You Mean It Gets Messier?

Here's the deal.  The internet is full of people only showing their best & it's enough to get me headed straight towards a panic attack on a rough day.  Long ago when I first started blogging, I said I was going to break the trend & share the good, bad, and ugly.  And today's post is definitely the ugly of our current life.  

If you're a clean freak, to be sure you'll think I should be embarrassed of these pictures. And you'll probably think I'm a hoarder. But for the rest of you that feel pulled in a thousand directions every day - today's goal is to make you feel at home.  You are not alone.

I shared a few weeks back that I was making a concerted effort to pare down on possessions.  We have so much.  Too much.  When there's not time to wear it or a place to store it then it's a sign we needed some major change.

Even though I've wanted to go through things for a long while, the catalyst to start was....my ALLERGIES!  Because of course right?  I needed to deep clean the house and dust the heck out of every square inch, and now I couldn't avoid the task.  Throw in a doctor's diagnosis of the baby girl with allergies and the mom guilt meter started spiking. So clearly I couldn't put it off any longer.

Disclaimer:  I used to have a cleaning service and loved it.  Then I started working part-time and that went away.  But my cleaning habits didn't pick up the slack.  (Seriously, the best part of the cleaning crew wasn't what or how they cleaned, but how I was forced to straighten the night before every two weeks!)

So in an effort to keep myself accountable on this journey, to encourage you it's ok for life not to be peaches & cream perfect, & to inspire you to free yourself from your possessions, I'm sharing my progress & some tips I'm learning along the way.  

Rooms Completed: Laundry Room & Hall Closet

Rooms Partially Completed: Master Bedroom, Kitchen

Still a Mess: Master Closet & Bathroom, Baby Girl's Room, & Spare Room/Office (aka the war zone)

  • I decided if I didn't wear an item of clothing during the last appropriate season, then it needed a new home.  Makes it so much easier to let it go - trust me.

 

Shockingly, this was already a good 20 minutes into tackling this room - I'll let your imagine how bad it was at the start!

Shockingly, this was already a good 20 minutes into tackling this room - I'll let your imagine how bad it was at the start!

  • The laundry room was ground zero.  I hated doing laundry for have to step over extra household supplies, blankets needing to be washed, & extra home decor. So I was letting constantly letting laundry pile up until it was D-day & I was forced to do 5+ loads in one day.  So of course, that behavior meant clothes & towels were piling up in all the other rooms, just adding to their respective problems. So I did a massive purge/deep clear there to make the space clear, clean, & functional.  The last two weeks of laundry have almost been a delight.  As much as laundry can of course.  There is finally counter space to fold clothes - in four years in this house, this is a first.  And winner winner chicken dinner - I've kept it clean for 2 weeks!  It can be done people!
  • Put the Goodwill donations in the car as soon as you make the pile.  I don't know why the part of actually dropping off stuff has always been the most hated part.  They have a drive through drop of here less than a mile away. For goodness sakes I have no excuse! I've always collected stuff, made a list, bagged it up, then let it sit.  Elsa it my friends & let it go.  It has been so freeing to see parts of my floor again.  The carpet beside my bed thanked me yesterday.

 

This was 2 trips to Goodwill.  Amazingly this was only from the laundry room & one cabinet in the kitchen.  Best part I kept probably 20% & am kicking the other 80% to the curb!

This was 2 trips to Goodwill.  Amazingly this was only from the laundry room & one cabinet in the kitchen.  Best part I kept probably 20% & am kicking the other 80% to the curb!

Here's the thing that almost tripped me up & made me quit last week.  It will get messier.  It has to as you pull things out.  It all has to go somewhere, so the best goal is to tackle a space that matches the amount of time you have for the task at that moment to keep you from getting overwhelmed.  Once you decide it stays or goes - put it where it belongs right then.  No more extra piles, no "I'll decide when I'm done".   Give it a home or send it to someone else's.  Determining the items fate in the moment has been the only way I've gotten through it.  

So what's my next step? (Because I know this has been a thrilling read & you just can't wait for installment two)....

1) Finish my bedroom & closet.  I've taken four car loads of clothes to goodwill, not counting what I've sold via a sale on Facebook & Instagram.  Why I've held on to stuff so long I can't begin to explain.  But guess what.  It's a new day, I have a new mindset, and things are gonna be done differently up in here - up in here.

2) Somehow gain miraculous inspiration for how to store our food without a pantry.  This is my Achilles heel.  See?

Yeah I would die if you stopped by & saw it this way, but somehow I'm braver to share this when we're hidden behind a computer screen.  But we all need a glimpse of the realness that is our everyday right?  

Yeah I would die if you stopped by & saw it this way, but somehow I'm braver to share this when we're hidden behind a computer screen.  But we all need a glimpse of the realness that is our everyday right?  

This picture is after my last grocery trip in the midst of the laundry room purge.  Those beautiful countertops? I hardly see them.  I've tried multiple cabinets, but they are either too high or too deep to be functional.  There's no space for a stand alone pantry.  So for now I pray for kitchen organization miracles to find a way to get my counterspace back.  It's giving me gray hair.  Well - more gray hair. I'm all ears people - help a sister out!

3) Toss on my Tyvek suit and brave the office disaster.  I can't get to my sewing & cross-stitch supplies in all the mess. I know the next book I wanted to read is in there, but I don't want to break my ankle or spend an hour looking for it.  And frankly, I want that space to be the space I've dreamed it could be for me.  For my writing.  For my creativeness. Sooner than later. And it's going to be a battle, but it's just going to have to go down.  

So dear friend, sweet mamas out there - just know you're not alone in feeling forever behind in the chores and projects on your to-do list.  I'm tacking this on top of working outside the home part-time, everyday chores, and refusing to stop living and spending time with people we care about just to clean.  Priorities! One step at a time and remember - it can't be any worse than my house!

Enough Is Enough

All I wanted to do was sit down and write.  But there was seriously not a flat surface to set the laptop on that wasn't already covered in something.  The kitchen table had the kids potty that Amazon delivered that we aren't quite ready to use & the remnants of the mornings Target run.  The bar counter has long been the landing point for random mail, coupons I need to organize, books I want to read, candles, batteries, craft supplies - forget a junk drawer, it's become a junk shelf.  And don't even get me started about my "office" that is currently serving as a guest room/office/sewing/craft/storage spot  It's failing on all fronts because I expect that little space to be too much.  The door to that room may need to be permanently glued shut.

So I resort, once again, to trying to balance the laptop on my lap on the world's most uncomfortable couch.  And I've had it.  I am tired of spending more of my life taking care of the "stuff" than being with people or doing things that advance my heart or our family.  Every week I've been living the same conundrum - do the chores that seem to suck away bits of my soul (whether I do them or just stress about why I've avoided doing them) or play with M/write/sew/work or actually really truly start my business.  See, I know the benefits of making memories way outdo the chores.  But in the midst of the "fun" things, my soul struggles that I should be doing the laundry/dishes/organizing my office and so on.  

And I'm just flat done.  {Feel free to bless my heart}

I shouldn't be buying more things to organize the things I'm not using.

I shouldn't be stepping over piles of clothes I don't possibly have enough time to wear.  Or clean for that matter.

Maybe it's a bit of laziness combined with my hatred of not finishing a project all at once that has kept me from even facing these obstacles.  But now is the time my friends.  Enough is enough.

At the end of last year I read 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up'  (aka the KonMari method) because I KNEW we had major issues related to too much stuff & was hoping it would be a motivator to deal with the crap in every room that was stressing me out daily.  Some of the tips included weren't really my speed {Ex: I don't really care if my socks can't breathe if they are in a ball instead of being folded.....thats a bit much for my taste}.  But once you get past some of the zen/Japanese culture tones there are some serious pearls of wisdom in there folks.  My biggest take away, as goofy as it sounds, is that if it doesn't give you joy, then it needs to go.  

For years I've held onto things "for when".  House decorating accessories because one day we will move and have space to display it and I love it and it was a deal from Target.  Clothes because I'll eventually lose the baby weight (funny right?).  Books baby girl will be old enough to read one day.  Old notes from school for reference in case I ever get to teach again one day -  (keep in mind they are medical based and already outdated....I've had a revelation - they've got to go).  

And somehow these super innocent reasons for keeping things has led to our house being overtaken one item at a time by beautiful wonderful things.  That we don't need in this season.

No longer am I give our "stuff" the upper hand on my heart and our priorities.  Sure there are chores that have to be done - but I only want to spend my chore time dealing with stuff that I have to do.  I don't want to waste time moving, dusting, and organizing things we don't even need.  I love my spouse & kiddo too much to get any more gray hair and be in bad moods because of dirty clothes and dusty vases. 

I'll try to share our progress as I go room by room (my general goal is to get rid of 50%).  I hope it inspires you to find freedom from your stuff too!

{If you're in the market for home decor etc you can follow our Instagram sale @thekeithskonmari - but please please don't bid on things to junkify your own home!}

Friday Free For All

Dear friends.  Can I just be honest for a minute?  It's been a tough few weeks to write.  Too often I let metrics measure whether or not I should keep putting in the time and effort into the blog.  Sometimes the statistics are helpful: where are readers from, are there new people reading, what are people are reading.  But sometimes seeing these numbers (or the lack of them) really brings me down.  Add to that the fact that my computer froze and deleted the most well-written and meaningful post I've ever written (about my Pop Pop on what would have been his 93rd birthday).  And then spending time writing about an event I am passionate about and releasing the post on a weekend (such a no-no), only to realize it didn't get read.  As least not as much as I had hoped it would.  Which doesn't exactly help spread the word.  Sigh.  

Anyways, I've beat myself up too much lately about writing - so today in an effort to turn that frown upside down I'm sharing some favorite finds from the last few weeks & will introduce my upcoming October series with #write31days!  So buckle up ---- cause here we go!

1) Lay's Southern Biscuits & Gravy chips

images-4.jpeg

I don't care what you say.  These are delicious - and I don't even like chips.  My gut hates how sausage makes me feel, but as a true Southern girl, I have a hard time turning down such a traditional dish when it's on the menu.  This my friend is the perfect substitution.  It's the perfect flavor to match the real deal, plus I get to skip the heartburn and full belly sensation afterwards.  Win-win!

2) Mamuye tote from Live Fashionable

mamuye tote

I've had my eye on this tote for a few years but it wasn't exactly cheap, seeing as how it's real leather for starters.  But I've been carting around a diaper bag as my purse for a year.  And I am so done.  For my birthday this year I saved up and got this number and I LOVE IT as much as I thought I would (I got the lighter Cognac version).  It holds everything I need for me & it's especially helpful for days that I work because I can toss in papers & books that I need and easily tote everything I need in one beautiful bag.  Plus, I found a small organizer to hold all the necessities I have to have for the little one and I can easily take it in & out and have successfully eliminated the need for the diaper bag! Hallelujah!  

Live Fashionable not only makes beautiful leather items, but they provide jobs for women around the world.  Each product is named after one of the women they were able to help.  Beautiful things + loving our neighbor = a total victory.

Good news!  You can follow my referral link and get 10% off your purchase!  I'll be honest, I wish I had had this discount when I bought my bag (see #3 below for my love of a deal).  I earn $10 for every referral, but again I'm sharing the discount because I love the product.  I first saw it used by Annie Downs on her Instagram and it's been her go to travel bag for years, so I know they hold up.  Check out the reviews of their products and you'll see they are quality!

3) Ibotta

At one point in my life I was a crazy coupon lady.  As in I had a whole 3-ring binder nonsense.  Then I got real and realized I didn't need the majority of what I bought that was a "deal" and I could use that time (& money) more wisely.  Don't get me wrong, I love me a good coupon.  I clip then on Sundays after church, download them to my Kroger card, and even have a small carrying case to tote around ones for things I might actually buy.  My favorite find in the last year is Ibotta.  I downloaded this app about 6 months ago, and no lie - I've saved just shy of $40.  Not bad because it's for things I'm already buying, plus it's the only way I can attempt to "double" my coupons around here since our stores no longer do.  So regular coupon + Ibotta rebate = double discounted. Even better they often offer discounts on those staples that never have coupons - milk, eggs, fresh produce.  Once you've saved at least $10, you can convert your savings to your paypal account or various gift cards.  If you want to try it out, get details & sign up on this page & Ibotta will start you off with $1 in your account once you redeem any rebate within 2 weeks of signing up.  

Just as an example, this week I earned $0.50 towards Ziploc containers, $0.50 off Far East couscous, $0.20 off bananas, and $0.75 off granola bars.  

4) #KonMari

My house is stressing me out.  So in an effort to stop moving stuff from one place to another I'm reading 'the life-changing magic of tidying up', also known on social media as the #KonMari method.  Notice the pack'n'play filled with toys, and even a plastic storage container to put them in.  Yet there they sit.  Three weeks later.  Sigh.  I made it halfway through the book during yesterday's nap time & I'm thinking this may actually work for me.  Here's to progress!

5) Pumpkin Pie Blizzards are back!

pumpkin pie blizzard

If you're on a diet - skip this.  I could give up Dairy Queen for life except for this number.  Something about the real pumpkin swirled in & those crispy crust pieces.  Sigh.  It almost is enough for me to forget it's still 92 degrees outside with no glimpse of Fall arriving in my future.

6) #Write31Days

I've participated in this writing challenge for the last 2 years.  You can click the link above to find literally thousands of awesome topics that were shared last year, and starting October 1, there will be thousands of new links as well!  If you missed my posts the last few years you can find them here:

2013: 31 Days of London & Paris

2014: 31 Days of Etsy

And back by popular demand for 2015:  The Best of Etsy 2015

best of etsy 2015

I'm super excited to share with you some amazing finds I've found on Etsy just in time to get your Christmas shopping started.  December may still seem far away, but don't forget most Etsy shops will stop taking orders very early in December in order to guarantee delivery by Christmas - so don't wait if you see something you love!  

I hope you'll join me staring on October 1 for round 2 of my Etsy adventures.  So until next week - rock out your weekend!

**Some affiliate links are included, but seriously only because I love them.  They did make it onto my Friday Favorites post after all! My promise is never to share something I don't stand behind!**