Things I Wish I Could Quit Buying, and Why I Don’t

I often will see creative content from minimalists who share a list of all the things they no longer purchase now that they are minimalist. Sometimes this type of content makes me feel bad, because I think I should not purchase some of these items, but when I think about it, I know  it’s just not practical for me and my family. I thought I would share the 15 things I wish I could quit buying and why I don’t.

Paper Towels and Paper Napkins. I do try to use cleaning cloths as much as possible, however there are times when jobs are so messy or unsanitary that I prefer to use something disposable instead of something I will need to wash. Also, we use paper towels to cover our food when we are cooking it in the microwave so it doesn’t splatter in there. As for napkins, I actually used to have cloth napkins and we used them every night at dinner. But, probably some time around the time our third child was born I gave up on keeping up with that extra laundry. To be honest, now that my kids are older, we don’t use napkins all the time. We only use them if it is a messy meal.

Disposable Plates, Cups, and Silverware. Truthfully, we RARELY use these, but I do keep them on hand for emergencies or if my kids have friends over. If we have a large gathering at our home, we will use disposable plates, cups, and silverware as well.

Plastic Bags (Ziplocks), Plastic Wrap, Tin Foil, and Parchment Paper. Again, I don’t use these items frequently. I have reusable plastic bags, and beeswax paper to replace plastic wrap. But, there are occasions when I use these items. I don’t like to use any reusable plastic bags  with raw meat. Also, I don’t have a large collection of reusable plastic bags, so if all of the reusable ones are used then we will use a disposable one. I use foil on our grill to cook our food on, and to line a baking sheet with some of the items that I cook. I use parchment paper when I bake cookies, and for some other recipes. I think there might be reusable parchment paper? I’ve never looked into that though.

Individually Wrapped Snacks. I recognize that it’s a lot of extra wrapping to purchase these types of snacks, however it is nice to have some snacks that are already portioned out. I’m not talking about chips or crackers. I’m talking about protein bars, oatmeal packets, and easy one person meals to name a few. Some things like the individual easy meals are great for teens to make on their own, and it doesn’t create leftovers.

Home Decor. I would like to be a minimalist, but there are just some areas where I enjoy having beautiful things. I don’t have an excessive amount of home decor, but I do like having it as I feel like it makes our home feel cozy and inviting. Along these same lines, is seasonal decor. I don’t keep a lot  of seasonal decor, but I do have decor for Easter, spring/summer, fall, and Christmas. I have tried to curate an intentional collection of seasonal decor.

Decorative Pillows. I have to say, it has been a while since I last purchased decorative pillows. For those of you who don’t know, in 2019 I did a “No Spend Year” with regards to clothes and home decor. I did not purchase any pillows during that year, and now we are in May of 2020 and I still have not purchased any new ones! But, I do like using throw pillows as a way to make spaces more warm and cozy. When I can, I use pillow covers to change out my pillows making it easier to store.

Fake Plants. I would REALLY like to be able to have all real plants in my home, but the reality is I’m barely keeping the four real plants that I have in my home alive! I have killed so many real plants – including cacti and succulents {{how do you do that??}} I love the look of plants, so I have included fake plants and succulents throughout my home.

Clothes. As I mentioned, in 2019 I did not purchase any clothes (with some exceptions! You can read my blog post about my reflections from my No Spend Year.) During that year, I did learn about fast fashion and how some brands do not ethically source their clothing items. I am now purchasing clothes either second hand, from small boutiques/business, or from brands that have ethical practices. I love beautiful things! I love putting together outfits, so yes I do still purchase clothes. I have been doing the one in, one out rule – if I purchase an item I remove one of a similar type of item from my wardrobe. This helps me to be more intentional with what I purchase.

Disposable Feminine Products. Okay, skip on to the next one if this is TMI for you! I did try two different brands of the period cups, both of them were $20-30, and neither one worked for me. I decided I’m probably close enough to menopause that it’s not worth it to try yet another brand!

Q-tips and Cotton Pads. I have thought about purchasing reusable Q-tips and cotton pads, but as of now I am using the disposable kind. For those of you who have reusable Q-tips and/or cotton pads, are they difficult to clean? Do you wash them in the washer? Or just in the sink?

Cleaning Products. I have to admit, lately I’ve been really pondering if I should make my own cleaning products with simple items I already have on hand (vinegar, baking soda, rubbing alcohol, and essential oils), but as of now I do purchase pre-made cleaning products. I use the Grove Collaborative website to order what I need. It is a subscription based service that will send cleaning products to your door once a month! They have a lot of essential oil based {{more}} all-natural products. I do recognize that these products aren’t as natural as just making your own.

Candles and Essential Oils. There is conflicting data on the health hazards of both candles and essential oils. The data on the candles being hazardous is probably more legit, as even scented soy candles have chemicals in them to create the scent. I more often diffuse essential oils than to light candles, but either way, I do love my home to smell good! I used to use those Glade or Yankee Candle plug-ins, but I stopped using those several years ago. I may eventually give up lighting scented candles, but I would have to find some all-natural, unscented ones because I love the cozy ambiance candles create.

Books. If there is a book I would like to read, I typically buy or borrow the physical book. There is just something about holding a physical book and turning the pages. Especially now that we are quarantined, I have thought about trying out the library service where you can rent audio books, or ebooks.

Coffee at a Coffee Shop. Most of the time I make my coffee at home, but every once in a while this mama needs a treat!

Hair Dye. I’m 45 years old and that is old enough to have gray hair, but I feel like it’s young enough to cover it up to continue looking young. I know one day I will give this up, and I recognize that many people may find this vain, but that is not how I currently feel about it. I think it’s okay to take care of yourself – eat healthy, exercise, and do things to make you look and feel younger!

Well, I hope this may help you to feel better about the things you continue to purchase, if you’re like me and are striving for minimalism but am not quite there yet. Let me know if you purchase these items too, or if you don’t why you don’t!

Well, I hope this may help you to feel better about the things you continue to purchase, if you’re like me and are striving for minimalism but am not quite there yet. Let me know if you purchase these items too, or if you don’t why you don’t!

Sharing Our Home Renovations

Being quarantined over the last several weeks has given me the opportunity to slow down, giving me extra time to think and reflect. One of the things I have been pondering is regret in life. It’s easy to look back over your life and see all the ways you would have done things differently, because hindsight is 20/20. One of the things I learned is to lean into that truth: let me say it again, HINDSIGHT IS 20/20. How apropos that I would be thinking about this in 2020! I want to learn to embrace the mistakes I’ve made, realizing this is how we learn and grow as people! I want to accept, and that means first acknowledge, that I would have done things differently if I had known. Accept that I did not have a crystal ball. Accept that I cannot change the past. Accept that all I can do now is MOVE FORWARD!

Another thing that I am working on, in light of regret, is focusing on the things I did right in the past and continue to make those things a part of my life. So often the negative overcrowds the positive. We see the 10% that we could have done differently, and we forget about the 90% we did right! So, let me encourage you today to focus on the positive, and move forward with the knowledge that you will do the best in the time with what you know at that time!

One of my biggest regrets has been not starting to put myself out there sooner. Back in 2009, we moved into a fixer upper. At that time, I had a blog (before blogs were really a thing), but it was mostly to document what my kids were doing as a platform to share with our extended family members since all of our family lived far away. I was bad at keeping up with it, and eventually abandoned it all together. Looking back, I realize that I should have shared the journey of updating our home on that blog. In addition to this, about 5 or 6 years ago I began a journey of more simplistic living. I started to do serious decluttering. Again, I wish that I would have documented and shared that journey. The reality is, I felt like I was too busy at that stage in my life to take the extra time to document and share what I was doing. But, I was also held back by insecurity. Reflecting on it all, I realize that perhaps things unfold in their own best timing.

Today, I wanted to share the transformation our home has made over the past (almost) 11 years since we purchased this home. Some of the work I have done myself, and other work we hired out. I apologize for the low quality photos. At points I didn’t even take before photos! But, I wanted to share as much as I could! Let me start by saying that every area in our home has been transformed several times. Wherever there is a change in large pieces, like furniture, I have always sold our previous furniture on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace to offset the cost of the new piece. I wanted to tell you about a few things I did that will not be showcased in this post. We changed all the door knobs and hinges – from random mismatched to all a dark bronze color, and light switches and plugs – from the almond/cream color to white. I also painted all of the closets and the built in shelves in the closets as well.

I’ll start with our entryway. This area has seen several transformations. I struggled to find an entryway table and mirror that I liked. I can’t even find a photo of one of them that I had purchased. I had transformed it by painting it blue and adding new hardware. I couldn’t find a photo of the entryway prior to getting the wainscoting painted, but you’ll see the transformation of the wainscoting in other areas of the home.

This photo was taken in the spring of 2010, so about 9 months after moving in. I painted the walls this neutral beige… back when that was a popular wall color! This is the first entry table/mirror combo I had. The light fixture was the one that the previous owners had chosen. I eventually replaced this light.
Here is what the second entry table looked like after I had painted it and added new hardware. I paired it with this round brass edged mirror. I always felt like this mirror was too small. Ultimately I ended up selling this entry table for more than the new one. I was just tired of the blue.
This is what the entryway looks like now. I replaced the previous table with this table. I sold the blue table on Facebook marketplace. I also got this bigger black edged mirror. You will see that brass mirror later! I also purchased a vintage runner rug to complete the look. I also ended up painting our front door. We contemplated replacing it, but the budget for other other projects took precedence over a new door.
This is the light fixture I chose to replace the old one.

Next is our front room. I think I painted this room 3, maybe 4, times trying to find a paint color I liked. I found a dark, moody grey that I really loved and it was that color for several years. In the span of the last 11 years, we have replaced all the furniture in this room, and replaced the flooring. We also had several different rugs, which kept getting ruined by the kid-dog combo!

I gave up on rugs for a period of time. I loved the way they looked and the coziness it brought to the room, but I could not steam vac or throw away another rug! I ended up going back to a light grey color on the walls in this room. We replaced our old entertainment center, which was an appropriate size for the HUGE projection TV we used to own. I found this vintage repurposed high boy at a local furniture boutique.
I recently finally took the plunge and ordered another rug from RugsUSA.com. They had a warranty plan that was reasonably priced and included dogs messing them up! And, guess what, so far the dogs have not messed this one up!
I also found this vintage coffee table at Salvation Army.

The next area is the kitchen nook. We painted the walls (a couple different times), the wainscoting, and the built in desk. The cabinets above the desk had glass doors, and ultimately I decided to remove them to have more of an open shelf look. You will also notice that we eventually replace our windows.

This is what the kitchen nook looked like when we first moved in.
This is what it looked like after the wainscoting was painted, but before the desk cabinets were painted. I eventually replace the light fixture as well.
Here you can see that I replace the light fixture. I still wanted the fan, so I connected a chandelier to a fan/light kit. I also painted the walls a light grey, and added our command center with calendars and family photos.
This is what the kitchen desk looks like now. I painted it all black and removed the glass cabinet doors.
I ended up replacing the fan/chandelier that I had put up with this mid-century chandelier as my style continued to evolve.

Next up is the kitchen. I was so proud of this transformation! I painted the cabinets myself, using a Rustoleum product called Cabinet Transformations. It took several months to complete this project as my kids were young and busy with after school activities, so I would put the paint away before picking them up from school. Five years ago, when we had the carpet replaced, we used the same contractor to replace the tile in the kitchen, which made a huge impact in my opinion! I would not have chose black granite counter tops, the previous owners chose those, but we decided to keep them since they were in good condition.

This is what the kitchen looked like when we first moved in.
Here is what it looked like after I painted the cabinets. I changed all the hardware on the cabinets as well.
This is what the kitchen looks like now!

The next room is what is supposed to be our dining room, but I made it our play/homework room when we first moved in. I thought it was a great place since it was right next to the kitchen. This space has evolved over the years as well. As our children outgrew toys, this area became the homework/computer desk area. Over time, my middle child was the only one who used this room to do homework, and it kind of organically turned into his “office.” This space had the cheap looking faux wood floors, which we decided to replace with the wood we used in the front room since those two spaces were connected.

This is what the space looked like after I transformed it into more of an adult looking office for my son for his 17th birthday. We also purchased that large table to be used as a desk.

The next space was our game room. We live in a split level home, so it is down a half set of stairs. When I saw this room, I thought no way do I want this house! But wait to see what a little paint can do to a space…

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the built in bookshelves/cabinets when the painters came to paint the wainscoting, so I had them leave those. We had all the wainscoting and trim throughout the downstairs and middle section painted white by professionals about 9 months after we moved into the home. The upstairs trim had already been painted white by the previous owners.
I got tired of the accent wall behind the shelving, and painted it all black for a more cohesive look. I also spray painted the hardware brass.
When we had the contractor here to put in the floors and kitchen back splash, his guys also scraped off the popcorn ceiling in this room. After we had the wainscoting painted white, the ceiling looked dingy. One day, I got the itch to paint, and decided to paint the ceiling the same light grey that I had used throughout the rest of my home.

Downstairs, we have a half bath and a laundry room. These spaces have seen transformations as well! If you haven’t noticed it yet, I’m a big fan of paint!

This is what our laundry room looked like when we first moved in. Orange counter tops, honey colored cabinets, and orange cabinet hardware! Full on 70’s look here!

Next, we’ll head upstairs and I will show you the bedrooms, and two full baths. All of these bedrooms have been transformed several times!

The master bedroom has had MANY makeovers. Obviously I get bored with a look and want to switch it up! I painted the bathroom cabinets, added new hardware to the cabinets (TWICE!) , and installed a barn door going into our bathroom. I also changed out the fan with a fan/chandelier combo, and later replace the chandelier with one that fit my ever-evolving style! I painted this room several times – including the trim and wood beam.

After only about a year and a half of the dark room, I had enough and I wanted light and bright! I decided to paint one wall a dark color, but everything else white. I decided also repaint all the trim, as it was in need of it! In addition to that, I also painted the once black beam in our bedroom white.

The next room was an exercise room when we first moved in, but shortly thereafter, my husband started working from home so it also became his office. After we got gym memberships, we decided to sell our exercise equipment. When my daughter went to college, my younger son moved out of the bedroom he was sharing with his older brother into his sister’s room and we put her bed in the office. I originally painted this room that same beige that I had in other areas of my home when we first moved in. After a while I got tired of that color and painted it a light grey. When my daughter moved home the first summer she decided she didn’t want to move back into her old room, but she wanted the walls white in her shared bedroom/office space – which was the last color she chose for her previous bedroom.

Next is my daughter’s room. She was almost 13 years old when we moved into this house. As you could imagine, it was tough to move at that age. I told her we could do whatever she wanted in her room. She chose to do a paint splatter accent wall, but she would quickly get tired of that and we did a couple of makeovers!

This is what her room looked like before we moved in.
We painted over the accent wall with dark brown paint to match the other three walls, and we wrote out Harry Potter quotes around the room. Thankfully her artistic best friend helped us out. This is the best photo I could find of her room with Harry Potter quotes.
Lastly, she begged me to paint her room white. She wanted a simple look with white walls and white bedding. She also had this vision to hang string lights, and get rid of her bed frame.

Another space that saw lots of change was my boys’ shared bedroom. I had this tradition that the summer before 6th grade we could redo your room. So, this room got a makeover from the cars and trucks theme to a more pre-teen look when my son Luke was going to head into middle school. We again did a makeover when my younger son, Cade was about to enter middle school. I did another small makeover when my middle son moved to college. There was a painting design that I wanted to try out where you paint the top one fourth white and the bottom three fourths another color. I thought my son wouldn’t be bothered because he doesn’t seem to care about those sorts of things, but the truth finally came out! Hahaha!

This is what the boys’ room looked like before we moved in.
The second update. We painted the walls and added new bedding, and some new artwork.
This is what the white with color paint design looks like. If you’re curious about the decor – my son is currently a pre-med major.

Another area that has seen change is our second full bathroom that our three kids share. I painted the cabinets in this bathroom black like I did in our bathroom. I also changed the hardware on the cabinets and replaced the light with a light fixture like in our other bathrooms. We had this bathroom remodeled as well, replacing the counter tops, the tub, and the tile around the tub. I painted the floor in this bathroom as well. I also ended up repainting this bathroom to the light grey color that I have throughout the rest of our home.

I painted it this bluish grey color shortly after we moved in.

The last place I will show you is the garage. This space made a transformation as well. The previous owners had left a lot of things in this garage. including shelving, a work bench, and some peg boards. Ultimately we got rid of everything they left and added hanging wall shelves at the back of the garage. I also painted all the doors black, and used a neutral greige color on the wall.

I hope this gave you inspiration to jump in on projects that you have hesitated to do. If there are areas of your home that you don’t love, you can change them with a little time, elbow grease, or… money haha! I have thoroughly enjoyed transforming this house into something that is ours, something that is cozy, and something that makes me and my family want to be here! AND, it’s still a work in progress!