Thursday, February 20, 2014

Step 2: Minimalism Living - Books

In a previous post, {Here} on having too much paper clutter, I talked about how we limit paper clutter in our home. Since this post, we have greatly limited the number of magazines, etc. that enter our home. Hubby has also graciously decluttered the file cabinet in the office in preparation for taxes.

To keep our home's paper clutter to a minimum, I am trying to read magazines as they come in and then recycle them. We are also doing better with tossing junk mail before it comes into the house.

Another source of paper in our home comes in the form of books. We have the following:

1. Textbooks/Resource books- These include all of hubby's books he uses on the job for reference and all of the books I have for design reference. I also have a lot of art resource books for tips on painting techniques and murals and calligraphy.

KEPT the ones I still use on a regular basis and determined if the others were useful or the information could be found on the internet.

2. Yearbooks: Mainly from college, but some from high school as well (total of 8)

    KEPT all

3. Reference books: dictionary, thesaurus, Bible concordance


4. Chapter books: We have a lot of books we have read and still do reference from time to time. These include biographies (hubby likes to read them), books on marriage and family (we have two copies of Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus- one in English, one in Chinese- great book if you've never read it), self help books (I won't ever get rid of my 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book which I do reference from time to time).

   Donated most of these and kept the ones worth rereading at some point or ones we reference.

5. Kid's Books: These are books I kept from my classroom when I quit teaching. They include a lot of the classical books for younger kids, series such as The Magic Tree House books and non-fiction books (I love the Kingfisher Voyages {Kingfisher Voyages}books, the INSiders books {INSiders Books} and the DK Eyewitness books {DK Eyewitness books}). Declan's current toddler books are kept in his room and his playroom, but they will all be in the playroom after we get the shelving built for that room. Thanks honey!! Declan LOVES books so we keep enough for him and he already has his favorites.

   KEPT most of the non-fiction books for Declan so he could use them when he is in school. Sold    some of the series such as Junie B. Jones.

6. Teaching Workbooks/Lesson Books: When I quit teaching, I never knew if I may go back to teaching so I kept nearly everything I had purchased for my classroom. This included a lot of File Folder games that I had created, posters, and books. I have since gone through these and sold a good bit. Since I still don't know if I will return to teaching, there is still a chance, I did keep some of them for future use.

   KEPT the ones I felt I could actually use and ones that had lessons and not just worksheets.  
   SOLD the games and books that were mostly worksheets or practice books as well as a lot of the file folder games. I just don't the space for all of it.

All of these together add up fast. We had books in every room of the house and then some were even stored in bins in the attic. What good were they doing anyone up there? So, I began the book purge with Gary's help.

My first step was to type up a list of books to sell. I did this and managed to earn a little cash which was great. The next step was to go through all of the books at one time and make a donation pile for the library. Our small pile quickly grew to 3 boxes full!! The rest of the books are stored on our IKEA cube shelf in our office. I know I will be able to get rid of more later, but my goal was to only have books in one room, on one shelf. The books here now include design and computer reference books, books for Declan (2 cubbies), dictionaries and yearbooks. Also on this cubby shelf are the paper shredder and a scanner (on top).

We also managed to empty one shelf in the office of books altogether!! It was amazing that we also had books from other people. I think I probably returned over 10 books that had been loaned to us - a biography for Gary, infant and toddler reference books from friends, etc.

It felt great to get rid of so much at once so I think the next thing I tackle will also be something we have a lot of. That way, we will feel successful from the start.

As you can see from the photos, many of the cubbies are empty or half full. The ones on the bottom hold craft items and items I need to file so they will soon be empty. The top two shelves of the bookshelf on the bottom picture have items that are knick knacks or travel souvenirs which I still need to go through. The magazines have been recycled once and will be recycled again once I have a chance to flip through them to gather ideas for clients.

So, there you have it. Step 2 of Minimalist living. If we ever do move, this would've caused a lot of backaches to load all of these books - they are heavy!! And, when the shelves are empty, the rest of the office will be more organized because there won't be things sitting on the floor.

This post is overdue, but the next step-  Step 3 is the post on our closet.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Minimalist Lifestyle: Baby Steps - Step 1

For anyone who loves to clean and stay organized, bringing a child into your home tends to have a few negative effects. No longer is it easy to keep things in their place. No longer is it easy to find things. Each day, there are toys that seem to appear in the oddest places and shoes and socks that magically disappear.

After bringing Declan home, our house exploded with all sorts of new things that were needed for baby. Clothes and toys and everything that started with a B (bottles, boppies, bumbos and bouncers oh my!!!) When Declan became mobile, these items seemed to increase in number as did the messes.

As an organizer, my first thought was to conquer the items that we needed and get them organized. I tried this to the best of my ability, but time was not my friend and I really just wanted to spend time with this bundle of joy that we were finally blessed with. So, the disorganized home was created.

My second thought after taking a minute (one of those free minutes I was blessed with during a long nap day), was that I was wasting my time. A lightbulb seemed to go off in my head and I began to rethink this whole being organized thing. Why in the world was I spending my time and money on trying to organize what we had?

The reason we are all so concerned with being organized and obsessed with all of the organizing tools from Pinterest these days is that we HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF!! We keep creating other means of storing items which actually just creates more clutter and creates the need for more attic space, closet space, under the bed space, pantry space for all of the new baskets and bins and totes--- you get the drift.

So, when I found myself getting super JEALOUS of friends of mine who were moving to new houses, I knew there was an issue. I wasn't jealous because they were moving and getting a new house though. That whole keeping up with the Joneses was/is not my problem. I was jealous of them because they were able to go room by room, closet by closet and pack things away. In the process, I could imagine myself getting rid of anything and everything we didn't really need until I had a very limited number of boxes to move into a new home. Where I would then organize into the space that was there and have a whole new, clean start. Who does that? Get jealous of people because they get to clean and organize more than me. Ha!

The reality is that with a toddler, our families' one income and the recent purchase of a "new" van since my husband's car died (RIP you old Pontiac, you treated us very well for 10 years), a move at this time is not feasible.

So, instead of imagining my dream of packing floating in a bubble above my head being hit by a sledgehammer, I decided to do some research on how I could do this while still living in our current home. My research led me to a style of living called minimalism. This isn't a new concept at all. Plenty of people in other countries and larger cities follow this way of living. I decided to try it out and this is where my journey has begun. A plus to this type of living is also that your budget ends up with more money to spare and save.

More links on this type of lifestyle: (Disclaimer: this blog speaks of searching for Truth, my extra time would be spent focusing on Bible reading and spending time with family) (Living minimally with kids)

Stay tuned for post referencing minimalism and our process of getting there (even with two dogs and a toddler).

Guest Bathroom - Declan's Bathroom

Up until this time, our second upstairs bathroom has served as a guest bathroom.  When we planned the placement of the nursery, we kept this bathroom as a guest bathroom since it is adjacent to the guest bedroom.

However, I have been scheming in my head lately trying to decide if this bathroom should get a makeover to be a wonderful little boy's bathroom for Declan or if it should stay a guest bathroom. I have the decorating itch since my husband's parents are coming to visit soon and they have never been to our house. {This is a long overdue post! His parents came and really enjoyed their visit.}

Right now, because of space, our little man is bathed in our large Master bathtub.  But, in the future, the guest room will become his "big boy" (Sniff!) room and he will not longer bathe in our bathroom.

Hence, the scheming.  Well, here are my many ideas.  In the next weeks, (yes, with a nearly one year old in the house it will take weeks) we will have the reveal.

So far, these are my ideas along with our paint choice.  There was a great paint sale of 35% off at Sherwin Williams this past weekend - isn't that a great excuse to paint something.  I thought so too!!

MAIN GOAL: A bathroom that can be fun and convenient for our little man, but also comfortable for our guests (and perhaps, God willing, serve as a bathroom for a second child as well- girl or boy). And, a redo that is CHEAP!!

I have played around with different ideas for shower curtains.  Should they be double to look more fancy for guests? Should it be a single for ease of bathing Declan?  Should I buy outdoor fabric and make my own or just find cute sheets and hang a waterproof liner at the back?

These were some great ideas I found in my search:

  • Hang two curtains on either side to make it look more upscale
  • Create your own curtain from a bed sheet/duvet and use grommets to hang
  • Paint a solid color fabric with stripes
  • Add a design or image with paint
My Solutions
  1. Single curtain using the shower hooks I already had (CHEAPEST); I may still go back and add an image with paint, but that will be later. The shower curtain came from Home Goods and was $19.99. The hooks came from Bed, Bath and Beyond, but I have had them a long time. 
        Why? The space is small already and one curtain could be pulled easily to the side. I also had to keep the plastic liner in.

White Shower Curtain/Colorful Hooks

   2. Paint Color: Sherwin Williams (The color is not the truest in the photos- it is a bright blue).

      Why? This color will work for boy or guests.  A plus is that it isn't too "boyish" just in case this bathroom may also make room for a girl or boy (we aren't picky) in the future - God willing.

   3. Organization: I LOVE this idea!! Declan is quickly adding toys to his bag and there isn't a lot of space in his small bath. This will be put in place when we transition him to the smaller tub.
Completed kids bath tub organization!
4. Accessories:
      Hand Towels: FREE I registered for these and received them as a gift when Declan came home. They came from Target. Gotta love Target!!

Circo® Ducks Cotton Hand Towel - 28x16"

     Large Towels: These came from Wal-Mart for $3.99 each. They were the perfect color.
Towels (Could've been white, but....)

      Rug: From Home Goods for $12.99. I bought it hoping the color would be perfect. Brought it home and it matched the towels exactly!

Comfy Rug

      Artwork: Photo of Declan taken by our Photographer. Thanks Hannah!! Painted rubber duckies by me. The frame is a dark blue and came from Home Goods clearance. I plan to paint it when I get the chance.

Photo of Declan in Tub

Rubber Duckie Art by Anna

      Canvas Bins for towels: Home Goods. The small one was $7.99 and the larger one was $12.99. They were a splurge.

Towel Bins

      Toothbrush holder:  This is a sanitizing toothbrush holder. They retail for $30.00, but we are routine visitors to the site called They have daily deals and we were able to get this one for a 1/3 of the price!! It doesn't match the decor of the bathroom, but it does its job perfectly.
VIOlife Zapi UV Toothbrush Sanitizer Hi Ya
    Organization: Blue basket from the Dollar Store and Yellow bucket from Clever Container. 

Soap and Toys

  5. Medicine Cabinet: This cabinet was only $20 on clearance from Target. I had a coupon for             FREE shipping and I used part of a gift card I already had. So, it really didn't cost me          
      anything.WooHoo! The medicine cabinet may too large so I would've gone smaller in          

     The blue "baskets" of felt came from the dollar bins at Target (I originally bought these for the        nursery). They hold Q-Tips and medicine dispensers. The yellow ducks came from          
     YeYe. {Hong Kong Duck Art}.

Medicine Cabinet

I love how this bathroom turned out. The color especially.

Things I would like to add to make this bathroom a little better:
1. Frame the mirror

New Bathroom (It was hard to get a good lighting)