Sunday, October 14, 2012

Slowing down...

My life is getting busy right now and I don't have the time I would like to blog as much as I would like. I will still be blogging but at a MUCH slower pace. 
I thank you all for continuing to come here and commenting. 
I speak a lot about living a simple life, I have to remember that means with my time too. :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Life Simplified : Sort It All

This an ongoing series about how to live a more 
simplified life. Learn how to achieve it through purging 
unnecessary clutter in your home and life. 
You can view the first installment here.

It seems like a rather obvious task, just sort your stuff. 
Sort it, go through it, get rid of it. Right?
If you have ever done this, then you know it isn't easy. 
You have to touch every single thing. 
You have to lay your hands on it and decide at that moment 
where it is going to spend the rest of it's life. That can be overwhelming. 
I have some tips to help this process go smooth and help you conquer your clutter.

I sort in four piles and four piles only.
Do not be tempted to make numerous piles. This is an important point.
Too many piles will cause you more clutter and you will get less done. 
So, keep it simple. Four piles to help me not to get overwhelmed.
"Keep", "Donate", "Sell" or "Trash".
These piles keep the process fairly simple. If you don't re-sale like I do, feel free to eliminate that pile completely. I have some personal rules about selling to keep my clutter to a minimum. Establish your own so that your not just simply moving your clutter around but assigning it a job. 
Set personal goals of how to get this done. 
I find if I break down the project into more manageable pieces, it goes more smoothly. 
As well as it get's completely done rather than being left undone. 
For instance, I know my baking ware cabinet is getting unruly. 
Instead of setting the random goal of 'organizing' the cabinet, I set the timer for 
15 minutes and I challenge myself to just sort everything in that time. 
But whatever is not done in 15 minutes, I am okay with that. 
Most of the time if I am not done in that 15 minutes but just about, I will finish. 
But if the project was way more involved than I thought, 
then I will just stop where I am and come back to it later. 
That brings me to the next step.  

Plan your time wisely. 
And never move on to another area until you have completed the area you are working on.
Be prepared to reschedule your purging efforts as you go. 
If the baking cabinet is now going to take two sessions, be prepared to 
move back the next organizing project to make sure you complete this one.
Incomplete projects will turn right back into clutter and sometimes it will be worse than before. Complete each area before moving on.

I got an question from a reader this last week after my other post. 
She gave me permission to post her question here, so I can answer it for all of you.
"How often do you purge your whole house?"
Everyday. Seriously. I am constantly finding clutter that I use to feel is
important but now deem unnecessary. We use to live a very cluttered life.
I had and still do at times, have a healthy love for decorating. 
However I have learned to keep what I love not things that just look good.
So, I would want to encourage you to never stop purging and reconsidering the items in your home. I keep a bag or box at ready that the whole family knows is our 'donation' box. 
I fill it up every few weeks. When full it goes into my van for drop off. 
We reuse tattered clothes into some sort of cloths, and recycle any plastic 
or paper items we can that are no longer of use to us. 
The point is living a simple life takes work to get there and maintain. 
There is never a time I feel that I am 'done'. I may feel done with a certain area but never done entirely. Things are needed in life. Clothing, housewares etc. We try to buy for longevity but the reality is things don't last as long as we have hoped. 
Or that children don't stay small forever. :)
So, the process will always exist in our home. As we pare down, 
maybe it won't be a daily routine but we will still have to do it. 
Organizing isn't a destination but a journey.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Life Simplified : Define Needs vs. Wants

This a beginning of an ongoing series about how to live a more 
simplified life. Learn how to achieve it through purging 
unnecessary clutter in your home and life. 
Stay tune for the rest of the series.

 If you look at the web, any magazines, self help books, blogs, Pinterest or just about anywhere, you will see lots of information out there about organizing your life. 
How to take your stuff and make it all fit. Organize it and it will be better.
And we are spending more money on how to organize more stuff. 
How to hide your stuff. 
How to clean your stuff. 
How to make your stuff look less like stuff! 
Where is the information about living with less stuff?
Do people not realize the more you own the more you have to care for it?
Stuff becomes a burden.

Before you think I am one of those people trying to make you feel guilt about having nice stuff, I'm not. I fully believe in you get what you pay for in life. And sometimes to
have something worthwhile and nice, you have to pay for nice things.
That is not the problem I see.
The problem I see is lots of unnecessary stuff, cheap stuff, that we buy because it was cheap. You know what I am talking about? Who hasn't dropped $15 at a Dollar Tree before? Not to say it is all junk. But what it does do is perpetuate this idea that if it
is cheap enough, then we should have more than enough.
Or the other concept, we may need it someday. So we hold on to it.
Then there is the old guilt trip, "it was a gift."
This series is not a how to on how to de-clutter your house, but you should stop buying
into the myths on why you have to live with clutter.
Clutter has ZERO benefit.
No one has ever proven that clutter adds anything but stress in one's life.
When we establish that clutter is not helpful to anyone then we can move on to a basic concept in living with less.

"Do I need it?"
That is question I ask whenever I am about to purchase something.
Because I am a firm believer that most clutter is not needed items. Therefore establishing some ground work on what is a need vs. want in your home will help you tackle the issue. For instance, in my home, a cell phone is not a need but a want.
We do have cell phones but we know they are a luxury item for us. If something should happen where we couldn't afford it, we would cut it without much to do. For you, this maybe a need. And clearly defining wants vs. needs makes it easier to rid yourself
of things that are robbing you of a more simple life.
Stuff takes time to maintain, sort, store, upkeep and keep track of. 
The more stuff you have, the more of you it requires.
Be selective of what you want to spend your money and time on.
Keep it simple!

Check in with us next Monday for the next installment!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Why I Lose My Mind...or live with teenage girls.

Do y'all know who this is?
Then you either don't have a pre-teen or teen daughter.
Or yours are normal.
Not so much. 
The fact I now know that Harry Styles dated a 32 yo woman, Liam was on X Factor before and that Louis loves suspenders really concerns me.
You understand the gibbering goes on for hours in the day. Hours. 
I apparently no longer have daughters, I have Directioners. Seriously.
While I joke that it drives me insane, inside I am smiling.
Check out this blurry old picture.
1985 + Me + Duran Duran = Enough said.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

We have a winner! :)

Thank you all who entered our giveaway for the Kitchen Unpaper Starter Pack! 
We 8 entries and I numbered you accordingly as you posted. First 1 and last 8.
I used and it picked a winner!
And who is #2? Let's take a look....

Yeah Kimberly! Contact me with your addy and I will get your pack on the way to you! :)
If you didn't win, don't fret. We have more of these sets and we will be doing more giveaways soon for more packs. Just keep checking back to see when to enter. 
Thanks everyone!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

*CLOSED* Ditching the Disposable Giveaway

Since I first wrote about becoming paper free, I have encountered many people 
on my blog, on our Facebook page and anywhere on the Internet where 
I might discuss this that express they too would like to be paper free in their homes. 
They see the benefit not only to our natural resources but it is a time and money saver. But the common thing after they express is to me is, "But I don't know where to start."
Friends, it is overwhelming. So much paper, so much waste. Such a disposable society.
When I started to try to answer these question it became apparent that 
I too had struggled with this in the beginning. 
What cloth should I use for each task? Did I need a lot of cloths? Do I go cold turkey?
It took many months if not a year of trial and error to get where I am. 
My goal is to help ease your struggle in your process should you also 
want to be a paper free home. 
After pondering these questions I decided to make and give away a 
Starter Kitchen Unpaper Pack, here is what the pack consists of :
2 Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
4 All Purpose Cleaning Cloths
2 Un~paper Towels
4 Dinner Napkins
How do you enter?
Leave a comment on this post.
Easy peasy.
No pushes to join us on other social media.
No requirement for you to promote this giveaway elsewhere.
No standing on your head while reciting a 15 sentence poem on why you love my blog.
Just comment. :) 
Also, if your outside the US...go right ahead and enter.
Everyone is entitled to leave the disposable culture behind.
Even people in Hong Kong. :)
Only restriction is one entry per family. Let's keep it fair.
You have until September 16th, 2012 9 am EST to get your comment in & be entered.
One random winning will be drawn and announced by 5pm that day. 
So, what are you waiting for? This is easy and simple.
I want to make it simple because it should be.
And because I truly want to remove the confusion around taking this step.
So, go ahead, enter.
I thank you.
And the trees  & earth thank you. :)

Friday, August 31, 2012

It Takes More Than A Textbook.

 I home school the 3 youngest ones in our family. 
The oldest is nearly 21 and completed his education in a public school setting.
I often get questions on how we home school them. 
If you are a homeschooler then chances are you are in a homeschooling group. 
You will recognize the typical conversation that goes on when the group gets together. 
It goes something like this...
"Have you tried Time for Learning? Charlotte Mason? 
We are doing Saxon for Math, Abeka for science, lapbooks for history and Classical Conversations for language arts....blah blah blah blah"
Curriculum. Or more to the point, curriculum choices. Homeschool parents who seem to agonize over every single choice as if their entire life depends on which book they pop open for science. I'm not sure who decided to make this a complicated mess. But it is.
Often I will get the same questions from fellow homeschoolers or from 
people new to the concept of homeschooling.  
'What do you use to teach the child with?'
My answer, "Not a whole lot."
Which is mostly true. I am a hands on learner, I do the same for my children. We learn by experiencing life and applying real life as educational application. 
When the children do do traditional work, I use Switched On Schoolhouse.
Simply because it is all encompassing. I don't have 50 books to keep up with, I don't have to check 3 different children's worksheets or reports. I simply log in my computer and see how they are progressing. But the number one reason I use SOS is because it is child led. Which is why we homeschooled to begin with. Let them learn at their own pace is my motto. With SOS when the child seems to be breezing through the work with not much effort, we move them up. That's right. I stop them in their progress and plop them into a new one. I can hear the cries of teachers and traditional homeschoolers now, "Whhhhhatt? They might missing out on some important fundamental tool!"
But I believe in immersion. I have seen it work with my children and I believe in it.
I have seen a child tell me they do not know the first thing about dividing and 3 hours later dividing 3 digit whole numbers. Immersion people, don't discount it. 
Furthermore my goal is to keep learning a challenge. If the work is easy and not challenging, my children will lose their interest. I have also been know to toss SOS aside for awhile when they have expressed interest as a group in a subject, experiment or idea. We will immerse ourselves in that for a few days or even weeks. 
When my children saw an documentary about farming one year, 
we abandoned our typical school work and immersed ourselves in that topic. 
From viewing movies, to hands on experience to reading about it. 
We let the child's interest lead them in what they learn for the most part. 
So, that will probably rule out the next question of testing. I don't believe testing is the way to gauge a child's intelligence. It just happens to be what they remember on that given day, under pressure and if the questions are worded in a way that will get them to respond. That is not a true measure of their knowledge and intelligence. I believe when I see them using the education freely without thought in a real life setting, they have learned it. There is no paper test that can accurately judge a child's intellect. 
If your searching for a Christian curriculum that can be used as a child led I would strongly suggest that you check in Switched On Schoolhouse. And no, this isn't a sponsored post. Switched On Schoolhouse isn't sending me free stuff for endorsing them. 
This is just me, a homeschool Mom talking about how I educate my children. 
Drop a comment if you home school, if you public school or private school and tell me how you make sure your child is not just educated but challenged to learn. :)