12 Tips For Packing To Move

In today’s post I wanted to share with you some tips for moving! I thought summer is the perfect time to share these tips as a lot of people move during the summer months. I have been married for 26 years, and we have three adult children now. Over the course of our marriage we have lived in 4 states, 6 different apartments and 2 homes, so I have experience with packing to move! I hope these tips are helpful for you for a future move, or if a move is not in your near future you can pass this along to a friend or family member that might benefit from these tips!

{{1}} The first tip is to pack all non essential items well in advance. I always liked to pack non essential items even a couple months in advance to get this out of the way. When we begin the packing process, we don’t realize just how many belongings we own. At first it seems like it won’t take long at all to get everything packed, but the deeper into the packing process you get, you realize that you have A LOT of stuff and it is time consuming. Some examples of non essential items are home decor, throw pillow and blankets, picture frames, books, and holiday related items. 

{{2}} My next tip is to color code labels to match the rooms they belong in. This tip is especially helpful if you have movers moving your belongings, but even if friends or family members help they will know which room each box goes to very quickly. You can even have a color sign in each room to indicate which boxes go in which rooms. 

{{3}} Another tip is to use towels and blankets to pack fragile items. Using towels and blankets to pack fragile items will be efficient since you’re packing both items, but protecting the fragile items. Obviously you will want to take special care to wrap really fragile and special items with bubble wrap or newspaper.

{{4}} Speaking of newspapers, save newspapers to wrap breakables. If you don’t get newspaper you can buy non printed newspaper from moving stores. Using the non printed newspaper is nice for things like dishes and drinking glasses so they don’t get dirty from the printing.

{{5}} Another great tip is to ask local grocery stores or big box stores for boxes. Instead of purchasing new moving boxes, you can go to local grocery stores or places like Target or Walmart to ask if they have extra boxes you could take. They often have leftover boxes from unloading inventory and are happy to give them to you. Sometimes these boxes aren’t quite as sturdy as the moving boxes, so you will want to be careful with what you pack in them. 

{{6}} My next tip is to declutter, donate, and sell anything not worth moving. It is best to use the opportunity while you are packing things to move to declutter and donate or sell anything you are no longer loving or using. Depending on how much you have, this can be an overwhelming task and too time consuming to do in conjunction with packing to move, but it is wise to just leave behind anything that is no longer serving you.

{{7}} Next, have paper goods on hand for the last few days leading up to the move and the first few days in the new place. It is nice to have paper plates and bowls, and plastic cups and cutlery the last few days before a move so you don’t have to worry about doing dishes. In addition to that, then you can get your kitchen packed and ready to go! And it is nice on the other end, moving into a new place knowing you have something to eat on when you arrive without having to unpack.

{{8}} Something else that really helped me was to have a box or bin filled with all moving essentials – packing tape, sharpies, labels, scissors, AND know where it is (have a designated location for it). Often during a move everything is a bit chaotic. It’s easy to misplace things or not know where things are because everything is getting upheaved. If you have a designated bin for all of the moving essentials, and you know where it is located (maybe in a central location in the home), then it’s easier to keep track of those things and know where they are when you need them.

{{9}} The next tip some people may not think about, and that is to carefully label the last boxes. We often are just throwing a bunch of stuff together towards the end. Indicating in detail what is in the box will make it easier to know what is in it. In addition to that, write “last box” on them clearly so you know that it is a box you will also want to unpack first!

{{10}} Another tip I have is to enlist help. You can teach your children to pack! Most kids are excited to help with the packing process. You can allow them to pack their own things and give them ownership. Maybe a friend or family member can come over and help you pack or unpack as well. Working with friends and family is always so much more fun than working on your own!

{{11}} My next tip is to unpack essentials first. Maybe this is an obvious tip, but it can be overwhelming arriving at your new place and feeling like you don’t know where to start. Starting with bedding, bathroom essentials, and kitchen essentials is a great place to start. You will also have those last few boxes that you labeled “last box” which you will likely need right away as well. If you’re anything like me, the coffee will be the first off the truck!

{{12}} My final tip is to take breaks! Packing for a move, and moving in general is really exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Be sure to listen to your body and take breaks when you can. 

Well, I hope this gave you some tips that will be helpful for your next move! If you’re interested, you can check out the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this post!

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.

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!

My Intentional Spending Year Reflections, Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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