06 May 2012

clutter versus minimalism

Clutter and minimalism don't agree. When I think of clutter, I think of Hoarders- chaos, mess, and items that should be thrown away. But I also like the look of combining interesting things, like the image below from one of my favorite blogs, Design Crush:
image (and related post): http://www.designcrushblog.com/2012/03/20/little-corners/
On the flip side, when I think of minimalism, I think of another favorite blog- Zen Habits. and an empty room, maybe all white, very serene and almost clinical.

I've always been drawn to simplicity and oddly comforted by a mess. When I have a mess, it's usually because I'm in the midst of a project, or have been having too much fun lately. I sometimes fall asleep amid a  pile of books and I love that. But the other side of me gets very stressed out and overwhelmed by messes, and craves that quiet simplicity of minimalistic design. 

Since 2012 began, I've been attempting to declutter by using a program called 40 bags in 40 days (clearly it's taking me longer than that but whatever) that chooses one cluttered spot- a closet, a drawer- and you attack that spot with a garbage bag and images of Hoarders fresh in your head. I've met with great success doing this and now that I only have my car left on my original list, plan to start over again with 40 more bags. 

But my goal is to end up with something like the above- not empty, but deliberate and thoughtful and clearly referential to who we are as a family.

01 May 2012

One Day at a Time

Image Flickr user quibus
I am an obsessive planner. I mean, who starts a blog called The Year of Frugal Living other than an obsessive planner? I cannot just do anything- for example, rather than just declutter my house, like a normal person, I did two things:
  • started a 40 bags in 40 days project that I posted on facebook and got friends to join in
  • started a holiday called "Decluttering Day" (it's coming up, actually!)
Normal people probably don't try to start holidays to clean their house, but that's how I've always been. I need to do everything as a group. Once, in 7th grade, I had a religion. With followers. Like a cult. Anyway.

So I'm trying to stop that. Not because it's a bad thing, but it's just really hard to do anything so big all the time. It becomes exhausting and you burn out. You stop on bag 36. I'm trying really hard to focus on the day at hand, try to make decisions based in the moment, and be happy and stop making everything into a huge deal. It goes against my very core, but I'm trying.

(Here's the link to Decluttering Day's Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Decluttering-Day/119658034721388)

30 April 2012

Top ten ways to save money at the grocery store

1. Don't bring the kids.
2. Don't bring the kids.
3. Don't bring the kids.
4. Don't bring the kids.
5. Don't bring the kids.
6. Don't bring the kids.
7. Don't bring the kids.
8. Don't bring the kids.
9. Don't bring the kids.
10. Don't bring the kids.
Photo: flickr user tjdewey
Just kidding. Here's my real list:

1. BEFORE YOU GO: Check to see what you need. Look through the fridge and pantry, and think about what you have going on that week. You may only need a few meals or a few ingredients to go with the things you already have.
2. Eat before you go so you're not hungry. In fact, try on pants that are too tight before you go. That'll kill your appetite.
3. Buy produce with the different shelf life expectancies. Buy some items that last 1-2 days (strawberries) and some items that will still be fine in a week (apples).
4. Buy one or two choices for breakfast each week- everyone can have bagels for a week. Too many choices= making too many different foods and increases the chance of some items going bad.
5. If you buy fish or meat, only buy 1 or 2 meals worth, and do vegetarian/frozen items later in the week. Again, less chance of food spoiling.
6. Have fun trying to make meals out of food already in the house. I use the ingredients search on allrecipes.com to see what I can make. Example: I had raw pumpkin seeds and coconut (who knows why) and it gave me a great granola recipe.
7. Buy items you use frequently in the large size. There's no point in buying a small jar of peanut butter every other week. Check the price per unit on the tag to see the best price for comparison...
8. ...BUT only buy large items if you use the item frequently. It's not a bargain to buy a huge bottle of russian dressing because one day you wanted to make reubens.
9. Check the yesterday's baked goods rack for steals- just don't leave the tag on your mom's birthday cake you snagged for half off (yes, this happened).
10. Don't bring the kids. I wasn't kidding.

29 April 2012

Digging out

Image: flickr user Chiot's Run

It's Spring! That means many of my favorite things- starting the garden, spring cleaning and decluttering, the return of fresh fruit and vegetables... and that feeling of new beginnings that motivates me like no other. It's been a long, rough winter and I'm ready to start making progress on my goals again- paying off debt, getting back in shape (holy 10 lbs of winter weight gain, batman!) and spending more time doing things that make me happy. This blog makes me happy, so step one- check!