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!

10 Reasons To Hire A Professional Organizer

Getting organized can be difficult and stressful for some people. I wanted to share with you 10 reasons why you might want to hire a professional organizer. I also have a YouTube video with this content if you’d like to check that out!

{{ONE}} You want to declutter, but you feel overwhelmed. Many people feel overwhelmed when thinking about organizing a space. It can be difficult to know where to start. A professional organizer can help you break these big projects into smaller tasks, making it a bit more manageable. We don’t have to stay with you the whole time. We can give you advice and homework to do while we are not there.

{{TWO}} You need accountability. Many people have good intentions but no follow through. Life can get in the way and before you know it, your good intentions get covered by the day-to-day busyness. Hiring a professional organizer will give you that accountability to push through and get a project done. Often times when we organize one space in our home, it gives us momentum to continue with other spaces.

{{THREE}} Another set of eyes for organization ideas. It can be really helpful to have another person looking at your space and giving you ideas of how to organize it, or ideas of organizing tools which would work well in the space. We may have things to share with you that you have never thought of for the space.

{{FOUR}} Someone to talk you through getting rid of things, especially the difficult things. We often get wrapped up in our emotional connection to items when trying to purge things on our own. We can also be blinded by the fact that we spent money on items, making it difficult to let go. Having someone else there to talk you through the costs and benefits of letting go of an item can be very helpful.

{{FIVE}} We keep you on task – it can be hard to stay focused. When working on decluttering and getting a space organized, it can be easy to get side tracked. Having someone there to keep you focused on the task at hand can make the process of decluttering and organizing more efficient and effective.

{{SIX}} Our expertise. Whether it’s from education, experience, or just a natural bent, a professional organizer has expertise that you may not have. This expertise can be very beneficial if you want to get a space organized efficiently.

{{SEVEN}} You don’t have time to organize your space. Life can be busy, especially if you have a full time job and/or kids. Managing your schedule, your kids’ schedules and other responsibilities can be time consuming.

{{EIGHT}} It’s worth it for your mental health to have organization systems that work well for you and your family. It can be challenging to find organization systems or tools that help to keep your spaces organized. A professional can organize your spaces in a logical way. It’s worth it for your mental health to have spaces that are organized and prevent you from feeling more anxious and overwhelmed.

{{NINE}} You’re moving. Moving can be a very stressful and crazy time in life. If you don’t have the skills to efficiently pack things in an organized way, it can be helpful to hire a professional. This will make packing up your old home easier, and then the unpacking process when you arrive at your new home a more smooth process.

{{TEN}} It’s more fun to purge and organize with someone rather than by yourself! I have had so much fun helping clients organize their spaces. It has been fun to hear their stories and to share my own stories as well. We get to know each other in this process, which is fun!

If you live in the Austin, Texas area and need help with organizing a space in your home, I would love for you to connect with me!