Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy New Year!!!

I want to make this one of the best years ever. I am really excited! I can feel it to my bones, normally I think "ah whatever" but this year actually "feels" different.


Knick Knacks & Tchotchkees

Does your house look like a knick knack attack? I have 2 rules about these.

#1. Get rid of 80% of your knick knacks or tchotchkes!

Do it. All they really do is take up space, collect dust and its a real eyesore to look at all that stuff all the time. I have wooden valance toppers in my living room.....shelves over windows basically. Oh they looked so nice all merchandised with mini books, music boxes, pictures, silk vines etc etc etc. A lovely array of home interiors goodness. I stood in my living room one day and said this is enough, I know they are dusty and I need to clean them. I removed all of it, threw the silks into the tub, boxed up the rest to send on down the road. There all clean!! and my eyes literally got a break from the visual stimulation of all that stuff.

I put the silk ivy back up with a few deer sheds and thats it.

Terra's Story.....
My friend with 4 gorgeous kids, cute and clean house and all around kick ass woman. Her hubby is a cool cat too! She was having an issue with a certain blue lady in her bedroom a few years ago and I told her "honey dont feel guilty about sending her down the road"......so blue lady sat on top of her dresser for quite some time, she just couldnt bear to do it and live with the guilt. So I called her today to see if blue lady is still there.

"hello, terra?"

"HI!!! whatcha doing?"

"I have a question for you, I am writing a blog about simplifying your life and I am on knick knacks and I was wondering, do you still have that blue lady in your bedroom?"

"Nope, I finally did it, she is gone.....in fact I got rid of alot of crap lying around here, still working on the kids's stuff"

"Terra...... I am so proud of you!!!!"
and then the what not of the holiday chatter and we said our good byes....I really am proud of her!!

The key is she thought about the words I told her, "if you dont love it, each time you look at it will conjure a negative thought in you, albeit subtle, those negative responses will build up and eventually you will get angry upon looking at it." Nuts! to get angry at an object that sits there on a shelf....get rid of it. It was the thought that counted when someone gave you a gift! There is no law that says you have to keep it!

#2. Never buy a random tchotchke as a gift to anyone! I said "random"......if someone specifically told you they love_____or it was on a gift registry, then it is okay. Otherwise you are wasting your money, if its ugly then you are causing your friend some distress about "what am I gonna do with this!" The last tchotchke I bought for a gift was 3 years ago, a fifty dollar scented oil lamp candle thingy for my mom......it is no where to be seen in her house.
I still get "house decorations" that are just not me, so I just give them away almost immedietly. No sense in keeping it, I am touched they thought of me enough to get me a gift and that is good enough.

Go attack your knick knacks!!
Smash em out back and throw them away if ya wanna, really that can be liberating.

Over and out,

Step 1

This is your first basic round of de cluttering. You should have all your holiday stuff put away by now. Dont get hung up sorting that stuff right now....we will get to it. Right now we are working on everyday living space. Your bathrooms and kitchens are first and foremost. Clean clutter free and functional is what we are going for, and a snap to maintain. Always strive to keep them top notch.
Grab a box and a garbage bag.
Start in the Bathroom then the kitchen and work your way to every room in the house including closets!
Anything and I mean anything you have not used in the last year must go!! The shampoo bottles and the like that have 1/2 inch of product in the bottom those go too.

Towels: I have seen families with 25 bath towels when they only have 3 bodies in the house. Do you know what happens when they, the homeowner is unorganized? They use the towels until they are all gone and they end up in a huge pile in the laundry room. Now they have this mountain to deal with. If they treat their towels in that manner, then I know they have mountains of clothes too. When we were a family of 3 I kept 8 towels for our small family living in a tiny house with only 1 bathroom. So keep the 8 towels or at least 2 per family member, that are the best and most similar in color, so they all can be washed in the same load. The guest bathrooms may have 1 set per bathroom...for guests! I have a larger house now and more kids, but I still keep a handle on that towel situation. If extra towels are nice then keep them but not in the daily rotation. I have extra towels stored away from when I closed the massage studio. Lots of extras and they are plush. They have a specific spot and not just tossed into a closet where I wont remember where they went.
Wash cloths I have an abundance of 10 for each bathroom. hand towels get changed every two days. so only a few of those.

Bedding: I do not keep extra sheets sets. I used to but its not essential to good housekeeping. I get the bedding washed then remake them promptly. I do keep a few extra pillow cases and quilts. That is it. The sleeping bags are with the camp supplies. This was a very big obstacle for me to overcome. With kids they always seem to get 20 bulky blankets for baby showers and then all the other recieving blankets......we were in blanket overload. So the kids had their "blankies" and the beds were made, 2 dolly blankets. 1 quilt with the recliner. The rest went into a vacuum sealing bag. after a few months I realized we dont even "need" them. I donated them to the Little League garage sale. freecycle, donate or whatever but dont get to hung up on it and move on. Do not even go there with me on the "but I could get some money for this", or obsess about the money you spent on items that you are now giving away. Universal energy is always at work, when you give you will recieve. I took 6 van loads down to Family Services. She asked me if I wanted a receipt, I said no. Not only would I have to itemize all of it, it would have been such a large tax deduction it would have thrown a red flag on my tax forms, causing me to get audited. Now that "stuff" would have been still with me mentally months later. For me I just cut ties with it and said to her "nope, I am sure when I give to those that need, God will look out for me" and she smiled and said "that is so true". It was also winter when I did it, I did save larger items for 2 months for a garage sale. Get ready to release not only the stuff but the guilt that comes from throwing away your money. You made a mistake, learn from it and move on.

The 2 exceptions I take is home owner maintenance type of materials and tools. So relegate them to the garage. And folks that live miles and miles out of town. However even then you have clutter that you or no one else has used or needed. Its time to let it go my friend and get honest with yourselves and why things are piling up. Farm/ranch equipment and shop stuff is not part of this tutorial.....I am talking your homes and houses.

Now I want you to take some time and breathe through this process. It will get overwhelming at times. You will experience mental road blocks and when that happens stop and ask yourself ,why is this bothering me and see if you can tap into the "why" of it all. Letting go of stuff can bring about physical symptoms, it really can. Be prepared to deal with it when it comes up. We live in a society where "more is better" more, more, more. Its not better, really its not. When your closets are full and you still cant find anything to wear, that is not better. When the vanity has so much stuff under neath and you still cant find the hairspray, that is not better. Our basement storage is so full we cant get to the Decorations with out climbing, twisting and wrenching, that is not better. When we have so many pots and pans falling out of cupboards when we open them, that is not better. It zaps your energy and you're worn out before you even get out of the house in the morning dealing with all that "stuff".
Quantity does not equal quality.

The solution is not to get a bigger house. Very rarely is that the best solution to the problem. You buy the bigger house and then fill it up to max capacity and then buy a bigger house then fill it up again. You must live within the means of your walls, the same way you learn to live within the means of your checkbook. You must learn to use the space creativily and effeciently, use your time wisely and effeciently and you will find you really do have extra time to do the things you want. I promise.

There are tons of books on the market about de cluttering and getting organized. You must understand first Why you are collecting "stuff" in the first place and what that "stuff" is doing to your psyche, energy levels, and such. The book that clicked for me was Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, by Karen Kingston. Karens philosophy is centered around the energy in your home. I am particularly sensitive to energy, as I have always been a "vibey" person. Karens just clicked. "I got it". Peter Walsh is another I hear great reviews about.

Its that simple!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Personal Responsibility....

Its not very often I will ever link to Dr. Laura (click the title header) but I find myself aligning with her ideals more and more these days. Like it or not if someone asks her a question she does not sugar coat anything. Some food for thought regarding personal responsibility and finances and basically the whole shpeel of why we are in such a pickle as a Nation.

The other point I want to bring up is that PR to ourselves and our loved ones. When I say loved ones I mean husband or wife and kids. The ones we are making a life with now.
I was not so sure about this staying at home gig. I was sure I would get bored with not enough to do, not enough outside stimulation of adult human contact. Wrong! I have found this to be one of the best experiences of my life. I went from a disorganized mommy with a chore list that never ended to an organized mom and captain of my life. I thank God everyday that my husband has a good job that he actually loves, and that it allows us to be the family we want to be. I also view this now not only as a partnership in marriage but as a business partnership in life. 4 years ago I was always down on myself about not bringing in any income. Not anymore. You see once I started to look at it as a business partnership there was that paradigm shift in thinking. He is out their in the field drumming up the money and I am at headquarters in the position of Manager. Neither one could thrive without the committed support of the other partner. It is my job to make sure headquarters is running smoothly, accounts payable is taken care of, the facility is clean and safe, and the children are learning with some "on the job training" in regards to life. I chose this position. Sure there are days that go haywire, no different out in the field. So if you find yourself complaining on a routine basis about the job(s) you have chosen, then its time for a wake up call in your thinking. Clean it up! It is your creation. You may not blame having kids or a husband for the chaos in your home. You can however get up and get going to get the clutter out of your homes, if you need to hire a professional to get some advice and vision then do it! My funds did not allow me to hire anyone so it was jump in both feet and learn as you go. I also love the Home section at Barnes and Noble and when I got stumped I went there to cruise the books and magazines for ideas. It helps I have a great handyman husband that can build anything and I Love his mad skillz!!!.

I will present them the way I came about them. It will be a layered learning process, they all work together. You start with one and once you got a handle on it, you add on another one and do them simultaneously, so on and so forth. It is a bit of work and it is well worth the effort.

I started with my surroundings first...all the stuff in my house was just too much. Environmental clutter.
Second, emotional/mental clutter....that seemed to take the longest.
Spiritual clutter.....yes that is possible!
Financial/paper clutter I am in the process of really getting a handle on it thanks to the recent Dave Ramsey Classes.
and am ready to move on to physical clutter, as in the few extra pounds I am carrying around. That is the last piece to the puzzle.

Stay tuned and get some supplies ready such as lots of extra boxes, totes, bins, etc. labels and a pen. YOU CAN DO THIS! It is time to take personal responsibility for these areas in your life, it is an honor to share what I have learned with you.

Much Love
Simple Cowgirl

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Clutter Ratio.....

Huh? what is THAT!

An interesting article (click the title of this post, it will take you to the article or at least that is what i want it to do) on how much stuff we have in our homes and how much we really use said stuff. I am sure it took her alot of time to count it all, and it was for a thesis so when its all said and done about the same time anyone else would spend on research. I look at everything in a different perspective now, and it gave me clarity on what is really the difference between and want vs. need as well as loving it vs. liking it. For me I must love it for it to stay otherwise its adios and out the door. Do I really need a Santa snowglobe? Do I really need this tchochke? What bakeware do I really use? Do I love these pants and do they love me? We only use 20% of our stuff 80% of the time............so its time to "do something" with the other 80% that is taking up precious real estate.

Hint: those crystal candlesticks that go with nothing, that ugly frame so and so got you that you hate because it clashes with your new paint scheme......anything you dont use! Its hard because you have got to be honest and then our emotions get all wound up in it and we second guess ourselves...."what if she comes over and doesn't see it in my house". Knock it off! If it isnt used, doesn't bring you joy, holding on to it over guilt, then its time to let it go. Dead Aunt Rita could care less about the neon pink and green afghan she knitted you umpteen years ago, she is up in heaven hollering "for petes sake get rid of that ugly thing!!! I dont know how you talked me into that color, it was the 80's go figure". If you are still having a hard time with it, just think of it as sending stuff on a journey and it was only meant to visit you for a short time until it reaches its final destination. Dont even get me started on curio cabinets/china cabinets that are so filled with "stuff" you cannot see the beauty of each individual piece. I am biased about these things. I cleaned houses for a living years ago and I ended up despising them (china cabinets) and their contents. Really they are ugly, I have not found a nice one yet.
All those lil mementos from high school and junior high....if you still have those stuffed in a prom shoe box, we need to have a chat. Good indicator that you hold onto the past, and wish for things like "I wonder what could have been".....guess what? It is stuff like that (mental clutter and the actual physical clutter) that keeps us from living in the present. You cannot go back, its over, honor those memories and move on and step into your life that is happening now! toss em, and if they are incriminating, burn em!
Moving on to Bathroom toiletrie sets. You know the ones that are made of resin, pottery, glass and what not. They hold your toothbrush, lotion and soap and possibly Kleenex. In my best opera voice "Duuust Colleeeectors". First off the toothbrushes need to be stored in a drawer. everytime you flush and leave the lid open, those lil particles of poo germs get in the air to only come down on your toothbrush! I fitted the wood panel fronts of our vanities with pop outs (wasted space, the pop outs all fit and dont hit the sink when you close them) You may keep the soap dispenser only if it works good and looks good and you love it. Personally, I switched all of ours out to foam pumps from bath and body works. Saves moola too, just keep refilling the same one with 1/3 soap and 2/3 water.

Well now you can start somewhere.
Adios Amigos, until next time
Keep it Simple Cowgirls!!

Greetings Ya'll !!

The Holiday rush is over and as we sit down with a cup of coffee we ponder what the new year will bring us. For me personally I always choose a resolution where I will gain knowledge and it must be fun. This year is photography lessons...ah hem...learning my new camera. It is a whole lot of camera and I asked our friend Ted to school me in this area I so lack skill.

I have found over the year I keep yammering on about a few discoveries I have made in the wonderful world of internet. Organizing sites, recipe sites, planning sites and so on. I decided I would compile a "go to blog" of all things I love to refer folks to. So borne is this little niche. It is resolution #2 on the list, get more savvy with the computer via this blog. It is nice to have a place that has done the digging, and really in my case most of them I just stumbled upon. I love to share what I have learned.

My most urgent resolution is to finalize the de cluttering and organizing of any Christmas/Holiday frippery. I am still a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of this stuff I have not released. It will be almost 2 years come this March that I first read about "collections" in the Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston. I have some issues surrounding the holidays and it was showing up in the ever mounting collection of Holiday decorations I had.....Karens insight was the precise thing that I needed to absorb to actually deal with it. Finally! This will be the 3rd showdown with me and that pile I tossed aside at the begining of December. I best pull up my bootstraps and deal. Who is with me? If and when I can get the dang photo poster to work that is eluding my grasp, I will share the before and after pictures. I started with 9 tubs and am down to 4 now, which does not sound like alot but I did purchase some new coffee cups, hand towels(from the thrift) and lights this year, so something has to go. Laura, over at The Organizing Junkie shares many before and afters and it is thanks to her visuals and my labeler I finally "got it". Thank you Karen for teaching me to release the clutter and Thank You Laura for teaching me to organize what I kept.

So start thinking about what goals you want to accomplish this year and write them down.

Until next time,

Simple Cowgirl