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Showing posts from 2021

3 Easy Decorating Rules

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Feeling settled at home is extremely important, especially during busy and stressful times.  Our environment plays a huge role in our mental and emotional health.  Clutter, unfinished projects, and impersonal spaces can lead to uneasiness and frustration, while simple, bright, meaningful spaces leave us feeling grounded and energized. Famous designers have shown us again and again that decorating "rules" are made to be broken.  After all, each of us is unique, and we all have our own tastes and styles.  If your design choices make you happy and comfortable in your home, then you're doing it "right."  You don't need to follow the trends to create a peaceful and inspiring space. However there are three guidelines that seem to work in any home. 1.  Keep it simple. Homes that are overcrowded, with blocked traffic zones, too much clutter, and no open spaces where the eye can rest never feel right.  They're chaotic and heavy, and seem as if there's really

Keep or Toss?

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We all have excuses about things we keep long after they have served their purpose.  Maybe we feel shame about how much money we spent on them, or guilt because someone gave them to us.  Maybe when we dig them out of a box they remind us of a happy time or a person we loved.  Or maybe we worry that if we discard them, we'll wind up needing them in the future. These feelings are pretty common among people who start to declutter, making the process harder and more frustrating.  Unless we can approach the task with some practical strategies and a no-nonsense attitude, we may not be successful. So if you've been wanting to declutter and experience all the benefits of a simpler life , ask yourself these questions to help you decide what to keep and what to donate or toss. 10 Questions to Give You Clarity 1.  Is this item something I actually use? If the item is something you haven't used in a year or more, it can probably go.  Unless it's something like a baby stroller, stil

Minimalist Travel

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You can travel first class and spare no expense.  Pack a whole new wardrobe in a pile of suitcases, visit every high-traffic venue, and commemorate your once-in-a-lifetime experience with plenty of souvenirs.  This requires careful planning, a ton of money, and someone to schlep all that luggage. Or you can travel light, with a backpack or a carryon, prepared to interact with your destination as authentically as possible.  As you walk the streets, or ride on public transit, you can be curious, observant, and free to follow a whim. You can be weighed down, or you can enjoy the agility of minimalism. I love the minimal completeness of packing for travel.  You consider carefully which clothes you'll need, which toiletries and accessories.  You might bring a book or a journal; you'll probably bring your phone.  But you carry only what you've chosen to take with you.  It's the ultimate in decluttering. It's rather liberating to exist with only a fraction of your possessi

Make More Memories with Fewer Photos

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I remember my husband on the living room floor, imitating our 5-month-old daughter's attempts to roll over for the first time.  She kept fruitlessly swinging her leg over her body, and he, so much larger, copied her every move as well as the little grunts of effort she was making.  The pair of them were so funny I laughed until I couldn't breathe. I have no video, but the memory is absolutely clear in my mind. I can picture the huge pile of autumn leaves my two children made at the end of their backyard slide, and their shrieks of glee as they climbed and slid down into the colorful heap, then ran around to do it all over again.  The sky is blue, the sun is gentle, the breeze is cool, and their joy is infectious. It's not on video, but my brain can replay the scene with ease. I remember details of my son's star turn as Willie Wonka in a high school stage production, and the time my grandson (then 4) regaled us with a long list of careers he might have when he's grow

10 Tiny Decluttering Tasks

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Perhaps you've come to this realization:  Clutter takes up space in your home, and it burdens your mind too.  Living in a cluttered space adds frustration and annoyance to everyday tasks, makes homecare more difficult and time-consuming, and can make you feel more anxiety and stress. But you're busy.  Maybe you've put off decluttering.  If you've been procrastinating about getting your space in order, maybe it's because the idea of getting rid of things brings up fears of lack and deprivation.  Or perhaps it's because you feel overwhelmed and don't know where to begin. But I know from experience that these feelings are the exact opposite of what you'll feel once you get into the decluttering process.  The sense of lightness and freedom you'll gain, and the simpler, easier ways you'll be able to live every day are worth the effort. So I want to help you remove the roadblocks to decluttering, and change that pattern of avoidance by taking on tiny,

Weird is Good

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It starts in grade school, that desire to fit in and be "normal."  We want to do what our friends are doing, and our parents say, "If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you follow?" Unfortunately, many of our peers are jumping – into a pit of debt.  The average American carried over $6,000 of credit card debt at the end of 2019, and according to CNBC, 51% of people with credit card debt have increased their balances since March 2020.  Auto and student loans are up too, and Experian reports that mortgage debt has seen record growth. A 2017 Pew Research study found that 54% of Americans spend more than they earn every month .  While the personal savings rate increased in 2020 as people were forced to stay at home, a surge in spending is expected once people are vaccinated and Covid-related restrictions are lifted. When the Joneses spend more than they earn and save less than they need, keeping up with them is a terrible idea. There's good reason to ignore med

Cherished Collections

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I love a home decorated with family antiques.  I also like looking at photos or other family art, such as the painting of my husband's great-great-grandmother which hangs in his mother's living room.  My daughter and son-in-law prize the caricature portrait drawn by a San Francisco street artist when they were on their honeymoon, and a friend of mine displays plaster of Paris handprints of each of her three children, made in school for Mother's Day decades ago. I also appreciate collections of natural elements.  My husband, son of a geologist, has several beautiful geodes, those vaguely spherical rocks which contain a hollow cavity lined with crystals.  My mother-in-law likes to display birds' nests, and of course many people care for lovely house plants. I have a collection of vintage English blue and white transferware.  My first piece was a Sadler Blue Willow teapot given to my mother as a wedding gift in 1959.  She never used it, but I was fascinated by it for many

Simple Tips for a Tidy Home

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NOTE:  This post contains a few paid links.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn a very small fee from qualified purchases. Sometimes, life is extra busy, and we just have to muddle through each day as well as we can.  Work, school, kids, pets, and more may conspire to keep our homes in a jumble.  Everyday activities like cooking and crafting can add to the chaos. Read on for some guidance on how to keep the mess at bay to create a calmer, more relaxing and efficient home. 6 Tidyness Tips 1.  First, declutter. If you haven't done it already, a quick declutter can really help, since fewer possessions means less time spent cleaning and tidying.  Take the Declutter Dare , or focus on one area like the living room, play room, or kitchen .  Ask yourself "How often do I use this?" and "Do I really need so many of these?"  2.  Create a place for everything. Everything you own needs a home – somewhere you can put it back after you have used it.  If an item doesn't have a

Choose a Brighter Outlook

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Here's something I keep noticing:  It doesn't take long for the conversation of any group of people to turn negative. Whether the complaints are about pandemic protocols, politics, gas prices, traffic, the weather, or something else, negativity seems to be the default mode of many of us. In spite of morning news shows that try to insert upbeat "special interest" stories, those are rare, and always seem contrived to add a bit of lightness to the "real" business of the day.  Most news sources, from TV and radio to podcasts and social media, thrive on crisis and mayhem.  There's evidence that this actually warps our perceptions of reality . Disconcertingly, when someone tries to add a positive remark to conversations that seem dominated by complaints, the comment is often challenged or dismissed as "wishful thinking."  Those Pollyanna viewpoints don't fit the prevailing theme. My mother used to tell me I was too idealistic.  "It doesn'

The Freedom of No

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Instead of searching for the next productivity hack so you can continue to do it all, become more intentional about what you put on your plate in the first place.  It's crammed full because you keep saying yes. But there's freedom to be found in learning to say no.  No is a word that establishes boundaries and saves your time and energy for the things that are important to you. As more and more people receive the Covid vaccine and restrictions are gradually loosening, many of us are once again becoming busier. And isn't this a good thing?  Children and teens are once again enjoying at least some time in the classroom with teachers and classmates, and some activities, especially outdoor team sports like softball and soccer (football).  In my area, people are once again going out to restaurants and movie theaters (still keeping a distance from others).  We attended church inside on Easter Sunday (wearing masks and leaving space between ourselves and other worshippers).  The S

How to Create a Minimalist Wardrobe

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You've seen them on Pinterest, those perfect capsule wardrobes.  Or maybe you've read the posts about people who wore the same dress for 30 days – and no one even noticed . We so often think that to project a successful image we need a room-size closet full of the latest designer clothes, shoes, handbags, and jewelry.  But some of the most famous people in the world have turned their backs on fashion trends.  You might even argue that their success is at least partly the result of ignoring fashion in favor of focus and productivity. It's not just tech businessmen like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg who do this either.  Way back in the 1980's, designer Donna Karan introduced her " Seven Easy Pieces " wardrobe, which still works.  Director Christopher Nolan and designer Michael Kors each wear basically the same outfit every day (Kors once told the Seattle Times that his black and white outfit makes him feel "fresh and glamorous and graphic.")  Angelina

The Difference Between Minimalism and Decluttering

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Even though we tend to use the terms "decluttering" and "minimalism" interchangeably, they aren't actually the same thing.  What's the difference?  Here's the short answer:  All minimalists live without clutter, but not all who declutter become minimalists. Most people who are motivated to declutter have no intention of becoming minimalist. Perhaps they're preparing to move, and don't want to pack up and haul everything. They might be getting married and need to streamline in order to combine households. Maybe they're ready to retire and move to a smaller home.  Possibly they have sorted through the accumulated belongings of a deceased parent, and decided that they don't want to leave such a burden for their own children. Or they might be like I was, and one day they simply reach a point where it's all too much – too expensive, too crowded, too overwhelming. Regardless of the reason, decluttering is the result. Maybe you have declutt

5 Reasons to Simplify Your Life

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Here's the choice: Spend your life in a cycle of dissatisfaction ➜ shopping ➜ accumulating ➜ organizing ➜ decluttering ➜ more shopping ➜ overwhelm ➜ spring cleaning ➜ repeat . . . OR . . . you can break the cycle, simplify, and find not only contentment but something better to do with your time, money, and energy. Sometimes figuring out how to get to less is the easy part.  You can get rid of clutter in many ways, including these: declutter one specific area in five minutes or less remove 100 or more items from your home in one hour or less create a minimalist 4x4 wardrobe radically downsize in five steps (instructions continue here ) undecorate No matter which approach you choose, if you want the results to be long-lasting, you need to understand why you want to simplify your life.  This will be your foundation when things get tough, when you're tempted by sales and advertising, when the job of decluttering seems too hard, and when you're bored or sad and think buying so