Friday, April 1, 2011

30 Days to a Simpler Life - Week 2

Day #8 - Streamline Your Kitchen - Take an hour to go through your pantry. Remove everything you will never never get around to eating---like that candied fruit you received as a gift, that low-sodium soup that tastes awful, and those seasoning envelopes that are five years old. Then toss items with dates that have expired. Update your pantry today. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 50)

I did this project before beginning the 30 Day Vegan Workshop in early March.  For me, it was a multi-hour project since not only did I get rid of items that wouldn't be eaten or that had expired dates, but I transfered the healthy, remaining items into glass jars and labeled them.  To read more about the process, click HERE.

Day #9 - Organize your recipes! Make a three-ring binder for Favorite Family Recipes and another for Recipes to Try. You will need two binders, two divider sets with tabs, a three-hole punch, and a few clear vinyl sheet protector pages.

Notebook #1. Favorite Family Recipes: Gather all of your recipe cards, recipes from magazines, and your favorite dog-eared recipes in cookbooks. On 8 1/2 x 11-inch paper, photocopy recipes you use frequently. Divide them into hors d'oeuvres, salads, entrees, and desserts. Place them in your notebook. This notebook will contain all those old favorites like Mom's Apple Crisp and Uncle Charlie's Chili. It will not contain untried recipes.

Notebook #2. Recipes to Try: Create another binder with dividers and add a top-loading clear sheet protector to each section. Recipes collected from magazines and friends are placed inside the sheet protectors. When you have several odd sizes collected, photocopy them onto 8 1/2 x 11-inch paper, punch, and put into the notebook. After you have tried a recipe from this notebook and know it is a keeper, transfer it to your Favorite Family Recipes notebook. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 55)

I actually have a lot more recipes than what would fit into a reasonable-size binder; and I like using recipe boxes so I can keep my recipes divided by category and then in alphabetical order within the category.  That being said, I had many recipes cards and clipped recipes that I had made over the past couple months that needed to be filed:

My recipe boxes with all recipes I've tried
filed in alphabetical order by category.

With the recipes I want to try, I did like the idea of having a binder with top-loading protector sheets.  So, using the same categories that are in my recipe boxes, I created sections within the binder.  Then, I put top-loading sheets in each section and began filling them.

I chose not to glue them onto paper or create "pages" because once I try a recipe, it either will be placed in one of the recipe boxes for making at a future time or it will go in the recycling bin and never be made again.

Above/Before:  Recipes I want to try in a pile next to the binder,
with some recipes already put in the new filing/storage system

Below/After:  The finished binder filled with recipes I want to try.
The recipes are divided into categories and placed in sheet protectors.

Day #10 - Revise Your Living Spaces - Beware of overfurnished, overdecorated living spaces. Create feelings of comfort and serenity by living with less. Today, let go of at least ten knickknacks. There are three categories of knickknacks---meaningful, semimeaningful, and meaningless. Look for ones you have outgrown. If you can't part with ten, or any at all, put several in a cardboard box and store them out of sight, in an Ambivalence Center. Experience your home with few visual distractions. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 64)

In the fall, I went through the home and did a rather thorough purging of any knickknacks that weren't enhancing the living space.  There were a few that I found going through this time - ones that I had held onto for no reason in particular except that they "have always been there" - like the candleholder on the piano.  Have I ever used the candleholder on the piano?  Never.  No sense in keeping it.  Perhaps someone else could use it.

Items that are leaving the home.

Easter is next month, and each year I bring out a bin of decorations that I've been given, purchased, made, or kept because the girls made them.  This year, I put them in charge of decorating which they loved doing.  In the process, I saw the pieces that were important to them to have out and ones they bypassed and left in the bin. 

Some of the items (like the orange and purplse egg things with feet) they received as gifts (not from me), I received as part of different craft swaps, or we picked up at the secondhand shop.  Since they didn't see any value in them, there is no point in holding onto them.  So...out they go.

Day #11 - Consider Minimalism- Today, create a minimalist environment in one room. In that room, remove the wall art. (You might put it under your bed temporarily.) Next, remove everything except the lamps from tabletops, dressers, and counters. Most people live in rooms that are overfurnished and overstimulating. In these spaces, we are distracted from the present moment by too many objects from the past. This task will enable you to experience one extremely simplified room. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 69)

The area I picked is the upstairs hallway which doubles as a play area for the girls.  At times, the cupboard ends up being a dropping-off place for things that need to go to various upstairs rooms or downstairs.  As I looked inside the cupboard today, I realized that many of the items could be put elsewhere, thrown, or donated.  It would make a logical place for linens or towels.

I kept the quilted wall hanging on the wall because the walls would be too austere and not something I would want for the long-term.  Having the storage chest and one item on the wall for the entire two-area hallway (I think) fits with the minimalism philosophy.

Day #12 - Simplify Your Mind - Several years ago, we realized that the most cluttered area of our lives was our mind. We saw a direct link between a calm mind and a simple life. Today, you will do a task that teaches you how to clear your mind. First, you'll need a pen and a piece of paper. Second, think of someone whose behavior makes you grumpy or angry. Anyone. It can be your spouse,child, parent, a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor, a company, or the government. Third, fill in the blank in this sentence,

"___________(name of person) should/shouldn't _________(write down the offensive behavior)." Be petty. The pettier you are, the better this task works. The task continues later. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 74)

Rather than doing this exercise, I wanted to continue with removing things from the home that were no longer needed or wanted.  As this article said about clutter, "Physical clutter in one's home, office, desktop, basement, garage or cabinets can be more of a mental burden than you might imagine. The physical clutter and disorganization can be a mirror of inner clutter and disorganization instead of that free feeling of simplicity and organization."

So, I tackled another area of the home.  This time it was several shelves and the floor in one of my office closets.  Here's a picture of the area I worked on:

Papers and books (four years worth of items)
on three shelves.

The first step was removing all the items from the shelves and floor, and then placing it in grocery bags.  I brought it to the family room so I would have a larger area to work in. 

Bags to sort through.

As I went through the multiple bags of papers, I realized I must have kept almost every evaluation and progress report from the girls' preschool and special education programs; a variety of artwork and homeschool work they did; magazine clippings that I wanted to reference in the future; children's books; and items for scrapbooking which I never did or plan to do. 

I ended up recycling 8 grocery bags of paper, and throwing away one bag of non-recyclable items.  This is what I recycled:

The recycling container is almost filled!

I kept one grocery bag that is about three-quarters full.  I will work on filing it within the next week so that everything is placed where it should go.  The nice thing:  I have three open shelves now in the closet!  It's wonderful!!

Day #13 - Edit Your Projects - Today, examine all of the projects you have not completed. To locate them, look into files, inside drawers, in closets, and under the bed. As they surface, make a list of things you promised yourself, or others, to do. Divide the list into Big Projects and Small Projects. See how many you can come up with in 30 minutes.

Then ask yourself, "Which projects can be jettisoned? Which are a burden? Which ones are totally unrealistic? Which ones am I willing to start today? Finally, drop one project from your life and box up all its paraphernalia. You know what we are talking about --- paint sets, knitting needles, unread magazines, and plans for building a dome-shaped doghouse. Finally, place the supplies to be recycled in the trunk of your car. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 81)

I am going to focus on the bag of patterns that I put together while I was doing filing a couple of weeks ago.  Some of the patterns were copies from books while others are actual pattern books.  Since this a more time-consuming project and I need some quiet, uninterrupted time to do this, I am going to take this to the homeschool conference next month when I have three evenings with no responsibilities. 

Day #14 - Combat Information Overload - Go around your house with a shopping bag and fill it with outdated magazines, catalogues, newsletters, newspapers, brochures, and books. Put the magazines and books in the trunk of your car to be taken to the library or your health club. Put the rest in your recycle bin. Finally, make a pile of newsletters and clipped magazine articles that you intend to read immediately. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 86)

Inspired to keep cleaning one of my office closets, I cleaned three more shelves today.  I recycled all old brochures, catalogs, and educational information (e.g., activities for children in early education through 1st grade - which is younger than both my daughters). 

Grouped remaining items (e.g., notebooks all together, file folders together, envelopes together).  This gives me a good idea also about what items I need or do not need as I prepare for the homeschool conference in a couple of weeks.

Here's the bag filled with items I'm going to recycle:

Another bag out of the home!

What a sense of accomplishment this week!  It's so nice to have some of these major projects that I've been wanting to do, but simply have not had (or made) the time to do them.  Already, having the recipes organized has been better - I was able to find a recipe I needed quickly...and found several ones I could try this week using ingredients I have on hand. 


IHaveANotion ~ Kelly Jackson said...

You are doing a great job. I went through my bathroom vanity and was so proud of myself. I'm thinking you are so much farther down the road than I am....thanks for leading :)


Fairy Tale Mama said...

Look at you go! Great job :-)