Simple

Textures

Simplifying life seems to be a continuous project for me. It goes in fits and spurts, but it’s always going.

I’ve been reading some inspiration lately, and one post challenged me to write down my goals:

Check your mindset:

1. Write down your goals. What do you want from this change? Where do you feel the greatest need to slow down and simplify? What do you stand to gain?
2. Write down your strengths. What are you already good at? Gardening? Organising? Planning? Cooking healthy, cheap meals?
3. Write down your weaknesses. What challenges will you face? What circumstances will make change harder for you?
4. Check your answers. You need to be in this for the right reasons. You need to understand that you come to simple living from a unique place. Your journey won’t look like anyone else’s. And that’s fine. Great, even. Perfect.
5. Get to it. Committing goals to paper helps you achieve them.

Homemade bread

So here goes.

Goals:

  • Slow. Feel slower, simpler, less frazzled, less behind. I want to stop constantly feeling like I’m behind on just about everything.
  • Enjoy. I want to get to enjoy our lovely home (even if it isn’t perfect), my horse, our land. They’re not burdens, they’re blessings.
  • Invest. I want to invest in the things God has given us to steward. Our time, our home, our land, our animals, our friendships, our family, our life.
  • Explore. I want to have adventures. Get out. Get going. See someplace new. Leave behind the crazy. Refresh. Restore. Make room for wonderful experiences.
  • Ryhthm. I love having rhythm to life, not necessarily patterns or habits or set schedules, but rhythms to live by.
  • Get rid of excess clutter, especially in the garage!! Also books, DVDs, desk supplies, craft supplies, clothes and shoes. (I’ve been doing a lot better on the books/DVDs/clothes/shoes, but there is always more progress to make!)
  • Organize necessary stored supplies, especially in the study, garage, barn and garden shed. (Shelving, shelving, shelving! Thinking about asking for this for my birthday.)
  • Quiet, calm atmosphere. Not too much stuff, not too much furniture.
  • Preparedness. Extra toiletries, paper towels, flour, laundry detergent. Because the stress of running out is far more energy-consuming than being prepared ahead of time.
  • Slowing weekends. Yes, Saturdays are for productivity. But if I clean/do laundry more during the week, Saturdays are simpler, especially now that I have to share that time and space with Husband. Also, Sundays. Sundays are not for errands. Sundays are for rest. Remember that. Do errands before Sunday!
  • Simplify finances. Don’t use credit card. Open work account for Husband. Open business account for business. Separating, simplifying. So much less stressful.
  • Strengths:

  • I’m generally consistent. I’m a rule follower, when I make a plan, create a rule, I stick to it.
  • I love organizing (I just need some supplies, like shelves!)
  • Keeping our calendar realistic and making regular do-to lists. I was in a rhythm, I’ve gotten out of it. I need my rhythm back.
  • Weaknesses:

  • Filing. I hate filing paperwork. But I love a clean desk…
  • Weeding. Gardens are great, upkeep is not.
  • Our schedule. Both working full time, and each commuting an hour each way, makes for a full day before we even get home.
  • Getting up early. Getting up a little earlier would make mornings better, more productive, easier, simpler. I’m just bad at it. Luckily, summer is arriving and with it the sun. It’s so much easier to get up in time to throw in a load of laundry and make sure the dishwasher is loaded when the sun is up early too.
  • Farm fresh eggs

    Simplify: Kitchen Pantry

    Simplify: Kitchen Pantry

    I have been on a mission to simplify all year to aid in my desire to learn how to slow down.

    This weekend, I tackled the pantry. Husband often asks me what we need or have while he’s perusing grocery store aisles…and most of the time I have no idea. Our pantry is so disorganized that we end up buying more than we need of something and not enough of something else just because we can’t keep track of it all.

    This is ridiculous! There are only two of us living here (unless, of course, you count Ginger, but the pantry doesn’t pertain to her…she has her own closet that needs organizing).

    A disorganized pantry

    I started by clearing out the shelves, because this space under the stairs is short and cramped and I can’t stand being in here for long. Much easier to sort through everything on the counter or table.

    The first order of business is to remove everything from the pantry that doesn’t need to be there. Chocolate fountain? Nope. Sangria serving set? Um, no.

    Non-food items in pantry

    I also pulled out anything that was past its expiration date (and a box of taco shells that had been mostly eaten by mice last winter…yes, a hazard of living in an old farm house is field mice that move in when it gets cold.) And I put everything near its expiration in another pile to be used ASAP, like a few boxes of jello and a little Bisquick.

    Further, some items like hot tea or cocoa are stored in a basket above my baking shelf, so those things came out as well. Lastly, miscellaneous baking supplies came out.

    Piles of food to be reorganized.

    Personally, I like to keep my baking supplies in clear glass containers on this bookshelf in the kitchen–everything is readily available and it is obvious when we need more of something (as you can see below, we are completely out of whole grain flour). I do, however, keep backup supplies and some smaller items in plastic containers in the pantry (inside of containers because of, um, mice…).

    Baking supplies on bookshelf

    I restocked my baking supplies on the shelf, made note of what we need to purchase more of, and organized the little items back into their storage containers.

    Extra baking supplies in mouse-proof containers

    Next, I grouped items together: Cereals, snacks, jams, soups, etc. etc. Each group is designated a specific location in the pantry so when we look in there, we’ll know where to find it. These items were placed back on the shelves.

    An organized pantry!

    Voila! It took less than an hour to totally revamp my kitchen pantry, and I am sooo much happier with it. (There’s even an entire empty shelf!)

    Organizing: Hats, Scarves, and Mittens Oh My!

    Organizing: Hats, Scarves, and Mittens Oh My!

    Do you have one of those overflowing baskets of hats and mittens? Do your scarves get tangled and fall from their hooks? Is it impossible to find matching gloves on your way out the door?

    Then you might be something like me.

    I love accessories. LOVE THEM. I especially love them because I can find them at thrift stores =).

    But they are so hard to keep organized…or so I thought.

    Then one day I had an idea…what about a shoe organizer? So I began using a nice canvas one to hold all of my winter accessories. But this year, even that became a jumbled mess.

    Luckily, it only took about 10 minutes to reorganize, and now I love choosing my accessories before I head out the door in the morning!

    Organizing winter accessories

    Time to purge

    Time to purge

    So I am purging in preparation for the New Year. Yesterday, Husband and I celebrated Boxing Day in our own little way by packaging up a few boxes of items we really don’t need to donate to a thrift store that benefits the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters.

    Today I am continuing my cleansing by unsubscribing to vast numbers of emails that I receive almost daily. Many of these are places that I will continue to frequent as I have the spending money, but I don’t need near daily reminders of all the “good deals” they are offering. I don’t have the funds to purchase good deals every day. In the midst of my purging I discovered that many of these emails will allow me to choose to receive fewer emails (such as once monthly) or only coupon emails. Very helpful indeed.

    More things on my list of purging:

  • Boxes in the garage. (I don’t even know what’s in half of them!)
  • Boxes under our bed. (Again, what is even in them?)
  • Dog toys. (Or rather, scraps of fabric that used to be dog toys. I also want to wash and put away some of Ginger’s older toys as she is so engrossed in the new ones from Christmas. Then I can bring out the old ones when she needs a distraction…)
  • Pantry shelves. (It’s not even the food I’m worried about (that’s Husband’s domain) but all the disorganized paper products and plasticware and tablecloths…we need some order to things)
  • My desk. (Way too many papers, not nearly enough space. Now that the semester is over, I can at least purge school papers!)
  • Magazines. (Why is it that I can’t bring myself to throw magazines away? Even ones I don’t read…)
  • Crafting room. (It’s a disaster after Christmas.)
  • Barn clothes. (Do I really need that many shabby articles of clothing for the barn?)
  • Ginger’s closet. (Yes, our dog has a closet. And it desperately needs to be organized…first step is finding a container large enough to hold a bag of dog food.)
  • Linen closet. (I am thankful to say that my linens are in wonderful shape, but my extra toiletries…those could use a little help. Or maybe a lot. Does anyone else feel like they inadvertently collect toiletries? I’m ready to get rid of anything I won’t use, and use up anything I will.)

    I’m sure many more areas of our home will have to go through the purging process, but this looks like a good start to me!