No Spend September

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September means back to school and a renewal for many to turn the page. With that in mind, I thought September would be a good month for finances to be re-worked so to speak.

Quick Backstory: Because of the kind of health insurance we have, it didn’t cover all of my needs as well as the baby’s when I was pregnant. In addition, there were extra tests I needed during my pregnancy and more doctor’s appointments than usual and so we are still paying on medical bills from last year. Add to that, my husband had an emergency room visit during that time last year due to an allergic reaction he developed from taking a doctor-prescribed medication. ER visits are a cost onto themselves.

Suffice to say, we have all these 2017 medical bills that we are still paying for and we would like to make more headway with these. So a few weeks ago, I brought up the idea of a “No Spend September” to my husband and he was on board!

Basically, we are only spending money on “needs”, not “wants”.

We are spending money on:

  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Insurance (car, health, etc…)
  • Phone
  • Internet
  • Groceries
  • Other bills not listed above

We are not spending money on:

  • Eating out
  • Random purchases
  • Anything else that is not a need

Any money saved this month, will be directed towards these medical bills.

Anybody else doing a “No-Spend September”?  🙂

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Currently: Spring Is Here!

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Happy April Everyone! 2018 is in its fourth month 🙂 Can you buh-leeeeeve it???

My oldest daughter is on Spring Break this week, so I’ll make this short but sweet!

What I Enjoyed This Past Month: Coffee and books. Period.

What I Am Absolutely Over: Too many things to list, but a few in no particular order: the news, stories that trend that are so stupid, that I get mad at myself for clicking on it, the news, and oh yeah, THE NEWS! The world has gone mad, hence my burrowing in coffee and books. It is literally the only things that make sense right now.

On The Healthy Living Front: I am eating carrots again! I know that sounds like a weird thing to say, but when I was pregnant, the baby had a serious aversion to carrots so I couldn’t eat them. They made me nauseous. It has taken me a few months postpartum to actually go to the refrigerator and deliberately pick them as a snack. Woo hoo for small victories!  🙂

What Blog Posts I Am Loving:

Stop Filling All The Spaces by Courtney Carver

I Lived on an Average of $31,000 For 7 Years in Los Angeles by Tonya at Budget and the Beach

How To Be Anxious by The Minimalists

How is everybody’s week going so far? Let me know!

Extra Square Feet = Extra Anxiety

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When I first started this blog, one of my first posts had to do with the size of our apartment at the time which was 530 square feet. This housed myself, my husband, my daughter, and my cat. And it worked for a while. Honestly.

But last year, we found out that we were expecting a baby at the same time my husband and I were starting to feel that after 18 months of cozy togetherness, the walls were starting to close in our beloved 530 square feet. So last spring, we upgraded to a bigger apartment and added another 150-ish square feet.

So now we are a family of four humans and one cat resting comfortably in 700 square feet.

Or are we?

Here is the thing: I absolutely try my darndest to limit what comes in our apartment. I freely admit that clutter and messes give me anxiety. I am also aware that I have two children who will inevitably make messes and am also aware of the hilarious dichotomy between the two.

Now to some, 4 people and a pet living in 700 square feet sounds just fine, while to others, the word “claustrophobia” probably comes to mind. And that is okay. This just happens to be our season of life right now.

I find that with the extra square footage that we acquired last spring, it is easier for items to make their way past our front door. It is easier for paperwork to pile up on the kitchen table and counters. It is easier to shove items in the master bedroom closet since it is bigger than our last one and now voila! items are now unseen.

And all of this ramps up my anxiety.

I understand that another reason we have additional items is because we now have a baby. Babies need clothing and diapers and wipes and…well you get it. They have things they need and all of this stuff has to go somewhere. My older daughter also has her items whether it is homework stuff, or her books or toys.

So being methodical about what comes in and out of our apartment is something that I continuously have to work on because I do absolutely love the size of our apartment. I love the natural light we get and I love all the trees I can see outside of my windows.

But I also need to find a healthy balance because anxiety is no joke. Clutter drives me crazy. I need to get a bit of Zen in my day-to-day, for reals…

Do you guys live in a space with a limited number of square feet? Any tips and tricks you can share? Let me know in the comments!  🙂

Capsule Wardrobes: A Love Story

I know capsule wardrobes get a lot of heat for being boring or too small, or how can one possibly get along with only two pairs of jeans or one black t-shirt?

But here is the thing that I think people may miss: a capsule wardrobe can have however many pieces you want. There is no arbitrary rule stating you must have X number of pieces or you get kicked out of the capsule wardrobe club. They don’t take away your minimalism fan club identification card, if you have more than one striped shirt.

A capsule wardrobe can have however many pieces that make sense for you and your lifestyle.

A few weekends ago, I did a massive wardrobe clean-out of my closet. You can read more about that here.

When I was done, every single item that I had placed on a hanger, was indeed a piece I would wear and wear often. Gone were the “just-n-case” clothes. Out the door went anything that I didn’t LOVE. Yes, the word love is in capital letters because that is how I had to feel about the item. I wanted to be able to get dressed in the morning effortlessly and seamlessly. No more hemming and hawing in the a.m. trying to figure out what fits and what doesn’t.

Every piece in my closet fits me and I enjoy wearing them.

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I also realized that living in Southern California does not require two separate seasons of wardrobes. I don’t need to have separate winter and summer clothing because our weather here just really requires a healthy affinity for layering.

For example, in the winter it can be in the 60’s during the day. But we will also have random days during winter where it can be 75F or 80F outside. And then at night, it can drop down into the 40’s. So being here just requires layering of clothes for when it is cold. No layering required if it is warm 🙂

Now that may not be the exact definition when it comes to capsule wardrobes but the beauty of the thing, is that it works for wherever you live, whatever climate you are currently habitating.

My learning of capsule wardrobes and how to utilize then came from the blog of Jessica Rose Williams and her printable helped me do my sorting!  🙂

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I also learned quite a bit from blogger Sarah Anne Hayes. She has this super informative article, Slow Fashion For a Simple Life, which I found to be super helpful.

“We associate comfort with things like yoga pants and oversized t-shirts and convince ourselves we just have to deal with pants that dig into our waist and shoes we can barely walk in. The truth is, you can look amazing and be comfortable if you choose to be. You don’t have to sacrifice function for fashion”. -Sarah Anne Hayes

For me personally, I guess I would call my style “California Casual”. My every day outfit is jeans and a t-shirt, and a pair of Converse. If it is chilly outside, I throw on a cardigan or a sweater/jacket. In the summer, my converse are still worn, but I also wear flip-flops. My jeans make way for shorts, and occasionally I am rocking a tank-top.

That’s it. No other bells and whistles.

I also tend to wear the same colors over and over again. I have reached an age where I know what colors go with my skin tone and which do not. I am also not a big color person to begin with, so neutrals have always been my go-to.

When I sorted out my closet, I stuck to a specific palate to make it easier to get dressed. I stuck to four colors as these are the ones I tend to wear over and over again:

• Grey

• White

• Blue

• Khaki or Olive Green

That’s it. Those are my four main colors. I do own a black cardigan as well a black skirt and even though those two items don’t fall into my main four colors category, that is okay. The skirt is an all-purpose skirt which can be worn to just about anything, be it church or a night out. I have owned this skirt for over 15 years and that baby has held up all this time! I am not going to get rid of it just because it isn’t a specific color that I normally like. I don’t like wearing dresses or skirts to begin with, so having just one skirt to fit all my needs, works perfectly for me!

My closet is functional and it actually is nice to have a bunch of empty hangers!

I know this post is super long, but if there is anything that I missed that you have questions about or are curious and wondering just how many pieces of clothing I actually own, please let me know in the comments!  😉

Minimizing: Wardrobe Declutter

So I mentioned last month that my goal for March is to simplify. March is the start of Spring here in the states and everything seems fresh and new. A perfect time to get rid of what’s been weighing me down.

I decided to start with my wardrobe.

I do not have a ton of clothes, nor are they super stylish (read: expensive). I am not a fashion blogger or fashionista by any stretch of the imagination. I do not own clothes with price tags still attached or super trendy accessories.

But…

I will hold on to “just in case” clothes. You know what I am referring to, right? “Well, I’ll keep these pants which are too big, just in case I go up a size” or “This skirt isn’t really my style, but I might have an occasion to wear it so I’ll keep it just in case“.

Sound familiar?

I also will tend to hold on to shirts that have long passed their expiration date. They are either stretched out of shape from repeated washings, have holes, stains, or their color has faded.

In order to simplify my wardrobe and get rid of items I no longer use, I read up on capsule wardrobes which basically are a set amount, a very small amount actually, of clothing/accessories that you use and most articles I have read, have it set up seasonally. Meaning, your capsule wardrobe for winter will look different when you put together your capsule wardrobe for summer.

But here is the thing: I live in Southern California. While it has been cold the past few days, our winters are usually very mild. Unless you live in a snow-prevalent area, your winter wardrobe isn’t anything to write home about.  I am sure most So-Cal’ers own several pairs of shorts and flip-flops.

So when I started to ruthlessly attack my wardrobe this weekend, I kept in mind several things.

One, is the item wearable? Does it have holes? Is it tattered?

Two, when is the last time I wore the item? I know most people operate under the six months rule, which states, if you haven’t worn something in six months, you are never going to wear it, and should just toss it. However, six months ago I was pregnant, so I can’t operate under that particular dictum.

Three, is the item comfortable? Is it itchy? Do I get hot wearing it? Is it too tight? Too big?

Four, do I like the color of the item? Does this color reflect well on me?

Five, do I genuinely enjoy wearing the item? Or am I just meh about it?

These are the criteria I came up with for myself when going through my wardrobe. And by the time I was done, I had three separate piles of clothes to donate.

Some are maternity clothes which I hope some mama-to-be out there will enjoy!

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I also got rid of some scarves I have had for at least 20 years. Me, who hates scarves with an ever-loving passion. I always feel like I am being strangled whenever I wear one. See also: turtlenecks. And again, I live somewhere where they really aren’t needed.

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I have empty hangers in my closet which makes me happy! I will be spending a bit of money to replace a white t-shirt I have that is stained, because I wear white t-shirts several times a week.

I am thrilled with my results from the weekend and I can’t wait to share with you some more tidbits I learned with this project!

RELATED POST: When Organizing Stops Working

RELATED POST: The Joy of Less: A Book Review

Simplify: My Goal For March

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Although I embarked on decluttering missions last year, I feel like more can be done. And not just with decluttering, but with simplifying as a whole.

For example, mail gets tossed on tables, forgotten about, and then all of a sudden we are late paying a bill.

Weekday mornings are spent scrambling to make my daughter’s lunches.

We were gifted so many newborn clothes and other accoutrements for my other daughter, there is no way to wear them all or use them all, and they are taking up precious space in our small apartment.

I could go on, but you see where I am going with this…

Spring starts in March and so next month seems as good a time as any, to start simplifying our home and streamlining what we are doing and what is coming in and out of our home.

I literally am feeling overwhelmed with our living space. My OCD/neat freak tendencies are making my normally rational self become undone.

So I am taking action and March is the month to do it. 31 days to get $&!* done.

Who’s with me?  🙂

RELATED POST: Decluttering: Drowning in Paperwork

My 2017 Goal of Wellness: The Highs and Lows

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Back in January of this year, I wrote a post entitled “2017: The Year of Wellness”. In this post I described how setting goals just doesn’t work for me because I end up breaking them by February and then getting down on myself for not realizing all of my resolutions.

Instead I chose a word, just one word, to encompass what I wanted to accomplish holistically for myself, for the year 2017. And I choose the word: Well.

Be Well. Feel Well. Live Well.

I wanted to be well physically and considering that I lost 30 pounds in 2016, I definitely wanted to continue down this path and become a healthier version of myself.

I wanted to be well emotionally. I wanted to get into yoga and do meditation on a regular basis. I also wanted to continue to minimize the items we had in our apartment and pare down the clutter, which in excess, can give me anxiety.

Finally I wanted to well financially. Sell some stuff, save some money, pay off some debt. Do what needs to be done.

Those were items that I wanted to continue to work on during the course of 2017 and always remember to be well.

How did I do and why I am writing this in November when we still have technically two months left in the year?

Bet you know the answer!  😉

Yup, because of my pregnancy and the baby who will making their debut in the next several weeks!

When we found out that I was pregnant in late Spring, certain things had to be gently laid aside and that totally makes sense in the grand scheme of things. For example, I kept up my daily meditation until my morning sickness kicked in and it was all I could do to stay functioning. The exhaustion mixed with the constant nausea made it impossible to pay attention to anything, let alone meditation or even attempting to do any yoga.

I did walk whenever I could and continue to try to walk now, but I am in the waddling stage and I can’t go very far for too long of a period, but I try to do what I can.

With the exception of crazy cravings, I do continue to try to eat healthy.

I have done really well in the decluttering and minimizing aspects that I wanted to accomplish this year. You can read more about that here and here.

With the help of my husband, we did get rid of a lot of things that just were not conducive to the kind of clutter-free living that we were desiring. I am a huge bookworm and I made myself honestly look at the books that adorned my shelves and posed the value question. “Do I get value out of this?” “Am I really going to read this book again?” If the answer was no, we sold the books. And this is just one example of items that we got rid of.

We did pay off some bills this year and our savings account is chugging along, I am happy to say!

Be Well. Feel Well. Live Well.

I believe that I still lived my year of wellness for 2017 even though I’ve been pregnant for most of it. You have to be healthy physically and emotionally for your baby that is growing inside of you. Wellness is a part of your life even if you may not realize it when you are living for two people.

And I realize that there is still time to go before 2017 is over and I could have written this follow-up post at the end of December or the beginning of January, but I am being proactive because I already know that once the baby is here, blogging will fall down the list of priorities and I wanted to share this with you before that happens!  🙂

How have you guys done with your intentions for 2017? Let me know in the comments!

Decluttering: Drowning In Paperwork

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am decluttering and minimizing our living space, as well as getting ready for our new bundle of joy, who will be here in less than two months! Time slows for no one, my friends  🙂

One of the projects I have been working on has been the accumulation of paperwork. Specifically paperwork that was shoved into this beautiful but handy file box:

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Guys, this thing was filled to the brim with paper. Stapled paper, paper-clipped paper, paper that was at one time important, but now, not so much. When I first purchased this file box about 5 or 6 years ago, I had it super organized. File folders detailing exactly what was nesting inside each folder. Folders that were listed in alphabetical order, because that is how I roll.

But somehow over the past few years, with moving to Oregon and then back to California all in the space of 14 months, this folder began to become a “catch-all” for ANY kind of paperwork, whether it belonged in this file folder or not. Even after being back home for over two years now, this file box was still a hot mess.

Time to act.

So I took everything out. Every last bit of paper. And let me tell you, there was a lot of it.

Ah, beautiful empty box…

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I wish I could say that I was able to finish this project in an afternoon or even one whole day, but that simply was not the case. Working on any sort of project when you are in your 3rd trimester of pregnancy, gets tiring pretty quickly. But I kept at it.

I decided what paperwork was important and utilized my current file folders to accommodate these items. What I deemed important enough to have a file folder for:

  • Tax Stuff
  • Automobile
  • Medical
  • Apartment (Lease agreement, etc..)
  • Pet (Important paperwork regarding our cat)
  • My Daughter (Certain in-school projects that I have decided to hold onto. We do not keep all art projects she has made or all homework tests where she scored well. We keep a few important things that we think she will appreciate when she is older and that is it)

Once I decided what to keep, the paperwork items went into their appropriate folders, alphabetically of course!

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Everything that was not going back into this folder box, got shredded, thrown in the trash, or recycled, when applicable. This part took a looooong time. I wasn’t annoyed by the longevity of the project in terms of the discarding and sorting. But it made me realize that we humans are literally drowning in paperwork and it also made me really want to limit the amount of paperwork that actually makes its way past our front door. I am really going to make a concerted effort, along with my husband, to try to curtail the paper that seems to flow like water into our lives. Even something like asking for a receipt to just be emailed to me instead of giving me a paper receipt.

Because here’s the thing: I do not want to do this project again. Like, ever. Even though I have a degree in procrastination (I jest, but it seems like it sometimes), I am making it a priority to deal with paperwork as soon as possible. No more letting it pile up on the counter. No more shoving it off to the side to deal with it “later”, whenever that is…

What I like about this decluttering project is that it didn’t cost me a dime. I already had a file box and file folders, so no extra purchases of those items. The only “cost” was just my time, which was a bummer but at least this project is done.

If you are looking to declutter and organize your paperwork and feel like it is all just too overwhelming, start slow. You don’t have to do it all in one day. I certainly didn’t. Think about what papers are important to you to keep. What paperwork is going to matter a few months from now and what isn’t. Is every receipt necessary? It is definitely a process, but remember the end goal: peace of mind and being able to lay your hands on papers of importance within seconds.

Any tips on decluttering paperwork that you want to share? Let me know!  🙂

Destination Simple: A Book Review

I have really been into books lately, that have to do with simple and intentional living. I want to have fewer items in my house, less items on my to-do list, and want to stop feeling like I am cramming things into my day.

Enter Destination Simple: Everyday Rituals For a Slower Life by Brooke McAlary.

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I first heard of this book being mentioned in the blogging circles and it being a simple but short and compelling read. Brooke McAlary is also the creator of the Slow Your Home podcast. Although I’ve never listened to any episodes of her podcast, I decided to give her book a try.

Destination Simple is broken into three parts with just a few chapters in each section. It is a very smooth read (seriously, it is only 116 pages!), so it is easy enough to read through while drinking your morning coffee or your afternoon tea  🙂

The author, in the introduction, mentions that she used to live life to the point that she was an “overwhelmed, overcommunicated wreck”. She felt like she had no downtime, and felt that she wasn’t present to the people who most mattered to her, like her husband and children. She realized that she needed to make changes to her life and this book is a compilation of things that worked for her.

While I personally don’t feel like a stressed out wreck, and I am absolutely present for my husband and my daughter, I liked her forthcoming pages about how to just slow down. Brooke talks about how we need to single-task and not multi-task, the way our society says we should.

“Single-tasking is the antidote to modern life, where we are taught that to be effective, productive, and worthwhile, we must multi-task”. -Brooke McAlary

By doing one task at a time, we can practice mindfulness and stay in the present moment. Brooke asks readers to do just one thing at first, something that you do every day, and try to do just that one task, without also doing something else at the same time. It will give you a chance to clear your mental clutter, even if it is just for a few minutes.

My favorite chapter in the book was Chapter 3, entitled “Emptying Your Mind”.

“Our minds are cluttered. We are overwhelmed with to-do items, commitments, errands, and must-remembers…Do you ever get to bed, begin to relax, only to magically remember everything you were supposed to get done that day?” -Brooke McAlary

*slowly raises hand*

I bet there are quite a few of us in that boat. Our brains have a hard time shutting off once our head hits the pillow. We are tired but we can’t sleep because our hamster wheel of a brain is going and going!

Sound familiar?

Brooke’s solution is the art of “brain dumping”. It is basically an exercise where you take 5-10 minutes and simply journal and write down, or “dump” the contents of your brain onto paper. Write down those frustrations, those to-do’s that didn’t get done, problems that are bothering you, anything that is occupying space in that beautiful brain of yours. Get it out onto paper and out of your mind. This will help you to think more clearly, process what has been committed to paper and help you now to be in the present, without being bombarded with all those shoulda, coulda, wouldas! Some people prefer doing their “brain dumps” in the evening before bed, others prefer to start their day off in the morning and journal right away. Do what works best for you!

Destination Simple is chock full of tidbits to help you slow down and add some simple living techniques to your life.

I definitely recommend this book if you want to be intentional with your time and carve out space to really and truly be fully present!

 

 

 

Are Nesting and Minimizing Compatible?

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My answer is yes.

But before I give my whys, lets define the term “nesting” for those not in the know. Here are two similar definitions from two different websites:

“Nesting is the act of preparing your home for your baby’s arrival, often fueled by big bursts of energy late in pregnancy”. – BabyCenter.com

“Nesting is the urge to clean and organize during pregnancy…to get your home ready for your new baby”. -AmericanPregnancy.org

Basically you are getting your home ready for your beautiful baby and making sure everything is ready to go when you come home with your new bundle of joy. Diapers at the ready? Check. Bottles ready to go? Check. Piles of paperwork that needs to be sorted through? Check. Wait. What?

Yes, I am in the nesting phase. I am making lists of what we need for the baby since it has been 7 years since my daughter was born so we are basically starting from scratch. I am slowly accumulating what we need and getting ready for our new arrival in a couple of months.

But…

I am also decluttering and minimizing things that have absolutely nothing to do with the impending shift in our family dynamic.

I am cleaning out closets. I am sorting through drawers. I am going through mountains of paperwork that seem to have accumulated over time. I am getting rid of things that no longer serve a purpose or are useful.

I am cutting out the crap.

And it is not just because of hormones and the whole nesting vibe that comes on about this time during pregnancy.

I am doing it because it needs to be done.

I am well aware of the sleep-deprivation and major life adjustment that comes with a newborn and the first few months of a parent’s life. I remember all too well that phase with my daughter, and there are days when you literally are in survival mode and wonder when was the last time you ate a meal.

With a baby and my older daughter to take care of, there will be zero time to declutter stuff that shouldn’t be here in the first place. There will be no time to minimize and be intentional about what is occupying unwanted space in our home.

So I am doing it now.

When I do get a burst of energy, I am tackling a project. When I need to take a break,  I take a break. But when the next burst of energy comes, I am in minimize-mode and getting things done. We live in a small apartment and anything extra that has no use can make our abode feel very overwhelming quite fast.

Any tips or tricks you have when it comes to minimizing your stuff? I’d love to hear about it!