30 Day Simplicity Challenge

I’m sitting at work, finishing up some things I have to do.  It’s a quiet Friday, literally calm before the storm, since we’re expecting a blizzard starting sometime early tomorrow morning going through to Sunday.  No one is in the New Jersey office due to a water main break last night.  No one is asking me for anything urgent so I’m running some routines and uploading some plans.

And since the system is slow, I’m reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo.  Yes, I drank the Kool-Aid and bought the book with the gift card MR gave me for Christmas.  The Amazon gift card, not the usual Joann’s gift card.  Yes, I brought that up for a reason, lol, to be discussed later…

A few months ago, I took a good hard look at all the crap I’ve accumulated- my clothes, my shoes, my crafts, my everythings- and starting with my closet, I was able to pare down my work wardrobe into less than 50 pieces.  It really helped that I finally lost some weight and am now able to fit into some of the stuff I put aside waiting for said weight loss.  Since I had a basic knowledge of the KonMarie method of de-cluttering (and if you read ANY mommy blogs, you’d have that basic knowledge too) I took each piece in hand and decided if it gave me joy.  Then I tried everything on to see if my reflection gave me joy.  If I hesitated at all, I got rid of that piece.  Off to Savers, off to Lupus.

I tried the Stylebook app, and spreadsheets and lists to figure out what went with what, but they were all too time-consuming to start and then maintain.  Index cards, Pinterest and a numbering system worked best and I was able to put together outfits and see where I needed to supplement.  I shopped around, got some deals and filled in some gaps.

I no longer cry in the morning that I have nothing to wear.  I feel good about everything I put on.

So I’m continuing on with the KonMarie method, but I’m also setting a challenge up for myself- a 30 Day Simplify Challenge.  I’ll post one challenge here each day (it will also get me back to blogging) and how I handle that one task.  Nothing earth shattering, nothing too strenuous.  Just little ways to simplify and declutter.  If you’re still reading here and you want to join in, let me know!

DAY 1 of 30:

Take everything out of your every day bag and get rid of anything you don’t use daily.

  • There is no need to keep all those receipts- put them in a folder to go through later.  Put the folder on your desk at home.
  • Condense your personal items (chapstick, hand sanitizer, tweezers (!?) and put them in a little makeup bag.
  • Take all that spare change at the bottom of your bag and put it in a change purse or at least a ziplock bag. Better yet, put it in the loose change jar behind your bedroom door.
  • Gather up all those pens, test them, throw out the ones that don’t work and put two back.
  • Throw away the hot sauce packets. That’s a disaster waiting to happen.
  • Toss the little pieces of paper, the loose Lifesavers and all the empty Metrocards.
  • Take out all the earrings, watches and necklaces you tend to shed during the day and put them back in the jewelry box.
  • Get a small makeup bag or coupon folder to put all those loose coupons in.  Go through them first to see if they’ve expired.  Don’t worry about sorting, just clean them up and get them in something so they don’t float around your purse.

Your pocketbook shouldn’t weigh you down and make your back hurt!  Once you’ve decluttered your bag, make it a habit to clean it out every Sunday night before you go to bed.

Day one, done. Day two tomorrow if we don’t lose power!




There wasn’t any cooking today. Today was a day of purging and expulsion.  Of cleaning and scouring. Of cleansing.

Ever since I saw my first episode of Tiny House Nation, I’ve been obsessed with minimizing my life (and building a tiny house).   Around the same time Beena expressed an interest in having a yard sale.  Perfect timing.  I started going through drawers, closets and attics.  If it had never been used or if there were duplicates of any one thing, it went into a box.  If it didn’t fit AT THIS TIME or, being realistic, I was never planning on fixing or making it, it went into a box.  If I felt I could reasonably live without it, it went into a box.

I was ruthless.  Out went six pairs of nail clippers.  Out went eight tote bags.  Out went a full set of Margarita glasses.  I practically halved my personal stuff and gained tons of space in my closets and drawers.  It felt wonderful.

Unfortunately, the weather the past several weeks prevented us from having that yard sale.  Now all this stuff is sitting in my basement, waiting for the spring.  I got depressed every time I went into the basement, which has its own special kind of crap crammed in.  Now it had a multitude of boxes to add to the messy mix.

The girls pitched in today and helped me pack and stack the boxes in a tidy corner of the basement.  They cleaned out the game cabinet and convinced me to get rid of some stuff I was hanging on to “just in case”.  Even though the crap was still in the house, it was neat and boxed up, ready to be sold.  It felt good.

I dropped a bag off at the church- a ton of baskets for the shut-ins, some angels my mom made years ago and some flower pins we once sold on Mother’s Day as well as floor plans of the various projects I worked on for the parsonage, the church office and the church itself.  Giving these little things away was more therapeutic than culling the clothes from my closet.  Knowing my time with this church has completed left me feeling light and clear-headed.  The anger has dissipated and I’m ready to merge onto the next spiritual highway and see where that takes me.

Seeing me run up and down two flights of stairs all day must have made MR take pity on me because he offered to take me out for dinner.  And honestly, that burger didn’t taste half as good as some of the things I cooked this week.

(Why would anyone have seven pairs of nail clippers?)

I Have Less Than Macklemore Has in My Pocket…

I have exactly nine dollars in my wallet.  It’s left over from a rainy weekend at the beach house, a trip to Greenport with the girls (and their guys) and some last minute shopping in town.

As of today, school supplies have been purchased.  Some school clothes were bought.  An anniversary gift is on the way.

And that’s a good thing because for the next 28 days, I’m on a “no-spend” challenge.  That nine dollars is going to have to last.  Budgeted out, that’s 0.32 a day.

The “No-Spend” challenge is another blogging fad I’ve been coming across lately while surfing the interwebs (thanks, Pinterest!).  That and depression are what all the fun, popular blogs are going on about.  Since I’m not (too) depressed, I figured I’d jump on the bandwagon and try this challenge.  I have different reasons than most of these mommy-bloggers, however.

I’ve been lazy lately.  I’ve been riding the Long Island Railroad instead of taking the bus.  I’ve been opting for fast-food because I can’t get up the energy to plan, shop and cook.  Tuk Tuk boy (Thai food cart) calls my name too often for lunch at a price tag of $11.  I’ve been watching too much “Big Bang Theory” (I’m trying to catch up!) instead of doing all the (mundane) things my family expects of me.

I decided to do this challenge mainly to kick my ass in gear.

I have stuff in our freezer that hasn’t seen the light of day in ages.  We’re going to eat it.  Our pantry has some odd things I bought on sale once upon a time.  We’re going to eat it.  We have 20 boxes of granola bars.  We’re going to eat them. The stockpile has an inch of dust on it.  I’m going to dust it off, cook it up and we’re going to eat it.

And hopefully, it will all last us 28 days.

Now, I’m not going to whip up that mason jar full of barley with the decrepit looking can of beans and serve it to my family for dinner tonight.  I realize that my odd assortment of food will require some planning (thanks, Pinterest!) and some shopping to supplement that barley and those beans and I will try to make something delicious that we’re going to want to eat again.  We won’t be buying anything we don’t need- no impulse purchases, no lattes on the way out of Stop And Shop and, at least for 28 days, no extreme couponing.  Just exactly what we need to get by.

I’ve cleaned out the fridge to make room for those leftovers we’re actually going to finish.  I’ve pared down my closet to see if there is stuff in there I’ve forgotten.  We’re having a yard sale fundraiser for the soccer team and my pile to sell is getting bigger.

To simplify will be a nice by-product of this experiment.

Squirrelvision- Now in IMAX

I think bed is the best thing in the world. I love sliding into bed at night, curling up in my blankets and quilt. I love going back to bed after my shower, my spot still slightly warm from when i left. After snuggling back to bed in the morning (must be why I’m always late to work) I’d either doze off or gaze out my bedroom window, thinking of the gazillion things I have to do.

A few winters ago, I spotted this in the tree growing in the creek behind our house:

Can you see the “5”?

Then, at the beginning of this winter, I spotted this:
It’s an upside-down (and maybe backwards) “4”. Okay, it’s a stretch. But it’s clear to me…

Then a few months ago, I saw this:
It’s an “8”. Put together, I see this in the tree every morning. The day I found the “8”, I played “584” in Lotto that day.

I didn’t win. Of course not.

The best thing about gazing out the window at this tree is the entertainment. Three out of the four seasons I can watch the squirrels jumping from limb to limb. If they’re mating, it’s twice the fun (not what you’re thinking…get your minds out of the gutters!) When it’s mating season, they chase each other and wrestle and fall through the air only to catch the branches on the way down, landing on their little paws.

I have blinds on my window that go up from the bottom or down from the top. We keep the back blind on the bottom and pull it up so the people in the parking lot of the pool can’t see me in my naked glory when I get dressed. The other day while I was lounging in bed putting off getting up, MR dropped the blinds all the way down and I was able to watch the squirrel show in IMAX. Awesome!

What’s outside your window? Send a picture, I’ll post it.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
so dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

I had to learn this poem by Robert Frost in Junior High School. Then, when I read “The Outsiders” I came across it again. I think it’s a fitting poem for how I’m feeling right now. September came and FLEW by, and I feel like I didn’t, once again, get what I wanted to accomplish done. I had such high hopes for this month and here it is the last day and my good intentions sank to grief.
So I continue into October with the projects that I didn’t get to in September.
To recap from here:
  • I didn’t get to St. Andrew’s renovation. The weekend I wanted to do it, MR went bear hunting. Then I got a migraine. So hopefully this weekend the last two pieces will be glued in.
  • I’m going to work on St. A’s website this weekend. My deadline for giving Pastor a template is Monday.
  • I finished the ceiling in the hallway…BUT…when I took the blue tape off the wall, it took pieces of the finished wall paint with it. So now I have to touch that up. ETA- tomorrow (Thursday.) After that it’s sanding the stairway wall and steps.
  • My alteration pile yielded me 3 pairs of capri pants, a fitted shirt and a new skirt. Still left to do are two backpacks that ripped and two pairs of Z-girl’s pants to be shortened.
  • The sewing room has been organized but not cleaned. There are piles stacked everywhere- I have to invest in more bins. I did clean out the closet and was able to store more crap in there.
  • I have not touched my credit report for fear of blowing up my PC. How would I explain that to my boss?

So here I am again. I’ll be trying to make these things work out in the next week or so. Then it’s clear sailing through my 101 in 1001 goals.

Unless i get kidnapped by aliens.

NaBloPoMo #26- September is Anti-Procrastination Month!

Okay, so I’m caught up on my NaBloPoMo. I really fell apart, physically. But thanks to those who reminded me that I was behind. So kind, so kind.

So we’re winding down August. Holy crap, where did the month go? Pre-camping was spent planning for camping, then post-camping was spent being sick. Throw the craft sale in there (which I WILL blog about) and August has just been used up.

I was thinking about September and how this month always felt like the beginning of a new year. As a kid, I always looked forward to September- a new grade in school, new cartoon lineup, new clothes, new supplies. January never felt like a new year- it was always September.

This September I have a lot to look forward to as well as a lot to be thankful for. Zombiegirl is going into the 5th grade. She’s also starting on her Travel Soccer team. We’re celebrating our 12th Wedding Anniversary. My favorite season starts. 9/9/09 occurs (I always love those dates…) In honor of this September, I wanted to start anew, too, and finish specific things I’ve started. So I label September Anti-Procrastination Month. At least in my little world.

The things I want to get done in September are:

  • Finish St. Andrew’s renovation. This takes all of two pieces of wood, but I’ve been putting it off then forgetting about it. ‘K, this is also a good idea for a blog post- my renovation efforts of the church.
  • Update St. Andrew’s website. Will try to be a weekly thing, but I have to start it.
  • Finish the upstairs hallway painting. I have a small piece left on the ceiling- what is my problem? Why can’t I finish this??? Once I finish, I can start blaming MR for not finishing the balustrades, bathroom, etc! Throw the ball back into his court.
  • Do three things on my 101 in 1001 days list, specifically #15, #40, and #46.

Seven things. That’s not a big deal, right? Completing these seven things will clear the way for the rest of the things I have to do without feeling guilty. Such small things, but they weigh heavy on my soul.

If I can complete these the first week of September, I’ll add more. Not making any promises to myself, though. We’ll see. Procrastination IS my middle name.

NaBloPoMo #2- Time for a Quickie

Still cleaning. Jeez! How much dog hair can I possible vacuum up? I really think we have a spare dog hiding around here. How much hair can one Yellow Lab possibly produce?

We have to find him another home.

But that’s another story…

So I really only have time for a quickie post. The nephcies (nephew and nieces) will be here in a little while, and I still have to get ready for this wedding. While cleaning (and singing my Nom, Nom, Nom, Nom, Nom, Nom, Nom song) I figured I would post on my choice of cleaning supplies. I’ve been interested in the “green” movement for awhile now, and I’m recycling everything. It’s only natural that I would bring my cleaning supplies into the green scene.

Windows– This is an old trick I attribute to my mom. Vinegar and water. She used this the day she went into labor with me- she did all the windows in the apartment to try to stimulate labor. It worked! Vinegar is natural, biodegradable, chemical-free and does a far superior job on leaving windows streak free than Windex or other window cleaners. Use a sheet of newspaper to get a beautiful shine. Lay the newspapers out flat to dry, and you can recycle them! No paper towels in the landfill.

For general cleaning– I’ve found, at Costco, the Kirkland Environmentally Friendly Multi-Purpose Cleaner. It’s a 170oz container with an additional 32oz spray bottle. It’s a plant-based cleaner with a nice citrus scent. Finally! Thank you Costco, for offering a few more of these environmentally friendly organic items! It works just as well as Fantastic or any of the other chemical based cleaners.

Rug Deodorizer– With the aforementioned Yellow Lab, and the other Lola-like dog, my rug stinks. I sprinkle a cup of Arm and Hammer Baking Soda on the rug (it’s a small area rug- 6′ x 8′) and let it sit for a few minutes. I vacuum it up with my Dyson and no more smell! Plus it makes the vacuum smell better…

Counter tops and Stove tops– We have tile counter tops, and the grout gets discolored and gross- especially in the wet areas. I do use a diluted bleach once a week to bring back the color of the grout, but for everyday use I put a little of the Baking Soda on a sponge and wipe the counters down. Follow up with a rinse and my counter tops are deodorized and sparkling!

Those are some of my contributions to the planet. There’s no reason to bring chemical cleaners into your house, or contribute paper towels to the landfill. If everyone did their part and put a little thought into their consumption the world would be a better place!

Cue upbeat music.

I’m out. Tomorrow I’ll do the restaurant review- I’ll have more time at work!

A Few Things Before My Life Gets Back on Track

I start work on Monday. I had three nice weeks of unemployment. No, I really only had six days of unemployment. The rest of the three weeks I was off courtesy of UBS. They escorted me out of the building on April 23rd, but my last day of employment was May 7th.

I start my new/old job with Cushman & Wakefield. Doing what I was doing and where I was doing it when UBS fired me. My boss called me the other day (after I was home for two weeks- whatever!) and asked me if I was going to be coming back bitter. Why would I be bitter? I recieved 33 weeks severence, four weeks paid vacation, got three weeks off and still got a job after all that. Not bitter- bittersweet. I’m going to miss putting Zombiegirl on the bus in the morning, being there for her when she gets home and doing homework with her in the afternoons. But I have to bring home the bacon.

Mmmmm. Bacon. Only had it once while I was home.

I wanted to blog alot while I was off, but I was too damn busy. Here’s a recap and some updates:

  • Killer the Fish seems to have made a complete recovery. He’s no longer swimming upside down, or hanging out on the bottom of the bowl. It was like he had a mini stroke for awhile. He’s active now, swimming around like normal. Thank God. We almost flushed him twice.
  • My hallway upstairs, which is the size of a room since we raised the ceiling after it collapsed on the kids and Lola, is almost finished. I can taste it. Pictures will go up on the blog next week. It makes me happy to go up there.
  • Zombiegirl’s room is being painted. It’s a most awesome blue. I should be finished with it next week also.
  • My man Parker‘s Dad and Zombiegirl’s soccer coach, Jason, hurt his leg showing the girls a follow-through at soccer practice yesterday. And ended up in the ER. This put a damper on our night-the girls were supposed to go out drinking. Oh well, as long as he’s not seriously hurt. He seems to get hurt alot. He screwed up his hand last Memorial Day weekend at our house in Riverhead cheating at tug-of-war! Get well soon, Jason!
  • I’ve planted my vegetables, herbs and flowers I got at Z-girl’s school and the St. Andrew’s Youth Group plant sale. I’m now growing Mint, Basil, Parsley, Rosemary, Lemon Thyme, Eggplant, Peppers, Peas and Tomatoes. We’ve planted Chamomille and Cilantro from seed and they’re just starting to come up! If you know where I live, you’ll know I have very little sun on our property. I was out there every hour on the hour evaluating my sun situation. We get about 5-6 hours of full spring sun in the morning, and dappled sun after that. Hopefully that will be enough for our little plants to grow. I’m planting more herbs from seed today.
  • I’m the new webmaster for St. Andrew’s church! I’m learning as I’m going. Rob got me a copy of Microsoft’s Sharepoint (ha!) Designer and I’ve successfully copied from the already established webiste onto Designer by .ftp. I’m fiddling around with some layouts and changes- all advice is welcome! I’ll link when we’re up and running. Go me!
  • Mother’s Day was hard. I suffered two losses recently which made celebrating this holiday tough. Thankfully, my wonderful sister-in-law Paula had us over to her house to celebrate my niece Lily’s 2nd birthday. My other SIL Laura, my MIL Johanna and Paula’s MIL Gerry all celebrated being mothers/grandmothers/godmothers/aunts. My other niece Samantha and nephew Raymond made me forget my woes for a little while. (I really have to blog about these kids- they are adorable!) So a really nice party and really great gifts from my family made this Mother’s Day bearable. Thanks guys!
  • I got my bike fixed. And got one of those holders added to the back. MR then put saddlebags on the back for me to tote stuff back and forth- to the library, Stop N Shop or church. I’m going to try to either walk or ride whenever going anywhere in the neighborhood.

I enjoyed being a SAHM for awhile, but it’s back to the real world. The daily grind. The treadmill. I’ve downloaded a lot of songs onto my iPod so that the commute will be bearable. Now if I can figure out something to make WORK bearable.

For Sale: One Yard, Slightly Mossy

We had a yard sale on Sunday. Palm Sunday. I was bad and didn’t go to church. It was only the second time I missed a Palm Sunday. The first was when I was traveling to Hilton Head, SC. Ah. Hilton Head. sniff, sniff. Don’t get upset, mamasoo! sniff. Don’t even think about it. sniff!

Sorry- where was I? Oh. Yard sailing. Or is it sale-ing? Either way, we sailed through the sale. I had so much stuff to put out. Cleaning out mom’s things, I knew I would be bringing more stuff into the house, so I tried to get rid of some of the extraneous things I had laying around. We had good weather, and good company- Soulspeak23, Ildi and their kitty, Ruddyna with her new car, and for awhile, Beena and her boyfriend John and MR. Some of my soccer moms and one very dear friend came by for moral support- not support for the yard sale, just support for the recent events in my life. Zombiegirl and her friends when crazy with the clothes- Zgirl tried on one of mom’s fully fringed dresses, and declared herself an ape because it was “hairy”. It was good to be outside and laughing.

Things sold. It wasn’t really busy- we didn’t have the regular traffic we usually get on my street. I made about $60 bucks, spent it on expensive pizza (never again, Gino’s!) and Mr. Softee. But, we had a LOT of stuff left. Check it out what didn’t sell…

Princess dresses. Am I really ever going get the party business going again? Probably not. I’m not into pampered, spoiled princesses bossing me and my staff around. And don’t even get me started on their kids! So…out goes all the princess dresses. I’m cleaning them up, and putting them on either ebay or Craigslist. Out goes the tea sets. I am not doing kids parties ever again, unless it’s my own kid’s. And we all know she hates princesses. There. I said it. Out loud. No more parties. I have witnesses.

Why on earth did I keep my first wedding dress? I didn’t keep my first husband, so why the dress? It got quite a few laughs at the yard sale, and comments about how thin I was. Whatever. I felt good in that dress at that time, and since then, I’ve had three kids. So, whatever. Out it goes. Donate to Savers.

The twelve Beefeater glasses MR finagled from our favorite Indian restaurant? Out.

The chocolate molds mom gave me years ago? The ones that I NEVER EVER USED because I hate working with chocolate? Out.

The Precious Moments I received while working in a Hallmark store so many years ago, and have been sitting under my desk for the last 18 years? Out! Ebay them, or pass them along to friends.

We’re planning another yard sale in May. Cleaning up after this yard sale I found a ton of stuff I forgot to put out. I’ll put the above-mentioned stuff out if it doesn’t sell elsewhere. Since I now have more time on my hands, sniff, I’m going to be spending it on Ebay, Craigslist and Freecycle! Unless you want it…