Summary of resolution month #1

Well hello friends! Can you believe January is gone already? I am amazed at how quickly this month flew by! Good thing I have been keeping track of all the things I’ve been doing this month!

As I mentioned in the last post, I have done some purging. My bedroom and my downstairs bathroom have been purged and cleaned. They are still in great shape. (I sweep the bathroom floor every night to keep it nice!)  I am contemplating what room to focus on purging next. I will make a decision this weekend and start on it at the beginning of next week. I’ll let you all know what room I decided on.

2 lemon slices, 2 orange slices, 2 cucumber slices, a handful of blueberries, and 2 sliced strawberries. SO GOOD!

 

 

My salad eating has gone fairly well… I ate a salad six days a week for the first two weeks. I lost a bit of momentum in weeks three and four, HOWEVER, my husband and I started a water challenge, and I have taken that a bit further and making my water fruit infused. I feel that between that and the salads, I have been doing a bit better. We have been trying to make more meals at home. It has been going well.

 

 

I have been trying very hard to have less negative thoughts. I was doing really well, then the negativity began to creep in again. I tried something new. I made a subliminal music soundtrack to play when I fall asleep. My own words telling me to love myself… to let go of the hate, and just be happy. I think that has been helping. I have still had some rage-mode moments, but I feel like they are a bit better.

 

Anything is better than nothing. Keep plodding along. You CAN do it!

 

I have eased my way back into exercising on my treadmill. My foot has been a bit angry with me with the additional walking, so I have had to give it a little extra rest. I am VERY pleased with my progress through the month of January. Every barbell throughout the month is a day I exercised… anywhere between 35-67 minutes per session. During the month, I walked more than seventeen miles!

 

 

My “January Jump Start” spending freeze went extremely well. I spent very minimal money, which was super challenging! I pretty much blew that whole month of no spending, in my opinion, because I ended up purchasing a vehicle. We knew we were going to be needing another vehicle in the next few months, with jobs, and my son returning home. We weren’t expecting to get the car quite this soon, but the deal was great, and everything fell into place so easily, we decided to go ahead and get it now. So, because of that, I am labeling February as “Frugal February”. Not a complete spending freeze, but the goal is to buy absolutely nothing at full price, including groceries. Everything MUST either be on sale or have a coupon for significant savings. We will be going through our menus for the month to make sure we can make that happen.

I think that covers everything that happened last month. Man, there was SO MUCH going on! All in all, I think I did well… up until the last day of the month, when the car was purchased. Try, try again, right?

That’s the beauty of this crazy life. We all have our weak moments. Let’s regroup and start again. It will be okay.

YOU CAN DO IT!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The projects continue: What have you learned this month?

Well, the month is starting to wind down, and I feel like I have accomplished quite a bit this month. I have learned some things as well.

The second part of this month has been spent cleaning and going through my downstairs bathroom. Even though this particular room is very small, we have SO MANY things packed in there, and so many of those items haven’t been used in years. Seriously! Why on earth are we holding on to ALL THESE THINGS? The counter top is small, with a metal shelf in the corner. That means that even a few things left out makes the entire counter look cluttered. The amount of things stacked up was kind of embarrassing. The same goes for the medicine cabinet. Perfumes… Numerous face lotions and other facial concoctions… First aid items strewn about… Also incredibly embarrassing. Under the sink was also packed full of various cleaning products some nearly full, and others just drops away from being empty.

I grabbed a large garbage bag and started with my counter first. What better way to start than to do the part that is seen every time someone enters the room! The calmness of a clean and organized counter is most definitely a motivator to carry on and finish the room. I sifted through every hair product, and every hair accessory. I threw away more than half! I had multiple products, which I use, that I was able to combine into one container. The majority of the hair accessories I tossed into the garbage. (I have this thing about used hair items… I just can’t donate them if they’re not washable… it seems so unsanitary!)

My four shelf medicine cabinet was tackled next. All the old band-aids, and other first aid items not really usable were thrown away. The good items that aren’t used frequently, but needed (like the thermometer for fevers, and sanitary band-aids), were put on the top shelf out of the way in a little box to keep them from getting spread all over. Perfumes and body sprays were set up on the next shelf down. I threw away any that were “so close” to empty, or ones that I haven’t used in the last three months. My face/beauty items went on the second to the bottom shelf. Any items that were purchased, used once, and never used again for whatever reason, were thrown out immediately. The remaining items were assessed thoroughly. I have a really hard time throwing these things in particular away. I see them and automatically think, “Oh yeah, I was going to use that before, but I forgot about it”. NEWS FLASH: if you haven’t used it yet, after months, it’s probably not going to happen. Say goodbye to it, and don’t give it another thought. You had already forgotten about it in the first place! Only the items I use regularly, and the ones that work are placed back in the cupboard. The very bottom shelf is designated for daily use items… toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorants, facial routine, etc. The smaller items were organized in a clear little bin, and the rest strategically placed.

The space under the sink was honestly the easiest for me to go through. All but five things were tossed or designated homes elsewhere. We live in the country, so we have well water, which I mostly love. The water is full of hard minerals that, over time, stain porcelain toilets and sinks, and create a ‘lovely’ yellow tinge to the bathtub. There are very few cleaning products out there that I have found that work extremely well without spending an entire afternoon scrubbing vigorously. I hear about new products, so I will buy it, try it, and discover that it DOES NOT do what I had hoped. So, then it sits under the sink, with all the other disappointing bottles. I took everything out and did an assessment. The nearly full items that don’t work for my hard water issues, I have placed in a box, and I will be taking them to work with me to be used there. The mostly empty bottles were used up on the sink, toilet and bathtub, and the bottles disposed of appropriately.

All of our towels in the cupboard were gone through. All of the ones in good shape were put back. The decent ones with frayed ends were deemed good for cleaning and put in the cleaning rag bin. The worn out ones were thrown in the garbage bag.

My last project was the walls and floor. This for me, is the hardest part. My house is nearly one hundred years old. I live in farm country. My house gets dusty in a record amount of time. Add to that a steamy environment, and you have the amazing potential for the kind of dust that sticks to steamy walls, and then dries there. Even when the little fan is turned on during a shower, it doesn’t help much. Years ago, I purchased the Swiffer wet mop wipes, and they are used most often in my bathroom. I attach one of those to the simple mop and wipe down my walls to get all the clinging dust off with little effort. Then, I mop the floor. I flip the “wipe” inside out and get the floor as clean as I can. Then, I get a new wipe and go over the floor again to ensure that it is clean. I know, I know, I could use altered microfiber towels to mop, in a homemade solution, instead of the disposable wipes. I have tried this, and for me, I find that this works better. At some point, I will probably revisit this subject, and work on finding a different cleaning recipe that cuts through the dust, sanitizes, and leaves a nice scent. For now, this is enough.

So now, I have two rooms completely done, from top to bottom. What have I learned from this? It is great to go through your stuff, clean, organize, and get rid of things. There is another factor, however, that is just as important. MAINTAINING. What’s the point of going through this if you aren’t going to put in the effort to keep it that way? It has been two weeks since the completion of my bedroom. I am proud to announce, that I am making the conscious effort to maintain it. In the past, I would let that small pile of clothes sit there “until tomorrow”. I have committed myself to taking care of those piles immediately, or not letting the piles happen in the first place. Shoes go back in their spot as soon as they leave my feet. Clothes are hung up immediately. Everything goes back in its place. I love it. I love walking into my room and feeling relaxed and satisfied when I look around. It takes less time to take that extra two to three minutes and simply put things away, than to take an hour to go through a pile of things every week or two. SUCCESS!

The month is almost over, and I will be giving you all a month end review then. I am so happy with the progress I have made. I am still excited about this ongoing resolution to literally clean up my life. (Haha!)

So, until then… KEEP GOING! You’re doing great! If you have faltered, that’s okay! Recommit to your goals and give it another go! You CAN do this. You WILL do this. Your mind, body, and soul will thank you! ❤

1030-blank-sign-illustration-pv

 

January resolution progress report

Hello my friends! Happy Saturday! How is everyone doing so far? Have you kept up with your resolutions you made on January 1? I sure hope so!

On New Year’s day, I also started the year by making some goals for myself… publicly. I figured, what better way to make sure I stay on track than by telling the whole world about it. If that isn’t the best motivator, then I don’t know what is!

Here’s a reminder of the resolutions I made for myself:

#1 – Eating better by eating healthier foods

#2 – Letting the negativity go

#3 – Exercising routinely

#4 – Purging my belongings and organizing what’s left

Nearly two weeks have passed, and here is what has happened thus far…

Resolution #1: I have figured out how to make the lovely vinaigrette salad dressing that my friend told me about, and I am extremely excited! I have salad greens in my refrigerator, salad dressing made, and homemade croutons in a vacu-sealed jar all ready to go. I have eaten a salad 11 out of 12 days so far. I discovered that slivered almonds and dried cranberries are a delightful addition to what I have in my bowl already. The possibilities are endless! I’m always willing to try something new and different. So far, my ideas have been surprisingly delicious. One thing I have decided to do, however, is have a limited ‘cheat’ day. That day is Thursday. Thursday evenings is when I meet with my girls, so I think that will be the day that I can cut loose a little bit and have a drink, and eat, in moderation, a few of the lovely foods that I enjoy so much. Hey, if I NEVER eat the foods I crave so much, the possibility for failure is much higher. I CAN do this!

Resolution #2: I have learned quite a bit about myself over the last 12 days. I take things WAY too personally. I have learned that I have a hard time letting things go.  I have a hard time not complaining about it. I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut, especially when I’m tired. I have had to stop myself multiple times from blurting negative things out loud. Even then, I haven’t been 100% successful. I need to find a different, positive perspective on all of the things going on around me. They say it takes thirty days to make a habit. I am hoping to prove that theory to be correct. We’ll see what happens as the month continues.

Resolution #3: I purchased a calendar/planner to log all of my activities in. This includes my workout schedule. I have set aside three days/evenings a week for doing my treadmill workouts. As much as I would love to have four or five designated days, I know from past experience, that I tend to burn down within a month when I do this. I also know that I have to give my foot some extra time to recover between workouts. I don’t want to do any damage that will have me spending extra time sitting on the couch any more than necessary. I have completed every scheduled workout so far. I did end up getting sick for a couple of days, but I managed to make up those scheduled workouts within the next week. So, I have, ultimately, completed all of the workouts I had planned for myself. I am already seeing a difference in my body. Yay! There’s some motivation for me to keep going!

Resolution #4: PURGING TASK #1- MY BEDROOM: I have completely gone through every shelf, drawer, and tote in my bedroom. I have gone through every piece of clothing I own and have been brutally honest with myself about my things. I looked at every shirt, pair of pants, coat, socks, dresses, and my unmentionables. I threw away the items with holes, and the other things that I had set aside “to fix” that had been piled up in one of my laundry baskets. I hadn’t missed any of them after all this time, so they are leaving. I made a pile of the pieces that were nice enough to sell online. I made another pile that weren’t as nice, but will put them in a garage sale that will happen in the spring. I put my summer items in a tote that I labeled “seasonal”. I also put my Christmas clothes (ugly sweaters) in this tote as well.  I went through my purses, bags, wallets, scarves, gloves and hats, and was able to eliminate more than half of those items as well. The majority of the extra hangers have been removed and put in a tote to use in my upcoming yard sale. The items left, that I wear regularly, were returned to my closet. Any item that I’m undecided about has gone back into my closet with the hanger hung up backwards. After two months, if I haven’t worn the items, they will be sold, either online or in my garage sale. More than half of my clothes are out! I dusted all the shelves, and all the flat surfaces in my bedroom. I have vacuumed the carpet, and used my carpet cleaner as well. I AM OFFICIALLY DONE WITH THIS ROOM!

 

SIDE NOTE: Part of my process of purging a room is having to post all of the nicer items I want to sell online IMMEDIATELY. This does a few different things for me. I AM COMMITTED TO MAKING THAT ITEM LEAVE MY HOME. I can’t keep it for myself if I have it for sale. I can be motivated by earning money when I sell them. I can’t move on to another room if I haven’t finished all of my processes. I have heard good things about Poshmark, so I took pictures of all those clothing items and posted them. That is part of my plan… posting my items. It keeps me motivated to get it done! I have already sold five items for a total of $45.00 in less than a week. NICE! All of the money I make from my belongings will be going into my emergency savings fund.        https://poshmark.com/

priority mail boxes      So far, I have been very happy with this website/app. They, of course, take a percentage of your selling price, BUT, it is all up front before you officially list your items. The shipping is super easy. Poshmark takes care of the shipping end of things. All you have to do is package up your sold item (very nicely please!), print out a shipping label (that they email to you), and tape it on your “Priority Mail” box (you get them FOR FREE from the post office!). Then you take it to your local post office, they scan your label, and you’re done!  I’m all for it!

I finished my monthly budget as well. It is very strict, but very doable! There will definitely be some self control needed, but we can do it! January is already my spending freeze month, (Boy, I have SO MUCH going on this month!), which coincides well with our new budget. I have done very well. Yes, I have been tempted of course, BUT I have squashed the urges to spend. Nothing I have been tempted by is a NEED, simply things I WANT. That’s the important thing to realize… the difference between the needs and the wants. ONLY NINETEEN DAYS TO GO!

*Budget done.

*Bedroom purged.

*Items have been put up for sale.

*Exercise happening routinely.

*Eating healthy regularly.

*Actively aware of my words and actions.

gold star

I’m giving myself a gold star for the progress I have made in these first twelve days. I have been successful in many things, and those I haven’t been completely successful in, I am aware of the problem and have committed to doing better and being better.

I hope you are finding great success this year. Stick with it.

YOU CAN DO IT!

New Year, New Resolutions

Happy New Year friends! I am hoping that 2018 was a good year for all of you. It was a decent year for me. A lot of things happened… some good, some bad. I really want 2019 to be MY year. I want to make things happen for me. I am determined.

I HAVE PLANS. I HAVE RESOLUTIONS.

Just like so many of you, I am jumping on the new year’s resolution bandwagon. Most years I don’t do the resolution thing. This year is different. I want 2019 to represent the start of something incredible… a journey towards self love, self improvement, and a more relaxed, stress free home environment. I am so eager for this journey, that I started purging my closet as I was waiting for 2019 to arrive.

Resolution #1 – Eating better/healthier – Don’t get me wrong. I am not a complete junk food consumer. I admit, however, that I thoroughly enjoy chocolate, cookies, and a nice assortment of candies. I like fruits and vegetables, although I need to make a more conscious effort to grab an apple in lieu of some sugar filled goody.  Part of the goal is to simply eat more salad… with healthier salad dressing included. I love ranch dressing, and I love bleu cheese as well. I discovered a lovely, simple, healthier dressing the other night while I was at my friends’ house for a party- a delicious vinaigrette consisting of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and Dijon mustard. WHY HAVE I NEVER KNOWN ABOUT THIS? I’m hooked! I make my own croutons with homemade bread, olive oil, and a dash of garlic salt. Sounds pretty simple, right? I’M READY!

Resolution #2 – Letting the negativity go – This one has a few layers to it. Not only is my goal to not let negativity and bad things throughout my day bring me down, but I am going to try harder to keep negative comments to myself. I think it’s good to let my aggression and frustration out, but I will do that in private… that place may be in my office, my car, the restroom… that doesn’t matter, as long as I am not bringing others down with me. I will let it out, and then I will let it go.

Resolution #3 – Exercising – For much of last year, I had a good routine going with my treadmill. Then, my foot surgery happened, and I haven’t been able to do much since the beginning of October. My foot still bothers me, since I still am having some pretty routine bouts of swelling. I am not looking to run a marathon. I just want to spend 30 – 45 minutes on my treadmill a minimum of three days per week. That should be doable.

Resolution #4 – Purge my belongings – As I mentioned in my last post, I am ready to get rid of stuff! My goal this year is to have half of my belongings leave my home. I want the clutter to go away. I want to make my home more relaxing… a place of calm. I went through my entire closet this evening and I’m pretty sure nearly half is going to go away! Success! Some will be put up for sale on various sights, and what is left will be set aside for a garage sale this spring. My objective is to focus on one room every three weeks (or two weeks, depending on the size of the room), and clean from top to bottom… inside and out, getting rid of the non necessities, and nicely arranging what’s left. Yessssssss.

What goals have you set for yourself for 2019? Health? Happiness? Determination? Whatever your resolutions are for this new year, I wish you all the success you desire.

RR tracks 2019

Happy New Year!              LET’S MAKE THIS THE BEST YEAR EVER!

 

Minimalism – My new year will be the beginning of something wonderful

In a few months, my son will be moving back home from Japan. For awhile, he will be staying with my husband and I, until he gets settled back into a routine and gets his life situated. That means some rearranging of rooms will need to be done. I will be relocating my office/craft room upstairs to a bigger room where I won’t be so closed in. This room will be a multi-functional office, craft room, photo studio, and music studio all rolled into one. Sounds exciting doesn’t it? Daunting? Perhaps, but I am super excited about the move. What I am most excited about, surprisingly, is the opportunity to go through EVERY SINGLE ITEM in my current room and deciding what I can get rid of! I’ve mentioned before about my fascination with minimalism. I know I could never pare things down as much as those minimalist, tiny house TV shows. I do know, however, that I can rid myself of things that I have been holding onto for years. You know, those things that have been stuffed in my closet and nearly forgotten about because they’re buried behind my guitar, cello, totes of fabric, stacks of paper, notebooks… There is seriously SO MUCH in there! You all should know by now that I hold onto things. I am a recovering pack rat, after all. I am always thrilled when the need arises for an item that I can run to my closet and, usually within a minimal amount of time, come out with said item in my hand. I’m telling you, it’s an amazing party trick! When my girls and I get together and the magic question is asked, “You know what we need?”, I can usually say, “Hold on a minute”, run to my room and emerge victorious. The response I get is, “Of course you have one!”.  That may be good, and it may be bad, but hey, I’m prepared!

Here are the questions to ponder, however… How often does the “magic question” get asked? How often do I use all those mostly unused things? Is it really worth having a closet so full of things that I have to take at least half of the contents of the closet out to find what I want? Is it worth all the stress I feel when I open the closet door and see ALL THE THINGS stacked up (as neatly as humanly possible) in there staring out at me? I WANT the answers to these questions to be truthful justifications in order to let my mind be at peace. It NEEDS to be a truthful reality that slaps me across the face… (Lightly though, I have delicate skin.)

Have you ever thoroughly deep cleaned and de-junk-ified a room? Vacuumed, dusted, completely organized… There is a feeling of complete satisfaction. You have a sense of relief and a wave of calm that washes over you. You look around and just… smile. This room is inviting and blissfully peaceful. I have felt that, and I want to feel it again… In every room in my home.

Too much stuff for sale

The new year is quickly approaching. I am mentally preparing myself for a year of being brutally honest with myself about my stuff, whether it be clothes, shoes, crafting tools, music related items, or camera equipment.  I’m determined to get rid of a lot of my things. I want to SELL as much of those things as possible to build up my savings. I have been told that Poshmark is a great app to use for selling clothes, so I am going to try it out. I’m going to use the Facebook Marketplace to sell other items. I’m going to contact my friends that have similar interests and see if they’re interested in those specialty items. I’m going to have at least one, or possibly two garage sales this year. Whatever doesn’t sell is going to be donated… IMMEDIATELY. What’s left in my home will be thoroughly cleaned, and put in a well thought out, very specific, purposeful, useful place. I’M GOING TO MAKE THIS WORK! The beauty of going to through my things this way is partly out of necessity, and part (to be honest) laziness. The more I choose to get rid of, the less I have to haul up a flight of stairs and find purposeful, useful places for. If I can make some money throughout this entire process as well, then that is an added bonus!

I will have approximately 4 months to get my rooms swapped around. That should be more than enough time to go through my current room and get everything moved upstairs. My son will be staying in my soon-to-empty office, and will have plenty of room and closet space.

I have quite a few goals for the upcoming year, which you will be hearing about very soon, BUT, one of the most important ones is this one. I have to have somewhere for my child to stay.

Are you tired of living under a pile of stuff? Are you ready to rid yourself of clutter instead it moving from place to place around your home? Are you ready to retrain yourself and your family to actually put things back in their designated place? I am!

I want 2019 to be a year of calm, peace, and a feeling of contentment. I’m so ready to make this happen! Are you? I’ll be your cheerleader. LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN!

WE’LL DO IT TOGETHER!

 

 

Planning a wedding on a budget

I have a lot going on this summer. It’s the season of beautiful weather, vacations, garage sales, outings to the river with my doggies, and a wedding to pull together. It seems like just yesterday, not 6 months ago, that my lovely daughter, Carmen, got engaged. The happy couple is planning on paying for the majority of the wedding themselves. Of course my husband and myself are pitching in a bit, but, keeping the expenditures to a minimum is top priority. The wedding is coming up in just under 6 weeks. There is so much to do!

I have spent hours upon hours on Pinterest saving pins for frugal ideas on decorations, floral arrangements, backdrops, themes… Oh my goodness there is so much information out there! I absolutely adore Pinterest… way more than I should.

HOW IT ALL STARTED…

The official engagement Facebook post

 

 

THE ENGAGEMENT: Christmas day, 2017, Carmen’s boyfriend, Jacob, popped the question. (He’s such a great guy! We are absolutely thrilled to have him officially join our family!After a few weeks, it was decided to have the wedding in August of 2018. That gave us 8 months to plan a wedding.

 

Grange hall down the street. A more inexpensive venue with lots of perks

 

 

THE VENUE:  Carmen and Jacob wanted to have a smaller wedding, and the place they picked was perfect. Carmen already knew where she wanted to have the wedding. That was good since our timeline was pretty short. There is a grange/community hall just down the street from where I live that she picked. It’s a mile away from my home. It was nicely priced to “rent”, and there’s ample parking. She wants an outdoor wedding, and it has these two trees out front on the right side that will be perfect for the ceremony. It’s also a neat old building with a nice kitchen/dining area in the basement. It has a nice space upstairs for dancing, and a stage as well. There is a lot of history to that old building for me. I went to the school across the street from it when I was a child. I ate lunch in that grange hall every day in grade school for 4+ years. We had Christmas programs and talent shows there. There are so many good memories. I’m happy to have a wonderful one as an adult too.

Doing the engagement photos yourself can save you literally thousands of dollars.

THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Photographers can be one of the biggest expenses for a wedding… Engagement photos… the wedding itself… Hours upon hours are spent taking photos and editing. Since I am a photographer, it was a natural decision for me to do the engagement shoot. After all, IT’S FREE if I do them. We picked a spot and set up a time. I brought some props, and so did they. The photos turned out really nice. We were all pleased with the way they looked. We decided to use one of these photos for the wedding invitations. I had originally thought about doing the photos for the actual wedding myself, BUT… I am the Matron on Honor, (seriously LOVE this girl for choosing me!) and I just can’t visualize how that is going to logistically work. Besides, I am going to have enough going on that day…  I don’t need to worry about that too. I have quite a few photographer friends, and I hired one to do the photos. The photographer and I went to high school together, so there’s some history there as well.  He does great work, and gave me a great deal. It KILLS ME to have to pay someone else to do it, but, after some very serious internal struggles and conversations with my family, I agreed. I paid for the photographer. It was still quite expensive, (but about half the price from if I were to hire a stranger), so I didn’t want the kids to have to fork out the money for that part.

THE WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENTS AND WEDDING BOOK: I am a HUGE fan of Shutterfly. They have an excellent variety of choices for wedding announcements and books (and pretty much anything else you would want). You can use your own photos, and fill everything out the way YOU want, and their turn-around time is pretty quick… We received the announcements within 4 days! They are ALWAYS having sales and promotions. I was able to get the wedding announcements for around 75% off, thanks to all the coupon codes I found. They offer rectangle shapes, and ones with rounded corners. Rounded corners look very elegant, but it costs extra… by 20¢ per card! I only ordered 90 cards. Just imagine the cost for several hundred!

This little tool, that I already had, saved me $18 on wedding announcements!

Lucky for me, I already had a paper cutter for rounding corners. I was able to save $18 by spending 30 minutes and rounding the corners myself. Definitely worth a half an hour of my time. Score one small frugal victory!

Carmen and Jacob created an event on Facebook and used that as their “Save the Date” in lieu of purchasing and mailing out cards. They invited their family and friends, and I was able to invite my family and friends that I wanted present as well. We used that forum to get all the addresses that we needed for the official invitation. This also gave them a general idea of how many people would be present on the day of their wedding.

The wedding book I ordered was also 75% off with all the coupon codes. I was able to use all my own pictures and create a completely personal book for guests to write in and peruse. I am excited to see the results.  ONLY TWO MORE DAYS UNTIL IT’S HERE!

 

THE OFFICIANT: Carmen and Jacob weren’t sure who was going to perform the ceremony. They did quite a bit of thinking on the subject and everyone they could think of was either busy or out of town. At this point, with less than 6 weeks to go, I was getting a little bit nervous about finding someone, so I did something crazy… I went online and became an ordained minister, able to perform weddings in Oregon. Yep, I really did! I just received all my official paperwork in the mail last week. I texted my friends in my music circle and told them what I had done. They were VERY surprised to say the least. Haha! (That sparked a round of interesting thoughts for future adventures… THAT will be for another post!). I explained to them that I was creating a backup plan just in case the couple couldn’t come up with someone. One of my girls said that if they couldn’t come up with anyone, she would be willing to get ordained and perform the ceremony. I mentioned this to Carmen, and she said she would absolutely love to have my friend perform their wedding. She knows her, and really likes her. The next day, this same friend got hold of me to ask if I would be willing to do her daughter’s senior pictures, and how much would I charge… We had a brief discussion, and we decided to trade services. She is going to become an ordained minister, and then perform the wedding ceremony, and I’m going to do her daughter’s senior pictures.

Just…. WOW

THE DECORATIONS: Carmen has been gathering items to use for decorations for quite awhile. She has bought most of them during extreme sales or in the clearance section. I had an idea for lighting and using my canning jars for subtle lighting.  I have the wire hangers that go around the lip of the jars, so they could be hung up if we chose to go that route. I will use them on our front and back porches after the wedding. I wanted to have nice subtle lighting out there anyway. Carmen chose to have a retro/vintage themed wedding. We have a lot of friends with vintage cars, so we kindly asked if we could “borrow” their cars for a few hours on a Saturday evening. One of which she will arrive in just before the wedding. She has a lot of Matchbox cars that she is going to put on the food tables for decorations. We are going to be making the centerpieces for all the tables with fabric that she purchased on clearance several years ago. Carmen doesn’t want a lot of flowers at her wedding, so she will have a bouquet to walk down the aisle with, and that is it. As for the ceremony outside… The background behind the trees is not exactly ideal, or romantic… two streets join, street signs, a house, and a school. After talking it over with my husband, we decided that we are going to purchase two 4’x8′ sheets of wood lattice and place them between and slightly behind the two trees. We are going to attach fabric, in one of their chosen colors, to the backside of the lattice to hide the eyesores behind it. My husband can reuse the lattice after the wedding for some projects he is working on. MULTI PURPOSE ITEMS ARE FANTASTIC!

Draping made out of tool is simple and pretty inexpensive. USE YOUR COUPONS!

We are then going to make a nice flowing drape out of tool on top and flowing down the sides to frame it. We have several fabric stores in town that have coupons weekly. We should be able to get this at 75% off regular pricing, making this a nice frugal item. Carmen suggested reselling it after the wedding to recoup some of the overall costs of the wedding. If we can do this with many of the items we are purchasing strictly for the wedding, that will be a big help in the long run. All in all, the decorations will come in well under $300, and most will be re-purposed after the wedding.

THE DRESS: Carmen was all for buying a wedding dress second hand, however, her fiancé insisted that she buy a brand new dress… it’s their wedding, after all. After doing some research, she decided on a store. They were having a sale, and the beautiful dress she picked was $500. Considering how much many wedding dresses cost, it was a price that she could live with. She cringed as she pulled out her debit card to pay for it, but, considering the woman next to us was spending over $2000…  (Sorry, there will not be a photo of the dress until after the wedding, for obvious reasons.)

THE BRIDESMAIDS/MATRON OF HONOR ATTIRE, HAIR AND MAKEUP: Carmen wanted to choose something that her chosen friends could wear later… not something that will sit in their closets and gather dust. She decided on vintage style dresses that the girls will purchase for $30-$40. The colors can vary as long the chosen wedding colors are in there somewhere. Same for the shoes… Something within the vintage theme that are comfortable and they can use at a later time. I already have a dress and shoes that fit the criteria. Each of the ladies will do their own hair and makeup, and Carmen will help with any last minute details if the need arises. She’s an expert with vintage hair and makeup.

THE MEN’S SUITS: My understanding is that the men are going to wear suits, which they already own. The ties will have the wedding colors. The groom will be wearing a suit as well.

THE MUSIC/DJ: The ceremony itself will have pre-recorded music through speakers. She didn’t feel the need for live music. As for the reception, she has a playlist put together on her iPod that she is going to play through the speakers inside the building. She can play whatever she wants, and it will be all the music she loves and likes to dance to.

THE FOOD: The couple has decided on a potluck style for food for the guests. They wanted something simple with variety that all the people could enjoy. As for the cake… They are going with a very out of the norm item… Pizza. Different? Definitely, and I love everything about it. Why be traditional?!

THE SETUP AND TEAR DOWN: Family and friends will be doing the wedding setup and tear down of everything. We get the keys to the building two days before the wedding, and have them until two days after the wedding, to get everything cleaned up. We can do all the inside decorating in the two days before and set up the outside Saturday morning, since the ceremony doesn’t start until early evening. Then we will have the two days after to get everything cleaned up.

Things are slowly starting to come together. I’m sure there are things we haven’t thought of yet. When they come up, we’ll deal with it accordingly. You don’t realize how short 8 months really is, until you are trying to plan a wedding. The engagement happens, and then suddenly, there’s 6 weeks left to go. Now it’s a mad dash to get all the details done. It will happen, the wedding day will arrive, and everything will be fine… and even if everything doesn’t go exactly as planned, that’s okay. It will generate a wonderful set of memories to share later on! (My wedding was at the Justice of the Peace, it took about 10 minutes, with three guests, and they forgot to charge us for the ceremony. We wore regular clothes, and my husband had a mullet. We will never forget that, and we love telling the story!)

LET THE FESTIVITIES BEGIN!

 

 

 

 

Having an emergency 72 hour kit

No one wants to think about the possibility of a natural disaster or some kind of emergency that causes us to have to evacuate our homes for a period of time. I know I don’t want to think about it, BUT WE NEED TO. We need to be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice with items to sustain us… For every member of our family living in our home… Pets included. Think about all the things that have happened in recent years… Forest fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes…  It seems they happen more and more frequently. It also seems that they are more severe. Many of these events are requiring evacuations, and they need to happen quickly. Are you ready for that?

By no means am I the guru “know it all” when it comes to emergency preparedness, BUT, my parents were adamant about having a 72 hour kit, and at least a 6 month supply of food. (I’ve mentioned that I live in the house that I grew up in… I STILL have close to 1000 pounds of wheat in my basement! 😳) I watched my mom take sheets, make them into bandage strips, sterilize them, and vacu-seal them for our kits. I watched her buy 5 gallon plastic buckets to store our kits in… Waterproof and durable. She crocheted large doilies to go over them and set houseplants on them in the living room… Close and ready to grab if needed.

Being prepared is critical

I do things a bit differently than mom did, but yes, I have kits for two adults, two children, and three large dogs. I don’t have five gallon pails though. I purchased two backpack kits, and added in dog food and clothing. I also have an emergency “bug-out” backpack that stays in my car at all times. (Thank you, my co-workers, for putting that one together when I was preparing for a long road trip with a very questionably nasty winter forecast possibility. It’s nice that people worry!)  Purchased kits can be spendy, but I don’t feel bad about this purchase. For me, peace of mind made this an easy decision. The backpacks are designed to hold everything that comes in the kits, and has first aid items as well. Do your research, and I’m sure you can come up with something to fit you and your family’s needs. It was just simpler for me to do this than try to gather up all the different items, and pray that I didn’t miss anything important… I worried about that.

It’s also a good idea to have a stash of emergency funds… as in cash money. If there’s a disaster, are debit/credit card machines going to be working? Maybe, but maybe not. Do you really want to take that chance? I know I don’t!

One thing my parents always did routinely was to fill up the car when it got down to half a tank. I will be the first to admit that I am not good at that. Call it laziness if you like, but, that requires getting gas more frequently. In the long run though, you’re still going to be spending the same amount for gas every month. You’re filling up half a tank instead of a full one. Think about it for a minute though… If you have to leave in a hurry, are you going to need to wait in line for gas along with everyone in the town you live in? No thank you, not me! I’d rather be heading away from whatever disaster is coming!

One of the other very important things to have is a plan. Have a family meeting and discuss what to do in the event of an emergency. Talk about what to do in certain circumstances. If the situation applies, have an escape route… Have a meeting spot… Have a code word. Make sure everyone knows what to do, where to go, who to call, and who to trust. I cannot stress this enough. HAVE A PLAN!

Lately, emergency preparedness has been repeatedly creeping up in my thoughts.  I want to be prepared, and I want YOU to be prepared. What are you waiting for? Make your list of things you need. Do some research if you need to, and get it done! https://www.ready.gov/ Personally, I would rather have my kits and not need them, than have the emergency and have nothing to survive on.

 

What will you be doing this summer?

Summer is upon us! There are so many things to love about summer.  Ah, the sun, the barbeques, the vacations, and… THE GARAGE SALES!

I love shopping garage sales for the incredible bargains, but I’m going to focus on the HAVING garage sales. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’m not overly fond of putting on a sale, but I am on a mission this year. I desperately want to pare down my possessions. I make progress every week, which is good, but I’m gearing up for sale day. I still have a few weeks to go, and that’s great! I’m looking forward to filling up all my large boxes with items to be sold… which means more stuff leaving my home! I’m even taking this a step further. I’m planning with my neighbors and we’re going to have our sales on the same weekend. How awesome is that? Neighborhood sales attract more attention, which hopefully means more people and more of my stuff going away!

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I know I keep focusing on items going away. Yes, that is intentional. There are a few reasons why…  #1- I need the ongoing pep-talk. I’ve been making excellent progress, and I would like it to continue. In this case, I am my own personal cheerleader.  #2- I am trying to change my mindset. I am trying to reverse 40+ years of keep, save, and buy multiples of everything. I’m tired of storing so much. I’m tired of having to find bigger totes and shelves. When I’m asked if I have big plans for the weekend, and my response is all too often, “I’m going to be cleaning and organizing my music/computer room… AGAIN”, then obviously, things need to change!

I started following a Facebook page called Becoming Minimalist a while back.  I am inspired by Joshua Becker. His posts are not only interesting, but I find them to be quite insightful. I love the little sayings he posts. I can relate. I take them to heart. I’m trying to embrace this way of thinking in order to take my home back and not let my stuff own ME.

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Let’s buckle down and go through our stuff! Call your friends and neighbors and get to selling! (And don’t forget to donate what you don’t sell!)  Less stuff means less cleaning and less stress. Let’s take back our evenings and weekends, and do the things we really want to do… ENJOY LIFE.

LET”S DO THIS!!

 

Minimalistic traveling

Over the last few years, I seem to have started traveling more. Admittedly, it is mostly for work, but not all. I have done more air travel recently than I have the entire rest of my life. That’s probably not saying too much, but it’s true! For the most part, I enjoy it. (I’d enjoy it a bit more if I didn’t get motion sickness from bumpy flights though!) I love seeing new places and taking in different scenery.

There are some things I have learned from my recent travels. First off, I really detest checking my bags. I like having my eye on my stuff at all times if possible. Okay, some smaller planes still make you hand over your small suitcase\carry on, but at least it goes from the trolley at the front of the plane directly into the plane, and right back to me when the flight is over. Hey, I don’t trust people! I’ve had my suitcase gone through more than once! Secondly, because of that fact, I have to pack smarter. As you have probably already figured out, I like stuff. I like taking my stuff with me. You know… just in case! I have finally figured out that packing lighter and smarter isn’t as terrifying as I thought it would be.

I think what helps me the most is HOW I pack. I used to fold everything all nice and neat and lay things on top of each other, just like I would in my dresser. Turns out, at least for me, if I roll up my clothes, I have considerably more room. (AND less wrinkles!) I can put the things that I would put in my backpack in there as well. I was so mad at myself for not figuring it out sooner. Seriously! This could have made my previous trips so much easier. I always bring too many extras. How about instead of 3 extras, just take 1? I actually did it. It’s amazing how much more room I have when I don’t try to take my entire closet with me! This doesn’t mean I can take a lot of other things with me. I see all that extra room in my suitcase, and I feel the need to fill it up with things. I refrained. I am making progress!

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This is half of what I brought the first time I came to Montana. One pair of jeans (besides what I wore on the trip over), pajama top and bottom, two tank tops (for under shirts), a t-shirt, a dressier tank, and two different styles of sweaters in case eating out was going to happen. I also brought three pairs of socks (one extra), same for my other under things, and an extra pair of more comfortable shoes. One layer in my suitcase! Woo hoo! I don’t think you realize how big of a deal this is for me!

I gathered all my other stuff. One small bag of makeup, one baggie of chargers, and two baggies of miscellaneous toiletries that I have to bring. I simply can’t use hotel shampoos and conditioners. My hair is too picky for that.

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There is still a ton of room in there. I would call this a success! (There is some dramatic dance moves going on right now!)

So, what it comes down to is this… Plan ahead. Make a list in advance of what items you want to take. Then, take the time to assess what is on your list. What can you eliminate? What isn’t necessary? Can you survive your trip without it? If you can’t, is there a smaller version you can take? It seems like it should be a no brainer, but sometimes these things just don’t occur to us when we’re in the act of packing. I actually did purchase a few “mini” travel items that took up half the space… Deodorant, first aid kit, and toothpaste. There was nothing overly extravagant, and the total cost was under ten dollars. The nice thing is that I won’t have to purchase them for a few more trips, so it’s totally worth it to me!

There is a certain feeling of freedom when we have less to (literally) carry around. Go on your trip, have fun, and take less with you! You’ll have less to keep track of. You’ll thank yourself for it!

My need to have less stuff

I have a confession to make. Lately I’ve been feeling very closed in and trapped by my stuff. Over the last year I have gotten rid of a lot of things. I’ve had garage sales, and donated trunk loads of my unwanted and unused goods. I have a lot less. So why do I still feel like I’m drowning?

I have theories of course. I have problem areas in my home… my dining room table, a certain oversized bookshelf, and my computer/craft/music room. These are either my high traffic areas, or where I spend much of my time. I’ll be the first to admit that when I get home from work lately, I’m tired. I collapse on the couch and don’t want to move. That is where the problems start. Everything that has happened during the day doesn’t get taken care of, so it starts to build up. It sure doesn’t take long!

The “drop zone” at the end of the day

Where items with no home hang out

I also bring things home. That offsets all that I have disposed of.

I’m sure you can relate. I know I’m guilty of not putting things away. We don’t have control of what happens in our homes when we leave for work, unless you live by yourself. It all adds up in a hurry. Then, within a few days, I start to feel the stress of all my stuff hanging around… far away from where their rightful place is. I feel like I’ve lost control. My stuff owns ME.

IT NEEDS TO STOP!

I’ve read many articles, blog posts, and books about decluttering and minimalism. It all sounds so appealing… so very nice. My big struggle is getting past my heritage and upbringing. You see, I come from a long line of pack rats. NOTE, I did NOT say hoarders. My family has long believed in stocking up on things… getting extra when there’s a deal to be had. It’s not garbage and nastiness… Just lots of items for later use… large boxes of various electronic cables, canning jars full of random nails and screws, shoe boxes full of artist paint brushes. I’ve noticed, as I look around my home, that I tend to do the same things. What makes it all the more ironic, is that I live in the house I grew up in. I still have things in my basement that my dad saved. (Cabinet drawers full of screws, nails, zip ties, etc.) There used to be A LOT more things, but I finally got up the courage to sift through most of it.

I just need to be brutally honest with myself when I take time to deep clean. I need to take every single thing out of my closet and start asking myself those all important questions that all those articles have brought to my attention. Do I use this item daily?  When was the last time I used it? If I were to get rid of it, is there another item that I have that could work similarly to this one? Do I know anyone that I could borrow one from if it was absolutely necessary? If there are several similar items, is there possibly one item that could do all the things that the multiple items can do?

I need to get a variety of boxes together and designate them for definite keepers, undecided, throw away, and donate/garage sale. Ultimately, what I like to do is have my garage sale, and then donate what doesn’t sell. I try to find a cause to donate the clothes, crafts, and other specific items to, whether it be shelters, nursing homes, schools, or various local charities that could use them before donating to my local thrift stores.

I have already decided to do a garage sale this year. I’m really not all that fond of putting on garage sales. I never have been. I work in customer service, so sometimes having a break from people is nice. However, I will admit, that when my daughter comes and hangs out all day with me, it is much more tolerable. We usually don’t make a ton of money, but I do enjoy her company. We listen to music, talk, and laugh obnoxiously… THAT I enjoy immensely. I think the biggest thing that I have learned about the yard/garage sale process, from my coworker, is to price all your items as soon as you have decided to sell them BEFORE you even put them in that designated box. When you’re ready to have your sale, you don’t have to spend the time pricing everything frantically as you’re staging all your tables. It takes so much stress out of the entire process! (Thank you, Angie, for THE MOST amazing advice!) I am even going to talk to my neighbors about the possibility of a neighborhood sale. That would bring in more potential customers. Why not? Last year, I designated the money I made for birthday and Christmas presents. It worked out really well. AND I GOT RID OF STUFF! Watching my things leave with an excited person was refreshingly pleasant. I’m glad someone will enjoy them.

As the summer season approaches, I am going to try and be more vigilant about putting things away as soon as I’m done with them. I’m going to recommit to my “5 things a day” rule. I’m going to put my reusable grocery bags back in my car as soon as I’m done putting my groceries away. If I bring something home, I am going to try to get rid of two things for every one thing I have brought in. I’m going to “Power Hour” my way around my house and have my biggest garage sale to date. (Last year’s was pretty big, so I have a lot of things I need to get rid of!) I’m going to go thru all my clothes and shoes, and get rid of the things I truly don’t wear anymore. I’m determined to reduce the amount of things in my home!

Sometimes all it takes is the realization to reawaken the declutter beast. That has happened to me.

ARE YOU READY TO OWN LESS? I KNOW I AM!