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Simplify Your Nest

Seven Small Things to do to Get Organized Every Day

There is no one giant step that does it. It’s a lot of little steps.” ~Peter Cohen

January always feels like a time for a fresh start to me. I always look forward to filling the pages of my own personal story throughout the year, don’t you?! One thing that many people want to do is to be more organized; it is a very common New Year’s Resolution. Sometimes things don’t always go as planned unfortunately. One mistake that people make with organizing is biting off more than they can chew. Big plans can get out of control and that leads to some serious procrastination!

I have some things that you can do daily to keep your home neat and tidy that are all doable. Some of these you may already do in your own routine. (Kudos to you!)

1. Everything in it’s place. Make sure that every item has a home that makes sense. Ie. All like items in one place. This increases the likelihood of everyone in your house putting them back. If you have no room then it is time to donate, sell or give away a few things.

2. If something is broken then either fix it or don’t. Make that decision and give yourself a timeline to deal with it. Having broken things hanging around is a waste of your precious real estate! (It is also bad Feng Shui as these things symbolize a broken life.)

3. Have a donate box/bin in an easily accessible place where you can have items that you no longer want, love, or need. As soon as it is full take the items to the thrift shop or appropriate new home.

4. Keep flat surfaces clear. This is a toughy! Clean and clear surfaces such as tables and counter tops are magnets for clutter. Keep the mess at bay by doing a quick tidy at the end of the day. Go from room to room with a basket and return items to their spot. Better yet get your family into the habit of helping with this as part of their bed time routine. 😉

5. Do your dishes after your meal. This is a great habit to get into that has been awesome for me in my home! As soon as we are finished our meal together, we each have a job to do; whether it be clearing dishes, washing, drying, or putting away. Then I usually follow and wipe the table and counter tops. It is a pet peeve of mine to wake up to dirty, smelly dishes. A nasty way to start the day is to have to do chores!

6. Another habit that takes just a couple of minutes is to make your bed after you get up. It is such a simple and quick thing to do that automatically makes your room look way better. Start when your kiddos are young in teaching them to pull the covers up when the get up. My seven year old is awesome at this! My teen…well still working on that one!!

7. Do a load of laundry every day or every second day at the most. This makes it so much easier than having a bunch of loads to do at a time. There is always enough to make a load if you think about it. Throw in some towels, a coat or that throw blanket that you have been meaning to wash. Also make sure that laundry ends up in the clothes hampers and not all over the floor. Lastly make sure those clothes get put away. (Why is this task so difficult?)

These things don’t cost money and they cost little time but make a world of difference! Start with one thing at a time and gradually incorporate all of these into your everyday routine. 

Best of luck,

Krystal

Simplify Your Nest

 

 

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Resolutions

I Resolve to Not Make Resolutions. Here is What I will do Instead!

Resolutions

New Years Resolutions are not my thing. From what I have researched only 8-14% of people will have success with their resolutions. I am not discouraging you from making them; you need to do what is right for you. I just want to give you some theory and really think it through so that you don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Resolutions are paved with good intentions however that just isn’t enough. I do think that it is imperative to understand why they fail so that you have a better chance of succeeding.

Here are my thoughts on why resolutions fail…

1. Goals are too vague or too complex. Either way you are setting yourself up for failure. For example, if you say that this is the year that you are going to get in shape but you don’t have a plan or a reason for doing so then you likely won’t stick with it. Something has to change in order for you to meet your end result.

What can you do? Things like scheduling time for workouts and meal planning would be a great start for getting on your way. Perhaps taking a health class or signing up for an event will get you motivated. Write it down and make it happen.

On the flip side if you make an uber detailed plan with no room for any flexibility you are going to get stressed, overwhelmed and begin to resent what you are doing. Don’t say, “I am going to work out for an hour every day, drink green smoothies twice a day, cut out all sugar, gluten, red meat and sign up for an event every month.” This is not realistic and most people would like to have a life to live beyond this one resolution. If you hate what you are doing then why are you doing it? Keep it simple!

2. Making too many changes at once. You are trying to make too many things a habit at once by saying that you are going to eat healthy, exercise more, get organized and get out of debt this year. This decreases the likelihood that you will make any changes at all.

What can you do? Choose one thing and make it a regular part of your life before you add another. (I read that it takes anywhere from 21-66 days to form a habit.) Prioritize what you want to do and make that a habit before you move on to the next!

3. You should do it. Many of us think that we need to follow the crowd and set resolutions because it is what everyone else is doing. We are ‘supposed to’ live according to the standard and do what everyone else is doing. No. Thank. You. If you cannot pinpoint any value in what you think you should change, you likely won’t do it anyways.

Resolutions and goals take work. So if you are serious about making changes then you have to put in the time. Prioritize, plan, and schedule your way to success. Check in with yourself every now and then as well to stay accountable. 

All the best to you!

Krystal

~ Bill Cosby
~ Bill Cosby
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overwhelm

3 Ways to Cope with Overwhelm!

Dear anxiety, please leave and go elsewhere. Sincerely. Me!

Does anyone else feel overwhelmed at times? I am sure that we all do; especially this time of year. Sometimes I forget to look at all that I have accomplished and hyper focus on all that I have left to do. Then I get anxious and that is never a good thing for anyone around!

This little monster may creep up when we least expect it. For example picture this… You are in the middle of laundry, cleaning up lunch, trying to get everyone out the door to go grocery shopping and the phone rings. You answer it and get caught up in the conversation. The kids are waiting by the door with their coats on, (impatiently I might add!) So you wrap up the conversation. Oh then you remember that you have to fold that load of laundry in the dryer before it gets all wrinkly. So you send the kids into the yard to play for a minute. Finally you are ready to leave, you go to head out the door and realize that the dog has peed on the floor. You. Lose. Your. Mind. You deal with that mess just in time for your little one to come back in the house and let you know that he has to pee. Off come all of the clothes. Super. You realize that you have just spent an hour trying to get out of the door and you are going to be late for a dinner party. You still have to make an appetizer! Your heart races, you can feel your body heating up, you almost feel like you are having an out of body experience. Then the tears roll down your face. You don’t think that things can get ANY worse.

That situation may be on the extreme side but has definitely happened to me. I am getting better at handling these situations which can really happen to anyone. Here’s what helps me control myself when I am uber frustrated. 

 

1) Stop. Think. and Breathe. This is what we would tell our kiddos when they were little. It makes sense really. Shallow breathing contributes to panic. By taking long, deep breaths we stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for activities that occur when our body is at rest. When we are calm. It basically works opposite to our flight or fight response. When you begin to recognize the panic feelings, you should remove yourself from the situation long enough to take 10 slow, deep breaths. Breath in deeply through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. When you breathe in imagine that air is going up to your head and when you are exhaling imagine that the air is going down your spine and out of your body. In with the good and out with the bad. Now chances are you can think clearly with a little more perspective.

 

2) Perspective. Ask yourself this: will it matter in a month? a week? or even a day?  Is it a mountain out of a mole hill scenario?  Sometimes I will stop and use the phrase, “In the scheme of life, does this really matter?”  Nine times out of ten it does not.

 

3) Accomplishments. So no you didn’t get out the door in a timely manner and your list is still big BUT what about the laundry that got done, the dishes that got cleaned and the kids that are taken care of? All of those things count. Make a list if you want to. Cross off all of the things that you have finished, even if they seem trivial. You will soon realize that you are a rock star!

Just remember that we all of been there. You are not alone. Take care of yourself because believe it or not that is the most important thing that you can do. Do it for yourself and for your loved ones.

 

overwhelm

 

Blessings,

Krystal

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lights

Simple Christmas Storage Solutions

Christmas storage can be tricky between the indoor lights, the outdoor lights, the ornaments, the tree, the wrapping and all of the other cutsie knick-knack items. My goal is to find you ways that you can neatly organize all of your stuff without spending a ton of money! In fact there are several items in our home already that we can use to organize these items.

Lets first talk about lights:

Here you will see that these lights are simply wrapped around cardboard. Cut your cardboard to fit a plastic tub or cardboard box and you can stack various string of lights inside. Easy peasy!

Source

lights

 

                                                                                               

Here we have Christmas lights coiled up in a regular mason jar which will tightly fit a 12′ string of small lights. It is apparently easy to unravel too. If you want you can even leave them in the jar, light them up and have a pretty decoration or something to use for a party.

 Source

 

 

jar storage

                                                                                                 

 

Let’s not forget about the ornaments.

There are many ways to store those precious ornaments too! Ever thought about reusing those red solo cups? Place a cardboard or wood piece between and you have double the storage. Woot-woot!

 

red solo

 

 

Here is another great way to recycle and repurpose something and keep it out of the landfill. I think this is brilliant! Use those drink trays to hold round ornaments. They fit nicely and these things can stack nicely! Why didn’t I think of that? Please click on the picture to follow more on this.

Source

 

cup holder

                                                                                                  

Egg cartons are a great way to safely store all kinds of things including various Christmas tree decorations. All is protected nicely in this and you can use multiple egg cartons to stack. Just label the outside of them with marker to know what’s inside.

Source

 

egg carton

                                                                                                 

Here is another great way to store a fragile ornament. Reuse a plastic food storage bag. Puff it up with some air to make a cushion and it will provide protection for whatever is inside.

Source

 

plastic bag

 

 

This would be a great DYI project made out of some wood, dowels and hooks. This lovely all in one organizer houses wrapping paper, ribbon, scissors and tape. Love it when everything can be stored together! The how-to is in the link below.

Source

gift wrap

 

Have any of those plastic storage bag holders kicking around? They can serve a dual purpose like many of our household items.

 

bag storage container

 

And last but not least here is a very simple way to store your wrap. Yep you just need string!

 

giftwrap storage

 

This should get you on your way to an organized holiday! I would love to hear ways that you organize your holiday paraphenalia. Leave me a message in the comments.

Blessings,

Krystal

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“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!” 
― Dr. Seuss

Where Did the Joy of Christmas Go?

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!”  ― Dr. Seuss
“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
― Dr. Seuss

Remember when you were a child and you couldn’t wait for Christmas day to come? You were literally counting down the sleeps until that special day? Looking back I remember the get-togethers, playing with my cousins, driving around to look at the Christmas lights, the music and mostly the excitement of the big day building up.

So what happens as we grow up? We stop believing in the magic of Christmas perhaps? We forget about the reason behind the season and the true meaning? We end up emptying our bank accounts and then some? It could be a number of reasons. I recently polled some of our Facebook followers to see what it is about the holiday season that really irks them. The answers were: commercialization, financial strain, expense, excessive gift buying, pressure to buy gifts, the drama, and the excessive packaging. One person also resented the fact that stores started decorating and playing music way before December.

I think that all of these are valid reasons for feeling a little Scroogey.

Problem: Let’s first address the holiday in terms of the expense of it all. Who do we buy present for and where do we draw the line? We make our list. We have our immediate family, our parents, siblings, nephews, nieces, friends…Oh! Don’t forget about teachers, bus drivers, the paperboy…let’s not forget about our Dr’s…I mean PULLEASE. Where does it end? No wonder we are broke and have negative feelings towards Christmas!

Solution: Narrow your list to suit your budget. There are other ways to show appreciation. And how many mugs and smelly things can one teacher have?! Do they want a gazillion #1 Teacher ornaments? I am guessing for the most part no. At least not the ones that I have spoken with . How about writing a letter to let them know how much they are appreciated? Believe it or not, not everyone wants to receive gifts. Seriously. Unless you find truly meaningful gifts who is to say that your bus driver wants 25 boxes of chocolates. Don’t buy just for the sake of buying.

Here are some other ways that you can show appreciation:

Three Alternatives To An Expensive Gift

  • Quality Time (My favorite!) In my opinion this is the best way to show someone that you care. It is the chance to spend time together and make memories. I am more likely to remember the day we had together laughing and talking but chances but chances are I won’t remember or think too much about that sweater you got me.
  • Make a Gift. My favorite gifts are the ones that people have spent time making for me. My husband has built things with his tools, my bff made a beautiful quilt for me, my mom has made me afghans. Over the years my hubby has written me poems. These are some of my most treasured things ever! Yes some of these things still cost money but if you already have the materials to make them then you can also save money. Another benefit of making your own gift is that there isn’t all of the excessive packaging that goes with store bought items. It’s a win-win.
  • Offer your services. Offer to take your friend’s children for the day or for a sleep over so that they can have some time to themselves. That can be a real lifesaver when you need a break and don’t have family that is close by. Have your friends over for a nice meal or plan a day trip together. All of these things make for fun experiences.

More great ideas! Here are more alternatives to buying gifts from Leo at Zen Habits.

Problem: Consumerism. Consumerism is slapping Christmas in the face and turning it into a retail free for all. Companies are using Christmas as a prime time to market their products. They all claim to have the ‘perfect’ gift amongst all of the plastic and boxes. There are tons of toy commercials on TV this time of year; much to parents chagrin. There needs to be that balance between Christmas and consumerism.

Solution: Don’t buy into it. (Pun intended). Do what you feel comfortable doing. Spend what you are able to spend. There are some things that are out of our control like the commercials, the store’s music, decorations, and advertising. People feel pressured into buying from the ‘get a head start on Christmas’ slogans. You know that though? I cannot stress this enough…people need to start doing what is right for them. If you feel like the true meaning of Christmas is lost then how can you find it again? In a previous post I suggested sitting down with your loved ones and discussing exactly what your goals were for the holiday season. Make your Christmas mission statement. You may be surprised to know that gift buying and giving etc. isn’t what everyone cares about anyways.

Problem: Family Drama. This can be tricky. I feel like this one should be left to the experts. I get that all families have drama. Why does this exasperate at Christmas time? I know that some families have to drive all over God’s green (or white) earth at Christmas time. Some love hangin’ with the fam. while others just want to stay home. I haven’t had these issues because my husband’s family is all overseas, my parents live in the same town as me and my brother isn’t far away.

Also all families have different dynamics and get along or don’t get along for various reasons. Dealing with that when you are all together at Christmas can be tough.

Solution: Let the little things slide and deal with the big issues. In other words there comes a point when you realize that you cannot change people so you either accept them for who they are or move on. Well, with family this is a little more difficult especially at family functions. So the little things that annoy you should just be ignored while the things that are going to make you insane if you have to deal with them one more time should perhaps be dealt with in the form of a reasonable conversation. We hope that our families will act perfectly at all times but we know that this is not realistic so set your expectations a teeny bit lower.

My Christmas wish for you is to have a positively wonderful holiday season. Make the most out of what you have wherever you are. You can do it!!!

Christmas

 

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holiday definition

Our Free Gift to You!

I love to host a get together on Christmas Eve that involves our dearest family and friends. Basically we hang out listening to Christmas music, play games, and snack on appetizers. We always watch where Santa is in the world too. (Here is the link for that! http://www.noradsanta.org/) It is one of my favorite traditions. We exchange gifts with our friends and the kids always get to open one present from us which is new pajamas. They wear their new pj’s and then in the morning they look nice for the occasional snapshot that we may take opening presents. Like all get togethers it does take a little planning though. And here is why I thought it would be nice to have a pretty list ready for you to print and plan your special holiday get together. You can use it for a dinner party, a holiday games evening, the ugly Christmas sweater party, or even Christmas dinner. 

 

Remember the theme here is to have a low to no stress holiday. You are not doing ANYONE a favor including yourself if you cannot enjoy this time of year. 

holiday definition

So for those that enjoy making lists to get organized here is your Holiday Menu Planner .

Holiday Menu PlannerP1

Holiday Menu PlannerP2

Enjoy your get together! 

Blessings,

Krystal & Shawna

 

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let her sleep

6 Ways to Simplify to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

By taking 10-15 minutes a night to complete just a few tasks you can clear the clutter thus clearing your mind for a restful sleep. Ahhhhhh bliss, right? Here’s a simple little routine that will help you sleep like a baby. (I may be biased but I think that this baby is adorable!)

Baby Sleeping

 

1) Make sure that your sink is sparkly. Shawna learned this tip from Fly Lady years ago and has stuck with it. By shining your sink you not only have a sense of accomplishment by having to have all of your dishes clean but you also get to wake up to a sparkly sink in the morning. What a nice feeling! Starting with a clean pallete so to speak and not having to wake up to do this task will bring you joy. As Fly Lady says: ” When you get up the next morning, your sink will greet you, and a smile will come across your lovely face.”

Tip- Getting your dishes done right after a meal is a time saver. Little bits of food won’t be stuck on and you won’t have to soak and scrape later. 

2) Do a quick tidy. Take a couple of minutes every night to quickly return items to their proper rooms. Just a simple pick up can eliminate the clutter that can soon get out of hand.

Tip- Have your family pick up their belongings before bed as part of their routine. It is a great habit for kids to form. Then pat yourself on the back for being a great parent. 

3) Pick out the next day’s clothes. By taking a minute to choose your clothes the next day you will eliminate that task from the early morning chaos. You won’t have to go searching. Also, if any of you have a teen that MUST have that certain thing to wear you can search it out and not have an early morning battle!

Tip – Make sure that clothing is returned to it’s proper closet when you are finished. It is so easy to do the dump n’ run but makes it difficult when it comes time to find those shoes, coats etc. Take 2 minutes as soon as the kiddos get home from school or activities to sort and hang outerwear. (They can help too. Get them in the habit!)

4) Make a list before you settle down for the night. Lists are a great way to organize tasks and thoughts so that you don’t have to worry about remembering everything. Make a short list of what you want to accomplish. Prioritize those things. Put your list away and forget about it til morning!

Tip – I <Krystal> like paper lists. There is nothing quite like crossing off those accomplishments and watching the list get smaller and smaller. Shawna enjoys the techie apps for her I-phone and computer. Some of her faves are Remember the Milk, Evernote, and Trello

5) Take out the trash! It is the same idea as clearing your sink. Get rid of all of the trash and start clean and fresh for the next day. Besides when you think about it, it is kind of gross having smelly trash fermenting in there all night. (Ok maybe that’s a little exaggeration…) 😉

Tip – Find ways to decrease your trash and help out the environment. Make a goal as simple as gradually getting rid of plastic containers/baggies for food and replacing them with stainless steel and or glass. 

6) Relax. Yes you need to have some down time before you jump into bed. Take time for you because you deserve it. Have a bath, read, meditate, do yoga or whatever it is that relaxes you. Clearing your mind can help you fall asleep to get the rest that you NEED.

Tip – I have never slept so good as I do when I do a meditation before bed. Here is a free healing meditation from the lovely Leonie Dawson! 8 Minute Healing Meditation.

let her sleep

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Love this man.

Why I Won’t Sacrifice Date Day For Anything

I dedicate this post to the man that not only does dishes but wraps his arms around me when I am doing them.

Photo from One Extraordinary Marriage Facebook
Photo from One Extraordinary Marriage Facebook

I have been married to my husband for almost 16 years. We were 19 when we met. I was from a teeny tiny town that I had lived in throughout all of my school years. He was a British soldier that was an army brat and he had lived in cities all over the world. We were literally from two different worlds. I had no idea about what the army life involved. I am chicken of many things. He drove a tank, jumped out of planes and had done many things that I could not fathom. We had many obstacles during our first year; to be expected I guess with the logistics of it all. Not to mention that from the day we met to the day we got married it was 6 months. Yes you read that right SIX months. That’s it. But we just knew. We were engaged three months after we met. He was training out on the prairies for weeks at a time but we were together every chance that we got. He was only in Canada for the year and as luck would have it, I met him in the last 3 months of his station here. I just knew that he was different; he was special. My heart would leap every time the phone would ring. We could talk for hours. After a days work we would make the hour and a half drive to see each other. There was no keeping away except when we had to. My heart ached whenever we had to say goodbye. 

Let me back up. The first time we met, he walked though my doors and I thought he was absolutely gorgeous. His eyes are a stunning steel blue and next to his golden sun-kissed skin and thick dark hair I couldn’t help but stare. On top of that he was pretty darn buff. He worked out a lot. And his eyes…did I mention his eyes? OK, where was I? That evening there were a group of us that hung out, laughed, probably drank too much. Him and I started talking. He made a few cracks and told jokes that I didn’t appreciate. Something like…”Why do women have small feet?” “So that they are closer to the sink when they do dishes.” Seriously. Did he really just say that? I should have known then that this guy would always wind me up. Anyways at that time I decided that I didn’t really like him. Except…. the weekend continued and I found him dancing with my little guy. It was pretty adorable and my son adored him. Wait a minute maybe he wasn’t too bad. After that weekend I didn’t think that I would see him again. Never say never… A couple weeks later I had a bad day. A REALLY crappy day. I drove down to the army base to talk to a friend. He was there. He was concerned about me (weird right) and asked if I wanted to go into the city and hang out. I didn’t really feel like it but I went.The universe decided that I needed to go. Something pulled me in his direction. We sat talking and dancing and goofing around. We planned to meet again and that time we ended up talking all night until the sun came up. We were so different but had a lot of the same ideas; we hit it off. That was it. And they say, “The rest is history.” 

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”
-Mignon McLaughlin

Like I said, we have had many challenges. When it comes down to it though, I trust this man one hundred and ten percent. He has never given me reason not to. He is faithful, loyal, strong, and thoughtful. (I mostly get to see that side of him). He makes me laugh and is playful – I love this, it keeps us young. He helps out much more than I give him credit for and is a very handy guy. I love that he will attempt anything. He is a good father and has even coached the kids sports off and on over the years. I give him a hard time about gaming because time often gets away and he gets lost in the fun. These days though he games and then wants to hang out with me. The thing is that we have always made dating a priority. Why would you date someone that you are married to? Well let’s just say that it is great to get comfortable in your lives but it is imperative that you remember who you were when you met and remember all of those reasons why you fell in love in the first place. Some say that it is too difficult now that they have children or they don’t have time. That’s bull. It just is. We lived across the world from each other and we still managed to keep the flame burning so to speak. There have been times where he was away for weeks. We didn’t have endless family members around to watch the kiddos (though my parents have been awesome!). We just found a way to make time almost every week to spend time together as a couple because it is important. Very important.  Many of our dates when we didn’t have a sitter were at home after the kiddos were in bed. It didn’t matter what we did as long as it was just me and him time. Nowadays we get a few hours every second Tuesday to be together just him and I. It is a non negotiable thing. Some may say it’s selfish but we do not book anything else on these days that would mean not hanging out together. It is fantabulous. I encourage you. NO I challenge you to talk to your loved one about regular date nights. 

How can I plan date nights? What will we do?

1. Sit down with your hunny and talk about date nights. What do you both enjoy? Are there any compromises that you can make so that you can both enjoy your time?

2. Schedule regular date nights in. It can be weekly, bi-weekly, monthly; whatever works for you as long as you do it!

3. Sign up for an event. This is a great way to do something fun together while staying active. 

Color Me Rad 2013
Color Me Rad 2013

4. Make a list of 10 things that you would enjoy doing for a date night and 10 things that your spouse would enjoy. Draw from the date idea jar. Every time you choose one put it aside so that you have a new date each time. This way it is also fair.

5. Budget. Make sure you set aside some money for your dates or plan dates that don’t cost anything if you just don’t have room in your budget for it.

6. To spice things up do something new that neither one of you has done before. 

7. Listen and laugh. Here is your chance to listen to your loved one without the everyday interruptions. Laugh like you don’t have a care in the world. Let loose and forget about the day to day worries and stresses. 

If you are needing creative ideas for implementing date nights, Shawna and I have created this amazing resource that may be up your alley. It is called Simply Sexy Date Night Package and the ideas have been tried and tested by us!

couple-on-beach-2-300x225

Here are more fun date night ideas from The Nest.

 The best thing about me is you

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The current, cozy lil home of Kristin and her fiance.

Interview With Kristin Allan (Heart to heart about life in the moHo, minimalism, and technology).

Thanks Kristin for being our guest over here at the Simple Life Celebration Blog! For those that don’t know, your blog Along the Heart Trail: Tales From a Tiny Home on Wheels was started after you purchased a motor home and moved up North. I was ecstatic to be delving into your mind and hearing all about your story, reasons behind your adventure and minimalism!  

The current, cozy lil home of Kristin and her fiance.
The current, cozy lil home of Kristin and her fiance.
  • What prompted you to start your blog?
Hi ladies! I’m so flattered that you have asked me to be a guest.  I first got the idea to start a blog from a colleague who thought that I had a lot of knowledge to share with the world. That was about a year and a half ago.  I kind of laughed at him and said thanks, but my life isn’t that interesting. Who would read my rants and ramblings anyway? It took me a year and a half to get the nerve up to create a blog domain and write the first post. My biggest fear was that I might scare off some friends and acquaintances with my bold opinions on the state of our world. I decided that speaking my truth was more important than what others think of me.
  •  How would you describe yourself?
This is a broad question.  I would say that I’m a black sheep. I feel like I see the world a bit differently, even since a very young age.  I have always been observant of my surroundings and of other people and have a strong curiosity for human psychology and what makes people tick. More importantly, what makes people happy? A year and a half ago, I would have called myself a “people pleaser”.  Now, I have reformed myself to be a “ME pleaser” first, and when I have left over time and energy, I still love to help others to find their own happiness and purpose.
  •     Can you tell our readers how you came to the decision of leaving the town that you were in and your business to live in the MoHo?
In a nutshell, I was an owner/operator of a successful consignment clothing store in a small town.  My business partner, who was also my life partner, and I parted ways and it just didn’t make sense for us to co-own the business…after an additional year of trying to tell myself that it would work out to continue to run the business together. So I sold my shares in the business and was looking for a new life path. Enter my fiancé. He and I were both searching for more meaning in our lives. We didn’t know what we were looking for until we found each other. He’s a black sheep too. In a really good way. Last Christmas, a family member re-gifted us a book about minimalist living that we thoroughly enjoyed. It prompted us to downsize our lives and buy a 1982 26’ motorhome. We wanted to experience living with as little as possible in a tiny space to see if people really need all of the STUFF that we seem to covet in our society.  A bonus of living in a motor home is that it’s 100% portable and allows us to be adventurous.
  •       Was it difficult to minimize your belongings even further to fit in your cozy home on wheels? Have you always considered yourself to be a minimalist?
To be honest, it was pretty simple for both of us to get rid of our extra stuff.  We were both pretty minimalist when we met so it wasn’t a huge leap.  I certainly wasn’t raised with a minimalist mindset.  As a child, I had all of the material STUFF that I could have ever asked for.  But, strangely enough, our family was still not happy most of the time. I grew up on the east coast of the US and when the opportunity arose for me to move to Alberta in 2004, I left everything I owned behind, except a carry-on size suitcase with a few articles of clothing and some toiletries. I would say that was pretty minimalist, I just didn’t know it at the time.  After a few years, my mom asked if I wanted her to send any of my STUFF to Alberta.  I said “I have no idea what I left behind, so probably not. Thanks for asking. Please donate what you can to a charity.” The things that I thought were so important had become irrelevant.  Fast forward to 2011, when my ex and I separated. I left with my clothing, a few books, a yoga mat, a bed and my trusty ol’ VW Jetta. Literally, that was IT.  Having so little feels SO freeing.
  •   Do you miss any of your belongings?
Nope.  I couldn’t even tell you what I parted with, other than a bed.  I really enjoyed re-gifting some items that I knew others would appreciate having. Living in our tiny home has been like a chastity belt for purchasing or accepting any new STUFF. It’s awesome.
  •     What advice would you give for anyone else considering pairing down their ‘stuff’?
Open your closets and storage spaces. Start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself by tackling everything at once.  If you find yourself thinking “WOW! I forgot I had this thing”, ditch it.  If it something has an inch of dust on it, ditch it. If you haven’t used it or worn it in at least a year, ditch it.  Even the stuff that you feel a sentimental attachment to, or feel an obligation to keep just because you are worried that the person who gave it to you might be offended if they discover you no longer have that THING…ditch it.  Then do a happy dance. Tell everyone that you are on a mission to live a simpler life.  How can they be upset when they see how happy and light you are?!
  •     Is there anything that you were not anticipating when you made this move?
Hmmmm. We have had to rely on the kindness of friends and family for showering. The shower in our motor home is VERY teenie. So we use it to house our drinking water bottle and some extra items that didn’t fit in the small cupboards.  Also, the oven is so small that you could only bake 6 muffins, so I do baking in real ovens.  Oh, also, the motor home guzzles fuel.  So we find ourselves being very calculated about how far and how often we move her around.
  •     How do you think technology has changed the world? Is it necessary? How do you think it has affected our relationships?
Haha. I will try to keep this answer brief, because I could write a novel about this. Technology is good. In some ways. I think there have been a lot of amazing breakthroughs that are saving lives and helping raise the bar for our quality of life on earth.  On the flip side, my personal view is that a lot of the gadgets that are being pushed on us as modern conveniences are actually degrading our quality of life and the human connections that we all need to thrive. The next time you’re in a public place, like a mall or restaurant, take a few minutes to sit quietly and observe others.  Chances are that you will see people ignoring those they are with to attend to their texts and Facebook messages.  Everyone is distracted by the beeps and buzzing of their phones and other devices. I think people are forgetting what really matters in life. The people. I think smart phones and the like give us all a false sense of connection.  I am a huge advocate for TECHNOLOGY-FREE days.  Make an agreement with yourself and family members to turn off all phones, beepers, buzzers, computers and the TV and go outside. Do something together that will create memories. When you go out for coffee with a friend, turn your phone off and hide it so it won’t be tempting. Life is too short to miss the special moments.
  •  If you could encourage people to read one book what would it be and why?
I have read a lot of awesome books in the last few years, but I think the one that I am re-reading right now is amazing.  It’s one of the books that first inspired me to start my blog. It’s called Turning to One Another by Margaret Wheatley.  She brilliantly explores the idea of human connection and why it’s SO important in today’s frantically fast-paced world. I’m actually writing a new blog post about it coming up!
  • Do you have a favorite blog?
This may be ironic, but I don’t really read other blogs. I try not to spend much time online. I find it distracts me from living in the moment and enjoying what’s right in front of me. I am a recovering Facebook addict.  Like many (or most?), there was a period of time when I was consumed by clicking on Facebook a dozen times a day.  Now, my blog posts even go to Facebook automatically so I don’t even have to log on there.  It’s pretty awesome.
  • What do you think are necessities in life?
It’s pretty simple to me. Obviously, food, water and shelter are givens. Above and beyond those, I think we all need meaningful relationships and loving connections with other humans. We need to do what we love every day. Even just doing little things can make a huge difference.  That’s it. The rest is just static, distracting us from living an innately beautiful existence.
  • If you could have one wish granted for the world what would it be?
This feels like a Miss Universe question, so I will try not to stumble and sound silly. I think what I would like to see is for people to start taking responsibility for their own thoughts and actions. We all need to stop making excuses, and start helping ourselves. Mind our own business and stop gossiping. Resolve our own conflicts, treat our minds and bodies with love, and start giving more and taking less. Be the change. It all starts with you.
  • Anymore adventures for you and the moHo?
Oh yes!  The adventure has just begun.  We have lived in our moHo for 6 months now. We have enjoyed it SO much that we are going to continue to live in there for as long as it’s feasible. Winter is just around the corner in Northern Alberta, so we have decided to head to the West Coast for the chilly months.  We have some really exciting ideas up our sleeves.  Human social experiments, if you will.  It’s going to be amazing and I’m super excited to blog about it all.  If you are curious: www.alongthehearttrail.blogspot.com
Thanks again Kristin. I am looking forward to following up with you next year to see where your adventures have led you! 

Kristin Allan is a Pennsylvania native who migrated north to Alberta 9 years ago. She strives to live simply by minimizing the stuff and stress, while maximizing the love in her life.
For several years she operated a women’s consignment clothing store which she founded in central Alberta.  “Buy it used” is her motto.

She and her man half recently sold most of their belongings and purchased a 30 year old motorhome to live in for the warm season, until the bitter northern Alberta winter chases them into a warmer space.

Kristin loves to share her knowledge of minimalism, growing food, healthy communication and veggie cooking with curious folks.

kristin

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