My Minimalist Son

It’s so interesting to me how when you have multiple kids each one is so unique. They are all raised in the same home, and in our case with the same parents, yet they all have different temperaments and characteristics. Our oldest child, and youngest are collectors by nature. They are sentimental and like to hold onto things. But our middle child is completely opposite. He is a minimalist kind of by accident because of how he is innately. I admire him for not putting so much value on material things. I am somewhat the same way, but not to the extent he is. I joke about how moving him into college will be a completely different experience than it was to move our daughter into college. I envision him having one small suitcase to hold his clothes, his computer, and his fancy desk chair.

This is a snapshot of his closet. This is most of his clothes. He does have a dresser which holds shorts, socks, underwear, and a couple of sweatpants.

I believe his simple living has contributed to his success in life. Since he doesn’t have a lot of stuff, there’s not much to take care of. Also, it cuts down on decision making when getting dressed in the morning. He has two “uniforms” (with the exception of the scrubs which he is required to wear on specific days for an internship) – either the clothes he wears to the gym (dry fit shirt and shorts) or the clothes he wears to school (cotton t-shirt with cargo shorts). We do live in a temperate climate, so he can wear shorts year round. His mind isn’t constantly overwhelmed by external distraction because of the lack of clutter leaves space, and he can better focus on his school work.

This is a box of things he has been telling me for a while that he is ready to part with. The more I thought about it, I realized he probably won’t want these participation trophies as an adult.

We recently cleaned out his room. He has told me in the past that I could get rid of all of his childhood trophies – he told me they were just “participation trophies” so they didn’t mean much to him. We were able to pare down his already sparse room by eliminating the trophies, some sports jerseys from said activities, school t-shirts he doesn’t wear, and a pile of shirts that he had outgrown, and a few hats that he no longer wears. It was amazing to me that in spite of his room already being decluttered we found this much stuff to remove!

Anyone who is a parent knows how much you can learn from your kids. At times we forget and think we have so much to teach THEM – because we are older and wiser, but your kids have a lot to teach you too! Each one of my kids has challenged me in different ways to evaluate my life. With my minimalist child, he has caused me to evaluate what I really need in life to survive and feel fulfilled. He is an inspiration to me to simplify my life.

This is his dresser. I chose to add decor to his room, but he doesn’t mind if it’s there or not.
This is the other side of his room. It pretty much stays this clean all the time.


No Spend Year, March Reflections

This month’s post is late because I’m struggling to put together my thoughts about the progress in the month of March. This is partially because there is not a lot new from last month’s post. I still struggle with noticing some things, but I would say that I’m not feeling that “want” as much when I notice.

One of the Goodwill chairs I upcycled! I spray painted the legs and added the fun blush fur covering the seat!

I have been better at time management this month. I have enjoyed writing, reading, working on projects around the house, decluttering, and I’ve started recording and editing some videos in case I get brave and put them on YouTube! We’ll see…However, I wonder if I am more focused on projects because it’s somewhat of a loophole in my “rules” – as I have allowed myself to purchase things needed for projects. I just finished working on upcycling a couple of vintage chairs I got for $2 a piece from Goodwill, and painting a couple of side tables in one of our rooms.

One of the side tables I painted. I used items I had on hand to complete this project!

Perhaps another reason why I am struggling to verbalize how it’s going is because I have had some polarizing feelings. On the one hand, I’m getting used to not being able to buy things. On the other hand, I still feel “pulls” or desires at times. For example, I walked into Target the other day and in the dollar spot (thank you Target for placing that right as I walk in the door), I noticed these white ceramic cupcake stands for $3 a piece. My first thought was, whelp can’t get those. But then I still wanted to rationalize. My thoughts were: I literally have been waiting for my Target to have those cupcake stands in stock for over a year! They were only $3 a piece! But, I stuck to my rules – as I would use those as a decor piece – and didn’t purchase them.

Although I still have those moments where I feel drawn to something, I also see myself getting closer to a place where my habit is to NOT purchase things. I have to admit, last year at this time – when I did a three month no spend challenge for the first three months of the year – I was ready to buy something!! I thought that by this point I would have more of a “craving” than I do. I’m hopeful that as the months progress, I will feel that pull less and less, and by the time January 2020 rolls around and I have completed my “no spend” year, I won’t have the desire to rush out on a shopping spree!

Zone Cleaning

Several years ago, a friend let me borrow a book titled “Sink Reflections, The Fly Lady’s Baby Step Guide to Overcoming CHAOS.” One of the main takeaways I got from this book was her idea of zone cleaning. This method allowed me to keep on top of the clutter a little at a time. In her book, she describes 5 zones of your home: entrance/front porch/dining room (1), kitchen/pantry (2), the main bathroom/one extra room (3), master bedroom/bath/closet (4), living room/den/family room (5). I personally have broke down these categories even further to make completing these tasks more manageable. I have 12 zones in my home. Each home is different, and the amount of time you have to complete the tasks are different, so it is easy to tailor this to your home and schedule.

Decluttering
Here are about 10 items I recently found in my kitchen to declutter

The basic idea of zone cleaning is to choose one room each week to focus on deep cleaning and decluttering. I typically “circle” my house to keep track of which room is next. With this method, in my home, every 12 weeks each space gets a deep clean. Deep cleaning for me includes things that I don’t do each week: clean the ceilings/light fixture, dust the baseboards/blinds/window sills, clean the interior of the window, remove items from cabinets or drawers to clean inside the drawers, if the room has carpet I steam vacuum those. In addition, while I have things removed from cabinets and drawers I evaluate what I am using or what is expired to determine what can be decluttered. I try to choose 10 items from each room each week. I don’t always find 10 items in each room, but I will frequently find more than 10 items in some of the rooms. If I found exactly 10 items per week, that is 520 items per year leaving my home! That number seems overwhelming, but if you break it down to focus on just one room per week it is manageable!

In my bathroom declutter, I like to go through our medicine to determine if any of them are expired

The basic idea of zone cleaning is to choose one room each week to focus on deep cleaning and decluttering. I typically “circle” my house to keep track of which room is next. With this method, in my home, every 12 weeks each space gets a deep clean. Deep cleaning for me includes things that I don’t do each week: clean the ceilings/light fixture, dust the baseboards/blinds/window sills, clean the interior of the window, remove items from cabinets or drawers to clean inside the drawers, if the room has carpet I steam vacuum those. In addition, while I have things removed from cabinets and drawers I evaluate what I am using or what is expired to determine what can be decluttered. I try to choose 10 items from each room each week. I don’t always find 10 items in each room, but I will frequently find more than 10 items in some of the rooms. If I found exactly 10 items per week, that is 520 items per year leaving my home! That number seems overwhelming, but if you break it down to focus on just one room per week it is manageable!

I know some people are obsessed with the KonMari method of decluttering, and that works well for some people. But if throwing all of the clothes from your whole house into a pile seems overwhelming to you, maybe the zone cleaning method would work well for you. The problem with decluttering once and for all is that we constantly have things coming into our homes, especially if we have children. This zone cleaning method will allow you to continuously go through your items so you don’t have to dedicate a large amount of time all at once to decluttering. What do you think of the zone cleaning method? Have you heard of it? Does it sound like something that would work for you?

No Spend Year, February Reflections

I have made it through another month of my no spend year. February was a bit more difficult than January. It will be tough to write this because a lot of my thoughts from this month are pretty vulnerable. This is turning out to be more insightful than I expected. I’m struggling as I see my true heart being revealed.

The most eye-opening thing I learned this month is becoming cognizant of the number of times I was affected by Instagramers or YouTubers direct links to items they had. I realized that I am persuaded to buy clothes more than other types of items. I guess this isn’t too surprising given my closet is the area that I struggle to keep decluttered. What was surprising was how unaware I was by the effect “influencers” had on my purchases. Which I guess is the exact reason they are called “influencers”! I noticed this month how many times I wanted things that I saw others had. In the past, I might have easily clicked on links without giving much thought to it. To this day, I’m sitting with some wants that I don’t really need.

The other thing that really struck me this month was how much I have been turning to other things to fill some hole I have where I used to shop. I feel like I have less self control in other areas – like the food I am eating, and the amount of time I spend watching YouTube or Netflix. While it has been wonderful to have some extra time, it’s interesting that I am gravitating towards participating in “indulgent” things rather than doing something more productive. It has made me realize that when we seek to eliminate some bad habit from our lives, we should be cautious that another bad habit doesn’t creep in. This coming month, I hope to be more intentional with my extra time.

I have been more okay than I expected not purchasing home decor. I am continuing to work on purging our home, and with these items I don’t want to bring more things into our home that I will just have to purge again. I wish I had that same feeling about clothes! Ha!The other positive thing that I saw come out of this month is my awareness going up. As I mentioned, I didn’t realize how much I was affected by “influencers.” Also, just an awareness of what is happening internally. I’m sure this is just the beginning, but I’m starting to evaluate why I am shopping and why I want things.


I’m hopeful that in the month of March I am able to evaluate what I spend my time on, and what I allow into my life. I also want to continue the process of examining why I like to shop. I’m hopeful that I will be able to make progress in these areas to become a better version of myself!



From Chaos to Order, Tips for Pantry Organization

Do you have a difficult time keeping your pantry organized? It’s challenging to keep a pantry neat, even for the most organized person. Items are always coming in and going out, which can make it difficult to have systems set in place that help keep it organized. Obviously everyone has different sizes of pantries, families, and budgets to support such a transformation. I have some tips that might help bring order to any chaotic pantry.

One of the easiest ways to keep things organized is to invest in some storage containers and bins. This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. You could use unused bins from around your home, or even use cardboard boxes to store items. Mason jars are an inexpensive way to store food, and makes your pantry look visually appealing. If you do have the budget for it, there are a variety of options and places to get storage bins and containers. I love Target or the Container Store, and I know Dollar Tree often has great storage solutions.

Bormioli Rocco Fido glass jars
Bormioli Rocco Fido Jars

By far, my favorite storage containers are the Bormioli Rocco Fido glass storage jars with airtight lids. I have used these jars for over 15 years to store my baking items, staple dry goods (like rice and pasta), and even some staple snack items (like nuts and dried fruits). I have continued to collect these jars over the years as our needs have expanded and changed. They are a bit of an investment up front, but I think it is so worth it! I also recently did a pantry makeover and bought some reasonably priced plastic containers to store all of our items that generally come in cardboard boxes, making the pantry look more uniform, and making it easy to find what we’re looking for.

Using bins to store like items is another way to keep things organized. This would be especially useful for items that are in one category but rotate so you’re not purchasing the exact same thing each week.

Use baskets like these to store like items
Riser used for canned goods

There are other great organization tools for the pantry. I like to use a riser for my canned goods – that way I can easily identify everything I have available. You could also use baskets or bins for canned goods, allowing you to pull out the basket to see what you have. In addition, there are can storage bins which allow the cans to “roll” out one at a time. I use this for my cans of sparkling water. You could also use it for cans of soup or vegetables if you keep a good stock of those on hand.

Plastic storage containers, and can organizers help keep things looking neat

I like to label everything. You certainly don’t need to do this, particularly with clear jars or bins in which you can see the contents. I personally just like the look of the jars and bins being labeled. I like to keep meals and snacks simple, so I tend to purchase the same things over and over. If there is some change, the labels are fairly easy to remove. If they are extra stubborn, I just use Goo Gone and it easily comes off. I have used a variety of different labels over the years. I have written with a Sharpie on a plain label or name tag label. I have printed out labels. Most recently, I am obsessed with my simplistic embossing label maker. I like the old school, mid-century look to it. You certainly could get a fancier label maker as well.

The best way I find to organize a pantry, particularly if it is really messy, is to remove everything from the pantry. You could take this opportunity to clean all the surfaces. It’s also a great time to evaluate what food has expired or is not being used. For the food that, for whatever reason you aren’t eating, you could take it to a food pantry or I like to ask friends if they would like anything as everyone’s tastes are different!

Once everything is cleaned out, you have a clean slate. Now you can categorize the items and decant anything that will go into storage containers. One thing to remember prior to going out and purchasing storage containers is to measure your space. You will wanted to make sure the containers fit on the shelf where you are planning to store them. The final step is just a game of jigsaw puzzle – trying to see where everything fits. Especially when my kids were younger, I liked to have their snack foods on their level, and have junk food items up on a higher shelf where they couldn’t reach. It’s funny, even though they are teenagers, the snacks are still on the lower level in my pantry and the junk food is still stored on the top shelf!

I hope this gave you some ideas or inspiration to get your pantry organized! Do you have any tips for keeping a pantry organized? Any questions I didn’t answer?

5 Excuses We Use to Hold Onto Things

Purging our homes of unneeded items can be a challenging task. Marie Kondo makes it look so easy to know what should stay and what should go, but the reality is it can be difficult to part with things we don’t find are useful or bring us joy. There are several excuses we use as to why we keep items. I will share with you a few and the truth about why it’s okay to let go.

Money

One of the most common reasons we tend to keep things, in spite of not using it, is that we spent money on it. There are many areas in our homes where we keep things because we spent money on them – clothes, home decor, toys to name a few. We may even keep unused toiletries or cleaners that didn’t work out because we spent money on them. The truth is, holding onto these items that we are not using is not going to get our money back. It might even be wasting our money because if we gave the item away, it could get new life and be used again instead of sitting in the back of a closet or cabinet.

Gift

Another reason we keep things is because it was a gift. I think it is a universal feeling to feel guilt getting rid of something someone gave to you. Even if you are someone who doesn’t attach sentimental value to things readily, it is difficult. I’m sure it’s even more difficult for those who do attach sentimental value to items. The truth is, when someone gives you a gift, that item now belongs to you which means you can do with it what you please. You can appreciate their gesture and experience the joy of the act of giving in that moment, but if this item is not useful to you or does not bring you joy then it is silly to hold onto it just because it was given to you. If the person who gave you the item would be upset because you didn’t use it or you gave it away – that is a boundary issue they have, not you. Usually, your friends and relatives would not want an item they gave you to cause stress or clutter in your home. I think most people would rather the item that they spent money on be given to someone else to be useful than to sit in a drawer or closet in your home.

Some people keep things because they might need it someday. This one is tricky, because certainly there are things we keep for the future – perhaps you just had a baby and you are keeping your pre-pregnancy weight clothes until you settle into your post baby weight. Maybe you are keeping clothes or toys to be passed onto younger siblings.The truth is, many times we hold onto things because we think we will use them in the future when these items will never get used again. Maybe there are those jeans you hold onto as incentive to lose weight, or a home decor piece that is really no longer your style but you might like it again. For these items the 20/20 rule, created by The Minimalists – Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus – works well. If you can replace the item for under $20 within 20 minutes of your home and you are considering parting with it, then it’s okay to let go.
Some people keep things because they might need it someday. This one is tricky, because certainly there are things we keep for the future – perhaps you just had a baby and you are keeping your pre-pregnancy weight clothes until you settle into your post baby weight. Maybe you are keeping clothes or toys to be passed onto younger siblings.The truth is, many times we hold onto things because we think we will use them in the future when these items will never get used again. Maybe there are those jeans you hold onto as incentive to lose weight, or a home decor piece that is really no longer your style but you might like it again. For these items the 20/20 rule, created by The Minimalists – Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus – works well. If you can replace the item for under $20 within 20 minutes of your home and you are considering parting with it, then it’s okay to let go.

Sentimental photo albums


Many times, we keep things because they are sentimental items. Obviously we don’t need to get rid of all sentimental items. It’s okay to hang onto items that have meaning and remind us of events or times that bring back positive thoughts. However, we need to evaluate how many things we hold onto. It’s good to give yourself limits on what you keep as far as sentimental items. Choose a box or two, and keep only what fits inside those boundaries. Some items, especially large ones can be kept digitally by photographing the item(s) prior to letting them go. Typically, the picture of the item will bring back the same memories as the item itself. Also, if you have sentimental items that cause negative feelings, I would recommend letting go of those items. There is no need to hold onto something that causes you pain.

Lastly, people often keep things because they have the space for it. I relate well to this one. I used to not purge things that were difficult to purge because I had the space for it, so why not just leave it. The truth is, physical clutter can cause mental clutter. If every time you open your cabinet and it is filled to the top, your brain has to process everything that is in there. With less stuff, it’s less the brain has to process. I am beginning to enjoy having empty cabinets! For me personally, I realize that one day (maybe sooner rather than later as number two of three children is headed off to college next fall), we will likely downsize and live in a smaller home. I like the idea of being able to slowly over time purge my items rather than being forced into it when we do choose to downsize. Even further down the road (or not since we never know!) when we leave this earth we will leave our things behind, and our family will have to make choices about what to do with those things. I don’t want my stuff to become a burden to my children or family members.


This is certainly not an exhaustive list of reasons why people keep things. What are the reasons you keep things?


No Spend Year, January Reflections

So far, this no spend year has seemed fairly easy. Granted, we were skiing the first week of January. I have done “no spend January” before, and the month seemed to drag on! But this month flew by and I hardly noticed I was on a spending fast. I thought about how maybe it’s like long distance running, when your mind knows you’re about to run 12 miles, the first mile seems to fly by, but if you just run a mile it seems to drag on. Part of doing any fast is “mind over matter.” We’ll see how my worn down mind is doing by May!

The biggest take-away from month one is TIME. I seem to have so much more time now. I didn’t think I spent a lot of time shopping, but I find myself going out less in general. When I do need to go to Target for something, I’m quite focused. Where I used to grab a cart (and maybe a coffee!) and browse through the entire store, I now go in and get the items on my list and leave. The first couple of times I did that it felt very weird. I felt like I was fighting a magnetic pull to look. And the first time in Target, I did in fact browse a little. After that, I realized browsing would only make me want. With the extra time, I have been spending more focused time purging our home, and I’ve been reading a lot more!

The other thing I’ve noticed is how influenced I have been by social media ads and influencers. I saw an ad for a light athletic jacket that I wanted on my Instagram feed, which was very frustrating because I had been looking for a similar jacket for quite a while now to replace an athletic jacket I have had for a very long time. The previous Joy would have clicked on the link and purchased the jacket (embarrassingly, probably immediately), but since I knew I couldn’t purchase it I didn’t. Over the course of the month, I have thought about that jacket, and how my current jacket while old and outdated looking still does it’s job. I really don’t need a new athletic jacket. I wanted a new one. Also, there is a YouTuber I watch who frequently shares the products she has purchased and loves. She had bought this nail polish at Target that was high quality (doesn’t come off as easy) on sale. Guess where I headed the first time I went into Target? Yep, the nail polish isle. Technically I didn’t include beauty products in my no spend rules. I couldn’t find a sale color I liked, and ended up buying two colors that were not on sale. In hindsight I probably didn’t need either. Other times I’ve seen items on Instagram or Youtube and thought, I want that! There was a time when I would sometimes go out and purchase the item I saw someone else wearing/using/owning, but with the spending fast I had to deny myself. Often times, a few days later I think to myself: I really didn’t need that!

Lastly, I have found I get coffee and food out less than I had been. Apparently shopping is draining! I would often like to get a coffee at Starbucks while browsing around Target. (I’m starting to realize the genius of putting Starbucks inside of Targets! Great for Starbucks AND Target). Perhaps this last one had to do with my lack of time-management when shopping around. I didn’t realize I would be out so long and would get hungry or tired (afternoon coffee time!)
I’m looking forward to seeing all the ways my eyes are opened this year in this spending fast. I think it’s not surprising month one was easy, but I am confident my appetites will be tested in the months to come!