Tag: organizing

Minimalist Progress Halfway Through September

Emotions have been high this month. Something about doing the Minimalist Challenge has really brought home that we are going to be leaving this house. I am not sad about donating things we have had for a long time, I am so nervous about how the move will affect the children. I don’t want them to have the same experience I did moving back and forth between locations as a child leaving me forever feeling like I’m not anchored to any place I may be.

I am not sure if you can see the actual progress made between the “Before” picture on the left and the update pictures on the right. In addition to three Rubbermaid bins full of donation items there were also four trash bags of broken items or things that will do no one any good. Thankfully, there was no actual trash in the area. We seem to have a lot more fabric than any person has a right to own.

The most exciting find? A bin full of bras. I had no idea I actually owned more than my 4 Aaah bras (that are falling apart because I have worn little else for the past five years) and my 4 Lane Bryant super push-up bras (for special occasions, purchased on clearance, very uncomfortable but very effective) but it turns out I have more than a few very comfortable t-shirt bras that I’m excited to start using on a regular basis. They are comfortable and fit well. It was like going shopping in my own closet.



I have high hopes we will be able to finish this project by the end of next weekend. Saturday is Mr. Brickie’s birthday and a friend of mine is going to watch our children so we can attend the Brews & Blues fest (Mr. Brickie loves beer. This will probably give him some great homebrew ideas.) The tickets to the event were his birthday gift from someone I adore to the tips of my toes. She is the best gift giver I know. Whenever I shop for someone I think about what she would do and that guides my decision. It has made me a good gift giver, as well. (Or so I’ve been told. People might be lying to make me feel good.)

All the money that was on hold has cleared in the account and I’m not sure how much is in there right this second. I made the payments I needed to make and am leaving the rest alone until this week’s paycheck where I’ll pay the car payment.

I’m praying there will be some left over. Even though I know we will get the bulk of our moving money at Taxmas, it would be nice to have more of an emergency fund before that time.

I have to tell you, I’m also a little nervous about having to prove income. Paystubs in the winter/early spring months aren’t easy to come by.

There is a lot up in the air about 2015 and I try not to think about all the aspects I cannot control. Sometimes I find myself slipping into a horrible daydream of “things I could have done differently to make this not be happening” and go further and further back trying to find the big mistakes and determine how I could have lived those times of my life better until I’m thinking things like, “If I had just gotten better grades in high school….” which is pretty much how I know my train of thought has veered into coocoolococrazytown.

There are a lot of things I could have done differently. There are a lot of things I could have been better at. I could have been more dedicated. I could choose different priorities right now that aren’t my kids and their education and the care and feeding of this house and its occupants. I could get a job and put the kids in daycare. So many alternate realities are out there and I could step into any one of them tomorrow. Hell, I could step into a few of them right now.

But the reality I have chosen, the one where my husband is the breadwinner and I am the housewife that focuses on the children’s education? That’s the one we all like the best. It’s not just my choice, it’s everyone’s choice. This weekend one of my girls made chicken nuggets and one made instant mashed potatoes. They won’t be on Masterchef Junior next season, for sure, but they know how to preheat an oven, set a timer, use oven mitts, measure, mix, and serve. We talked about fractions, serving sizes, how things cook, seasonings, and food safety.

If my kids go away to college and live on crap food it will be a choice, not because they don’t know how to prepare basic meals.

Another minimalist win (but also sad times for the homemaker’s kitchen) is our discovery of Pantry Moths. We thought they were just in the rice and so we dumped all the rice and cleaned the container the rice lives in and got new rice. They’re back. That means they’re in something that’s not the rice and I have to dump most of my pantry. If we weren’t still getting food assistance I don’t know what I would do. I have to buy more flour, sugar, powdered sugar, rice, cornmeal, cornstarch and containers to store them all.

I didn’t have containers already because I didn’t know about things like Pantry Moths and thought containers were something people bought because they were stylish, not because you need them to keep bugs out. I thought folding down the top of the flour bag was good enough. Take it from me, it’s absolutely not good enough. *shudder* Containers are a lesson that trying to be frugal with everything all the time can have negative financial consequences.

Part of me feels good about having this excuse to get the cabinets all cleaned and knowing I will be able to get rid of everything in there we don’t need, but I’m also sad because buying containers for new food because mine was contaminated is something we can ill afford to deal with right now. Every penny is allocated toward moving at some unforeseeable time in the future. We are still hopeful it will be next summer but know it could be as early as February. The not knowing is something that affects me in waves. For a long time it will be calm and sometimes there is one of those little waves of anxiety that lifts you up a little but then you float back down. Once in a while, though, the undertow gets me and I’m sucked down into a very dark place where I find breathing impossible and the only outcomes involve shelters and living in the car.

It takes a long time and a lot of tears to get through those undertow times.

Plus the occasional article I read about people who get foreclosed on and how they should have known better. How commenters join in to say the people this happens to are bad and stupid and how they are all fools who don’t deserve to own a house in the first place. I wish I could get them all in one room to tell them that I wish they had been there before I owned this house. To tell me what a waste a mortgage is. To tell me that no house is worth the four times you’ll pay for it with a decent flat interest rate once you take interest and 30 years into consideration.

I wish I had listened to those people eleven years ago. Too bad they were too stupid and shortsighted to know I would need their advice. (That’s a joke.)

One of the things I tell my kids is, “Don’t tell people what they should have done. You can’t be the quarterback of someone’s past, not even your own. You can only use the information you have to give someone advice about what to do in the future. Anyone who tries to tell you what you should have done in your past is only doing it to make you feel bad and you should not trust them.” This is something that my husband and I are working on in our marriage. You should have asked this way. You should have said that. You should have told me sooner. Those are all based in the past and used only to make the other person feel bad. We are both learning to change this and want to make sure the kids are on board so they can recognize this trait in themselves and others.

I try to pay attention to people who do this kind of thing in a seemingly effortless way. Sparkling Adventures has more kids than I do and travels all the time. Maybe you become immune to the fear of change if you face it often enough. I’ve faced change so many times in my life – giant, upheaval-sized change – I would have thought I was already immune. Maybe being eleven years in the same place has made me weak. Maybe having a non-upheaval-style marriage and family have allowed me to become vulnerable to the pain of change.

Wherever I go, whenever I go there, I will get there in the most minimalist style possible for my family.

That is a huge positive.


Monday’s Schedule | Cleaning Focus: Kitchen


You might remember me telling you way back in the day I wake my children up with a song.

The same song, every morning, for years now.

Toward the end of summer the girls told me they were very excited I would wake them up with a song again. It was one of those moments you feel and want to hold on to forever. The secret, of course, is waking up before my kids do and getting a cup of coffee in before all this singing nonsense happens.

It’s funny, because at first (years ago) I hated having to get up a half hour before my kids did. It felt unfair. Now? It feels like a gift I give to myself that sets the tone for the whole day. I think that’s how people feel who exercise regularly feel and why they continue to do it. I wish I could feel about exercising every morning the way I do about waking my kids up happy. Even if I walk every morning and feel better physically, it doesn’t do near as much for me mentally. Not enough to keep going regularly. (I do it three times a week give or take a day but it’s nothing to brag about and I’m not increasing resistance or my game.)

There are a lot of things I used to hate doing or thought were awful, but when I saw the rewards they became things I enjoyed doing because I could see the fruit of my labor. Meal planning, cleaning, shopping lists, organizing, doing dishes…all things I didn’t used to enjoy at all. Now? I look forward to doing them because I know it keeps things humming along smoothly.

Minimalist Game Update

I’ve been doing great with the Minimalist Challenge. I have not been taking pictures every day but that does not mean I have not been productive. Every day I get rid of more than the required number of things. Starting today I’m dedicating an hour every weekday to throwing out or donating stuff from my house. By the time we move it will be a minimalist paradise, I assure you.

Of course, my deepest fear is that it ends up looking way more like this…

New! Cleaning Schedule

I’ve been doing my best lately to get the house in order. Now that Mr. Brickie is at work during the day and two out of three are in school, I have a little bit of breathing room to get stuff done around the house. I’ve done my best to try to find someone else’s system I can follow but, like most things, you have to change things up to fit your own lifestyle.

I’ve decided to pick one room every weekday to focus on for an hour. That hour is for deep cleaning baseboards to ceiling. If an hour isn’t enough, well, it will come back into the rotation. Perhaps after a few weeks I can cut the hour down to a half hour depending on how everything looks.

I also have an hour a day dedicated to tossing/donating things from the house we aren’t moving with. I know I already mentioned this but it’s important. I’ll have a timer and two garbage bags. One labelled donate and one labelled trash. (I use a silver sharpie to label black garbage bags.)

Monday’s Schedule

6:00am – 6:30am Wake up slowly and do some stretching or walk a mile at home.
6:30am – 7:35am Wake kids up and get them on the bus to school.
7:35am – 8:00am Put in the day’s load of laundry (Regular*)
8:00am – 10:00am Blog writing, posting, research, and social media posting.
10:00am – 11:00am Deep Clean (Kitchen**)
11:00am – 11:45am Meal Planning / Menu Planning / Shopping List / Recipe Research
11:45am – 12:15pm Lunch with Little Sister
12:15pm – 1:15pm Dinner Prep
1:15pm – 1:20pm Switch laundry to the dryer.
1:20pm – (1:55pm – 2:30pm) Quick clean of all rooms that are not today’s deep clean room. Take no more than 5-10 minutes a room. (35-70 minutes total)
2:30pm – 3:00pm Put away laundry.
3:00pm – 3:15pm Dance Break!
3:15pm – Kids get off the bus and homework/dinner/everything else happens.

There is an after dinner routine where the girls clear the table and do the dinner dishes (with the exception of our heavy frying pan or the crock pot crock) and they can relax and play until it is shower/teeth/bedtime, but it’s not timed so much as we just know it all has to happen before their 8:00pm bedtime.

* Regular denotes clothing that is not sheets/towels or socks/undies. Other days are dedicated to other kinds of laundry.
** Each weekday has a different room and will be rotated through the weekdays. Kitchen/Bathrooms/Bedroom 1/Bedroom 2/Playroom/TV Room/Living Room/Kitchen

Planning to the quarter/half hour might seem tight in terms of timing but I wanted to start with something and this seems like as good a place as any. Some things, I’m sure, will change over time depending on how much time each task takes, but when that happens the system can be easily altered. I want to print it on little pieces of paper and put it in my paper journal. I want to start using the Bullet Journal system and I think taping this printout in on one of the pages could be really helpful.

Do you schedule your day or just have one or two goals you try to meet and fit everything else in as  you think of it? Do you use a system you enjoy? If so, feel free to share it because you know I’d love to take a look!

Edited @ 8:36am

What was I supposed to be doing right now. Oh, I was already supposed to have the laundry in and write a blog post. Well I wrote part of this post this morning so maybe that counts. I’m not sure. I do have until 10am to be productive on social media. I’m on social media but I’m not sure if you could call what I did productive. I’ll come back and update again after 10am and see if maybe I’ve gotten my s#!t together.

Edited @ 12:22pm

I gave Little Sister a bath/shower and needed to supervise her because 4yo in a bathtub. So that took an hour I was planning on using for something. Also, I baked banana bread in this Pampered Chef heart tube and messed my oven all up which is the opposite of what I wanted to do in the kitchen today. My whole house smells gross. The parts of the bread that stayed in the tube are nice and cooked evenly, but for the sheer hassle I won’t be using it again. To the donate pile it goes.




Superbowl Sunday! (Let’s Get Clean in 2014!)


Depending on when you’re reading this I might be completely wasted in another state.

I like to keep you guessing.

Really, I’ve spent most of the morning researching ways to get a cleaning schedule together. Mr. Brickie got all excited about creating a chore chart which turned out to be the worst list of ten things I’ve ever seen and then I refined it and he promptly forgot he ever had the idea. It was a pretty cool system. We told the girls we would pay them in Decki Dollars and each Decki Dollar could be traded in for an actual dollar or a half-hour of extra TV, computer, or video game time during the week. If they earned five Decki Dollars they would get a bonus dollar for special parent time. The thought process kind of went like, “Oh, since you’re helping around the house there are less things I have to clean and I’d love to spend the time I didn’t spend cleaning with YOU!”


The kids ate it up. They loved it.

We haven’t started it yet because I have to design and print the Dollars and the list needs to be completed and I really could use something that makes some kind of sense and starts a habit.

Without a habit it’s not parenting, it’s just housekeeping.

So I got super excited when I came across this Free Cleaning Checklist You Can Customize over on Simply Rebekah. One page has a year’s worth of chores on it. It’s a great “big picture” way to see what you want to take care of.

A quick sidenote about cleaning systems: I don’t “get” FlyLady. If I could just get emails in the morning telling me what I’m doing that day I would be all over it. The inspirational posts and the advertising posts and the everything else overwhelms me and the ten times I’ve signed up it takes about a month before I check out completely and finally unsubscribe again. I tried to take all the information and create my own sections and whatnot, but it never works. So, I’ll be trying this new system and see if that helps. Maybe I can use both in some way. All that just to say I have nothing against FlyLady and if you’re able to keep track of it all, more power to you. You are a rockstar!

You can see all the floors in my house (which is my gauge of how bad things are) except for a third of the office. But the office floor is covered because the walk in closet in the office is cleaned out completely. It’s like a domino effect.

Or the fourth and ten at the goal line. (I’m keeping with the Superbowl theme so you don’t think I was just teasing you!)

I just know that cleaning has to be a priority because if we do end up having to leave this house we are going to have to do it quickly. That means we are looking out for storage spaces for important bins (like our FIVE rubbermaid Christmas bins – that happens when you have two complete tree setups) and things that have no place but I am emotionally attached to (one bin). Then Mr. Brickie probably has ten bins of things he just can’t part with because he would be a hoarder if he wasn’t married to me. Seriously.

He even does that thing where he gets defensive and calls them collections sometimes. I’m like, “If you’re getting defensive and calling it a collection, you’re a hoarder.” I’m still working on grace and thankfulness and I am 100% sure mocking my husband and comparing him to people on a reality show is NOT the path to being a more loving human being.

I am a work in progress…aren’t we all?

So, um, let’s make it a touchdown this year and get our houses in order BEFORE it’s time for spring cleaning. Then we can all sit back and look down our noses as we see all the social media freak-outs that happen as soon as the snow melts and spring hits!

Who’s with me?! (Even if you’re not with me, I won’t really look down my nose at anyone. It’s not my style. Glass houses, throwing stones, and all that.)

Do you have a cleaning system that works for you? Are you using FlyLady and loving it?

Give me some feedback on what you’re doing, what you would like to do. Let’s talk about cleaning and organizing!