Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Organized Simplicity, Week 6 in Review

I want to start this week with a testimonial from Abby P.  She sent me this story about her sister, Libby, and gave me permission to share it with you--I hope you are as blessed and encouraged by it as I was:

'I wanted to share a story with you about my sister.  She's as bad or worse than I am, and she came to stay the week with me a couple weeks ago.  I handed her my book ("Organized Simplicity") and told her she should read it.  She was reading it, and then just shouted out "I don't want to move!".  I was taken back because I didn't tell her to move, but evidently God did :)  She is wanting to stay home and homeschool her oldest son and her baby.  Anyways, they are living above their means and her husband knew they needed to move for a long time.  Fast forward to today... their house is now on the market and they're looking for a smaller, more affordable home for them.  She has also gotten rid of 20 lawn & leaf bags of "stuff" that they don't "love or find useful".'
Isn't that exciting??  I'm so glad Abby shared that with us, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is going to bless Libby and her family for their faithfulness to follow His guiding of their family.

I hope you had a good week in your kitchen!  How did it go?  Though I was looking forward to working on my kitchen, I bypassed it this week and went to my closet.  With the fire that happened here in Perryton Friday evening and the clothes drive that is taking place for the victims who lost their homes, I decided my time would best be spent cleaning out more clothes and finding what was of appropriate sizes to donate.  You have to keep in mind that I have gone through my closet once already and gotten rid of many items.  As embarassing as it is to admit, Monday I cleaned out about a dozen items that were of a size that I could donate to the fire victims and cleaned out another five pairs of shoes and about two dozen other items of clothes that I either don't love or don't wear anymore!  Yes, I love clothes!  Up until this class, I've shopped when I wanted to shop, and when I found bargains (which is my favorite way to shop), I would buy something if it was a good deal.  Now, though, I shop only when there is an item of clothing that I need in order to dress the way I want to dress.  I must love every item in my closet or else it goes out, and if I buy something new, something else has to go out.  Just because I have the space in my closet (I am blessed with a huge walk-in closet) doesn't mean I need to fill every available space with clothes. 

But enough of that--I am ready to go back now and do my kitchen!!  Here's a couple of questions for the comments section: 
  1. What is your biggest clutter issue in the kitchen--is it piles of mail?  A disorganized pantry?  Too many (must-have) gadgets?
  2. If you had to choose one, what is your most favorite/important gadget or appliance?

I've realized, as a result of this book, that I am a lover of gadgets! I love to cook, so any gadget that is out there that might be useful to me is attractive!  But as Tsh points out in this week's chapter, single-use gadgets are often not worth the space they consume.  Many of the gadgets that I thought I just had to have I now see as clutter.  I can do the job of several gadgets with just one or two basic tools.  So when I finally get at my kitchen, I will be happily getting rid of several space-consuming gadgets and will rejoice over some extra cabinet space!

As for my favorite gadget or appliance, it would be my slow-cooker, hands down.  I LOVE my slow-cooker and use it at least once a week if not several times a week.  I would be so sad if I were to have to make do without it!

This week, we will be tackling our bathrooms!!  Our assignments include:
  • Read Chapter 12
  • Continue memorizing Matthew 6.19-21
  • Declutter, clean & organize bathroom(s)
This may not be a favorite area of the house to be cleaning out, but I can almost guarantee it will bring you much satisfaction to get your bathroom(s) clean from top to bottom and cleared of clutter!!  Have a great week, and keep me posted on your progress!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Organized Simplicity, Week 5 in Review

(We are finished with our stay-cationing for the most part, so I should be back to getting these posts up on time!  Thanks for your patience!)

In my devotion time, I am studying the spiritual disciplines with a book by Richard Foster called "Celebration of Discipline."  In my reading today, I came across this quote:
"In contemporary society, our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry & crowds.  If he can keep us engaged in "muchness" and "manyness" he will rest satisfied."
What more motivation could we have for this process of decluttering and simplifying that we are undertaking?

So how does your living room look now??  Was the process as painful as you might have expected?  Clydene said hers was relatively easy--it's her kitchen and kids' rooms that she is dreading!  I completely understand that!  When I went through this process the first time last fall, my living room process included getting rid of DVD cases for our movies that stay in a travel-friendly case; getting rid of CD's that haven't been listened to now that they are all on my iPod; purging books on the bookshelves that haven't been read in years; and going through our game cabinet.  This go-round, the game cabinet needed to be purged again, but that's pretty much it.  I'm with Clydene--the living room wasn't that difficult!  The kitchen, however...well, that's what we get to tackle this week!

Before we move on to the week ahead and our new assignment, I don't want to leave this past week just yet.  Did it resonate with you like it did me when she discussed holding on to items that tend to clutter just for the fear of losing the memory associated with it?  I remember the first time I read that how much that impacted me.  Towards the end of the chapter, Tsh wrote:
"You have permission to keep the valid memories in your life and to toss the mere object you've associated with them.  Your memories will remain, even if the objects are removed."  --pg 125, Chapter 9, Organized Simplicity
 I hope this gives you some freedom to get rid of things that are not useful or beautiful to you, knowing the memory connected to that object will still remain.

Have you tried any of the homemade cleaner recipes that are in the back of the book?  I use many homemade cleaners in my home.  Not only are they non-toxic and less expensive, it has simplified my cleaning process to have fewer products rather than thinking I have to use different cleaners for each different task.

Share with us in the comments section below how you are feeling so far about this decluttering, cleaning and organizing process.  I know we are only finished with one room, but do you already feel better about your home?  I hope so--I know every bit of progress will help!  Be proud of all you've been able to accomplish thus far.

For this next week, we get to tackle our kitchens!!  Our assignments include:
  • Read Chapter 11
  • Continue memorizing Matthew 6.19-21
  • Declutter, clean & organize your kitchen 
I've been eyeing several things for weeks that only take up my already-limited cabinet space and aren't used enough to justify their inclusion in my kitchen, so I'm looking forward to doing much purging this week of excess gadgets and dishes!  I'm also looking forward to rearranging my pantry space (I don't have a pantry, so some of my kitchen cabinets have to be my pantry) in order to be, well, more orderly!  I can't wait to hear about your progress!!  Blessings!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Organized Simplicity: Week 4 in Review

First of all, please forgive my tardiness in getting this post completed.  We have been out of town for a few days for some much-needed R&R and just returned last night.  I had to take care of first things first (like unloading all of our dirty laundry and making a trip to the grocery store!), and now I am able to sit down and focus on Organized Simplicity for a bit!  There were some great comments from this past week, and those have just now been posted for the same reason.

"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."  --William Morris
I urge you to memorize this quote.  I believe you will find it invaluable in the weeks to come as we decide which of our belongings needs to stay and which ones need to be thrown out, sold or donated.  If you are like me, you will come across many things during the cleaning out process that will make you ask yourself, "Why is this here?"  My answer often times was "because so-and-so gave it to me" or "I've just always had it" or "I used to think it was pretty" or (here's my favorite) "it was on sale." :)  When I am cleaning out and purging, if the item in question is not useful in some way or beautiful to myself (or my family, depending on what the item is), it is leaving our home, one way or another.  This concept makes the decision-making process so much easier when attempting to simplify.

Here are a few questions for you to think about and discuss in the comments section:
  • What skill or craft have you always wanted to be able to do or learn, but have never had the time to do so?  How can you make that skill or craft a part of your life now?
  • Were you able to identify any changes that needed to take place in order for you home to be congruent with your family purpose statement?
  • Are you interested in having a joint garage sale with other interested families within our class, or would you rather do your own thing (plan your own sale, donate everything to charity, etc)?
Okay, this upcoming week gets down to the nitty, gritty work--we start the process of decluttering, cleaning and organizing our home!  As Tsh mentioned in the chapters we just read, the process will be hard, potentially emotional, and probably will involve some sweat--but it WILL be worth it!!!  DON'T GIVE UP!!  Here is our assignment for the week ahead:
  • Read Chapters 9 & 10
  • Begin memorizing Matthew 6.19-21
  • Do a quick sweep of your home, as mentioned in Chapter 9
  • Declutter, clean & organize your living room
From this week forward, we will tackle one room per week for the declutter/clean/organize process.  Once again, I urge you to plan for this--each week, mark the day or days off your calendar that you will set aside for each week's assignment.  If you don't plan the time for this, other activities or plans will prevent it from ever happening.

I'm praying for you all--I can't wait to hear your success stories as we begin to simplify!  Feel free to take pictures of your before, during and after--I'd love to include them in my post next week!!  Blessings to you all!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Organized Simplicity: Week 3 in Review

Happy Independence Day!!

A few thoughts on a few key points made in this week's reading:
  • "Simple living is a state of mind.  It's a choice to not let the consumer-driven culture dictate how you live, what you invest in, and how you spend your valuable resources." (Chapter 5, pg. 69) --The same could be said for the Christian faith, no?  With both simple living and Christian living, it's a choice to go against "what everyone else is doing" and make the decisions that are right for your family.
  • "It is infinitely easier to practice simple living when you don't have any debt." (Chapter 5, pg. 70) --Amen and amen!  We have been debt free now for several years, and the feeling of paying off that final debit is priceless!  Knowing each month that every dollar of our income is assigned a specific place OF OUR CHOOSING is most certainly more simple and so much less stressful than deciding how much will be paid to which particular place that owns us because we owe them money.
I talked briefly about my personal home management notebook the day of our workshop.  Mine is modeled after Tsh's, but personalized to make it work for me.  I cannot emphasize enough how important I think it is to figure of some sort of home management notebook or system that will work for you.  Having everything in one place will reduce your stress greatly and will greatly simplify the daily workings of your home.

For a few years, I kept mine in a 3-ring binder, which is nice if you aren't sure what all you want to have in your notebook.  You have the flexibility of adding to or subtracting from the notebook or system based on your needs.  After a few years of fine tuning and tweaking, I felt like I had the contents of my notebook pretty well refined, so for this year's planner, I had it bound at Office Depot.  I have loved having it bound, and the bound version is much more portable than the heavy, bulky 3-ring notebook I had been using.

The sections for my home management notebook include:
  • Daily planning page:  This is a laminated page that is similar to Tsh's daily docket that she refers to in Chapter 6.  I chose to go the laminated route so that I could erase and reuse the same sheet day after day rather than using a new sheet of paper everyday.  It's worked well for me.
  • Calendar:  I make my own calendar pages in Excel with one week per page.  I've done this for several years and was prompted to do so because I could never find a planner that suited my needs like I wanted it to.  Each page has a small monthly calendar at the top, the seven days of the week, with space for menu planning and notes each day, and an overall notes section at the bottom of the page.  You can also find templates for planning pages here on the Microsoft Office templates page.
  • Notes:  This section just has sheets of pretty paper (I like dressing things up!) that I use for anything I need to take notes on (i.e. plans for family vacation, birthday party plans, Christmas gift ideas, etc.)
  • Finances:  I have a copy of our budget in this section as well as some notepaper to make notes on other finance-related things.
  • Misc. Lists:  This section is just what is says--various lists, including a list of important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, etc), a form where I keep my internet passwords for various websites, shopping lists for when we go to Amarillo, and such.  Next year I plan to combine the Notes section and Lists section--there is some redundancy there, and I sometimes get confused as to which location I've used to make note of a certain thing.
  • Homeschool:  This section is for all things homeschool-related (co-op notes, curriculum notes, etc)
For my dividers for each section, I used simple pocket folders and cut them in half.  That gives me a pocket in each section to place various notes, coupons, and other related items.  I made myself a cover sheet for my notebook and had Office Depot put a heavy cardstock sheet for the back cover and a clear sheet to protect the front cover.

Feel free to ask any questions you might have regarding my notebook--I'm happy to share my tips and ideas!

This week's discussion questions:
  1. What is your greatest challenge regarding money management?
  2. What do you see as the greatest benefit of being debt free (whether you've experienced it yourself or hope to experience it once your family gets there)?
  3. What will you include in your home management notebook?
Here's a reminder for the upcoming week's assignment (Week 4):
  • Read Chapters 7 & 8
  • Memorize Romans 14.19
  • Evaluate your home in light of your family's purpose statement.  Identify at least one change you feel needs to be made.
Have a great week!!  I look forward to hearing your discussions on this week's topic!