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Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013!

Simply Reflecting

WARNING: This post may contain extreme pride!

Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013!
Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013!

Last weekend Shawna and I got together to evaluate our business and how we did last year. I knew that we had accomplished a fair bit but was really surprised when we started to write it all down. Let’s just say that I am so freaking proud of us for what we have accomplished in 2012!

  • The Celebrate Life Summit; a week long celebration that included 9 live events and 15 interviews with many of our favorite blogger friends.
Freezing in February for the Food Bank Event
Freezing in February for the Food Bank Event

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • More organizing sessions with some fantastic clients
  • More speaking engagements
  • The release of THREE new E-books
  • A Simple, Healthy Kitchen Event
Health Street Event
Health Street Event

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The SLC Gals

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • We have been providing y’all with daily challenges on our Facebook page. We have had good feedback from these!
  • We have taken our own advice and SIMPLIFIED; no more doing things the hard way!
  • We have welcomed more clients and subscribers and appreciate you ALL so much!
  • We were featured as Champions of Technology.
  • We attended a Community Information Night and met some people interested in organizing.
  • We have met so many mentors, friends, and amazing clients!

We couldn’t be more grateful for all of the opportunities that we have had. Our goal is to help people simplify their lives by ditching the clutter and the guilt. This will continue to be our goal in 2013. We cannot wait to share our next exciting plans with you!

 

Towards a Simpler Christmas

simple Christmas

Written by Shawna November 2011

Well, it’s getting much closer now…we just got some snow here this week. Honestly, we’ve been pretty lucky that we haven’t had any up until now. That’s been kinda unusual! But with the snow, for me [S], comes more thoughts on Christmas.

As many of you know, I’ve been working toward a more Minimalist lifestyle. In particular, less stuff and MORE FUN has become my motto. This holds true for our Christmas plans this year.
We are going to be going to Disney World in the spring, plus, we’ve decided that we really don’t need so much STUFF. The kids’ Christmas wish list actually only had 5 items on it, most of which were pretty minimal. They even decided to ask for an XBOX 360 together (we’ll see what Santa thinks on that one) rather than thinking about separate stuff.
I have asked family to refrain from getting the kids so much STUFF – it’s not that we don’t appreciate it all, but we’ve come to love the time spent much more than the things we have – including the kids! They’ve discovered that they’d much rather go DO something than sit here surrounded by all their stuff that they just end up having to clean up all the time!
We each have our “things” that we love. Of course, for me, it’s my computers and iPhone. For my husband, his games and his beer stuff. My kids – their movies and lego and games too. But…our favorites have become each other more and more and that makes me VERY happy.
I’m encouraging people to give more gifts of time instead of stuff. What do I mean by that? I’ll give you some examples
  1. Wrap a new game and an invite for friends to come over and play at your house some night during the year. Make it a family friendly one – there are lots of them like the Cranium games and many different Monopoly versions are available.
  2. I recently stayed at the Executive Royal Inn in Calgary – they have a special offer that I think would be an AWESOME gift for your family! Instead of a bunch of little things that the kids would play with once, try this: “All Inclusive” Family Getaway Package: Deluxe accommodation for 2 nights, Prime Rib buffet dinner for 2 nights, breakfast buffet for 2 days, Family of 5 Zoo pass, Boxed lunch for the Calgary Zoo trip – $399 incl. taxes – that would be more fun and a little mini-holiday that you would all enjoy. Look for more deals like that one! You don’t have to go far!
  3. Season passes to area amusement parks, zoos, museums, etc – whatever your family favorite is. It’s cheaper to buy them ahead of time, and you’re going to go anyway, so why not make it a gift!?
  4. Shared babysitting between family and friends – babysit for free for each other, even overnight, so that each of you can have quiet, personal space “away” from the kids. Learn who you are as a couple again!
  5. Tickets to live theatre or music concert – Believe it or not, my kids (and my husband and I) absolutely LOVE life theatre! We’ve seen everything from small local productions of Willy Wonka to the Lion King and all have had my children mesmerized! It’s fun getting all dressed up and going to a special “show” like that. It’s a real treat and you’ll be surprised how much your family enjoys it.The Nutcracker and Scrooge have been favorites that we’ve seen several times now. Even seeing a special musical concert is a treat as well. Add a gift card for a restaurant and make it even more special!
  6. Our Organizing packages are something very simple, ready to go that you can just enjoy giving to someone that “has everything”. It’s perfect for the Mom with no time, for the mother-in-law that has everything and even for the busy Dad who just wants a break. Gift packages like ours are more about finding some free time and enjoying your family and doing something yourself than it is about the “stuff” in the package.
I’m sure you get the idea. These can be inexpensive local items to the more extravagant – whatever fits into your budget and lifestyle. I would rather spend more money on 1 great thing for all of us (like the Disney World trip) than the same amount on many, many different things that we outgrow, don’t need, and clutter up our lives.
I’ll be talking more about other aspects of the season that I would like to inspire you to simplify in the coming posts. I also read some posts this week:
I think these will inspire you to rethink how you feel about the holidays and what you focus on. Don’t try to change everything – just start with something. Make some new, SIMPLER traditions this year!

 

Conquering the Paper Clutter.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with stacks of paper clutter just remember you are not alone!

People often feel that they may need that document one day or they think, “What if I can’t find <fill in the blank> anywhere ever again?”

The truth is. Any kind of physical clutter that affects your thinking in a negative way will drag you down. It may prevent you from being productive or make you unhappy when you look at it.  It slows you down, cramps you up. It makes it hard to move and hard to work.

What can you do to get over these feelings?

  • Take a few deep breaths. A long, slow deep breath releases tension, brings clarity, and detoxifies your body (among other things). Whenever you feel the tension building up just stop for a moment and breathe.
  • Know that when you have decluttered your area that you will be able to be more productive, you will enjoy your space and you will be able to move and think freely. Doesn’t that sound lovely?

You CAN do this. Seriously. Try the one touch rule. If you touch the binder or the paper make a decision right away. Do not just put it back down or relocate it. That is a waste of your time as then you have to later go back to it and decide what to do with it. Once you have decided to dispose of something, get rid of it right away or have a coworker dispose of it for you.

Remember that 80% of what we file we NEVER look at again! Look at your office as prime real estate. Those papers that you never access are taking up most of your precious space! Keep only what you need, use and love! You can do it!!!

Don’t postpone. Remember, clutter is postponed decisions. What will you know tomorrow that you don’t know today?

Get rid of duplicates. You only need one copy and if you need more then copy them as you need them.

If you haven’t accessed it in a year then chances are you do not need it.

Get rid of old, out of date policies and documents. Remember that many of these can be accessed online and if you aren’t sure where or how to get them then ask a coworker.

Make sure to take frequent breaks as this process can be mentally tiring. Remember to reward yourself for your achievements. (For every shelf take a break, have a cup of tea, show your coworker friends what you are accomplishing!)

Imagine the freedom that you will feel when this task is complete! Envision the clear spaces and empty shelving.

Once you have finished remember to periodically go through the papers. Ask yourself:
1) Is this something that I need to have as a paper copy?
2) Will I use this?
3) Do you enjoy it? Is it something that you will reference that you like?

 

“Out of clutter,

Find Simplicity.

From Discord,

Find Harmony.

In the Middle of Difficulty

Lies Opportunity.”

~Albert Einstein

 

 

We have TONS of great ideas and services!

Need More Help? Call/Email us!

 

Seven Steps to a Simpler Less Stressful Holiday!

I see many people fluttering about at Christmas time. People that are looking for the perfect presents. People wondering if they have bought enough for everyone on their very long list. There are those that feel that if they don’t have dozens of ornate cookies for Christmas then they have failed in some way. Let’s not forget about all of those holiday parties that we are supposed to attend. Before we know it all of our days are booked up and we haven’t done anything that WE really wanted to do. <Insert sigh>

Maybe I think a little less conventional, but isn’t Christmas supposed to be about the meaning and not the stuff? Don’t you want to spend time with the people that you care about most? Those that make you happy? Is anyone going to care, let alone remember that you spent a little less money this year? The most precious gifts that I have received have been kind words, hugs, time made for me, and beautiful hand made gifts that I will hold on to my whole life. These gifts bring me joy every time I think about them. All of these things have a memory and a story behind them. They are special.

How can we get away from the nagging thoughts that if we don’t have a Martha Stewart perfect (ugh I hate that word) holiday then we are a failure? I want to let you know that you can. Rebel with me friends! Here is how we can have a holiday cleanse. Lets’s ditch the guilt once again and get on with living. Let’s start REALLY living our lives the way that we want to with those that we care about.

Simple Step 1:

Be grateful for all that you have. If I were to choose three things right this minute they would be; 1) health 2) the people in my life 3) the opportunity to live somewhere where I can freely voice my opinion. Once we reflect on all that we have we will desire less. Our cupeth really is quite full. There is always something to be grateful for, even in our darkest moments.

Simple Step 2:

When it comes to gift giving let’s simplify our list. Very few of our childhood memories revolve around gifts that we have received. I have always remembered kind words, handmade items prepared lovingly for me, and of course the gift of time. In today’s society time is the most precious gift that we can give each other. Spending time together gives us invaluable memories that we can hold forever.

Some of my most favorite gifts:

~a surprise weekend away that my hubby planned from start to finish. He gave me the gift of quality, romantic time just the two of us!

~my blankets that my mom made (I appreciate the time, effort, and love that went into each stitch.)

~my quilt made from Shawna. (Again there was a ton of time that went into it and it’s beautiful.) I display it in my living room so that I can see and use it every day!

~last year Shawna gave me a tin of inspirational quotes (so creative!) and made us a certificate for a lovely meal at her home. Little does she know that one of these days I will take her up on that!

~I also love the Christmas messages and letters. They are rare but I have a couple of friends that send a neat snapshot of their year!

~Friends/family have taken our kidlings so that hubby and I could have a date or a night away. This is such a precious gift. The gift to reconnect to your spouse is priceless because when our marriage is running tickety boo then everything else seems to fall in place.

Joshua Becker reminds us about what those precious gifts are. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on physical items here are 35 gift ideas that won’t easily be forgotten.

*And seeing as I am on the topic I also think that it is a good idea to explore gently used options. Shopping locally will also help keep those unique stores alive. Both will leave less of a mark on our earth.

Simple Step 3:

Just say no! You do NOT have to attend every party, every Santa Claus appearance, every cookie exchange. Do the things that bring you joy. Isn’t that what the season is supposed to be about anyways?

Simple Step 4:

Plan. Plan. Plan. A clear, concise plan will keep you on track for getting what you really want out of the holiday season. Make a list of everything that you want and make it happen. If you have a family how about discussing it over a nice meal? Take everyone’s suggestions into account and then decide from there what you can do. I guarantee everyone will be happy to have some input.

Simple Step 5:

Lists. I just LOVE lists. 😉 I even got an excellent app for my phone this year to keep track of the gifts that I wanted to get for everyone. It is called Better Christmas List. It was $1.99 and my favorite features are  it creates separate groups for family, friends, work etc. and it sets and tracks budgets for groups or people! Cool beans! By making a list it will help you stay on track for what you want to get people and save the bank by letting you know where you are at with your budget.

Simple Step 6:

Budget. This is important. Christmas spending can easily get out of hand. Shop within your means. If you are on a tight budget then give a homemade certificate. How about invite your friends over for a nice meal, offer babysitting so they can go on a date, girls day out? The possibilities are endless and what a great way to make memories together!

Simple Step 7:

Declutter. When we get rid of the extra ‘things’ we save time from not having to move them, clean them or think about them. Get rid of the broken items, the duplicates, things that no longer have a use and that you don’t love. Clear away space wasting items to get ready for the festivities!

May you all have a joyous, safe and healthy Christmas. Cheers. Xxxxx

 

 

Simple Life Celebrations – Tech Champions!

Thank-you Mr Jamie Syer (Communications Coordinator) for the lovely write up in the Olds Connected Community website and featuring us as Champions of Technology!

If you are wondering what the Simple Life Gals are up to next read all about it here!

If any other local businesses are using technology in an innovative way you can contact Mr Syer here at jamie@jamiesyer.ca

 

What’s happening next for the Simple Life Girlies?

Media Madness!

This week we are working on our living room. We all use this particular room for different things. Some use this room as a fancier space for company. I think most of us use it as a place to connect with our friends and family. It is a place where we go to put our feet up, read, play games, watch a show or movie, cuddle with our loved one, and much more! It has the potential to serve many purposes. I love this room because usually if I am spending time in it then I am finished my work for the day and able to connect with my family or just chill for a bit!

Shawna’s family and my family enjoy movies immensely! We have hundreds of DVDs. Strange you may think for two organizers to have so many movies? Not at all. In fact we encourage people to hang on to the things that they love, that make them happy. Watching movies is just that for us. No, it’s not all we do but some of our favorite times are curling up after a crazy week and watching a show with our loved ones.

Kids DVDs

Being that we have a LOT of movies we like to have them in order so that we can find them easily. Here are the steps for getting your movie media organized.

~go through your movies. Donate or sell  movies that you no longer enjoy or need. Get rid of any duplicates. (it happens ;))

Sort them in a way that makes sense for you. Think about how you would search for a movie? Alphabetical? Genre? By Actor or Director? Favorites? What I do is I separate the kids movies from our movies. I then take it one step further and have a shelf for the Disney videos and a shelf for the other kids videos. Each of those shelves are alphabetized. For mine and hubbies movies we have those alphabetized. For me this is the quickest and most efficient way to find the one that I am looking for when I can do a quick letter search.

Our DVDs

~store your DVDs. Make sure you put them away in a place where you can easily read the titles. Use shelving, media storage, drawers or baskets whatever you have that works in your space. Decide if you want them in plain sight or put away in a cupboard.

~make it interesting. You may enjoy displaying some favorites with some movie posters. Maybe you have a movie room that you want to set up.

I also really like this idea of organizing the media and saving a ton of space. Check it out over at IHeart Organizing.

Compact DVD Storage

Having a collection is ok as long is it makes you happy and does not start to overwhelm or take over your life. Just keep it under control and enjoy it!

If you are needing help getting started on organizing your media or another area of your home contact us and we can get you on your way to an organized space and system! Email us a picture and we can help you through a virtual session.

Kitchen Organizing

❦Kitchen Organizing

Here is a post that I wrote a couple of years ago on how to help you set up your kitchen. After all the kitchen is the heart of the home!

I popped over to a friends house the other day (just for a visit but I couldn’t help myself!). Her and her family have currently undergone several months of renovations in their home. Basically they have renovated the majority of the inside of their home. Now they are in the process of bringing their belongings/household items back in. I was assisting her in her kitchen. This is where her challenge was. She was trying to figure where to put the items. Let’s face it the kitchen is a high traffic room; it has to be functional!

Here are a few tips to help you organize your kitchen:

Determine what you really need! We are so obsessed with having MORE storage space when really we probably only use about a third of what we already have in our drawers and cupboards! Take an inventory as you are unpacking and think about what you do not use or need. Be honest with yourself, when was the last time that you used that melon baller or cookie press? Then separate what you don’t use into: Garbage, Donate/Garage Sale/Give Away, and Keep piles.
Utilize your space well. Find containers that are like sizes and stack them. If you have pots and pans or containers that have a lost/broken lid then find a storage use for it or recycle it!
Use racks and dividers to get the most out of your space. Not only will this save space but it will also save frustration when you are trying to ‘dig’ out the pan that you need that’s on the bottom of the pile!
Things that don’t work well or are missing pieces; get rid of them! You know what I am talking about, the pot that always burns the food and is impossible to clean. Anything that needs replaced put on a wish list, ready to replace when you have saved your pennies.
Keep things that you use often in easy-to-reach locations. Figure out what you use the most and the least and store accordingly. Remember that if you rarely use it then get rid of it!

Store items according to where they will be used the most. I found this list on Wiki of how to separate your kitchen areas.
Storage or pantry. Consider your freezer an extension of this area. Whether you store foods in a true pantry, a cabinet, a closet, or someplace else entirely, don’t forget to go through periodically and clear out items that are hopelessly old or will never be used.
~Preparation. Cutting board, knives, measuring cups and spoons, and mixing bowls all go here.
~Cooking. The stove and oven plus the utensils that go with them. This area should include pots and pans, pot holders, spoons and spatulas (a utensil jar works well for these).
~Baking. If you love to bake, you might find it handy to store your flour, sugar, baking powder, a set of measuring cups and spoons, your favorite mixing bowl, etc. together in one convenient spot.
~Serving. The table, plus tableware, serving dishes, napkins, trivets, and anything else you need to sit down and eat. Soy sauce? Salt and pepper shakers? Sugar bowl? Ask yourself whether it would be more convenient to store your dishes and silverware near the table or the dishwasher.
~Cleaning. The sink, dishwasher and surroundings. Soap, gloves, dish pan, drying rack, cleansers, towels, etc.
~Waste disposal. Keep a trash can handy, plus recycling and compost bins, too. Locate them as centrally as possible without being in the way. They should go near the cleaning and food preparation areas.

Make lists! I love lists. 🙂 Keep an inventory of what you have in your freezer. This keeps you in the know and is easily available for you to see what you have or don’t have. (Ever gone through your freezer and found several of the same items that you didn’t really need to buy?!) As you use things from the freezer you can erase them. Add whatever you need to replace things on the list too.
Make the most of your space by using baskets to store ‘like’ items. Consider using racks for things like cans so that you do not have any wasted space in a cupboard. Also hanging/mounted racks are great for spices. They make them all easily visible and store them together so they are easy to find.

~Most of all enjoy your space and all of the memories that you make in it!

Contact the Simple Life Gals if you need some help getting started in the kitchen.

Simple Tips – Plastic Linen Storage Bags

I recently bought the kids flannel sheets for their beds. They come packaged in those clear, plastic bags with the zippers. Sometimes those bags also house curtain panels and other linens. I usually keep them for my mom who is very crafty. She can store her quilts or crocheting in them. As I went to put these two in the recycling I thought to myself, “There has to be more that I can do with these bags.” So I did what I do best and I researched. I came up with my own ideas on how to reuse the bags. I believe that they can actually come in quite handy even in day to day life.

Take a look at the video here:

Here is what I came up with…
Uses for plastic zippered bags include
~ store stacking or building blocks in them
~ use them to store linens (place a cloth with some pretty incense with it to keep them fresh smelling)
~ put off season clothing or accessories in them
~ for the crafty peeps store pieces of fabric
~ use them to store projects (Easy to grab and work on and keeps it all together)
~ store gift wrap, gift bags, tags, ribbons and tissue paper
~ store baby blankets and sentimental items
~ put it in your vehicle to house emergency supplies or toys
~ organize cords
~ use for toiletries when travelling
~ great for holiday decorations and ornaments to protect and keep them together

How could you use these handy bags? I would be interested to hear what you do with them!

Simple Tips – Overwhelm and Practicing Gratitude!

We all have those days and weeks where we cannot seem to get ahead! We are literally running from one thing to the next. One step forward and two steps back as the saying goes. The walls are closing in and you barely have time to pee! Well, you get the point!
We can let it consume us or we can accept it and embrace it. We can grab this feeling by the ‘nads and take control. This particular night instead of stressing about what I had not got accomplished I decided to be happy with the many tasks that I did get done. I looked back on my day at all of the things that I had to be grateful for like my jobs, family and friends. I talk more about it here in this vid.!

What do you do when you are feeling overwhelmed with life?

Simple Tips: Overwhelm and Practicing Gratitude

Seasonal Confusion

We often get asked about how to deal with clothing. You see where we live we have 4 distinct seasons; some of which seem to be much longer than others. Ah-hem WINTER! So… just when we think that our cold, winter season is over we will have a huge snowstorm. We don’t even bother putting away the winter clothes until the end of May! If we try to sneak our sandals out of hibernation it usually bites us in the @$$! The joke in Alberta is, if you don’t like the weather just wait five minutes.

So… we basically have our winter coats/parkas, spring and fall jackets plus hoodies and sweaters for chilly days/evenings. Gloves, toques, scarves, gloves, mittens, boots (winter and rain), shoes (indoor and outdoor) clutter INVADE our entryways and closets! The solution is not as easy as just picking up and moving to some tropical island where all you have to worry about is which bikini to dawn today. I wish! So what do we do?

Think of your closets as prime real estate. There is no reason that when it is 30 degrees Celsius you should be digging through your heavy sweaters to find your favourite capris! First of all I like to take an inventory of what I have about every 6 months. Chances are you will find items that you no longer wear, that are ripped/stained, that you have replaced with something better, or doesn’t fit you any longer. Put these things in either a donate, consign or trash pile. Now there are several ways to organize what you have. If your closet is big enough. Place your out of season clothing to the back of the closet and your clothing appropriate for the season in an easily accessible place.

Another thing you can do is place all out of season items in clear flat bins either under the bed or in a storage area. Clear bins allow for an easy visual of what is inside without any searching. These do not need to be huge bins. Extra large bins are: a) difficult to carry as they are extremely heavy and b) difficult to easily identify what is in them.

I actually have specific areas in my closet and dresser drawers for items. I do not like to pack up and unpack seasonal clothing at all. I have a very small closet as well as two dressers. When the drawers begin to get too full and the closet is packed then I reassess what I have and what I need. Remember you only really use 20% of what you have 80% of the time! A great way to determine what you should keep is to place the items to the front of the closet after you wear it. You will soon identify the clothing that you don’t wear at all as it will all be at the back of the closet! Another thing you can do is turn the hanger the opposite direction as the rest once you have worn it. Reevaluate a few months later to see what hasn’t been touched.

Here’s how I separate my clothing:
a drawers for pajamas
a drawer for nursing scrubs
a drawer for workout clothing and summer shorts (they don’t take up much room)
a drawer for t-shirts and long sleeve cotton shirts
In my tall dresser I have:
sock/nylons drawer
undergarment drawer
heavy sweater drawer
In my closet:
I hang all of my capris on a hanger like this.

Jeans and pants hang in my ‘prime’ location as I use them the most
My nicer shirts hang next to the jeans/pants
Sweaters, jackets, cardigans I don’t use as often so they are further back in the closet
Skirts are last because I wear them the least and they all fit on another hanger like the one above

I also have a teeny tiny closet at my front entry way. Here is where I keep ONLY in season coats and either splash pants or snow pants.

In the Winter time I have, winter coats, snow pants, boots, and an easily accessible bin full of mittens/gloves, toques and scarves at my front entry. This way everyone can grab what they need.
In summer/spring time I have lighter jackets, splash pants, rubber boots and shoes at the front entry way. So what do I do with the out of season stuff? I do not have a big mud room or another closet at my back door so the coats go in my storage room (I have a hanging bar across one whole side for this purpose!) Also I have a basket for each person in the house that houses their winter accessories (toques, gloves/mittens, and scarves). See picture below.

New and amazing storage for baskets, boots, shoes that hubby MADE for me!!!

Another reason why I do not like putting my clothes ‘in storage’ is simply because it is a lot of work. I may not get to keep as many clothes as some, but I have them all easily accessible; not in bulky bins where they get all wrinkly and need re hung and re washed.

What it comes down to is doing what is right for you and your family. I strongly suggest you reevaluate your wardrobe at least twice per year and keep only what you really love and need. Just remember what is really important!

‘Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends…. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.’ ~Henry David Thoreau

If you are needing any assistance organizing your seasonal items or wanting a system in place please contact us!

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