Inspired By Grandma

Unfortunately on Sunday February 2nd of this year, we had to say goodbye to my Grandma. She had lived a long, beautiful life. She was 93 years old, and suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, so it was bitter sweet to say goodbye. Grandma was basically like another mother to me. My grandparents lived 10 minutes from our house, so we spent a lot of time over there. Before my Grandma was a mother or grandmother, she was a teacher. Even after she retired, she continued to “teach” us. I wanted to write about my Grandmother to honor her. Tomorrow I will be saying my last goodbye at her funeral, so I thought it was an appropriate time to share.

Grandma taught me that you don’t have to follow a recipe to whip up something with ingredients you have on hand. Or if we were following a recipe and we had missing ingredients, she always knew how to improvise. Not to mention her cooking was amazing! There’s just something about a grandma’s cooking, right? Almost every Sunday after church Grandma would host us all for lunch – our family, which included 5 kids plus my two cousins. I remember she would wear her apron to the dinner table. I always thought that was funny until I became the main cook of my own little family and learned her secret – that an apron is a sly way that an adult woman can wear a bib! Grandma grew up in the south, so it was fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, fried okra, and banana pudding! There was always a feast on Sunday afternoons.

My Grandparents with my husband and me on our wedding day.

Grandma’s house was a wonderland for kids! They lived in a big house with a basement – where all the fun happened. They also lived on acreage, including a wooded path behind their home. They had a big red barn where Grandpa did all of his woodworking. Every summer they had a garden, and they had a pool too. We spent many summer days over at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, picking ripe fruits and vegetables from their garden, swimming in the pool, and slurping popsicles out in the sun on the deck attached to the front of their house. Summer was the best time to spend the night at Grandma’s house. She would let us sleep with her. We would balloon up the sheets to make a “tent” and laugh and laugh. With the windows open, and the cool summer breeze rushing in through the screen, we would be lulled to sleep by the tune of the bull frogs and crickets who lived outside her window.

My Grandma meeting my firstborn, Cora. Her namesake is from my Grandma’s mother.

A famous story told in our family is “that one time Lorraine (age 6) and Joy (age 4) ran away to Grandma’s house.” Who doesn’t love Grandma’s house more than their own?! Now as a mother with my own children, I am horrified to think about two little pairs of legs walking nearly 4 miles to their Grandma’s house! Don’t worry, I apologize to my mom every time this story comes up! My Grandparents raised our cousins, so our plan was to live in Tim’s room and he would bring us food. When we arrived on their property, we hid out by the big pine tree at the edge of their front yard. We kept peeking around the tree, to see if anyone would see us. We then ran to the next tree – a little closer to the house. Grandma caught a glimpse of the flashes racing across her yard. When she came out and saw that it was us, she of course immediately called our mom – drat, the plan to live in Tim’s room was up. But, she did give us popsicles and let us swim in the pool in our clothes. We were hot after all.

My Grandma with my daughter Cora at my sister’s house in Atlanta.

I loved writing and poetry when I was younger. Grandma always encouraged me to write – a poem or a short story, or just write about your day – what you saw, heard, or felt. A few days after Grandma passed away, I had the urge to “deal with” my teenage angst ridden journals. I had found them in my closet several months back when I was doing a closet purge and I had decided then that I was ready to let those journals go. I didn’t want my kids to one day stumble on these horrible tales of my childhood. I seemed to write only when I had negative feelings, and I wanted to shred those and dispose of them for cathartic purposes. I began the process of shredding. When I got to the mauve Precious Moments journal, and opened the cover, I saw the beautiful scrawling which was my Grandmother’s writing. I ran my fingers over the words, tracing them as I read them. She had given it to me right before I entered high school. She wrote in the front a sweet poem about keeping record of your days. This journal I noticed I used in a different way than the other journals. The other journals were more of a “Dear Diary” scenario. This journal I WROTE. I wrote poems, deep thoughts, and unprocessed unfiltered feelings. Although the content was still angsty, I decided to keep this journal. The timing was so serendipitous. It’s like my Grandma was talking to me through the history of words on paper.

My Grandma, sister, and my sister’s son came out to visit us when we lived in Oregon.

My Grandma  was a teacher at heart, and never passed up opportunities to teach us. She loved to bird watch, and would teach us about the different birds and different bird calls. When we would walk through the woods, across the dilapidated wooden bridge, she would point out different types of trees. One time, I remember collecting leaves, which we would bring home and preserve between two sheets of wax paper using an iron to melt the wax. We got out the encyclopedias to look up what type of tree the leaf belonged to.

Grandma with my son, Luke. My Grandparents came to Austin to visit us!

A great way she taught her grandchildren was through travel and learning about other places. Her and my grandfather traveled all over the world! For each of their 7 grandchildren’s 5th and 11th birthdays, they took us on a special trip somewhere. I had to share my trips with my cousin Tim, because he was my age. Which I didn’t mind because we were good friends. For our 5th birthday trip, we loaded up the camper and drove to Savannah, Georgia. I don’t really remember much from this trip, other than a ride on a ferry boat. I also remember walking down the shoreline, and finding a huge jellyfish. A photo of my cousin and I squatting over this sea monster is still displayed in her home today.

My Grandma with my daughter, Cora.

For our 11th birthday trip, we drove all the way down the northeast coast states – starting up in Maine and working our way down. We went to a small fisherman’s town in Maine, where I learned you don’t eat the tails on shrimp. We went to New York City where I saw the first homeless person I had ever seen, was lectured by a woman with a cane on the subway that I should learn manners and give my seat to the “elderly” (referring to herself), and tried to walk up all the flights of stairs in the Statue of Liberty because the elevator was broken. Well, at least we made it to her feet! We went to D.C. where we walked past the white house, saw the Capitol Building, the Lincoln Memorial, and of course The Mall. We also went to the Smithsonian Museum.

Grandma always had funny, made up songs for everything. She liked to make us giggle. One time, on a trip traveling in her camper, we were sitting in the top bed overlooking the road as Grandpa drove the 5th wheel. We drove through a section of roadway that was nothing but pine trees across the hillside, as far as the eye could see. She started singing, “pine treeeeees, pine treeeees, pine trees. Pine treeeees, pine treeeees, pine trees,” then she paused for a moment and started this chorus again. We were both rolling with laughter!

My Grandma with my sons, Luke and Cade.

My college degree is in Journalism. I loved writing, even when I was very young. I attribute my love for writing and poetry to my Grandmother, who encouraged it in me. Today, I may not have a job using my journalism and writing skills, but over the years I have written in different capacities including currently writing blog posts. I thought it apropo to write a tribute to my Grandmother. I’ll end with a poem that I wrote about my Grandma when I was young.

A Grandma’s Love For Nature

By Joy L. Vendrely

I always wondered why Grandma stopped to look at flowers…

…For hours.

Why did she want to look at a waterfall?

That’s all.

Or admire a mountain with trees spread across…

…As if she were lost?

Grandma loves to collect shells from the ocean off the sand,

Just because she can.

I always wondered, but now I know…

…Because nature told me so.

8 Ways To Organize Your Spices

For a long while now I have been unhappy with how my spice drawer is functioning for me. I decant all my spices into matching containers, so it looks nice. My spice jars are made of stainless steel and several of them have become corroded, making it challenging to open them. The last thing I want while cooking dinner is to fight with my spice jars! So, I decided to do an overhaul on my spice drawer! If you’re interested in seeing the YouTube video I made sharing that process, I would love for you to check it out!

It can be difficult to figure out how to organize a space to make it function to its full potential. Everyone is different and has different needs and spaces in their kitchen when it comes to organizing and storing their spices. I have used a spice drawer for many, many years. I thought I would share with you 8 ways you can get your spices organized! I love the way uniform containers look, and Amazon has a lot of reasonably priced options for uniform spice jars. However, you don’t need to have uniform spice jars to have an organized space for your spices!

ONE 

I’ll start with the way I just organized my spices, and that is to decant them into small jars and store them in a drawer. You can purchase small jars for a fairly reasonable price. I purchased these from Amazon. There were too many in this package for me, but I can use the extra jars as food storage, add something to them to give away as a party favor, or share them with a friend who wants to organize her spices this way! Another idea is to save and wash out baby food jars to use instead of purchasing some. You could spray paint the lids to make them look sleek.

TWO

You could also use magnetic spice containers. I used these for many years. I put them in a drawer, but this is a great option for small spaces as you can store them on the side of your refrigerator, the microwave, or attach a metal piece to your back splash to store near your stove top.

THREE

Using a tiered drawer spice rack is another great idea. I opted not to use this because you need a lot of drawer space to have enough spices to round out your collection. A typical rack will hold somewhere between 15-18 spice jars. If you’re someone who doesn’t have a lot of spices, or can spare a couple of drawers to organize your spices, then this is a great option! I really love how this looks! 

This is from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lynk-Professional-430411DS-Organizer-Metallic/dp/B07PGQL462

FOUR

Another great way to store spices is to use a wall rack. I’ve seen a really great cost effective option at IKEA for this. You could get uniform jars to make an extra special display, or just use the jars the spices came in!

These spice racks are from IKEA: https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/bekvaem-spice-rack-birch-40070185/

FIVE

A recent product I found to store spices in a creative way is spice grippers. They attach to the back of your cabinet door, making this option another great space saving idea.

This item is from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Spice-spice-gripper-Strips-Cabinet/dp/B075QZL8RS/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=spice+gripper&qid=1580774078&s=home-garden&sr=1-6

SIX

Another idea is to use a lazy Susan inside of a cabinet. I love to use lazy Susans to organize spaces. It’s a great way to efficiently use your space. Having spices on a turntable like this allows you to easily find the spice you are looking for!

SEVEN

Another idea for storing spices in the cabinet, is to get a three tier organizer. You will be able to easily see and assess which spices you have. This is a great option for someone who doesn’t want to invest in uniform jars, because this will be behind closed cabinet doors.

EIGHT

Lastly, the good old fashioned revolving counter top rack. I registered for one of these for my wedding, so the first several years of marriage it is what I used to store my spices. This is a great option, particularly if you are someone who doesn’t mind storing items on your counter top.

I hope this inspired you to organize a space in your home that isn’t functioning the way you would like. Are your spices organized? If not, I hope this gave you some ideas and inspiration to organize your spices!

My Last Decade: What I Did Before I Was a Professional Organizer

It’s hard to believe we have entered a new year, but even more difficult to believe we’ve begun a new decade! So much can happen in one decade. As we rang in the new year, I was reminiscing about the experiences I had enjoyed over the last 10 years. I thought it would be fun to share what I did prior to being a professional organizer (and now YouTuber!)

First day of 7th grade, 3rd grade, and kindergarten

Ten and a half years ago, in July of 2009 we moved from the Northeast side of Austin to the Northwest side. We moved primarily to live in a better school district for our children. Our oldest child, our daughter, was entering 7th grade that fall. Our two boys were about to enter third grade and kindergarten. We moved into a home that was a bit of a fixer upper.

That year was filled with soccer, basketball, band, and piano lessons. My daughter was involved in a non profit Christian club, Wyldlife (middle school version of Young Life) and I became involved in that as a parent helper. In addition to that, I volunteered in both my boys’ classrooms, brought them each lunch once a week, and began the long process of remodeling our home.

When we first moved into this neighborhood, I looked to see if there was a Mom’s In Prayer group. I found one for my kids’ schools, and joined right away. MIP is an international organization for moms of school aged kids to gather together to pray for their kids, schools, teachers, and administrators. I participated in this group for the last 10 years, and for the last 2 years I was the leader for the high school group.

I continued to help with Wyldlife when my daughter was in 8th grade, and ended up taking over as the lead parent role for Wyldlife. Once a week I coordinated dinners for the leaders, snacks for the kids for club, communicated with the parents to keep them informed about club and special events. Our parent team also planned our annual fundraiser every fall. The leaders were college students from the University of Texas in Austin, so I mentored a couple of college age girls each semester. It was fun to get to know them, make them care packages, meet them for lunch or coffee, text them, and pray for them! I was involved with this organization as the parent leader until the spring of 2019. It was bittersweet to leave that role. I developed so many amazing relationships through that role. I will be forever grateful for that experience.

In 2010, I trained for my third half marathon, we went on our first family ski vacation, and I continued to be chauffeur for after school sports for my two boys. That fall, I unfortunately began down a long journey of health issues and trying to figure out why I had some severe digestive issues and anxiety. Thankfully, I eventually landed in a holistic doctor’s office where I learned all about gluten intolerance. Within weeks of changing my diet, I was feeling so much better and eventually was able to go off my acid reflux medication.

In 2011 I undertook the big project of painting our kitchen cabinets. I loved how it turned out, and ended up painting our game room and bathroom cabinets as well. It was a huge project, but well worth the effort!

BEFORE
AFTER
BEFORE
AFTER

My boys had been playing soccer and basketball since they were in kindergarten, but both of them decided to try flag football in 2011.

In 2012, my boys continued to participate in sports – in the spring my older son played flag football and my younger son soccer, then in the fall my older son decided to join the middle school cross country team. My younger son played basketball that winter. Needless to say, I was busy running kids to practices and watching the games. That year, we decided to find a smaller church where we could make more connections. We found a church which we loved and started developing lifelong relationships. The pastor was looking for someone to take over some of the administrative roles that he had been doing, and I stepped into that role and worked there for a year and a half. 2013 and 2014 brought more sports, homework, and friends revolving through our house. I continued my role as admin for our church, and as I mentioned was still the parent leader for Wyldlife. My older son started the orthodontic journey in 2014, and my daughter decided she wanted to take ballet lessons. We decided it would be fun to do together, so at age 40 I picked up ballet! In the midst of all of this, I was still working on updating our home.

2015 was a momentous year for us. All three of our children graduated from their respective schools – our daughter from high school, our older son from middle school, and our youngest from elementary school. It was definitely a year of big changes. In 2016, with my oldest in college and my boys beginning to be more independent, I was searching for something I could do with my time other than the Wyldlife role. I became a BeachBody coach for a very short time – leading online fitness challenge groups. I quickly learned that I was not thriving in this role.

There was a home decor and furniture boutique that I loved to frequent and became friends with the owner. I told her to let me know if she ever needed help. In the fall of 2016, she contacted me to take me up on my offer and I started working for Vintage Fresh, managing the store while the owner was not there. It was there that I learned my love for organizing as I organized the inventory in the stockroom. I left this role in the winter of 2018 to begin research on starting my own business as a professional organizer. I worked with several friends that spring – helping them organize spaces in their homes. I worked on building a website – using Wix, as I knew this would be a good place to learn website building.

I loved organizing the stock at Vintage Fresh.

In the fall of 2018, our youngest son got very sick. He had GI issues that his pediatrician could not diagnose. He ended up missing many days of school, and in and out of the doctor’s office and finally a specialist. By the time he saw the Pediatric GI doctor, he had missed so much school that it was going to be difficult to catch up. We decided it was best for him to do online school instead because of his health. Overnight I became a “homeschool” mom, something I was totally unprepared for. Because of my son’s health and getting him settled into his new schooling routine, I had to put my organizing business on the back burner. I continued to write blog posts here and there. I also managed social media accounts for my business, but it wasn’t until the fall of 2019 that I really pursued marketing this business. I transferred my Wix site to a WordPress site and began more consistently writing blog posts and posting on social media. In November of 2019 I took the big leap of starting a YouTube channel in conjunction with my business.

The last decade has been a wild ride for sure! I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to stay at home with our children, volunteer at their school and in other organizations, and pursue my hobbies – one of which has turned into a business! I’m excited to see what the next 10 years will hold for me!

How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

We are just a few weeks into the new year. This is usually the time people begin to drop off on their New Year’s resolutions. It can be challenging to make life-long changes overnight. People often set goals at the new year: to lose weight, to eat healthy, to get organized, to name a few. Often, people use the new year as an incentive to muster up enough willpower to make the changes they want to make. But somewhere mid January or early February, the willpower isn’t enough and slowly the goals that had been set begin to go by the wayside.

To make lasting changes, I propose that instead of setting goals or making resolutions, you should focus on your habits. When we practice small, repetitive actions day in and day out, this can more effectively lead us to our goals. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against goal setting or making resolutions. That process is fun and exciting because we get to imagine and dream what life could be like. Resolutions are future oriented – making it easier for us to come up with lofty goals, because it is our future self that will have to have the follow through! One of my favorite sayings from the tv show, How I Met Your Mother, that I like to use when I’m procrastinating is “I’ll let future Joy worry about that.” And that’s exactly what we are doing – creating perhaps unattainable goals, and hoping our future selves will have follow through. This is often why year after year nothing actually changes.

I would like to share with you 6 things you can do in order to actually attain your goals.

{ONE} Put it on your to-do list. Habits happen by making something a part of your routine. Whatever you want to achieve, put it on your to-do list and then don’t make excuses and just do it! You want to exercise three times a week? Schedule it in. You want to spend more time with friends? Plan a standing weekly or monthly get together and have it on your calendar. You want to drink more water? Put timers on your phone to remind you to fill up. Want to get organized? Put it on your calendar each week to spend time purging and organizing a space in your home. Over time, these practices just become part of who you are.

{TWO} Choose the “basic solution” over the “quick fix.” Often times, along with resolutions, people buy in to “quick fix” solutions. Whether it’s a special herbal tea, a protein shake, or vitamins and supplements, these things can’t replace what will truly make a lasting change. Making it worse, marketers play into this desire we have to find a quick fix. These quick fix solutions nor our will power can replace making changes in our habits. If we focus on basic solutions and make those a part of our habits, we are more likely to succeed. A basic solution to the goal to “get healthy” might be to get 7-8 hours of sleep at night, to drink 8 glasses of water a day, to exercise a certain number of times per week, instead of taking pills or drinking teas or shakes.. We all know, there are really no shortcuts. People want some magical or secret solution, but the truth is that change happens through small, repetitive actions everyday. 

{THREE} Let your habit connect to a priority in your life. If we want change, we must make these stepping stones to our goal a priority. If you value exercise, friendships, health, organization, then your habits must follow. The good thing about a priority leading your habit and not a goal leading it, is that you can change the habit if it’s not working for you. With a goal, if you “fail” once you feel like you have to start all over and this can be daunting. Say you make it a goal to exercise three times per week. Well, in February you get sick, and it derails this goal. At this point it could be easy to just give up. Habits are easier to “start over.” If exercise is a habit, then when you miss a week of it because of illness, you start over next week! You don’t have this feeling of guilt when you “failed.” Goals are great platforms to make changes in your life, but priorities ultimately dictate our behavior.

{FOUR} Reward yourself. It’s important to have small rewards along the way. This reinforces the behavior. Whether it’s external rewards – like having a soda or beer on Friday night after drinking your 8 glasses of water each day that week, or internal rewards – acknowledging how good you feel after a workout to remind yourself that it’s worth it!

{FIVE} Create an environment or systems to help you succeed. Often times we fail because we don’t have the needed systems in place to foster success. In the example of wanting to drink more water – buy a new water bottle, or have a water bottle out and ready to fill up in the morning, or set timers throughout the day to remind you. Visual cues will remind you to do what you set out to do.

{SIX} Don’t expect perfection. As I mentioned previously, it can be hard to keep chugging along after failure. If you miss a day of exercise, or eat a cheeseburger instead of a salad one day, THAT’S OKAY… start over the next day. It’s difficult to perfectly stick to good habits. Illness, travel, and special celebrations can get in the way of keeping our routines. It’s important to just keep moving forward with your habit.

I hope this encourages you that you CAN succeed in your resolutions this year. Focus on habits instead of goals. Habits are DAILY DECISIONS that can help you achieve your goals!

My No Spend Year 2019

Wow. I can’t believe it’s the beginning of 2020, and I completed my no spend year! It was definitely an insightful year, and I have plans for different shopping habits moving forward. I have learned so much, and I want to implement changes based on what I’ve learned.

One of the most insightful things, and something that kept coming up in each month’s reflections, was how much more time I had. I didn’t realize how much time I spent shopping. At first it was difficult to figure out what to do with that extra time, and I basically replaced shopping with other indulgent things –  watching more Netflix and YouTube, and eating more treats than usual for me. Once I figured that out, I was able to shift that time/energy into more productive things. I worked on some house projects, and later in the year focused on marketing my organizing business through transitioning my website to WordPress, and consistently writing blog posts. In addition to this, I started more consistently posting on my business social media accounts. In the beginning of November I even started a YouTube channel in conjunction with my business, sharing organizing tips and tricks. These avenues of expressing my creativity has been so fulfilling!

This year did not come without bumps and failures. I noticed I struggled when I would bend the rules a bit that I had set in place. If anyone is interested in doing some sort of spending fast, I would suggest being very explicit and detailed with your rules. One rule I had was that I could purchase things for special occasions, unless I had something that would work. While I did have some “wins” choosing to use what I had instead of purchasing something new, I learned that when I did choose to buy things for special occasions it was a slippery slope. The thing I struggled with the most was using the Poshmark app. I was able to sell many pieces of clothing that I wanted purge from my closet, however while in the app managing my items, I would see things that I liked. If you’re not familiar with PM, it’s similar to social media where you can “like” items. When you like an item, often times the seller will send you a discounted deal to entice you to buy their items. This is a technique that I myself use to sell items. I did mostly use the money from my own sales to buy the items that were a deal too good to pass up, however, again it was a slippery slope and I started justifying that I was only off by a little and would “make up for it” with future sales.

An outfit I purchased with my Poshamark credits.

In the beginning of the year, I struggled with that feeling of being drawn to things or really wanting them, but that feeling began to taper off with time. When I would fall into one of those time periods of the slippery slope, that feeling would come back again. One thing I noticed right away is how influenced I was by “influencers.” I would want something I saw someone else had, but in hindsight I’m glad I didn’t purchase those items because it would have been an impulse purchase and not something that I was being intentional and thoughtful about. I want to stay aware that this is why they are called “influencers” and to not be pulled into that sort of marketing. In general, I want to notice when I want to impulse buy things. I also became a little disenchanted with YouTube hauls. I’m not opposed to influencer marketing, but I want my purchases to be well thought through and not an impulse buy. If I see something an influencer is sharing, I will make a thoughtful, educated decision about if I need the product.

There were a few other things I learned through this journey. Stepping away from the consumerist mindset that I had been entrenched in, I could see more clearly. It’s hard to explain, but when I would be out shopping and saw someone dumping things in their cart, I was almost saddened – like I wanted to “enlighten” them. I’ve also learned about the effects consumerism has on our environment, particularly the fast fashion industry. In addition to this, not bringing new pieces of clothing in my wardrobe over the past year – other than select pieces which I purchased for our trip to Hawaii and the pieces I purchased using my Poshmark credits – it was easier for me to pinpoint my style. I’m beginning to look at my closet completely differently and I foresee another purge coming! Lastly, I was confronted by this idea of decision fatigue. One day while shopping for something specific at Target, I realized how easy the decision seemed. I found it odd, because in the past a decision like this would have been difficult for me. I always felt like I was making the wrong decision. I realized that what I used to do prior to the no spend year, was browse through all my favorite sections in Target. I would find things I liked and wanted and had to make decisions about – on the spot! – if I was going to purchase those items. But this time, I didn’t have to make any of those decisions. That’s when it clicked! I suffered from decision fatigue in Target! By the time I actually got to the items on my list, I was already tired of making decisions.

I had some deeper thoughts about spending, shopping, and my habits in particular. I realized that shopping was a way for me to fill my time – one way to find purpose and meaning in my life. I still love to make our home cozy and beautiful, but I see now that I can do that in a more intentional way rather than just throwing items into a cart at Target. There is also certainly nothing wrong with putting together creative outfits, but moving forward I want to be more thoughtful about what pieces I bring into my wardrobe. As the year progressed, I realized that my attention and energy on making our home beautiful and putting together beautiful outfits was just covering up moving forward in other areas of life – my business and my blog in particular. I was focusing on an area where I felt confident, and wouldn’t fail. I was unaware of how much fear had changed the path in my life. I feared failure and I feared rejection. Now I feel confident that even if I fail, or get rejected THAT’S OKAY. Failure is not bad. Failure teaches us. We learn, and make different choices moving forward. I also came to terms with the idea that I’m not going to please everyone, and not everyone will like me. AND THAT’S OKAY

I did want to address December, and how I fared. I noticed halfway through the month I had some credit in my Poshmark app and decided to use the rest of it since it was the end of the year. Again, I spent a little more than I had available {{darn that slippery slope!}} however just this week I sold two more items! I’m clearly STILL struggling with wanting new clothes AND it’s the end of my no spend year! That is why moving forward I have a plan in place.

Items I purchased with my Poshmark credits in December.

So, what are my plans moving forward?? To sum it up, next year will be my Intentional Spending Year. I’m glad I spent this year retraining my spending habits. Here are the specifics:

No more impulse spending. I will not immediately click links from influencers or purchase items I see in a store which is not on my list until I’ve given it at least 24 hours to think about it.

I will first go to thrift stores or small businesses to purchase clothing and home decor. For clothing, I am going to be using the Poshmark app so I can find intentional pieces to add to my wardrobe. I want my decor to be more intentional and curated as well. I would like to purchase vintage as much as possible.

I will no longer buy clothing items or home decor from places like Target, Wal-mart, or Home Goods unless there is something specific that I can’t find thrifted or through small businesses.

➤When going to Target, I will not browse through clothes or home decor. I will stick to my list.

➤I will ACTUALLY stick to the “one in, one out” rule. I have tried doing this in the past, but have not succeeded. I will only purchase new clothes if I have a hanger or space for those items in my dresser or closet.

Thank you to anyone who followed me on this journey! I hope to inspire you to try a spending fast – maybe you feel intimidated doing a whole year… you could start with just one or two months first. I want to inspire you to evaluate your spending habits, and think about where you could make some changes.

Here is Part 1 of the YouTube video I made with this information!
Here is Part 2 of the YouTube video I made with this information!

Non Material Gift Ideas

The holiday season can be overwhelming for so many reasons, but one of them might be because we are trying to find the perfect gifts for everyone on our list. We also may be anticipating receiving gifts that will have to find a home for once Christmas is over. I wanted to share some non material gift ideas that you could give this holiday season.

First is AN EXPERIENCE. There are all sorts of experiences you can gift to someone. It can be an experience that you plan for them that you could do together, or it could be something that they can do on their own or with others. 

➤A vacation or plane tickets 

➤Movie tickets

➤Theme park tickets

➤A  tour – wine or factory tour or helicopter or small plane tour

➤Concert tickets

➤A spa day package

➤Nail salon gift card

➤Coffee shop gift card

➤A cooking, painting, or some other sort of class

➤Museum pass

➤Silent Disco tickets

I recently attended a silent disco, and it was SO fun!

Season passes or a gift card to a local venue they like to frequent:

➤The zoo

➤Children’s museum

➤Arcade

➤Indoor trampoline park/bounce house park

➤Roller skating rink

The next idea is to offer YOUR SERVICES. We all have gifts and talents to share with others. The gift of your time is a really great idea if you are on a tight budget. 

➤Maybe you like to cook or bake – you could offer to provide meals or baked goods. 

➤If you enjoy spending time with children, you could offer babysitting services. 

➤You could offer to clean, organize, do laundry – any number of household responsibilities. 

➤Maybe you have a craft – like woodworking or some other hobby where you could offer to make something for someone that they have been wanting.

Another idea is SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES/MEMBERSHIPS. There are so many online, streaming subscription services that many of us appreciate. 

➤Netflix

➤Hulu

➤HBO Go

➤Disney +

➤Spotify

➤Audible 

➤Gym membership

➤Yoga/spin studio membership

GIVE TO A CHARITY in their honor. There are many charities that appreciate end of the year giving. Think about what charity might be meaningful to the person you are purchasing this gift for. One year for Christmas, my husband purchased several livestock animals for “me” through an organization we trust, to help support an impoverished community in another part of the world. It was SO meaningful to me. I loved that I wasn’t bringing more stuff into my house, and we were able to bless someone else at the same time.

Lastly, is not exactly non material, but to give CONSUMABLES. Many people enjoy receiving special treats that they would not purchase for themselves. Eventually these items will be used up, so won’t need a permanent home.

Bath products

➤Bath bombs 

➤Bubble bath

➤Lotion 

I love getting these items at Lush, they have high quality items.

Food/Snacks

➤Candy

➤Salty snacks

➤Soda

➤Wine/beer (age appropriately of course!)

➤Funny treats (like an extra large gummy bear) VAT19 has great ideas for this!

You could come up with a creative way to display these items. One year for my son’s birthday I used a variety of candy to write out a fun message using the words from the candy to form the message. Or you could make a candy arrangement, like a candy bar bouquet or candy/snacks arranged in a tiered way to make it look like a cake.

I hope these ideas gave you some inspiration to find some non material gifts to give this holiday season!

Here is a video I made on my YouTube channel with this information!

12 Days to an Organized Christmas

The holiday season is a busy time. We often have extra responsibilities during this season, which can cause stress and feeling overwhelmed. I wanted to share 12 things you can do, one each day, to prepare for the holidays and make your holiday season run a little more smoothly. As of today (December 13th), we are 12 days away from Christmas!

{{DAY 1}}

Create a holiday to-do list. Writing out everything that needs to be done – whether with a pen and paper, or in a list app on your phone – begins the process of getting everything organized. From decorating, baking, and purchasing gifts; to wrapping gifts, sending holiday cards, and planning for parties, it can all be very overwhelming. Start by listing all the tasks that need to get done.

{{DAY 2}}

Allocate tasks to each day leading up to the holiday. It can be daunting to look at that list you just made. But, as you begin to plug in tasks to different time slots on your calendar, you begin to feel less stressed as you make a concise plan to get tasks done.

{{DAY 3}}

Clean up and organize your family drop zone. Everyone has a “drop zone” in their home – you know, that place where your family members seem to organically DROP all of their things when they return home? It could be a kitchen desk, mudroom, or entryway. Get this area into shape so that it functions well. Add labeled baskets, a file sorter for kids school work, or a bin for mail. This area of our home can cause a lot of stress if it is chaotic, and our stress level is already high during the holidays.

{{DAY 4}}

Keep a list of inventory. It’s important to keep track of everything you have purchased and need to purchase. You can write this down on a notepad, or use an app on your phone. Keep track of the gifts you have and need to purchase and how much you have spent to stay on budget. Also keep track of what you need to purchase for baking, special meals, or items for parties. Be sure to assess what you already have – check what holiday paper and ribbon you have leftover from last year to determine what you need to purchase. See what you already have in your pantry or refrigerator/freezer to determine what items you need to get for baking and holiday parties.

TIME TO DECLUTTER!

{{DAY 5}}

Holiday decor. After you have decorated your house for the holiday season is a great time to assess what you did not use this year. The chances of you using something next year that you did not use this year is very slim. This is an easy declutter process as it happened naturally just from you decorating! Purge what is leftover!

{{DAY 6}}

Pantry and refrigerator/freezer. Right before the holidays is a great time to declutter unused or expired food from your pantry and refrigerator/freezer. At this time, you can assess what needs to be replenished. We always need special items which we don’t tend to buy throughout the year for the holiday season – especially baking items.

{{DAY 7}}

Kids toys! This is a great time to assess what toys are broken and can be thrown away and what toys your children aren’t playing with. Include your children in this process. Remind them of the boundaries in your home with regard to toys and that you need to make room for the new toys that will arrive on Christmas morning. Encourage them to be generous, as it is a season of giving, and have them choose toys that you all could take to a women’s shelter or children’s home to bless those less fortunate. Not only are you teaching them about boundaries and decluttering, you are also teaching them about how this season is about giving.

{{DAY 8}}

Coats and blankets. This is a great time of year (at least for those of us living in the northern hemisphere!) to gather coats and blankets that you are not using. Again, get your family involved to declutter their items as well and take your extra coats and blankets to a homeless shelter.

{{DAY 9}}

Last on the decluttering list is mugs. Mugs seem to be an item that many people accumulate. Many of us are regularly using mugs during this season to enjoy hot drinks. Choose your favorites, and donate the rest!

{{DAY 10}}

Prioritize what is important to your family this holiday season. There are a lot of opportunities to spend time together with family and friends. There are parties, extended family gatherings, traditions, and more. It’s okay to say “no” to things in this season. Do what works best for your family, and the life phase your family is in. Maybe there is a tradition that worked well and was fun when your kids were really young, but now as they are getting older it’s just annoying to them. Find something else that will be meaningful and memorable to do together!

{{DAY 11}} 

Prepare for guests arrival. This won’t pertain to everyone, but many of us have guests in town for the holidays. Inflate the blow up mattress, wash the guest room sheets and towels, prepare a basket full of necessities – like an extra toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. for in case your guests forgot something. You could also include extra things like water bottles and snacks to make your guests comfortable. Another idea is to display a picture frame with the wifi network and password. Or go all out and provide slippers and/or a robe for your guests!

{{DAY 12}}

Leave margin for rest! As I mentioned before, the holiday season can be a very stressful time of year. Plan into your schedule time for rest – to get a manicure or massage, or maybe it’s just leaving room for the things that you do all year long to recharge – reading a book, journaling, or exercising. If you organize your schedule and have a plan, then it’s much easier to include time to relax!

I hope you are inspired to start making a plan for this holiday season! The 12 day countdown to Christmas is on!!