The Great Case Purge!

Toss all the CD/DVD Cases! 
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I used to be on the other side of this fence. How could someone ditch the case?! As a staunch lover of non-digital books and music (although I can appreciate digital!) however, I am rather inundated with media in bulky cheap plastic shells. I realized in this day and age with the churn rate of music and movies, that quality of packaging has gone to the crapper. My dvd cases lack the quality and heft they once did. The cheaply printed inserts lack a sheen and I can detect PIXELS from low resolution. This is probably because I peruse the $4/$8/$10/$12 section when I can which is probably so mass media they don’t give a bleep. I can appreciate the cover art and CD inserts but not so much the quality control these days.  Plus those flimsy eco paper cases? Barf. Hate them.

I purged the films and music I figured I’d never want to watch/listen to again or disliked and put the rest into the cases I bought off amazon. Now the towering pile is clear and the rest live in a black zippered case. Here’s a link if you want one.


Confession: I didn’t ditch all my cases. I’m a designer after all. I adore GOOD packaging. The nicest ones and favorites have survived the fate of being stripped. I kept about 25% of my DVDs in their cases and about 20% of my CDs. It’s all about balance. I only purged about 10% of my media because I’m pretty selective even though I have a good sized collection. I don’t buy DVDs often because I seldom rewatch things. And music I don’t care for I pass on.

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I also kept a majority of the CD inserts because I do appreciate the design and effort that goes into them and I am horrible at remembering lyrics. 😉 The CDs live above their companion inserts.

The DVDs live in a separate case and because I don’t own too many movies, I moved a lot of the family DVDs and mine into the DVD case and made the living room less cluttered for all.

I’m really happy I took the dive. It was time. This is probably one of the biggest change of hearts I’ve had since minimizing because for so many years I didn’t want to be a media case person.

One of the most helpful lessons I’ve learned from minimizing and following some minimalists is processing packaging. Some packaging is functional. Some packaging is necessary. But a lot of it? Once an item is bought it loses its appeal. Boxes and cases take up a lot of space. It’s better to remove most items and some dry food from its original packaging and either put it into something that organizes it or makes it easier to store. In this situation, the cases I ordered save me from visual clutter and don’t take away from the experience of what it is.

I’d highly recommend this project to everyone. Also because this gives me more space for books. And books are never clutter. 😉

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To-do Lists and Chicken Soup

Lists help me stay sane. I haven’t always been this way – in fact, I remember my friend Amber tell me she liked to write down lists that sticking in my head in college. It’s therapeutic to me now it’s the little bit of hand writing I get in this digital world and I’m able to transfer any anxiety of any task to the paper once it’s on there. It helps me be more thorough and make the most of my time.

One of the beautiful things I am seeing is that menial tasks are showing up less as I minimize more. Things that required daily attention only need weekly attention now, in some cases. This is a result of less stuff to clean/put away and working on methods to get things done more efficiently but also choosing not to create new projects I cannot devote time to (the last one being the hardest for this scatterbrained multitasker.)

I would love to get to a point of optimizing my life where I could be a good and hospitable person and not worry about my room and surroundings being a train wreck. I recognize this is both a physical stuff thing and an attitude change. I want to be able to embrace rather than fight the hotel my home can be sometimes and focus on the people not the stuff around that makes it uncomfortable to have them there. As much as I kick and scream at the relatives and friends and just how much traffic we get at the house, there is a sweetness to knowing our home is well loved and people feel at home here.

One of the sweetest examples of hospitality I’ve seen lately is through a lady in our non profit planning group. She primarily helps with silent auction items. Since we live pretty close to each other and she isn’t always able to make the Saturday morning meetings, I’ve been offering to pick up/drop off items and take them to the meet. We live about 20-25 minutes away from the meeting spot, and she has school aged kids in sports and other activities on the weekend. I let her know it would never be a problem for me to drop by because it’s a lot easier for me to hop in my car than wrangle some kids with different schedules and homework and she laughed. 😉 We don’t speak much outside of drop off/pick up. I text her that I’m there and she always comes out and spends a few minutes talking to me. Not about the event, but actually about my day and whatnot. And she always asks me if I’ve had dinner yet and lets me know she made plenty. And if I say no (I always say no) she always asks me if I’m sure.

She hardly knows me, only needs to know my name and number, and yet she goes out of her way to make sure I’m not hungry, because there’s chicken soup inside her home. Her home, where her kids and life is. Where she got a 5 minute warning that I was on my way and probably didn’t spend that 5 minutes scrambling to clear the place just in case I said yes. What a heart check for me.

People over things. Never the other way around.

“We Did It Again!”

Home Alone 2 was a staple in my home growing up. If I had to describe my dad’s favorite movies to you growing up it would be “Christmas movies and James Bond.” I’m pretty sure the James Bond part is out the window now, especially as the R rating becomes more scandalous in nature, and it is now “Christmas Movies and Netflix War Documentaries and the occasional reality series about something boring like Ice Road Drivers.”

All that to say, the infamous line of Home Alone 2 is “We did it again!” Kevin’s parents look at each other in distress and mirror each other’s words in bewilderment.

I’m kind of there, but in a different way. And I think anyone not living up to their goals/NYR might be feeling the same. Sometimes we’re creatures of habit or find ourselves repeating things we wish we didn’t.

For me that is being too busy.

I grew up in a very close knit church. It was kind of expected that you were heavily involved and helped out. I love being a part of ministry. But now I don’t feel compelled to volunteer out of guilt or because I’m afraid no one else will step up. That being said, maybe I still feel compulsive sometimes. I can carve out an hour for X can’t I?  [The answer is no, Laura!]

I also hid myself in academics growing up because I was awkward and felt that if I couldn’t keep a conversation or make friends easily at least I could use facts and mental capacity to help. This mostly meant someone with average or slightly better than average tried to get straight A’s because I’m no genius. And it stopped working after college anyway. But there is still this echo of needing to better myself mentally or build new skills. Sometimes healthy, sometimes consuming.

Anyways. Being busy is how I defined myself for years. It’s something hard for me to shake. And now as January wraps up I can see things heaping up in my arms already.

I’m not sure what balance looks like but this week was

Mon – Date night
Tues – Bible Study
Wed – Seminar
Thurs – Non-profit Meeting/ Non prof work
Fri – Art Lesson

I think the earliest I got home/relaxed any of those nights was 8:30pm. And that’s after putting in 8+ hours at my job. This is why I might be kinda nuts.

It wouldn’t be so bad if I was super organized, but I’m not there yet. My Wednesdays will open up after the series of seminars is over, but I know I’ll be craving something to fill the spot. And that’s why I need to tell myself to calm down.

I’m looking at this super full week and how I feel right now and how this is too much and filing it for when I get a crazy notion that I need to do more. Finding balance is taking me a while.

Amazon Find: TableTote Plus

Remember when I found a desk that rolls over a bed and that was the perfect room solution for me? I’ve found another crazy awesome product. This one is more of a dorm room/college piece of furniture but since I need functional, multipurpose, and easy to fold down, this is perfect.

First of all, this isn’t sponsored or anything. This is just something I’m excited about. I didn’t get free product or paid to say all this. lol.

Folded up, it’s 11″ x 13″ x 1.5″ which is roughly a little larger than a binder. Here’s the package it came in. The shrink wrap warped the outside paper a bit but the product wasn’t harmed. You can kind of see on this that the legs and pieces store in the foam which becomes the underside of the table. You can see this is the “plus” edition which includes the cup holder and cellphone holder.
The standard version is $2 less.

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1. Slide the one side off (the left part you see in the next pic) and place and slide so it attaches to the top part.

2. Take the pieces from the underside that are housed in foam and build.

3. The telescoping legs adjust to several heights. The picture below is at the lowest height setting.

4. Voila!
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It also comes with a small telescoping wand that holds papers. Super handy. And the black tray slides so you can extend the space out a bit depending on what you’re doing.

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Image Credit: Tabletote Plus on Amazon

Here’s a standard piece of printer paper over the cover which is practically the compact size, on the fully built table.
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It’s pretty sturdy and tall enough to function as a nightstand and side table and bed tray since my overbed desk is not deep enough to hold a keyboard or graphic tablet. And if I need the space or want my room to look nice for company, I can store it on my bookshelf or on the side of my bed where it’s a gap for the legs of the overbed desk.

The cup holder is super useful. I can put a clean cup in it and use it to hold my tablet pen or art supplies, or use it to keep my water bottle/drink without stealing desk area. The phone holder is not really worthwhile and while it stashes a phone it doesn’t hold it very well. HOWEVER…since I’m using this as a night stand the foam in it is perfect for when I take off earrings and jewelry before bed and keeping them in place. Otherwise I find it’s rolled away when I turn off my phone alarm in the morning etc. So it has a purpose, I guess.

At less than $30 this wasn’t crazy expensive but it’s still not exactly cheap. I do think it’s fairly priced. I had an amazon gift card and I have prime, so I pretty much spent $8 out of pocket and for that I am very pleased!

Starting Off on the Right Foot

I feel like I have a firm grasp on this fresh year. It’s only in the recent year or two that I’ve been extra mindful and I can see areas of improvement from it.

I feel like a lot of the burden that’s lifted has to do with -stuff-. I’m still not at my aha! point but I’m getting there. In each category I’ve noted basic observations AND given myself a room to spend. This will help me narrow my wants and save up for specific items instead of impulse purchases and hoarding because of deals and clearance.

General Bedroom:

– It is most important in this current living situation for belongings to be functional.
– It is better to be functional/multipurpose than aesthetically pleasing or stylish.
– Well constructed but replaceable/donate-able furniture won’t tie me down.
– Furniture that folds up/breaks down to move is ideal when thinking longer term
– My room is a private place. It needs to only visually please me. This includes tidiness.
– Continually remind myself this isn’t a permanent living situation; stay minimal.
– Surround myself in things that bring me joy.

Room to spend: New window privacy clings/window treatment, secondary comforter that is thin enough to go in my washing machine and doesn’t require a trip to the laundromat

Books and Wardrobe:

– Mark a day each month to review and donate excess or reorganize
– Take advantage of Amazon Prime Book rentals/free items
– Get back to the library and checking out books
– Don’t buy hard copies unless they are keepers
– Work in magazines for self care wind downs and discard/donate ASAP
– Pare down to only black socks (because I’m too lazy to bleach white socks)
– Reduce spending on accessories/pare down cheapie accessories
– Actually wear the jewelry/accessories I love and treat them with care

Room to spend: Sterling silver jewelry at discount, affordable digital books, new clothes ONLY IF I lose enough weight or need to replace staple (like jeans)

Bathroom:

– No more value sized bottles that bore me before they’re used up
– Replace empties as needed. Don’t stock extras/multipacks if possible.
– Use up beauty products I have. Avoid beauty aisles in stores.
– Figure out holy grails and don’t stray
– I don’t enjoy makeup/styling. So stop spending/exploring like I do.

Room to spend: Quality skincare and lotion (only to replace used product)

Kitchen:

– Keep it to basics; this is a shared area I am reprimanded for
– Reduce bulk buys and stocking up
– Work to eliminate my pantry
– Simplify meals to require less ingredients
– Treat myself to on-plan meals out, but allocate in budget
– Use more frozen produce to supplement space/reduce waste
– Get into a habit of washing things as I meal prep

Room to spend: Dining out (no more than 2x/week), Unique ingredients to cook with *that day*, On plan snacks (limit options)

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Weight Loss Room to Saves (Rewards):

15 lbs – Beach or Hiking Day (~$15 for parking pass)
25 lbs – Foot Spa Massage (Basic Package) (~$25 + tip)
40 lbs – Facial  (~$50 + tip)
50 lbs – 2 New Outfits and Foot Spa Massage (Nicer Package) (~$150)
60 lbs – Nice Workout shoes (~$80)
70lbs – Fancy meal out (~$50)*
80 lbs – 2 New Outfits + 1 New Workout/Class (~$250)
90 lbs – Fancy meal out (~$50)*
100 – Disneyland or 3 Day Adventure (~$250-500)

* I know treating to food is usually a no-no but if I am past 50 lbs I’m pretty sure I have a better grasp on food and I don’t feel bad about rewarding with a special meal!

Thanksgiving Reflections and a Grocery Challenge

Christmas may be my favorite holiday as a whole (personal + spiritual reasons) but Thanksgiving is the main event of my year. This is because all my relatives gather from afar this one special time a year. One family comes from a neighboring state, a cousin going to med school on the opposite coast flies in, and a cousin in the south east for an awesome job got a ticket to come out just for T-day. On extra special occasions we have both sides of the family together; other times we make two thanksgivings out of it. This might be my favorite year of them all since we have a brand new member of the family joining our festivities: my baby nephew!

It’s also going to be a little bittersweet because this is the first big holiday gathering my Uncle N won’t be at. It’s hard to think that last Christmas is the last holiday we ever had with him and it makes me wish I took a little more time to spend with him one on one that day. I never thought less than two months later we’d be gathered around him in a hospital room as he drew his last breath. I want to remember him on Thursday. We always gather and hold hands and say what we’re thankful for before we pray to bless the meal. This time he will be what I’m thankful for. I want to consciously remember to spend a little more time talking to my aunts and uncles one on one instead of devoting most of my time with my cousins as a life lesson too. God willing, my cousins and I will have many decades more to enjoy each other, but our aging parents, we don’t know how many decades are left. It’s important for me to remember how fleeting life can be and really seek out meaningful times with them.

Here’s how the grocery challenge ties into Thanksgiving: my work generously gifted the office $100 gift cards for the holiday. For people with families of their own, that gift card will be gone in an instant just on the feast. Since I am only helping with a few dishes, I’m going to spend my own money now and save that gift card to stretch me through the holiday season.

My goal is to use up all the pasta, grains, cereals, and canned goods in my little pantry and be more mindful of grocery spending for the rest of 2016. This will help me get back on track with whole foods and make my pantry 100% back on diet plan. This last year with all the crazy I’ve accumulated a lot of boxed pasta, off plan snacks, and didn’t cook nearly as much as I used to so I have canned goods near expiration.  As a renter I’ve been told many times that my pantry isn’t desired in that location so ultimately my goal is to get rid of it and work with them to establish a place for my extra food items and small appliances. I honestly don’t think it looks bad, but I’m bending my will and trying to be compliant.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! May you have a blessed time of reflection and gratitude with friends/family and may digestion be on your side for all the goodies at your table!

Letting Go and Room Logistics

Guys.

I found the craziest over the bed desk on Amazon and knew immediately this is what my small room needed. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know that I’ve been careful to not spend/invest in something without giving it a lot of thought and I have very cramped quarters.

My bedroom is also my office and living room since I’m “a renter”right now, so this allows me to bring the desk up on my bed and relax with netflix or work on designs and be nice and cozy. I can also wheel it off to where my old desk was, and while it takes up the majority of the wall, I can slide it as needed so now accessing my closet isn’t a hassle. My last desk only gave me enough room to slide up to the closet door and try to yank something down. So, this a big improvement.

The depth is also a huge plus. The new desk is roughly 17.5 inches deep. My previous desk was 46″ wide by 24” deep and that made it so it nearly touched the end of my bed. In the end, I have better walking clearance to my window and my closet without sacrificing too much desk space.

The downside is learning to let go. I love my old desk but it’s apparent that while it served me well at my old condo, it isn’t right for this place. I’m also letting go of my white bookshelf which means sorting through my books and letting go of some of them. I also have a beautiful wooden filing cabinet I’m bringing out of my closet. I’m not ready to let go of it, but it doesn’t work in my room. I’m scheming a way to store it but opening myself up to the possibility I might have to say goodbye. It’s hard but it’s exhilarating. I also have added a standing lamp so I no longer have to illuminate my entire room with a little ole LED study lamp and battery sucking stick on lights (that idea was a major fail!)

On Thursday my boyfriend is going to help me hang some picture ledges and move the old desk out. I can’t wait to show pictures of the new setup!

More Minimizing Musings

Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been inspired to research more about minimalism and capsule wardrobes. The ideals, while not right for me, are really helpful as I am still discovering what sparks joy in my life and how to look at my “stuff” with an honest and mindful eye.

I stumbled across a plus size capsule article that piqued my interest. Mostly because it offered so many valid points. Two stood out to me. First, as a fat gal, amen to the thighs eating pants! I know many minimalist blogs say invest in costly pieces that will last you but plus size gals know the difficulty that is rubbing the inner thigh portion of pants to a pilled or holey mess. The other point was most important. Minimalism as we see it today is a fad of living in excess and having a privileged life.

It’s easy for me to react to that and think I am not privileged, but I am. I like to think of it as being blessed and well cared for despite not making much, but it’s true. One of the reasons I’m in this pit is because I’ve allowed having a little more than enough become a consumerist issue. I’ve fallen prey to owning too much just because I can. How many hours have I wasted wandering aimlessly and getting joy from stuff I shouldn’t own? I should be considering this more carefully. It means I’ve been frivolous and have room to work on how I spend and save my money. It also means I need to be more mindful with what I keep and what I bring into my home.

Be a ruthless editor of what you bring into your home. Ask yourselves, “What does this object mean to me?” – Nate Berkus (interior designer)

Some of the things that inspire me from minimalism are:

1.  Seeking the best of the best in items.

For example, being purposeful and researching even little stuff like kitchen spoons to make sure you love using it and only need one or a few to do something well. It’s no longer about savings or quantity, the value is rather placed in form, function, and purpose. For a kitchen item, that purpose may be more utilitarian. For a necklace however, that might be form – the pendant goes with many styles, function – the chain doesn’t pull hair out and is easy to clasp, and purpose – makes me feel beautiful and put together. If I apply this what gives me joy (KonMari) it makes it easier to make decisions on what goes in my home and what I let go of.

2. Mindfully opening up your space and life.

The best minimalist blogs treat minimalism with a purpose. I found out that there are two types of minimalism. One is domestic, and that is have a system that works for an efficient home and life. The other is travel based, and that is where you see people limiting to the extreme in pursuit of fun experiences over items. I used to think minimalists were just fans of all things white and black and boring, but there is no hard rule unless you’re going for extreme. Walls don’t need to be blank, furniture doesn’t have to be modern, but everything is edited down to essentials and the idea is to only own what fits your purpose. Minimalists don’t think of themselves as limited but rather they are equipped with all that the need and don’t want to fuss with more because it’s not necessary or doesn’t fit their purpose. Less clothes means less laundry. Less furniture and nic nacs means easier and more efficient cleaning. Less buying means more financial freedom. All their minimalist choices serve a purpose.

3. Making the most of what you have.

Rather than thinking they are limited by their space or lack of extra things, they think of how to best work their space and make do with what they have. This is where I fall short the most. I am guilty of thinking “if only” quite a lot and wanting items I already have just because it’s a little nicer when what I have is fine. I need to tap into a spirit of contentedness and be grateful instead of wishful. Perhaps if I did better in the area of gratitude I’d  not be so tempted by retail therapy. When I was a kid, I didn’t have a lot of toys. I thrived on being resourceful and using some imagination to make what was around the house work. Later as a teen, I applied this concept to cooking with what ingredients were in the house and make fun meals that made me proud. Sure, it wasn’t Pinterest worthy, but it kept those items from spoiling and it was fun to experiment and not be restrained to a recipe. Making the most of what I had in those instances was really fulfilling. And it still is today.

Have you found your “a-ha” or “just right” point with belongings? If you have anything to add, please comment and let me know!

Spring Cleaning

First wave of Spring cleaning: my mind!

Start here this year and I guarantee a better physical decluttering experience of your stuff. You live in your home many hours of the day but you live in your mind 24/7.

Toss out thoughts of self hate and doubt.
Organize your goals and plans for the future so you can access them daily.
Dust off personal achievements so you can see how far you’ve come.
Take care of issues that are keeping you from peace.
Last but not least, save room for good things and don’t let negative things sit in their spot.

Obstacle Solving

Obstacle Solving – Like problem solving but tackling potential roadblocks.

Ready my arsenal.

    HDMI cable for the TV: No more dvd workout excuses. I’ll plug it into my laptop and play DVDs that way and as a plus stream youtube fitness routines I love. The DVD player  I had at my apartment doesn’t work here and plays black and white.

✓    New workout pants: The kind that don’t make me feel sloppy or make me wonder if my cottage cheese thighs are showing. Pairs that rise high and are opaque enough to give me confidence to bend over, dance, and jump without constantly worrying I’m gonna expose my belly or backside.

✓   Vitality Corner: A visual meditative center and reminder for me since that is the sense I am most honed into. It has motivational print outs that actually mean something to me and the green and blooming vitality of plants to tell me to keep striving for my best physical and mental health.

✓    Day Planner and Lists: I’m going to log daily weight, mood, and happy thoughts in there. I also need to be true to planning so I don’t put off things that will become workout or cooking excuses.

✓    MyFitnessPal: To log in food and exercise

✓    Time: I’m saying no to new responsibilities/studies/commitments until I’ve solidified my habits. One month until race day. One and a halfish months until Bible study is done. That frees my schedule even more until I feel set to take on new things if I want to.

✓    Music: Because music is good medicine.

✓    Friends: Because friends are also good medicine and my favorite sources of encouragement and wisdom

Tonight is a workout at the gym night. I have bible study until 9pm, so I’m hoping to do a late night gym routine. 9:15-10:15. That’s a long day for me. I was up at 6am. I won’t have time to “relax” until I’m back from the gym. But once I schedule my bible study work more faithfully, I will get a chance to relax for about an hour after work and then use that to empower a more efficient routine and attitude. Little by little, I’ll get this down.