Sunday, November 23, 2014

Update #3: 2,014 Items

It's been a while since I've updated on our 2,014 item progress.  Here are the numbers for the 3rd quarter of 2014 and the month of October:

July - 78
August - 221
September - 226
October - 259
Prior 6-month Total - 1,040
Running TOTAL - 1,824

July:  we were away from home for over half the month at GSP.  Upon returning home, I was anxious to get some random junk out of various nooks and crannies of the house.  We sold a few items, including our oversized toaster oven.  I hoped I would love that toaster oven, but I used it so rarely that the visual clutter of it on our counter tops was weighing me down.  My favorite part of the challenge of July, though, was finally determining to put our wedding china to use!  One of my dear roommates in college gifted us a beautiful set of china that is dishwasher and microwave safe.  I didn't grow up using such fancy things except on special occasions.  However, the pottery style "everyday" dishware we had used for 9 years was starting to chip and failed at warming food in the microwave.  So we found a new home for our dishware and embraced the beautiful china.  I'm so glad we did.  I feel so fancy. And I think it's a good lesson for our girls that every day we are alive is a day to celebrate.

August:  I continued my mission from July of giving a hard look to everything hiding in closets.  The biggest victory of this month was purging the CD/DVD tower!  I am so proud of my husband for letting go!!  We burned all of the music onto the computer over the years so it's hard to justify finding storage for overflowing CDs and DVDs.  Look how nice and neat it is now:

Most of the CDs and DVDs we own.  The girls' most watched DVDs live in the entertainment center drawer.
September:  I decided to enter a few outgrown baby items in a local semi-annual consignment sale.  I was slightly disappointed in the outcome revenue-wise, but I'm glad that what didn't sell went to local mothers in need.  I am so excited that a huge pile of clothes that left our house were maternity clothes for my dear Pursuing Prairie partner!!!! We've been praying for this blessing for years and I'm so glad she can inherit the community maternity collection! :)

October:   It's amazing what random junk you can continue to find even after months of decluttering! I listed that we donated 51 items to St. Vincent.  I honestly couldn't tell you 1 thing that was included in that pile!  Otherwise, more outgrown baby clothes and items found new homes.  I suppose that will always be the case with growing children in the house.  We have been so blessed to receive good quality hand me down clothing for our girls and intend to donate the majority of it as soon as we can no longer use it.

We will likely meet our 2,014 goal in November which is so exciting.  But our mission cannot and will not end there!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Linky Love: Guest post on children and contentment

My sweet and sassy sister in Christ, Michelle, honored me by asking that I pen a guest post on her blog, Words to Spare. Michelle is in the middle of a wonderful series on the building blocks of Contagious Contentment. Join me over at Words to Spare to read more about Teaching Contentment to Our Children. While you're there, be sure to see what "overflows" from Michelle's heart.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Update #2: 2014 Items

I planned to update our progress on the 2014 item challenge at our half way point.  But I temporarily misplaced the list in our GSP transitions.  I was pleasantly surprised to locate the it after cleaning out the van. :)

Before I get to the count, I wanted to share some soul searching Steve and I did while at GSP.  Being away from home in a 1 bedroom apartment for 6 weeks can really change your perspective on things. We can "survive" on so much less than what we currently own.  So what's our break even point?  What sacrifices can we make to be content with less yet still be comfortable? What example do we want to set for our family?  Why do we own a 2000 sq ft home when 1000 would more than suffice?  Why do we choose to stay in debt for the next 18 years if we could be debt free in a smaller home? And many more...

Turns out the answers to these questions are far more complicated when you involve the heart and not just the head.  As the troll says, "the heart is not so easily changed."  And our decisions are certainly more complicated when we view these questions from the perspective of our children as adults looking back at their childhood.  So for now, we are embracing status quo, but renewing our efforts to be debt free by 40, reduce our clutter, and set an example of gratitude.

So here's our month by month count:

January - 257
February - 158
March - 104
April - 172
May - 247
June - 102
6 month TOTAL: 1,040

Some fun things went out the door each month.  My favorite things in March were baby related.  We had a couple of friends deliver baby girls in March and one of Katie's friends collected baby care items at her birthday party.  Bye bye Breast Friend pillow.  You served us well!  In April, we took a load of items to a local women and children's shelter which also included many items Katie collected at her birthday party (friend donations not included in our total).  In May, we had an amazing adoption benefit multi-family yard sale at our house.  We personally let go of approximately 150 items at that one sale.  We had such a great time that our small group plans to make it an annual event!  June was a short month because we left for GSP mid-month.  Before leaving, though, I did a clean out of our toiletry collection and renovated the girls' outdoor play area.

Half way through 2014, we are slightly over the half way point of our goal!  I'm still looking forward to passing along some maternity and baby related items later this year, God-willing.  And we are going to hit the CD and DVD collections hard in the coming days.


2,014 Items in 2014

Update #1: 2014 Items

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Meatless May

Thus far in 2014, I've been meal planning a month at a time.  We've experienced many benefits to this process that could probably be their own post.  In mid-April, I began to think ahead about events, trips, and meals that would occur in the month of May.  I can't recall the exact inspiration now, but I decided to discuss with hubby the possibility of having a meatless month.  We had successfully experimented with some meatless recipes and I felt we could take on the culinary challenge rather tastefully.  To add to the challenge, we are basically dairy free in the house because we all have varying degrees of sensitivity to dairy.  So we couldn't just eat a bunch of meatless lasagna, mac and cheese, or quesadillas.

Steve and I both grew up, like most southern Americans, in steak (cubed, that is) and potato homes.  Since we've gotten married, we've loved trying new recipes and cooking methods.  Somewhere along the line, we added "Meatless Mondays" to our repertoire.  It felt quite radical at the time. :)

Being the nerds, I mean intellects, that we are, we enjoy watching documentaries of all types.  Our favorite genre is food related documentaries.  Approximately 4 or 5 years ago, we watched the movie Food Inc.  Our eyes were opened about a lot of things in the food industry.  Food Inc. is a movie I highly recommend that everyone watch.  Regardless of whether you are a foodie or what type of eating habits you ascribe to, you can take away important information from the documentary.  

Other inspiring documentaries we've watched include Forks Over Knives and Vegucated.  Both of these movies discuss veganism.  Veganism goes beyond vegetarianism to eliminate dairy, eggs, and other animal byproducts. The advantages of veganism are not only health related but also environmental:
  • reducing risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity
  • reducing carbon footprint created by the meat industry (fossil fuels from animals and processing facilities)
  • reducing water usage from watering animals and animal feed

Now don't get me wrong.  We Ate Meat in May.  We attended Steve's brother's wedding in Kansas City.  How can you go to KC without eating some BBQ?!  It was so delicious!

But what did we take away from a month of meatless meals at home?
  1. We feel better after a meal that does not contain meat and especially dairy.  We leave the table satisfied but not bloated.
  2. Meatless meals can be exciting to create.  We found recipes from around the world.
  3. Basing meals around legumes, grains, and beans rather than meat is much cheaper.  When we purchase meat, we purchase high quality meat.  So the savings added up quickly.
What are we doing going forward?  I hope we will continue to eat mostly meatless meals.  I am not opposed to eating meat and definitely not opposed to eating eggs at this point in our culinary journey.  I am personally going to do my best to avoid red meat as I seem to have digestive issues with red meat.  We will likely plan meals with meat at least once a week.  And we will not avoid meat away from home. 

More than anything we are inspired to continue educating ourselves on what we're putting into our bodies.  We are, afterall, what we eat.  We may look back and laugh at what we thought was healthy based on the information we have now.  But at least we can pat ourselves on the back for thinking outside of the meat case and attempting a new challenge.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Update #1: 2014 Items

Our household is 2 months into our 2014 items challenge.  I thought I would provide a quick update on our progress so far.

January: 257 items!
We had a great start to the challenge.  My wonderful husband sold his beloved baseball card collection!  He advertised that he estimated the collection at 4000+ cards.  He was off by 7000. :)  rather than claim we parted with 11,000 separate items and rest on our laurels for the next 5 years, we counted 1 pack of cards as 1 item.

February: 158 items
While this is less than the monthly average we need to meet our goal, we still found new homes for some great stuff.  A good portion of February's total consisted of baby items Karis has already outgrown.  She's growing so quickly!! I'll admit I'm slightly sentimental about some of the pieces we passed on.  But I'm even more elated that another sweet baby girl will enjoy them.  Who knows where the clothing will go from there!  Certainly getting better use than collecting age and dust in our attic!!

I'm anxious to get some big numbers under our belt and out of the house.  But there are potential homes for several things when the time is right.  We're also waiting for the weather to warm up to drop off at goodwill and other donation centers.

How are my fellow challengers doing?


Monday, January 6, 2014

2,014 Items in 2014

It only seems appropriate that I come up with a plan to let go of 2,014 items in my home in my year of embrace.  But embracing things is not really a goal I need to have.  I've been a member of a cloth diaper swap website for a couple years. One of the discussion forums under the minimalist heading focuses on a challenge to get rid of the number of items that corresponds to the calendar year.  Hence the inspiration for 2,014 items in 2,014.

At first glance, the thought of removing over 2,000 items from my home seemed overwhelmingly impossible.  The more I looked into how the challenge is played out, though, it didn't seem as difficult.  When you consider all the nooks and crannies of your home, there are actually quite a few papers, unwanted toys, clothes, and nicknacks, etc that create clutter.

I've started a list on a piece of paper hanging on the fridge to compile my daily elimination (of items that is) :p  And since this is a challenge for myself and not some sort of strict contest, I made up the following guidelines:

1. Each week's recycle bin = 10 items. I don't want to count each piece individually but I do want to give credit for not sending these items to a landfill.

2.  Every time the compost bin is emptied = 3 items.  Again the action reduces landfill waste.

3. Approx. 50 pieces of paper equals 1 item. However paper goes in the recycle bin so I haven't figured this one out completely.

4.  Other household items that are removed through donation or selling = 1 item each.

5.  Items thrown away don't count if the item is trash by nature. Ex: food wrappers don't count, but a useless coin machine doodad does

So far through the 5th day of the year, we've removed around 35 items from our house.  I don't expect to keep up this pace everyday, but I'm pleased with the results thus far. I'm excited to see how far we get toward the goal.  I may occasionally update our progress.

Wanna join me on this challenge?  Comment and keep us updated!


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014: Embrace

I had forgotten until this last morning of 2013 that the trendy resolution these days is to pick a word to define your year.  Did I claim one for 2013?  Maybe it was "intentional."  Well obviously I wasn't very intentional in remembering my word.

But this morning as I looked into my baby girl's big blue eyes, I was inspired. EMBRACE.

Embrace my family and friends with hugs and kisses...

Embrace the season of life I am in as a parent and the seasons of life my children are in...

Embrace the call the Holy Spirit puts on my life...