Week 2’s assignment was to tackle my closet and dressers. As we moved boxes and filled the closet during our recent move, I noticed how few of my clothes I actually wear. In fact, I have been storing a full-size tote of “maybe someday these will fit me again” clothes. Some of those clothes pre-date my daughter. Seriously? Time to give them up.
I went through each piece of clothing and pair of shoes I own. I asked myself three questions about each:
Does it fit?
Is it comfortable?
Do I love it?
If the answer was yes to at least two of those questions, I allowed myself to keep the article of clothing. Everything else was boxed up and carted to Goodwill.
Here is the dead weight that I cleared out:
4 pairs dress pants
4 pairs of jeans
3 pairs of shorts
7 dress shirts
2 pairs of shoes
1 hideous snuggie
1 winter coat
an assortment of workout clothes, swimwear, and mismatched socks that I tossed
Let me tell you, it feels amazing to let go of the things I dislike, don’t look good in, or that make me feel bad because they no longer fit!
Paring Down the Kitchen – How many strainers does one woman need? As I unpacked the rest of the kitchen boxes, I discovered that I had 5 – count them, 5 – strainers. I tossed two of them into the Goodwill box and kept a large, a medium, and a small one. I added a host of other kitchen surplus items to the box: 3 white plates, a collection of mismatched cups, weird and useless kitchen gadgets, tablecloths and linens from two color schemes ago, dishes that lost their lids, and 2 extra cutting boards. One overflowing box ready to be donated, and I haven’t even made it out of the kitchen yet.
Keeping Paper Out of the House – I bit the bullet this week and enrolled in auto pay for several monthly bills so that I could cancel paper statements. As a bonus, the auto pay also saves me some valuable time that would otherwise be spent scheduling bills.
Even with a few setbacks, last month’s no spend challenge was a huge success. We not only saved money, we also enjoyed newfound time and less stress. Given those results, I figured, why stop at January?
To keep the spirit going, I’ve decided to designate a different challenge each month. Since I’m still buried under mountains of boxes, wondering how on earth we accumulated this much junk, a decluttering challenge seems to be in order.
Here are the decluttering areas I’m going to tackle in February:
Things – I’m plotting giant hauls to the local Goodwill. Even more free Craigslist postings.
Paper – While technically a thing, I’m devoting a whole, separate category to paper because it’s taking over my life. Old bills I’ve filed. Old student papers from teaching days long gone. Scribbles from toddlers. Cue “Let It Go” music because it’s so out of here.
Money Drains – Now that I’ve had a month to reset mindless spending, I’m turning my attention to plugging holes and eliminating budget leaks.
Time – Do you ever feel like all of these little time sucks add up to entire lost days and weekends? I’m on a quest to find the mundane time wasters that are taking away from the things I actually value. Purge, baby, purge.
Here are the things I’m currently loving as well as my most recent big, fat epic fails.
Newfound Time – You don’t realize how much time spending money takes until you stop. With my buy nothing month almost over, I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve reclaimed from eating out and from running out to stores.
Pooping Unicorns – If you haven’t seen this commercial for the Squatty Potty, you are missing out. Call it my inner 8-year-old, but it cracks me up! (In fairness, when you’re not hitting up the stores, you have time for bad commercials.)
Cheats – For the most part, we’ve stuck to our list of exceptions for our no spend January. However, there have been the following cheats:
one lottery ticket (With a jackpot in the billions, this was hard for my husband to resist.)
vending machine candy bar (I tried to justify it as a grocery purchase, but I couldn’t even convince myself.)
pair of dress shoes for my daughter’s band concert (bought at a thrift store at least)
No more cheating. Here’s to finishing out the month strong!
Victory! I found the camera cable so I’ve finally been able to download the move-in pics of our new house. Because I took so many pics, I’ve decided to break up the tour into two parts: inside and outside.
Inside House Tour
Unlike the outside photos, my indoor photos didn’t turn out great. According to my husband, it’s thanks to a polarizer lens that I was supposed to remove. Who knew? Dark and murky or not, here is a walk-through of the inside of our new house.
Although I’ve never been a fan of a completely open floor plan, I must admit to loving the kitchen, eat-in breakfast area, and hearth room being one big space.
Formal Dining & Living Rooms:
That purple paint has to go!
Master Bed & Bath:
There are also two more bedrooms and a bath upstairs, but they are so basic and the pics so bad that I’m leaving them out.
Because we’re still in between houses as we prep the old house to sell, many rooms here are still sparsely furnished or empty. Over the coming months, I’m looking forward to decorating each one.
Come back later this week for a house tour of the outside!
As we recover from holiday spending and get our old house ready to put on the market, a Buy Nothing Month is in order. A Buy Nothing Month a more manageable version of the Compact. If you’re not familiar with the Compact, it’s an agreement to buy nothing new for a year. Reduce, reuse, and recycle all the way.
Similarly, a Buy Nothing month focuses on reducing consumption and making mindful purchases. You set your own exceptions so it’s not necessarily a true buy nothing month (but a buy less month just doesn’t have the same ring to it).
Here are my exceptions for the month of January:
Grocery store purchases
Remodeling materials (to get the new house ready to list)
Utility Sink – That’s right. Above the beautiful tile and the granite kitchen countertops, my favorite thing is the humble utility sink. No more washing paint brushes out in the kitchen sink or dumping mucky mopping water in the bathtub. You can fit a 5-gallon bucket under that baby. I know because it was one of the first things I tried when we moved in!
Automatic Garage Door Opener – Having lived in a teeny, tiny house with a one-car garage for years that served as both workshop and storage, having a garage we can park both cars in has been awesome. Couple that with a remote control and a key pad? Be still my heart.
Cabinet Space & Pantry – Our old kitchen was cramped. To say cramming everything in was difficult is a vast understatement. With the new house, we have plenty of cabinets. In fact, we actually have some empty spaces inside them. As a wonderful bonus, the nearby utility room has floor-to-ceiling pantry shelves built in.
Our Master Shower – When I stepped inside the first time, I heard angels sing. Seriously.
Walk-in Closet – Coming from a woman who once dismantled our normal closet and donated half my clothes to make room for a writing closet, this is a surprise love. (The writing closet was better in theory than practice, in case you are wondering. I discovered 1. You actually do need a closet, and 2. Writing in a closet sucks.)
Pond Sounds – With the house, we inherited a koi pond, complete with small waterfall. Not only does it mask street traffic noise, it also has me envisioning opening our windows in the spring to do yoga, while the soft sounds of moving water drift in.
Dining Room View – The previous owners did a lovely job landscaping the area. In the dead of winter (admittedly a remarkably mild winter), the area is lit up with brilliant reds and hints of green. This morning, I snapped a pic of our first snowfall through that view. And, at the risk of becoming my grandmother, I have to admit big love for the ornamental tree that serves as bird magnet. Mary agrees (likely while she plots their deaths).
Abundant Bathrooms – 3.5 baths means no fighting over showers or access. Plus everyone has a bathroom to clean, which will undoubtedly build character.
The Layout – Although we essentially doubled our square footage from 1,300 to 2,600 with our move, I love that the new house still feels cozy, in large part due to the layout. It’s a perfect balance of open and distinct living spaces.
Our Neighbors – In the three weeks we’ve been here, our three closest neighbors have caught us to offer, in no particular order, the use of a truck, the lending of a leaf blower (as the kids and I were raking) – complete with demo, and the use of an extensive tool collection. How awesome is that?
As soon as I can find the box I packed the camera cable in, I’ll post a house tour. Motivation to unpack, right?
A couple years ago, we decided that we wanted more of a homemade Christmas. As a family of avid DIYers, the idea of creating gifts for each other and for family seemed like a perfect fit. One of the first projects we tackled was making chalkboards. Cute, easy, and cheap, these make great gifts for teachers, family, and friends.
Cut the 1×12 into rectangles or squares, whichever you prefer.
Sand the boards.
Stain your chalkboards in your favorite color. I used my old standby Provincial stain. Don’t be surprised if each chalkboard turns out a little different; that’s what makes staining wood interesting!
Use frog tap to frame your chalkboard. I just put one strip right next to each edge, then taped the sides to avoid overspray.
Lay chalkboards on a flat surface outside. Be sure to use plenty of newspaper or cardboard underneath. Spray paint with chalkboard paint. Repeat for 1-2 more coats.
Once everything is dry, peel off frog tape.
Add picture hanging hardware to the back of each chalkboard.
If you’re giving these as gifts, tie some twine or jute around the chalkboard each direction. Add a piece of chalk where the two strings meet, and tie around the chalk to hold it in place. No other wrapping necessary.
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Looking for a quick and easy stocking stuffer or neighbor gift? Try making some magnets. Here’s what you’ll need: flat glass marbles, magnets, pretty scrapbook paper, and Mod Podge.
Cut your favorite scrapbook paper to match the size of the marbles. Glue the paper to the back of one of the clear marbles, then cover with Mod Podge to protect the paper. Finally, attach the magnet. Voila!
I chose to use half bumble bee paper and half chalkboard paper.
To package them up, I used some clear candy bags. I cut card stock to the size of the bag. Then I used washers to position the magnets where I wanted them.
As a finishing touch, I used some of the leftover scrapbook paper, folded it half, and stapled it to the top of the bag. Easy and cute!