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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

School Shopping Already -Yes I am Serious!

Be prepared this year!
Be prepared this year!

I know. I know! It is WAY too soon to be thinking about back to school where I live. I can actually feel the burning glares from all parents as I am writing this. But, hear me out. It is not too early to start researching and buying a few back to school things. Hey. If you are prepared and organized you may realize that you already have much of what you need; this will save you some shopping sanity! 

Retailers are already beckoning you to come and shop in their stores. Commercials are already saying don’t miss their fantastic sales. Is it just too soon? Well, I definitely will not start devoting every day of my coveted summer to searching all of the flyers, watching all the commercials, scanning the malls. I will however take some time every now and then to research what we need so that when the time comes I know exactly where to go to get what we need. You see I really despise wasting time going in and out of stores to the point where I would probably say “just buy whatever” so that we can get through this!

Hang onto your wallets! With the rise of “back to school” as a two-month marketing exercise for retailers, it can be a tough job to get the kids outfitted and supplies bought without breaking the bank.

What I have here are a few tips to not break the bank, and to save you time and therapy fees!

Scouts Motto: Be Prepared!

This is good advice for many things in life including school shopping. Make sure you have each child’s school list before you so much as set foot in a store full of smelly markers, glittery pens and personalized rulers. You can download lists from your child’s school website. Also, many supply stores will have lists on hand according to school and grade.

Shop at Home First

Shopping at home first will save you time and money in the long run!
Shopping at home first will save you time and money in the long run!

I always think that it is a total bonus when I can find things on the list that we already have. Don’t ya just love checking things off? 😉 So go through those pens, pencils, erasers, notebooks, duotangs, binders, etc. See what you have before you pull out the cash. Designate a certain drawer, shelf, box, or area for all of your finds so that you know exactly what you have.

Budget, Budget, Budget!

School supplies are now usually set up in a way that appeals to our children – the characters on the backpacks, the pretty designs on the binders, the glitter pens and smelly colours are attractive but come at an extra cost. Kids are easy prey for consumers and this is where it is our job as parents to set limits. Consider compromising. For example, if you want that more expensive backpack then we will need to get the regular binders. This is a great time to teach your children some financial responsibility.

Once you know exactly what you need set your budget. Then you can shop flyers and search online. Try not to stray far from your list.

Shop Early….and Late

By shopping early you are assured to get exactly what you need. You will also have a little more time to compare prices and sale shop.  By waiting until a week or two before school is in you will be able to buy items at a clearance cost. It’s a win-win but remember by waiting too long you may have slim pickings. Stock up on a few essential items that the kids use every year. This will save you money next year.

As the Beach Boys Would Say – Get Around! 

Sometimes it pays to shop off of the beaten path. Grocery Stores, crafting stores, and dollar stores are also great places to find supplies. Most stores want a piece of the retail back-to-school action. What about asking on the buy n sell for supplies? You never know – it doesn’t hurt to ask.

I hope that school shopping for you is painless and dare I say fun?!… Keep these tips in mind and you are sure to be done before you know it!

~Remember when we had to walk to school uphill BOTH ways? Barefoot…in the snow? Kids these days have it so easy! 😉 

 

 

 

Why I Try to Buy Second Hand

I think we can all say that we have bought something brand spankin’ new at one time or another thinking that it was da’ bomb. BUT…before you know it,  it has sat around collecting dust. It just wasn’t what you had hoped for or maybe it was too confusing to even use. Perhaps you tried it out and it wasn’t at all what you thought it would be. Sound familiar? We have all been there, done that. We feel badly for wasting our hard earned money.

I have been making a conscious effort in the last year to buy used. Whether it is furniture, an appliance, books, toys, or clothes there are so many reasons why it is good to buy items used.

First of all when you buy used you do not put a strain on the environment. You do not have all of the packaging that your product comes with. (The tape, boxes, bubble wrap, foam packing, manuals, instructions etc.) Also, you may be preventing things from going into the landfill when you get them second hand. Bonus!

I also just love the look of used, antique and vintage items. I think that things have more character when they are old. Have you noticed that people are refinishing old furniture and repurposing things all the time now? I love it!!! People are making beautiful, functional, artistic pieces out of old things. Ever noticed that old appliances and furniture were built to last not just to outlast the warranty?!

Another obvious reason for buying used is to save money. Why pay an insane price for something that you can potentially find in the same condition for much less money? It’s like when you buy something and then the next day you find that same item for sale. I always feel like I have been ripped off by spending more than I needed to.

By buying used items, you support local businesses (consignment shops/thrift shops). In my community much of the money from these items goes back into my community. Cool! Buying from Kijiji, Craigslist or the Buy n’ Sell also helps other people declutter. That make me feel good too. 🙂 “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure”.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-jsCyovGeI

When I buy used I always find that there is a sense of satisfaction knowing that I saved money and got a deal! Don’t get me wrong I not only buy second hand but I sell and donate a fair bit as well. Here is a list of some of the items that I have sold, donated or given away since the beginning of the year.

 

I have been getting rid of lots of things!
I have been getting rid of lots of things!

I have made $1145.0 from the buy and sell it was stuff that no longer served a purpose in my family. Yes we have made purchases as well but the selling is outnumbering the buying. I may have to research and wait a few days or even weeks to really find what I am looking for but it is totally worth it! It also gives the kids incentive to let go of some toys when they can make a little money for themselves.

I would love to hear your reasons for buying used items! Drop us a comment below. Thanks!

 

 

Organizing Barbies!

All in one place!
All in one place!

Every week I like to work on at least one organizing project. Recently, my daughter purchased some Barbie items second hand; specifically the camper, car, and tent that you see in the picture above. The dolls and accessories were getting out of hand in her room. So Barbie and her entourage had to find a new home. They moved residence to the family room in the basement. After just an hour or two, everything was all in one place ready for Megan and her pals to play. I just love it when everything has a home!

Here are some more pictures of how I organized everything. (I sure wish that I would have taken before and after pictures of this process!) Next time.

This houses a ton of Barbies 'must haves'. :)
This houses a ton of Barbies ‘must haves’. 🙂

 

I had this storage unit that I initially bought for my son’s room. Then I moved it downstairs to hold stuffies. Now it is perfect for Barbie Doll stuff. Sometimes you have to play around with the storage that you have rather than buy new stuff all the time. I LOVE reusing things. If you are finding that you are needing more and more storage then it is probably time to do a purge. * Here are 10 Creative Ways to Declutter your Home.

 

The 'wheels' and the 'crib'.
The ‘wheels’ and the ‘crib’.

 

Beside the storage unit we have the Camper, V Dub Beetle, Tent, and House. I am sure that Barbie and Ken would be so happy with this living arrangement! 🙂

 

Using the top of the unit for a few more items.
Using the top of the unit for a few more items.

 

Using all of your space vertically is a great way to maximize the area. The smaller container to the left on top holds the shoes and purses. Good thing I don’t have this many shoes and handbags – I would be in BIG trouble! haha

 

Barbie Accessories Drawer

 

This is the top drawer of the storage unit that holds more accessories.  Here we have inexpensive clear containers (3 of them) that we got from the Dollar Store. This was the only thing that we bought ($2). I chose the clear containers so that my daughter and her friends could find what they want easily.

 

Barbie Clothing

 

Here are all of the Barbie clothes. I used a Zip Loc container that I had on hand. You will see in the container to the right that this has clothes from my Barbies from the 80’s. Yes they are a wee bit dated but everything comes back in style right?! Did anyone else have Barbie and the Rockers? The one that came with the Cassette?!

**FLASHBACK**

 

Barbie Sets

 

Here in the bottom drawer of the unit I have 3 sets that she received as gifts. (A barbie pool, pediatrician set, and hair styling set.) Gee, Barbie does everything doesn’t she?!

 

Barbie Suitcase

 

This small Barbie suitcase was given to my gal from Shawna’s gal. It is the perfect size for the dolls to fit in.

There you have it. I am happy with this system and it looks nice. My daughter is happy that she knows where everything is. Win-WIN. Yay!

For more tips head on over to Facebook for more organizing ideas, repurposing ideas, recipes and inspiration. We would love for you to share your organized spaces with us.

 

 

 

I Have All These School Papers – Now What?!

‘Tis the time of year when the kids are sent home with schoolwork, report cards, supplies, and anything else that may have been lingering in their desk or locker. (Hopefully you do not find a nasty, fuzzy green sandwich in your child’s backpack like I did one year. At least I think it was a sandwich?…)

Perhaps I should back up a wee bit… My children come home from school with papers in their backpack on a daily basis. These are forms, weekly correspondences, school newsletters, hot lunch papers and whatever other notices that we need to be informed about. I try to go through these papers as soon as they enter my home otherwise the paperwork can pile up VERY quickly; especially because I have more than one child plus my own mail and work stuff to deal with. The best thing to do is make an action pile for things that need to be looked at and dealt with soon. Another pile for the papers that you need but don’t need to be processed right away. A final pile will be the papers that need to be saved and filed. Here is a more detailed description of the categories of papers that can be placed in a temporary file or pile.

  • Take Action/Sign – this file is for forms that need to be signed, permission slips that need to be returned, teacher requests, PTA announcements, and flyers about events that need to be added to your calendar.
  • Short-Term Storage – this file is for forms or information that you don’t need to keep forever but will need to refer to at some point in the near future. For example: information on an upcoming field trip that includes a list of what your child is to bring or a flyer on an upcoming school event.
  • One per child labeled with the child’s name – this file is for each child’s special papers, progress reports, test scores, awards, certificates, or programs from sports, school plays or musical events.

So now the year is coming to an end and all of the action and short term papers have been dealt with. Now you are left with the keepers or the special papers that you and your child want. What do you do with them?

Here’s what I do…

Below is an example of storage that I bought for my daughter. It is a cute file box that has built in dividers. It actually has 12 for each month of the year. I will use one per year until grade 12; it works out great! And it was only about $15. As you can see in the bottom photo, I put the report cards on the top, then special certificates or awards, schoolwork, memory book and then the favorite art pieces.

I am sure some of you are wondering how it will all fit in there? The key is, every time your child brings home a bunch of artwork, lay them out on the floor and have them choose their favorites. If they want to keep absolutely everything, encourage them to choose their very best ones and take a picture of the others. They may or may not ever look at that photo but keep it for a while just in case.

So far this way of organizing everything is working out fantastically. I have 4 years in there. She does have a few items that do not fit in there and I do not stress about it. That stuff is in a really large envelope beside this box.

 

Finding proper storage is half the battle!
Finding proper storage is half the battle!
The handy dividers separate the years.
The handy dividers separate the years.
Decide what is important to you and your child.
Decide what is important to you and your child.

 

Find what works for you and your child. Some people use those plastic totes or hanging files in a box. Some people like to scrapbook while others may want to utilize a binder. It is just one of those things that you have to play with and have fun!

If you are needing help with setting up a station for your child’s school work let us know! We can get you on your way to having some organized memories.

 

Summer Get Up N’ Go Pack

Fun Exploring

Summer is here! It is sometimes difficult to know what the weather is going to be like but it sure is nice to be ready if you decide on a last minute day trip! So most of us have an extra backpack kicking around – why not make up a bag so that when the weather and the timing is right you are all ready to go?

Here is your list of ‘ingredients’ to help make your adventure successful.

☼Backpack
☼Sunscreen
☼Bug spray
☼Small hand sanitizer or moistened wipes
☼Water bottles/water pack (1 per family member). Reusable is better for our environment!
☼A few small toys for the car ride (car bingo sheet, paper, crayons,
☼Small first aid kit
☼Sheet or thin blanket for picnic or rest
☼Small tissue pack
☼Light jacket or hoodie
☼Sunglasses and or hats (protect your skin and eyes)
☼$ in case of emergency (or an ice cream stop☺)
☼Camera if you don’t have one on your phone; good for capturing those special memories.
Don’t forget snacks. If you are hiking dried fruits, nuts, granola and sandwiches are easy to carry and not too messy!

This list can be tailored depending on what your trip is. If you are going to the beach substitute your picnic blanket for towel and for toys grab some bubbles and sand pails.

Most of all don’t forget to have FUN!!!

Summertime Fun
Summertime Fun

For more great summertime FUN ideas, grab your copy of Simplify: Summer for only $4.99! It’s jam-packed with ideas for making this summer the best EVER! Click to download your copy: Simplify: Summer

Spring is in the Air

This is an article that I wrote last year that fits well with this weeks theme.You may want to do a personal challenge of your own? Even if it is a small challenge, it is still moving forward! Follow Shawna on Simple Life Celebration’s Facebook page as she completes her 365 Thing challenge by getting rid of at least one item per day for the WHOLE year! 


☼Spring is in the air, the snow is melting, the sun is shining and the geese are beginning to fly back home. It’s as if that fresh air and sunshine brings with it this yearning to clean and find order in our lives! With Spring comes the inspiration to clean and tackle those areas that don’t regularly get touched.

 

I have been reading endless blog posts not only about Spring cleaning but also about clearing mental clutter, clearing emotional clutter and not letting other distractions get in the way of living life. I mean REALLY living life! I am taking this all as a sign from the Universe that this year we need to put a spin on things; in true Simple Life style. 😉

 

We say it all the time. We are not only Professional Organizers, we want to help you simplify your lives so that you can take the time to enjoy the important things. In fact this week I took a few minutes to physically write down a list of simple pleasures. You know the things that we so often take for granted. Many things that I wrote revolved around time; taking a moment to really enjoy the company of friends and family, going for a bike ride, surprising someone with a kind word or note of appreciation, cuddles and LOTS more. What if we made the time to enjoy some of life’s simple pleasures? Wouldn’t life be grand!?!

 

And the thought that screams into many people’s heads is but I just don’t have the time! Poppy cock I say! I challenge you to really look at the time in your day. You may spend an hour watching some show on TV that you won’t even remember in the morning. Are you on Facebook once or twice a day? How much time do you spend on it? How often do you sneak on the computer or your phone to check emails? Do you find that you have subscribed to way more than you can find to read? Are you running from one thing to the next all week long? Perhaps it is time to recheck priorities and figure out what truly matters to you. Life gets crazy at times but if you don’t want it to be busy then evaluate your schedule.

 

Last year Shawna and I had our Minimalist Challenge. This was where we divided all of the areas in our homes into zones and tackled each one individually. We got rid of LOTS of stuff that we did not need, love, or use. We gave ourselves two weeks to get each space done. (Empty, clean, sort, purge, reorganize, put back together, and get the donations/recycling out of our houses.) It was really quite freeing and it was doable because we all did it together. We encouraged each other and were accountable. It was a personal challenge with a manageable time limit!

 

This year we wanted to do a followup to the Minimalist Challenge from last Spring.

We are calling it the Simple Spring Cleanse.

Here is the actual definition.

 

cleanse

verb (tr)

 

  1. to remove dirt, filth, etc, from

  2. to remove guilt from

 

We want to cover both of the above definitions. By all means feel free to do the usual Spring clean but we are asking ourselves to also think not only about the physical stuff but also the mental, emotional, and even digital clutter that inhabits our worlds on a a daily basis.

What sorts of things can we get rid of?

 

  • items in your home that are broken, that you no longer need, want, or love.

  • magazine, newspaper or other subscriptions that you no longer read.

  • email/blog subscriptions that take time away from other important things that you want to do. (Keep you favourites only!)

  • Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google plus etc.- can you limit these in any way? Can you cut down your time here or have a day a week that you disconnect? Joshua Becker from Becoming Minimalist talks about Finding Significance in a World of Distractions. YES, love it! The gist is to recognize the distractions and manage them.

  • Emotional clutter. What is this anyway? Bernice Wood from the Blog, Living the  Balanced Life talks about what it is here:

Some of the emotional clutter we may carry:

Worries Low self-image

Toxic relationship Guilt

Anxiety Fear

Inability to trust Anger

Negative outlook, pessimist

Read more about this!

 

  • Mental Clutter. The Minimalist’s, Ryan Nicodemus writes about Decluttering your Mental Clutter. He describes this as “the voices in your head that won’t be quiet.” We all know about that. Those things from the past or present that make you feel anxious and weigh on your mind. These included physical health, circumstances, and past troubles. Time to deal with these and say good bye!

 

 

  • Unfinished projects. If it has been sitting around forever and you haven’t dealt with it then decide if this is something you really want to do. If you do then stop making excuses and schedule time to do it!
  • Nostalgic clutter. Gretchen Rueben author of the Happiness Project describes this as, “things you hold on to from your past that you don’t need or use.  Things like old text books, old love letters, etc.” I think I may still have all of my binders and textbooks from college. Hmmmm…

  • Aspirational clutter. How about those jeans that you are hoping to fit back into again?

  • Commitments. How many things are you involved in? Are you running from one activity to the next all the time? Do you want to be? Do you have time for the things that you really want to do?

 

Sound good? We think so! Let’s do this together. We can share stories and support on our Facebook page too. http://www.facebook.com/simplelifecelebrations

 

The end result is happiness in the palm of our hands….Mmmmmm…..


 

Need help getting started? We can help!

www.simplelifecelebrations.com

krystal@simplelifecelebrations.com

shawna@simplelifecelebrations.com

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!

 

Open post
You can use this for towels or for the coats as I mention in this post

Christmas Front Door Clutter

I’d like to thank Kathleen Windsor of Windsor Graphics for this question:

How about a front entry tip for Christmas? Expecting about 50 shoes & boots at my front door & snowsuits from 6 kidlets. Help!

This is a fantastic question and one that I think most of us can relate to!

For the boots:

  • Use a low long plastic container(s); remove the lid. When everyone is in the door, these can be moved to other locations to dry so that they are out of the way. The containers can easily be wiped out later.
  • My parents have a small back entry and we always have big tobogganing parties (and thus the same issue!) Everyone takes off their boots at the back door and then carries them down to the laundry room where there is more space and a floor that can easily be cleaned up.
For the coats:
  • a coat “tree” (the kind with the arms) for temporarily hanging snow pants & jackets. Again, this can easily be moved to a different location so that the clutter isn’t at the back door. There’s no messing with hangers and snow pants (which NEVER seems to stay on the hanger!) There’s one at Jysk http://www.jysk.ca/hugo-coat-rack-3.html … – I use mine in the bathroom as well for towels. 🙂
You can use this for towels or for the coats as I mention in this post
  • My parents have a heated garage (which is also very clean & organized!). We all take off our coats and snow pants out there and hang them on Dad’s wood working equipment, benches, etc. so that all that stuff isn’t in the house. The mitts & toques stay out there too.
  • For all the coats of the “non-wet” 🙂 type…I remember when we grew up that we always put the visitors’ coats on my mom & dad’s bed. I still do this from time to time if there are a lot of people visiting me. Of course, it means that your master bedroom will be “seen” by many people… 🙂 That may be an overwhelming thought for some. If that’s the case, use another room for this purpose!

For the toques and mittens:

  • If these are just damp and cold, use a mesh bag and collect them all – hang the bag in the laundry room. Depending on the kinds of mitts & toques they are (and the degree of cleanliness…) you may be able to toss the whole bag in the dryer and let them dry while everyone is visiting. Then they’re nice and warm for when everyone goes home!
throw toques & mitts in and hang the bag
  • Use another big container to toss all these in and remove them from the back door area. They won’t dry very well in there, so keep that in mind. At least this will get them out of the back door area and allow for easy pickup at the end of the visit.

What are some of your suggestions for the back door clutter that occurs during the holiday season? How do you deal with it? Let us know in the comments!

For more great tips on keeping those seasonal clothes under control, read Krystal’s Seasonal Confusion! If you’d like some help getting your home ready for the holidays, contact us for a virtual session! You can send us photos of your space and we can give you step by step instructions for what to do. Alternatively, we can possibly book a mini-session and spend an hour with the two of us tackling that trouble-spot!

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