Category Archives: Everything Else

The Nightmare before Christmas

I have a “nightmare” that repeats around Christmas every year. Usually in early December I have a dream that it is somehow January and I have missed Christmas altogether. This is something I have legitimately dreamed multiple times during the holidays. I wake up feeling so sad, and then relieved, kind of like Scrooge in a Christmas Carol, realizing that I still have time to make the holidays count. This year I haven’t dreamed the dream. Maybe because I am working towards a more meaningful holiday? I am pretty sure it’s totally random but it is kind of funny to me that my first “minimalist Christmas” I have yet to have this “bad dream”. I want to be able to enjoy and participate in Christmas without my to-do and to-buy lists sucking up all my time. So far, so good. But on the other hand, I have yet to purchase a single Christmas present this year, which means there is definitely panic in my future.

 

 

What’s in my Amazon Cart and mini-victories

I just churned out three posts for BargainBabe but I still can’t neglect my sweet spot here. I just have a few things to share but let me first say that a couple weeks ago I read The More of Less by Joshua Becker and it is incredibly positive and inspiring. (If you read Marie Kondo and thought that woman was spookily animistic, depressing and kind of in need of psychiatric help, you need to read this.) I just can’t say enough good things. I connected so much to this version of minimalism, with a greater purpose in mind.

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It’s only $1.99 on Kindle (back to $11.99, so sorry but still totally recommendable) so now is the moment! What’s more minimal than a digital copy, anyway? I still think the book is worth reading at $11.99 but I would probably suggest the library instead unless you are dying to spend the money. I will be watching for more deals on this!

Have we talked about capsule wardrobes? Sometimes I get confused about which blog I posted what in, but in case we haven’t touched on this, Courtney Carver does a fantastic job of explaining this with Project 333. I was fascinated to learn that Courtney delved into her first wardrobe challenge as she was re-vamping her entire lifestyle. Her ultimate goal was to cut the stress out of her life in order to help treat a chronic illness. I thought this was so interesting, as many of the articles you read on capsule wardrobes seem to be fixated on hunting down the perfect items to satisfy an arbitrary scavenger hunt of “necessary” pieces. I love that her perspective was so different and practical. Finding the perfect wool pencil skirt is not part of this equation. Making your closet a functional, simple and stress-free part of your life is.

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I’m not ready to go to a true capsule wardrobe, because I really don’t want to perform a complete purge and also frankly right now I am not at my ideal weight or shape. But I am looking at making purchases with much more precision and thought. Towards that end, I’m very interested in a brand I recently noticed on Amazon because the pieces are exactly in line with my style, very inexpensive, and also made in America! I feel like it is probably too good to be true, so if anyone has any feedback on this please fill me in. The brand is FRUMOS; please let me know what you think!

I do have a few minimalist victories to share for this week. Because our progress hasn’t been incredibly speedy, I sometimes forget that things are becoming steadily better. Packing for an out of town trip, reminds me that YES we are getting there. This was our easiest car trip, even down to leaving the house completely picked up and ready to return to. Small victory, yes, but I am grateful. Thanksgiving was delightful.

I used to go shopping all the time. Multiple times a week. Sometimes every day. Things are different now and last weekend I had a list of returns and ISO items that needed to be fulfilled (actually needed, like allergy covers for the girls’ beds after a recent diagnostic test and shoes for my rapidly growing 10 year olds.) We went shopping as a family and I was able to find the needed items and purchase them with store credit. It was so nice to be able to focus and not be distracted by a gnawing urge to consume aimlessly. We found all the needed items and didn’t bring home a single thing that wasn’t on our list. A different sense of satisfaction than the brief thrill of bargain hunting, but it felt good.

I used to have a big, stocked gift closet with items for almost any occasion, but I have been minimizing it as steadily as possible. This week I was able to use several of the items as gifts and I think they are really going to be used and enjoyed by the recipients. As more items are disappearing from my once plentiful stock, I feel lighter and gain a closet back!

Also, a brief mention of Black Friday: we went out for the morning because my hubby and I had the opportunity to spend a little time together sans kids. (Rare, oh so rare). We had a nice romantic breakfast at Waffle House (because coffee and waffles without kids is poetry to my heart) and shopped a few stores. We found nothing of particular interest and I felt a strangely pleasant casual detachment from the entire process. Although we enjoyed talking and planning a bit for the holidays as we walked around and having fun with each other without having to answer 21 questions from the four year old, there was no NEED to spend.

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One last thing in my Amazon cart: I am super intrigued by the Spire, a new-ish fitness monitor that claims to improve your breathing and anxiety. Anyone have experience with this? I’m pretty tempted to try it. If it was wrist worn, I wouldn’t hesitate, but I’m concerned it might be problematic for me to wear. Any feedback?

Well, that’s all for now. This is the kind of post that I throw together after being away from the blog for too long, so I apologize for the random collection of thoughts. I hope your Thanksgiving Weekend is peaceful and sweet!

November days

Hello, Daylight Savings Sunday and Writer’s Block.

There is plenty to say, but I’m kind of tired of trying to say it. I’m numbed with anxiety over the election. Praying for health for my family. Feeling like the “stuff” is a mountain I can’t conquer. Realizing I’m behind on things I’ve barely even acknowledged are on my to-do list. Feeling disconnected from my friends. Missing my brother who is getting married this week far away from me.

Isaiah 54:10
“‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, still my love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed’, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”

God is in control. He always will be. He holds our country in His hand. He knows the outcome, He knows the needs, He knows the questions and the answers.  He is good all the time.

Step 3: Attack Problems

This is Step 3 of the Simplify Your Life Challenge! This is a general outline of the steps I am taking with my family to simplify our life and become more minimalist. If you haven’t seen them, please click through to Step 1 and Step 2 for more details!

Step 3: Attack Problems

This is where the rubber meets the road, guys. Prepare yourself, because this step is crucial and you can’t back down. This is the time to really recognize the “issues” your family struggles with and be totally honest with yourself. This is the step that will mainly focus on attitudes and how we approach parenting, and less on physical action. (Which means it could be the most difficult step of all). Keep reading, this is an important part of simplifying your life!

To attack the problems, you first need to recognize (or admit!) what they are. I made a list of some of our “problems” that I wanted desperately to address. I tried to stick to broad, overlying issues that were affecting our family’s “big picture”. This isn’t a time to list every petty complaint you have about your spouse or children, but a time to think about what small changes could make a monumental difference in the atmosphere of your home.

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Attitude & Chores:

I’m so sure that we are the only family ever to struggle with children who don’t want to do chores, right? That’s not a common issue at all! (heavy sarcasm) I was frustrated because there was constant competition between the twins with sharing the workload and almost complete belligerence from my four year old son when it came to simple tasks.
(Like, “Go wash your hands”. “No”.  Seriously? You’ve had to do this multiple times a day your whole life. You really want to fight this?! )
I knew we needed a smooth and full proof system, so I started asking friends and working on solutions.

Attitude & School:

How shocking that the second category was also related to attitude! (Perhaps, next I need to tackle the personal problem of excessive sarcasm). My older girls have the complex challenge of being identical twin girls who are also sharing the first-born role and descended from two high-stress strong (stubborn?) personality parents. Don’t you just feel like weeping for them? Seriously, I am fully convinced that my three children are going to do truly great things one day, but for now, where is the balance between loving them where they are and addressing pride issues that arise from chronic perfectionism? This has been one of the main difficulties with homeschooling and one I am fairly certain will persist in challenging me.

Attitude of Entitlement

Noticing a trend? I must begin by saying that this a family issue (well, I won’t blame my husband but I do fully implicate myself) not just something the kids deal with. Despite our very blessed life, we are all finding it difficult to have gratitude and temper our entitled expectations. I’m pretty sure this is also a universal issue among humans (and particularly Americans) but does that mean we should just accept it?

 

I will probably create more detailed posts about what we have done to improve the three areas above, but for now I will just promise you that the more you simplify your life, routines and living space, the easier it will be to actually deal with problems.

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I want to treat parenting like my life’s mission field, which means taking this job seriously and not allowing the mundane tasks of unloading the dishwasher and washing the clothes to take the place of the true battlefield that is parenting. This is about so much more than cooking and cleaning and carpools! This is about shaping the next generation and responding to God’s call on my life to glorify Him as a mom. For me, all the stuff has kept me from my calling….and I refuse to allow that to happen any more. I don’t think that minimalism is the cure to every ailment, but in my life it is making a profound difference.

Before I started down the minimalism path I felt so overwhelmed all the time that discipline issues came down to the quickest possible end to whatever was currently disturbing the peace. I had trouble actually addressing the root of problems. The more I simplify, the easier it is to focus on the big issues. We’re a work in progress, for sure, but at last I finally feel like the progress is moving forward!

I encourage you to ask yourself, what is preventing you from fulfilling your calling? What is keeping you from the greater good? Is it stuff, or commitments, or money, or work, or debt? Is it selfishness, jealousy, or pride?

 

Minimalism Journey Ramblings

When I re-branded my blog a few months ago, I wasn’t 100% sure where my posts would take me. I knew that I wanted to write and that I loved connecting with others through blogging. I was determined that this blog wouldn’t fade into the past (like so many have before), and that I would stick with this project. I painstakingly chose the title “Chasing Santee” after a place that is incredibly dear to my heart. I wrote the tagline “sweet and simple things of life” because I knew that’s where my heart was and where I hoped to take the blog. At that moment, though, I had no idea how I would get there or where Chasing Santee would lead.

At the time, I felt like my “niche” was shopping and finding deals. It had been such a big part of my life and a hobby I had enjoyed for a very long time. It was something I was good at, which I sometimes admitted sheepishly. I didn’t really love the fact that my talent was tied so closely to material things, and really didn’t line up with my personal values.  Even though it didn’t perfectly mesh with the “simple things”, I kept sharing the deals as I hunted them down. This was what my audience wanted, I assumed. This was what I enjoyed?

In an unanticipated metamorphosis I could hardly follow, I began to realize my perspective was changing. Slowly, at first, then much more akin to a rock slide, I began to reject some of the ideas I had been repeating to myself for years. “That purchase will make my life easier”. “This system will improve our day to day struggles”. “If only I had __________ I could better enjoy ____________.” I started to feel like I was finally waking up from a hazy dream where I just wasn’t seeing clearly. One minute I was stressed, overwhelmed and defeated. The next minute I was committed to becoming a minimalist.I was optimistic and confident. I can hardly imagine a more unexpected change.

When I started the Simplicity Challenge, I really wanted to call it the minimalism challenge. But I felt like that was too drastic, too extreme, and that maybe my readers would doubt my sincerity.  I was afraid to commit, knowing once I typed it in cold hard Helvetica 12, I wouldn’t be able to go back.  It felt like a decision too big for me, almost like moving my entire family across the country. Were we ready for this?

To say my mindset was transformed does not seem like an over-statement. I want to be authentic as a writer, so I truly try to live out my thoughts of changes of direction before writing. So you can know that I have been pondering this for awhile. Is it too much to say that God led me in this direction? Is it off-base to feel that by changing in this way I am closer to the heart of Scripture?

I know that only time will tell or prove that I have experienced a true change of heart. I am in no way preaching, or even suggesting this is the right change for anyone but myself. However, I am stunned at the weight that I have felt lifted in the last month. I never imagined a shift in perspective would change me so much.

If I were a really good blogger, I would have been taking before & after pics and vlogging every day and making tons of posts from each step of this process to help encourage everyone and motivate myself. But the truth is, I’m slamming through this process so quickly the thrift store can hardly keep up with me. I haven’t taken before pictures and I am not ready to post after pictures. I haven’t really made it to the point where I am able to give advice (but I will try anyway). I’m moving so quickly that I am a little dizzy.

My ultimate goal is to get our home to the point that I can photograph every nook and cranny of it. That I can know what we have and where we have it. That I can know the things we have kept are being used or bringing joy to us. That our possessions are actually getting us closer to our goals as a family. That we aren’t being hindered or held back by upkeep and cleaning. I want to be able to open my home at the drop of a hat and not feel that my stuff is in the way of people. Yes, in the past my stuff has been in the way of me fully loving my family and my friends and expressing the love of God to strangers.

Let me repeat this: In the past: jump ropes, crumb-filled toasters, building blocks, dog-eared books, tangles of costume jewelry, scratched CDs, dusty vases, stacks of photos, piles of unworn clothes, all of these THINGS have interfered with my opportunities to LOVE PEOPLE. And my heart is really broken about this.

To be continued

Review: Enso Silicone Rings

Not too long ago, I posted about my difficulty with jewelry and how much I missed wearing my wedding ring. I found a few options that I was interested in trying and Enso Rings was at the top of my list because of their unique designs and beautiful color options. I had high hopes that my sensitive skin might finally be able to tolerate jewelry if I found just the right alternative.

If you purchase items from these links, you’ll help me keep my blog running, plus you’ll give me a chance to do a happy affiliate marketing dance in my kitchen. THANK you for making that dance possible!

And I couldn’t resist this beautiful Stackable series!! (These beauties are $11.99 each or even cheaper if you buy a bundle!)

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When I contacted Enso Rings, they were very responsive (and super nice) and offered to send me a few rings to try out in exchange for my (always 100% honest) review. My shipment arrived very quickly (even for impatient me) and since then I have had two weeks to wear and use my rings.

Spoiler alert: I love them, even more than I imagined I would.

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After all, Enso Rings are “rings for active lifestyles” and who is more active than a homeschooling mom of three? (this is a rhetorical question, obviously lots of people are more active; what I mean is: who has to wash their hands more than a homeschooling mom of three? See? I gotcha there.)

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I want to tell you all the times I have worn my new Enso Rings and been 100% comfortable (even to the point of forgetting I am wearing them): when I washed the dishes, when I washed my hands a million times a day (and that’s every day), when I drove out of town (yes, I would take my wedding band off when driving. It just wasn’t comfortable!), when I pushed a heavy shopping cart all over Costco, when I pushed my son on the swings, when I changed diapers at church, when I played basketball with my kiddos, when I washed all the clothes, when I painted with the 3K class, when I helped my husband with yardwork, when I carried a concrete birdbath (don’t ask!), when I typed a zillion words for my blog, when I lifted weights at the gym (just kidding, I didn’t go to the gym. But if I had, I know these rings would have made it through with no trouble!)

Click here to check out the brand new metallics collection from Enso, it is breathtaking! These are definitely on my wish list!

Finally, I have really put these rings to the test these last couple of weeks as I have been hard-core de-cluttering and cleaning every day as part of my Simplicity Challenge!

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My Enso Rings are so super comfortable and pretty! At this phase of my life, when I am very deliberately shedding the things that caused my stress, these tiny lightweight little rings are like a symbol reminding me of my choice for simplicity and ease. I am so happy to put them on each morning (or even sleep with them since they are so crazy comfy!)! Thank you Enso Rings, for making my life more simple!

To check out the entire Enso Collection, click here!

 

A season of change: minimalism/simplicity thoughts & resources

Happy Labor Day  to you all!

I am still struggling to spend the time blogging that I’d like to, but I have been taking a brief time out to read, watch and think about simplicity/minimalism and what changes we want to make towards that end. I’m feeling super conspired (yep: convicted + inspired = conspired).

The last month has probably been our smoothest month of chores and household duties ever. The house has stayed neater and the girls have really done a great job stepping up with our new chore system (blog post to come). It’s been a lot of ground work (planning, list-making, reminders, etc) but we have been enjoying the benefits. Also, this has been our smoothest school transition ever and we have fallen into homework assignments, schedules and new curriculum with much more ease than in years past. (There have been a few tears, but MUCH less turmoil than anticipated. We are still human, and three of us are female).

In addition to that, we have joined a family group with our church that has been a true answer to prayer (especially for me). The truth is, parenting really put us in survival mode….a decade ago. I believe that’s a normal family phase but for various reasons we are just now pulling out of it. You heard me: ten years later. I could go on about this, but by God’s grace I do not live in the past. I am right now so grateful that God has helped us find the resources we needed to plug back in to the body of Christ, and it has been incredibly refreshing. We are also going through a wonderful series at church that I am honestly on the edge of my seat listening to; I mean, can’t wait to get to church, taking furious notes, thinking about it all week kind of sucked in. Like, praying to God to help me soak it all in kind of good stuff. I feel like I have been thirsty for way too long. I’m so so grateful!

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Finally, I feel like I am ready to work harder at being the best mom and wife I can be (rather than just managing to survive the rat-race of life). It’s very overwhelming, but I also know it’s the right thing! (note to self: the right thing doesn’t mean the easy thing). Deep breaths, this won’t be easy.

I have danced with the idea of minimalism for years. It appealed to me for it’s educational benefits, it’s mental benefits, it’s hygienic benefits; but I’m just starting to seek what the spiritual benefits could be for us. And I don’t mean becoming a yogi with a candle in the middle of a stark-white room, seeking enlightenment.

What I mean is, could shedding excess STUFF in my life equip me to better seek and serve God with all of my heart???? For me the answer is  undeniable, obvious, and crystal clear:

Yes.

I know that many of you are on the same page. If you are interested in this idea of having LESS for God, here are some of the resources I have been studying over the last few weeks.

Please read this article, it is so very thought provoking for me. (How Getting Rid of Stuff Saved my Motherhood by Allie Casazza). This isn’t a faith-based article, but as a Christian mama I’m still mega conspired by this. (Note: I do realize I am mis-using this word, but I would like to point out that my definition is much better than the common use, so I will continue).

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. To my memory this is also a secular book, but very inspirational and something I constantly reference mentally. I need to read it again in light of a new phase of parenting tweens.

Christian Faith & Minimalism from Nourishing Minimalism. Short and too the point. This article helps us ask ourselves, “what if?”

I have recently joined a minimalist/motherhood facebook group and I am loving the food for thought that is constantly tossed around. I was completely captivated by one mama’s statement about what minimalism had done for her family. Her statement was very simple, but so impactful to me: (paraphrasing) “minimalism allowed our family to adopt.” Period.

I don’t know what my family’s whole story will be. I don’t know if we will live all our days in this tiny house. I don’t know if we will continue to homeschool. At this time, it seems our family is complete and will not include any more children. Nothing is set it stone, we do not know what the future holds. BUT I know that God is not finished with us. I know that we have more glory to bring to Him yet. I know that we have more to give. I know that we have more worship, more love, and more to learn of His amazing grace. 

If having less stuff enables me to give MORE, then what is stopping me?

What if God wants LESS from me?

I would love to hear from you on this topic.

What’s in my Amazon Cart?

Let’s talk about alternative rings for those sensitive to metals or who work with their hands.

(Like other posts, this contains affiliate links for your reference)

I’m taking a little break from my simplicity series because some of those are taking a lot of work! (I mean actually doing the work of simplifying not writing the posts themselves). So without abandoning my vow of minimalism, I wanted to talk about some of the things I’m “shopping” right now.
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I’ve had issues with skin sensitivity since I was a baby, but ever since I had my ears pierced as a teen the problems got worse. I have tried hypoallergenic jewelry, medical grade metals, and Simply Whispers brand earrings (guaranteed not to irritate). None of those did the trick for my problematic skin, and the area would get itchy, swollen and inflamed. I finally came to the conclusion that I just couldn’t wear earrings at all and that I can only tolerate a wedding ring for short amounts of time.

When I did wear my ring, I was nervous and worried I would misplace it, snag it on something, or that the stone would fall out (sadly, this happened to me about 8 years ago on Christmas Eve..I still have flashbacks!). I wash my hands a gazillion times a day and take my ring off and leave it places….like the kitchen drainer or my parents’ house. I work part time at a school where there is paint, recess, and play dough gets squished into everything! Honestly, my lifestyle is really not compatible with my beautiful wedding set. So I basically stopped wearing it, and I felt kind of sad about that.

Alternative rings aren’t just for those with sensitive skin, they are also safer for anyone working with their hands and are great for traveling or sports.

I don’t think I need a ring to show that I am “taken”. (I’m pretty sure walking around with my entire family 99% of the time makes it pretty obvious I’m not “on the market”). But I do miss having that symbol because looking at my ring always made me smile a little. Just feeling that ring on was always a reminder of the blessing of marriage.

So I decided I wanted to find a silicone alternative. Here are some of the brands I am considering:

Accmor Three Piece Silicone Ring Set. Ridiculously cheap, and I like the thin silhouette of these. Only $7.99 for all three!

Rinfit Three Piece Silicone Ring Set. These are a little chunkier, but I really love the etched design. Only $14.97 for set of three!

AvectToi Three Ring Pack. I like the ridged design, but these look a bit thicker than some of the others. Only $12.99 for three!

ThunderFit Women’s Silicone Ring. Very simple single silicone ring with six color choices. $8 each!

Enso Stackable Rings: These are the thinnest silicone rings I could find and the design is very feminine. I’m not sure if stacking them could be an issue for me with keeping them dry but even one might look nice for only $11.99 each!

Anyone have a silicone ring? Please let me know if you have one to recommend!

 

Step 2: Assess Needs

Welcome to Step 2 of the Simplify Your Life Challenge! If you haven’t followed these posts, you can find the Introduction here and click here for Step 1. Step 1 was a long post and an even longer assignment. Eliminating excess is usually a huge undertaking. So moving on to Step 2 doesn’t mean we stop working on Step 1! Keep eliminating excess and simplifying your life one donation at a time!

Step 2 Assess Needs

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What are your family’s true needs? In discussing simplicity and organizing, someone made a comment on Facebook along the lines of this: “First, deal with the basic needs of your family: make sure sleeping, eating, bathing and laundry are covered”. I took that comment to heart and went back to the basics and the actual necessities of life. What do you need to address your family’s needs?

For instance, we were storing the dog food in the bag, rolled up with a plastic clip. It was messy and took extra time. I went right out and bought a large storage container that pours. Why didn’t I do that long ago? Mostly because my life was too chaotic to focus on areas of improvement. Once I began to eliminate the excess I could focus better on solving household problems and addressing true needs.

More examples that I discovered of “needs” in my home:

Coffee. I make coffee every single day, sometimes twice a day. It’s an absolute necessity, yet I had made the process ridiculously complicated through poor planning. My coffee pot was on the far right of my counter. About 6 feet over, my coffee filters were in an upper left cabinet. On the total other side of the room, my coffee was stored in my (child-locked) pantry. I wasted time and steps every single day making coffee and never even thought about it. There was so much excess in my home that I couldn’t even identify the problem areas right in front of me! I solved the issue  by putting all the coffee items together beneath the coffee maker. DUH. Now every morning I appreciate the lack of total stupidity that was previously ruining a good thing.

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Bathing. Bathing wasn’t exactly a problem area, but I realized it needed some attention. I hadn’t evaluated our basic hygiene routine in awhile so I pulled up good ole’ EWG/skin deep. I admit I had been procrastinating this step because I knew some of our products weren’t going to rate well and I was right. No more Suave blissfully cheap coconut conditioner, and no more using whatever cheap soap is around. We have officially switched to Babyganics line of bath products, which tends to rate low (which is good) at EWG. (I can personally recommend the bubble bath, shampoo/body wash, hand sanitizer, and lotion). For conditioner, I needed a product that was relatively inexpensive (we go through a lot), and relatively healthy. For now we are trying RenPure Originals (which is free of sodium chloride, sulfates, dyes, parabans, salts and gluten). It is rated 3 on EWG, which isn’t terrible and that’s good enough for me since it satisfied my other big wish: a PUMP bottle. Now we have all the products we need and have discarded all the products we aren’t using. The kids can help themselves with the pumps and the bathroom is de-cluttered. I also have to re-recommend color-coded towels which is such a big sanity saver! Each child has a color, all towels stay on their hooks until I grab them 1-2 per week to wash.

Some questions to ask yourself as you work on Simplicity at each step:

What items should be eliminated all together?

What items need to be moved to another room?

What do I like/dislike about this room and living/working in it?

What items are stored elsewhere but are needed here?

If I was walking into this room for the first time, what would I think?

Step 1: Eliminate Excess

If you missed the introduction to the Simplify Your Life Challenge, please check it out here. To make a long story short, I am simplifying to help manage my stress and household, so that I can focus on what really matters to me. I have a lot going on and I need the absolute best way to help my family succeed at life!

Simplicity to me means not just successfully surviving but thriving!

You can join the challenge by subscribing to my blog to keep up with each step. At the end of each step we will have a challenge and I would love it if you would join me and post your own progress! (Bonus points for any pictures you can take of your simplification status!) Now on to Step 1 and it probably won’t surprise you:

Step 1: Eliminate excess

 In 2012 I did a challenge with some friends to get rid of 2012 items that year. It was such an eye opener as I realized just how much excess our 1400 square foot home had. That was when I really began to acknowledge my issues with shopping and how the “stuff” was stifling us. What I learned that year really helped me to have confidence in getting rid of stuff this time around.

In a similar way this summer I have been going through every single room and purging, purging, purging. Ruthlessly selling, trashing, re-homing. I’m taking a hard look at items, making sure they are serving enough of a purpose to earn their keep. If not, out they go. For example,  in my living room, I had 10 throw pillows. TEN! On only two sofas .The truth was, every day was frustrating because they ended up on the floor. There wasn’t room for PEOPLE on the sofa! How many do we need? Not ten!

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The key here is purpose. I have lots of items that are useful (as in they can be used with success) but if they’ve been collecting dust on a shelf or packed away in a closet they do not have a purpose. Think of all the “gadgets” in your kitchen. Which ones are you actually putting to good use? Sometimes this means getting rid of perfectly good, useful items when you realize that the space and clarity they leave behind is more valuable than the footprint they occupy and the chaos they  collectively contribute.

I feel obligated to mention the wildly popular book by Marie Kondo: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I have read it, and I do recommend it for gaining perspective on clutter and minimalism. At the same time, I feel that her method introduces the risk of an extreme and almost compulsive distaste for possessions. I’m also somewhat uncomfortable with the animism that she endorses.

While helpful, her tag phrase: “Does it spark joy?” has encouraged many hilarious memes of housewives discarding their credit card bills and sweeping their homes of all vegetables or dirty laundry. After all, can everything really spark joy?

Well, what if everything around you truly did spark joy or contribute to a joyful existence? How would that change your life?

(Here is a post on whether or not Konmari really makes sense for families. I found the comments really helpful also)

If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend the book Simplicity Parenting. I read it when I first started my parenting journey and I still think about it years later. It so beautifully explains how less is more in the eyes of children and how we can raise them with the gift of simplicity.

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This has by far been my most ruthless and therefore productive purging round, and I have to tell you that I am really happy with the results. If you are overwhelmed with where to start, I suggest  either A) attacking room by room or B) attacking category by category.

Uncertain?
If you want to get rid of items but are worried about needing them later, packing them into storage or the attic might be a good idea. Oftentimes it will be clear when you retrieve them a few months later whether or not they bring value to your home.

Donate
My advice is to find a charity or cause that you really care about and if possible, donate your items to that cause. It’s easier for me to let go of items knowing they are going where they are truly needed. An alternative is to host a yard sale and donate the proceeds to your charity of choice. Sometimes a “higher purpose” is all you need to encourage yourself to purge.

Persevere
Remind yourself that this first step, though overwhelming, will allow every subsequent step to go more smoothly. This could be an EPIC Weekend project or an ongoing, daily effort but either way keep your eye on the prize. Enlist help, get the kids involved, and don’t give up!

Resources:

Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

10 Tips for De-cluttering by Peter Walsh (quick read with great tips for beginners!)

How to Declutter your Entire Home Going Room by Room by Elizabeth Larkin (awesome resource with clickable guides to help focus on results!)

Eliminate Excess Challenge:

Choose one room and commit to really eliminating all the excess from it. Look around and imagine how this room would look if it was void of any items that don’t spark joy or add value. Grab some boxes and bags and get to work!

Be sure to check out the other posts in this series:

Simplify Your Life Challenge

 

Simplify Your Life Challenge

As I approach Fall 2016 with the goal of “Simplicity”, I’m not going to lie: I’m scared. I know that I’m getting in over my head. Homeschooling is a huge responsibility and parenting doesn’t get any easier as the kids get older. So this year requires quite a bit of prayer, committing my efforts to the Lord, and surrendering the outcome. I am reminded that these children aren’t mine, they belong to our Heavenly Father! I’m very grateful for friends who have helped me to see this truth more clearly with their faithful, open-handed approach to parenthood.

(I am so, so slow at learning this truth: yes, He entrusted them to me, but they are HIS treasures, not mine).

In light of the “Fall Fear Factor”, I am working every single day at improving our routine and getting things set up for the School Year. The girls will be in 4th grade (I can hardly believe it), I’m writing on a daily basis, I will be working two days a week, my youngest demands constant attention and money is tight so we can’t afford to pay for convenience. I am also trying to work on diet and exercise for myself and cutting WAY down on shopping as a “hobby”. Here’s a post for BargainBabe that talks about my shift from Shopaholic to more of a minimalist (these are baby steps, for sure).

I’m tired of being pushed around by my responsibilities. I’m ready to push back.

Through this process, I’m seeking a more harmonious schedule that works for us, rather than the schedule working me to death (or just leaving me incredibly defeated).

I have gone through each room carefully and thoughtfully with the long-term goal in mind of cutting down on chaos and complications and smoothing out the day to day. I want to share with you some of my ideas and some resources that I found helpful.

simplicity

I want to mention right from the get-go that I am not an expert on organization, simplicity, home management, or discipline. Quite the opposite: these are areas that I really struggle with. Because these are weak points for me, I am working hard to improve them. In the past, I have realized blogging about my goals has really helped me to stick with the plan. So the “Simplify Your Life Challenge” is mostly for me as I work on improving our daily routine and seek simplicity! I hope some of you will be inspired to do the same, or at least encouraged that you are not alone if you struggle with this! In the next few posts, I’ll be getting down to the nitty-gritty of simplifying and challenging myself to commit.

Please SUBSCRIBE to my blog (top right corner) to join this challenge and get all of the Simplify Challenge emails right in your inbox!

Resources:

This is one of my favorite books about parenting and just life pursuits in general! It’s one that has really stuck with me nearly a decade after first reading it. Wherever you are in your parenting journey, I think you could benefit from reading Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and Lisa M. Ross

My Pinterest Board! If you would like to be added as a contributor to this board, please email me at leahprescott@gmail.com. I’d love your feedback on Simplicity and what your goals are as well!

 

 

EASY Hard Boiled Eggs in the Instant Pot

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience.

Did you know that you can make hardboiled eggs in the instant pot? No watching the stove and the finished product leaves you with eggs that peel so easily! My kids love hardboiled eggs, deviled eggs and even egg salad but I never found a cooking method I liked. I tried everything to make them easy to peel (add vinegar to the water, adjust cook times, time the cold water bath) and even started baking them in muffin tins in the oven but making them in the instant pot is by far my favorite method of all!hardboiled.eggs.instant.pot.2

All I do is add 1.5 cups of water to the inner pot, then put in a steamer basket or the steam rack and pile up the eggs. Seriously, just add as many as you want. I usually cook about 15. hardboiledeggsinstantpot

Set the manual setting for 5 or 6 minutes (personal preference). After they have cooked, give it another 6 minutes before you do a quick pressure release. Then add some cold water to the inner pot along with a bunch of ice and just stick it in the fridge to cool completely. You will LOVE peeling these eggs!

perfect.eggs.instant.pot.3