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Showing posts with label Minimalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Minimalism. Show all posts

Minimalism: End of Spring Cleaning

Time for end of spring cleaning, am I right? This past year has been intense and I'm starting to be a bit more selfish with my time and energy. I have some repairing and damage to fix to myself, as well and this spring to summer transition I am spending more time doing more selfcare and focusing on positive changes. I've been doing that for a few months now, but spring is really the time to do some cleaning and clearing. I've decided to spend this time ridding the house of germs, cleaning up our "make-shift" pantry, and boosting our immune systems and self worth. I decided now is the time to go through and get rid of many things in our possession that we are only keeping out of not hurting other's feelings. Emotional attachment is the worst kind of attachment to break, but now is the time. That means, cleaning a lot of areas that seem to get neglected in our day to day activities, donating gifts that we don't even like, and getting rid of clothing that no longer fits. Spring is the perfect time to do some spring cleaning, in more ways than one. Here's a list of things I am tackling this spring to get them cleaned and back to looking and feeling fresh.

*Window Cleaning: There's 12 windows, total in this rental house. Each one of them will be getting a through and well-deserved cleaning inside and a through washing outside, too. Plus, all of the curtains will be getting a good washing, as well as the curtain rods removed and cleaned.

*Microwave and Oven: A few drops of lemon juice and lemon essential oil in a glass bowl of water and placed inside the microwave for 20 seconds before wiping it out, helps with the smell and to help remove any stuck on food particles along the sides and on the top. For the oven, I use a squirt bottle with warm water and lemon essential oil, spray around the oven and hit the self cleaning cycle.

*Floors: The floors in this old house are a mix between, linoleum, carpet, carpeted stairs, carpet squares, fake wood vinyl, and chippy old linoleum in the laundry room. We've replaced the bathroom flooring a few years ago (a reveal of that will come soon), but overall this old house could use a bit of TLC with the floors. Unfortunately, renting you are limited on what you can do. The bathroom was a no brainer and after waiting five years for the "landlord" to do it, we finally just pulled the trigger and did it ourselves. It was either that, or fall through the floor. I will be using Dr. Bronner's soaps, vinegar, and some essential oils to get stubborn stains off the floors. It works great and their Sal Suds work amazingly well on all floor types. For the carpets, I use a carpet shampooer and go over the floors with a water/vinegar mix, and then again with the the vinegar/essential oil mixture with water. I've found it works the best, even in those machines, and doesn't leave a chemical smell for several days afterwards. I use peppermint essential oil on the hard floor surfaces. It seems to help keep spiders and ants at bay. I also use peppermint essential oils near doorways and windows. 
A good recipe I follow:
1. One part vinegar
2. Two parts water
3. 1-2 drops of Dr. Bronner's unscented castile soap
4. 8-10 drops lemongrass essential oil on open floors and bathroom
5. 8-10 drops peppermint essential oil for around doorways and windows

*Walls: Go old vinegar and hot water works the best. We don't have small children in this house, so it's not a huge cause for elbow grease on the walls, but there are a few areas that take a bit more scrubbing; door frames, garage entrance, bathroom wall, kitchen wall, etc. For those, straight vinegar and a bit of baking soda gets it right off. I am planning on repainting a few areas that seem to have heavier traffic throughout the year, too.

*Furniture: I vacuum and scrub with water/vinegar mix for stains. We don't have a lot of furniture that has cloth on it, so that part is pretty simple. We do have a lot of wood furniture and a simple mixture of vinegar and water gets those looking like new. 

*Refrigerator/Washer/Dryer/Oven: I like to pull these out once a spring and clean well under, behind, and even inside of them. I pull everything out of the refrigerator, wash the shelves, sides, and top, as well as the freezer, with a water/vinegar mix. Throw away old, or expired foods and reorganize to suit our needs. When I pull the refrigerator out, I clean the drip pan, and vacuum the coils and underneath. I hand wipe the underside of the refrigerator with a water/vinegar mix and wipe down any areas that seem to accumulate dust or debris. I run the washer with a hot load and vinegar and soap inside the washer. I clean the water pipes, water shut off knobs and around the sides and top of the machine. For the dryer, I do the same, clean the sides, and top and wipe the inside out with a water/vinegar mix. With the oven, I pull it out the oven completely (unplugging it) and clean the underside of the oven and wipe down the floor entirely where it sits. I like to clean the walls around all of these machines, too.

*Light Fixtures/Door Knobs/Locks/Light Switches: These should be cleaned at least once a week, if not once a month, anyway. The light fixtures and ceiling fans maybe every six months, depending on where you live and how much dust your house accumulates. This house seems to be a dust trap, as well as a place spiders like to hang out, for some reason. I've read it has a lot to do with drafts and this house is definitely drafty, even at the best of times. I like to wipe and clean everything with a vinegar/water mix and hit the dusty areas with a wet rag at least once a month, but spring is a good time to start a routine and get that dust, dead bugs, and other unwanted items that seem to find their way into and onto our fixtures. 

*Seasonal Bedding: Wash it, fold it, and put it away in the closet. Since the seasons are changing there's no need to have heavy bedding on your bed. Also, washing your mattress cover during this time is a great routine to get into. I tend to wash ours once a week with the other bedding, but some people only wash their mattress cover every six months, or once a year. It's really up to your lifestyle and preference. I prefer a clean bed at least once a week. Vacuuming your mattress during this time is a great way to cut down on dust mites and allergies, too. Also, popping your pillows into the dryer on low cycle with some wool dryer balls with a few drops of your favorite essential oil, too, will help with allergies and dust mites, as well. 

*Garage: I like to take everything out, sort through things one-by-one and donate things we haven't used in year. A year is enough time to determine whether you're going to use something again. With the exception of items that you don't use on a regular basis, air pump, tarps, car jack, anti-freeze, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, etc. Those items are needed, but may not be used in a year's time, so hang onto them. But, sort them and keep them in an area for extended keep. If now say, you haven't used something in three years, it's probably time to let it go. Fire extinguishers and first aid items should be used, or replaced in that amount of time anyway. After everything is removed from the garage, a good spray of the floor, or a moping is needed (depending on your flooring) and cleaned of debris, car tire marks, paint spills, oils spills, etc. Once your floor is dry, start bringing items back in. Never leave items on the floor of your garage. If needed purchase shelving, or build shelving. Items on the floor tend to make the area look cluttered. Wall hooks and racks are great for items, as well, consider installing what suits your needs and keeps your garage floor tidy.

*Repainting: I like to stand outside at the front of my house with a notebook and walk through the entire house all the way to the backyard and write down anything that needs a good coat of paint. Front door entrance, vestibule, hallway, stairs, walls, kitchen, backdoor trim, garage walls, and even possibly the outside deck or porch area. Writing it down you won't forget what you saw and won't see it later and get frustrated that you forgot. All of this is a good way to start the season fresh and feel like your home is well taken care of. There are other items that get added to that list, as well. Items such as, a new piece of wood on the window where the air conditioner sits, trim replacement for a piece missing by the stairs, or even maybe a new lock on the gate. Writing them down and walking through gives you the same eye as a guest and what they could see when visiting. 

I get a lot of my cleaning tips from Clean Mama. She posts some great schedules on her social media pages and I love to check in with her newest posts just to keep myself on task with everyday chores, as well as monthly, and yearly tasks. Her site also has printables and other items you can purchase to keep you accountable to your cleaning tasks. She was a huge help during our minimalism challenges on what to bring into the home and what to get rid of. It was nice to know that I wasn't alone in this desire to make my home more to our needs and wants, and keep it clean at the same time. 

I follow this rough draft of chores, but with a few additional things added that fit our lifestyle. I'm a Virgo and as a Virgo, "Cleanliness is instinctual for Virgos, so they will obsess about an item out of place or a surface stain until it's been properly taken care of." Remember, we are not looking for perfection. 

What constitutes a small space?

I recently picked up this magazine.

Not really big on bringing unnecessary paper waste into our home, but I figured I would be using this magazine for awhile and gaining some sort of grounding into a future home. Well, needless to say, this magazine ended up in the recycle after a few short days of thumbing through the pages.

No home in this magazine rang true for a small, downsized, or even tiny home to me. I'm not sure where these homeowners lived before "downsizing," but there is one in the magazine that's over 3,000 square feet. That's twice the size of the home we currently live, which sits at a little more than 1,000 square feet and we're always saying that it's too much space for us.

The above photo is reposted from Truilia.com

The Mr. and I recently looked at a cabin in Philomath, Oregon, that sat at 400 square feet. The little cabin had such a great history, but the problem with it was the fact that it was used as a hunting cabin in the 1800s and didn't have any sort of insulation. We figured if we purchased the cabin and added insulation that it would take away from the square footage. If the cabin had been insulated already and stood at 400 square feet we would have purchased it.

After looking at the cabin and getting a tour of the inside we realized that we need wanted more space for our lifestyle. We figure about 600 square feet, or even 800. According to the Downsize magazine, the home we live in currently is considered a small home. I'm not sure where the size for small homes got misconstrued, but it seems like houses are getting bigger and bigger and people are filling them up with more and more things. Things they don't need, or really want in the long run.

The photo above is from Downsize magazine

My parents built a three-story home over 30 years ago with a basement, main floor, and third floor. There is also an area we called, "cubbyholes." These cubbyholes were tiny rooms connecting the bedrooms with a small crawlspace. Both upstairs bedrooms had two cubbyhole rooms. It's sort of like a hidden, secret passage. All of my friends thought they were the coolest thing and we would use them sort of like indoor forts. The cubbyholes now house most of our childhood memories. My parents built a house that accommodated their growing family.  As I was growing up I never thought of my parent's house as a big home. My childhood home was just that, our home. When my sister, my brother, and I moved out and left the nest, my parents built onto their home a two-car garage with a loft bedroom above it. My parent's home is beautiful and it will always be my childhood refuge, but speaking of space, it's just the two of them now. It's a lot of space for two people.

The photo above is from Downsize magazine

When The Mr. and I decided to minimize and downsize our possessions there was one constant in the wake of letting go of things we had purchased-It was the fact that we would never go back to how we lived before. We have looked and scoured over pages of books and magazines, and clicked through websites on the internet to gain a perspective of what we actually need compared to what we want. We all know the basic needs for living: Food, water, shelter, and clothing. It's weird to me that clothing would be on the list of basic needs. If you think about it, technically, we don't "need" clothing. If you lived in the forest with no surrounding people we could technically live naked. I mean, there are shows based on being naked in the forest. But anyway, our basic needs of food, water, shelter, and  clothing have subcategories. Food would include, food we've grown and groceries we buy. Water would include, the actual water supply to our shelter, or delivery/purchase of water. Our shelter would include, electricity, gas, heat, shingles, inspection costs, material to build shelter, etc.-You get the point. Clothing would include, things we wear daily, warm coats in the winter, shoes, etc. Let's also throw in hygiene products so that we can take proper care of our body-Toothbrush, hairbrush, soaps, oils, etc. Now with the basic needs listed everything else is a want, or so we should begin to think of it as a want.

If you begin to think everything is either a "basic need" versus "basic want" you see how much you can truly live without. The problem with this thought process is, most people have lived so long in the "want" category that they can't see the "needs" anymore. And that's where minimal living comes. It's just a matter of changing the thought process and practicing it.

Telling my sister that we were minimizing our belongings and she replied with, "I could never do that. I have too much crap." It shocked me to hear her say this. I wanted to correct her, but I remembered that it took us years to get where we are now. But the process to getting here was hard at first. It is easier now, but we have to practice this process every day. If you start letting go of small things once a week it becomes and easier process over time. We had the thought process of  "10 more things" every week and we started to realizing how liberating the process really was. It felt good. Not only were we changing our lifestyle, but we were also donating a lot of good, usable items, that other people would actually want. We will always be buying something: Food, clothing, gifts, etc., so it's not a complete stopping of purchases, it's a reorganizing of those purchases. We are not done in our minimizing, but we are in a place where we feel comfortable with what we have and there is nothing in our home now that doesn't deserved a place. Each week is still the process of, "10 more things."

If you need tips on getting started in this process check out my minimizing tips here.

Minimal Monday: Media

With the news today of yet another school shooting, we can't help but wish we could block out so much media coverage of such a horrific event. Media, including social media, seems to force us to watch things we wouldn't otherwise watch, or listen to on a regular basis. Negativity seems to be thrust into our faces every day and the way they bring it across makes us not want to look away, but we must. In order to properly process this, we must have moments within our own minds to process negativity that happens in our world.

With the word "media" what exactly comes into your mind? Media of news outlets? Social media? Or how about newspapers... Whatever your definition is to the word "media" one thing is for sure, the world seems to be obsessed with it completely.

Everyone goes through their bouts of social media presence, and the SNS household has a pretty active online presence, but when does it become an obsession, a habit, or even an addiction. The problem with social media is that it's so easy to get lost in and Facebook is one of the biggest leaders in keeping people active and obsessed with this trend. There is currently 1.86 billion people logging onto Facebook daily. And not to mention, 1.15 billion people that log onto Facebook every day through some sort of mobile device.(source) It's no wonder with those numbers that our world is so connected to everything that happens around the earth. On one aspect it's easy to argue that it is a great way that keeps us all connected, but there is one thing that a lot of those people are missing completely, and that's the fact that it does keep us ALL connected. Seems to be confusing, but let me explain. A lot of things seen on social media, media outlets, or even on your "friends' posts" may not be how it actually is. A lot of things on social media have been exaggerated to either get people angry, upset, or try to touch some sort of emotional response from the viewer. Facebook is also a place where most people have taken to in order to gain attention, brag, or even stay connected with people that they aren't really "friends" with at all. Think stalking, harassing, or just plain being nosy.

But with all of that negativity toward social media there is a solution. The solution is to not let it control your life that way. Some of the best solutions to limit your time on social media, viewing media on your television, or even hearing it on the radio is to actually limit your exposure to it all. You are the only person that can control those aspects of your life online. Here's how.

• Unfollow and unfriend: Unfollow pages, people, Facebook accounts, Twitter accounts, etc. that don't really interest you. There is no shame in unfollowing companies that don't fully have your backing on whatever they stand for. Unfriend people you aren't really friends with. There is no shame in not being "friends" with someone you don't know and that doesn't know you. And don't add people that you don't want knowing your personal life. Facebook has an option to unfollow someone if you don't want to remove them as a friend, but don't want to see their posts. Side note: If you don't get along with someone in your real life, you probably won't get along with them online either, so keep that in mind. Even 150 friends seems like a lot to me, but you be the judge of your own online friends. The term "friends" has gone way off course in regards to our online status. Read more ways to minimize your online presence through social media.

 • Stop the notifications: Just turn them off completely. You don't need an email, a text message, or even a call when every thing happens with your online presence. Some apps of social media and news media outlets have the option to send you a notification with every-little-thing that takes place and if you have this setup on your phone or computer, get rid of it. The best way to minimize your media exposure it to not get those notifications in the first place.

• Limit television/radio time: Watching television is above all a great time killer. Movies on demand, smart televisions, it's news at our fingertips. The problem with this is the hours and hours of television that seem to overtake our lives. What brings more enrichment to your life, watching television for two hours or spending time outside for two hours? I think we all know the answer. It all comes down to one thing, acting on that knowledge. The best tip is to limit this time and only watch programs that enrich our lives. This doesn't mean completely cut out movies, or news, but be mindful of the programs that grace our eyes and our ears. This goes for newspapers and publications too.

• Lastly, don't forget other items that can cause issues with time. These include Pinterest, online gaming, blogging, Skype, Facetime, eReaders, and even cell phones. We all have the ability to minimize these in our life. The only thing that needs to happen is actually following through with it and set times that you use them. Cutting notifications and time spent on these is a great step in minimizing our time spent with them. Keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with using these sites, devices, or programs, but make sure you are doing it in a healthy way. We all know when we have reached that moment of "too much," just make sure you know your limit.

Minimization is more than just about minimizing stuff, it also has to do with all aspects of your life as a whole. Don't allow other things, or other distraction take away your daily goals in life. Unplug when needed and stay focused on what's important in our lives. You have the right to control your own way of living, so do it!

Best of luck to you and keep on creating a life of less.


Minimal Monday: Donating

Man, the feeling of being able to get rid of something and have the thought that it is going to be used by someone else is a great feeling, isn't it? It always makes me smile when I see something I have donated go to good use, or at least, being told it will go to good use. Recently, The Mr. and I loaded up our car roof with two full-sized mattresses that we no longer need, or use, and trucked them over to the St. Vincent de Paul in Albany, Oregon. Funny story real quick, as we were driving it started raining on us and we had to stop halfway there and shove them into the back of the car. The Bean was smashed in the backseat-thank goodness he is skinny and flexible-and The Mr. and I were riding with the back of the mattress pushing us so far into the dash. Back to the donating. We arrived at St. Vincent De Paul and it cost us $20 ($10 per mattress) to donate them. The best part about this donation though, was the fact that they either clean them up to resell right in their own store, or send them to a company in Eugene, Oregon, that will refurbish them and put them up for sale. It's a win for everyone involved, and especially for us because we actually donated them. It gives us peace of mind to know that they aren't just sent to a landfill.

Along with donating to the local charity here, we also recently donated our second vehicle to the Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB-PBS). If you follow me on Instagram you saw my-otherwise sad-goodbye to our beloved Chevrolet Blazer the day it was picked up. Speed's Towing was really understanding and let us take a lot of time letting go. It's weird how we get so many emotions involved in something that doesn't even have feelings for us. I think it was more the memories of The Bean growing up-literally-in this car. Now we have the Compass that he is getting used to, but overall, the memories of him at the age of three sitting next to a Christmas tree that The Mr. chopped down, can't be beat! The great part about the donation is the fact that we get a tax write off once the vehicle sells at auction. It's one more step in becoming more minimal and it was sad to see her leave, but we have really been moving things along here with getting rid of things. It feels great.

We have really been on an upward journey here in in the SNS house in getting to where we want to be with our minimal lifestyle. The annoying thing is, as we have probably donated over $20,000 worth of stuff (seriously!) we still feel like we are swimming in stuff. I hope that there will be an end to our beginning, but right now, we are hopeful that the things we are parting with will help us be able to part with even more over time. Nothing that we have donated so far is missed. It's weird how we feel we need these things and in the end, we just don't. I think it's more of a mental thing that you have to break within yourself. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel here in our home, we just have to keep donating, and getting rid of things. 

We do hope some of our tips during the Minimal Monday has helped you. The best tips we can give for the donating is to make sure and donate to reputable places. St. Vincent de Paul is one of the few donation centers that take used-in good shape-mattresses. Clothing and shoes bins placed throughout our city get a lot of our clothing, and our local food pantry gets some of our old winter clothing and gear. As far as donating to a place that will actually resell your items, it's tricky. Here where we live there is a place called Pay it Forward. We donate a lot of our items to them and we have seen our items on the shelves of the Pay it Forward, so we know they are a reputable company and won't just throw our items in the bin. There's many other places-no matter where you live-that will do just the same. It takes time to put trust into a place and the best thing to do is to ask them. Unfortunately, some donation centers say they are doing good, but will end up tossing a lot of good items into the landfill. Goodwill is one of these companies, so keep that in mind. 
Best of luck to you and keep on creating a life of less.

Minimal Monday: Waste-free

The ultimate question always lingers with someone wanting to go minimal with their living habits, can you be a minimalist and also go waste-free? The minimal habits of not bringing more into your house than you need, can also be applied to going waste-free as well. It's all a matter of changing your habits to be more with conscious about what you're buying and saying no to excessive packaging.

We went down to a smaller trashcan where we live in an order to help reduce our wasteful habits. It's amazing how many items you buy at the store come in so much over-packaging. You buy a box that contains a package of smaller individually-wrapped packages. Why? Even before we started being minimalist in the SNS household, we noticed how much over-packaging certain products come in. And the harsh reality is that most of the over-packaging of products can't be recycled.

It's been a change in getting used to recycling most everything we bring out of our home. Our recycle bin is a lot larger than a normal trashcan, but I enjoy seeing the recycle bin filled to the top with only a small amount in the regular trashcan. When we first moved into the home that we live in now, even though it's a rental, we cleaned up a lot of trash and debris in the yard. There was even a rather large pile of asbestos shingles that had to be disposed of as hazardous waste, and a buried chicken wire fence that took months to dig up completely and dispose of properly. Being in a rental house, those items were not our waste, but we are so glad we disposed of things and have a yard that beams with charm and is environmentally sound. Now our yard contains only items that are either recyclable, or will move with us eventually; e.g. Terra cotta pots, gazebo, tomato cages. But it took time to clean it up in an environmentally-friendly way and it wasn't easy. Everything that left the yard, at that time, was considered waste. Some hazardous waste. Of course, that was 10 years ago and our focus has changed completely when it comes to waste going out of our home, but thinking back on how we were then compared to now, and I am so happy with how far we've come with being accountable for what we throw away in waste.

Being a minimal household the one thing that we have to always keep in mind, bringing items/food packages/beauty products/etc. into the home, will always need to be taken out of the home one it's used up. Bulk buying may cost a bit in the start, but overall, if you are going waste-free and minimal, it really is the best approach. We made the initial purchase of our shampoo at the local co-op and go back and refill the same bottle once it's empty. In turn, no waste. We do the same with our flour, sugar, brown sugar, rolled oats, chocolate/candy jar, and our dog and cat food containers. The only waste we try to bring into our home is products that have been made from recycled material and can be recycled once again. We still have some work to go with our own ways, but one thing we have completely eliminated, and I can say we are 100% on this, is getting rid of plastic containers. Storage container, plastic packaging, hard plastics, etc. It took us about a year to completely get rid of these, but the overall satisfaction of it now, it seemed well worth the effort. And just for the record, I feel the same way about silicone too. Even though plastics and silicone can be recycled, I don't feel it suits out waste-free lifestyle at the moment. There are no know health risks with silicone, yet, but the long term of silicone use worries me. We prefer glass, glass container, and reusable glass canisters for our bulk items. But then again, most of these tips fall under the minimal living category too.

Here are some tips on how we are going waste-free in our home:

• Get rid of the waste at the source. Go through cabinets and get rid of anything that isn't biodegradable and either donate them, or take them to a facility that will dispose of them correctly.

• Refuse to receive your takeout in plastic/Styrofoam containers. And the best way to avoid this, don't get take out. If you are at a restaurant, bring your own container to take your food home in.

• Avoid water bottles, cans, and glass drink containers that can't be recycled. (juice, gatorade-shouldn't drink these anyway-the sugar content is rather high)

• Don't purchase plastic. Meaning, don't purchase plastic utensils, plates, or bowls. Glass is best, even on a picnic, glass is great! You can wash and reuse glass over and over again. And absolutely refuse plastic bags at the grocery store, no matter how much the cashier pushes that they recycle them. Use your own reusable shopping bags or baskets. Join "Plastic Free July" this summer too!

• Avoid purchasing products that over-package their products. If your favorite item has over-packaging and you feel that you can't live without it, write the company about your concerns. Let them know how much you love their product, but wish they would find a more environmentally-friendly way of packaging. Most companies will listen. And do yourself and everyone else a favor and stay away from big-boxed-stores. Buying in bulk that way isn't going waste-free at all.

• Cut back on paper waste inside your home. Printing, toilet paper, get rid of paper towel usage completely, baby wipes, and other paper goods. Look for these same products in a recyclable option. Most local co-ops, and some specialty grocery stores carry better options that can help you go waste-free.

• Don't waste food. Get the right amount for your hunger at the time and use portion control. The biggest part of the obesity crisis is the fact that people overeat for whatever reason. Self control with portions is the biggest step and teach your kids proper portion control. (hint: start a garden and grow your own food portions; more on this later)

These are just a few ways to help get your started, but keep in mind that going waste-free shouldn't just be limited to product waste, or container waste. Going waste-free means not wasting water, electricity, natural gas, clothing, or even time.

1. Wash your clothes with the right amount of water for each load. Small loads, smaller water, etc.

2. Shut lights out, turn electronics off when not using, and most of all, don't charge phones, or other items overnight. Turn your computer off when not in use and unplug your microwave, TV, etc when you are using them.

3. Don't run your heater constantly. Grabbing a warm sweater or blanket can also help keep you warm, and in the winter, wear socks!

4.  Biggest household waste of all, clothing. Mend clothing when it's torn, and donate ones that are still in good shape so someone else can get use out them. To avoid clothing breaking down in the first place, buy quality clothing. There is the good and bad of clothing and the badly-made ones may save you money at first, but in the long run, you're going to be paying more. Spending money on good-quality made clothing will be the one thing that will help you cut down on clothing waste.

5. Lastly, don't waste your time on things that don't matter. It seems a far-fetch to add this to a waste-free post, but the one thing a lot of people wish they had more of is time. Don't waste yours on things that you can't control, and people you can't fix. Fix yourself and live a life you can be proud of each and every day!


Minimal Monday: Storage

We live in such a weird society. It's been this way for awhile and we are the reason it has become so overwhelmingly habitual. You drive past houses and see it. You go on trips and see it. You even know someone that's doing it right now. Worst part about it is, people pay hundreds of dollars for it a month without batting an eye. What is it? Storage.

From self-storage to mini storage, we either have it, or know people that do, and for what? Hanging onto items that we don't use is a growing epidemic. In the United States alone, the self storage industry is one of the fastest growing sects of the commercial real estate market over the last 35 years, with annual gross revenues of 22.45 billion dollars. The self storage industry is considered to be “recession resistant” by many Wall Street analysts since one out of every 10 homes currently rents a storage unit, there are about. 2.3 billion sq. feet of rental space, which is roughly three times that of Manhattan island. To put it another way, there is 7.3 sq. feet of self storage space available for every person (man, women, and child) in the nation. Operators of self storage facilities report occupancy levels to be at 90%. (source) And if you're a storage facility owner that means huge bank on people's obsession to "hold on."

With those numbers it's no wonder hoarding, hanging onto, and emotional attachment are an issue. People seem to feel possessions are something that have "feelings" and with that they need to hold onto them for whatever reason that has been created in the mind. Emotional attachment to items is something that everyone has felt and knows what I'm talking about. The movie tickets from a special date, the dinner napkin from a night out, or how about your high school yearbooks, or even baby items (the baby is 16 now). There's always a reason we give ourselves to hold onto something. But that's just it, holding onto "something" isn't the issue. It's holding onto hundreds of "somethings" that's causing the issue.

In the town we live in there is a little over 15k in population and the town currently holds four separately-owned storage facilities. In the SNS household we used storage when we first moved to Oregon and we had items in our storage that we didn't even remember packing when we moved. We moved everything into the rental home we were in and then turned right back around and packed up the nonessential and stored them. We were paying for end-of-service bills from Arkansas, current bills in Oregon, as well as a storage facility bill each month. We were on such a tight budget at the time I have no idea how we made it. The storage facility bill was $75 a month and we had it for about three years. If you think $75 isn't much, think again. *gulp* To make this story even worse is the fact that after those three years, we ended up selling everything in the storage building in a yard sale and only making back $200.

So in order to not repeat what we did and end up losing money completely on a service that is really unneeded, the best way to do it is to not do it. Don't store items you don't even use. If it has a value, sell it. If it can be used, donate it. If it has no value, recycle it/discard it. Don't pay for someone else's retirement, life, or vacations through a storage facility. Storage unit owners make a lot of money off of people that put emotional attachment on things.

Here is the best advice I can give you on getting rid of your storage unit:

• Conquer it immediately. Use whatever time you have off and get it done. Make a time frame of two weekends in a row, or three, or even four if needed. Allot that time to just sort things out.

• Use the storage building.  Pull items/boxes out one-by-one and sort right there on sight. You've rented the space, use it. Sort into piles of what is important and what isn't. Get rid of the "not important" pile immediately. Then deal with the "important" pile.

• Sort immediately. Sort the remaining pile into smaller piles and be strict about it. Sort into piles of "Keep," "Donate," "Gifts," etc.

• Just let it go. Get rid of the donate pile immediately. If you get rid of these piles immediately then you aren't prone to hanging onto them longer.

•Finish it up and close it out. Give gifts to the person right away, and the "Keep" pile should only contain items that are of everyday importance, or add value to your life in some way. Everyone's "Keep" pile will contain different items, but make sure everything has some sort of value and earns its place in your home. Make one last sort of the "Keep" pile and see if you can't part with a few more things in the end.

Once you have sorting everything and the only pile left is the "Keep" pile, your storage unit should be empty. Cancel that lease and say goodbye. It may seem easier said than done, but keep in mind it was a chore to fill that unit up in the first place, so it will take time and effort to empty it, but you can do it! It took us about two straight weekends to empty ours and during the time we were cleaning it out, we were selling items of value in our yard sale. It was a task, but I am so glad we did it. Keep in mind that these same principles can be applied to any other place you are storing items-basement, attic, garage, etc.

Be practical, think practical, and live practical.

Minimal Monday: Clothing

We've been on quite a mission here in the SNS house. Downsizing clothes is something of a task really, especially when clothing is something of a need over a want. But the difference is controlling what wants we think we need and actually keeping our clothing to minimum. And it is easier than it seems.

Some minimalist stick to the 333 Rule, or the 30 for 30 (30 x 30), but others might stick to a stricter regimen of clothing rules and only keep maybe 20-30 items. Those items would include; shoes, belts, and other accessories that are needed to get through your weeks. For example, having three black dresses may seem practical, but when you're only wearing one and the other two just sit in your closet, the practicality of it all seems redundant.

We have adopted the backward hanger approach, after downsizing a lot. The Mr. has even been able to let go if his hockey jersey collection in the process-a total of seven jerseys. His loose plan for them was to wear them to hockey games, or hang onto them for memories of hockey games he had been at in the past. The problem was, we haven't been to a hockey game in over eight years, and his memories of the games are just that, memories and a few pictures in the photo box. So letting go of them was the best plan. -Which is a big deal-really. The Mr. and I both never push each other to let go of things that the other feels shouldn't be held onto. We give each other ample time to let go of our "precious" things in our own time. It does come, it just take a bit longer to let go of some things. I feel the key to minimizing with a family is to not push the other. The Bean's baby items were something I've held onto for 13 years now, but in the long run, I have cut back from two large totes to a small bag of little things that I just can't let go of. The Mr. has a few things that he is holding onto and we are both okay with that.

Letting go of the little things has been bit of a struggle and we really do have a ways to go still in our house. Clothing-which includes, for us, shirts, pants, socks, undies, shoes, pajamas, ties, etc., have all been downsized over the course of the last year, and organized to who needs what and why. If an article of clothing hasn't been given reason for keeping, out it goes. We donate what we can't use or make a reason to keep it in our home.

Here's a breakdown of what we have done so far. This may work for you, or the other plans may be something you could use to help you break down your clothing. FYI: This plan works for kids and teenagers too. Teaching them what's important is what's important.

• Shirts: Two for dress     Five for t-shirts/other
• Pants:  Two for dress     Three for other (jeans, etc.)
• Socks:  Five for regular wear     Two for boot/warmth/wool
• Undies:  Eight total     (sometimes this slips up to 10, but no more than that)
• Shoes:  Five total     (still working on pairing down, but it's a work in progress)
• Pajamas: Two total
• Ties: Two total (The Mr. let go of all of his ties, but The Bean still has two)

If you were keeping count, the total here is 36. I feel we could do a bit better, but for now this is what works for us.

One more thing, we don't store or separate warm and cold weather clothing in our house. We hang, or fold all of them together. and that's the total number of all of our clothing for all seasons.

Hopefully, these tips can help you gain some control of your clothing during your minimizing process. The best advice we can give from the SNS house is to not give into consumerism and buy things you don't need, you don't really want, and stop trying to impress other people with your clothing. It will always leave you feeling like you and nothing you wear is enough. Be practical, think practical, and live practical.