March in the Rearview

The month of March went by with a whoosh, right? Whew…  🙂

A quick look back:

What I enjoyed this month: Reading, obviously! But also trips to see my beloved ocean and coffee dates with friends  🙂

Huntington Beach is my favorite local beach and it makes me feel all the feelings when I am there!

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I read Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham which I looooved!! If you are a Gilmore Girls fan, than this book is for you! Lauren talks about her life and of course, behind the scenes stuff about the BEST SHOW EVER!!!

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I also drooled over read The Minimalist Baker’s cookbook Everyday Cooking. I want to eat everything in this book, especially her recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oat Bread. Yup. You read that right  😉

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What I am absolutely over: Choices for White House appointments/jobs who have absolutely no qualifications for said job, but get said job anyway. I can’t even…

On the healthy living front: I did really well exercising this month until the last week of March. Ugh, so annoying. But the good thing is, is that I recognize that it has been a week since I worked up a sweat and I am getting back into my routine. Older = wiser, right?  😉

On the minimalism/decluttering front: If you remember, I mentioned that for the month of March I was going to declutter 3 separate areas of my home: the kitchen, electronic stuff (my computer), and the bathroom. Suffice to say, I accomplished my tasks! Guys, I actually have ONE EMPTY DRAWER in my kitchen!!!! *cue squealing* I love that one empty drawer. I refuse to let anything get in its recesses again!

I also unsubscribed from emails that I no longer want to receive, and blogs that I no longer want to read. Mission accomplished.

And as for the bathroom, icky nail polish, expired medication, and make-up that has probably seen better days, has all gone in the rubbish bin.

All in all, March was a very productive month and I am looking forward to getting some more things accomplished. I’ve got momentum, y’all!!!

By the way, all my pictures in this post are from my Instagram account. Come say hi!  🙂

How was the month of March for you? Did you get in any decluttering?

When Organizing Stops Working

The season of warmer weather is starting to beckon us fragile souls, in need of some Vitamin D and a yearning for shoes other than boots. With this need, also comes the need to clean, organize, declutter, and/or purge. I too, am minimizing parts of my space and have already rid our home of needless things.

But there is a difference between tackling a few spaces that have become unruly, and organizing the same things over and over.

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If you feel like a hamster in a hamster wheel, just spinning and spinning, and organizing and organizing and feeling like it is Groundhog Day and you are sorting out the same space/things over and over again, well maybe this quote might help you:

“If organizing your stuff worked, you’d be organized by now”. -Courtney Carver

Courtney dropped the mic, amiright?  🙂

But seriously, think about that sentence for a quick moment. If organizing your stuff worked, you would be organized by now. Wow. Is organizing all of your stuff working for you? Do you feel overwhelmed? Does the thought of going to the Container Store to purchase containers to hold your stuff, send you into the panic zone?

Well maybe, just maybe, there might be too much stuff for you to deal with. Maybe all that organizing and re-organizing is sending you a clear signal that minimizing might be in your future.

Speaking from experience, it is no fun to spend an entire weekend, every few months or so, organizing all the things. Having less frees up your space, but most importantly, it frees up your time! More time to do what you really want instead of cleaning out a garage full of items that you can’t even remember putting in there. More time in the day is something we would all love to have, right?

If you had less stuff to clean/keep track of/maintain, and you now had a windfall of time, time to do what you really wanted to do, what would you do? Take a painting class? Learn to bake? Finish that book that has been sitting on your nightstand? Finally getting around to planting a vegetable garden?

Are your things preventing you from living the life you really want to lead?

If you need help answering this question, no problem! We’ve all been there!  🙂 These books might help:

The More of Less by Joshua Becker

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

The Joy of Less by Francine Jay

Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life by The Minimalists

Don’t let the things you own, end up owning you! Live the life you really want to live

 

 

 

 

Essentialism: A Book Review

This book my friends…this book gave me all the feels ♥

Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less is an absolutely outstanding book. Absolutely. Outstanding.

I know this book and the brilliance of it, has been floating around in the personal finance and minimalism blogospheres. I personally first heard of it through The Minimalists and they mention this book quite a lot in their podcasts, so I thought I would give it a go and see what all the hype is about. There must have been quite the hype because I had to wait three weeks to be able to check it out at the library as there were already a queue full of eager readers also waiting to get their hands on McKeown’s book.

“Essentialism isn’t about getting more done in less time. It is about getting only the right things done”.

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Basically, we as human beings need to filter out what is not essential in our lives and stop trying to do everything because guess what? We cannot do everything. I repeat. We. Cannot. Do. Everything.

Burnout and running on the hamster wheel, constantly juggling this that and the other. Overwhelmed. No time to do what we would really like to do. Multi-tasking until we collapse in a heap at the end of the day.

Sound familiar?

McKeown espouses that “by forcing us to apply more selective criteria for what is Essential, the disciplined pursuit of less, empowers us to reclaim control of our own choices about where to spend our precious time and energy- instead of giving others implicit permission to choose for us”.

Control our own choices sounds amazing doesn’t it? It may seem like we control what we think or do, but how many times have you made a decision out of guilt? *raises hand slowly*

Guilt is a powerful emotion. We give in and say yes to something we really, really don’t want to do, because we feel guilty. We want to avoid conflict or avoid tension. Maybe we felt timid in saying no. Whether it is to a family member, a colleague, a friend, your child, etc… It can be difficult to discern what we should be saying yes to, and what we should be saying no to as well.

“The very though of saying no literally brings us physical discomfort. We feel guilty. We don’t want to let someone down. We are worried about damaging the relationship. But these emotions muddle our clarity. They distract us from the reality of the fact that either we can say no and regret it for a few minutes, or we can say yes and regret it for days, weeks, months, even years”.

Let that sink in for a minute.

We say no, we regret it for a few minutes. We say yes, and regret for days, weeks, months, or even years.

How many times have you felt like this? The guilt? The relationship with the person that you are thinking about saying no to?

I have been there many times. You see, I am an introvert but I am also a mother. So I feel guilty when there are things that other moms ask me to join or help out with or can I do this one thing, and my first inclination is to say no. But then I feel guilty because I know these moms and our kids are friends, and then…I have suddenly spiraled into feelings of antipathy, guilt, and awkwardness. And many times, I give in and do the thing that is being asked of me even though the introvert in me is wondering why we aren’t at home basking in our aloneness.

And when I do give in, I feel regret. As McKeown states in his book, this is totally normal.

“After the rush comes the pang of regret. They know they will soon feel bullied and resentful-both at the other person and at themselves.”

Yes! I have totally felt that. And then to make the downward spiral even more unappealing, I feel bad for feeling that way, and I just end up a mess.

McKeown says to pause for five seconds before agreeing to something which can “greatly reduce the possibility of making a commitment you’ll regret”.

You want to know something interesting? Soon after I read this book, a friend asked me to work on a project with some other people and it was not something that I felt absolutely comfortable with. I took a moment and paused gracefully, and I said…

No.

I said no, I couldn’t believe it! Me, the guilt-ridden introvert, said no! I was proud of myself and realized later, that what McKeown said was absolutely spot-on: I regretted for a few minutes that I was unable to help said friend with their project, but that feeling soon dissipated and I knew that if I had agreed to said project, I would have truly regretted it in the long run.

I could wax poetic about this book for several more paragraphs but I believe you get the gist of what Essentialism is all about  🙂

Some tidbits to keep you going:

*Cut out the non-essential so you can focus on what is essential.

*Filter out what is important and what is not. Don’t get caught in the cycle of “decision fatigue” (the more choices we are forced to make, the more the quality of our decisions deteriorates).

*The real question is not how can we do it all, it is who will get to choose what we do and don’t do. When we forfeit our right to choose, someone will choose for us.

Have you read Essentialism? What did you think of it?

The Joy of Less: A Book Review

Less, less, less. 2017 is all about less. Less clutter, less nonsense, less of what no longer serves a purpose.

The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify by Francine Jay was a book that I was super excited to delve into because I had heard quite a bit about her in the minimalist circles and her book lived up to the hype!  🙂

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Can we just pause and give thanks for libraries? Because seriously, without them I would be lost! ♥

So back to the book… the author Francine Jay runs the popular website missminimalist.com and her book is chock full of awesome tidbits. I really love how she opens the book with the term “philosophy”. We have to change our mindset and change our relationship with stuff in order for this whole minimalism thing and life without excess to work. Our stuff exists to serve us, not the other way around.

“A container is most valuable when it is empty. We can’t enjoy fresh coffee when old grounds are in our cup and we can’t showcase our garden’s blooms when wilted flowers fill the vase. Similarly, when our homes -the containers of our daily lives- are overflowing with clutter, our souls take a backseat to our stuff”. – Francine Jay

Ms. Jay had an interesting passage in the book about “aspirational stuff”. Basically these are items that we bought to impress others or indulge in our “fantasy selves”. You know, the one who is 20 pounds thinner, the one who has fabulous cocktail parties, the one who, well…you get it. Human beings have a tendency to acquire many of their possessions in order to project a certain image. Clothes, cars, etc… Ready for some minimalistic truth?

Products will never make us into something we are not.

High-five, Ms. Jay. High-five.

Less stuff equals less stress and I completely agree. In the book, it is pointed out that:

  • We stress about not having stuff.
  • We stress about how to acquire the thing we want.
  • We buy the thing and now have to be responsible for it and take care of it.
  • Then the item inevitably breaks and now we are stressed about our broken item and now… THE WHOLE PROCESS STARTS ALL OVER AGAIN.

Ugh, what a cycle!

Less stuff equals more freedom. Things can be anchors and tie us down. They keep us from exploring new interests and developing new talents. They can drain our energy and sense of adventure.

“Too much clutter can weigh on our spirits. It is like all those items have their own gravitational field and are constantly pulling us down and holding us back. We can literally feel heavy and lethargic in a cluttered room, too tired and lazy to get up and accomplish anything”. – Francine Jay

We want to be able to actually enjoy and live our life, right? Living simply, buying only what we truly need, and learn the joy of having enough.

Other brilliant tidbits:

  • Life is the space between our things.
  • We need space for our ideas and thoughts- a cluttered room usually leads to a cluttered mind.
  • By creating space in our homes, we put the focus back where it should be: on what we do, rather than what we own.
  • When we clear our homes of all the excess stuff, we can devote our space, time, and energy to the people we love.

Friends, I really loved this book and I recommend it to anyone looking to start their minimalist/decluttering journey and I also recommend it to those of you already well on your way in your simplifying journey. My point is, this book is for EVERYONE!  🙂

“When we become minimalists, we strip away all the excess to uncover our true selves. We take the time to contemplate who we are, what we find important, and what truly makes us happy”. – Francine Jay

What truly makes us happy…that sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?  🙂

The Money Saving Mom’s Budget: A Book Review

You’re never stuck-unless you choose to be. – Crystal Paine

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If you have read any personal finance blogs in the past 7 years or so, you might have heard of Crystal Paine, a.k.a. The Money Saving Mom. When I was a new mommy and completely overwhelmed with feedings, diaper changes, and oh yeah, finding time to wash the dishes and do seven hundred loads of laundry, I stumbled across her blog and it saved me. Literally. Crystal’s blog helped me with time management, meal planning, and taking some time for me, and still giving my all to my precious newborn. Seriously, I am forever indebted to Crystal ♥

That being said, I couldn’t wait to crack open her book The Money Saving Mom’s Budget, when my library finally notified me that my requested reserve was in  🙂 Let’s dive in, shall we?

Crystal’s advice, although geared primarily towards families, can also be utilized for the single crowd. Being financially solvent applies to EVERYONE, amiright? And what she writes makes total sense and leaves you thinking, wow I can totally do this!

For example, she talks about the “$60 Principle”, which is in a nutshell, try to challenge yourself to save $60 a year. For some people, they might be like, whatever, I can totally do that, piece of cake. But for others who are barely scraping by, $60 is quite a bit of money. Crystal breaks down the challenge into easy steps and helps you see that it can be doable. She advocates to try and save $5 a month which breaks down to just $1.25 a week. Crystal states: “$60 isn’t going to make a significant dent in your debt payoff but the mentality behind saving the money will help you get there. Moving forward is better than standing still or moving backward”.

Because this book is all about saving money, she has many tips for doing just that:

  • Learn to meal plan
  • Use coupons when you can
  • Go plastic-free and try using just cash
  • Eat more meatless meals
  • Utilize your crock pot
  • Instead of going out to the movies, rent a movie from your library for free
  • Learn to batch-cook
  • Sell your junk

The parts of the book that I enjoyed and that appealed to my minimalist heart were the pages concerning organization, stream lining, and getting rid of clutter.

“If your life and home are not in order, you are just going to make things harder for yourself and likely end up frustrated and overwhelmed” – Crystal Paine

Can I get an amen?  🙂

Some tips, you can totally do today! Eliminate paper clutter. Unsubscribe from those catalogs, yo! Organize that pantry. What is actually in there? Know what ingredients you have on hand to start that meal planning, stat! Create a filing system for bills and receipts. If you are more of a digital person, scan those things and put ’em on your computer and get everything in order!

I think it is important that Crystal does emphasize practicing the art of contentment. If you are not happy with what you have, credit cards will be there to soothe you and skyrocket your debt at the same time. She advises for us to count our blessings and to focus on what we do have, not what we don’t.

“A cheerful attitude can go a long way in less than ideal situations; you can either complain about the thorns or you can savor the roses that bloom in their midst” – Crystal Paine

All in all, this is a great book for anyone needing to overhaul their financial picture but just don’t know how to get started. But make sure you go to the library and check it out because #frugal  🙂

As The Page Turns: October Edition

Books, books, books! Yay for book posts! Get ready fellow booknerds, I read some awesome books this month  🙂

What I read in October:

Young Elizabeth: The Making of a Queen by Kate Williams

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Oh my goodness, this book was fantastic! I loved learning about Elizabeth and the abdication of the throne by her uncle, which ultimately led to her father becoming King of England and subsequently when he died, Elizabeth inheriting the throne. Fascinating account of Elizabeth and her sister Margaret’s young lives and going all the way through to Elizabeth becoming Queen. I can’t recommend this book enough!  🙂

Debt-Free Living: How a Spending Fast Helped Me Get From Broke to Badass in Record Time by Anna Newell-Jones

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Guys, this book was so good and chockfull of so many interesting tidbits! Anna created and runs the popular blog andthenwesaved.com for the non-personal finance crowd and her book was such an easy read. No confusing info, no berating because you too have bought one too many things under the influence of emotional shopping. Anna has been there and describes her journey of getting out of debt which gave her the freedom to follow her dream of becoming a freelance photographer. Definitely give this one a read!

Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst

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This book, um wow, all the feelings! I loved it. ♥  I don’t want to get too deep with this, but this book was awesome. Definitely a good read!

The Moor by Laurie R. King

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This book revolves around the Sherlock Holmes story The Hound of the Baskervilles with a 1920’s twist and Sherlock Holmes himself is brought back to Dartmoor to solve this latest incarnation of mystery.

Halloween Party by Agatha Christie

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Y’all know I had to throw in an Agatha Christie novel and what better one to read for October than Halloween Party? Bobbing for apples takes on a whole new meaning when one of the party guests is found dead in the tub of apples. Who did it and why? That is the question…bet you’ll never guess who did it!  😉

What did you guys read in October? I need some new books to dive into!

As The Page Turns: September Edition

For readers of my old blog, you know what this post is about  😉

For readers of my new blog, I am a huge bookworm and every month I will share what I read for the previous month and link up to my good friend Jana’s link-up about all the good, the bad, and the ugly, that we #booknerds read. So without further adieu…

What I Read in September:

The Summer Before The War by Helen Simonson

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I have been wanting to read this book for everrrrrrr, and the waiting list at my library seemed to be crawling at a snail’s pace, but then I realized why. This book, even though it really is good, took forever and a day to read. No wonder it took ages for it to finally become available!

This novel, about the summer of 1914 before World War I started and subsequent events after, is definitely a good read and the story does draw you in. But just be prepared for this book’s longevity. It is for real…

The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie

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Can’t go wrong with my favorite author! 🙂 A group of friends decide to meet and they each bring up a case of murder where they know the identity of the perpetrator but the other people in the group have to guess who they think did it. They meet on Tuesdays hence the original name of the book, The Tuesday Club Murders. A+ in my book!

The Raven and the Nightingale by Joanne Dobson

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This book is one of my faves because I love how the author intertwines the writings of Edgar Allan Poe, with a murder on a college campus in present day, and the case ends up being solved by an English professor, who part of her teaching curriculum is the work of Poe. In fact, a Poe poem helps her figure out who did it!

A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

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The original alphabet mystery book with one of my favorite heroines, Kinsey Millhone  🙂 Great weekend read with a cup of hot cocoa.

The Shattered Tree by Charles Todd

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I wanted to enthusiastically give this book two thumbs up but I cannot. Let me preface that by saying that Charles Todd is my second favorite mystery author behind my beloved Agatha Christie, so I don’t go into my “meh-ness” lightly.

I felt like with the character of Bess Crawford, the author has already explored this territory before with Bess traipsing across World War I battlefields and cities therein, looking for a murderer and cases of mistaken identity and the like. They’ve done this before with this character and having to go through this again with a new person Bess has to search for, just felt repetitive.

The other Bess Crawford mysteries that came before The Shattered Tree are really good, so don’t let this one deter you if you are looking for a good series to dive into.

By the Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie

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Mwah, ha, ha, ha!!!! Creepy cover, creepy book, perfect for fall♥

Strange things are going on at an English nursing home and well… read the synopsis for yourself:

“Tommy and Tuppence Beresford decide to pay a duty visit to Tommy’s elderly and unpleasant aunt in her nursing home. That visit results in a strange inheritance, black magic- and danger”. And murder…don’t forget murder.

By the way, most of my book pictures are from my Instagram account, so if you want to follow along with what I am reading in October, come say hi!

What books have you guys read lately? I am open to some awesome suggestions!

10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget: A Review

“Frugality is more than just saving a few pennies and becoming debt-free. It is about pursuing your dreams and not letting someone else define your success”.

This little gem, like so many others, make up the multi-layered awesomeness that is the book 10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget by the writers of Wise Bread. Wisebread is a website that has frugal living and money-saving tips and as they state on their “about” page, they are a community of bloggers who are “here to help you live large on a small budget”.

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This book was such a great read and I wrote down so many nuggets of information because I just loved what these writers had to say! 🙂

  • “Frugal discipline does not have to mean deprivation. It is possible to have a life of abundance without spending more money that you’d care to”.
  • “The fundamental rule of personal finance: Spend less than you earn. There are 2 avenues to achieving this goal: spending less and earning more. By working on either (or both) of these areas, you can increase the gap between those 2 numbers- and that gap is your ticket to freedom. The harder you work on either spending less or earning more, the bigger that gap will become and the quicker that train to your dreams will arrive at that station”.

We’ve all heard it before but it bears repeating: Spend less than you earn. Simple words that pack a wallop of truth, but at times difficult to follow. But with spending less than what we earn, we gain freedom. Freedom to pursue what is important to us.

10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget also talks about minimalism and getting rid your junk:

  • “We often hold onto things that simply remind us if a nice memory”.
  • “You’ll probably be surprised how much stress is relieved by parting with your junk. It can be hard to part with things that you’ve owned for a while, but frankly, any potential monetary sacrifice can be compensated for by having a clean livable abode. When they say you can’t take it with you, they aren’t kidding”.

They even have a section about Roth I.R.A.’s, bonds, and investments which I found interesting even if I didn’t understand all of it 🙂 The writers recommended to put away at least $1,000 for emergencies or into what is commonly known as an “emergency fund”, and to pay off all your credit card debt before opening a Roth I.R.A. or at least make significant headway on that debt and have a plan for paying it off.

All in all, if you are looking for some tips to up your frugality game, by all means, head to your local library and check this book out. Like I did 🙂 #frugalforthewin

Organized Simplicity

Simple living is a journey, not a destination.

And there you have it; the beauty of Tsh Oxenreider’s book summed up succinctly. Organized Simplicity, The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living from the founder of the blog Art of Simple, is a lovely book about organization, simplicity, and nourishing and appreciating your home. It is about slowing down and enjoying life’s pleasures. Living simply is one of Oxenreider’s principles and her pages are filled with action plans, quotes, and little nuggets of wisdom that make this such a great read.

“What is simple living? Living holistically with your life’s purpose. Holistic living means that your spiritual, relational, emotional, intellectual, physical, and financial lives are working together. They’re not competing with one another. These parts exist to complement and strengthen one another”. -Tsh Oxenreider

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I love that she talks about time being a tool and that we’ve all got a limited amount and that we need to use our time wisely. She talks about how everyone always complains that they do not have enough time to do the things we want but we all have the same amount of hours in a day; we just need to choose how we use them, wisely.

“If you don’t put in the hours to transform your life into something meaningful and holistic with your life’s purpose, it will never happen. Simple living doesn’t happen automatically”. -Tsh Oxenreider

Minimalism is also a topic weaved beautifully throughout the book. Some gems that I found helpful:

  • When you own fewer things, those things retain a higher value for you.
  • When your home runs efficiently and when it is free of all but the essentials, you are more free to enjoy life.
  • May your life be filled with only the necessary and the beautiful.

She reminds us that seasons of life come and go and that we can’t accomplish it all. But with Oxenreider’s book, I feel like I can come pretty close 🙂