Simple Plan: Part 3 Make It Work.

Make-it-Work

I’m one who has too many clothes but nothing to wear.

I’m a Mommy who tends to put on the same “fall back outfits” again and again.

I’m a wife married to a husband who owns a gazillion t-shirts but wears a suit every day and a pajama uniform on the weekends.

We are clothing hoarders.

I admitted to this a year ago when we began evaluating our belongings for our move back north. Admitting our guilt I went through all my clothes evaluating each piece. The rules: If I hadn’t worn it in a year I needed to get rid of it. Dressy clothes and shoes were the exception since those are reserved for nights out and vacations. What was in great condition was put aside to sell, what was in okay condition was put into a donation pile. I was able to make $100 through local garage sale Facebook sites for the clothing and it was off my hands.

Fast forward almost four months later and I was unpacking my clothes to fit into a new smaller closet. Again, I followed the year rule and purged. Sale items were put aside and donation items taken to Goodwill. In August I attacked the kids fall/winter clothes, purging, donating and selling close to $800 at a children’s consignment sale. Four months later it was the end of November and the idea of 2015 being The Year of Simplicity taking hold, I attacked my closet again selling $55 worth to Plato’s Closet and donating the rest to a charity program through our church.

With The Year of Simplicity in full swing this week, Erik was forced to part with t-shirts and sweatshirts that the majority of dated back fifteen years. I ransacked the closets of my small minions of fury, separating items to be donated and to be sold in the spring consignment sale for kiddos. Finally this morning I went through my closet again, this time following a new rule: Would I buy this today if I was standing in a store?? If the answer was NO it was taken out of the closet and put either in a selling or donation box. I then separated my closet into short sleeves/tanks, cardigans/button ups, long sleeve, dressy, pants and workout clothing/t-shirts. (*Take note that all my summer clothes are in storage bins, the clothing I’m referring to is fall/winter). I’m hoping the separation will create a better way of putting together outfits.

Everyone just stocked up on new undershirts, underwear and socks so I went through all undergarments and parted with the old including tattered sports bras, faded toddler undies and boxers that have seen better days.

Rules to avoid clothing excess:

1. No clothing purchases for six months (with the exception of a pair of black pants that I am seeking). I vow to force myself to wear every item in my closet, using Pinterest to inspire outfits. After wearing an outfit, if I love it I’ll keep it but if it doesn’t fit well or makes me uncomfortable then it goes into a box to be sold or donated. Come the end of the six months I’ll sell and donate what is in the boxes and reevaluate my clothing in time for my birthday in July.

2. From my evaluation of the kid’s clothing they are set until the end of summer when school clothing will be bought and wardrobes reevaluated. The only exception for new clothing: birthdays and special occasions (i.e. Easter).

3.  As for Erik, he will also be forced to wear t-shirts and outfits found in his closet replacing his usual go to items. Same rules will follow for the man of the house and all will be purged that doesn’t fit the qualifications for keeping an item.

Though only three rules to follow I think this category will be the hardest of eliminating excess for me. Hopefully all the Project Runway I have watched for the last fifteen years will prove beneficial. I’ll just keep repeating, “Make it work” for the next six months.

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Simplicity Plan: Part 2, Get in my belly.

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The food we eat: I’m going into this category thinking simple and clean without excess.

Simple meaning basic, nothing with a ton of ingredients or too time consuming in the area of preparation. This means eating more raw foods and pulling out the cookbooks from times before microwaves. I hope this simplicity translates into getting everyone into the kitchen to help. My thought process is that the simpler the recipe the easier for everyone to partake in prep and less time mommy is overwhelmed with making meals.

Clean meaning eating foods that are not processed but rather fresh and natural. Think simple foods such as fruits, veggies, grains, meats and cheeses and replacing packaged foods with homemade versions, from salad dressing to energy bars  and everything in between. Getting back to the basics when meals and snacks didn’t come from a box.   This shouldn’t be too hard since I make 90% of our meals at home. Another helpful factor, I completed my first whole 30 in March of 2014 and have been eating Paleo since. Having converted to this lifestyle it makes it easier for me to meal plan and shop with a clean eating frame of mind. The main underlying purpose of this clean eating is to get my entire family eating a more nutritious menu that offers a wide range of vitamins. Since, like I have said before, this isn’t about deprivation so treats will be given but in moderation. I also know that my kids love cereals, breads and crackers but as long as I’m checking ingredients and making sure there are less than five or making them from scratch these choices are just fine.

The “without excess” piece means using what we have on hand and not buying more food which begins to create excess. I’m guilty of finding a new recipe or a good deal on foods which leads me to forgetting about what I already have on hand or buying too much of an item and stockpiling excess.  For the first weeks of January we are using up all the foods we presently have in our refrigerator and pantries. Then the simple, clean and without excess shopping begins. A menu plan will be devised through reviewing what we have on hand first and then planning for a full seven days in order to avoid random trips to the store during the week. Then a grocery list created into four categories (with examples of):

1. Dairy/Deli – eggs, milk, butter, cheese

2. Produce- fruit and veggies

3. Pantry – olive oil, canned goods, bread, oatmeal

4. Meat/Frozen Section – Pork, ground turkey, frozen veggies

I do most of our grocery shopping at Aldi and Target.  Aldi has amazing prices and carries great produce as well as gluten free, organic and “grass-fed” products. The other factor that I love about Aldi is that I can make it in and out of there in 30 minutes. There aren’t a million brands of bacon, mustard or other items, there’s just 1-3 options which makes grabbing, reading ingredients and choosing so much faster and easier. Due to Aldi’s limited merchandise I am not tempted by random products, clothing or kids toys to buy – meaning NO EXCESS purchases. Target is great for the items I can’t find at Aldi. I have a Redcard that saves me 5% on all my purchases plus when creating my grocery list I can search their store coupons at the Target website to see if any match my needed products, in addition I also use the Cartwheel app through Target which can save me anywhere from 5% to 50% on a single item. The only bad thing is Target is FULL of excess temptations.

I know I’ll face epic meltdowns when the fruit snacks are no longer available to my kiddos, my husband no longer has cookies for after dinner and I have to put more thought into dinner after a long day, but it’s something we’ve agreed on.

Below are some links to helpful sites for cleaning eating tips, simple recipes and without excess frame of mind.

Family Menu Example 

Cut Out Processed Food in 14 weeks

Living On A Dime

Whole30

Fresh Produce on a Budget

If you feel like you need some professional help or would like to partake in your own Whole30, get in touch with Becky Wagnon through her website, Facebook or her Whole30 Facebook community. Becky has helped me on my journey, is a supporter and has amazing knowledge and tips to get you started as well as your family on a clean path.

 

Simple Plan: Part 1

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The feedback about the Year of Simplicity is an inspiring one. It turns out that there are a lot of other crazy ass mommies and daddies besides myself and Erik ready for the simple life too. For those apprehensive about making the leap, just remember that this isn’t about deprivation it’s about all the excess that comes after our needs are met. It’s not about leaving ourselves yearning it’s about becoming more fulfilled through our relationships with others and our inner selves. Stuff is just stuff.

I figured dividing our action plan into a number of different posts would be best for me and for readers. After the final post of the action plan I’ll share some pictures to document the simple household that we are now striving for.

On today’s list: Purchases, Stuff and Toys.

Purchases: If we have all this crap how do we stop acquiring more of it? Simple … stop buying it.  All the stuff we have is in great shape, there’s nothing we are in need of. We have clothes on our backs, a roof over our heads, food in our bellies and a loving household. There’s been so many times and things that while out and about we have mindlessly bought. A sale here, a deal here, a coupon redeemed or an opportunity to stockpile, it all adds up. Erik and I are guilty of just buying because of the money we believe we are saving. We are also guilty of purchasing toys and more stuff for our kids randomly and aimlessly.  Eventually all this stuff becomes forgotten. Rather what isn’t forgotten are the experiences and bonding our family comes to encounter through interacting with one another and not through the stuff we acquire. Moving forward we are looking at each purchase in regards to how it will benefit our family or individually and not on how much money we’ll save by the deal we think we are getting.

Stuff: So much stuff.

I’ve made my way through every closet and room.

The laundry room is now a laundry room holding only cleaning products.

Counters have been wiped clean and decorative pieces minimized. Kitchen cabinets and drawers have been purged of any items that are no use to our family and donated to Goodwill. We were this couple that constantly bought all these gadgets to cook with. After taking a cooking class this summer we found the only items we really need are a pair of tongs, a peeler, a sharp knife and a good spatula. Goodbye to garlic smashers, veggie dicers and meat slicers. The insane amount of Tupperware, pots and pans we own is just that, insane. Also purged and donated. How many coffee mugs does a household need where only one of the five humans living within drinks coffee? According to our count, over 20. Needless to say some of these mugs will be finding a new home.

Linen closets full of sheets, towels and blankets. I figure we have three beds so we need one pair of sheets on each bed and one for changing purposes. Right now the twins are in cribs, I’m not sure what bed size they will have in the future, but more than likely it will be full size so I’ve kept the full sets and donated the rest. We have about two thousand bath towels and wash cloths, these too were purged and donated, I mean does one family really need 17 baby wash cloths??? I think not.

I took a look around the house, I mean I really TOOK IN the view. I took in every knickknack, picture frame, decoration and child craft made and decided what needed to go and what made sense to stay. What needed to go went and what made sense to stay was cleaned and placed in a thoughtful spot.

I’m not sure if I thought at some point I was going to be opening my own drugstore/beauty counter out of my home but the amount of makeup and beauty products I found stashed away in my bathroom was revolting. It was purged and thrown out. What was old, a bad color or poor quality was pitched. What was new and higher quality was kept and organized into drawers and containers. In the year 2015 I refuse to buy any product that I can just derive from coconut oil. If any of you need some tips on my favorite beauty go to here’s a link to an article that I had published on my beloved coconut oil. Medicines, vitamins and essential oils were also checked  for dates and quality then purged and thrown out.

Toys: So far I’ve managed to sort through it ALL prior to Christmas donating a large amount to our church and boxing up the rest to be sold during the twins children consignment spring sale. I’ve also stored some away in order to change it up once in a while as the twins get older. I’ve organized it all into different sized containers and cubby holes.

We’ve also been working on the “put one toy away before dragging another out” with the kids to keep the chaos to a minimum. We have also decided to limit any toy purchases to holidays and birthdays to keep the number down and to make current and future toys “special.”

Many toys have also been replaced with a new focus on our craft cabinet filled with everything under the sun in order to execute an idea thought up by the small mind. The craft cabinet is made up of crayons, markers, paints, stickers, glue, glitter, play-doh, cookie cutters, paper, old cereal boxes and paper towel rolls, felt, scissors, coloring books, chalk, puffy paint, noodles, food coloring, pom poms, old fabric/shirts and pipe cleaner.  Another toy replacement is the library corner where there are books of our own stored and where the kids keep the books they pick out on our weekly library trips. I still read books I can hold in my hands and I believe my kids should too. There’s nothing like having a little one sit in your lap as you read them a story and they turn the pages with their little fingers. It creates a bond and fattens the imagination.

After learning our lesson of 4 years of birthday parties we have come to the conclusion that birthday parties past the age of one can be budget and energy depleting. The sheer cost of finding a venue to facilitate the celebration and hold a number of little energy bursting bodies is a small fortune. Then there is all the toys and stuff your kids receive through the kind act of gift giving. We’ve decided that birthdays will be better spent experiencing things, like a day trip to the city with special visits to museums, favorite restaurants or exciting attractions. I’ve read over and over that from the time we are young we remember and benefit the most from the interactions and relationships we experience with others and not the toys that we receive. The money saved??? Throw it into a college fund, your little ones will be more grateful for that than the latest Paw Patrol toy.

That’s today’s simple learning lesson. Hopefully it sparked a fire under your ass to get moving in the direction of simple.

Look for future “2015 Year of Simplicity” posts relaying more of our action plan. Subjects will include Time, Technology, Clothes, Spending, Food and Self.

2015, Year of Simplicity … going rogue.

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Basically the goal for the Halperin family is living simply in 2015.

The idea for 2015 came from my recent read of We Have Met the Enemy. To sum up the book, it’s about how we are living in a culture of excess of everything. Excess of spending, eating, sex, technology, drinking, tattooing, sleeping, gambling and so on. Everything that we should be doing in moderation is now offered to us 24 hours a day with literally the push of a button. In the past we, as a society, were able to count to ten between our impulse of desire and actually being able to act on it. Today our self-control isn’t allowed that ten, rather we are offered everything in the blink of an eye from processed fast food to a cashmere sweater to a hooker. We are now a society brimming with excess and suffering because of it.

I began to look around the house and it was true, we were living in excess. Too many toys, too many clothes, a pantry full of food waiting to be used, bookshelves adorned with unread books, closets busting at the seams with old sheets and forgotten outerwear. Kitchen cabinets and drawers fattened with cookware and gadgets that were used once and then forgotten. A dusty crawl space full of decorations, melted candles and misfit stuffed animals.

The Halperins are also guilty of being bit by the ever blood hungry and growing tech bug. Every hour of our days was touched with technology. Televisions, Smartphones, tablets and computers – always connected and never unplugged. These things rapeing us of our time and focus. I’m pretty sure at the end of our lives no one will be saying “Gee, I’m glad I reached the end of my Inbox” or “My greatest accomplishment was that Candy Crush level” or “My Facebook friends are what have mattered most.”

What if we got back to the basics, stripping our house and lives of the excess? Removing the focus on the stuff in our lives and start focusing on one another and the relationships that hold meaning instead. Relationships with our own persons, one another, family members and friends. Expanding our minds and experiences past the little black screen held in the palm of our hand and offered at the drive-thru window.

For the last month I’ve been entering the phrase “2015 the year of Simplicity” throughout daily conversations in our home. My frame of mind a little different this year as I wrapped packages and decorated our home. With Christmas celebrated and the new year on the horizon, the opportunity arose for Erik and I to tackle a plan of simplicity, together, for 2015. We devised an action plan and some goals to go along with the Year of Simplicity. A plan of attack that addressed things not only found in our closets and what we were pulling our wallets out to buy but also what was taking up the minutes of our lives and filling our bellies.

As a symbol of our year of Simplicity is the red candle you see pictured above. This candle was stashed away in our basement forgotten about. Erik bought it on clearance even though we had no use for it. We really can’t keep candles lit with the kids because they are constantly blowing them out, plus I’m reading all these articles about the toxins found in such “smelly” candles. Not to mention we could have put the $1.99 towards something fun with the kids or a date night out. So to kick off the plan of attack on simplicity we lit the candle representing the excess in our lives and how we plan to “burn it away.”  It now sits in a box waiting for the holiday season of 2015, that’s when we plan to bring it back out. We’ll light it again to solidify the year and to see if we conquered the simple life.

Today I’ve shared my vision of a simpler life and year. Tomorrow I will share with you the action plan in making that vision a reality!