Why Do We Buy So Much Stuff + My Intentional Spending Year Progress

For those of you new to my blog, last year in 2019, I did a No Spend Year. This included home decor, clothing, shoes, and accessories. I definitely learned a lot throughout that year. {{You can read about it in my No Spend Year Reflections, which I documented each month – check it out on my main page under No Spend Year!}} I did decide after that year to be more intentional with my spending moving forward. I have done one blog post discussing how I have been doing in 2020, My Intentional Spending Year, back in the spring. As I continue to move through 2020 I see that shopping is such a slippery slope, and even with some “rules” in place, it’s easy to get out of control. I’m considering re-evaluating my rules and implementing more or more well-defined rules for myself.

All of this got me thinking about how deep-seated my spending habits had become, and just like an addict going back to the thing they are addicted to, it got out of control fast. I really dislike using that word “addict,” but the truth is there really isn’t another way to explain it. Shopping can cause the brain to release dopamine just like any other “drug” of choice – drugs, alcohol, or even food! 

In an article found on Psychology Today, it stated, “Many people think that dopamine is released when the brain receives a reward, but dopamine is actually released in anticipation of a reward.” There was a study where monkeys were given a reward after they pushed a button 10 times, and it was found they released dopamine while pressing the button and not when they actually received the reward. Our brains are wired to release dopamine when we are in the process of looking for that perfect item, not just acquiring it!

In this time we are living in (I’m writing this in summer of 2020 during the Coronavirus pandemic), now more than ever people are looking for ways to experience that dopamine surge. Perhaps some things that used to give us this feeling, we can no longer do.

Not only does shopping give you a dopamine surge, you believe this next item will make you happy. The truth is, it works opposite of that. Every time you give into your temptation to get something new, it just makes it easier to give in the next time, and you are never really satisfied.

I am learning through this year, after doing a no spend year, that I definitely had an addiction to shopping. That is why it is so important for me to focus on being intentional with my spending in 2020. I still don’t feel like I have it “figured out.” I do feel like I continue to buy things because I believe in that idea that “this one last thing will make me happy” even if it is subconscious. Also, I’m learning to balance my love for making things beautiful with being very intentional with what comes into my home. Especially in this time when I am stuck at home so much, I see all kinds of things I want to make more beautiful throughout my home!

The positive thing in all of this is that I am aware. I think in the past I was not even aware of my behavior, or the psychological reasons behind spending/accumulating. Knowing is always the biggest step, because if you know then you can make changes! I’m already thinking about what I can do in 2021 to continue to make changes to my behavior. I’m pondering creative ways to put parameters on myself – which I find helpful for me specifically.

Here is the video I made for my YouTube channel in conjunction with this blog post.

10 Habits of An Organized Person

I think most people would say they would like to be more organized, or they would like to be an organized person. Friends and family often ask me how I stay organized. They may even comment that I’m so lucky to just be naturally organized. People who seem naturally organized really just implement habits in their lives that lead to an organized life. Today I wanted to share with you 10 habits of people who are organized.

The first habit is that they have a place for everything. The number one advice I give to people who want to get organized is to have a place for everything. When everything has a place, over time you don’t even have to think about putting things away. Your brain makes neural pathways as you repetitively put the items away in the same location. Eventually you do it as second nature. Also, if something does not have a home, it just continues to float around your house and every time you use that item, you must think about where to put it down when you’re finished using it.

In addition to having a place for everything, organized people actually put things away in their place after they are done using it. I call this the “one touch rule.” When they are done with an item, they immediately put it back where it belongs. They don’t drop the towel on the bathroom floor, or kick off their shoes wherever they want to take them off. A great example – and a problem place for many people – is the mail creating paper clutter in that dreaded drop zone where everything seems to pile up in your house. Someone who is organized has a habit of immediately dealing with the mail. They make it a habit to get the mail when they have the time to go through and discard junk mail, pay bills, and file papers that come through the mail.

In order to be able to deal with things like mail, functional systems must be set up and used. An organized person has these systems, which they continue to tweek until it works well for them. They have a paper filing system, a place for shoes, hooks for backpacks and jackets, a location where dirty laundry goes (and family members know this as well), and any other organizing bins for everyday used items.

Along with functional systems, organized people have daily routines set up. Having routines will allow you to get things done almost without thinking about it. Not only general routines like exercise, daily Bible reading or meditation, and getting up and going to bed at approximately the same time each day; but also cleaning, decluttering, and organizing habits. We all have a fairly consistent inflow of things into our homes, whether it’s junk mail, kids artwork, or gifts. Having routines set up to deal with the inflow and the organic daily messes that are created, help to keep you organized.

Another habit of an organized person is that they are constantly decluttering. Like I just mentioned, we all have a constant inflow of items into our homes. No matter how minimalist someone appears to be, there is still a need to declutter items from the home.

To help make the decluttering process a bit easier, another habit of an organized person is that they are intentional about what comes into their homes. Some things we don’t have control over – mail sent to us or what our family members bring into our home is out of our control. However, an organized person closely evaluates their purchases to decide if the items will add value, particularly in the long run.

Along those same lines, organized people only own what they use and what they love and declutter the rest. The less stuff we have, the less stuff we have to organize. The less stuff we have to organize, the easier it is to be and stay organized.

Another habit of an organized person is that they keep lists. Keeping lists for different aspects of life help to keep things organized. If you get ideas or to dos out of your head and onto paper (or digitally if that is your thing), your head is clear and you won’t worry about forgetting anything. It’s great to keep separate lists for different aspects of life – a work to do list, a daily to do list, a long term to do list, and an ideas list to name a few.

Organized people create deadlines for themselves. Oftentimes we organically have deadlines – whether that’s for work, school, or things that must get done related to our children or our personal lives (like appointments, preparation for events, etc.) When an organized person doesn’t have a set deadline – like with home projects or cleaning, they make deadlines for themselves. Having a deadline helps motivate you to get tasks and projects done. Of course there is always room for grace when unexpected things come up!

Lastly, organized people don’t procrastinate. Oftentimes people put off decluttering, putting things away, or everyday tasks. People who are organized, deal with things immediately, and then tasks don’t pile up and get to the point where they are overwhelming. It’s easier to stay on top of things when we don’t procrastinate.

I hope this gave you some practical tips on how you can become a more organized person. It’s never too late to make changes in your habits!

Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post.

7 Reasons We Keep Clothes + Ideas To Declutter Clothes

Today I wanted to share with you common reasons we tend to hold onto clothes, and some ideas for letting go. It can be overwhelming to downsize our wardrobe, especially if we are not in the habit of purging items from our closet and the job has gotten out of control. The best advice I have if you’re feeling overwhelmed by a decluttering project is to take it in bite size pieces. Choose one drawer a week to go through, or set a timer for an allotted amount of time. Oftentimes getting started is the most difficult part. Once we start, we have momentum to continue forward.

{{ONE}} We feel guilty about the amount of money we spent on the items. This is probably the number one reason we find it hard to declutter clothes – and really any items from our home. It can be difficult to just give away items that we have spent money on. If the items are in relatively good condition, an alternative is to sell these clothes. You could choose a consignment platform like Poshmark (my go-to), or Mercari. You could send it to Thread Up if you don’t want the clothes just sitting in your home as you wait for them to sell, or you could bring them to a local consignment shop to get some of your money back. You won’t make as much money with Thread Up or a consignment shop, but then the clothes are out of your house. If you have enough items in general that you are wanting to get rid of, another option is to have a good old fashioned garage sale. I have found it much easier to let go of items that I am on the fence about when I can make some money back. Lastly, if you have taken a basic economics course, then you learned about “sunk cost.” Basically, sometimes we make poor financial decisions, but keeping the item doesn’t get us the money back. If anything, every time we see that item we think – either consciously or subconsciously – that we spent money on that, but no longer love it/want it. It might be better to just get it out of our field of vision!

{{TWO}} We think we might lose – or even gain – weight. Sometimes we hang onto clothing items that used to fit us, but no longer fit because we have gained weight. We hold onto them as though it was an incentive to lose the weight to get back into that size. Or perhaps you have the opposite problem where you went through a weight loss journey and you’re concerned you will gain the weight back. Either way, I personally don’t keep items that are too big or too small. It can be discouraging to have that pair of jeans two sizes too small sitting in the back of your closet. Instead, perhaps you could use the incentive of purchasing new items when/if you do lose the weight. And if you went through a weight loss journey, it could be cathartic to get rid of all of those large clothes believing you WILL maintain the weight you are at currently. Certainly there are exceptions. If you are expecting a baby, you will likely need different sizes in your wardrobe to account for different stages of pregnancy and postpartum.

{{THREE}} We have sentimental attachment. This is a tough one. It may take time to be ready to let go of some of these items. When beginning the process of decluttering, I agree with Marie Kondo, it is wise to leave sentimental items until the end. This gives you momentum, and you also begin to “learn how to declutter.” You begin to feel more confident in your choices to part with things. If you have things like school or sports team t-shirts that you don’t want to let go of, consider having a quilt/blanket made out of the t-shirts/jerseys so you can still appreciate and enjoy them without having a box of them stuffed in the back of your closet. Other items that have sentimental value could be displayed in your home so you are able to appreciate them. Get a shadow box for that special jersey, or the outfit you brought your child home from the hospital in. Find a way to display/enjoy it, instead of continuing to allow these items to sit in a box in a closet or attic space. Perhaps you could pick your favorite few – maybe you don’t need to keep an entire tote of baby clothes from when your children were babies. Choose a couple of memorable outfits. Or perhaps you can keep a couple of school t-shirts instead of 13 from every year of school from kindergarten through 12th grade!

{{FOUR}} We don’t have time/don’t want to spend our time this way. I understand this. Honestly, in the end, it comes down to what is important to you. If you are okay with and not bothered by overflowing closets and drawers, then you do you. But, I would imagine if you’re reading this post, you are interested in paring down your wardrobe. As I mentioned, you don’t have to do the Konmari method and pile all your clothes from every drawer and hanger into the middle of your room. You could focus on a little at a time – choosing one drawer, or one section of your closet. Another idea is to purge clothing items by category. Sometimes you don’t realize how many of one category you own – so taking inventory of all of your shorts, or all of your sweaters at once may give you a better idea of what to get rid of. Think realistically about how many items in each category you might need. Think about the climate you live in and how often you do laundry. Another idea would be to set a timer. If you don’t have hours to spend decluttering. Set a timer for 10, 15, or 20 minutes, then grab a bag or box and start filling it with the items you know you no longer wear. Another trick I use is to turn your hangers backwards, then turn them back forwards as you wear/wash each item. After 6 months to a year (depending on how temperate your climate is) you will get an idea of which clothes you are wearing. If turning your hangers around seems like a lot of work, push all your clothes to one end of your closet, then hang them back up at the other end as you wear/wash them.

{{FIVE}} 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 who would use itl than for it sit in a drawer or closet in your home.

{{SIX}} We have space in our closet.  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 closet or drawers and they are 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 spaces in my home! For me personally, I realize that one day 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.

{{SEVEN}} We think we want lots of options. This may be true for some people. I have thought about trying to transition to a capsule wardrobe, but even I like to have a variety of choices when it comes to clothes. One thing I have found helpful for myself is to have a “uniform” then having options within that uniform. I pretty much assemble the same look every day, just with different items. But, some people want all different kinds of styles and options within those styles. I think having too many options can be overwhelming and contribute to decision fatigue. This may be the main reason people want to declutter their closets in the first place. They might not be able to put their finger on why, but ultimately it’s that there are too many choices in our closets. By using some of the techniques and tips mentioned earlier, you can pare down your wardrobe so it’s easy to get dressed each day and you love what you are wearing EVERYDAY! Can you say that now??

I hope this gave you some motivation or inspiration to reassess how many clothing items you own! It can be tough to declutter clothes, but if you do a little at a time it can be less overwhelming!

Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post!

Minimal and Cozy

When I first started pursuing the idea of becoming more minimal I thought “I could never be a minimalist” because I really enjoy decorating our home to make it more cozy and inviting. Five years later, I’m realizing that “minimalism” is not a one size fits all. There is no true definition of minimalism, or a box you can put it in. To me, it just means living with the things I use and love. With this in mind, I wanted to share with you the ways I make my home cozy and inviting while still striving towards minimalism.

I know there are several books written on Hygge (pronounced hoo-guh), which is a Danish word meaning creating a mood of coziness or comfort. I haven’t read these books, but “The Little Book of Hygge” is on my reading list! I wanted to share with you what little I’ve learned from what I know of Hygge, and just how I have organically practiced it in my home. Coziness and an inviting space doesn’t have to equate to a lot of material things.

First, I like to use throw pillows, blankets, and rugs to warm up a space. I choose pillows, blankets, and rugs of different textiles to give depth and provide interest. I like to use different colors and textiles for the seasons. I try to purchase pillow covers instead of full pillows so that they are easier to store.

Next, I like to use plants throughout my home to give a feeling of aliveness to my spaces. I admit that many of my plants are fake plants as I struggle to keep live ones living. I do have several live plants throughout my home as well. Not only does it bring that feeling of life to a room, but it also brings that texture, organic color, and dimension. 

Third, lighting choice really does change the mood of a room. Using warmer tone bulbs, especially in the evening, creates a calming atmosphere. Using lamps as opposed to overhead lights, or even displaying twinkle lights in a fireplace or around a tree in your home can create this mood. In addition to that, lighting candles can create that soft light and cozy mood in your home.

Fourth, is scent. With scented candles, you can get the coziness of the light of the candle burning and the scent. You could also use an oil difuser to create that good smelling scent throughout your home. Another way you could get the coziness of scent is through baking or cooking. The smell of freshly baked cookies or bread in the oven, or perhaps a pot roast fills your home and creates that feeling of coziness and warmth. Lastly, you can create those good scents through cleaning products, which leads into my next point…

Fifth is order. Most humans thrive in a space that has order. Chaos in our physical space can breed chaos in our minds, which does not lend to a feeling of coziness or peace. I have different practices which help keep my home tidy, which I have a blog post about and you can read that post here. When things are put away, and clean this lends to a feeling of coziness. 

Lastly, surrounding yourself with things you find beautiful – whether that’s family photos, books, or intentional home decor. In spite of what some people think, “minimalism” doesn’t have a number of certain things. It’s whatever makes YOU feel comfortable, and whatever brings YOU joy!

I hope this post inspired you to find new and creative ways to create a feeling of cozy throughout your home.

Here is the YouTube video I made with this information.

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!

10 Areas To Declutter Without Donations

In case you missed it, in my last blog post in which I made some suggestions on staying sane during quarantine, I mentioned that while you’re stuck at home it’s a great time to purge and organize. I realize that many donation centers are not accepting donations at this time, so I thought I would share with you 10 types of things you can purge that don’t need to be donated.

{{FIRST}} Physical Photos. If you are in the group of people who still have physical photos in your home, now is a great time to go through those photos and decide which to keep, which to throw away, and how you would like to store them. Some people don’t like just throwing photos in the trash, I would suggest shredding them first if you don’t want some dumpster diver finding a random photo with your likeness. The photos you do choose to keep could be stored in a storage box, placed in a photo album or scrapbook, or you could scan them before throwing the remainder away.

{{SECOND}} Digital Clutter. This could be a variety of things. It could be going through your email inbox, deleting photos you no longer need (often people will take several shots of the same setting to make sure they got the shot they wanted – you  can delete the ones that didn’t turn out), downloads you no longer need stored on your computer, social media declutter (deleting any people you no longer want to follow). This is a great time to organize your digital files in general.

{{THIRD}} Paper Clutter/Files. You could spend some time getting rid of any paperwork you no longer need or is no longer pertinent in your life. Or you could spend time scanning in files so that you can store those files digitally as opposed to having physical files taking up space in your home. There are several great apps to use to capture these files if you don’t want to scan them in. Another area where we accumulate paper clutter is through instruction manuals. Many of these can now be found easily online through the company’s website. You could check to make sure, and often you are able to download those instructions onto your computer.

{{FOURTH}} CDs/DVDs. Whether this is games or movies you no longer watch or play, or if it’s something you could convert to a digital version to get rid of the physical copy. Perhaps you could determine if you have some CDs that came with a camera or a printer which are available to download from the website now so you no longer need the physical copy.

{{FIFTH}} Kids Artwork/Crafts. Somehow these seem to pile up fast – at least they did around my house when my kids were younger! Go through and assess which ones are worth saving, and which you can throw away. You could even take a photo of the artwork before throwing it away to be able to still have that memory. If it is truly a masterpiece, you could create a scrapbook to store the artwork neatly to be able to go back and easily look through it. I created a scrapbook for each of my kids of the artwork they made when they were younger.

{{SIXTH}} Old/Broken Craft Items. Go through your craft items stash – see if you have broken pencils, worn out crayons, or items that aren’t in good enough shape anymore to be used.

{{SEVENTH}} Random/Broken Pieces. Likely you will find these items in a junk drawer and floating around the toybox. Assess if you have any items that you have no idea what they are or broken items and get rid of them!

{{EIGHTH}} Expired Food. Assess what food you have in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. See if there are any foods that are expired or have gone bad. This is a great time to assess what food you have to make sure you are being efficient in using what you already have!

{{NINTH}} Unused/Empty Toiletries/Make Up. Do you have an empty shampoo bottle sitting in the shower? Or maybe you have that eye shadow that you tried once three years ago and it just didn’t work. See if you have any toiletries or make up that you are no longer using.

{{TENTH}} Paint/Chemicals You No Longer Use. This one is tricky, because technically these should be safely disposed of at a chemical recycling center. However, you could grab a box and fill it with these items and store it in the garage until the lock down instructions have been lifted. Then, those items will be ready to go to the recycle center.

Obviously, you don’t have to tackle all of these areas while in quarantine. I just thought I would share with you some ideas of things that can be thrown away instead of taken to the donation center. I hope this inspired you to pick an area in your home to declutter!

Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post!

Surviving Quarantine

All of our lives were turned upside down just a few short weeks ago. With the spread of the Coronavirus, COVID-19, it’s almost like we’re living in some sort of thriller type movie. With many being quarantined at home, we’re trying to find a new normal. We’re searching for ways to keep some normalcy from what our lives used to be like, but the truth is life has changed. And it has changed dramatically.

As someone who considers herself a homebody – and does a good portion of my work from home, I wanted to share some tips on how to keep sane in this time. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing that you are required to stay at home. It can be a time when you evaluate what your life looked like – how you spent your time, energy, and money, and decide if there are any changes you want to make moving forward once life “gets back to normal.”

The first thing I would suggest is to make a schedule and write it down. Make a schedule for you and for your kids. I understand that not all people “like” to live with a schedule. For you, it could be more of a loose schedule. But when we don’t have a schedule, it’s easy to waste time and get side-tracked which ultimately can lead to feelings of depression. Prior to this pandemic hitting the world, many of you had a routine which happened organically. Likely your children had the same experience, especially if they are school aged or went to daycare. Although you could fly by the seat of your pants everyday, it would benefit you to create some sort of routine.

There are several areas in life where a schedule would be beneficial. One area would be a cleaning schedule.I have found that spreading out the chores for your entire house over the course of the week, as opposed to doing it all in one day, is much less overwhelming and stressful. In addition, when you choose one or two chores to do each day, keeping the house clean seems more manageable. You don’t need to worry about the entire house every day – each day choose one or two chores to complete and those are the only chores you will need to think about that day. Typically this won’t take longer than 45 minutes. You could even break it up into a couple “cleaning sessions” in the day.

Here is my schedule for the spring semester (this was prior to the lock down instructions.)

A few more things that need to be worked into your schedule is of course work (your career), checking in with your kids and their work, exercise, and downtime. I recently heard in a news story that a good balance would be to work for 45 minutes, then check in with your kids for 15 minutes each hour (this will obviously depend on the age/independence of your children. My college-aged kids are on their own! Hahaha!) Building in time to exercise and downtime is really important in this time too.

The second thing you can do is to keep things as normal as possible. While this is difficult since many of our lives have changed dramatically, there are small things we can do to keep normalcy in our lives in this uncertain time. Keep routines that you previously had that still work. Take a shower, get dressed, put on makeup, make your bed – anything to make things feel routine. It could be easy to not keep these regular routines since you aren’t leaving the house, but it can make you feel more normal and maybe even more productive.

Something else I wanted to suggest {{OBVIOUSLY}} is to take advantage of this extra time at home by purging and organizing your spaces. Perhaps choose one room/space per week to focus on and do a little each day. It may seem counter intuitive to purge in this time where there is a worldwide crisis because the tendency in this sort of environment is to hoard, however if your space is neat and only has those items you love and use, it will be a lot easier to get work done and stick to your routines. Oftentimes (not for everyone), a cluttered external environment causes your mind to feel cluttered making it difficult to focus and get work done.  If you’re leery of getting rid of things at this time, collect items in a bin and store them in your garage or basement for 6 months to see if you can go without these items. If you do in fact need any of them, you are able to easily retrieve them. There are several places in your home that could be tackled, and I have a couple different blog posts if you need some direction, but a great place to start would be with your food – your pantry and refrigerator/freezer. Across the world, it has grown increasingly difficult to acquire the foods we want and just to go out to get it with the lock down instructions in place. It can be a great time to assess what food you already have and find creative ways to use what you have! I know many people feel emotionally drained at this time, which can also make you mentally and physically drained, making it difficult to tackle something like decluttering. Just remember, you can start small. Do one drawer or one cabinet, and that can give you momentum to declutter other spaces.

Lastly, I wanted to share that this is a great time to instill new, positive habits. They say it takes 21 days to create a true habit. Who knows how long we will be asked to stay on lock down, but you can start today to create new habits while you are forced to stay at home and potentially have more time on your hands. Some ideas are to create cleaning routines/habits, make exercise (even just walking!) a regular part of your life, or begin to spend time in prayer and/or mediation (this doesn’t even have to be “spiritual.” You can meditate on positive affirmations). This is also a great time to focus on drinking lots of water and getting enough rest. If we do contract this worldwide virus, it’s best to have healthy practices to give our bodies the best chance to fight it off.

I hope this encouraged you to see the silver lining in this time that you are stuck at home. Enjoy the slower pace of life, reevaluate what you do with your time and money, instill new positive routines and habits into your life!

Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post.

My Intentional Spending Year Reflections, Part 1

For those of you new to my blog, last year in 2019 I did a no spend year. You can read my reflections from each month by clicking on the “No Spend Year” link under categories on the right side of the home page. After that experience, I didn’t want to go back to my old spending habits. The reason I decided to do the no spend year was to reset some of my negative spending habits. Moving into 2020, I decided to do an “Intentional Spending Year,” focusing on being more intentional with what I brought into my home. I wanted to give an update on how that has been going now that we are well into the third month of the year.

At the beginning of the year, I was struggling to buy anything. Since I took a year long spending fast, it almost felt like “cheating” because my brain became so accustomed to not spending. So far, I feel like I have been very intentional about certain purchases, while other purchases I don’t feel like I am being as intentional as I had planned on being.

My biggest struggle so far this year has been with Poshmark. This is a clothing resale app in which you can buy and sell clothing to other users. There were several clothing items which I had “liked” even when I wasn’t purchasing clothing. For those of you not familiar with the app, it is set up similar to social media where you can follow certain people (their closets) and you can “like” certain clothing items. I did purchase several items from my “likes” over the first couple of months of 2020.

The other struggle I had was having items “stored up” from the year that I had my eye on or needed to replace, and really still wanted. Where I would only purchase 1-2 items like this per month in the past, I had several items I wanted. I needed a new black leather jacket (as my old had an obvious worn spot). I also had my eye on a specific pair of shoes that I had first seen probably 6 months ago. In addition to that, I had some workout clothes that were no longer fitting me right, and needed replacing (whoever designed high waisted workout pants are a genius! No more slipping! I replaced a couple pairs of tights that were not high waisted.) I needed to replace one of my white t-shirts that had a stain. And the list could go on!

Leather jacket and basic white t-shirt which I replaced.

Another struggle, which I mentioned in several of my no spend year reflections – was this idea of the slippery slope. I think I purchased some items just because it was “okay to buy things.” I realize now that my biggest struggle is with SHOES! I definitely make excuses as to why I “NEED” a pair of shoes.

Just one of my three shoe racks! I also have some shoe storage boxes on the top shelf of my closet to store out of season shoes!

I do feel like I’m slowing down on the purchases now that I’m through those first couple of months. Part of it is now I’ve purchased those things that I’ve had my eye on, or needed replaced. Another part of it is just being disappointed in myself – wanting to do a better job at being intentional with what comes into my home.

Pair of shoes I had my eye on for over 6 months!

If you read my past reflections from last year, you will know that clothing items were much more difficult for me to not purchase versus the home decor. I feel like I have been much more intentional with home decor purchases. In addition to that, I feel like I’m getting to a place where I can appreciate something in a store without having to purchase it. I probably am erring on the side of NOT purchasing when it comes to things other than clothing.

I purchased these brass birds from my friend’s vintage Etsy shop.

Even with clothing items, I did have a couple of “wins.” Unfortunately, in February, I had to travel back to my home town for my Grandma’s funeral. Ordinarily, I would want to purchase a dress for this occasion. I remembered back to my experience with wanting to purchase a dress for my son’s graduation, and realized I have plenty of dresses to choose from (even though they were all sleeveless or short sleeved and I was traveling to Indiana in the middle of winter! But I added a blazer and it worked!) I also went on a trip at the end of February. I often will purchase clothes specific for trips, but I chose to wear what I had – and I made it work!

Me with my four sisters at the lunch after my Grandma’s funeral.
My son and me at Magic Kingdom!

One other thing I wanted to share, which is difficult to open up about, is one of the reasons why I may have been spending more (other than I was “allowed to.”) I learned while on my no spend year that when I was tempted to shop, I replaced it with other habits – like watching Netflix for instance. As I reflect, I realize that oftentimes I am tempted to shop when I am stressed out or going through something difficult in life. It was my way of numbing out life. I have gone through several difficult personal things over the last few months – making me more susceptible to seeking out ways to find comfort. I’m thankful for the no spend year, and how it has contributed to my ability to see more clearly reasons behind my habits. Moving forward, I will find more healthy ways to deal with the stressors of life. I used to journal a lot, but have not been consistent for several years now. I want to use journaling as a way to brain dump my thoughts and feelings. I also want to turn to meditation and prayer when I recognize that I’m going down that path of self medication.

Moving forward this year, I would like to be more intentional than I have been thus far. Practically I am going to do this by doing a few things. First, I want to come up with more concise “rules” for my year. For my no spend year, I had specific rules that helped me stay on course. I didn’t really come up with specific rules for my intentional spending year. I think this will help keep me grounded. I plan on cutting way back on looking through the Poshmark app. I also plan on just not going into stores. This will be easy now that we are staying at home more with the Coronavirus pandemic. In addition, I plan to shift my focus. I found during my no spend year that I had so much extra time, and this was because my focus was shifted away from things! I will also, as I mentioned find healthier ways to deal with difficult circumstances in life.

How To Keep A Tidy Home

Keeping a tidy home can be a difficult endeavor. Life is busy, and filled with responsibilities other than just housekeeping. I wanted to share with you some tips on how to stay on top of household duties in order to keep a tidy home.

One of the main things I do in order to keep my home tidy is to deal with things immediately when I can. A perfect example is our mail. I don’t get the mail until I am ready to deal with it – sift through and throw away all junk mail, then immediately pay bills or deal with mail. If it is something I can’t deal with immediately, I hang it on our magnetic calendar dry erase board, which is located in a prominent place in our kitchen. I will see it every time I’m in the kitchen as a reminder to take care of it. Another way to deal with things immediately, is when you get home from somewhere – put everything away in its place. If I have some trash and/or a glass of water by my bed from the night before, I bring it downstairs with me when I get up in the morning and throw away the trash and put the glass in the sink with the dishes on deck for the dishwasher. If I see a mess, I will take the extra 2-3 minutes to clean it up right away.

Another tip is to have a schedule. I have a schedule for all of my household chores. I choose one or two chores per day to get done, making it less overwhelming. In addition to this, each week I choose one room to deep clean and declutter. Sometimes I do it all on one day, and other times I spread it out throughout the week depending on what my schedule is like for that week. 

This is a screen shot of my Google Sheets document with my schedule.

If you’re interested in learning more about deep cleaning one room per week, check out my blog post on zone cleaning!

Another thing that can help keep your home tidy is to enlist the help of others. Our kids had consistent chores by the time they were in upper elementary school. We can teach our kids not only about helping out as part of a family through consistent chores, but taking care of their own things. This can help tremendously in keeping things from getting out of control. If your partner doesn’t have this bent to naturally put his/her things away, then you can communicate your desire to have him/her take care of their own things.

It is much easier to keep your home tidy if everything has a place. When everything has a place, you and your family members will know where things go. You will be much more efficient in putting items away if everything has a place. If certain items don’t have a home, you will waste time and brain power deciding where it should go temporarily. Ultimately, you are less likely to put items away if they don’t have a home. Having organization systems in place will help with this issue.

Lastly, just don’t own a lot of stuff! I’ve said this many times before. The less stuff we own, the less we have to take care of. I know there are certainly areas where I could do a better job at owning less, but each day I work on only owning that which is useful, or that which brings me joy.

I hope this inspired you to stay on top of keeping your home tidy!

Here is my YouTube video with this information if you’re interested!