture to shine through can not only be liberating, but also very beautiful.  A low, messy pony of partially air-dried hair was one of my faves on the road.  And remember, sunscreen should always have a reserved spot in your bag!  The more you take care of your skin, the less you should have to cover it up with all those layers of make-up.

TECHNOLOGY

Rethink your technology.  You can probably just get by with only your smart phone on a trip.  This one device is the Swiss Army knife of electronics.  With it, you’ve got your camera, your computer, your GPS, and your entertainment.  It’s all there.  Save space in your luggage or carry-on, and just take this one item with you.

CELLULAR DATA

To save on international data costs, consider purchasing a wifi hot-spot at your destination.  Most hotels will have wifi available to you, but sometimes this service can be shoddy and unreliable.  With a hot-spot, you will be able to use your phone wherever you are (minus the calls and texts).  We did this abroad and talked with family via Skype/Facetime and email, even when driving down the motorway.  If your friends and family have iPhones, you will be able to receive texts when connected as well, so long as the iMessage feature is turned on on all devices involved.  (When traveling abroad, make sure the hot-spot you purchase is international if you purchase it in advance.  If not, it won’t work once you arrive overseas.)

SOUVENIRS

Do you really need to purchase all those souvenirs?  A true minimalist knows that the best souvenirs are the photos and memories you take home with you.  I know people who leave open room in their ginormous luggage so they can bring back gifts for themselves and all their friends and family.  It’s a nice thought, but such a hassle and total waste of space!  Honestly, your loved ones probably don’t want all those cheesy knickknacks from all the places you saw, anyway.  Instead, if you must get them gifts, consider purchasing a bottle of wine or some other perishable item, save space in your luggage, and ship it to them.  Other than the photos and memories, these are our favorite types of souvenirs!

FREQUENT PURGES

If you visit multiple cities per trip like my hubby and I do, consider purging before leaving each location and heading to the next.  You’d be surprised at all the unnecessary, extra “passengers” you can pick up along the way.  Instead of loading everything up without a thought, do a quick run-through of your luggage and any bags/purses/pockets, and toss what no longer suits you for the remainder of the trip.  This can include local maps, brochures, airport paraphernalia, shopping bags, or any “freebies” you might pick up from your sight-seeing.  I even “purge” my receipts from my day purse, moving them to a designated pocket or Zip-Lock bag in my carry-on, so they’ll be out of my way until I get home to check my bank statement for all the cleared charges as well as any fraudulent activity.  Doing this simple act every time we changed locations kept the clutter at bay, making the transition to each new city a breeze.

 

Thanks for reading!  I hope this helps with your upcoming adventures!  If you have any questions on anything I didn’t cover, please ask below in the comments.

Happy trails!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

We Did It

When we pulled into the quaint Bed & Breakfast in the small coastal town at the base of northern Irish territory, I was already a bit frantic. We were running behind, had gotten a little lost, and I had driven the hour and a half for the first time on the opposite side of the car and road. Nervous was an understatement.

As we unloaded our luggage from the trunk, we saw him drive into view. Our photographer had arrived.

I had been hoping to have an hour or so to myself before we met up with him. After all, it was my wedding day, and a girl needs time to fix her hair and put on a touch of make-up. Even simple, low-maintenance girls like me.

We apologized, stating that we might have to get started a little later than we had planned. I, bare-faced, explained how we’d gotten lost and how the car rental company had not initially found our reservation in their system, setting us back another half hour.

He was so relaxed and assured us that we had all the time in the world.

I calmed some, but still didn’t want to keep him waiting. I am never late for anything.

I went upstairs, Gene not far behind, flinging open my suitcase, feverishly searching for my makeup bag. We had so strategically packed and repacked our belongings in our minimal luggage, that this was a feat in and of itself. Which bag is it in?!

I finally retrieved it and began the familiar motions of putting on my face. I tried to give my hair a tad more oomph, but quickly changed my mind, as I knew it wouldn’t make much difference. The air was so misty that day.

And there he was, buttoning his shirt so calmly, grinning from ear to ear. Why couldn’t I be more like him, even if just for this one day?

Gene went downstairs to check in with our photographer, telling him I needed a few more minutes, before returning upstairs to gently hurry me along. As unprepared and thrown-together as I felt, I told him I was ready for him to come up to get some shots of the final “getting ready” touches.

When they both entered the crisp, white room over-looking Carlingford Lough, Tim walked up to me and softly spoke, “Listen. You have nothing to be nervous about. This is going to be a great day. No pressure. No rush. Let’s just relax and enjoy it together.”

He also commented on how great I looked in my lacy dress I had so hastily thrown over my head while Gene went to fetch him. A peace suddenly came over me. What was I so worked up over? Everything so far had played out even better than we’d ever imagined possible. Why should I fear that this day would be any different?

Becoming aware of my nonsensical behavior, I decided to let it go. He was right. It was going to be a great day.

I began to actually enjoy myself. Tim snapped shots of Gene putting on his tie—the tie we’d just bought the night before we boarded the plane—and me putting on my casual jewelry. We didn’t worry about how fancy we would be dressed. We didn’t worry about traditions or things old, new, borrowed, or blue. We were just ourselves. True and simple.

Then she entered the room; a young girl with a pacifier in her mouth, not even waist-high. In her hand was one of the most gorgeous hand-picked bouquets I’d ever seen—another element I didn’t bother to arrange that day. She was the granddaughter of the B&B owner, and wanted to pick flowers for “the princess” on her wedding day. This was the sweetest of moments, in a way that could never be planned or manipulated. It was perfect in all its spontaneity.

We made our way downstairs and rode in the backseat of Tim’s car up to the woodsy car park at the base of the mountain. Our mountain.

Reuben, our minister, was not far behind. Introductions were made, laughs were had, and up we went.

The hike took about twenty minutes and was more difficult than expected. We were all breathing heavily by the time we reached the top, and nothing could prepare us for the view we were about to experience. All we could do was stand there in silence, in awe of the beauty on all sides and as far as our eyes could see.

Worth it. This moment, this marvel, made everything—all the planning, stress, nerves, questions—feel worth it.

We just stood in complete wonder for about half an hour before any vows were exchanged. Just being here with the person I loved so much, experiencing it all together, felt like our vow in and of itself. We both knew that to say those solemn words in this miraculous place would just be the cherry on top.

We turned to face one another, embracing in our joy and gratitude. This time was a gift, a gift that neither of us would ever take for granted. We thanked God with every fiber of our being, for each other, for this trip, for this life.

Then, in that voice that always steadies and comforts my soul, he spoke into my ear.

“We did it.”

IMG_6845.JPG

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No.

Lately, I’ve been struggling with saying yes when I really want to be screaming no.

Or in some cases . . . .

Hell no!

Not gonna happen.

Are you nuts?!

Why, on God’s green earth, would I do that for you?!

I’d rather gouge my own eyes out.

. . . . the list goes on.

I know that by saying yes in certain situations, I end up saying no to the things that are actually more important to me.  I’m only hurting myself by obligating my time and energy to things that are not beneficial to my personal growth. 

I just can’t do it anymore.

I don’t want to snap, or be unnecessarily rude to someone in my life, so I will just say no.  No explanation is required.  I do not need to justify my choice.  

It will just simply be no.

Does this mean I will never sacrifice my time to help others?  Of course not.  I’m only weeding the unwanted, crazy, pointless, dumb, stupid tasks and commitments out of my life.  Being asked to complete a task by someone who is perfectly capable of executing said task themselves is just not going to fly for me anymore.

I have so many things in my life that I yearn to say yes to, that I really can’t afford to waste time on the tasks I consider too stupid or meaningless to perform.

This will require brutal honesty in some cases, but I’m OK with that.  I know, in most cases, my honesty will be better for both parties involved.

Are there things or people in your life you need to learn to say ‘no’ to?  What things would you rather be saying ‘yes’ to?

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Personal Manifesto

Today is the day.

It’s time for me to get my life together.

I’ve been pussyfooting around for months now when I’ve known, all along, the things that I’m capable of.  I can achieve greatness, so why waste time being so sluggish about it?

I’m going to start eating better.  Today begins my 3-day fast: a fast from wheat, dairy, sugar, and meat to kick-start my body.  After that, it’s moderation from then on out, while still striving to avoid the foods that are poison.

No more laziness with my body.  I will start exercising 4-5 days per week and spend time in prayerful meditation daily.

I will get back on my novel.  It needs me to finish it.  I will finish it.

I will continue to eliminate the unnecessary from my life.  I’ve done extremely well with this endeavor so far.  I will keep up the pace, attacking the areas that are more difficult with a vengeance.  My world needs to represent my life now.  I will not have my home be a museum of my life or let the past’s junk define me.  It’s difficult enough trying to find out who I am and where my place is without having to trudge through the reminders of yesterday, telling me who I used to be.  I don’t owe the past anything.

I will press on toward my goals.

Today begins the rest of it all.

Today is the day for change.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Show Me The Money!

After another Friday night / Saturday morning yard sale weekend, I walked away very pleased with my continuing progress.

This time, I made $400.  AND got rid of quite a few bulky items that I’ve been sick of seeing for a while now.

My aunt, uncle, cousins, brother, brother’s girlfriend, Nana, Mom, Dad, and I all came together — each of us pitching in items that we were ready to be rid of.  We always have the best time.  

My aunt made a breakfast casserole, Mom had a crock pot of BBQ chicken for lunchtime sandwiches, and Nana brought over some cake and brownies for us to snack on.  We’re a super close family, so even though there was some labor involved throughout the weekend, we just visited and enjoyed one another’s company.  

One of my favorite ways to spend a weekend.

All of us combined made about $1,000.

I hope this inspires some of you to host your own yard sale.  You really can make a good deal of money, making it worth your trouble.  If you need any pointers, just leave a comment below!

I hope y’all have a great week!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,