The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up Review

I don’t think you can surf blogs about simplifying and decluttering without coming across mention of the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organzing  (affiliate link) by Marie Kondo, at least once, but probably multiple times. This book is hot right now. I believe it was number 1 in the non-fiction books this week.

I finally read it. I actually purchased the e-book, which I rarely do. But I was really interested in what Kondo had to say and why so many people are raving about it. I am in the middle of decluttering my house, so it seemed appropriate to read it now.

It was an interesting read and I read it fairly quickly.

What I enjoyed:

The deciding factor of deciding whether to keep or throw away – You don’t calculate when the last time you used it, or how many you have; simply, “does it bring you joy?”

The order in which she suggests you “tidy” (I prefer “declutter”) – Clothes first, then books, papers and komono (miscellaneous), and then sentimental items and photos.

A place for everything: I think this is a great idea. Everything you own has the correct place. And you put it back in it’s spot every. Single. Time. Kondo even says to empty out your purse every day. Crazy? Maybe. But I know my purse wouldn’t be full of random receipts and gum wrappers or a month old crumpled candy if I followed her advice.

Her folding method – Don’t stack them on top of each other, fold them into lovely bundles and stand them up! The “konmarie” folding method worked amazing for my husband’s shirt drawer. Mine, not so much, as my drawer isn’t that full, so camisoles and other small items don’t stand up as well (all I need are some organizers). But my husband’s drawer looks amazing. More shirts fit in the drawer and everything can be seen. My toddler’s drawer looks awesome as well – his drawer is shirts and shorts. I need to put some boxes in mine to help the process. My underwear drawer (that sounds sexy, doesn’t it?) looks pretty great, though. I should take a picture of my husband’s drawers, but here is my infant daughter’s clothes:

I sorted my daughter's drawer by type of clothing - pants, shirts, onesies, etc.

I sorted my daughter’s drawer by type of clothing – pants, shirts, onesies, etc.

 

The extra motivation: Reading the book helped me up my declutter game and get rid of things that really does not make me happy to have and to take a harder look at things I may think to keep.

 

What I was skeptical of/not my favorite:

Bath items: Removing shampoo/conditioner/body wash/face wash/etc. and drying them after every bathing event seems like too much work. I get where she is coming from – without all those bottles or bars in the shower, it is cleaner and it is easier to clean your shower. I hate that nasty film that grows on unused bottles on a shelf… which is why you should toss that bottle that isn’t being used. And just say no to most shower caddys (that I do agree with Kondo). But, removing and drying everything after you bath will not save you time in the long run – it takes me 3 seconds to remove the shower stuff and clean. It would obviously take much more than that to remove, dry, gather, and put back every time.

Washed dishes: Kondo says that she washes her dishes, she sets them out on her balcony for the sun to dry and sanitize them. That sounds lovely, but not really an option over here. I’m not going to pile up all the dishes we use and wash throughout the day and sit them outside. I don’t think I would have the room (maybe the patio table could house them) and they would be covered in dirt before they were dried. I could get behind never using a dish rest, though. I hate that thing.

Using the book and methods for families: I think with families, you really have to pick and choose and make it work for your unique situation. A lot of what she talks about can easily be done with singles (in fact, the majority of her examples are young women still living at home). You want to Konmarie your bedroom? Sure. Konmarie your office? That works. Konmarie your three year olds bedroom and the family kitchen (not that I know anyone with multiple kitchens)? Eh… I don’t know. Kondo does give an example of having a three year old client, but I’m skeptical. The ton of toys your child has may all bring him joy, but not for you, so you would have to take a step back and only “Konmarie” your specific areas.

The lack of talk about “useful” items: Maybe I missed a chapter or section about tools and other useful, every day items while I was trying to nurse my infant and keep my toddler from getting the Costco-sized pickle jar out of the fridge. Or maybe I am too cheap to totally throw out all my kitchenware and buy only items that “give me joy.”

What you declutter is trash: Kondo doesn’t say your items are trash as soon as you  decide to get rid of them, but she talks about clients getting rid of “x number of bags of trash” and how many things a client “threw away.” Again, maybe I missed something, but I felt like everything she had clients get rid of, went straight to the garbage. I hope that they at least were donated and the book’s wording just got lost in translation.

Your stuff has feelings too: I’m exaggerating a little bit, but I am not sure I can get behind Kondo’s notions of talking to your items and thanking it for their a job well done.

Overall, I think I enjoyed the book. But I don’t think it was life changing or 5-star worthy. I actually felt a little sad for Marie Kondo. Her book is fairly upbeat, but when she talks about her childhood and her dreams and aspirations, I feel a little bad for her and think that maybe she might have had some mental issues growing up. She became obsessed with tidying at 5 years old – after the birth of her sibling and her need to get attention from her parents and to make them happy. I hope she is happy now and loves her career helping others tidy up.

 

 

 

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Where was I?

A nasty cold bug has taken our house by storm. I mostly just have a cough left, but both kiddos are still all snotty and congested (day 6 and counting).

My house needs a good scrubbing.
I have about 7 half-written blog posts that need to be finished.

BUT I have managed to declutter and get rid of quite a bit of stuff. My living room received a makeover – looks way better, just needs a few finishing touches.

The busy holiday season is almost upon us! I cant believe summer is over – i guess it will be more believable when our sunny corner of CA gets the memo.

I need to go put a sleepy baby down for a nap, but i will have a few posts coming soon.

Cheers!

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.

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 😉

Labor Day deals

Lots of sales going on this weekend, especially from our Affiliates. Why Affiliates? I have hand-picked several companies that I enjoy and shop at to promote, and in turn, if you purchase something because of the link I shared, they share a small amount (usually about 2-5%) of that amount with me. It helps keep this blog up and running. My first priority is not to blog about Affiliates every day, but here and there when appropriate. So if you were planning on purchasing something from one of these businesses, then I appreciate you going there because of a link I shared 😉

 
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Two-week, grain-free meal plan and cost breakdown Feb 11-24

This post is a couple days late, but I’ve had a sick baby on my hands and an over-worked husband!

I’ve been following a pretty strict primal/paleo diet these last few week and it’s going great. I’ve lost a few pounds without trying very hard and I’m feeling pretty good. We aren’t doing a diet as strict as the Whole30 program, but trying to do about 90/10.

Usually I post meal plans for the week coming up, but I’ve decided to start posting meals, shopping lists, and cost breakdown for two weeks at a time, since a lot of what we buy is in 1 or 2 week cycles.

The Lenten season has begun and I will admit, the start of Lent was not very self-sacrificing. I thought Lent was the following week and did not plan very well. I am breast-feeding my baby, so I am not fasting, but I am replacing breakfast with a shake that has lower calories than my typical cooked breakfast.

My husband eats dinner leftovers for lunch, but I have started enjoying protein shakes as meal replacements because it is quick and easy (which is necessary with my 9 month old!) and it ensures I get plenty of protein. We try and order the cleanest protein we can. We aren’t perfect, we aren’t nutritionists, we are just trying to figure out what works best for us.

two week meal plan 1

We eat a little cheese here and there, so I guess you can say we eat more primal than paleo. There are places to get paleo-friendly protein powder so if you are more strict in your diet, you can certainly find it. We could use more veggies in our diet (especially for breakfast), but we are a work in progress 😉

Meal plan, grocery list, and price breakdown after the jump.

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New Year Goals

How is everyone’s New Year going? Mine seems to be pretty productive so far, despite having a sinus infection and a teething baby!

I keep reading people mention how they don’t have any New Year’s resolutions, just general goals; I have said something similar, but really, same difference.

My goals for this year are continuations from last year:

Be a better steward of my time and money – This includes not wasting time or income. To be more productive and not buy things we don’t need.

Personal and spiritual enrichment – to take the time to read and study good books, people of faith, etc.

Improving my home – getting those remodel projects done, taking care of the garden, meal plan, and cleaning.

Some more specific goals:

    Pay off consumer debt
    Mini bathroom remodel
    Plant and eat from our vegetable garden
    Finish 2012 photo book
    Develop a plan to eat more local produce and meat

What do you want for 2013?

On parenting, politics, and religion

Parenting, Politics, and Religion, or another alternative title could be stop being an arrogant a**hole or rude b**** (please excuse the language).

I’m laying the baby down for a nap and this has been on my mind for a while, inspired by reading obnoxious comments on news articles and message boards and passive-aggressive parenting advice. I’m also posting on my phone, so I apologize for grammar and spelling or for any weird auto-corrections.

As humans, we vary greatly when it comes to beliefs, thoughts, experiences, and how we deal with those experiences. A group of people may live in the same town, go to the same school and maybe end up at the same workplace, but personality-wise, may be completely different. We can experience the same event but learn different things from it and react to the event differently.

Is it any wonder that we have different opinions? Is it so hard to understand that someone may think or act in a way different than your own?

Wouldn’t it be boring if we were all the same exact person when it came to our minds? Maybe we would have world peace, maybe not.

Why am I rambling about people being different when it seems so incredibly obvious? Because it seems like we forget this fact, get arrogant, and then become either hateful or extremely passive-aggressive. When does this happen the most? When it involves parenting, politics, or religion. And the Internet, with it’s ability to make one seem anonymous and invincible, brings out the worse in people.

Parenting

The majority of parents want to do what is best for their children. No one is the perfect parent, but through education, experience, hope, and reason, we try to come up with a system that works for us and for our kids. Some people ascribe to a specific type of parenting style, some pick and choose different parenting techniques and ideas.

Mommy wars is such an ugly thing. Whether it stems from insecurity and guilt, ignorance, or arrogance, it is completely unnecessary.

Just because someone does something different than you, does not make it wrong! And I’m not talking about a parent doing something illegal or dangerous.

So you didn’t breastfeed (or insert any parenting choice). That is your choice. I believe and it has been proven (other things may not be so scientifically supported) to be the best option, but that doesn’t mean I should be hateful to you, or vice-versa.

You know what is also really annoying? Being discouraging and negative to anyone trying. So you would never try cloth diapering, you hated breast-feeding, you can’t believe someone is trying to get their child to sleep more than 2 hours in a row when they are 6 months old; there’s a time and a place to share your experiences. Sometimes it’s better to be encouraging to a new mother, instead. I don’t want to be a negative Nancy when my loves ones have babies. Let’s use some tact.

You know what I think is even worse? Those who are adamantly against something they know nothing about. I see this the most with breastfeeding in public or extended breastfeeding. So you breastfed for a few weeks, never at all, or don’t have kids, you have never looked into child development or researched breastfeeding, but apparently you know so much about how easy it is to give a baby a bottle, feed him in the bathroom, or how nursing a 1.5 year old has no benefit and can cause brain damage!

Ignorant much?

It seems like those who are the most ignorant about something are those that are most opposed to it.

Politics and Religion

Again, we all have different experiences and even experience those same experiences differently from one another.

Education, relationships, income level, culture, and many more factors contribute to why we think one person would be a better president than the other or why you are Buddhist instead of Morman.

Can you believe you are right? Of course, why would you be committed to something you don’t believe in?

And again, why are we so passionate about something we know very little about? Let’s make sure we educate ourselves about that certain policy before we blast anyone who opposes it.

The point

Let’s try not to be so bitchy about other peoples’ opinions, beliefs, and actions.

We can believe we are right, but let’s be a little more patient and understanding with others.

Let’s have a healthy, rational, and educated conversation (or debate) without attacking each other.

There is not a one-size fits all when it comes to parenting.

You may have to agree to disagree when it comes to religion or politics.

It doesn’t hurt to educate yourself about different ways of doing things or different beliefs.

If you feel the need to correct, educate, or lead someone in a different direction, it can be done respectfully.

And you know what they say about assumptions, right?

I will step off my soap box now.

What’s your opinion?

Adventures in Breastfeeding + Altered Shirt Tutorial

Little man is 7 weeks old now; where has the time gone!? Actually, much of it has been spent sitting on the couch watching Netflix and breastfeeding. Not many complaints here, though. My wonderful husband has done a great job with most of the cooking and house upkeep so that I can feed Gabe and keep him happy.  Plus, I get to stare at his sweet face on cuddle him. And steal lots of baby kisses, don’t forget about those.

It has been nice, though, that he has started going longer between feeds. It’s nice to have a little break!

Breastfeeding for a new mom can be a bit of a surprise (at least for me and those that I have talked to). Much of the time you expect it to be such a natural thing, but it can be hard work! Between getting that baby to latch correctly, worrying about supply, and having sore and sensitive nipples, it’s no wonder our breastfeeding rate is one of the lowest in the world. Having said that, nowadays there is so many resources available to new moms that can help. Le Leche League and hospital run courses are just the tip of the iceberg – just do a Google search!

Get through some of the tough patches and the benefits of breastfeeding make themselves more clear. Besides the health benefit of the milk itself, the amount of money we save, and the bonding experience, I really think little Gabe would cry much more if it wasn’t for breastfeeding. We are lucky that so far, he has never been inconsolable. If he starts to cry, it is usually because he is hungry. If he is crying for another reason, then breastfeeding automatically fixes the problem. Nothing the boob won’t fix and it’s always a pleasure having a happy baby.

My biggest breastfeeding problem currently? Trying to find clothes I actually want to nurse in (and can afford)! I think I have finally found the solution: altered camis/spaghetti-strap tanks with a nursing bra under a loose or stretchy shirt. This makes nursing easy and discreet and way cheaper than buying specialty nursing clothes. Sometimes nursing tanks don’t offer much support; by altering these tanks it is easy to choose the support you want by wearing it with a nursing bra.

All you need is:

Easy!

All the tanks I used were fitted, so there was no droop in the back. It is so easy to nurse in any top!