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Floating down the river July 2012

Getting Outside

I love being outside. I especially love to be barefoot in the grass. I think that’s why I love summer so much. I can feel the grass and the earth beneath my toes.

Being in nature heals. It allows me to breathe. It allows me to be bigger than me. I am a part of something.

I spent a good part of this past weekend outside. I harvested nanking cherries that I picked while barefoot. I gathered raspberries in short sleeves and allowed the trees and bushes to embrace me. I floated down the river where I grew up and let it wash away all my cares. I reveled in the quiet as the sky and trees drifted past me. I feel uplifted and grounded at the same time.

Outside is where the action is. It’s where peace can be found. Outside you can breathe. It’s where you can feel part of something bigger than all the crap we all worry about all the time. Outside is where real life happens. The rest? Well, it can all wait. Just get outside.

 

Are the kids (and you!) running out of things to do outside? Can’t think of anything? Krystal and I wrote our ideas down in this comprehensive Simplify: Summer ebook. Find out more here: Simplify Summer

Computer Tip: Show Desktop

There is no “Quick Launch Bar” in Windows 7. One of the side effects of this is that there is no “Show Desktop” icon. Previously, this icon allowed you to minimize all the windows at once.

This function is still available; it’s just in a different spot:

  • Click the Show Desktop bar (the far right of the taskbar, beside date and time)

This bar also has a feature called “Desktop Preview” that makes all opened windows transparent so that you can see the desktop. Move the mouse over the bar without clicking it for this to work.

This is great for many of you who have a lot of icons on the desktop and don’t want to minimize one window at a time to get to them. From an organizing perspective, I don’t like to have a lot of icons on the desktop – it’s too cluttered for my taste! Instead, I have my my most important programs pinned to the taskbar. Alternatively, I use the powerful Windows 7 searching and just type in what I want to open (I’m a fast keyboarding person).

I would love to hear if you are a “Everything-On-The-Desktop” person or a “Clear-Desktop” person…and why you do that. Let us know in the comments!

We offer computer organizing sessions as well. We can come to your desk personally (if you’re within our trading area) or virtually and help you get control of all those computer files and icons! Contact us to arrange a consult!

As many of you know, I have been an IT (Information Technology) person for more than 20 years. I recently left that life behind. However, I am still a geek and always will be. I plan to share my various tips and tricks for learning how to use technology to be more efficient and productive.

This is a post that I originally wrote a while ago, somewhere else 😉

What’s For Dinner?

It was 6:13 when she opened the door. She struggled to balance the jug of milk, two bags of groceries, her lunch bag, her purse and her laptop as she pushed the door the rest of the way with her foot. Her two young boys raced past her on the stairs…

“Hi Mom! What’s for dinner?” They didn’t even wait for an answer as they took off.

Just as well, she had no idea at the moment. She sighed because she knew they’d be back.

The laptop bag, purse and half the groceries spilled from her hands at the top of the stairs. She sighed again as she gathered up the groceries and shoved her crap out of the way so no one would fall down the stairs (she hoped). She’d picked up a few necessities she kinda knew they needed, none of which helped her in her plan for supper. In the back of her mind, she knew she’d forgotten something else important, but couldn’t remember what.

“Hi Hon! Are you still making chili for supper? You’d mentioned that this morning. Sounds awesome and I’m starving!”

Damn! That was what she’d forgotten! Chili powder! CRAP! Well, I guess we’re not having chili! She grumbled to herself as he shook his head, grabbed a brownish banana and wandered off.

She opened the pantry door and just stared. Stuff spilled from one shelf to another. Piles of unknown items tumbled over on top of each other. How could she have so much stuff in this pantry and have no idea how to make something of it? I see the empty bag of chips in here. You’d think someone would know where the garbage can is. How hungry can they be after eating a whole bag?

At least she’d had the forethought to thaw the hamburger. She knew it was ready to go in the fridge. Oh! And there’s a box of Hamburger Helper. I’ll whip that up. She pulled the box out and glanced at the ingredients; sighing again. I hate feeding the kids this stuff that I can’t even pronounce. I just know it can’t really be good for them. But I don’t know what else to do…

Have you ever felt like this before? Most of us have been in this situation (frequently!) We have definitely been there! (Still are somedays!)

It is not something that you “just KNOW” how to fix. We sure didn’t. We have learned how to plan meals, organize the pantry, and find healthy foods that even the kids will like! It takes time and learning new skills but we’re here to help you! We are offering a live class next week (July 24th; 6:30 to 8:30) at Health Street called “A Simple Healthy Kitchen”.

The class is only $39 and you will learn so much:

  1. How to organize your pantry/cupboards
  2. Get started with meal planning (including a free sample BBQ meal plan)
  3. Understanding food labels
  4. Buying in bulk and saving money
  5. How eating healthy can save money!
  6. …and you’ll get to sample some yummy food (a Health Street class tradition!)

We know how busy life is. We’re working moms too and life can sure be overwhelming sometimes. That’s why we’re here to help you with this class and our services. We know what it’s like.

Call for more information and to register for the class: 403-507-4488 Watch the video here: A Simple Healthy Kitchen to learn more as well.

As always, you can also email or call us directly too: Shawna@simplelifecelebrations 403.586.1525 or Krystal@simplelifecelebrations.com 403.586.1978

Simple Tips – Re Purposing

 

I have been having fun creating simple ways to get and stay organized. All of the following cost less than $1.50; now that is my kind of organizing! None of these took a long time to make either. (Bonus!)

Use toilet paper or paper towel rolls covered with a piece of left over wrapping paper to keep cords untangled and organized.

Cost: Pennies

 

An empty tissue box can create pretty storage to hold your shopping bags for easy access.

Cost: Free

Rubber bands from produce can help slippery and strappy shirts stay on the hanger.

Cost: Free

This little under mount basket is a great way to create storage for a simple table.

Cost: $1.50 from Dollar Store

I added a magnet to these fancy clothespins with double sided tape.They are now on my fridge and hold papers like coupons, schedules, my meal plan and more

Cost: Free as this was a gift and I reused some plain magnets.

What have your re purposed in your home to create new storage?

Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

Reflection

It has been an interesting year for the Simple Life Gals to say the least! Over the past year we have really changed our focus from wanting to do everything to REALLY simplifying our business (imagine that we are taking our own advice!) Simple Life Celebrations started out over two years ago as one of those “shower” ideas. I think us moms have these shower ideas because it’s one of the only peaceful and quiet times that we have in our day. So… Shawna had this idea that we should start a business and immediately we  started spewing all of these ideas of what our business could entail. We could do party planning, concierge, organizing and more! After having a taste of all of these things and putting in many, many hours of work we decided that not all of these things were our passion. Once we got talking, we realized that helping people organize and live simpler lives was what we really wanted to pursue. A huge weight was lifted off of our shoulders to have this clarity of our business.

The barn loft before & after

So for the past year we have been organizing offices, basements, storage areas, and even a barn! It has been fantastic and inspiring to see our clients carry on organizing other areas of their homes/lives even after we were gone.  (Not only do we enjoy seeing people make the most of their spaces but we like to coach them on how to keep it organized without being overwhelmed.)

It was last November when we went on a weekend retreat. We basically drove 10 hours one way to the middle of nowhere to plan our year and set some goals. On the long drive there we decided that we were going to host a week long Summit called the Celebrate Life Summit. It consisted of 9 local events as well as 15 interviews with many of our favourite online bloggers. It was an amazing experience! We really wanted people to know what resources were available locally as well as globally for simpler, healthier living. Our themes included fitness, nutrition, simple living, love

Our November retreat at Hills Health Ranch in B.C.

and relationships, finding your inner goddess, work/finance, and celebrating our world. All of these topics are special to us; we continually strive to better ourselves. It was a great learning experience for us as well as many of the participants.

February was our big Summit!

 

 

 

This year we have also collaborated with Tony DiLorenzo and Dustin Riechmann to create our Simply Sexy Date Night Package which is full of resources to get and keep that fire burning! Seriously, it is packed full of new and exciting date night ideas, great relationship eBooks, and our sexy date night challenge. We know it is not easy to balance a busy schedule and we do not want to let the important things like relationships go to the wayside.

This year we also challenged ourselves with the Simple Spring Challenge. It was a challenge to us and to our readers. Basically, we wanted to rid our lives of physical, mental, procrastination, technological clutter, unhealthy habits, negative feelings and anything else that was holding us back and preventing us from having healthier, happier lives. We kept track of everything that we were able to ‘let go’ of. It was a nice cleanse for the body and soul! A healthy mind and a healthy body go hand in hand.

A couple of other public events that we attended was the After Dark Ladies Night @ReFind where we demonstrated how you can repurpose everyday household items to make lovely storage for your jewelry . We had a blast with the ladies! We shared tons of ideas on how to effectively store your accessories without having to spend a ton of mullah.

Refind After Dark Ladies Night jewelry organizing

We have also attended a couple of speaking events and talked with groups of lovely ladies that were wanting to learn more about how to let go of  items. We also shared the reasons of why we hang on to things.

Our latest adventure (or should I say the techie, Shawna’s) was to build us a whole entirely new website. Wowsers, what a learning curve to start all over with a different site. We are so over the moon excited to share it with the world as we really feel like this is a much better reflection of us and our business! (We hope you like it too and would love to have some feedback). It is simple, informative and has our latest products all RIGHT HERE.

And… in our spare time <wink wink> we have just finished our 58 page eBook called Simplify Summer. It is absolutely packed with ideas on how to make the most of your summer. It includes a meal plan (not using the oven at all), staycation ideas for you and the family, checklists for getting away, fun sheets and much more! There should not be anyone ‘bored’ in your house this summer!

We look forward to more SLC ideas for the second half of our year including partnering with Health Street for an evening to give you ideas on how to organize your pantry/kitchen and how to store your healthy foods. We also plan on bringing you more tips and tricks to aid you in living a simpler, more meaningful life. We believe that it is time for people all around the world to ditch the clutter and the guilt and start simplifying their lives!

What will the rest of 2012 bring us? 🙂

“Simplifying is about gaining control of your life and your possessions, creating more time to do the things you want to and to spend time with the people you love.”

~ Wendy Priesnitz (Natural Life Magazine)

 

 

 

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My regular google email

Summer Email Smash

Email is overwhelming at times, isn’t it? And yet we all have it and use it regularly. How can we manage it? Well, this is one of my specialties and I’ll share a few little tips in today’s post.

My regular google email

I don’t like to have a lot of emails in my Inbox; I find it overwhelming because it feels like the emails are stuff that I have to do. I keep all my email inboxes as empty as possible. (I currently have 5 email accounts, 1 I don’t really use and ignore most of the time).

Summer is a great time to start “fresh” for smashing and clearing out those inboxes. At this point, looking back doesn’t matter. We’re setting up a system for moving forward. Here’s some tips to get you started:

First of all…you’re going to be ruthless as you go through email – if you “might need it” – file all of those in 1 folder. You don’t need to separate them out at this point. The search capabilities are stellar. It will find the email you need for you. Just put them all into that ONE FOLDER (call it something like: Maybe June 2012). Put the date on so that you can decide to get rid of it if you haven’t touched it for a year! (Like the boxes in your house).


Once you’ve cleared that out of your inbox (yes, all into one folder if you need to)…THEN set up a schedule and a FEW folders to deal with the day to day. Try to handle them in batches. You need to focus on other work, then focus on emails. Only deal with emails a few times a day; and only deal with emails during that time. Answer the email, create a task or two if you need to and then delete or file right away. It’s the best way to get a lot done in a small amount of time: ONE thing at a time. Focus!

My Yahoo email – used for some personal online stuff
Another thing – don’t worry about the “Read Later” pile. Be realistic. You are NOT going to read them later. You are going to search for the stuff you need on the Internet when you DO have time to do the work/research. Don’t save those emails that you think you’re going to read later. Let them go…it’s hard to do, but you can do it, trust me! 🙂

That’s a very brief how to and it’s how I do it. It’s the method I use to help our clients deal with the overwhelm. I have a few rules & filters set up to handle some of them automatically, but not a lot. At this point, that’s not what you need. You need to think of this stuff as pieces of paper….would you keep all those papers? Likely not.

Sit down for 1 hour this summer (that’s it) and do nothing but delete and file into the ONE folder. On your mark, get set, GO! Blast that email and get control again! 🙂

My SLC business email

 

We offer email cleanup services – we can come to your office (depending on your location) or work with you online to help you get control of your email. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

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Uh oh!

Hit a Road Block?

Uh oh!

It’s happened to all of us. Everything is going merrily along, progress is happening on your project. Suddenly…from out of nowhere….

  • the dog barfs on the carpet
  • you can’t figure out the code for a simple change on your website
  • your 11 year old wants to tell you about his day.
  • you’ve just been presented with yet another field trip form with 2 pages of info to fill out and you can’t find the *$#(% cheque book
  • your mother calls
  • you have to pee!

Interruptions are inevitable. Sometimes, I can get really annoyed and ticked off when they happen; especially if I’m “in the flow”. However, the irritated feeling ends up hurting continued productivity (because I get focused on the negative when I do get back to it) and at worst, your annoyed attitude can hurt feelings of those you love. What do I do instead? I have a few remedies I’d like to share:

  • Take a deep breath and focus on the moment. This is especially effective when dealing with kids or spouse. It alleviates the annoyed attitude
  • Laugh at the interruption. It’s not the end of the world. It’s only a carpet.
  • Enjoy the break! Sometimes we get too wrapped up!
  • Have a cup of tea/coffee and step outside for a moment. That always clears my head.

What are your tips for dealing with a road block? Let us know in the comments!

 

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Tidy! (notice the lazy dogs! LOL!)

Perfect

Tidy! (notice the lazy dogs! LOL!)

As I cleaned house today (I don’t normally clean house on Saturdays, I usually do a little bit here and there throughout the week), I thought about how I used to feel about housework.

I hated it. Despised it. I could never do it right. It was never good enough. So…I’d leave it…for days…for weeks. And then the guilt would take over. I’d scream at everyone because they’d never pitch in. I’d resent and rant and rave as I’d furiously “catch up” for hours. Then I’d scream some more when someone would spill something or make a mess. I was miserable. Everyone tiptoed around me. And then the cycle would begin again.

My mother is awesome. She taught us how to work hard and how do be responsible. We were taught to pitch in and do our share of the workload. We all knew how to take care of a home, thanks to her. And I tried. I did. But there were so many other things I’d rather do. I was filled with hatred for cleaning because it took me away from what I really loved to do. I was only doing it because it was expected and because I felt guilty. The worst part – I felt that if it wasn’t perfect, then there was no point to doing it at all. So it got worse and worse. I hated myself for “being a crappy homemaker”. I told myself that all the time.

I was doing it in case someone came over – for show. If I had a messy house they wouldn’t like me. I would find myself thinking that if my mom saw my house when it was messy, I would feel like I’d let her down. I wanted it to look like everyone else’s. But I just couldn’t spend the time to make it that way. We had so much stuff that it would take me so much time just to put stuff away before I even began to clean. By then it would get so dirty that it was extra hard to clean it.

The clutter took over, so much stuff without a place. I would start doing something and then find myself fluttering around doing a million different things and never finishing anything. I’d spend all day “doing”, but never actually accomplishing.

I hated myself. I hated housework. I even hated being a mom because I felt like I was such a failure at it. I had to do something. I bought books on taking care of my home that I’d start to read and never finish because I was just so overwhelmed. It consumed me. I’d listen to advice, I’d feel guilty. Over and over, the sense of helplessness would continue. I’d be happy to go to work just because it meant I could get away from it.

Slowly, as the years passed, I have learned to accept myself for who I am. The biggest thing – that I’m not perfect and most of all; no one else is either. I stopped comparing myself to everyone else. I became my own “standard”. My best friend was instrumental in this. She is amazing; a strong, beautiful woman who is so organized and together. Yet she has her own things that she has to deal with too. We all do. We have helped each other understand this. We have helped each other to let go of Perfectionism, to let go of a lot of things and just BE.

She helped me by coming over here and not judging me – EVER. She comes here because she likes spending time with me. It doesn’t matter what my house looks like. She has helped me learn to focus and find what works for me. I stopped yelling at my family about the house and started setting the example. I started clearing the clutter because it meant more time doing the things I love and being with my family & friends instead of wasting so much time moving, cleaning, and getting rid of it.

Now, I actually enjoy cleaning – I am doing it when I want to do it (not because someone’s coming over or because I feel guilty.) I am doing it because I enjoy the result and I feel like I’m lovingly taking care of my family. I ask for help when I need it – with courtesy and respect, and, amazingly, I usually get the help I need; sometimes even without asking.

Sure, there are days where I slip back into those old feelings, especially when I feel overwhelmed and tired. Days when I just want to hide from everything and everyone. But, those days are fewer and it takes a lot less time to climb back out of my cave.

Krystal and I have learned so much over the years about clearing the clutter and enjoying life. We get excited about helping other people get away from trying to be perfect and just being themselves. We don’t want people to hire us because they need “fixing”. We don’t want people to feel ashamed or controlled by their clutter.

There’s nothing wrong with you. We want to help you learn to live, really live. We want to teach you that you don’t need to be like everyone else. We’ll help you discover what works for you and your family so that you don’t have to stand there screaming at everyone each time you decide to “fix” the mess. We want to help you learn to look at your stuff in a new way. That taking care of your homes doesn’t have to be this horrible chore you hate. Your home is your sanctuary from this crazy world. We truly want to help you make it that way.

Share your stories on our Facebook page. Contact us for more information on our services.

 

 

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Before and After Basement Session

What Happens in an Organizing Session?

Before and After Basement Session

We thought we’d explain what happens in one of our 4 hour organizing sessions:

The first thing we do when we book a session with you is have a consult before hand. This is a half hour where we come and evaluate your space. We ask questions and learn more about you. After we leave, we research and plan some solutions/options for you that we write up in a proposal that we send to you.

After you agree to our awesome proposal… 🙂

We setup a morning or afternoon for your FOUR hour session (anything more than that is exhausting for everyone!). Both of us come to your home and tackle your project. You can be involved in the project as much or as little as you like. Generally, we work through the space from right to left, clearing items out of the space, evaluating the items (as in helping you decide if it needs to be in the space, belongs somewhere else, or can just be let go) We then implement the ideas for organizing the space and put your space back together, organized and clutter-free!

Most importantly, throughout the session, we coach and teach you how to maintain your space. We consult you and support you in your decisions. We gently nudge you to let go of things you do not love, want or need in your home. Krystal and I understand how hard it is sometimes – we’ve been known to even help you breathe and be at peace with your decisions. The last thing we want to do is cause you stress. The whole point of the session is to help you DITCH the clutter AND the GUILT!

It’s amazing what we can accomplish in the 4 hours we have with you. You will be so excited to have the space back! You will be inspired to continue on with the rest of your home! The freedom we help you gain is addicting!

As always, if you have any questions or you would like to book your own session, please Contact Us and we’ll be happy to help you!

Pricing details can be found here: Organizing Packages

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Simplify

Our Reasons for Striving Toward Minimalism

Shawna’s Reason’s & Rants

I love the idea of minimalism. I follow many minimalist blogs (which sounds weird since the word “many” and “minimalist” don’t seem to go together!) Really though, I am inspired by people like Tammy Strobel at Rowdy Kittens and Faith Janes at Minimalist at Home because they remind me that it’s all just stuff and that it really is possible to just let go.

I am just tired of the whole game of thinking I need stuff that the next guy has. I used to buy my kids stuff that “I’ll bet they’ll like that” and then see it sitting there untouched. I am tired of comparing what we have to others and living from paycheck to paycheck because we haven’t thought about our purchases. There are things in my house that I love, but never see because I haven’t gotten around to putting them out (for example, photos that I want to make into collages because I love seeing my family and friends in photos). There are things in my house that I’m not even sure why I have them there.

The toughest part is going to be letting things go that someone gave me. I’ve gotten better at that over the years. I remind myself that giving it to someone new that will love it is important too. I have also asked people to give me less things; to spend time not money.

I don’t spend a lot of time cleaning my house. I try to be sure to rarely clean on weekends because those should be days spent with my family and renewing my spirit. It is annoying and stressful on everyone to have to pick up a ton of stuff before we even begin cleaning. Having less clutter will mean quicker cleanup and more fun! The kids have been learning that over the past year, so they are getting on board with this idea too!

The time I have spent on vacation in our little condos has me completely addicted to the simple furnishings, kitchen and bath. They are an oasis because the only stuff in the condo are the basics. I love, LOVE it! We do just fine with the basics, and that’s what I want in my home. It’s amazing when we’re on vacation: we spend a ton of time together because we’re not distracted by all the stuff, cleaning the stuff, fixing the stuff etc. That’s what I want in our home: a peaceful oasis. I think the minimalist project is the way to do it.

Simplify

Krystal’s Thoughts and Reasons

For a while now I have been feeling a need to get rid of stuff. My mind is cluttered and as I look around I see things that we really don’t need; things that we don’t love. So why is it in my house? I have those fleeting thoughts and slight panic attacks, “What if I need it one day?” and “This belonged to someone special that I care about; I couldn’t possible let it go?!”

I know now that letting go of some items that I don’t really want/need; the ones that don’t give me happiness isn’t a bad thing. It may be smart donating, selling, or giving them away to someone that needs them. Ridding myself of these ‘things’ does not change my feelings about the person(s) that gave them to me.

I really feel that this process will help to clear my mind if I can get rid of the excess. Now I am not going extreme here. I will not be able to pack up and move in a moments notice or anything. I am not going to keep only three sets of clothing and get rid of all technology (that would never happen in my house!)Here are my reasons for striving towards a more minimalist home:

  • relaxation: I want to live and breathe easy knowing that I have less clutter in my life
  • relationships: less stuff allows for more time with our family and friends
  • time: more time to do the things that I enjoy
  • less worrying = more positivity
  • cleaner: less stuff to clean equals one happy mom!
  • eye appeal: sometimes when we have tons of stuff, we do not see the items that we truly love

I leave you with some thoughts from Everyday Minimalist:

A Minimalist’s Train of Thought

Less money spent means more money saved

More money saved means the longer you can live in financial peace and security

Financial peace and security comes from owning less

Less stuff owned means less to carry around, move or have to travel with

Less responsibility for your stuff also means less maintenance and more time

The more time you have, the more relaxed you will feel

The more relaxed you are, the less you will care about stuff

If you care less about stuff, it means you’ll care less about image

If you care less about image, you will care more about experiences and memories

If you care more about experiences and memories, you will be happier with less

If you are happier with less, you’ll never want or need for more

The less you want or need for more, the more you will feel free

– The Everyday Minimalist

We encourage YOU to join us in this journey; we are really excited about this! We have gone through one room at a time; sometimes even in bite size pieces as we have time. It’s an ongoing process.

“If you want to become full, let yourself be empty.” ~Tao Te Ching

If you are finding any of this process overwhelming we can help! With our organizing experience we can make a plan with you to get the home that you yearn for!

 Let us know!

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