7 Tips For Slow Living

Over the last several years I have been focusing on living with only the things I need and love. I have shared some of this journey here on my blog and over on YouTube. I have consistently taken steps towards this goal of living with less. Each month I spend time intentionally decluttering my spaces, and over the last several years I have done spending fasts, including my no spend year back in 2019. One of the primary reasons for this journey was to get to a place where I had less physical possessions to take care of so I have more time to live at a slower pace. Pursuing this journey has also caused me to really evaluate my life – what I spend my time, energy, and money on. I have learned more self awareness in the last 5 years perhaps than in the rest of my life! I do recognize that everyone is in a different life stage and what is “slow” for me might look different than what is slow for you. Our youngest is now 18, so I have a lot less responsibilities around child care than I did when my children were young. However, I believe whatever life stage you are in, you can find what works for you and your family – still choosing behaviors that will support a slower pace. Today I wanted to share with you 7 tips for slow living.

The first tip is to EVALUATE YOUR PRIORITIES. What do you spend your time, energy, and money on? You could probably look at your bank statements and your phone time usage for a picture of this if you’re not sure. Oftentimes we may THINK we have certain priorities – like cultivating healthy family relationships, health/fitness, habits that help us grow – like reading, taking a course, talking to a counselor or therapist; but in reality the statistics (bank statements and phone time) tell a different story. At times, it can be easy to live life on autopilot – not even recognizing that you are developing priorities whether you are conscious of them or not. Intentional living is naming your TRUE priorities and making day in and day out habits that will curate the life you ACTUALLY want. Say them out loud, write them down, or tell a friend.

Knowing your priorities can help you decide if there are things you need to do differently, which brings me to my next point: slow living requires us to CUT OUT THE NOISE. Living in the time we live in, we are bombarded daily with messages – the news, social media, email, and more! We need to choose what we will allow to speak to us. Putting boundaries on habits that are a time suck like internet scrolling, social media, TV, and shopping will give us more time to live slowly. It will look different for each person, but maybe you can decide how much time a day you will a lot to these activities, perhaps you can take a day off of social media or internet use each week, or maybe delete apps and take time off for a period of time to reset your mind and habits around these things. Studies have shown how addictive social media in particular is! We need to set boundaries and not allow this NOISE to be ever present!

The next tip for slow living includes BEING PRESENT IN THE MOMENT. I must admit, as a type A who makes lists and plans things out, this has been difficult for me. There are times when I struggle to live in the moment because I am worried about something in the future. It is a good practice to be aware of this, and try to redirect your mind to enjoying the moment. I think it is especially important to live in the moment during routine things. It can be really easy to live life on autopilot, especially in the routine moments of our days, instead of really enjoying even the mundane. There is some sacredness to the mundane – tasks we perform everyday can almost become a moment to treasure because these little everyday mundane moments add up to the wholeness of our lives! Slow living requires us to not live on autopilot, but to really enjoy everyday practices and living in those moments rather than thinking about the next thing that needs to get done. You are consciously aware of the things you choose to do instead of just going through the motions of life. 

The next tip is DON’T OVERCOMMIT. I think it is much easier to say yes to things than to say no. We must be intentional about our “yes” because commitments pile up much quicker than we anticipate or expect. If you are hesitant to say no because you don’t want to let someone down, remember that you need to do what is best for you and your mental health. You are not in charge of someone else’s feelings. If you are unable to do something and the person is “let down,” really that is on them and not on you!

On a similar note, UNCOMMIT TO THINGS THAT ARE NO LONGER SERVING YOU. This one can be even more difficult than saying “no.” It is important to evaluate the responsibilities you have and which ones maybe are not working well for you. Cutting out those things in life that are not serving, you or are worse yet detrimental to you, will provide extra time in your schedule to slow down.

Another thing that has helped me to live slowly with intention is to SCHEDULE IN REST. Particularly if you are someone who tends to struggle to slow down, scheduling in rest will give you permission to rest. Each morning I like to spend time quietly, for me that is reading the Bible and praying, prior to getting on social media or checking email. I also schedule one day a week where I don’t work and for the most part stay off of social media. This day helps reset my mind and body so I am forced to slow down. On this day I find it easier to do things like reading, self reflection, and self care that I don’t make time for on other days because I feel “too busy.”

Lastly, another way to slow down is to MAKE IT A PRIORITY TO GET IN NATURE. This doesn’t have to be a big production where you’re pulling on hiking boots and going out for a hike that will take half the day. Walk around the block, or even just step out into your backyard. I have found that putting away my phone and getting into nature resets my mind. 

I hope this post was encouraging to you today! I don’t have all the answers, and I still struggle with some of these things, but I am AWARE – and that is the first step to changing behavior!

A Clutter Free Christmas!

As the holiday season is upon us, most of us are thinking about gift giving. I have to admit, for me this time of year is difficult. As someone who is intentional with what I bring into my home, I want to make sure any gifts I give are also intentional. I want to make sure anything that I am giving to someone that goes into their home will be used and appreciated instead of just adding to any clutter they may already have in their homes. Today I wanted to share three categories of gifts that are sure to be used and appreciated that will not cause clutter in your family or friends homes!

The first type of gift I wanted to talk about is the intentional gift. In spite of what people may think, I truly do love giving gifts to others! Some people may think since I am anti clutter I am anti gift-giving. One of the ways I like to be sure I’m giving a gift that will be used and loved is by knowing the person and paying attention to what they talk about to get clues about their interests. Purchasing a gift in line with the person’s interests is the best way to give them something intentional. Maybe your Mom likes a certain store, or your Dad collects something specific. Perhaps you can get something that is adjacent to their interests. For instance, my son was interested in the medical field when he was in high school, so I purchased some medical related wall art. My daughter loves nature and wants to visit the National Parks around the US, so I got her a coffee table type book with photos and information about the National Parks. Actively listening to and engaging with people in your everyday interactions will give you clues as to their interests!

The second type of gift that will prevent clutter is a consumable gift. Most people enjoy receiving special food or drinks for a gift that they otherwise might not purchase for themselves. Perhaps it’s a fancy bottle of wine, or a gift basket of their favorite type of food! Perhaps they don’t like to cook and you could give them a subscription to one of the dinner making kits. Another great category for consumables are special body products – like soaps, bath bombs or salts, or lotions. Be mindful if you know someone is sensitive to smells to take that into account. Lastly, another great consumable gift is a candle. Again, you will want to be mindful if the person likes scents and which type of scents they prefer. All of these items are great gifts because they will be used up over time and will not create clutter for the receiver.

The third and final category of gifts that will be useful is an experiential gift. There are such a wide variety of experiences you could give to a friend or family member – from some sort of subscription, to some fun experience you know they have wanted to have like going to a theme park. I will share a list of ideas that might be helpful as this is my favorite type of gift to give!

Gift card to their favorite restaurant

A vacation or plane tickets

We took our son to Hawaii for his graduation gift!

Passes to a theme park or museum

I took my son to Disney for a special mother and son trip!

Movie theater or live theater tickets

A tour – wine or factory, or plane or helicopter ride over the city

Adventure type experience like skydiving, bungy jumping, or ziplining

Concert tickets

A spa day package

Nail salon gift card

Coffee shop gift card

A cooking, painting, or some other sort of class of their interest

You could also get a season pass for a local venue they frequent:

The zoo

Children’s museum

Arcade

Indoor trampoline/bounce house park

Roller skating rink

You could also get them a gift card to some sort of subscription service:

Streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, Disney +

Spotify

Audible

Gym membership

Yoga/spin studio membership

Lastly, you could give to a charity in their honor. There are many charities that appreciate end of the year giving. Think about what organization may be meaningful to the person you are giving the gift to. 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. Maybe you have an animal lover and you could give money in honor of them towards animal protection. Or perhaps you have someone who is into astrology and would love to have a star named after them!

As you can see there are a lot of ideas for gifts that would not clutter someone’s home and truly be meaningful and appreciated! I hope this gives you some ideas for family members or friends in your life!

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

5 Things To Declutter In December

It’s December! One of the busiest months of the year for most of us! But I wanted to encourage you to spend a little bit of time decluttering this month with certain items that make sense to evaluate in December!

The first item is TOYS! It is smart to declutter toys prior to the inflow of new toys from Christmas gifts. It can be difficult to find a home for all the new toys that arrive on Christmas morning, so evaluating which toys your children no longer play with, finding broken toys or toys with missing pieces will help make room for the new items. If you purchased toys for your children, you can determine which category they fit in and see if other toys in that category can go. It’s always good to involve your children when decluttering toys at the appropriate age. Helping them understand that there is limited space for their toys and they should choose toys they no longer love to make room for the new toys that they will get for Christmas. Perhaps if the toys are gently used you could find a women’s shelter to donate to, helping your children learn to be giving – which is perfect for this time of year!

Next up is Christmas decor. This is the perfect time to evaluate which decor did not go up this year and determine if perhaps it’s time for it to go! Oftentimes if we don’t put it up this year, it is even less likely we will display it in the future. Be realistic about if it makes sense to store these items away for yet another year!

The third category of items to declutter in December is wrapping paper and wrapping accessories. When you are done wrapping all of your gifts for the season, it is a great time to determine if it is worth holding onto the scrap ends, stray tags, and extra ribbon. Certainly some of it might be worth holding onto for the next year, but really evaluate if you would actually use it a year from now.

The fourth category is winter coats, hats, scarves, and gloves. I know that in some parts of the country or world, you are well into the winter season with cooler weather! For me, here in Austin, the cool weather is just beginning! This is a great time to determine which coats and accessories you are wearing and which you are not. There might be a local charity for the homeless or perhaps a women’s shelter that would appreciate these items for the winter months.

The last category is kitchen items. During the holidays is probably when you are in the kitchen the most, using more of your kitchen items and gadgets than usual. Be honest with yourself if you are really using all the casserole dishes and spatulas that you own! Or perhaps you have holiday themed dishes that you had good intentions to use but never did. Now is a great time to declutter because you know if these items are actually useful to you!

Well, I hope this list of items you could easily declutter in December was helpful to you! Happy decluttering!

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

6 Things To Do Before Getting Organized

Today I wanted to talk to you about the steps you should take before tackling an organizing project. It is important to prepare before organizing a space so you are efficient in getting your spaces organized.

{{ONE}} First, you need to remove everything from the space. If this is overwhelming, work section by section in a space. For instance, while organizing the kitchen, work one cabinet or one drawer at a time – removing everything from that section. Sometimes seeing everything out in the open can help you realize how much you have. It is also easier to organize things into a space that is a clean slate.

{{TWO}} Next, you need to declutter. Are you surprised?? Have I said this enough?? You must declutter prior to organizing. There is no need to organize items that are no longer needed or loved. It is also silly to buy organizing tools prior to decluttering because you will likely not need as much as you think.

{{THREE}} After you declutter, it is time to categorize. Keeping like items together usually makes the most sense when organizing a space. Once you group things together according to like items, you may be able to declutter even further if you see you have duplicates of items.

{{FOUR}} Once you have everything categorized, then you can decide how you would like to organize those items – in bins, baskets, boxes, or drawer organizers. You will then need to measure your space to determine what size of storage containers you will need. And you thought you would never use math again! Measure twice, buy once! It can take some research and shopping to find the right storage solution for your space.

{{FIVE}} Next, it’s time to purchase your storage solutions – whether it’s bins, baskets, boxes, or drawer organizers – find what works for your space. My favorite places for storage containers are The Container Store, Target, and Amazon. I know there are several other stores that have great storage solutions as well!

{{SIX}} This next step isn’t necessary, but I always like to deep clean a space before organizing it. If everything is already removed from the space, it’s the perfect time to clean it! It’s always nice to put items back into a clean space!

Well, I hope this post was helpful to you if tackling an organization project seems daunting to you. Taking these simple steps before trying to get organized will help to make your organization project go smoothly!

Here is the YouTube video I shared on my channel in conjunction with this blog post.

10 Ways To Find Joy and Purpose in Homemaking

Whether you stay at home or work outside of your home, I believe you can find joy and purpose in homemaking. I was a stay at home mom and homemaker for over 20 years and I truly enjoyed it and appreciated my husband working hard to financially support our family so I could pursue homemaking.

Unfortunately, I think staying at home with children and homemaking is undervalued in our culture. It used to be common for women to stay at home during the mid century time period in America. Now I think there is a high value on financial compensation and many families are now two income families. In addition to this, the standards in America have changed with regards to how big homes are and how many possessions Americans own, making it a necessity to have two incomes to keep up. The average size of home in America in 1950 was about 1,000 square feet with two bedrooms and one bathroom according to an article from the Chicago Tribune. By the year 2000, a typical home was 2,000 square feet or more and that average just seems to keep going up!

I wanted to share with you 10 ways to find joy and purpose in homemaking! I hope this encourages you if you are a stay at home mom, homemaker, or work outside of the home but also work as a homemaker!

First, value serving your family. For me, taking care of my family is a way that I show them love. Your husband and kids will see what you are doing day in and day out. They may not always verbally thank you, but I think seeing you consistently taking care of the home and family has a big impact. Being a homemaker gives you opportunities to show your kids how to serve others as you are an example of love and care for your family.

The second way you can find joy and purpose in homemaking is to be content with where you are. Regardless of if you stay at home or work outside the home, have a positive attitude about your roles in life. We all can have moments or even seasons of feeling overwhelmed, feeling unappreciated, or feeling like what we do may not matter. The truth is, what you are doing is very valuable. Focus on being grateful, and this can help you to find contentment.

Number three is to see beauty in the mundane. Let’s be honest, homemaking tasks can be very mundane, but you can reframe your thinking by being present in everything you are doing. You can also make the mundane meaningful. One thing that I have done since my kids were very little is to pray for them while I fold their clothes, this helps this mundane task become more meaningful. If you don’t pray, maybe you could speak positive affirmations over your family as you do tasks to serve them.

The fourth way to find joy and purpose in homemaking is to acknowledge that it allows you to create a safe and cozy space for your family. I recognize that some people don’t enjoy decorating spaces to make them cozy, but perhaps you like baking and filling the house with the smell of freshly baked cookies or bread which also creates a sense of coziness. Perhaps just lighting a candle or turning on an oil diffuser will create that cozy feel. Whatever you do to create a soft space for your husband and children to land at the end of the day is valuable! It also allows you to enjoy the space you have created as well.

The fifth way is to recognize that it actually builds a lot of valuable skills. Managing a home, particularly if you have children and their schedules, is not an easy thing. It takes a lot of organization and executive functions to spin all those plates! Learning how to balance all of the responsibilities without a “boss” to direct you is actually challenging. There are a lot of little tasks that need to be taken care of, and a lot of little needs each of your family members have. Staying on top of all of this is a valuable skill set!

Next, recognize that homemaking provides an opportunity to learn new skills. I know that since becoming a wife over 25 years ago, I have learned so many new skills! Mostly by trial and error, sometimes with the help of a friend, or even taking a course. I have learned how to cook, sew, organize, and execute administrative tasks! Not to mention, learning to take care of our children, which was really trial and error!! Before I had my daughter, I had never changed a diaper before!

For those of us who are stay at home moms or homemakers and do not work outside of the home, recognizing that staying home allows time to make healthy meals and exercise can also shift our mindset and help us to find joy and purpose in homemaking. I am so grateful to have the margin in my life to exercise several times per week. We also eat at home 6 nights a week because I have time to meal plan, shop, and prepare healthy meals!

The eighth way to find joy and purpose in homemaking is to surround yourself with like minded friends for encouragement. If you are constantly hearing negative feedback about your role as a homemaker, it can wear on you. Surrounding yourself with friends who also value homemaking can help you to also value it. I have been really grateful to always have friends in my life who were stay at home moms or homemakers!

Number nine is to remind yourself that in the end your children will be grateful for all you did. I think back on what my mom did to make our home feel warm, welcoming, safe, and cozy and even though I did not realize it as a child, I recognize as an adult what she did was intentional – in spite of my mom being an elementary school teacher! Even if your children don’t appreciate it now, they will one day appreciate all you did. If you don’t have children, your husband will be grateful for the effort and energy you put into making your home cozy and safe.

Lastly, to find joy and purpose in homemaking, acknowledge when you feel undervalued and remind yourself of the aforementioned things. As I mentioned, it is not uncommon to sometimes feel undervalued or feel like what you are doing doesn’t make a difference. In those moments, it is helpful to remind yourself of all the things mentioned above!

Well, I hope this post was encouraging or inspiring to you today! Oftentimes, to be joyful and content in anything, it’s about a shift in mindset. Being grateful for the things we have and the roles we play in life.

15 Things I No Longer Purchase

If you are new around here, you may not know that I have been on a long, slow journey towards minimalism. I’m learning the balance of making my home cozy, but also not owning an abundance of stuff! I’ve been learning what areas in my home it makes sense to own less, and then there are other spaces where I’ll be honest I like to have a variety – like clothes and shoes! One thing that I have found helps with keeping a minimal home is not just what goes out through decluttering, but also what comes in. I wanted to share with you 15 things I no longer purchase now! Not purchasing these items has helped to keep the inflow of items down. With that said, some of these items are consumable as well. All of these items are things that I used to purchase.

{{ONE}} First is dryer sheets. I used to use dryer sheets, however now I use wool dryer balls. I purchased the dryer balls a couple years ago and I really love them! Not only are they more environmentally friendly than dryer sheets, I actually like them better for making my clothes smell better! I just use a few drops of essential oil on the balls prior to adding them to my laundry in the dryer. In addition, dryer sheets often have chemicals in them.

{{TWO}} Next is plastic straws. I have been drinking protein shakes for my breakfast for a very long time and I used to use throw away plastic straws. Several years ago I bought some reusable metal straws and I have never bought plastic straws since!

{{THREE}} The next item I no longer purchase is plastic water bottles. Well, I no longer consistently buy these! After the crazy winter storm here in Austin in 2021 I decided maybe we should have a package of bottled water on hand in case of an emergency! On a day to day basis our family uses a reusable water bottle. We have a reverse osmosis system in our home, so our water is purified and tastes great! I think it tastes better than bottled water.

{{FOUR}} I also no longer purchase cans of soda. It was quite a while ago that I began learning about the importance of eating whole foods and avoiding unnecessary processed sugar. This ages me, but I recall really starting to get into whole foods when I was pregnant with my second who is now 20 years old! I used to drink a soda every afternoon for the caffeine and I would often drink soda on the weekends with pizza or take out. I have stopped purchasing cans of soda to have on hand. We do purchase sparkling water, which is somewhat of a substitute for soda. We also occasionally have soda when we get fast food, but I no longer regularly purchase it.

{{FIVE}} The next item I no longer purchase is pre-cut food. Pre-cut food is so much more expensive than purchasing it not pre-cut. It was definitely something that was very convenient when my kids were younger and I was busier with their schedules. Now that they are older, I find I have more margin in my life to devote to cooking – something I love to do! Cutting up fruits and vegetables is very cathartic for me and something I actually enjoy.

{{SIX}} Next up is magazines. I used to love magazines many moons ago before Pinterest and Instagram were a thing. I used to love home and home decor magazines for inspiration and even had a 3 ring binder that I would keep all of my magazine clippings in for home decor inspiration. Now I am inspired by photos on Instagram and finding ideas and inspiration on Pinterest. My in-laws do purchase Consumer Reports for us as a Christmas gift, but recently my husband and father-in-law had a conversation about how all of this information is easily accessible online, so it is silly to receive paper copies of this magazine, so we will no longer receive those after this year.

{{SEVEN}} Another item I no longer purchase is special events or holiday dishware. I used to have different dishes that were for specific holidays, only getting used once a year. Now I have all white dishes and serveware and can use napkins and table decor to make any holiday or event feel special!

{{EIGHT}} Along those lines, I no longer purchase special event clothes. I have several dresses in my closet to choose from and I use what I have on hand to make work for any special event or holiday.

{{NINE}} Next up is sale items. I used to be a sucker for the sale section in any store – clothes, shoes, accessories, and home decor! I would definitely get drawn in by the price and the “great deal.” Oftentimes these items didn’t last long and I would soon have a pile of things to declutter. Now I have different shopping habits where I am more intentional with what I bring into my home. Since I am not bringing as much into my home, I can spend a little more on fewer items that are more meaningful to me or I absolutely love. Don’t get me wrong – I will purchase something that is on sale if it is something that I love and would make a good addition to my home, but I do not shop sales just because there is a sale now.

 {{TEN}} I also no longer purchase souvenirs. To be fair, I will if it is something that is really meaningful, but I don’t purchase them just for the sake of having an item to remember a trip. I always take a lot of photos to remember trips!

{{ELEVEN}} Next, I no longer consistently purchase nail, brow, or lash services. I actually never did get lash extensions, so maybe I should not have included that, but it is in that same category! I used to consistently get my eyebrows waxed, but when COVID happened and a lot of those places shut down for a while I learned I could live without that! I didn’t ever consistently get my nails done, but I would get them done a few times a year and I have stopped going to get my nails done as well ever since COVID.

{{TWELVE}} Another item I no longer purchase is purses. I used to have a variety of purses and in different sizes and colors, but a while back I noticed that I really don’t like to take the time to switch my purse over to a different one and decided to only keep one. I use that purse basically until it breaks and then buy a new one. I tend to purchase a high quality purse so that it will last longer. I do have a smaller purse that can be a fanny pack, cross body, or clutch that I will use when we go out, but on the daily I only use one purse.

{{THIRTEEN}} I also do not buy the newest version of phone! I actually have never been one to purchase the newest available phone or electronics. I use my phone until it dies!

{{FOURTEEN}} Something else I no longer purchase is seasonal decor. I do have some seasonal decor that I have had for many years – some pumpkins, Christmas decor, and Easter decor, but over the last few years I have looked for decor that could be used year round. For instance, I have some brass deer which are great for Christmas or winter time, but would really work year round. I also like purchasing items that are a great color scheme for different seasons, but you could still use them year round. In general, I do not purchase new decor each year for every season.

{{FIFTEEN}} Lastly, I do not purchase things I cannot afford. Again, this is something we have always done as a couple and as a family. We have chosen to live debt free with the exception of our mortgage. Everything else we want to purchase we save up for. We don’t have any credit card debt.

Well, I hope this inspired you to think about items you could potentially quit purchasing, or at least made you think about why you purchase what you purchase. I would love to hear what things you no longer purchase. Do you have some of the same items on your list? Or do you have different items?

This is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post if you would like to check that out!

8 Healthy Habits In My Routine

In today’s post I wanted to share with you healthy habits that I have built into my daily routines. I’m not perfect at doing everything on this list every single day, but when something is a habit and part of your routine it makes it easier to pick it back up even when you get off track for a bit! I hope these ideas inspire you to come up with healthy habits in your routine!

First is that I get up in the morning and go to bed at night at approximately the same time every day. I know these are healthy sleep habits, but truth be known I might not follow through on this one if it weren’t for my little alarm clock… my dog! He keeps me honest because he likes the predictability of this routine. Unlike a lot of people, I do this even on the weekends when I don’t necessarily have to get out of bed. I do think it helps me to get more consistent good sleep to get up and go to bed at the same time every day. Of course as with any of these habits there are exceptions and times where I go to bed later and/or get up earlier.

Next is that I have a regular skin care routine both in the morning and at night. Taking care of our skin is important, especially as we age. The skin is the largest organ of your body, so keeping it healthy is just as important as doing other things to keep your body healthy.

Along those same lines, I have a habit of drinking lots of water every day! Drinking water definitely helps with skin health as it keeps your body and therefore your skin hydrated! I personally aim for about 80 ounces of water per day, but definitely take into account your activity level, how warm your climate is as sweating equals needing more water, and your body size. On most days I only drink coffee, electrolyte drink (powder that I get on Amazon that is sweetened with stevia), and water. I like to have a refillable water bottle with me wherever I go to help get enough water for the day. Yes, there are some days where I drink other beverages, but my habit is to focus on drinking water!

I also include the habit of spending time quietly in thought and reflection first thing in the morning prior to doing anything else. For me that includes reading my Bible and praying. I do this before checking email or social media notifications. This helps ground me for the day ahead. It puts me in a mind frame to handle whatever I have to tackle that day. I know this one might not resonate with everyone, however I believe spending time in quietness and reflecting on life is a good practice. If reading the Bible (or some other spiritual book) and praying is not your thing, you could journal your thoughts and feelings or spend time meditating on positive things.

The next daily habit I have is to reset my kitchen after I drink my coffee and spend time in the Bible. Typically we run our dishwasher after dinner, and since I have older kids (and a husband!) who like to get snacks after dinner, there are sometimes dishes ready to be loaded into the dishwasher in the morning. I like to unload the dishwasher first thing in the morning and reload it with any dishes leftover from the night before. I also like to just take the opportunity to wipe down the counters as well.

Another habit I have incorporated in my routine since I was in middle school is getting exercise. I typically exercise at least 5 times a week and do both aerobic and anaerobic exercises. I do have a video on my YouTube channel where I share specifically what I have been doing in my exercise routine! You don’t have to do anything strenuous. Especially if you are just starting out with an exercise routine. Just walking around the block is better than doing nothing. Also, you don’t have to join a gym to have a good exercise routine. Sometimes joining a gym or class helps with accountability, but there are plenty of great options to get exercise at home, including YouTube videos.

After my workouts I will drink a protein shake and take supplements. I like making a variety of different protein shakes with different ingredients, making it less boring to drink everyday. I think getting plenty of protein and getting the right nutrients for your body is important to feel your best. Definitely consult your doctor about what works for you, or what nutrients your body is missing. I work with my GP doctor and my chiropractor to be on a regimen of supplements that my body is lacking. Simple blood work can determine what your body needs. 

The last healthy habit in my routine that I wanted to share with you is that I take breaks. I think it is important to give your body and your mind breaks. Sometimes knowing the break is coming is all you need to push through to get tasks completed. I build in breaks throughout my day – having a coffee break in the late afternoon for 30 minutes to an hour (depending on what my schedule allows that day) can be very helpful. I also choose not to do any work on Sunday and use that day to take a break from social media as well. Giving my body time to rest and recharge. I often end up taking a nap on Sunday afternoons, which is probably much needed! I also choose to take breaks from working out and typically only work out five times per week, allowing my body and muscles to recover the other two days of the week.

Well, I hope this list of healthy habits in my routine gives you some ideas of things you can incorporate into your daily routines. Like I mentioned, I am not always perfect at all of these things, but when I have an “off” day it’s easy to get back to these healthy habits since they are part of my routine!

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

Reducing Visual Clutter

Does your external environment cause you anxiety? Do you struggle to focus because of external clutter? Today I wanted to talk about visual clutter, the impact it has on us, and how to reduce it.

For many people, visual clutter is distracting. The reason is because our brain is constantly processing our environment. Visual clutter can have an impact on our mental and emotional health, resulting in us not being as efficient and productive as we could otherwise be.  Clutter has been linked to cortisol production, the stress hormone. Research from a 2009 study out of UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CELF) has shown that women who perceive their homes to be cluttered tend to have unhealthy patterns of cortisol levels. Interestingly, men did not have the same cortisol response with regard to clutter. This could potentially be because women tend to take on more of the household chores even if they are also working full time. Clutter is also linked to lack of self control, resulting in unhealthy eating habits. According to a Cornell University study from 2016, stress triggered by clutter may also trigger coping and avoidance strategies, like eating junk food, oversleeping or binge-watching Netflix.

So what can we do to reduce visual clutter? I wanted to share some ideas for you to reduce visual clutter in your home today.

First, the obvious one: declutter your possessions. When you have less, it is easier to clean, store, and organize your items. This can be easier said than done, so I suggest doing this slowly over time. If we try to declutter all of our items at once, we can get overwhelmed and experience decision fatigue. Slowly but surely as you declutter your possessions, you will have less visual clutter.

The next one goes along with the first. Be intentional with what you keep and what you bring into your home. When you are intentional with what comes into your home, you have an idea of where the item will go and how you will use the item or what purpose the item will fulfill to you. Sometimes people get into the habit of purchasing anything they find beautiful without intentionally thinking about its purpose. This is when it gets difficult to find a place for everything we bring into our homes. I have learned to enjoy and appreciate items visually at the store, acknowledging that you like it and it is beautiful,  without having to take the item home with me.

Next, group like items together in bins or baskets. When smaller items are stored away in bins or baskets, there is less visual clutter.

Choose uniformity when organizing and storing items. Get uniform food storage containers, cleaning bottles, and storage bins. When you have uniform jars, bins, and bottles you eliminate bright colored packaging, making your space feel more calm.

Have a place for everything. If you have a home for each of the items you own, they are less likely to get left lying around your home. When things are put in their proper place, your home feels less chaotic and less cluttered.

Another principle you can implement to reduce visual clutter in your home is maybe one (or a few) is better than an abundance. Throw pillows are a good example here (although admittedly I likely own too many of these!!) Maybe having 2 on your sofa is better than having the entire sofa lined with pillows. Or perhaps it’s home decor. Maybe having a small vignette of 3 items grouped together is better than the entire piece of furniture being covered in home decor.

Lastly, storing items away in a cabinet or drawer instead of leaving it out can reduce visual clutter. For me, I like to have a spot in my cabinet to store things like our toaster, the blender, and other large appliances. In the bathroom, you can have space for your items such as make up, a hair brush, toothbrush, and facial products in your bathroom drawers or cabinets instead of housing them on top of the counter. This will immediately reduce visual clutter in these spaces.

I hope this gave you some practical ideas on how you can reduce visual clutter in your home today!

The YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post.

My 6 Favorite Organizing Tools As a Professional Organizer

Today I wanted to share with you 6 of my all time favorite organizing tools as a professional organizer.

First up is BINS OR BASKETS. Anyone who has been to my home, or who has hired me to organize their home, can attest to my love of bins!! The number one thing you can do to get organized is to categorize. The easiest way to do this is with bins or baskets. My favorite bins are white plastic bins from The Container Store. They come in several sizes, are cost effective, simple, and durable.

Using UNIFORM HANGERS will always immediately make your closet look more organized. There are so many choices, from wooden to velvet or even plastic – as long as they are uniform it is just more pleasing to the eye.

Next is LAZY SUSANS. Using lazy susans throughout your home is such an efficient use of space to keep like items contained. They come in all sorts of sizes, and they can also come with a standard lip or a deeper one depending on what you are storing. I am currently obsessed with clear acrylic lazy susans!

I also love GLASS JARS. These are especially great for food storage like pasta, rice, or baking items. I love the Fido brand, but I also really like the simple Ball Mason jars as well. When using the Mason jars, I purchase white plastic lids to make taking the lids off and on easier.

Another item I love to use is UNIFORM CLEANING BOTTLES. Whether you choose clear or amber glass cleaning bottles, or even plastic ones, cleaning bottles look so much more streamlined and simplistic when they are all uniform.

What organization project is complete without LABELS? I love using labels for practical purposes so you know you know what is in the container, but I also just love the look of labels aesthetically! There are so many different options for labels! I love the label made by a Cricut, and I also love the look of just an old school embossed label!

Well, I hope this gave you some ideas on how you can take your home organization to the next level!

Here is the video I made with this information! It is a giveaway collaborating with several other YouTubers, so definitely go enter to win if you are reading this blog post close to the time it is posted! *Giveaway ends June 15, 2021*

My 25th Wedding Anniversary

Today is my 25th wedding anniversary. When you’ve been married this long, sometimes people say things like, “what’s the secret.” But honestly, I don’t think there is one secret. To tell you the truth, I don’t even feel like it’s possible that we’ve been married that long! I will share with you my thoughts on being married this long.

9,131 days. 

1,300 weeks. 

25 years. 

7 vehicles. 

6 apartments. 

3 kids. 

2 dogs. 

2 homes. 

This is us.

You know, I really think “secrets” are a myth. I think there really are only obvious answers. When people say things like “how do you stay looking young and healthy?” I joke – “It’s a BIG SECRET *insert sarcastic tone* – I eat healthy, exercise, drink lots of water, and get good sleep.” It’s the same with a lasting marriage, there is no big secret – you remain loyal when times get tough, you forgive, you ask for forgiveness, you give grace and compassion, and show humility. That doesn’t seem to be a big secret to me.

But, HOW do you do that. That is all easier said than done. I will share with you that I can’t imagine being so dedicated to my marriage if it weren’t for my faith in Jesus. In Philippians 2:3 it says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others better than yourselves.” This is one of the principles I strive to live by. In all relationships, but especially in marriage. Believe me, there are times when I have to fight to believe this and live it out! It is certainly not always easy.

Also, marriage has not always been easy! That’s when I have learned to lean into Jesus and trust that He is refining me and making me more like him through my marriage. It also helps me to not put all of my hope and faith in a person {{my husband}} but recognizing that he is human and will let me down at times.

Loving someone unconditionally for 25 years is not easy – and I’m not just talking about me loving my husband, I’m talking about my husband loving me! It goes both ways. We both believe in the 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 passage regarding love. We may not always feel it, but we have to keep coming back to this passage:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves.”

I will assure you – romance fades, hormones change, the honeymoon stage is just a phase – BUT, none of that compares with building a beautiful life with that person you fell in love with, had romantic moments with, and for a while couldn’t keep your hands off each other! We have so many wonderful and beautiful memories! We have spent the last 25 years building our family, which God intertwined our very beings together through our children and all the memories. 

You will always be my person. I love you David. Forever and always.