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Project Simplicity…More Than A Clean House

This week we had tacos for dinner and while I was shredding some cheese my husband walked into the kitchen. He looked at me funny and said, “Why are you doing that?” And of course I said, “For the tacos.” He laughed and pointed at the sign that hangs in my kitchen, it says simplify.

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He told me that shredding cheese by hand does not look simpler than the shredded cheese in a bag I usually buy. Well, in some ways this is true. I have been buying the shredded cheese in a bag for a long time because of, well, the convenience. It does take less time to pull out a bag and sprinkle cheese on what ever you need. But this week I decided that maybe I don’t want the extra things that come with shredded cheese and what kind of cheese is really in the bag anyway? So, I bought a cheese from a Wisconsin Dairy and shredded it myself and truthfully, it did not take very long at all. I chose to do some processing myself for a better product. And this kind of thinking is part of a simple life as well a time saving decluttering frame of mind.

The reason I am decluttering my house is to make is easier to find the things I need, to put things away, and keep the house in good working order. Less stuff means less work and more time for other things. So other things are part of simple living as well. What do I really want to be doing with my time? One thing that is important to me is cooking with real and local food when ever I can. I want good tasting healthy simple food for my family to eat everyday. But simple does not always mean easier or shorter it means in this case less processed. We have slowly been moving away from processed food from the store. You can see that in some of my other posts about crackers, yogurt, and granola. So part of project simplicity is finding time to do what is important to me and cooking real food is important to me.

 

Here is a recipe we made yesterday for homemade pretzels. I got the recipe from the Kind Arthur Flour recipe page.

2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast

1 cup water

 

1. Combine all of the ingredients in your mixer bowl and beat until well combined. Knead dough by machine for 5 minutes until it is soft and smooth.

2. Flour the dough and place in an loosely sealed bag to rest for 30 minutes.

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3. While dough is resting mix one cup boiling water with 2 Tb baking soda until dissolved in a flat bottomed bowl. Set aside to cool.

4. Preheat oven to 475 and grease a baking sheet, set aside.

5. Remove dough from bag and knead until smooth. Divide the dough into 8-12 pieces depending on the size you would like your pretzels. I did 12 because I find that the kids waste less.

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6. Roll each piece out into a long rope and then shape into pretzel form. When the kids are helping they can make any shape they want. We have even gotten out cookie cutters. Let them be creative.

7. Place each pretzel in the water and baking soda mix for 30 second – 1 minute. Then let extra drip off into pan and place on prepared baking sheet.

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8. Let rise for 10 minutes and then bake for 7-9 minutes.

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This was our lunch yesterday, pretzels and nettle soup!

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Yum Yum!

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And with my decluttered kitchen I can not only make simple food but I will have time to clean up the kitchen as well.

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And if you are wondering if the kids really eat the food we make. I think this will answer your questions ūüôā

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Project Simplicity…What I’ve Learned So Far

It has been about 6 months since I started Project Simplicity and I am happy to report that I am pleased with the results so far.I also realize that there is much more to do. For project simplicity is not just about getting rid of the things I don’t need, it is about doing the things I want to do and having things that I truly¬†appreciate.

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The pantry is still organized and the microwave has finally left the house.

Over the last six months I have thrown away, recycled, donated, given to friends, and taken to the free table at my local MOPS all of our excess stuff. Amazingly, I still had enough stuff that to have a rummage sale last weekend. It wasn’t gigantic but it was enough that I didn’t want to haul all of it. We sold enough to only take one small trip to Goodwill. I feel like I have learned a lot in the last few months about stuff and what it means to me. I never thought of myself as someone who is emotionally attached to things but there are a few pieces that have been hard to let go of. I also know that I have the tendency to look at something and think, “yea, I could do something with that, I don’t know what but something.” So I keep things that I might not use for years.

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Junk drawer has a reasonable amount of stuff.

So here is what I have learned so far in this journey to simplicity.

1. Your work is never done. Someone grows out of clothes, you don’t like that picture anymore, someone stops playing a sport. There will always be things to move out and onto someone else.

2. When cleaning out a space, weather it be a drawer or a whole room take everything out. It makes it easier to see it all and you can put back only the most important things.

3. Some things are hard to let go of. I was in the basement again this week and found somethings that I wondered why I kept likes some games we never play or old baby things I kept around just in case.  Some things take time to give up. So it is always good to go through a space every few months to take stock and maybe some things you will be ready to let go of.

4. If you do this for yourself your family will follow along. My kids will give me things and tell me they are done with them and I can give them to someone else now. This happens a few times a month.

5. Even though I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff the house still gets messy. You need to keep the things you choose to keep in the right spots. And by the way, the dishes won’t do themselves, no matter how few you have ūüôā

6. A less cluttered house makes it easier to clean up. Even if the house gets messy the clean up time is easier because the things I have have their own places. As long as I put them in their places the house looks and is organized.

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Kids playroom in basement with lots of room to play.

Well there you have it. I think a little more decluttering and I will have the majority of it out of my house and I will move into maintaining and move on to doing the things I really want to do.

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The worst bit of clutter in my house. Hopefully many of these things will be going shortly.

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Project Simplicity….The Kitchen, Almost Done

Well the kitchen is coming along very nicely. After I took all of the cooking/baking/eating objects out of the kitchen and¬†rearranged them, life in the kitchen has been easier. Although the counters still get messy and crowded with things I have noticed it takes less time to get the kitchen straightened up again. Also, when I put things away I am not cramming them into tight spots because everything has a spot of its own. This really has cut down my time cleaning the kitchen and¬†complaining¬†about the cleaning the kitchen in my head ūüôā

After getting the first round organizing done, I worked on the recipes flying around my cupboard. I got them all in plastic sleeves and into a binder, why had I not done this before!

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Next I worked on my spices and baking ingredients. I had a lot of dried spices from my garden and farm box from the summer. It was so nice to refill all of my small jars to make these herbs and spices accessible.  I also spent time making some spices mixes and tea mixes. Now the spices and herbs are being used!

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I have also taken out most of my decorations from the kitchen space. I am planning on doing some spring cleaning in the next week, like washing walls, cabinet fronts, baseboards, floors, and windows. By taking all the decorations out it will be quicker to get the scrubbing done.

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I also tackled the junk drawer this week. I had been avoiding it¬†because¬†it is such a mes,s but when I couldn’t close the drawer anymore I new it was time.

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We emptied the whole drawer out on the living room rug and got to work. I realized that there were a lot of things that just needed to get to their spots in a different part of the house. I was putting little things in the drawer to put away later and never really did it.

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Now that the drawer is clean I have a new plan. I have one little can where I can put things that go to another spot in the house. When the can is full I need to empty it, we will see how it goes.

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So the kitchen is looking really good and has become more functional.  The last clutter in the kitchen is under the sink. I will tackle that another day, but until then, I will continue to enjoy my kitchen.

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Project Simplicity…Saying Goodbye to an Unwanted Appliance

Of all of the places in the kitchen I get clutter, the pantry is the worst. It seems that I keep putting more stuff in without taking anything out. For example, when I bring canned food out of the basement the empty mason jar goes in the pantry. The jars had built up pretty bad so I moved most of the jars down to the basement again. That cleared up a lot of room but the jars were not the only thing taking up space. The microwave oven took about half a shelf, which is more space than I was willing to give it. So, I decided to get rid of it.

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Yep, I decided to get rid of my¬†microwave¬†oven! I have wanted tolet it go since last spring but decided that maybe that was too crazy. I thought I would miss the¬†convenience.¬† So I kept the¬†microwave oven¬†for almost ¬†year before¬†deciding¬†that I just couldn’t let it take up space anymore. But first I thought about what I used the microwave oven for and this is what I came up with, reheating leftovers, melting butter, and sometimes defrosting meat. Not too big of a list but before I really let it go I thought of how I could do these microwave things with out a microwave. So I will

 

1. Remember to take meat out the night before.

2. Melt butter or coconut oil in a sauce pan or in an oven safe dish when the oven is preheating.

3. Heat up leftovers in the oven or on the stove top.

 

So far, so good. I let go of the microwave about a week ago and haven’t missed it one bit. This transition was easier than I¬†thought¬†and it clears up a lot of space. The picture below shows where the microwave used to be, now it has baking dishes.

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For now, the¬†microwave oven¬†sits in the basement just¬†in case,¬†but I have a feeling that I won’t be needing it anymore.

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Anyone need a microwave?

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Project Simplicity…Kitchen

The kitchen, what a busy place to be. I have been putting off organizing this room because I am always in here working. I also have been waiting because it is a big job. Well, I decided to finally dive in and get it over with so here we go. I started by looking at everything I have by opening up all of the cabinet doors. You can get a good overview from the picture below but there is a wall to the left with the sink, fridge, and more cabinets.

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The pantry has been giving me the biggest problem. I go through and tidy it up but two days later everything is in a heap again. One reason this happens is because Killian unloads the dishwasher and doesn’t get everything in the right spot, another reason is because I am in a hurry and move stuff around without putting it back, but the main reason the pantry gets messy is¬†because¬†there is too much stuff. I need to get rid of some all together and relocate some other stuff, to the basement perhaps?

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Another place that gets messy is my baking and spice cabinets. Once again I have too much stuff but I also need to rearrange, I think that will make a big difference. Do you like the simplify sign hanging in the middle ūüôā

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This area is right above the sink. The plates and cups are fine but my recipes and cookbooks leave something to be desired.

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As with all my other spaces, the first thing I did was take everything out of the cabinets. This picture is shows most of the contents from the kitchen cabinets. I did not take out the spices and food. I wanted to do that on another day.

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I hope by¬†reorganizing¬†I will be more efficient in the kitchen and in the end have less work to do to keep it up. Now it’s time to put it all back!

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Books…The Hard Desicions

Oh, how I do love books! I think they are one of my most favorite things in the world. When I am not busy, caring for children, cooking, cleaning, homeschooling, spending time outside, sewing, or crafting I am reading ūüôā I love many kinds of books but I have a special place in my heart for children’s books. That is why the kids books have been the hardest part of my simplifying journey. After emptying the book closet I looked at the huge pile of books and wondered, can you have too many books? I have to say my mind had a hard time answering that question, I mean really how can you have too many books! But then I began to think about books from when I was little and one book jumped right out at me.

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My¬†Treasury¬†of Rhymes is a book that my Grandma Violet would read to me and my sisters when we were at her house. She did not have many children’s books from what I can remember but this one I remember well. These pictures and rhymes run through my head to this day. This book is special. We read this book so many times that even as an adult I coan see Curly Locks sitting on her cushion to sew a fine seam and Wynken, Blynken, and Nod sailing off in¬†their¬†wooden shoe. So what made this book so special that I can remember it as an adult? I know, it is because I heard it over and over again, because the pictures are beautiful, because the language is rich,¬†because¬†my Grandma Violet read it too me.

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I want my children to read as many books as pleases them but I also want the books that we own to be special. So after all of that thinking and looking at a big pile of books I made a list. This list helped me figure out what kind of books I wanted to own so that we could weed out the not special books that clutter up the closet.

 

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For a book to be special:

1. It must be a story we all want to read over and over again.

2. If there are pictures they must be beautiful.

3. The language must be rich and the story line/rhymes/poems timeless.

4. They must be something I would want to pass on to my grandchildren.

 

After I made my list I went through the books with the kids and we found the special books. Many fit this all of these categories but many did not so I also made a secondary list for books that were good but not quite special.

For a book to be good:

1. It must be a story we all want to read over and over again.

2. The pictures must be beautiful.

 

These books include easy reader books like the Piggie and Gerald, book that are good now but I wouldn’t save for the grandchildren like The Hippo-Not-Amus, anything Aurthur, and The Magic Tree House Series, and of course non-fiction books as well.

After going through all of the books, picking only the good and special books, I made categories to organize them. I made seasonal groups to bring a certain amount of books out at a time so no one gets overwhelmed  This way that small pile of books can be read over and over again during a season and then they can be put away to make room for a new set of books. The non seasonal books were put on three shelves in small groups to make them easy to look through.

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I put the chapter books and books we are not quiet ready for in Killians closet and I put a group of books aimed more for Delaney in her closet.

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So I did it. I got rid of books and it feels good. The books we want to read are front and center. Now, I wonder which books will be on each kids speical list when they grow up, hmmmm.

 

p.s. The book My Treasury of Rhymes was given to me by my Grandma Violet when Killian was two. I had always wanted the book but never said anything and she gave it to me as a surprise. Now the book is even more special than before and I tell my kids about it whenever we read that book together. That kind of specialness is something I want to pass on to my kids.

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What is Enough?

‚ÄúSimplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.‚Ä̬†‚ÄĒ Charles Dudley Warner

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As I was putting clothes away in Liam’s closet, I realized how many clothes he¬†actually¬†has. ¬†I looked through all of the clothes and thought about where they had all come from. Most came as hand me downs from Killian, some came from other friends with older boys, some came from rummage sales that I couldn’t pass up because they were just too cute. But really, how much is enough? How many clothes does a three year old boy need? Well, that is a hard question to answer exactly but I know it is less then he has in his closet right now.

So today I made piles of all of the pants, all of the short sleeve shirts, all of the¬†underwear, etc…Then I took out any clothes I knew we were done with to send to the resale store. Next I found all of the summer shorts and most of the t-shirts to put in the basement until later. I went through what was left to narrow down how many pieces would make it back into the closet. I looked at the 15 pairs of pants and narrowed them down to 7. I chose 7 because that is at least one a day and I know there are some in the laundry basket right now. So really, there will be more than 7. The left overs I put into the basement pile. I didn’t want to get rid of them completely until I know we really have the right amount. I did this with each pile and now the three piles below are leaving Liam’s room.

 

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This picture shows the clothes that will be going back into the closet. I think it may still be too many.

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After taking the next picture, the closet is looking good. I feel like he has enough clothes and now he does has less too look through.

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I am also hoping that by downsizing the amount of clothes in Liam’s closet, and soon Killian’s and Delaney’s, ¬†I will reduce the amount of laundry I have to do. Less clothes means less in the laundry pile, right? ¬†I know I will be washing the same things more often but there will not be enough to form a gigantic pile if I get behind. I think the other question is if I do get behind will the kids run out clothes? Hmmm….I guess we will see what really is enough.

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Project Simplicity…Laundry Room Complete

Well the laundry/mudroom is complete! This time I had a lot of help from Justin and Killian. They stayed up late into the night assembling a cabinet, putting up shelves, and putting up hangers. The next day I put everything back in the room and I have to say, it is still a lot of stuff in a little space. Now it is much better because there is nothing on the floor, which is very exciting because that was the main problem in the room. With the new storage spaces we have utilized more of the wall space and that has made all the difference.

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Justin and Killian assembling the cabinet that will replaced the white shelves.

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Cabinet in place with a new counter top too! Justin also put up a new wire shelf above the cabinet. We have plans for one more shelf above it. On the right you can see coats hanging. Justin added the lower hanger for the kids coats and snowpants.

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Not a huge change here, but I pared down the cleaning supplies and we added a hanging basket.

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Ahhh, a place for shoes and boots! They used to be piled on the floor but we have gotten most of them onto these shelves. I tried to keep the kids to a pair of boots and one pair of shoes. I have two boots and one pair of shoes in this room and Justin has them same. We also put the grown up snowpants and snowmobile jacket on the back of the door. In the past, these things could not fit and they went, well I¬†don’t’ know just not here. In the hanging bag I have the kids snowmobile gloves and face masks. They bags that used to be here now hang above the bench.

So there you have it. A laundry/mudroom you can walk in and everything that we need packed in as well. Now time for some laundry!

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Unexpected Organizing

Today Killian decided that he needs his own room, which is not gonna happen. But still he spent the morning coming up with ways for him to have his own room, for example my craft room, the dinning room, Liam could sleep in the closet, we could construct a wall, you get the picture. All of this led to¬†rearranging¬†the room Liam and Killian share. We decided they could each have a side. Killian already had shelves and a wire to hang pictures on so we did the same for Liam. I found some Liam size shelves and hung a Liam sized wire. Since there are two closets in¬†their¬†room we decided they could each have one. Up until now one was for clothes and the other was for toys and books. I brought the shelves up, hung the wire, and then told Killian I had to make lunch and we could finish up later. Well, he decided to take matters into his own hands and switched the¬†closets¬†all by himself, with a little help from Liam and Delaney. I think he did a pretty good job. Here is a look at Killian’s closet project.

 

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What a disaster! This was on my to do list but it was so easy to close the door and forget about it ūüôā This will become Liam’s closet.

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This is the clothes closet the boys were sharing. This will become Killian’s closet.

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Here is the rest of the clothes closet. Liam’s clothes are on the right hand shelves and in some boxes on the ground.

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The kids are folding all of Liam’s clothes before they go into his new closet.

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Here is Liam’s new closet. There were a few more clothes to put in after the picture but it looks pretty nice. Let’s see how long the books stay on the shleves:)

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Killian now has all of his toys and games in this closet.

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The shelves that held the Liam’s clothes now house Killian’s books.

Killian did a lot of hard work and he was pretty tired by the end. I am glad he took this on himself and proud that he did not complain or rely on me when things were getting difficult. Maybe this will inspire him to keep it clean.

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Project Simplicity…The Next Step

After the great success in the basement I decided to keep rolling and tackle my next enemy, the laundry/mudroom. This would be a fine space for a mudroom or a laundry room but when you put both together it becomes tiny and messy and sometimes you cannot even enter the room. This time of year is especially tough with big coats, snow pants, boots, shoes, accessories for different levels of cold, and snowmobile gear, plus I need to leave space to dry wet things. It is hard to fit it all in but fit it all in I must. I started this step by again clearing everything out of the room and here is how it looks.

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There was a white shelving unit in the open space that held shoes, socks, and other miscellaneous things.

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As you can see I did not take everything off the shelves this time. The snowmobile helmets will stay and the laundry detergent and some of the other cleaners will stay too.

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The back of the door holds bags, shoes go on the floor, and before someone ripped the hangers off the wall, all of the kids had coats hanging there. Do you like those rips in the drywall :/

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Now for all of the things I took out of the laundry/mudroom. Here we have the shelves from the corner and baskets of things that used to be hanging or on the floor.

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Oh yes, one more basket of hanging things and more baskets.

So now that the room is cleared out and I am ready for the task of getting almost all of these things back into the small room without chaos¬†ensuing. We have some new shelving planned along with a cabinet and more hanging space. It will take some good organizing skills but I am confidant I can make it fit ūüôā At least for now I can get to the washing machine, better start another load while I can!

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