Weekend Purging Challenge

I’m stuck.

Remember how I made it my goal to get rid of one item a day this year? And then, that was so easy, I decided to get rid of 2015 things in the year 2015?

It’s been going awesome – until April. Don’t know what happened this month, but I’m stuck at 950 items purged. My dream for this weekend is to break 1000, but I don’t know if it will happen….

My problem is that I’ve done all the easy stuff. I’ve gone through the whole house, except for the girls’ toys. I’m saving that battle for a little later on in the year – build up my stamina!

We’ve cleaned out our basement, which feels amazing.

basementshelves Ben built shelves, and we’re just waiting for warm weather to clean out the garage, and take a load to the dump.

But now it’s time to get to the harder stuff. I’ve gotten rid of the obvious things that we never use, but now I need to focus on the stuff we use only very occasionally, and could probably live without. I can’t believe that our house can still look so full, even after getting rid of 950 things!

Alright, who’s going to join me?! Fifty things purged this weekend!!

I’m Winning the Battle Against My Kitchen Counter…

Ever since we moved into this house, there’s a spot on the kitchen counter that’s had me beat.

I have not been able to keep it clean for the life of me.

It has driven me nuts for two and a half years, because it’s where EVERYTHING ends up – mail, toys, books, papers I don’t get around to filing, every random piece of anything that doesn’t really have a place.

Do you have a place like that in your house?

Here’s my good news: I have finally found the way to be FREE!!!


I was reading some kind of organizing something or other, can’t remember what, but these words stuck with me:

Clutter attracts clutter.

It made sense to me. If there’s a pile of junk, I will throw more junk on it. My family will throw more junk on it. I think to myself, “I’ll just clean all of this up later”, and keep adding to it.

There were times (when company was coming over!) when I’d whittle it down to nothing, and have a clean counter for an evening, but it never stayed that way for long, because the clutter would always come back, and multiply.

Since reading that clutter attracts clutter, I have made it my goal to make sure the clutter never starts. I don’t put anything on that counter.

And the weirdest thing has been happening: If I don’t put stuff on the counter, my family doesn’t put stuff on the counter.

What??! This has been going on for almost two weeks, and I can’t believe it. Every once in a while, the odd object will end up getting place there, and I clean it up IMMEDIATELY, so it doesn’t attract anything!!!

I never told my family what I was doing. I never announced that everyone had to stop collecting junk on the counter. They just don’t put it there anymore. So weird!!

Yesterday, Ben was loading the dishwasher after supper, and he suddenly said, “I’ve been noticing that the kitchen is a lot tidier. It’s easier to clean up after supper.”

That’s when I knew that big change was really happening – Ben noticed!! Sometimes I demand admiration from him for major accomplishments, but this time I hadn’t said anything, because I wanted to be sneaky about my experiment.:) (That sounds like he’s super unobservant, which isn’t completely true – mess just doesn’t bother him, so these things slowly, gradually dawn on him…)

With my success inspiring me, I’ve tackled the second junk area in our home – we’ll see if this one is equally successful!!

Do you have a spot in your house that has you beat? Where do you tend to pile things?

Getting Rid of Junk

Every once in a while, I come across a blog post that I really, really wish I had written, just because it’s brilliant, and perfectly worded, and I agree 100% with absolutely everything in it.

The Powerful Difference Between Organizing and Decluttering is one of those posts.

I read it this morning while I was eating my breakfast. I was sitting at our kitchen counter, which had an enormous pile of papers and junk that I needed to sort through, a job I’d been putting off for far too long.

As I sat there surrounded by my junk, I read this:

Living with less trumps organizing because organizing is temporary…..

Decluttering—or, just getting rid of stuff, is permanent. It leaves your four walls, and immediately you have more visual and physical space. Your shoulders feel lighter, you know where everything is, and you truly love everything left. And you love your home just a little bit more.

I looked at my pile for a while, and I thought, “I am tired of trying to find the right place to store all of that stuff. Could I just throw EVERYTHING away??”

I went through the pile, and it turned out there were only three papers that need to be filed (in existing files, so that was easy), and a notebook and two notepad that needed to be put back in a drawer.


The rest could get thrown out!!


Do you have any piles in your house that need to be thrown out instead of organized?

Around Here Right Now

Right now, I’m loving…

Her shirts tucked in (always!!!!)

shirtAt first, I tried to talk her out of it, but she was so insistent, I gave up, and now it’s just the way it’s done!:)

Fresh strawberries with Greek yogurt


Reading fiction again!

I’ve stayed away from it for years, because it usually results in me staying up far too late at night to finish a book, or getting grumpy at my family because I don’t want to talk to people – I just want to read my book!!!

But after my entertainment fast ended, I watched TV every night for a week, and Ben said, “Can we please do something other than watch TV? Let’s sit on the couch and read!” I have a hard time spending an entire evening reading nonfiction – I like doing that in one-chapter-at-a-time chunks. So for the love of my husband, I went and got some fiction to read. It’s a lesson in self-control and getting to bed at a decent hour, but it is very nice to sit with Ben on the couch, reading our books.:)


Individual snack-size hummus!

hummusSomeone out there completely understands my snacking needs! We’ve bought many, many tubs of hummus that don’t get finished before the expiry date, and have to get chucked. But these are perfect.

hummusOrganizing my new homeschool cupboard:

cupboardWe’ve tried to jam all of our supplies into one little kitchen cupboard for much too long. We could never find what we were looking for. Now everything has a place, and we don’t have to use the “cram-it-all-in-and-slam-the-door-shut-really-quickly-before-it-all-falls-out” method.:)


These articles on happiness, and why making our children happy should not be our goal:

Happiness is Not a Goal:

“Happiness is not a goal. Happiness is a natural response to a well-ordered life.

It’s better to ask the question, when in your life have you felt most happy?

For me, it was often when I felt I was being used in some good and powerful way, beyond myself – which was always connected to feeling like I was in the service of love.”

Happiness is not a goal. Happiness is the natural response to a well-ordered life.

It’s better to ask the question, when in your life have you felt most happy?

For me it was often when I felt I was being used in some good and powerful way, beyond myself- which always was connected to feeling like I was in service of love.

– See more at: http://www.wellgroundedsite.com/2014/04/happiness-not-a-goal/#sthash.e0YQdGfI.dpuf

Happiness is not a goal. Happiness is the natural response to a well-ordered life.

It’s better to ask the question, when in your life have you felt most happy?

For me it was often when I felt I was being used in some good and powerful way, beyond myself- which always was connected to feeling like I was in service of love.

– See more at: http://www.wellgroundedsite.com/2014/04/happiness-not-a-goal/#sthash.e0YQdGfI.dpuf

I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical:

“Parents do not make childhood magical. Abuse and gross neglect can mar it, of course, but for the average child, the magic is something inherent to the age. Seeing the world through innocent eyes is magical. Experiencing winter and playing in the snow as a 5-year-old is magical. Getting lost in your toys on the floor of your family room is magical. Collecting rocks and keeping them in your pockets is magical. Walking with a branch is magical….

A childhood without Pinterest crafts can be magical. A childhood without a single vacation can be magical. The magic we speak of and so desperately want our children to taste isn’t of our creation, and therefore is not ours to dole out as we please. It is discovered in quiet moments by a brook or under the slide at the park, and in the innocent laughter of a life just beginning.”

I wish you many simple, enjoyable moments in your day!

Some Monday Odds and Ends

It was a looong Monday, friends!! Good, but long. So here I sit at the end of the day, waiting for inspiration to hit so I can write an awesome blog post to kick off the week.

I’m getting the sneaky suspicion that I may have to wait a bit longer for that inspiration, but in the meantime, here are a few random thoughts to share with all of you:

1) I’m pretty giddy about any sign of snow these days.

There were some flakes dancing down while I was driving home today, and my heart leaped with joy. I do not understand this, because winter can be a hard season to get through, and I know I’ll be completely tired of snow by March, but for some reason, that first snowfall always manages to excite me every year…

2) Getting our entrance closet ready for winter is a nightmare during the process, but pretty wonderful when it’s done!

entranceMoment of truth…that looks horrendous! I wish I had an awesome “after” picture, but I only took one during the process of nastiness!

That was my major accomplishment this weekend. I went through all of our shoes, jackets, mitts, scarves, and any other random objects that managed to find their way into our entrance closet. I washed all the summer stuff and packed it away, and I pulled out all the winter stuff, and got everything all organized and ready to go. Now it can snow anytime, and we’ll be ready!

3) I have a new favorite salad dressing.

I’ve been eating it all weekend. SO delicious. Found it here.

salad dressing

4) I took another bold plunge of faith, and invited a couple we don’t know over for supper!

It was another one of those moments of listening to that little voice deep inside, telling me to do something scary, unknown, and wonderful. I felt like such a freak, but I went up to the couple and said, “I’m not exactly sure why, but I’ve been feeling as though God’s telling me to invite you over to our house sometime. We’d love to get to know you!”

And they seemed happy about it, and we’re really happy about it, and I’m amazed once again that the smallest thing can give so much joy. I’m also continually amazed that it doesn’t really matter if God actually told me to do it or not – it was a good thing, and so I’ll go with it. No excuses. Just do it quick, before I change my mind. The worst thing that could have happened was them saying no. But they didn’t, and they’re coming, and I’m quite sure we’ll have a great time!

And if it happens to snow for the first time on the day that they come, and I hang their jackets in my newly organized closet, and make my favorite new salad dressing to serve them for supper, then all of my random thoughts of the day will flow together, and no longer be random. Right?!

What have you been up to this lovely Monday?

35 Days of Favorites: Space to Organize!

Hello, Friends!

I just have to say – I am loving your comments and suggestions for new things to try during this 35 Days of Favorites series! Laura’s Carrot Cake Bites sound amazing, and Stacie’s love for The Well-Behaved Child has convinced me to add it to my reading list.

Alicia’s favorite quote is one that I’m going to put up on my fridge:

“I have sought how I might make God more loved by other souls…and have not found any other or more powerful way than kindness.” Lucie-Christine (1844-1908)

I’ll be trying this Homemade Shea Butter Hand Lotion, and I’m almost ready to make a decision about what new cookie sheets to buy, thanks to Julia and Chantelle’s comments, which have given me something to consider and research. Andrea’s success with clothing swaps has gotten me curious, and I’m looking forward to attending the next one!

Thanks to everyone for contributing so far. It’s what makes this so much fun for me! I love hearing from you all.

So. I suppose today’s favorite could also be labelled “Ikea Coming to Winnipeg”, because all of our best storage solutions were bought there.

But it doesn’t really matter to me where it comes from, I just love having enough space to put things away in a neat and orderly way.

The organizing space I’m loving most right now is this one:

storage cabinet

I wrote about the trauma of dark paint, and then the white cabinet recovery in this post. And now I just love it all. There is so much storage in this unit that I still have empty shelves to figure out what to do with.

Our TV fits perfectly, and I love being able to close the doors to hide it:


I keep most of our homeschooling supplies in this cabinet, as well as games and puzzles for the girls:

homeschool supplies

Ben wants to put some trim on the top and bottom of the shelves to finish things off, and I’ll probably keep rearranging those shelves for the rest of my life, but other than that, it’s been a fantastic solution for our storage needs.

I got the idea from this blog, in case you want the details on how to shop for and assemble the whole thing.

Okay, everybody, you’ve heard how much I love your comments! Today I would love to hear your organizing secrets! Or maybe you have some crazy, out-of-control areas that you’d love to find a storage solution for? Any Ikea-love out there? (A little reminder: I’m bribing your comments with a prize at the end!)

When It’s Just Time to Get a Dreaded Task DONE!

There is a drawer in our filing cabinet that has plagued me for years. Years.

I always knew I’d have to deal with it, but I really, really didn’t want to. I always managed to convince myself that it wasn’t that important to get it organized. It was only financial stuff.

Oh, wait….That’s actually really important.

I managed to keep ignoring it, anyway.

And then we moved, and I knew that I REALLY needed to do something about it, because moving something in a completely chaotic state does not feel good. If you move it in bad shape, it will be in bad shape at the other end, too.

But when you have loads of boxes to unpack, and tons and tons of other stuff to organize, it’s pretty easy to ignore the Drawer of Complete Awfulness.

I’m not really sure what happened to bring about change, but for some mysterious reason, I woke up the other morning feeling ready to do something drastic. It was time to tackle The Drawer.

Ben was gone for the evening, and so I decided that as soon as the girls were in bed, I would begin.

Ben called to see how my day was going, and I told him about my plans to be productive, but confessed that I was pretty tired, and an evening of Downton Abbey was sounding much better than the Drawer of Complete Awfulness.

He suggested that I just work like crazy for half an hour, and see how much I got done. Then I could relax for the rest of the evening.

Since this sounded like a good idea, I set my timer and got to work.

People, I was finding receipts from 1998!! Oh, my word, it was bad.

And it was all completely organized in 45 minutes.

I was going to stop working after half an hour, but I could tell I was pretty close to being done, so I just finished the job.

file drawer

I’m finding that dreaded tasks often do not take nearly as long as they seem. When you actually get down to it, the nastiness can get taken care of fairly quickly.

What’s your area? What’s the job that’s been weighing on you for a long, long time?

Just think – you could be 45 minutes away from freedom.

DO IT!!!

As I’m basking in my victory over The Drawer of Complete Awfulness Which is No Longer, I must tell you – it is totally worth it. Whatever your dreaded task is,you can do it, and it probably won’t take as long as you think….

A Week in the Life – Saturday Photos

I liked this weekend.

We started off with our usual Saturday morning pancakes and Happy Music. Ben always, always gets out his laptop and plays our “Happy Music” playlist on Grooveshark. If he forgets for any reason, Anika shouts out, “Hey, we need Happy Music!”

While the girls were waiting for their pancakes, they got into the photo albums, which have been a big favorite of theirs over the last few weeks. (Can’t wait to add this week’s album to the collection for them to enjoy!)

After we finished eating, it was time for Saturday chores. Anika was extra motivated to get her chores done, because she was having a friend over mid morning, and she needed to be done her work by then. She’s been so excited, she actually decided to wash the bathroom floor on Friday night already, so that she would have less work to do on Saturday morning!

Her chores these days include dusting and tidying her room, cleaning the bathroom, and washing the bathroom floor. Once she’s polished up her bathroom, she puts signs on the door, letting us all know that we are not allowed to enter and mess it up!

Ben and I decided that this Saturday was the day for tackling our basement. We haven’t organized it since moving in six months ago. With Ben working on finishing up his Masters, there was a long list of projects we’ve put on hold until now.

Well, he’s officially graduated, so the list of projects is starting to shorten! Last weekend it was the garage, this weekend the basement.

Ben needs to build some shelves, but we feel much better about the current state of our basement:

We did some cleaning upstairs, too.

And then Ben did some grocery shopping with Anika while I stayed home and read books with Kaylia.

We all went outside for a little bit in the afternoon.

Ben shoveled our driveway, Anika helped, I walked to the mailbox, and Kaylia sat on the doorstep, whining to go inside. And I took a picture of our house, because I haven’t yet.

The big excitement of the afternoon was the delivery of our new Ikea bookshelf! My friend Sarah got a special pass, and went shopping at Ikea even though it doesn’t officially open for a week. She asked if I wanted her to pick anything up for us, so we requested this shelf for the girls’ room.

In the evening, after Kaylia was in bed, Ben went out with friends, and I finished watching “High School Musical 2” with Anika. After she went to bed, I had a quiet house to myself, which was kind of nice, for a change! As much as I love spending time with Ben, I also enjoy doing stuff on my own.

After that full day, we are ready for a relaxing Sunday!

34 Days of Favorites: Most-Used Birthday Gift

I always receive lovely gifts for my birthday, and I’m very thankful for all of them.

But for my birthday last year, I was given a gift which I’ve used many, many more times than any of my other gifts.

My mom gave me this book:

I was surprised when I unwrapped it, because although I’d been wanting to read it for months, I’d never told her that.

It was even better than I’d anticipated.

If you ever come over to my house, there is a very good chance you’ll find this book lying on my kitchen counter because I’ve just finished using it, or I’m just about to use it.

The resources in the appendix are my favorite. There are many recipes for natural cleaning products, as well as personal care items, which is why I use this book so regularly.

The book itself is a good read. I found the ideas for clearing clutter were similar to what I’d read before, but Tsh Oxenreider has an interesting twist to her perspective, in that she’s spent many years living overseas, and simply hasn’t had the space to collect junk as we do in North America.

I found this book highly motivating. It even made me have a garage sale, in spite of the fact that I had never thought I would do such a thing.

On top of all that, the pictures in Organized Simplicity are so clean and refreshing, it really makes you want to clean your house from top to bottom, and leave lemons lying around everywhere.

Definitely one of my favorite birthday gifts ever.

Do you have a favorite gift you’ve been given? Something you use over and over again?

And just a reminder…This is the last day you can comment on “34 Days of Favorites” to enter the contest! Here’s the complete list, in case you missed any, or want to go back and add a comment on any of them:

Natural Beauty Products, Blogs, Morning Routine, Prayer Book, Photo Galleries, Vintage Handkerchiefs, Books to Read Aloud, Purging, Restaurants, Overcoming Fear of Flying, Tea, Home, Counting Blessings, New Recipe, Quote, Getting Out of My Comfort Zone, Breakfast, Lunch, Supper, Sleep Habits, Body Brushing, Pinterest, New Camera, New Friends, Serious Music, Happy Music, Apple Cider Vinegar, Movies, Smiling, TV Show, Books, Clothing

Why (and How!) I’m Choosing to Own Less Clothes

My feelings toward clothing changed when I became pregnant.

Suddenly, there was a very real and urgent need for an entirely new wardrobe. At no other time in my life have I ever gone out and purchased an entire new wardrobe.

It is very painful on the budget to do so. It was kind of stressful for me.

So I sat down and made a list of what was absolutely necessary. (That list looks a lot different when it’s made on paper, at home, rather than mentally, in the store, as you are already trying on a super fantastic shirt that fits perfectly and brings out the color of your eyes.)

As I thought about my needs honestly, logically, and frugally, I realized I needed only eight outfits, if I did laundry once a week – eight shirts or sweaters, and three pairs of pants. For me, I knew this was enough, and I couldn’t really justify getting more than that.

So that’s what I bought. I owned very nice maternity clothes, and all of it was great quality that was still in good shape at the end of my pregnancy.

I was a tiny little bit sick of my clothes by the end, but looking back, I actually miss those clothes. I really liked them.

And then I wasn’t pregnant anymore. And suddenly, I fell into thinking that I needed about five times as much clothing as I had during my pregnancy.

I started shopping much more carelessly, and without a list or even a real idea of what I truly needed. If there was room in the clothing budget, it meant I could buy new clothes, whether I really needed them or not. And before I knew it, there I was with a closet full of more clothes than what I truly needed.

Every week, that bothered me. I remembered the simple feeling of an empty closet on laundry day – the sure sign that I didn’t have too many clothes, because they had all been used, and all need to be washed.

I missed those days.

For a long time, I knew I should do something about it.

And then one day I finally did do something about it.

Here’s how I did it (keeping in mind that I’m a stay-at-home mom who doesn’t have to glide out of the house looking sophisticated or professional – ever) :

1) I wear only what I love.

I would rather wear my favorite jeans every single day of the week, than force myself to wear the ones that don’t really fit well, and don’t make me feel good about the way I look. But I wear them because I feel like I have to. Like people will think I’m weird if I wear the same pair of pants every time they see me.

Um..so what? And will anyone really even notice? And if they notice, do I truly need to care?

2) I wear out what I have.

When I own fewer clothes, I actually wear them out, because I use them a lot. Great! Then I will actually need to go out and buy new stuff. I never used to need new clothes. I wanted new clothes, so I had to somehow justify a reason for buying them that didn’t sound as lame as, “I want to be more stylish.”

But when you have oodles of clothes, you don’t wear them out, because they’re hardly worn. Better to shop well, spend less, own less, and then replace it when you really need to.

3) I try to shop with intention.

I never spent a lot of money on clothing, and I don’t think I had more clothing than the average person. But I thought shopping was fun, and my lines were blurry when it came to what I needed or what I wanted. I felt guilty sometimes for buying something I really loved, but knew deep down I probably didn’t really need.

That list I made when I was pregnant? That was a good list. It is good to know what I truly need. Shopping with intention, rather than for the fun of it, gets rid of the guilt, and is much easier on the budget and on the closet.

4) And then I stay away from the mall.

Very logical, I know. But as I don’t need as many clothes, and I don’t spend very much time  shopping, I can’t believe how much freer my life feels. I went on a shopping spree in January, and bought a number of things that I needed, all at once.

Now I don’t need to go shopping again for a very long time. I’m not tempted to buy stuff I don’t need if I don’t go into a mall. I am able to make logical choices more easily, because I don’t have “shopping brain”. I will need a new pair of jeans in the not-too-distant future. In the past, I would just have gone out and bought them already. But now, I realize that I can make it work with what I have until summer, maybe even fall.

Because you know what? Everyone can totally survive, even if a pair of my “at home” jeans have a hole in the knee. I don’t like wearing jeans with holes, but when I’m crawling around, washing the floor or playing Polly Pockets, it really is okay if my jeans have a small hole. Let’s wait for something a little more serious before we rush to the mall.

5) I’m trying to stop thinking about my clothes altogether.

I find enjoyment in things that look nice. Which is okay, unless it gets out of hand. Or if it starts defining who I am.

Nobody notices what I’m wearing as much as I do.

Some people don’t notice at all!

But they probably notice if I’m nice and friendly to them, and if the things I say build them up and brighten their day.

It is so time to get over myself. Nothing wrong with nice clothes. I will continue to take pleasure in things that look nice. But there are so many things that matter so much more.

I want to focus on what truly matters.

There are people who can do this while still having a huge, super-fantastic, fashionable wardrobe. And that’s awesome.

For me, I have found that as I pursue a simpler life, I am able to better focus on the important stuff when I strip away some of the distractions.


There are some great posts to read on this topic. I found Katie’s “No New Clothes Challenge” an interesting read.

All of Rachel Meeks’ tips on dressing well with a small wardrobe are worth reading.

And of course, I am a huge fan of Joshua Becker‘s tips to living with less in general. This is the article that inspired my wardrobe changes: 7 Ways to Sample Living With Less

Okay, your turn! I’d love to hear your opinion. Do you shop out of need or pleasure? How do you find a balance between the two?