Edit Your Décor

Recently, I streamlined my décor by getting rid of two bookshelves: one in our dining room and one in our living room. My family thought I was being extreme, but each bookcase held items that remained relatively ignored; ceramics that our now-teenagers made as preschoolers, leather bound books of classic stories that I thought I would someday read out loud to my family (never happened), candlesticks, photographs, surplus vases (pick one favorite vase and if you need more, use a large mason jar), umpteen cookbooks and field journals.

One of the things I like to do is purchase new moving boxes to store things that I’m not yet ready to let go of, but want to experiment living without. A new moving box is clean, sturdy and label-less so that you can clearly write on it. They sell them at your local hardware store. All of our tchotchkies went into a box, I sold the shelves and leather books on Craigslist, then dropped off the cookbooks and field guides at our used bookstore (if you need a recipe or need to identify a bird, Google it). Not only am I experiencing more time for myself by eliminating a lot of dusting in my cleaning routine, but I no longer feel the emotional burden of by-passing décor that is outdated and overlooked. I want to have more time for exercising and eating healthy meals with my family. Not dusting tchotckies!

Try living with less stuff. Place a maximum of three items per horizontal surface. See how that looks. What décor or furniture can you edit? Give the empty space a week or two to get used to. I’ll bet you’ll love it in the long-run.

White Dishes for a Clean Slate

Do you covet seasonal Chrismas dinnerware or have fantasies about inheriting grandma’s hand-me-down-china set? I used to but not anymore. About the time I stopped decorating with seaonal throw pillows, I streamlined our dinnerware to white dishes that can be dressed up or down. I do not have to store a separate set of dishes for special occasions. Everything is dishwasher safe. This makes my life so easy.

Once, on a trip to IKEA, I used their glassware for a soda at the cafeteria and really liked the aesthetic and size. I thought it would make a great all around drinking glass. So when I got home, out went the various sized drinking glasses (juice sized for the kids, iced tea sized for me and pint sized for the hubby- it’s exhausting just writing about it!) and in came these:

GODIS 14 oz. glassware are the size between juice cups and pints. Now, anyone can empty the dishwasher, put the glasses away in the cupboard and done. No longer does anyone have to think about the small cups belonging on the lower shelf, or vice versa, or having a favorite drinking glass because they are all the same. We use them for juice, milk, iced tea, lemonade, water, beer, everything!

Same sized anything makes a beautiful aesthtic. Varying sizes of things can feels overwhelming and haphazard.

Another example: I was always disappointed when the small salad forks were the only clean ones left, because I don’t like the size of them. Who says you need two sized forks? For formal dining? For guests? I am the one living in my home and I wish it to be however I like. I don’t enjoy entertaining, so out they went. Now we only have my favorite sized fork and I love it.

Next, I am going to experiment with only one sized bowl and one sized plate for simplicity. It may be too streamlined but if it doesn’t work, I can always add them back into my life. Usually though, it makes my life so much easier and better.

What kitchen streamlining have you done that makes your life better? Share below!

Worth It/Not Worth It: Mainstays Handheld Portable Steamer

Lately, a lot of decluttering/minimalist types have been touting the benefits of a portable steamer to use in place of an iron. As I’ve been downsizing to a capsule wardrobe (more on that later), I have been particular about material. I am buying less synthetics and focusing on cotton, wool and silk. Breathable, long lasting, and remarkably easy to care for.

I don’t purchase or have a ton of garments that need ironing, but I did manage to pick up second hand silk blouse that’s been on my To Buy list for awhile. I used to be afraid of silk but it is much sturdier than you think; warm and insulating for the winter, then breezy and cooling for the summer. I always wash silk by hand in the sink and then hang to air dry in my closet. I’m not a big fan of ironing, but I’ll do it if I have to. If a steamer can replace an ironing board and iron, I’m all about that. So I bought Mainstays Handheld Portable Steamer at Walmart to try.

I do not have a before pic, but after about 7 minutes of dorking with the steamer on the silk blouse, here is the result:

After about 7 minutes of steaming
Nope.
Not even.

I’m not impressed. Seven minutes was enough. I could’ve ironed it in a shorter amount of time, so my verdict is NOT WORTH IT. However, I know Jennifer Scott from The Daily Connoisseur recommends hers, so maybe it’s brand specific? Please let me know in the comments below, if you’re a fan and what type you use. I’m open to giving this another go.

Menu Planning for the Win

On my death bed, as I list out the regrets in my life, I will write “Should’ve Started Menu Planning Earlier.” I kid you not. One of the best budgeting and time saving tools is menu planning and please don’t complicate it. It takes five minutes, tops. A paper and pencil will do. Level one menu planning looks something like this:

Mon– tacos

Tues – lentil soup & bread

Wed – steak, potato, side salad

Thurs – leftovers

Fri – pizza (something easy at the end of a long week)

Sat– salmon, rice, broccoli

Sun– crockpot chili, cornbread, steamed spinach

Stick this on the refrigerator so everyone can see it and admire it for the intricate artistry.

The basic rule of thumb is to include a protein, starch and vegetable in each meal. Nowadays, the veggie is supposed to take up half the plate, the protein and starch should be palm-sized for portion control.

When you get comfortable with level one, you move to level two.

Check the weather for the week

and write it down by each day, so you’re not making creamy broccoli and cheese potato soup when it’s 95 degrees out.

Quickly scan your cupboards and refrigerator

to see what items you already have. Use them in your menu plan. Allrecipes.com lets you search a recipe by ingredient. Use the rest of the missing ingredients for your grocery list (Please tell me you’re using a grocery list to shop because otherwise I guarantee you are wasting money if you do not use a list. Also, eat first. Before you go grocery shopping, I mean. And keep your grocery list on your phone so that you always have it. Are you at information overload? Then go back to level one at the top of this blog post and stay there.).

Glance at your schedule

for the week. Your teenager has a basketball game on Wednesday? Leftovers, a made-before-the-game crockpot recipe, microwaveable frozen dinner, or fast food run it is, then!

Quickly look through those annoying grocery sale flyers

you get in the mail each week. Pork chops on sale? Mild weather forecast for Sunday? Fire up the grill!

Buy enough food for the whole week

so that you’re not having to run back to the grocery store multiple times.

Let your cupboards and pantry get bare

before grocery shopping. It’s odd looking and uncomfortable, but it’s the only way I’ve found that my family will eat whatever is left. In other words, they will not eat the carrots and celery if chips and dip are available. Savvy?

Okay, that’s probably enough. You know me, I have more info and tidbits but I’ll save those for another day. I hope this makes your life better. It has mine. Please let me know how it goes!