Getting rid of the clutter

declutter

I have been an inconsistent follower of several minimalistic blogs. I also really like to pin blog posts on minimalism, but never go back and read them again. I have always been one to have too much clutter. My closets, shelves, and cabinets are often full of random items which I may or may not use on a regular basis. Even as a child and teenager I remember having my room filled with stuff.

Fast forward to present day and I am home with my two kiddos, continually cleaning and picking up. With children in the picture, I am finding that less is more. More stuff does not equal happier kids. It mostly just means more things to pick up off the floor. I have made it my mission to declutter and get rid of anything we don’t use on a regular basis. And I will finally have that yardsale, too.

Have you heard of the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up? It has been a big hit and is on the best sellers list – with thousands of reviews (average 4.5 stars). The basic theory is that you do not keep what doesn’t give you joy. I am almost done reading 10 Minute Declutter – an easy read that breaks down how to make decluttering a habit.  I also just started reading Simplicity Parenting, which I am already very intrigued by.

I have already gone through my drawers and closet. I’m 5 months post-partum ( and I have more baby-weight to lose) and between breast-feeding and changing styles, I had a lot of clothing that I was probably never going to wear again. Then, I tackled the entertainment center and storage ottoman in the living room. I even started going through my son’s clothing and closet.

My linen and hall closets are calling my name to be next, I think.
Anyone else working on decluttering and simplifying your life?

 

 

 

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Trying not to apologize

cleaning-clip-art-a687634f87d355499999480e94fb805dI volunteered to host a first-time meet-up of several ladies (and their kids) for a new book club. We “met” over a local Facebook group. We were interested in starting a book club, so we coordinated our first meeting – at my house. At my house, tomorrow (don’t worry, it wasn’t last minute).

Today I spent several hours and four magic erasers trying to clean the grout in my old tile floor. My toddler has decided to move all of his toys from his room to the living room, but other than that, my house is pretty clean. Just don’t look at my blinds.

I don’t know much about these 5 women. I know they are mothers and live around here, but that is about it. And I know, that as they walk in the door, pulling or carrying their little ones in with them, I will have the strong urge to apologize.

I will feel the need to apologize that my house isn’t big enough. Or clean enough. Or new enough. Or that my carpet is lame, or that I don’t have the most comfortable couch. Or perhaps, I will want to apologize that we don’t have a separate playroom for the little ones.

But I will not apologize. It may be hard for me to keep my mouth shout and not utter “I’m sorry,” but I will succeed. I won’t even apologize for the blob of wall paint my brother got on the ceiling that we still haven’t fixed.

Why should I feel self-conscious that my home isn’t a new house, in pristine-condition, full of expensive things? I shouldn’t!

I really don’t need to apologize for not having the best house. I don’t need to apologize that my house isn’t sparkling white. I’m not perfect, my house isn’t perfect, but it’s our home.

My home is full of love, laughter, and fun (well, most of the time). My home is full of good memories and in the three short years we have lived here, we have done much to make it our own.

So I won’t apologize that my home isn’t straight out of a magazine. I won’t cheapen our home or feel ashamed. I won’t show you or my children that we need more to be happy, because we don’t.

And if you open your home for us to socialize and share and connect, don’t apologize to me, either.

How online hotel booking always goes (for me)

Let's spend hours looking for cheaper hotel prices... not.

Let’s spend hours looking for cheaper hotel prices… not.

We are planning on taking a little vacation in a month or two. We haven’t traveled since the birth of our daughter (in January) and my husband has been busy at work with a big project and in need of some rest and relaxation. Although, with a three year old and a 6 month old, there probably won’t be much R&R, but it is still nice to get away. My three year old also LOVES going to the beach. We haven’t gone to the coast for a while and we are all overdue for some time near the ocean!

You would think that I would learn by now, but I guess I keep hope that someday, it will work.

Someday, one of the millions (ok, not really millions) of travel sites would lead me to the perfect getaway.

And someday, that perfect getaway will be discounted.

That someday has yet to happen. I spend hours comparing lodgings on 5 different sites with 15 different companies and at the end, I go back to the actual hotel’s webpage and book the room. I always book directly from the hotel because I have yet to find a better deal anywhere else.

Am I the only one?! The hotel we just booked was actually one Groupon… but not the room we wanted. But it was only $10 cheaper than booking directly with the hotel. Some travel sites will tell me it’s $30 cheaper a night, but when I click to book, the price has jumped up $50 and they haven’t added fees.

I’m curious, have you ever had a travel site that actually had cheaper prices than booking through the hotel? Maybe I’m missing something.

 

 

 

A return, and the honest truth

Hello everyone. I have been pretty inactive on this blog, lately. A lot of things have changed, some things have remained the same, but I should probably be updating here more often.

So what’s new and what’s the same?

The honest truth, as I know it:

  • I have a 5 month old and a three month old and I’m a stay at home mom. I mostly love it, but somedays I do dream about laying on the beach without a care in the world!
  • I value real food, even side more with Weston A Price or Primal way of eating, but I am not a purist… I admittedly still think Pop-tarts taste amazing and I wish I could have Lucky Charms for breakfast everyday.
  • I like to cook and bake, but if I am being honest, I am not stellar at either. I can make do perfectly well and my family usually enjoys what I make, but I won’t win any awards on my recipes – or my food photography.
  • I like to sew and craft, but I don’t find a lot of time to do much of that anymore – my free time usually involves cleaning or mindless games of Sudoku.
  • I converted to Catholicism 9 years ago.
  • I believe both democrat and republican politicians are equally corrupt.
  • I don’t like to watch dramatic tv shows or movies… because the are just too dramatic. I’m all about comedy and adventure these days.

And so, this blog will continue to be a random smattering of things that are important or relevant in my life. I don’t promise that it will be the best, or the funniest, or the yummiest, or the greatest thing ever, but hopefully you will get some enjoyment from it ;)

Giving Christmas gifts to deprived kids

Christmas will always be a season for giving. A lot of charities are active during the holidays, especially those that focus on providing aid to children. In every corner around the world, there would be food drives, solicitations, and fund raisers in schools and churches. If you want to make children happy this Christmas by participating in charity drives, you may want to remember these things before donating.

Prioritize your area

International aid groups already receive help from a lot of people all over the world. However, your area may not have a lot of donors or even aid groups. Before signing yourself up to international charities, you may want to check whether or not your area has a group that provides aid to children.

Be generous

Stay within your means but don’t just donate something that you can easily pull out of your coin purse. Christmas is just once a year anyway and you’ll feel great when you know in your heart that you’ve made a kid somewhere out there very, very happy. Besides, scientific studies say that helping others is good for the health.

Determine where you want your money to go

There are a lot of charities but each has a different aim. Some charities prioritize in giving toys, while others make food their number one concern. As a suggestion, you may want to donate to groups who prioritize the basic needs of people. UnaKids is an international organization that supports the overall well-being of children, from education to work opportunity when they grow up, so you may want to support charities like that.

Wrapped or unwrapped

Before dropping off your donation to a charity, know whether or not the group wants its received donations wrapped or unwrapped. Some charities prefer receiving donations unwrapped for inspection purposes. This is mostly true for international organizations.

That’s it! Hope you can find it in your heart to make a generous donation to the needy this gift-giving season.

How do you give back to others during the holiday season?

*Note – this is a contributed post. I do, however, totally agree!*

Cyber Monday! Get the deals before they are gone!

This post contains affiliate links. I am also a consultant for Usborne Books & More.

I am mostly done with all my Christmas shopping! I took advantage of all the sales that were available today and this weekend. Here are a few sales to help you get gifts for any person – kids, grandparents, boyfriends and husbands, wives and mothers, friends and all the relatives in between ;)

Monday Usborne
cyber monday sale promotion


Craftsy

24 Hour Cyber Monday Sale! 30% off everything with code CYBERSAV
Gifts Under $25

Tiny Prints Cyber Monday

Wedding Paper Divas 30% Off Sitewide Cyber Week 300x250

FREE shipping with promo code YIPPEE
My Night Before Christmas from ISeeMe

 

30% off print book orders $150+ with code: CYBER30
20% off print book orders $75+ with code: SMALLGIFTS

 

All the books!

I have joined a work-from-home venture. I have been to several home parties that sell candles, jewelry, bags, home products, etc. I have never really had a desire to become a consultant; I don’t know a lot of shoppers and having to go to people’s homes just did not interest me.

But an opportunity came my way to sell awesome books and host online! I will really try to not sound spammy, because honestly, this is the truth.

These are some of my favorite books!

These are some of my favorite books!

 

I have mentioned that I work in a library, right? I worked at my University’s library while I was a student, worked at a non-profit after getting my degree, and then came back to the library world after I had my son and wanted some part-time work I didn’t have to take home with me. Three days a week I have a total of about 600 kids call me “librarian” (even though I lack the amount of schooling required to be a librarian – nor do I get the pay, but I am the one in charge of the school’s library, so it makes sense to them). I’ve always enjoyed books and reading (thanks, mom for reading to us every night when we were young!) and I want to instill the same love of books with my children.

The other day, a friend from high school (well, actually, elementary school) invited me to an online Facebook party about buying books. I missed most of the party because I was out at a family dinner, but I caught the tail-end of it and scanned through the posts and looked through the book catalog online. I wasn’t sure if I was going to buy anything. I usually pick up books from thrift stores and to pay full price for a book is usually foreign to me, but they had some pretty neat illustrated story compilations. I compared prices with Amazon. Some books were cheaper on Amazon (through a seller other than Amazon), but most weren’t. I decided to order some books for Christmas presents. And then when I went to check-out, I was given an option to pick 3 books at 50-60% off… and I did.

About 5-7 days later I received my box of books. Yay, fun mail!  I was actually shocked at how big and colorful they were (even my $5 books were large hard-backed books with lots of big, colorful illustrations). My friend Jen, actually texted me the same day to say she got her books and was pleasantly surprised to see the quality of the books exceeded expectations. Now I wanted to host a party and get free books! “You might as well just sign up to sell them since the start-up kit is so cheap.”

I made back my investment during my first party… and brought home hundreds of dollars worth of books for a small fraction of the cost. And you know else? I had FUN doing it!

So I am happy to announce that I have become an Usborne and Kane Miller Consultant! I run Facebook parties and offer awesome books to families and schools – what could be better?! The books are awesome – great for ages 0-adult, fiction, non-fiction, and activity books.

Books

*Let me know if you are interested in hosting or consulting – my average party gets hosts over $140 in FREE books, plus more at discounted prices! And since it is online, there is barely any work for the host!

What I am packing in my hospital bag

With my second child due in a couple of months, I decided to review all the fun labor and delivery info available out there – most recently Pinterest. There are lots of different posts about “what to pack” and some of them seem a bit much, to me. People and hospitals are different, so to each her own, but this is what worked for us last time, and what I will be packing this time. I would take a tour of your labor and delivery unit and ask questions. Sometimes you have a shared room, sometimes they are small, sometimes you have a shower or a bath, sometimes you don’t. Also, sometimes your recovery room doesn’t have a lot of extra room and some hospitals don’t allow husbands to stay the night. We stayed at our hospital one night – other hospitals require two. If you have a c-section, you will probably stay 3 days. All these factors may effect your packing list.

packing list

 
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Decluttering Christmas presents – Kids edition

I have a few stocking stuff posts (like 50 Stocking stuffers for women,  and 100+ Stocking stuffer and small gift ideas for men, and Non-candy Easter basket and stocking stuffer ideas for children) that get a bit of traffic. If you’ve read them, you know that I am a huge fan of Christmas stockings full of goodies (and present-giving in general). This year, I really want to focus on fun, family, and the meaning of Christmas, rather than all the focus be on PRESENTS! This is becoming more important as my first born gets older (he will be 2.5 years old during Christmas) and with another one on the way. Also, if you have kids, you know how quick they accumulate stuff. I don’t even know how this happens, but it seems like magically, overnight, toys have multiplied. We rarely even buy toys, encourage family to gift other things, and yet still, there is a house full of toys!

I am taking a step back from filling stockings with toys and trinkets and little things that will get lost inside the couch or thrown away in a month. Well, there may still be things that get lost inside the couch, but the point is, I am trying to avoid the junk and clutter.

Have you noticed that some of the greatest toys your little ones have played with are actually not “toys?” Stacks of cups, a cardboard box, a pen and a back of an envelope, a table cloth fort, small pumpkins from the local pumpkin patch (I kid you not, my toddler is in love with his little pumpkins) – all of these things, and more, have entertained your child and didn’t come wrapped in plastic, secured with zip ties, and then sealed in a box. They allowed the children to use their imagination. That’s why this year I am focusing my gift-giving for my child on things that will allow him to play in different ways and offer creative freedom. I am also focusing my stocking stuffers on “needs.”

It may be early to start planning Christmas gifts (and I may have gotten my cousin’s kids’ gifts already, at Target, for 70% off during their toy clearance), but my little girl is set to make her arrival in January and I just love making lists, planning a budget, and all that fun stuff. So here are a few tips I am following to decrease the amount of “stuff” we don’t need (but still have fun giving gifts), and a what I am giving my son for Christmas.

decluttering christmas

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Hello, Stranger!

I’ve been MIA lately; busy with work (elementary school “librarian”), parenting (expecting our second child in January!) and home (does housework ever end?).

With a new baby on the way and home improvements galore, you should be seeing more of me!

 

Lately I have been planning on turning our spare bedroom into a playroom for current and future littles! You can see my pins here:

playroom inspirationI’ve also been reading a lot about RIE parenting style, especially from Janet Lansbury’s blog and Facebook page. For me, I would sum the parenting style as respectfully caring for children.

Work is an interesting way to observe the school’s education system and teaching styles.

And as for our home – we should have a new roof and updated paint-job by the fall!

Hope all is well with all of you!