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31 Day Declutter Challenge

Day 5- Kitchen Appliances

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Day 5- Kitchen Appliances

No, I don’t mean your stove or your refrigerator. I’m talking about those small(er) appliances that are cluttering up your counter tops or shoved deep in a cabinet somewhere. Let’s be honest…do you really need all of those fancy appliances?

It is okay to admit that you bought a fancy bread maker, but haven’t made a single loaf of bread. It is NOT okay to hoard the bread maker in your cabinet lying to yourself that one day you might decide to use it. Get rid of it. The guilt will go away once the appliance leaves your home.

Maybe you do use your bread maker, here are some other examples.

  • blenders
  • Instapot
  • air fryer
  • quesadilla maker
  • sandwich maker
  • mixers
  • food processors
  • rice maker
  • slow cookers
  • toaster oven
  • electric griddle
  • coffee maker
  • ice cream maker/ yonana
  • electric tea kettles
  • hot plates
  • juicers
  • soda stream

I am not telling you to get rid of things that you use. I am, however, telling you that if you haven’t used the appliance in over a year, you don’t need it!

Also, if you have 2 of the same appliance, ask yourself if you really need both.

For me, yes, I really do need multiple slow cookers/crock pots. I use them for meal prep, parties, etc. No, I do not need two blenders. I am getting rid of my old one, and keeping the new one.

If the appliance still works, consider gifting it to someone that will use it. Many thrift stores will also take it if you would like to donate your small appliances. Finally, you can also make some money back by listing it for sale online (facebook marketplace, craigslist, and letgo are all great options).

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Declutter calendar
31 Day Declutter Challenge

Day 4- Expired Foods

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Day 4- Expired Foods

Time to head to your pantry and fridge. Look deep, way back, into those cabinets. Pull out anything that you do not remember purchasing during your last 4 big grocery trips. Odds are that if you haven’t purchased it recently, it has probably been in your cabinets for longer than you realize.

Set aside anything that is expired. I absolutely despise finding expired foods. It makes me feel so wasteful. If you feel this way, use this feeling as inspiration to get better about buying only what you will eat during future grocery trips.

If the food is expired, but still appears to be fresh, set it out so that you remember to use it before it goes bad. Many times the date is not when the food goes ‘bad’, just when it is past its prime.

Example-

The graham crackers in my title image are past the ‘best when used by’ date. I am not throwing them away. The package inside is still sealed. I simply moved them to the front of my pantry so that I remember to use them in a pie crust or as a yogurt topping sometime soon!

Unfortunately, most food banks are unable to take foods if they are past their best by day, even if they are still good. If you won’t use the food, but it is ‘expired’, consider offering it to a friend or family member that may be in need.

Alright, let’s hear it.

What is the oldest date you found when you cleaned out your pantry?

No judgement here I promise! We are all growing together…simply try to be better in the future!

Declutter calendar
31 Day Declutter Challenge

Day 3- Cookbooks

Day 3- Cookbooks!

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I’m sticking with our holiday theme again today!

Did you do any cooking or baking during the holiday?

Did you use your multiple cook books for the recipes? Or did you just search recipes online?

If you’re anything like me, you might have some family recipes that you like to use, but other than that, all of your ideas come from the internet. That means you really don’t need an entire kitchen cabinet dedicated to a stack of cookbooks.

Pull them out. If you haven’t looked at them in over a year, don’t even page through them…that will make it harder to get rid of them. Trust the decluttering process and donate, recycle, or gift your cookbooks. Just imagine all of the space you will have once they are gone!

Interested in donating your books, but don’t know where to take them?

Many thrift stores will take used books. Better world books also has donation bins in many locations. Check out this link to see if there is one near you.

Declutter calendar
31 Day Declutter Challenge

Day 2- Decorations

You made it through the holidays! That means it is soon time to start taking down all of your decorations. STOP! Before you start to pack things away, take a look in your boxes. Are there any decorations left in the boxes that you didn’t get out this year (or ever)? Do you have so many decorations that there are packages you didn’t even open? I challenge you to get rid of all of the decorations that you did not use this year. That’s right…ALL OF THEM! Items have absolutely no value boxed up sitting in an attic for years and years if they aren’t going to be used.

Having trouble throwing things away? Think about this…

Decluttering gets a lot easier when you start to think about what you get to keep instead of what you are getting rid of.

Keep everything that you actually use. Get rid of the rest. It really is that simple. Quit overthinking it.

Declutter calendar
31 Day Declutter Challenge

DAY 1- Christmas Cards

It’s January 1st! That means we are officially kicking off the 31 Day Declutter Challenge.

Let’s start with something simple.

Get rid of those Christmas cards!!

Recycle them, trash them, let your kids do arts and crafts with them…just get rid of them!

I know that you got some Christmas cards this year. And, I know that it feels great to get mail from family and friends. You might even smile when you walk by them and think about the people that sent them to you. I also know that all of the faces on those photo cards are adorable, but let me break it to you…throwing things away does not mean you are throwing away the people or the memories.

Memories are in our heads, not our things. -The Minimalists

Ohhhh I can already hear you exclaiming,

‘But wait Rachel! I like to look back at my Christmas cards and see how the families have changed and grown over the years….’

My response?

Take a picture of the card and save it to a Christmas Card album on your phone or computer. Now…throw the Christmas card away!

Also, are you friends on Facebook or Instagram with the people that sent you cards? Keep up with images of the family and friends growing on there.

Or better yet, actually communicate with each other by starting a group chat in your text messages and share photos throughout the year with each other.

Let’s start day 1 with some progress! Don’t let those cards turn into next month’s clutter.

Still feel really bad about throwing cards away? Check out this link to for an idea about how to donate some of your cards. There may be other places in your community to donate cards to as well. Nursing homes and childcare centers may be able to use your old cards for crafts and activities.

31 Day Declutter Challenge

31 Day Declutter Challenge

I will be releasing my custom 31 days of declutter calendar on December 29th! Starting January 1st, I will posting the topics daily, along with some inspiration to help keep you on track. Make sure that you follow the blog so that you don’t miss a thing!

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Simple Living

25 Things to throw away TODAY!

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Clutter stresses me out.  Period.  There are few things that I despise more than going to look for something, only to end up digging through boxes of junk and not being able to find what I need.  What is even the point of hoarding all this stuff if you can never find what you need?

If you are at a point where you are fed up with the clutter and you want to start cleaning out today…then this list is for you.  

Before you even read this list and start running around your home to find stuff to throw away…stop right now.  First, find an area to act as your ‘command station’.  In your command station place three large boxes (possibly 4).  Use one for trash, one for recyclables, one for donate, and one for selling (optional).  

The selling box is optional, because that means you will need to take some extra work to take pictures of the object, post it for sale, and then meet with a buyer.  If you do not feel like doing all of that, then just stick to the three box method.  Now you are ready!

25 things to throw away….RIGHT NOW

  1. excessive number of coffee mugs
  2. mismatched, stained, or unused food containers
  3. multiple vases
  4. random or outdated electronics and cords
  5. old movies/ DVDs
  6. clothes that you don’t wear or that don’t fit
  7. shoes that are worn out or that you do not wear anymore
  8. mismatched socks
  9. unused or broken toys/games
  10. worn out or old sets of sheets/linens
  11. old glasses
  12. outdated makeup
  13. dried up nail polish, old nail clippers/files
  14. unused perfumes/ colognes
  15. hair accessories that you don’t use
  16. samples of any kind
  17. multiple bottles of shower gels or lotions (if you don’t use the brand)
  18. old medications
  19. expired foods (from your fridge and pantry)
  20. magazines 
  21. takeout menus (most are online)
  22. excessive pens, pencils, and markers
  23. cleaning products that you don’t use
  24. instruction manuals (most are online)
  25. old planners or calendars

This list is not a complete fix.  Purging and de-cluttering an entire home is not a quick or easy process.  I have been actively working for the last few months to reduce clutter…and I’m still not finished.  I have also made a commitment to reduce the amount of stuff that gets brought into our home.  There really is no point in purging, de-cluttering, and organizing if we just plan to buy more stuff to fill the space.  

Now GO!! See how much you can get rid of.  Feel the weight of your clutter being lifted from your shoulders as you fill your boxes. 

Just promise me that you won’t leave those boxes sit there for the next month.  Take them to the trash, recycling center, or donation center immediately.   

Simple Living

My simple method for keeping a home clutter free.

My simple method for keeping a home clutter free

Something in, something out

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If you’re like me, you feel like you’re always organizing your cabinets, drawers, and closets.  You get everything in its perfect place.  Then, a few weeks later, everything is overflowing and disorganized again. 

How does that happen?? 

There are many things that happen on a regular basis that hinder our best efforts to stay organized.  One of the major things is that we are constantly accumulating more stuff!  My closets and cabinets do not magically get bigger just because I have purchased more things.  No wonder it always seems like my closets are going to explode.  

The first thing that I did in order to get more organized was to purge everything that I hadn’t touched, used, or worn in over a year.  That means I made it through all 4 seasons, birthdays, holidays, nights out, without ever needing it.  This purging process did not happen over night.  I used a systematic method and spread the work out over a month or so.  More on that in a different post!!

After I spent so many hours clearing my clutter, I was determined to keep things that way. 

So begins the enforcement of my something in, something out rule.  Every time that we come home with a new item that needs a ‘home’ in a cabinet, drawer, or closet- something old must first be removed from there before the item can be put away. 

Once we decide what item is going to be the ‘something out’, we then have to decide what to do with it.  The items has 4 possible places to go.

  • Donate- I keep a donate box in my garage.  Once the box gets full, I pop it in my trunk and drop it off in a donation bin at my local grocery store. 
  • Recycle-  If the item that I am getting rid of has no use to anyone, but is made of a recyclable material…then that’s where it goes.
  • Trash-  Only if there is no use for the item, not able to be recycled, or broken and unable to be fixed.
  • Re-purpose-  Sometimes I pull items out of cabinets or closets that would have a nice use somewhere else in my home.  If this happens, I re-purpose the item and place it in its new home.

Finally- when I feel like we are starting to slack with the something in – something out rule, I will briefly implement a one thing in, two things out rule to actively reduce clutter. 

The ultimate goal is to get to a place where you realize that you really don’t need lots of new items.  You will start to reflect closer on the items that you purchase.  You will start to consider if the item you are looking at purchasing is actually worth getting rid of something else in your home (often times the answer is no).  This will lead to a more content feeling with the items that you own…and less of a desire to purchase new items just for the sake of buying stuff. 

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Simple Living

6 months of buying nothing new

 

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6 Months of Buying Nothing New-

STARTS TODAY!

Our society seems to glamorize stuff.  Material goods are a status symbol to show other people how wealthy they are.  It is not just the rich that get caught up in buying things.  For me, when I take a look around our home, I am overwhelmed by how much we have accumulated.  We have only lived in our home for 5 years and we have multiple sets of living room furniture, dressers, rugs, plates, etc.  Most of these items we bought brand new, used for a few months, then saw something that we liked better….something that we just had to have!  I don’t even dare to think about how much money has been wasted on all of our purchases.  I’m not in the mood to cry tonight!

As I started a journey to live a more simple and content life, I realized that I needed to make some changes.  I decided to challenge myself to go 6 months without buying anything new.  ZERO shopping malls this holiday season for me!!

I have everything that I need (and more!) at this very moment to live comfortably.  In fact, most purchases that I have made in the past year have not been out of necessity, but instead, out of want.  I am able to look back on my purchases in the past year from various online stores.  It saddens me to see all of the ‘things’ that I have ordered, received, and then maybe used once before it ended up in a closet or cabinet.

This link from becomingminimalist.com does a great job of expressing many of the benefits of reducing consumerism, but I will summarize some of the reasons for you!

  1. Less debt
  2. Less time spent caring for possessions (fixing things, dusting tons of plastic items on a shelf)
  3. Less desire to upscale lifestyle norms
  4. Less environmental impact
  5. Less need to keep up with evolving trends
  6. Less pressure to impress with material possessions
  7. More generosity
  8. More contentment
  9. Greater ability to see through empty claims
  10. Greater realization that this world is not just material.

‘Excessive consumption promises happiness, but never delivers.’

My husband and I have gone on ‘spend freezes’ before to help reduce expenses, but we have never sustained this as a lifestyle.  My hope is that by trying this for 6 months, it will just become a normal way of life!

As I start this journey, I realize that I need to set some ground rules….and some exceptions to those rules.

  1. There will be no clothes or shoe shopping at retail stores.  I have plenty of clothes, so I really don’t need more.  If I find that I need something, I will plan to search consignment or thrift shops.
  2. Grocery store purchases will include groceries, medications, basic toiletries, and some of the very basic makeup that I wear.
  3. Since the holidays are almost here, gifts will be handmade or purchased from a small local business.  I may have to buy some supplies in order to make some of the gift ideas that I have.  Preferably, I will find some good experience gifts (like tickets to a show or a day at the zoo)!
  4. Any medical costs for family or pets will be taken care of normally.

I’m sure that there will be more rules as certain circumstances come up, but that is all I can think of for now!

Let me know your thoughts!  Would you consider going 6 months, 3 months, or even a week without buying anything new.

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Simple Living

Simple Living- 7 ways get your spouse on the same page

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SIMPLE LIVING-

7 ways get your spouse on the same page

Tell me if this sounds familiar?  You’re overwhelmed with work, bills, house work.  You have no time to enjoy your family or friends.  You stumble across the simple living movement.  A community of people that are starting to say ‘no’ to consumerism.  You already know that stuff doesn’t equal happiness.  In fact, you probably have so much ‘stuff’ in your home that it is overwhelming you, yet you continue to buy more stuff.

You have decided it is time to make a change.  It is time begin living a more simple and meaningful life.

You excitedly run up to your spouse.  You begin rambling about how you want to get rid of all of the clutter, stopping buying so much stuff, and aim for a simple life.  If your significant other is anything like my husband, instead of getting an excited response, he will look at you like you are crazy.

You need to realize that it has taken you your entire life to come to the realization that simple living is better.  How can you expect your loved one to come to the same conclusion at the same time?  Take it easy.

Below are 7 ways that I helped my husband to get on board with my simple living changes.

 

1. Have an open conversation about your goals-  Don’t expect your significant other to start making a big life change for no reason.  Make sure that they know your ‘why’.  For me, I explained to my husband that I was pursuing a more simple life in hopes of being able to reduce some of my stress and to be able to spend more quality time with my family.  At this point, he was still apprehensive, but he was receptive to me starting to make some changes.

2. Make it a game-  Let’s face it, cleaning out the closet to reduce clutter or going a month without eating out isn’t exactly the definition of fun.  But that doesn’t mean it can’t be.  I try my best to make things into a game when I get my spouse involved.  He is super competitive, so this always peaks his interest.

**Example- See who can get rid of the most articles of clothing from the closet.  See who can go longer without stopping at a drive-thru on the way home from work.  Loser will usually get stuck doing the dishes all week.  Winner usually gets to pick the tv show when we sit down to relax.  In the end though, I feel like we both win…even if I am the one stuck doing dishes.

3. Do the heavy lifting- figuratively-  Picture this.  You decide to start living a more simple and frugal lifestyle.  You come home and announce that you are going to start this new lifestyle by cleaning out the boxes in the basement.  You then order your perfectly content husband to get up and start helping you go through boxes.  Yeah…that’s not going to get your spouse exciting about simple living.  You will have to take the initiative and get things started on your own.  This brings me to my next tip.

4. Lead by example-  People are naturally wired to oppose change.  If you want a more simple life, do it.  Start doing things that help you to simplify.  With time, your spouse will notice that you are serious about this new way of life.

5. Start small-  Do not come home one day and just change EVERYTHING.  Your spouse will likely retreat to a corner and cry….hopefully not, but still.  He/she may not be ready for a huge life change.  Start small and work together towards a common goal.

6. Accept that nobody is perfect-  We do not change our ways overnight.  Celebrate the small victories, but understand that there may be set backs.  Don’t give up all of your simple living goals just because you went a little overboard and impulse bought a giant inflatable snowman for the front yard.  Did you need it?…no.  Is it kind of fun?…yes.  Enjoy it and simply vow to get back on track with your goals.

7. Celebrate the small wins- Has your junk drawer stayed de-cluttered for over a month now?  Did your spouse up on buying new shoes because they were on sale?  These are wins!  Celebrate!  This will help keep everyone excited about working towards a goal together.