Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Well I've been painting and painting and painting since last we chatted.

Painting list:

A week on the chairs. 

A couple days up on the roof painting details like rusty vent pipes and faux brick, tin chimney. The wood on the garage cupola. That stuff was oddly satisfying in the extreme. I just love seeing those tiny improvements add up to big fresh vibes for the house. (I still have to address the cupola's aged roof and missing-top-weathervane. Looking forward to that!)

A FULL day painting some raised beds for a garden. (And the  perfectionist in me hasn't signed off on that job, so it's not done. {Sigh...why does she do this to me?!?!...because she  knows what looks good, and sometimes you don't get it right the first time. It's frustrating. Especially when you get sunburned in the process. But I'd rather get it right than leave it there bothering me.})

So yeah. We are really focused on the exterior for a bit.
I've brainstormed:
--the light fixtures (currently misfitted, rusty 80's brass ones), 
--the garage door (paint + trim added) 
--and some back yard shutters (need to spray paint some serendipitous thrift store finds for our family room window that sits in front of the patio). 
--Not to mention a few special things for the kids for the backyard.

So we are trying to take advantage of Blake's semester break (which is small since he's teaching summer classes) and I'm trying not to get ahead of myself and lose my mind doing too much.

So for today I will leave you a teaser photo of a painted chair. 

Hopefully soon I can do a backyard reveal.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Sunroom progress

Before I show you the sunroom…..

Quick personal update:
I’ve been kinda slow to blog much. But I’m still truckin.
I just finished a 13 week Griefshare class. That was really good for me -- entirely exhausting. But then that’s just grief -- so not the course’s fault. But that’s had me kinda just introspective and quiet.

Because we switched churches, I’m joining more groups and classes, I’m making more friends, doing more stuff on occasion. That’s been refreshing.

Besides that I’ve been picking out stuff for the kids' school year next year. First year officially teaching two kids. Kinda excited. Kinda scared. (That toddler quotient, that ups the ante a bit….eek.) 
But yeah that took up a lot of time and energy, and I’m still not sure I’m done. But I know where I’m leaning. Choices are so nice, and yet so draining. I like to really look into things, so it get’s kinda crazy.

I’ve also been sewing lately. Hemming things. Jeans, linen pants, bedsheets! (My kids beds have no more box springs, so sheets look sloppy and droopy, on the lowered height. I just hemmed them yesterday and... wow I feel SO accomplished because the room looks so much more put together. (By the way I need to show you the girl’s room. It got a makeover.)
I’m also attempting some thrift store clothes altering (Our weather has been crazy. The other day in April it was in the 80s. So I ran and got a bunch of  “I’m too hot” clothes. Only to have it go back into the 50s so that I’m back in my winter sweaters this week. But that’s ok, because it gives me time to work on my projects.)…I’m hoping I get a summer jumpsuit out of the mix -- but time will tell if I succeed. I don’t know what I’m doing, I just have my fingers crossed.
So far I’ve hemmed dorky shorts into what I think are not-dorky-shorts. However I may be crazy. I don’t know. But I’ve always hated shorts -- I got them bunchy-legs -- I can’t keep trendy shorts from wedging up my legs. So I’m trying “vintage” shorts look this year and seeing what happens. $3 wasted if it doesn’t work for me. Or if I get laughed out of the neighborhood. ;) I don’t think I will be seducing Blake with them -- he’s politely quite about them. ha. (If I’m brave I’ll show you. If you’re kind you’ll pretend they are hot.)

I’ve been reading like crazy. I have more books than makes me feel sane from the library. I have grab-5-books-from-around-the-one-I-wanted disease. I can’t read everything I think I should. But I am trying.

I’m also trying to get back to working out. This month is the month. I’ve let stuff slide too long. But now I’ve gotten through griefshare, I’ve got more stuff in the house settled. It’s time. I miss feeling as fit as I did last summer. This is close to when I started last year -- so it’s kinda like a total do-over, only with less to lose. I put a bit back on, so there’s a bit to lose. But nothing major, I just miss feeling so vital and just good-feeling physically. I gotta get back on the train.
I also have to fix my brain about it. If anyone wants to comment about this -- PLEASE DO. But I have this really backwards struggle….I think that when I get fit, I’m mean to people. I have a hard time separating people’s personal emotional response to it, from my own responsibility. Like when I lost weight last year, if anyone acted jealous, backhanded, or insecure around me, I felt like I was personally mean to that person -- just by walking into the room (thinner.) I’m working on it. I keep being told I am not responsible for other people’s emotions, only my own. (Because I’m SO not flaunting anything, or doing this for anyone other than me.) But this is a major uphill mental battle for me. So feel free to share any thoughts you may have -- I’m needing all the help I can get. It’s honestly a major part of why I put a few pounds back on, this stupid mental game. 

ANYWAY…Now onto the sunroom.

I’m not expecting to impress with these quicky iphone photos, but here’s a glimpse of our sunroom progress.

I picked a color! It’s called "Olive Grey.” 
And the nice thing about moving at the pace of a turtle in this space is, I literally got to see this color’s paint chip play with each season’s light. So I know I like this color in the sun, rain, fog, snow…you name it. I like that in the winter it feels warmer and in the summer it feels cooler. The room isn’t air conditioned, and we don’t normally heat it with it’s electric heaters. So having a color add the right mental temperature to the space is really helpful.

Here you can see it butted up against the white primer. White was perfectly acceptable, and to some, likely preferable. But for me, the white was too strong in here. It called attention to itself. And I wanted this space to feel like it almost didn’t exist -- like I was outside, inside. I wanted the walls to disappear, not  get attention. And for me, this color is it! The bees knees, the cat’s meow. I’m thrilled with it.
Its a magic color, sometimes I still think the walls are white (when I’m not seeing the still white wall.) But other times it’s green, other times it’s tan, other times it grey. The green varies in depths and darkness. It plays wonderfully with the brick, the white-almond-bleh of the electric heaters, the kinda yellow-khaki of the shades this room came with….and most importantly the trees and grass and nature outside these windows.

No one could convince me this color is bad. (If you don’t like it, that’s fine. But I will love it regardless.)

So here’s the deal with the white wall -- we are making sure we have the roof sealed enough before I paint it, and before the ceiling goes on. 

 I’ve change my mind about the ceiling, and now I want to copy this technique I saw done by Lowe’s Spring Challenge Bloggers.
Only of course mine will be angled with the vaulted-ness.
Only I want to paint mine the wall color like these two spaces have done.


I can’t imagine the white ceiling working for my outdoors-inside schemes. Especially with the vault coming down -- it calls a lot of attention to the ceiling then.
But I would like to get a fan similar to this one below. Simple, dark-tone. But will need a light source.

Ok so let’s talk furniture.
 I did not attempt to make these couches look photo ready. They are freshly kid pounced, but they do smooth out and fluff up. (And my side table is style by my crew as well.)
I got this couch and love seat off craigslist for $100 total, for both. They are very comfortable. And to be honest... I don’t hate the color. My goal is to sew them a neutral “pottery barn” like cover. But I’m not mad at them, so I won’t rush. 

Off to the side, stacked up messy, I have my patio chairs still waiting for paint. I wound up choosing a soft black. I think it’s going to be very chic. 

And you can see that I have moved my chinoiserie chairs and their table out here. I wanted a table out here for games or summer dinners. And I decieded this was the table’s proper home. And I choose something else for the kitchen. (There’s actually a very long story about my table hunting, and rehunting, and rehunting, that I will save for another day.)
But I really like it out here. It’s a great spot for it.

I still need to choose a new door. This one is the really bad-seal one. (I wanted to paint it olive grey too -- but decided to save my paint for the real thing.) I can’t decide on a style for here. Same thing? Or instead, a window floor to ceiling? (Panes/no panes?)  Zero window -- solid door? (Panels, one panel, flat?) What does this room ask for? I wish I could hear it speaking better.
I will also see the outside of the door from my family room. So I’d like it to fit the whole house vibe.
Wow -- our smoker’s gorgeous! Ignore that and the bag of…sand? Just look at the door  over the patio step.
You guys have any thoughts on the door? Comment away. I’m stumped. But it’s gotta happen.

Anyway --
Here’s a pano. (it makes the room bigger than it really is -- but it is a big room.) I’m so excited for when this whole room is done -- soft green and quite, or loud with rain.  It’s going to be so beautiful. I think it’s going to be my favorite room of the house.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Unexpected Decor Defining

Something really unexpected happened when I did my big closet purge.

Most minimalists advocate putting sentimental things on display whenever possible, to enjoy them and cherish them, as opposed to storing them away and never seeing them. 

      Blake has two pairs of cowboy boots that were his grandpa’s, a brown and a black pair.

      His grandpa John lived and ranched in North Dakota. I got to go out to his ranch once when Jasmine was about a year old. I will always remember grandpa John’s eyes sparkle when he told us this adorable story about his childhood and how he always wished he had dark hair like his brothers did, and how they told him if he ate burnt toast it would darken his hair.

     We’ve had the boots on the upper shelf of our closet, but once I got it all cleaned, I started conditioning all the leather shoes. And so while I had them out, I thought I’d try the display concept for at least a tiny bit.

I took the brown pair of boots and the quirt (a riding whip) that Grandpa John made for Blake as a kid, and set them by the mirror. 
I found this stunning antique mirror at Salvation Army once for $8. I was floating on air. It was sitting right next to a boring new mirror priced at more than $20. I couldn’t believe it. I am head over heals for this mirror. I think it’s me embodied into a furniture piece -- Every time I look at it, I think the wooden curves are my hair poeticized.
When the boots got near it I couldn’t get over how good the wood tone of the mirror looked with the boots.

I loved having a sentimental thing out for us to enjoy. And I especially enjoyed that it’s cowboy boots, because I have cowboys in my family history too.  I have done nothing cowboy-esque in my life. But I feel it in my veins anyway.

Actually, this story proves to me just how much it’s part of me. 
One time when I was a teenager,  I was talking with a friend, and I said, “You know what would be really hot? A British cowboy.” I’ve always had a soft spot for the English accent, and stuff from England has always really intrigued me. And well, that cowboy spirit -- if they were combined… well, I thought that would be amazing. But I knew that wasn’t a thing. England didn’t have cowboys.

WELL, come to find out (and this was totally unbeknownst to me at the time) one of my great grandpa’s was from England, and he moved to America and became a cowboy. My mind will never cease to be amazed by how that was part of my soul without being part of my mind.
So when I saw these cowboy boots next this mirror it reminded me of my British Cowboy soul. And all of a sudden I had a flash of clarity on my entire home decor personality. It was a major lightbulb moment for me. 
I’m not planning on being as literal about it as this small vignette happens to be. But it does really help me when I’m making choices on what stays, what goes, and what comes in.  
I had no idea, doing Marie Kondo’s method in my closet was going to do anything for my interior design! But I love that it did. 
Looking at so many interior design blogs gives me so much inspiration, but it can confuse me at times, “Which look is really me, when I love seeing all of them?" Pinning this concept down right here was so comforting and invigorating at the same time.

I’m not always sure what exactly looks like “British Cowboy” style in the rest of the house -- but I’m having fun figuring it out.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Minimalism In My Wardrobe

Ok so before I start here’s my internet disclaimer: These posts are only intended to convey my own personal experience. They are not meant to make promises, nor do they have any implied implications towards anyone else's anything. They are just my own story.

I loved Marie Kondo’s books, and am so behind her general ideas. But I didn’t wind up using them exactly to recipe in most of my home. However I did use them 100% her way, in my wardrobe.

First of all, Marie wants you to start your entire purging journey in your wardrobe. And that I did. I and I can see why she has people start there -- it makes a lot of sense.

Now to be fair, I’ve actually been on a few-year journey to downsize my closet.

I think I started my journey by accident with my first pregnancy. Before I got pregnant I had an entire room set up as a closet. My husband and I had a 4 bedroom house to ourselves. In our bedroom we had a modest reach-in closet. So since we had the space, I bought a couple ikea clothing racks and set them in our smallest bedroom and made a sort of dressing room. At that point I had a lot of clothes. I loved thrifting and clearance racks, so I wasn’t spending absurd amounts on clothes, but I did have a lot of them.
    Once pregnant I had such sticker shock from the maternity clothes price tags. We didn’t have a lot of money at the time, and so I really could not build up much of a wardrobe during those months of shifting body changes. I felt really thrown off initially. And I didn’t have the skills to know how to buy multitasking clothes, and things that mixed and matched. So most of the pregnancy I hated my limited wardrobe. BUT by the end of my mid summer pregnancy, I was two weeks past my due date and uncomfortable in EVERYTHING. So I was living in one of two dresses for perhaps a whole month? And while I was definitely feeling the end-of-pregnancy-frustrations, which at times I would wrongly aim at my lack of clothing…in reality I was actually in love with the zero effort of not having to try when getting dressed. I would throw one dress in the wash every night (me pregnant in summer = sweaty), and wear whichever was clean the next day. I found an extreme liberation in this no thinking dressing.

However, I lost sight of that lesson as I was trying to get used to my ever changing body after I had my baby. I was so fixated on “getting back into my jeans” that I wanted my whole old wardrobe back.

Over the years that followed I started to lean towards that old simplicity, and I tried different ways to get there. The capsule wardrobe caught my eye, and I tried that and liked it. But I was too “heady” about it. I over thought it and didn’t really reach a true comfort level in what I was wearing. I picked things that I thought other people (fashionable bloggers ect) might piece together, and things that could mix with each other. I didn’t really reach into my self to come up with this selection. I wasn’t looking for what sparked joy in me.
(FYI: At this stage, I didn’t get rid of the extra stuff, I put it into bins, trying to figure this out without the risk of loss.)
My Capsule from Fall 2014

But soon after trying that capsule wardrobe, another pregnancy and body shifting happened (during and post pregnancy), so I kinda just drifted through as best as I could there. (Clothes felt messy with such a surprisingly sick pregnancy, and many life trials after that pregnancy.) (I did try to give effort postpartum, even aiming at capsule wardrobe concepts, but it wasn’t really all I had hoped -- I lived, but ya know.) After I got to a stable weight I was ready to join up with Marie Kondo’s ways.
The vibe of my closet pre-Marie (clothes mostly pulled and on my bed already though.)

Her whole ideology is to keep only things that “spark joy.” And her theory is clothes are the easiest place to learn the sensation. She even wants you to start with specific types of clothes and go in a certain order. She starts with shirts/tops because they are worn closets to your heart, then you move on from there.

 She asks you to hold each item to your heart and see what you feel. I did this closing my eyes (I can’t remember if she instructs this or if that was just me.) And you just try to see what you feel. Is it joy? If so, you keep it.
This closet felt like a picture of my brain

Guys, at this point in my life (I was freshly, emotionally scarred by 10 months of painfully sick pregnancy (yeah I always have 42 week pregnancies, lucky me), mothering three young kids, and mourning the loss of my grandpa and brother - in addition to a bunch of secondary losses related to those) I felt like I had absolutely nothing to lose in terms of what clothing stayed or went. I had just lost all the pregnancy weight, and pretty unwilling to look at the concept of any more body shifting for a long, long time. I was in a mental space where I knew that clothes did not matter enough to stress over giving them away. But I was simultaneously in a mental space where I wanted to live my best life -- and personally I enjoy feeling good in what I’m wearing. I was also in a space where I knew there was no safety in keeping clothes around, and no real fear of the future should I need to buy a few more clothes. SO…I just trusted that this Marie Kondo system was safe enough to try and I did it.
I held each item up and just waited to see what happened.

This post might wind up sounding hilarious and over the top, but for me, doing this, when I did it in my life, was one of the most deeply soul mining things I have ever done. I was shocked by how deep this got and how amazing it really was for me.

I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of what “sparked joy” would feel like. So I started with a piece I really loved, and held it up. With the shirt to my heart, and my eyes closed, I waited... and I started to feel an actual feeling. The best way I can describe it was I felt a warmth in my heart. And my mouth felt a smile coming to it. I was surprised to find something so tangible happening.

The items that didn’t spark joy, nothing happened at all when I held them. No matter how long I would hold them -- no response.
Generally speaking that is... There were items that actually brought up negative responses: sadness, regret, embarrassment, hard memories…things like that.

So after you do this, there is one more thing Marie Kondo asks you to do: thank your items for what they provided for you before you send them off. When reading her books, I wondered if her idea comes from any type of eastern religious concepts (She’s from Japan) -- I don’t know. She doesn’t really say that at all, in fact she has a story about where it came from and it was just kinda of a interesting incident that stuck with her. But when I read this “thanking" part initially my gut thought, “I’ll do all the steps but this. My things aren’t alive, I’m not thanking them.”
    But...as I started going through my clothes I suddenly felt like I needed to go ahead and thank them like she said.  It just felt too hard to get rid of some of them without doing it, so I went for it. And what I found was that I was really just talking to myself and giving myself permission to learn and move on. Some of it was even grieving the leaving of different parts of my life, in a really beautiful way, that I would have missed out on if I had skipped this “thanking step.”

So here is a peak into my experience:

It’s been a while ago now, so I might not be able to share things in a clear or orderly way. But I’ll just share what comes to mind.

I was very surprised at how much I still could get rid of. I had already been paring down my clothes for years, and it had gotten more and more intentional. But somehow I was still able to get rid of a few garbage bags of just my own stuff.

Some of this was from around the whole house, but still!
I don’t know how I filled these bags…I thought I had already purged a lot before.

I remember picking up this button down shirt that I bought shortly after having my second baby.
 It was a thrift store purchase. It was a “this is a good fit for now” kinda buy. I felt nice it in at the time, but I hadn’t wore it anymore after she was a baby. And this year, when I held it to my heart I felt wistful and sad, an ache of memories gone.
 It was very clearly not joy I was getting from the shirt. But there was also very clearly a connection. And that connection was what had been keeping it in my possession for about 2 years longer than I had worn it. I knew this was time to let it go. And this was one of the most powerful thanking sessions of my closet cleaning. This was early in my closet cleaning and it taught me a lot about how I wanted to do this process.
    The heart feeling I had when I held it to my heart was so strong that it prompted me to be very deep and vulnerable as I thanked that shirt.
     I thanked it for holding me, while I held my baby. I thanked it for it’s sacrifice in being covered in milk, and spit up and pee and poop and supporting my day in these hard ways. I thanked it for being there for me -- for being the soft feeling on my skin while I rocked my brand new Ruby.  As I went on, I shed genuine tears. And I kept going, thanking and letting the tears fall, until the tears felt beautiful and grateful. And I was SO grateful for the chance to really appreciate those tiny small things. I felt a real release after I said enough things and I felt good as I set the shirt down in the donate pile.

I would have never gone to that place inside me had I not tried this process and really went for it. I would have missed cementing some beautiful things in my heart. After that shirt I knew I would be thanking my things. And I knew it was for me, not the things.

I was surprised how sweet it wound up being. Things as silly as socks wound up touching my heart and helping me feel blessed. Nursing bras brought more tears. (Not every one of them, some I was not at all sad to see go, but I still enjoyed saying an amused “Thanks for holding those outrageously huge nursing boobs up for me.”)

     I was also surprised to find that as I went through and landed on things that sparked no joy, and no deep memories, that I could still remember very clearly why I bought them, or how I got them. It was very surprising that I could bring all those forgotten things to mind. And it was really clarifying to see it all lined up together at once. I wound up thanking a lot of things for: giving me something to do (shop), or for distracting me from what I didn’t want to deal with/feel at certain points, or for helping me not be bored, for entertaining me, or for helping me pretend to be ______ (someone fancy, etc), for helping me feel pretty/skinny/special, or for being so cheap that I thought I couldn’t pass it up.
Hearing all that come out of me, all at once -- wow -- I wound up really confronting my habits. It was really awakening.
Having all that faced in one afternoon really stuck with me, and has been extremely directing in my shopping ways going forward.

I remember holding up a blue dress to my heart. I anticipated it sparking joy, because it was part of my capsule wardrobe. I loved the color and fit of the dress. It was pretty, I felt pretty in it. And I thought it was useful because it was layer-able as well. But when I held it up, I could not find joy there. I kept setting it down, and kinda trying to reset and retry. But no joy was sparked. I couldn’t figure it out, But as I held it, my fingers started to really register the fabric-feel, and it dawned on me that I never felt good in the dress --- I felt pretty when I looked in the mirror, but never good as in comfortable and at ease which, didn’t truly make me feel good about myself during the day I wore it. I liked how I looked, but I didn’t enjoy how it felt on, which subconsciously wound up getting misplaced onto me thinking I was uncomfortable with myself. So I realized when I chose that dress, I usually put it on with a subconscious bracing for an uncomfortable day -- not just physically, but in a subtle emotionally bruising way.
     It was that dress and that realization that really shifted my focus on what I like. I realized I enjoy my days more when my skin feels certain textures. Throughout my closet journey I wound up realizing I love natural fibers. First and foremost cotton. Which made me laugh -- I couldn’t believe I had ignored that part of me for so long. It would have been an easy one for me to see had I been willing to. My whole life, I remember my mom’s efforts to find 100% cotton shirts for my dad -- he couldn’t stand it if they were anything but 100%.
     I don’t feel quite as strongly about cotton as he does. I don’t mind other stuff mixed with my cotton. And I still have a few favorite items that are 100% non-natural fibers -- but they have a nice hand-feel to me. I feel comfortable in them.
     But after doing my whole closet, I saw that my favorite, favorites were cotton, and my favorite shoes were real leather. It was very interesting to figure this out with my heart. The realization was deeper than if I could have thought my way there. And it makes me very aware while shopping.
Examples: I almost bought a sweater the other day because it was 90% what I was looking for (style, color were just right), but that 10% factor of non-quality material helped me leave it on the rack and save time and money and closet space for the right sweater I will find someday. For the same reason, I’ve left SO MANY shoes on racks, not even picked up to try on because I’ve seen the shoes that I gave away and the shoes I’ve kept, and now I know “just cute” isn’t enough for me. And I’m willing to wait for something I know I’ll want to keep.

I wound up with very little left in my closet initially. But to be fair, that was to be expected. A lot of my clothes no longer fit me.
But I was unintimidated to have very little. I’ve really embraced the memory of having only 2 dresses I could wear and I have leaned on that memory when I want to think “this isn’t enough.”
And if what I have left truly sparks joy, then I just have a nice handful of joy.
This is from today, not my initially very small number. And I have a few more things in the laundry.
After my initial purge, I figured out that I did leave a couple tentative pieces. I think what happened was mostly that I think I just didn’t get a full sense of emotion, when I was in the process and I didn’t take that as “no joy” -- but I think I should have. So I’ve purged as I’ve gone forward with my journey, and those have gone.

I’ve been picking up clothes slowly now -- trying to find my real style (which includes good comfort and nice hand-feel.) Once again -- I was at a point where I literally had to buy clothes because I was a different size. So for me this process was kinda inevitable at some level. Some of the intensity is not Marie Kondo’s fault at all, just where I was at in size shifting.

As far as maternity clothes go, initially I DID NOT know what to say here. I’m honestly not sure I ever want to go through another pregnancy, but I’m also not sure I want to rule it out for certain.
    So when looking to keep going and make progress on my minimalism journey -- I had to decide that, for now I’m not in a place to know that part of my future, or even try to attempt thinking about it. Which prompted me to just treat my maternity clothes like the rest -- if they sparked joy they could stay, if they didn’t they had to go. So I have a couple things left. We’ll see what becomes of them. Maybe they will stop sparking joy and they will go move on (future irrelevant.) I’m not sure. But I’m happy I went through them, so that I’m not fixated on it. It was really bothering me until I just went for it and got it done. It’s at a place for me of peace and not stressing over “knowing.” And I like finding ways to get rid of any lurking stress in the background.

As for as the "after process” (mainly storing your things):
I’ve begun using Marie Kondo’s folding for my socks and bras and underwear. I really like it. (You can google and see videos of how to.) My socks, underwear and bras are in my largest drawer, and it does feel kinda boutique-y with her advice.
(As I’m writing this, I relize I should try it with my other two drawers. Because when I first did this I had SO MUCH room in my dresser it didn’t matter, now I could stand to try her folding.)
      Initially I tried hanging my clothes in her recommended way -- and it was pretty. And I liked it. But I don’t have the mom-time to keep it up -- I just put my clothes in willy-nilly, fast and furious, before Bronny starts scrubbing my bed with the toilet bowl brush or something.

But yeah -- I found this whole experience to 100% live up to her books title of “Life changing magic.” I’ve never felt so empowered to be me, as the week or so after doing that. I felt like I had given myself full permission to see who I am -- and be her. I was walking around thinking “I can decide” all the time and reveling in it -- and it was an “I can decide...without guilt" -- for some people that sentence might not be a big deal -- for me that was an enormous perspective shift. I was now deeply aware that I could be happy, and I could enjoy what I enjoy, and that doesn’t have to depend on a lot of stuff I used to think it did (both physical stuff, and philosophical stuff.)
     It’s hard to wrap words around it. And I would have NEVER expected the intensity level of it.
I don’t know if it had to do with all my surrounding circumstances more, or if the experience is always intense. But even now, about a half year later, I’m still in awe. And I’m still respecting myself more because of it -- which really impacts how I shop (but many more areas of life as well.)

I shop less, but with more intension. I know myself and I dress myself, not my imaginary self. (That was SUCH a trap I used to fall into -- before, if it was cute then I bought it, even if I’d NEVER had somewhere to wear it. I shopped for an imaginary life.) So I don’t grab anything unless I really enjoy it and see purpose to it.
When I shop (or plan to shop) I’m always thinking about how these items will fair inside my life -- like facing ketchup fingers. As well as the item's real comfort level, such as it’s play-ablity when I’m spending 90% of my time with my young kids. I’m shopping for what actually goes into my real day to day life. Because of that I also like to try to find pieces that seemlessly transition well to anything nicer I might be doing (going to church, the library, coffee…) So comfy and durable, but pretty. And if I can find things that can layer and multitask, then it gets bonus awesomeness points.

So these days:
Getting dressed is very easy. Even on days where I don’t try, I usually look somewhere between acceptable - to - “Hey cute outfit.”
Which…. before minimalism was NOT the case.
When I had my “dressing room closet” I honestly was always trying on clothes, trying to make outfits, but I usually just felt forced or lame when I left the house.
And after I had my second baby, I usually looked absolutely terrible -- ancient pjs or weird attempts at “clothes” that just didn’t work -- every day but Sunday (the one day a week I left the house).
     Now though, with having just a handful of clothes that I really get joy from -- I feel like me, and I feel put together and I can do it in about 3 mins, and so I get dressed much of the time.
(But reality check: I still have some “What the heck are you wearing?... half pjs, half “hmm…?” days --  I mean -- its just part of life I think. I’m NOT saying I look like a catalogue person -- I don’t. 
I also still have low self-esteem days where I just feel like a jr. high girl all over again and “have nothing to wear” because I feel ugly. That still happens. I’m human. But I’m just saying that with what I have now, getting dressed doesn’t take real thought to make a nice outfit.)

But why it’s so easy is that, my clothes pretty much can all go together. I've found since trying a capsule wardrobe a while ago, and then in doing the feeling-for-joy process, that I really personally mainly like neutral colors (black, white, grey, cream, nude-tones) as well as Navy or blue, with a small dash of red varieties (I don’t really have straight reds right now, but maybe wine-red or orange-poppy-red.) I don’t necessarily have only those, and I don’t try to make it happen that way -- it’s just what I have found to bring me the most joy. And it’s also easier to get dressed when you don’t have anything but stuff you really like in your closet.

Remember how I said, my closet looked like a picture of my brain? Honestly, my mind feels so connected to my stuff. Now that I have less…my mind is cleaner, and clearer, and more peaceful. It’s easier to find my thoughts, because it’s less cluttered in my mind.

(FIY: My closet’s physical makeover is still in it’s future. I want to move the clothes rod, and shelves, and figure out a door or curtains so it’s not just open. Why are reach in closet doors the bane of my design process? Eventually it will look even more clean and clear and peaceful in my closet’s layout.)
I really think each thing I owned was taking up real estate in my mind too. And so part of the thanking process really cleared up emotional and mental space inside me to let it go and be free of it.
That’s also why it’s easier to get dressed. I’m not fighting all the negative emotions I had attached to my clothes -- stuff like embarrassment, sadness, hard memories, guilt -- and trying to appease it in lame ways like wearing stuff I don’t like. That’s been released. And it’s good.

I don’t have a set number of clothes I’m trying to keep it to. I just know when I feel like it’s the right amount. I can tell when I started it was too little, so I added. And this past week I could tell I need to pull a few things out. (I’ve noticed that I always try to use the clothes I don’t like in outfits, as if to connivence myself that I should have bought them. But I never like the outfit that day. So last week I stuck those ones in the guest room to see if dressing got easier again -- and it has. So I’ll need to face facts and thank them, and send them.)
      For me -- with three kids and all that comes with that -- the less clothes I have the better I look and the better my house looks and the less I have to think or work.
     I could still stand to add a bit more to my collection (I’m severely lacking in summer things), but I’m going really slowly.
     I’ve wound up in a new place in terms of personal style and it has me really lost (so many life shifts at once, while getting to kinda a new age bracket = new me, but who is she?)  So I haven’t really figured my style out yet, not a lot of clothes feels like “me" -- so I’m buying very tentatively. But it’s kind nice to get to face that with this mind frame, it’s more purposeful.

With shoes, I have a few that honestly bring me joy, but that I might never wear again. I don’t know. (Like my nude heels -- I LOVE them. But with a baby, I never ever wear them. I might someday. But I might not. But joy still is there anyway.) 

Even if I am not wearing them all, I don’t have more shoes than I feel good about -- and they all bring me joy. So it’s a win. And it will be a win still if some stop bringing me joy and move on without me, or if I find a few more to add to fit whoever I’m becoming.

Bags/purses. I have VERY few left. I have the main one I’ve used ever since I’ve had kids which is a over one shoulder sling bag -- not the world’s most attractive thing. But SO practical it has my heart. I have one clutch still. And maybe a couple others? I can’t even remember. But very few. Because I accepted I just use the one I always use.

Belts and scarves -- very, very few. Maybe 3 per? I just realized I wasn’t ever using the VERY many I had collected and I wasn’t getting joy from them. I’d probably be willing to go to even less now, if I were to look. It’s like once I’ve tasted freedom, keeping things just in case feels cumbersome.

Marie Kondo says the reason we hang onto things we don’t need/don’t get joy from is: fear of the future or an attachment to the past.
(No one says you can’t keep things from the past that bring you joy. So don’t panic.) (Also, if you are panicking, no one says you have to get on this boat -- make your own path! Don’t join up with what isn’t for you.) 
     But I really thought about that fear of the future. And I really thought hard about that in terms of my personal faith. I want to trust God with my future, not my own stuff. Now---I don’t want to be wasteful and careless and own nothing in a detrimental way. Wisdom is needed. But what I kept coming back to (for my own mind’s sake) was this line of questioning: “Ok so let’s say the economy crashes and zombie apocalypse befalls me, will having this item help me? Can I save myself with it? Can I earn money with it? Can I sew something survival-y with it?” I would usually say nope to all of those. (I mean have you tried to sell clothes at a garage sale? You get like a quarter, and that’s without a zombie apocalypse situation.) And I can’t think of what I could need to sew with these extra clothes to survive. And I know I don’t need the actual clothing piece to survive.
     What it usually really was inside me, was just that hollow human “What if this is not enough?” without any real substance to the question.
I know I’ve lived with 2 dresses just fine. So what I have is actually abundance.
And I have nothing really to fear by not having even more, than the small abundance I am left with.

It gets profound guys. It really does. This stuff is heart level, soul digging, deep.

Personally, I have loved forcing myself to face this part of me. It’s not been a cake walk. But it’s been seriously lightening. My life feels less weighed down by not only my things, but my mentality tied to my things.
I’m not saying I’m perfect with it. I’m not saying I’m not still 100% “first world” and all that comes with that.
I’m just really happy I’ve made these choices.

So yeah -- that’s a pretty thorough look at me and my wardrobe perspective shifts.

Like I said -- I didn’t follow Marie Kondo’s method’s through my whole house -- but I loved her advice in starting with the clothes because it was SO clarifying for me getting all these concepts opened up here, helped me when doing the other rooms.

Stick around and I’ll share more of my minimalism stories in the other areas of my house.

What do you think? Feeling inspired?
Have you done this yourself?
Are you like “Mmmm. NO! Not for me.”?
Let me hear your thoughts.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Minimalism: Addition by Subtraction

When I was trying to name this series I wasn’t coming up with anything. There is a minimalism book called “The More of Less” and I just love that short phrase. But I didn’t think I could steal it. And then I was watching “The Office” for the millionth time, and I noticed this phrase from Andy. So that stuck. And here we are.

Minimalism has been on my radar for years now. And I’m starting to see how it’s always been appealing to me. But it used to seem like something I couldn’t do. I let a lot of things/rationales stop me from leaning into it. Additionally different life circumstances didn’t really line up for most my adult life. But finally my circumstances, my feelings, and my concepts aligned and it was time.

I’m sharing my circumstances, my feelings, and my concepts with you, as a sort of journal. So ahead of time, I want you to know: I’m not trying to hoist my preferences on you. There is no need to feel guilty if this isn’t for you. Or if this isn’t for you right now.
I’m just sharing them incase you find it interesting. I know that as I was putting my toes in the water, I could not read enough on minimalism-- it helped me to feel safe and inspired to continue. So if any of you are like that -- well here you go.
But if on the other hand, if you aren’t into this -- that’s fine go ahead and skip these posts.

As I start this series I’ll do one post just kind of introducing Minimalism concepts and some of my generalized thoughts on them. And then I will do follow up posts talking about my experiences of paring down in different spaces in my home.

So what is Minimalism?

Well probably my favorite definition comes from Joshua Becker.

He says, “Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value, and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.”

He says: "If we were going to become minimalist, it would have to be a style of minimalism specific to us. It would require us to ask questions, give-and-take, identify what we most value, and be humble enough to change course when necessary.
Your particular practice of minimalism is going to look different from everyone else. It must! After all, you live a different life than everyone else. 
Find a style of minimalism that works for you. One that is not cumbersome, but freeing based on your values, desires, passions, and rational thinking."

Everyone has their own set level of what feels right to them.
Another way he defines minimalism is, “It is a lifestyle where people intentionally seek to live with only the things they really need."
So basically, Minimalism = less stuff. And this could be done your own way.
There are some intense statistics out there about Americans and stuff. There’s a lot of debt out there. There’s a lot of pressure to upscale our lives to keep up with social norms or TV portrayed norms, and evolving trends. And there is a lot of impact on the environment from all the excessive waste in achieving that. (One article on fast fashion and it’s impacts currently.) And all this means there’s a lot of time wasted on caring for stuff we don’t necessarily even love having. Excessive consumption promises happiness, but never delivers. True life must be found somewhere else.

What’s my story with Minimalism?
Have you ever gone on vacation to a place that is furnished with just enough? Sometimes that’s a hotel, sometimes a cottage, or maybe an AirBnB… whenever I’ve been in those places I feel a special part of me come alive in a way I’d never felt at home. And I always wished I could bring it back with me. Just enough, and nothing more. And ALL the freedom and peace that’s there.
I can’t remember what specific thing it was that inspired this, but when I was a newlywed I clearly remember telling a friend , "I think minimalism sounds so good, but I just don’t think I could do it... but I wish I could.” And inside that statement I felt like half of me was-a-honest-to-goodness  minimalist (my truest self), but that half of me was out-of-control-grabby. And that I knew that out of control side of me was gonna win. When we first got married I still was in the acquire allthethings place. (And at the time that was ok, and somewhat necessary.)
When we moved to Iowa, about 4 years and 1.5 kids into our marriage -- we downsized. Our new place was 700 sq. feet and so everything inside there was small. Our coat closet was so small, it could hold about one coat per person. Our linen closet was about the same size but with shelves. So to fit there we got rid of a lot of things. And We had no spare room to start collecting stuff while we were there, so we didn’t.  And (other than the fact when renting I wished I could have painted walls, and changed finished on the kitchen and bathroom) I was SO content in that tiny place.

 I was lonely in Iowa…but the house aspect was really, really good. I loved living in that house. Which shocked me. Before we moved I was so scared I would feel claustrophobic -- trapped in a tiny fish bowl. But I didn’t. I felt great. Cleaning up took absolutely no time at all. Our toys only had so much room to live, so we didn’t have very many. Same for all our stuff. It was great. Those evenings, in that home, were the most relaxed evenings (besides, the nonstop nursing duty I was on) that I’ve ever had as an adult.
Then we moved back to Illinois and got a big house. I was (am) so happy to have the room to stretch out in. With the kids getting bigger, they were happier to have more than a short hallway to run. But it threw me for a loop in terms of stuff. I didn’t know how we would decorate yet, so I couldn’t get rid of any decorations until the house wasn’t in shambles. People started bringing us all sorts of things because now we had space. I was grateful, because we needed more furniture for this house. But I was also overwhelmed. I had two small kids (intense levels of clean up required), I was making-over a nasty house, and now I was managing way more space and stuff than before. I never slept, I could always be cleaning, if I weren’t always painting any moment my kids were sleeping. (When the the 3 and 1 year olds were awake, I saw no point in cleaning, since they un-cleaned right behind me.) The house felt really, just nuts.

I knew it was temporary -- but years isn’t not a short stint in terms of life. Eventually we got pregnant again, and it was a very hard pregnancy -- so that kinda stalled everything -- house fixing was significantly slowed, cleaning DID NOT happen on my end (I was too sick), and our stuff was just in piles everywhere looking crazy. (And of course with clothes I was doing the shape shifting thing, where I didn’t feel like I could get rid of anything just in case.)
So, yeah, I had clearly departed from my minimalism bliss I once had.
So once my third baby was about a year and a half old I felt like I could really dive into things and get back some bliss. It just felt like the right time. The house was finished-enough that I could see what we needed and what we didn’t. My body had stabilized to a size. Blake and I had a good understanding on our upcoming hopes. Basically we had stability enough to feel safe in making the calls on what stays and what goes.

Before I Dove In:
I was really nervous. I was used to living inside a very tight budget, for the first part of our marriage money was TIGHT. And I was used to the mindset of “You never know if that will come in handy.” And that had served me well in some areas such as: I’d been able to upcycle clothes during and after pregnancies. I’d figured out some cool house solutions. So those experiences really caused me to feel like I could make some major misteps trying this minimalism out. But my heart has always been acing for it’s freedom.
So I looked to other people, for wisdom and direction, so I didn’t wind up shooting myself in the foot.
These wound up being my favorite helping voices:
Joshua Becker is my favorite minimalist. He has a few books and a website. His book "Clutter Free with Kids" was a HUGE inspiration to me. It really got the ball rolling for me. It wasn’t until I read his book that I understood what my heart was asking from me -- and what that feeling was on those “just enough” vacations. He put words, stats, and logic, on my intuitions. I read that one before my third pregnancy -- so I wasn’t really ready to make my move at that shifting moment. But I was primed. And I wanted it.
More recently I read the “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” And the (I think better, and definitely more detailed) follow up “Spark Joy.” Those really lit the fire under me, and I started! And I felt the honest-to-goodness life changing magic. I thought the title was weird initially -- but then I felt it, and I actually don’t think it’s stated strongly enough. Life changing magic. Honestly.
I really like a lot about her ideas. But, her system was not a total fit for me, so I stalled out kinda soon. Her suggested order had me feeling very overwhelmed. She doesn’t actually do much to address kids and their things, and how that plays into a home. So I was stuck starting at the bins of baby clothes, totally paralyzed. She starts with clothes, so I felt like ALL clothes had to come before all other items, so I wouldn’t let myself move forward because of the sentimentality aspect of the baby clothes, and the idea that clothes must be done before kitchens.
That’s when I happen on Allie Cazazza. Someone had linked an article written about her on Facebook, and it felt like my heart’s cry. I started looking through her stuff on her blog, and I felt all the more safe to move forward, because she was a mom like me, and her story felt like mine. So I’ve been looking through her sight, and watching her old periscopes and being inspired by her. She’s kind of my mothering guru right now. Maybe not on all fronts, I don’t know her that well…but I like her "take charge of your life and your mothering" attitude. I just find I can relate to her. And she inspires me to take life by the horns and not just let it happen to me. (She’s also the one who’s inspiring me to work on getting up before my kids. I’m not finding the shift as quickly as she did…but she sold me because she said she is a night person by nature. All the other “wake up early people” I’d ever heard from didn’t make it seem like it was against their nature. She did -- so I thought it was something I could also achieve.)

After I Dove Into Minimalism:

Everything changed. 

I’ll talk about it more in the series. But yeah…
Good things!

What Does My Minimalism Look Like?

I seriously doubt anyone would walk into my house and think “Wow. Minimal.”
     We have what I, and many people, would deem a large house. So it allows for, almost begs for, more stuff. But I’m trying to keep the majority of the stuff to furniture (furniture that I really find joy in), and not small things --- be that clothes, toys, nick-nacks, and the like. We still have those, and enough that I’m not sure a passer-by would even take note of anything in these areas, but I’m intensional about what takes up our space. I’m now very tuned into the fact that what takes up our space, takes up parts of ourself. Our things take up space in our mind and portions of our time. I’m now being intensional about how much of me I give to my things. I’m still on this journey. I haven’t finished. But I’ve gotten a large portion of my house to a happy place now. (My paper clutter and my garage are still looming large right now though.)
     With kids in the house, we need more things. So a minimal-family’s home would never look like a minimal-single-person’s home. I can’t tell what my house looks like to another’s eyes. But to my own eyes, since really getting some good item purges done, my house looks (and this is not a promise as to a universal experience with minimalism, nor is it a implication that these things are not present in non-minimal-homes -- this is just my personal experience)  -- To me my house now looks calm and happy. It looks clean on a MUCH more regular basis. It feels restful and homey. It’s been easy to have company with little notice, without worrying that things are a wreck. In this “less stuff home” my kids play more creatively and more cooperatively. My kid’s have been showing a lot of patience, are gauging their own wants, and are thinking of others more and more. My home has more natural feeling meals. (If you know about our food allergies, and highly sensitive kids with some super picky eating ways, then this statement holds even more weight.) I’ve felt creative, and more at home in, creating meals. We’ve been enjoying deeper connections and better quality family time.
     In short, my home feels like the place I’ve long envisioned living in. I’ve been doing Joshua Becker's definition of minimalism -- the intentional promotion of the things I value most, and I have been removing our distractions. It’s really cool to watch that shape into a real, actual essence of living. I feel more like me, and my family seems more like them, in this environment.

If You Want To Dive In Let Me Suggest This: 

Before you start, look into your donation options.

I felt best about giving my items either to people I knew personally that I knew would get good use out of it, or donating to establishments that had missions I could appreciate. I felt a lot more motivated to give when I knew what I was giving to.
In particular, for baby things… those can feel so hard to part with. I felt like I could let go of more of those sweet small things, knowing they’d go to good use.
But that applied to all my things really (not just baby things) -- its just nice knowing what you are giving to and feeling that it is making a difference.

In regards to giving to people I know:
     Generally as I purge, I try to look at each item and kinda quickly think do I know anyone who’s interests, likes, or needs line up with this item? If I thought of someone then I would offer it to them.
     More recently, some friends are collecting things for an adoption fundraising garage sale. So I’ve been saving some things I think would sell well for them.

In terms of donations:
I have donated things to Goodwill. I’ve seen people get up in arms on social media about Goodwill  saying that it doesn’t have much more mission than being a resale shop. (And I’ve not looked into this at all, so I do not know the truth level of it.) But I’m not against it being a resale shop -- I LOVE thrifting. I think thrifting is a good thing -- it saves things from the dump (I know it does not save everything from the dump -- but it does save some) and it saves people money. So personally I’m cool with donating there.

But I do prefer Salvation Army’s mission -- so I try to make it there more often to donate.

And yet in the case of things more dear to me, I felt good about finding a few more options.
I’d encourage you to do the same, and have that information ready as you begin your journey.

In the Champaign-Urbana area we have some really good options.

Part of their mission page reads: "Most women come into the center because they are in crisis. We want to counsel them and support all types of women in crisis – abortion-minded and not abortion-minded. Our other services, which include free testing and confidential counseling, parenting classes, providing maternity and baby clothing, abstinence education and post abortion counseling, are secondary services. 
We absolutely do not coerce or badger any woman into making any type of decision about her baby. We present the truth and it is up to the woman to make any decision concerning the outcome of the pregnancy. We are committed to saving the lives of unborn children by promoting life-affirming options and providing practical assistance, while sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed, and to minister restoration to those who have been wounded by the trauma of abortion."
And they accept all sorts of baby gear and baby things (but not carseats) and clothing up to Toddler/Children size 5.

We also have Courage Connection. 
Courage Connection provides housing and supportive services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness or who are victims of domestic violence. They believe in the right of every person to safety and the potential of every person for success. 
They have a thrift store where the proceeds from sales goes to their mission. And their clients can get free emergency and professional clothing there. They accept gently used clothing, accessories, furniture and housewears.

Also Salt & Light. 
Salt & Lightmission is to share the love of God, providing opportunities for those living in poverty to equip themselves with the tools they need to create lasting change in their lives. They say, We believe that everyone has skills, talents, gifts, and abilities given to them by God. We also believe that each person has the capacity to use what God has given them to impact not only their own life, but the lives of others around them. Through our programming, we aim to empower individuals, walk with them through their spiritual journey, and restore dignity to each person. By doing so, we offer the salt and light that gives our community help and hope."  
They have a thrift store, where anyone can shop and the proceeds go to their mission. And within their programs, participants earn store credit to shop there.  
They accept clothing, shoes, jewelry, household items, furniture and electronics.

And there is also ReStore -- part of Habitat for Humanity. 
Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County and ReStore is a nonprofit, Christian housing ministry that works both to eliminate poverty housing around the world and to make adequate housing a matter of conscience and action.  Habitat welcomes partners from any faith – or no faith tradition – whom are willing to help improve the lives of families needing safe, affordable, decent housing. 
Here is a list of things they accept. They are more geared towards larger items like furniture and home improvement things, but they take a lot of house wears as well.

Anyone local know of any more? Let me know!

So check to see what organizations you have by you, and let others know about it. Everybody wins.

Ok so thats all for today.
Stay tuned as I share about different aspects of paring down in specific spots/categories in my home.

Any initial thoughts so far? Comment Below. I’d love to hear form you!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

My Experience with The Cleaning Routine & A Couple Tips

In my last post I shared my new cleaning routine. It’s pretty detailed, so I let it be it’s very own post.

Today I’m going to share why I like it.


So as I shared, before I was very inexperienced with cleaning. I always felt somewhat like an impostor when cleaning -- I didnt think I was a cleaner and I didnt ever really feel like a grown up (based on many things, but really strongly routed in just the fact that I didnt know how to clean.)

It’s weird how deep some stuff can be. So just excuse me for a moment here… if you just want more practical stuff, that comes later.

Since I started using Fly Ladys routines I’m personally overcoming some complex heart stuff. The more I apply myself to this, the more Im thinking to myself differently -- I dont hear so many “Youll never be able to keep your house clean thoughts and Im starting to hear myself say to me: “Good job, look how well youve done/you are doing! through out the day. (Thats an ENORMOUS mental shift. Because Im used to pretty much only negative self talk.) 
(And this is about way more than cleaning -- Once again, counseling is a good thing. That’s been helping me to learn that negative self talk isn’t healthy. And in a round about way, I think counseling propelled me to want to search out a cleaning system because I could hear so much negative self talk surrounding that specific issue for me. And so in a confidence building way, conquering something (cleaning) that has been so daunting for me --- the confidence is really helping me to quite down my critical voice in this area. I actually haven’t really talked about cleaning at all in counseling, I’m just being more free inside myself to push for this because of other breakthroughs.)

But back to Fly Lady. Shes rooting for me/you/us. And that always means something to me, if someone will say “I believe you can do this." Shes empowering us to use our own power -- and that’s really key in any change.
So my metal shift isn’t specifically from her, but because with her help, and the way she set this up, I’ve been able to make sense of things and feel good about my power and strength.

Her back story is that she was essentially a hoarder, with a very filthy house. 
That’s why her focus is so hard on decluttering to start with and why she says it can take so long -- she’s helping anyone start anywhere, because she started DOWN LOW.

Now I will say, for me -- I did not do my decluttering with fly lady and her 15 minutes a day system. I had already started my minimalism mission before I recently picked up with Fly Lady. By the time I found Fly Lady I had deeply decluttered about 80% of my inside home (I’m not counting the garage in that.) 

I’m not sure I could have stood to declutter my whole home 15 mins at a time. Because I kinda of like to immerse myself into it. (And I will talk about that more with you in different posts.)
When I was deeply decluttering, I wasn’t really cleaning (mopping, vacuuming, dusting) much I was focused on my first task -- removing things from the house.
     But when I picked up with Fly Lady, I did take her up on the concept of taking small bits of my day to tackle more of what I had left to declutter. I’m still not fully decluttered -- but I’m to a really lovely stage, where I feel much more at peace with my space.

So my advice to you is do what works. 15 minutes a day might be perfect for you. A mix of everything worked for me. And like I said, I’ll share more later.

Anyway, another reason I think I like using this, is because since getting done with school myself (a long while ago now), I’ve always had a bit of discomfort from the missing routines and classroom and classmates dynamics. There is a lot of comfort in being part of a group accomplishing something. So having Fly Lady’s app, or just her website, provide some of that helps me feel grounded to something and accountable to it. Instead of floating around without goals for cleaning.

What I did with fly lady was kinda jump in and flop around a bit  (I didn’t even grasp her whole system right away)-- I would just take what time I had, and do as much of each day’s goals that I could. 
I’m not on top of the routines, in depth. But I do as much as I can each day (and it’s not always the same amount.)

The weekly "home blessings” -- I spread those through out the week. I tend to be able to get one done a a day. Sometimes a few if the day’s going smoothly.
And I also don’t stress if I can’t get every room vacuumed every week. Two of my rooms downstairs really do not get very dirty, so they can go longer. (My upstairs rooms are all hardwood floors, that I usually just run a wet dust mop over quickly.) And honestly I’ve yet to wipe my doors down -- that one seems kinda less important in my house. 

In the zone cleaning I just do the same “what I can” thing. I just take the time I have that day, and put it towards the goals in that space. But give myself TOTAL grace to only get a tiny bit of it done.  Some days I could get TONS done, and some days just barely the basics.
But that’s what’s great about her system. Once I started using it, I can feel the confidence that comes from knowing everything cycles back around -- if I don’t get it now, I will get it later. And that with each cleaning cycle it WILL be easier. So that gave me the ability to stop the “all or nothing” train. I could finally rest easy in knowing the wheels are always going the right direction now. I can see how to let go of getting things perfect all at once, and how to just keep adding good to good, to get great (but not perfect.) (But consistent-great, feels way better than on-again-off-again-perfect, mixed with huge-mess!)  

So yeah, so can see I haven’t follow her advice exactly to the T. I still don’t have my routines down pat. I haven’t started laying my clothes out at night (because we stay home most days) but I love the idea, and I plan to work up to it. I don’t always get dressed or if I do, I don’t always wear my shoes. (But I will say, I do feel way more apt to work with them on -- which is something I noticed a long time ago.) (And if you don’t wear shoes in your house, Fly Lady is so committed to this concept she suggests you buy a pair of tennis shoes that you ONLY wear in your house -- because it’s that effective. And her readers are often writing in to say their feet are less dry and in better condition because of it.)
But I love the rest of the before bed routine. 
     I always try to clean up the kitchen. But some nights I just can’t (and I make up for it in the morning. Or sometimes Blake will get the dishes done.)
      Before bed I don’t always have the stamina for the family room -- land of toys. I hope to get a kids-pick-up time implemented, but that’s ahead of me still.
     And I espeically love all the ideas for relaxing before bed. I’m really working on all those things, they make a huge difference. (So much more health-inducing than Neflix binging till the clock yells at me.)
     In the morning, Blake and I have gotten pretty good at making the bed. I’d say it’s made about 90% of the time now. One or the other usually quickly makes it before we run downstairs. We have no set rules or agreements on who does it when, we just try to do it when we can. I think we both like the results, so we both just try and see that it happens. (Check out this Navy Seal talk about how wise this simple act is.)

Anyway -- I’m not perfect with any of this. (And more that likely I will relapse into a messy stage again after I share these posts -- because I usually do after sharing anything about my personal changes. It throws me off a bit, being so vulnerable, and I have to regain my composure to feel authentic in my choices.) But even with all the imperfections of how I follow along, I have found a sense of stability from her system (which I like to implement with her app) --- and I (and my family) have seen big, clear improvement in the house! My house is not perfectly spotless these days. But honestly it’s been quite nice, enjoyable, and pretty close to “friend-company ready” at all times, and just a short stint to “got-to-look-good-good company ready” most times. 
I cannot deny it’s virtues.

General thoughts on different parts:

The Laundry:
I love the change in this area.
I used to try and have an official laundry day once a week. The thinking being I’d rather get it done all at once and have some time off from laundry. But putting away all that laundry all at once, always overwhelmed me. And because of that overwhelm -- I had wrongly assumed that if I did laundry every day I’d have that overwhelmed feeling every day. I wanted to avoid that like the plague.
But once I started doing a load a day, with Fly Lady’s morning routine, laundry has felt SO manageable. It’s SO MUCH LESS overwhelming to me, it’s crazy. It takes just a few minutes to fold, and just a few minutes to put away one small load. Sometimes I still put the task of putting clothes away off, but even when I let it pile up -- for even a week -- it’s not super bad because it’s just one mild weeks worth. (Before lessing our clothes amounts, and with doing large batches of laundry…it used to be able to REALLY pile up. ) But I usually don’t let it pile up that long anymore, because it’s turning into a regular habit. I very often get it put away that day. 
I think it kinda like a rolling stone gathers no moss. If I don’t take days off, I don’t feel like stopping. I usually want to keep the ball rolling and get it put away.

I also tend to do a small load every evening. I have switched to cloth napkins. So I gather up the day’s worth, as well as bibs, kitchen towel and sponges, and our baby splat mat from under the high chair and do a quick load. If I have any random lights laying around I’ll toss them in too. (My kids shed clothes an oddly large amount? I need to address this over time…oh well. So I can find clothes in the family room most days.) 
So sometimes I will fold the kitchen stuff at breakfast the next day and then just quickly put it away. (This is SO MUCH easier than digging the napkins out of all the family’s clothes once a week to fold and sort.)

Like I said yesterday, shining that sink really does something for getting the dishes done. I’ve taken so much more ownership of the dishes, and keeping up with them.

And then --the kitchen in general stays cleaner with the dishes not piling up. If  I can see the counters (clear of dishes) I notice them and wipe them. If those are clean, I wipe the stove. And If that’s clean, then I notice the floors and those just happen to stay cleaner (I pick up big crumbs right away, I spot clean more...) 

Keeping up on the parts of the zone work that I can in the kitchen has gotten my microwave to a lovely level. Every time I open it lately I’m like “WOW!” 

The Bathrooms:
One thing I’ve learned (which isn’t something Fly Lady taught me, I saw it online somewhere else -- good general bathroom tips here -- but it’s right up Fly Lady’s alley) is that if I wipe down my enclosed shower with a towel every time we use it, that it will not get dirty! Mold can’t grow without moisture. And hard water can’t stain if it’s not hanging around.
So I’ve been squeegeeing off the walls, doors and floor to get the big drops off, and then running a towel (that I have designated just for this) over the whole thing.
It feels mildly cumbersome the first few times. But it probably only takes a minute, maybe two, to do. And so seven (even 14) minutes a week, is SOOOO much better than having to soak the shower in bleach and iron-out for a full day, then do heavy scrubbing, regularly. 
     Actually when I started doing this, my shower floor was looking a bit rust-colored again (I was just gearing myself up to do the iron-out treatment) and in just a couple of days of drying it off after every shower, the floor looks almost perfect all on it’s own, no scrubbing. It’s crazy! I did NOT expect that.

     I’ve always had such a hard time keeping shower enclosures nice because all their crevasses get so nasty…not anymore. It’s amazing. And there is some kind of weird joy I get out of looking at a shower that’s totally dry, even though I know I just showered. This is a MAJOR game changer.

I do the “swish and swipe”  (cleaning the countertop and toilet) part of the morning routine differently. 
We have three bathrooms. (And I only have so much time available at a time before I need to check on the kids) So...
I do a cursory glance at my master bathroom and assess if I need to address it. More than likely I do at least a counter swipe. 
 And I swish the toilet, maybe closer to three times a week? But if I don’t need to do anything, I skip it. And if I skip it, I try to hit the other upstairs bathroom. (Or sometimes I pop back up there during an afternoon and hit one or both real quick then. It’s kinda free form -- but it’s still happening -- that’s the key.)

And for the downstairs bathroom….
That thing is pretty much a nonstop battle ground.
Three little kids… it’s crazy.
So I have begun to embrace the concept of "clean up as you go", wholeheartedly in there.
The sink is white, and I had no idea kids could get so much general stuff on a sink. (No regrets on the white sink, by the way.) 
 I wash the baby’s hands in there after every meal -- so his pre-washed, grabby, hands leave food globs everywhere. And the bigger kids somehow are always leaving dirt from outside or random what-not. So now I’ve started just keeping a washcloth in there at all times and I wipe it down pretty much everytime I’m in there. It takes like 10 seconds. I’m going to install a hook on the back of the door to hang my wash cloth on to dry.
And as for the “swish” (the toliet) --- TMI alert -- with a kid potty seat, placing a hinny up closer to the front of the bowl, things don’t always flush away like you wish they would. So I’m wishing that toilet nearly as much as I’m washing the sink. It’s just par for the course.
If I just don’t get the time to swish, as much as the toilet would like me to, I make sure to swish it once before bed to give it a fresh start for the next day.

So yes, there is a bowl brush in every bathroom. (And a tip I like, that I can’t really do this in any bathroom but mine, because... kids  ---  after you swish, to let the brush dry by tucking it under the toilet seat for a while. And then it won’t get gross in the brush holder.)

Also my favorite cleaning tip is using Mrs. Meyers (Not sponsored. Just a personal joy. I’m way more likely to clean if it adds a pretty scent to the house.) 
(Via Mrs. Meyer’s Instagram)

As soon as I got into the swish and swipe phase -- I went and got an “Every day cleaner” for every bathroom. Because that stuff smells GREAT.  And I wanted cleaning to feel happy -- good smells feel happy to me. I use it on both the counters the toilets -- I just a couple sprays on/in either and wipe or swish away. 

(Just FYI: My personal favorite scents are ranked in this order: 
(Via Mrs. Meyer’s Instagram)

Basil, Lemon Verbena, Honeysuckle, Radish. I like all of these a lot. And would rank them in that order, but they are nearly tied. 
I also like Bluebell, but something about to seems kid-ish to me, maybe sorta like candy or something. I’ve used it in the kids bathroom and like it in there. And I also like Rosemary. I LOVE it’s first note, but it ends very “hippie store” to me, so I’m on the fence about it. I want to like Lavender, because I love real lavender, but I can’t get into this one, it doesn’t smell real to me. And I can’t stand Geranium (But I don’t like those in real life with) it gives me an instant headache. And I’ve not tried any seasonal ones, but I’m always tempted.)

I also use Mrs. Meyers (you can get the concentrate or just spray a bit of every day cleaner onto the floor) for mopping the tile floors. I find the scent a major reward for my trouble.

So yeah, as I get into routines...
I notice that when it’s time to deep clean the room (when we get to the zone cleaning) I’m so much less over whelmed, because I’m in touch with the space. Before I was really disconnected from the spaces as I get them get dirty, and when I would look at it I would think “Oh my gosh, what do I do first? How do I clean this?” Now I just naturally know, because I’ve been “communing” with the room (if that doesn’t sound totally crazy.)

So this is probably not news to many people. (Clean up after yourself.) Some might be furrowing their brow in wonderment of why I’m even a bit surprised by any of this. 
But this is my real --- I didn’t understand any of this until now.

I think the huge take away is: Just keep the ball rolling, even if you don’t get it “right” that day, keep moving (just keep swimming) do a little. 
But it really helped me to see it laid out the way Fly Lady does it -- that lay out gives me the ability to know where to move in the house to be effective -- it keeps me realistic, focused, motivated and always moving forward.

Since I started this cleaning thing, we’ve been having guests over more than before, and it’s been so much less stressful preparing, because I can do a quick once-over, and be clean and ready very quickly. (I’m also “in practice” with doing the stuff, so I accomplish the different cleaning tasks much quicker than I could before.)

But a big note is (and I will continue to share more soon) all of this is SO MUCH EASIER for me after minimizing our things. (Less things = less to clean, less to take care of, less to distract us from what we need to do.) So look forward to those posts coming up.

So what do you think? Have I sold you on Fly Lady? Did you get inspired to wipe down your shower? Do you have any cleaning/routine tips for me that you love? Let me know!

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