No Spend Year, May Reflections

This is exciting… I’m nearing the half -way point in my no spend year! I’m not gonna lie, May was rough. I found myself fighting with the temptation to make excuses to spend. If I were to do this again, I might be more explicit in my rules so that they could not be bent.I don’t know if it was the justification in April for the purse, or if it’s just “the wall” you hit in any long-term endeavor. Have any of you have ever run a long distance race? For those of us who have, you know there is this point in the run that you have to self talk your way to finishing. You hit “the wall.” You have every excuse as to why you should stop and not finish. This is something most long distance runners know about and are prepared for. It is at this point in your commitment to finish the race that your resolve comes from self-talk, like mind-over-matter! This was May for me.

This was the dress I wanted to purchase from Altar’d State.


My story is about a dress. In my “rules” that I laid out prior to starting the no spend year, I said that I will allow myself to buy things for special occasions ONLY IF I had nothing else that woul work. Well, my son’s graduation was approaching and I told myself that I needed a new dress for this occasion. Forget the fact that I own about 12 dresses currently, and barely ever wear dresses! I believed that I needed a different one for this occasion. So, I began the process of shopping for a dress. I was going to be intentional. I was going to wait to purchase a dress after allowing at least 24 hours to marinate and decide if I really loved it. I tried on dresses at a handful of stores, and there was one dress that I really loved at Altar’d State – a store that fits the bill for ethical practices. After thinking about it a couple of days, I decided to go back to buy the dress. When I get to the register, the sales person reminds me that the dresses are buy one, get one 50% off. SIGH. I know this, and I came to the register with one dress because I only need one dress. But, in that moment I again begin to justify and compromise. I decide I will grab that other dress that I saw that would be great for our trip to Hawaii we are taking this summer. Even as I drive home I’m thinking this was all a bad idea. I think about how much time I’ve already wasted driving, trying things on, thinking about THESE DRESSES!

When I get home I try on the dress with the bra and shoe options I thought would work, and suddenly I hate it. I realize in the light of my own full-length mirror that this dress does not look good on my body type. For another two days I think about these dresses. I go back to where I had written down my “rules” and read the words again, “ONLY IF I have nothing else that works.” I know I have several dresses that could be styled in different ways to make something work. So, I TAKE THE DRESSES BACK! Yes, both dresses! I again think about all that energy I spent on this whole process, and I’m reminded of how much time I must have wasted in the past pursuing that perfect item. I want to be intentional moving forward in making decisions about adding pieces to my wardrobe, but I know I will have to learn a new way to make decisions. This whole process didn’t work for me.

In the end, I wore a dress that I had purchased for a wedding a couple years back, a dress that I don’t often wear but I loved. I felt great in it, and I was glad that I decided to stick with a dress I already owned. On a side-note, perhaps I should reevaluate how many dresses I own.


No Spend Year, April Reflections

Here I am again, late at posting my no spend year reflections for last month. Time has passed so quickly this spring. In this no spend year, I have been shocked when another month has completed! Also, as in March, there is not a whole lot new in April with regards to my no spend year. I have gotten into the habit of JUST NOT SPENDING.

I will tell you one story. One of my rules is that I can purchase things needed for big events this year. We take our children on a special trip by themselves after they graduate from high school. Our middle son will be graduating in just a couple of weeks, and he decided he would like to go to Hawaii for his special trip. I will allow myself to purchase items for this trip. A couple weeks ago I went to a friend’s Noonday Collection party. If you aren’t familiar with Noonday, they are a jewelry and accessory company which employs women in impoverished communities to make their items. They have a website, but also sell through their “Ambassadors” who set up in home parties. I have loved Noonday for many years and several of my jewelry pieces came from this business. At the party I of course saw many things that I would like, but in particular I saw a small cross body purse/wallet that would be perfect for travel. I decided not to buy it that day. A few days later, I got an invite for a fundraiser for our high school “Project Graduation” where they put on a huge graduation party so the kids have a safe place to celebrate. The fundraiser was Noonday Collection! I spent a few days thinking about the purse and decided it was for a good cause, supporting a good company, and would be a useful item for me. I could use it for the trip to Hawaii, but also for times when I don’t want to bring my purse, but don’t want to just carry my wallet. It is also a versatile piece that can be used as a crossbody purse, a clutch, or even a fanny pack (those are coming back you know?!)

This experience helped me to realize a couple of things. First, that I want to be more intentional with where I purchase items moving forward after my no spend year. I want to support companies that have ethical practices and make a difference to individuals and not just a large company. I would also like to be intentional with what I purchase. Even though I wanted to purchase that purse when I first saw it, I want to learn to allow myself to “sit” with that desire for a few days before I make a final decision. No more impulse buys. If I want something, I will give myself some time to think about it and see if it’s really something I need.

Another thing I encountered this month was discovering Poshmark. I knew about this app, where you can purchase and sell used clothing, but I had never explored it. I decided that I would be willing to part with more of my clothing and shoes if I could get some money for them. While exploring the app I found so many cute, cheap clothes! It was tempting, however I want to stick to my commitment. Moving forward after the no spend year, I will definitely use this app to purchase new (to me) clothing. It will help me to stay focused as I only look for something specific, and it is better for the environment to purchase used clothing! Win – win!!


Honestly, March and April have just flown by and I have barely noticed my habits changing. I just don’t think about spending anymore. And it feels amazing!

My Minimalist Son

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


No Spend Year, March Reflections

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zone Cleaning

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Spend Year, February Reflections

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

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

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

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


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



From Chaos to Order, Tips for Pantry Organization

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

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

Bormioli Rocco Fido glass jars
Bormioli Rocco Fido Jars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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