Tuesday, 31 March 2015

April challenge

I was inspired by The 30-Day Minimalism Game by The Minimalists for an April challenge. I have challenged my friends Christy, Sonia, and Susan. Christy and Sonia have accepted the challenge. Susan is still considering it... It starts tomorrow. Susan will have to make up her mind by midnight tomorrow. :)

Succeeding would mean getting rid of 465 things in the month. The difference for our version of the challenge, we will consider the items in a donation box or the garbage to be "out of the house", as long as all of those items are literally out of the house by the end of day April 30th.

Let the games begin!

Sunday, 29 March 2015

March 2015 recap

I know the month is not quite over yet, but I don't expect that much will change in the next 2 days. So here is my March 2015 recap.

I had given myself three challenges for the third month of the year. Continuing the decluttering, doing a second Whole30, and March was to be a "no buy" month.

I've kept decluttering and have been enjoying it. I did not see my second Whole30 through. And as for the "no buy" month, I bought things. I bought a manicure and food for my niece's birthday. On Friday March 20th, I bought my daughter and myself a night at the nail salon where we got our first ever manicure and pedicure. (Looks like she has an ingrown toenail as a result :( We need to get that checked out by the doctor.) Then I took her out for supper. And on March 22nd, I bought an ebook for $3.33 (Minimalist: A Minimalism Guide for Decluttering Your Life and Living a Wonderfully Simple Lifestyle by Kelly Ann Callahan). Although I did spend money on "unnecessary" things, I spent the money on experiences and not physical items (the ebook didn't add anything to my physical clutter).

Therefore, I consider March 2015 to be a good month. I don't really feel bad about not completing my second Whole30. I'm not completely back to how I was before my first one, so I consider that progress. I might attempt it again soon. Or something else... I also don't feel bad about the things I spent money on because they contributed to my relationships. My relationship with my niece. My relationship with my daughter. My relationship with myself. And the decluttering, that's been going well. I feel happy every time I access those places in the house that I've worked on and I see a decluttered well organized space. It's like a lovely hug I give to myself each time.

My daughter seems open to the idea of us moving after she's begun her next school year. She's all about me saving money and using those savings for us to have new experiences together. I have a little adventurer in my daughter, which is awesome!

What's in store for April? I'm not quite sure yet. Obviously more self-improvement. The decluttering will continue.

Update: I bought an $8 pair of shoes on the 31st to go dancing.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Reflections on romantic relationships

You might be wondering what romantic relationships have to do with minimalism. Let me explain what I've been thinking about.

Today I re-read my life plan that I wrote a little while ago. I haven't printed it yet like I said that I would because I feel like I still have to work at it a little. But as I was reading it, there was a part of it that stood out as "off".

What I read that inspired me to write out my life plan suggested that when you go through the process, you write in as much details as you want/can. Dream big. Write out your dream life. Whether it's actually possible or not. Where you live, what you do, what things/people are part of your life, what experiences, basically everything. When I wrote about what my home is (will be) like, I wrote about who I would be sharing it with. Obviously, my daughter made the cut. :)  But I had also added "my spouse" (which in my mind could just as well mean a boyfriend). When I wrote that in, it felt odd to me. Am I writing this down because I want to live with someone, or because I think that's what is expected? I didn't have anyone in particular in mind. Just some generic Mr. Right For Me. But I decided to let it go and keep adding to my life plan. Every time I read it since then, it stands out as off. And tonight, even more so. I'm trying to figure out why...

You see, I lived with my daughter's father for approximately 5 years (we were a couple for about 7 years, engaged 3 of those years, never were married). I'm not exactly sure on the amount of time because I'm not one to remember such things unless I write them down. We had never celebrated an anniversary, and that was fine with me. I'm more of an every day kindness and love sort of person than a once a year let me remind you that I love you type of person. That should be done on a daily basis, or almost daily, in my opinion.

Anyway, we parted ways over 13 years ago. I haven't had a long term relationship since. The longest I've had since him was an almost 5 month relationship. I'm not even quite convinced that that relationship counts at all.

I'm wondering if the fact that adding a significant other to my life plan feels off might be because I don't believe in it anymore considering that it has been so long? Or could it be because I don't want a serious long term relationship? Or do I want the serious long term relationship, but would rather we not live together? Or any other reason that I can't think of at the moment... I really don't know. A few years ago, I would have been able to answer that it was because I didn't believe in it anymore. Now, I'm not so sure.

I'm really hoping that I will figure this out on my journey to simplicity. Getting rid of the clutter both physically and emotionally should help me get there. Right? But then again, do I really need to figure it out? From what I've been reading on other people's experiences with a minimalist lifestyle, you should practice living in the moment, experiencing life fully. I suppose until I'm faced with a proposition of moving in with (or marrying) someone, then there is no point to really figure this out just yet. Just go with the flow?...

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Buh-bye! I won't even miss you!

Aaaaaaaaah! This week, a friend of mine came to pick up my kitchen cast offs, a computer chair, a Bluetooth speaker, and an old kitchen table. I have no regrets! Slowly but surely, things are changing in my home. I'm getting rid of the clutter. I thought I'd feel more relieved, but the change doesn't feel as significant as I thought it would. I have a few empty shelves in my kitchen cupboards, but I want to get rid of more things. In due time I guess.

I have plans to get rid of my current dinning room table and a few other plates. But I can't really get rid of those things until my mom moves out because she likes to invite my sister and her family to supper once in a while. Without the kitchen table, those suppers would be a little uncomfortable. So... patience.

Things I've been contemplating during this process:
    The common advice you can read on many minimalism blogs is that for every item you bring in you get rid of one item. Therefore, it's quite possible to be a minimalist (or at least look like one) and still be a major consumer. Getting rid of stuff doesn't mean that you can't replace those things. But going through that process of getting rid of all of those things, hopefully you actually grow and change any habit of mindless consumerism that you may have.
    I think that not feeling a bigger impact about getting rid of the clutter is not a bad thing. In my opinion, I think it just goes to show that those things did not add much value to my life. My current home is big enough for the things not to be in the way too much. I'm sure that once I'm done (not that we are ever really done) with the process, it will be quite the thing to behold. I expect that I will really appreciate going through this process when it's time to move. I'm hoping to be able to move before Christmas. I need to convince my daughter and make her feel calm and secure about moving during the school year.
I'll be tackling the basement next.

Sunday, 15 March 2015


Well, I was making good progress yesterday with my kitchen. However, going downstairs this morning to start off the day, I fell down the stairs. I really hurt myself. I can barely walk. I have a few bruises on one arm, scratched up on the other arm, and I really hurt my buttocks. Sitting hurts. Getting up from sitting hurts. Bending over to pick something up hurts.

Sooooo... I really didn't do much today. I did a bit of filing. Shredded many old bills and financial statements. And I filed my taxes. So I'm happy with what I did do, but I wish I could have done more.

My daughter had to help me get dressed. She helped me put on one of my socks and my pants, and my boots. I needed to get dressed to go pick up my mom. Once I got into the car and started driving, I was regretting not telling my mom that she should have taken the bus.

I'm a little afraid of the pain I will probably feel tomorrow morning. I expect to feel stiffer than I did today. I'm very thankful that I didn't break anything!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Streamlining Saturday

Today, I was able to make good progress on my decluttering. I spent all day in my kitchen going through all of the cupboards. I'd pick one, take everything out, wipe it down inside and out, and then put back only the items I wanted to keep. I found things that I had completely forgot I had. So obviously, those went to the donation pile. Here is a photo of the things I got rid of from the kitchen.

I was actually planning on spending only 1.5 hours on my kitchen today. I wanted to also do some filing, and tax filing, digitize photos, and help my daughter sort through her clothes. But once I got into clearing out the kitchen, I didn't want to stop. I'm still not done though. I haven't gone through my pantry and kitchen island. I was working a little, then sitting and contemplating a little. I wasn't in a hurry today. I needed rest, but I also wanted to get this done. So I took my time.

I'm happy with what I've accomplished. I will finish up tomorrow, and if I have time and the energy, I'll get on that filing.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

The organge brush

It just occurred to me today while I was reading minimalism testimonials online on the Miss Minimalist website that my dad was a minimalist. My mom isn't, but my dad was.

My dad passed away 5 months ago on October 11, 2014. The day after his 64th birthday. It's still very recent and very difficult to accept that I can't see him, hug him or hear him anymore. My father's voice was so sweet to me. He didn't give himself enough credit for the incredible man that he was. But maybe his modesty added to his greatness. 

Anyway, my dad didn't have or want many things. Growing up, I saw my dad use the exact same orange hair brush every day, and the same green plastic glass whenever he wanted to drink pop. My sister and I joked that those two items would be our inheritance. This was years before he got sick with COPD. 

He was hard to shop for when it came to birthday and Christmas presents. He didn't have many regular hobbies. Life for him was all about family. We'd ask him what he wanted. He would always say "Nothing. I just want to be with you guys". So we would often just get him clothes because he never bought any for himself. 

One of my favourite memories of a "present" that I gave my dad one year for his birthday was when I invited my parents, my sister and her family, and my dad's last living sister to supper in my new house. My aunt Hélène's husband, uncle Pierinot, had recently passed away. I had made my first turkey dinner and it turned out great. My dad was just so thrilled that we were together. He kept saying over and over again how pleased he was and how this was his best birthday. I was so proud to make him so happy. I really loved making him happy!

I'm so thankful that my dad was a minimalist. I hear of so many families who are torn apart over inheritances. By being a minimalist, my dad spared us any possible fights (although, he and my mom raised us right and I can't really imagine that my sister and I would have fought over anything). He also spared us the guilt of having to give away things he left behind. I don't think it was intentional. He just didn't care about things. Well, he didn't care about acquiring things. What he had he took care of, for a very long time. Whenever he got rid of something, it was because it was well worn out.

So what did we get? What was his legacy? In no particular order: we got a great example of devotion to family, of honesty, of work ethic, of love, of tremendous strength, of sincerity, of quiet wisdom, of forgiveness, of responsibility, of humility, of humour, of hope, of respect, of simplicity.

My sister got the green plastic glass, and I got dad's orange brush.


Monday, 9 March 2015

Day done

Well, my 2nd Whole30 turned out to be a Whole8. I gave in to my cravings today. Not quite sure how I feel about it.

I'm still doing the purging stuff thing and the "no buy" March thing.

I wasn't feeling well today and ended up staying home. I slept most of the day. Still feeling a little off.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Day 8 - Mrs. Grumpikins resurfaces

Grumpy. Moody. Frustrated. Stuck to it anyway. Cleaned out my bathroom like I said I would. Didn't have much to get rid of. Found more body wash. My daughter and I have 7 or 8 bottles of body wash and 3 bars of soap total to go through before I can buy any more. Maybe I won't need to buy any until 2016...

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Day 7 - Temptation

Today, I took my niece out for her birthday outing. I've been doing this for the past few years. I never know what to get her, and I like when we hang out together. We don't get to do it enough. So we make an afternoon of it. This year, she chose to get a manicure. So I picked her up before lunch and headed to the nail salon.

We then wanted to have something for lunch and didn't want to head back home just yet. I tried to think of a whole30 friendly restaurant in Aylmer. Couldn't think of one. So we went to the grocery store to find compliant food to have on the go. She has a peanut and nut allergy. And I'm on a whole30. Choices are limited.

We did manage to find a weird combination of things (olives, green beans, prosciutto, mixed berries, juice made in store, and she wanted macaroni salad) and off we went. (I know that on whole30 we're not supposed to have juice, but I felt ok with this one because of the ingredients (mine was made with only kale, spinach, pineapple, and oranges). Not making a big deal out of it.) So we went to eat in the car at the marina looking out at the people playing in the snow. I really like these moments. We get to enjoy each other's company. :)

Now because it was for her birthday, I don't consider her present (manicure) to be betraying my "no buy" month. It wasn't for me. It was for her birthday, which was on February 23rd. We just happened to go in March. Also the fact that I got groceries instead of eating out I feel gives me extra credit.

When I drove her back, my nephew asked if he could come sleep over. He really likes his "tante Dodo". He's apparently been extra emotional this week because he's missing my dad. So I agreed. And my niece came also (although a little reluctantly) because my sister was excited at the prospect of having a date night with her common-law husband. My mom bought the kids junk food. About as extreme as last weekend. Chips, popcorn, chocolate, candy. Ugh!!! AND this is the week where I especially crave all of that junk. But I resisted. But really, it's VERY hard.

So with the kids here, I can't continue my stuff purging like I would have wanted. But sometimes, relationships have to come first. I did bring a box to my sister when I picked up my niece. It contained her scanner which she lent me a while back, and the two sheet sets that I was giving to her. So that's out of the house. Tomorrow, I'll take a few minutes and clean the bathroom and purge what I can there. It shouldn't take too long. I've done a big purge not too long ago even before I was planning my journey to simplicity.

Having my sister's kids over tonight for a sleepover wasn't planned. I put my niece in my daughter's room. I had to hide away clothes and things before I could let her go in... I REALLY need to work with my daughter to get rid of most of her things. She has waaaaaay too much stuff and can't keep her room tidy. I know, typical teenager. But her room is tiny and she has so much stuff, I doubt I could do a much better job than her. I was going to wait until I was done with the rest of the house. But this seems too urgent. We had watched a reality show on tiny homes earlier that morning. My daughter said she'd like to live in one... I'll use that as inspiration!

Huh! I didn't think I'd have much to write about tonight. I've been tired all day even though last night I had an ok night's sleep. I'll admit, it's somewhat rambling though... Anyway, that is all for day 7.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Day 4, 5, and 6 - A little progress

Day 4 - nothing significant to say. Still super hungry, but still eating whole30. Kind of grumpy today.

Day 5 - nothing significant to say for this day either. The hunger has calmed down a bit though. And not as grumpy as yesterday. 

Day 6 - When I went to the linen closet to grab a face cloth for my morning shower, I was greeted by a well-organized space containing just enough stuff. It made me so happy! I actually reopened the door after shutting it the first time to take a second look. As if it was too good to be true. But it was true!!! 

Tonight, a colleague of mine came to pick up a dresser and a bookcase that I offered him. Turns out that one of his daughters (he is a single dad of four kids) needed a new one. And I'm more than happy to be rid of those pieces. He wrote back later on in the evening and thanked me again saying that his daughter was really happy to get the dresser. Excellent! :)

Things are slowly coming along. I can be somewhat impatient and would like for things to be done as soon as I think them. Obviously, that can't be. And it's probably a good thing. If it would be that easy, we wouldn't learn from these experiences. Before buying new stuff, I must remember what the journey to simplicity was like. All of the hard work to rid myself of the clutter and unnecessary things.

Today I worked on dreaming of the life I want. I wrote (for myself) about what I want my home to be like. Where would it be, how would it look, what would be in it. I also considered the schedule I would want, what my ideal financial situation look like, and what my ideal emotional and physical health would look like.

I didn't write about why I want these things the way I want them though. I will add to that plan. I also want to consider what I want to do with my life. More than just the every day living stuff. And of course, the whys for those.

Once I'm done editing it, I will print it and put it up in my bedroom so that I can be reminded of it every day.

Well that's it for tonight. Bonne nuit!

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Day 3 - Just in case

All my meals were fantastic today! But I felt like I could keep eating forever. I had protein, I had fats, but I still couldn't get enough food! I'm not hungry, but I could still eat!

I finished my linen closet tonight. My first instinct with almost everything I looked at was "I should keep this just in case". But you know what, I've been keeping all of these things just in case for years and haven't touched them. Pairs of curtains, perfectly good towels, sheet sets, buttons, sewing accessories, different colour thread... Some of the sewing accessories belonged to my paternal grand-mother who was an awesome seamstress and who passed away when I was in my early twenties. I've NEVER used any of it! And I'm now 40 years old.

So I'm letting it go. It's difficult, because it feels like a betrayal not to use the things she gave me. Man! stuff can really have a weird effect on us! It's not like I can bring any of this stuff with me when it's my time to die. So why burden myself with it now while I'm living? What consoles me is knowing that someone else will be putting these things to good use. (at least, I assume so)

I got rid of:
  • 7 bath towels
  • 4 hand towels
  • 1 beach towel
  • 3 sheet sets
  • 5 pairs of curtains
  • a shopping bag full of sewing supplies
  • clothes from my closet (I had set them aside already when I quickly went through my closet)
  • a blanket
  • a snuggie
  • 3 terry cloth bath mats
  • 3 throw pillows
I'm left with (for two people):
  • 4 bath towels
  • 4 towels (that my daughter and I use to dry our hair)
  • 3 hand towels (but I'll probably get rid of one of them)
  • 3 terry cloth bath mats
  • 20 or so face cloths
  • 1 beach towel
  • 3 sheet sets for my bed (queen)
  • 2 sheet sets for my daughter's bed (double)
  • 2 blankets
  • a dozen or so rags for cleaning
  • a reasonably sized container for my sewing accessories which I pared down significantly
  • a pair of curtains (I haven't been able to rid myself of them yet. I like them and they were expensive. I will most likely use them again. Probably once my mom moves out)
  • 4 pillows (but I will most likely get rid of at least 2, maybe all 4)
I will be adding seasonal products to the linen closet once I go through my bathroom. What I mean by seasonal products are things like sunscreens and mosquito repellent. They will be in a reasonable container on part of a shelf.
And I will also add a container for my first aid products. Don't worry, I have enough room in the linen closet now.

Oh! I've been sticking to the "no buy" month thing also. I haven't bought any food or coffee at work. I bring everything from home.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Day 2 - Calming the tantrum inside

OK, today was tough! All I could think of was the food that I couldn't have. I wanted to quit already. I regretted posting in my blog and telling people that I was going to do another Whole30. I should just learn to shut up! I thought to myself.

And then at home, there was left over banana cake with chocolate frosting... one of my favourite types of cake! I turned to my mom and told her I wanted a piece. She said "well have one!" To which I replied, "well then I will have failed" "Failed who?" "Myself!" She shrugged in response. As if she doesn't get why I'm challenging myself like this. I resisted.          ...Huh! Kind of cool that I didn't give in...

I had scheduled an hour to clean out my linen closet. I only did 15 minutes. But it made a huge difference already. I knew for sure that I was getting rid of two sheet sets that I'm giving to my sister, 6 bath towels, 6 hand towels, a blanket, a couple of terry cloth bath mats and a few curtain sets.

As I was contemplating tonight's decluttering project, I actually started thinking Oh! I should buy a container for my stuff to put in the linen closet! But then I remembered that this is a "no buy" month. So after the month is over, if I still feel like I need that type of container, I'll look into getting one. Chances are, I'll be able to make due with what I already have on hand.

Like I mentioned yesterday, I'm feeling out of it. I've been feeling out of it for the past few days. Hopefully things will turn around soon. I'm hoping for a good night's sleep tonight. I've scheduled in an hour of reading before bed.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Day 1 - Commitment reaffirmed!

This weekend was a busy weekend. On Saturday, I helped my mom with the remaining things she had at her old apartment. It was the final day of her lease. Well, the fact that she still had stuff left over there and the stuff was totally unnecessary in my opinion just helped me reaffirm my commitment to decluttering. Not that I was wavering at all. But I really don't want to go through what I went through for my last two moves. They both actually lasted about three days! Ugh!! That is NOT going to happen for my next one.

We came back from Aylmer with my 7-year-old nephew who wanted to come sleep over. I ran errands and cleaned up the garage a little to make room for my mother's things that we just brought over.

Sunday was food day. I prepped two different types of meatballs and made chicken wings (those were for tonight's supper). I ran out of time to cook the chicken breasts I wanted to. I also wanted to make soup, but I over cooked the chicken wings and ended up running out of water (broth) when I was boiling them before roasting them in the oven. They turned out ok, but I lost some because the meat fell off of the bones and stuck to the bottom of the pot.

The day went well food wise. I stuck to the whole30. But supper was a little tougher. There was lasagna, garlic bread, cake, and pie. All looked so delicious. And my family was telling me that I should start tomorrow instead of today. But I stuck it out and resisted. I had my mind set on starting on March 1st.

I'm feeling clumsy and out of it tonight. I was tired all weekend. I haven't been feeling well, and I blame the poor diet. There was a lot of junk food binging on Friday and Saturday night. I am also disappointed that I didn't get as much done as I would have wanted. Oh well. I'll get it done.

I apologize for this post. It's not my best writing. But I suppose it helps illustrate the state of mind I'm in at the moment, which is all part of the journey.