Someday = Never

Managing the Everyday

I’m a organization & simplification junkie.

I’ve lost count of how many books & blogs I’ve read that promised to teach me how to streamline my life and manage everyday life.

Whether that meant outsourcing my tasks (hiring a cleaning service, having groceries delivered, etc.) or reorganizing our kitchen like an efficient restaurant kitchen, I’ve been all in. Some things have worked great, others were interesting experiments that didn’t last. 

But you know what piece of advice has been one of the most liberating of all? The thing that has brought me the most joy, helped keep my drawers well organized and even helped me get ready faster in the morning? 

The simple realization that…

SOMEDAY = NEVER

This is a key thing that I’ve been reminded of while reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (KonMari). 

With that in mind, I’ve been releasing myself from all sorts of future obligations:

  • Half-finished craft projects (like the finger puppets in the first photo)? Re-homed through our Buy Nothing group
  • Super-specific ingredients for a complex recipe I’ve never tried? Left for neighbors on our building’s “Free Table” or tossed in the compost. 
  • Shoes that I might wear someday if I can finally get the right outfit? Given to my sister.
  • Books that I started years ago, but never finished? Taken to the used bookstore. 
  • The Pasta Maker I used twice in three years? Sold. 

So many things that I never have to worry about again.

No more questions of if/when I will use them or where to store them. 

No more piles of clothes left on the bed after trying on my entire closet and deciding (once again) that these items just don’t work for me. 

No more guilt or feeling like a failure when I look at my half-finished projects. 

Do I miss any of the things I’ve gotten rid of? No. Not once. 

Instead I’m surrounded by the things I love & use. 

I am free. 

What “Someday” things are you holding on to?

 

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The Buy Nothing Project

ManagingtheEveryday
Original photo Design by Zouny

A few months ago I learned about the Buy Nothing Project (BNP).

The Buy Nothing Project is all about connecting neighbors and building community through giving and receiving. 

Members post things that they have to give, share or lend and ask for things that they need. No buying, selling, bartering, trading or asking for cash are allowed.

After I first joined the group for our neighborhood on Facebook, I didn’t pay much attention to the group. Posts would show up in my newsfeed, but I just scrolled past them. 

Then, it happened.

managingtheeveryday A mom with a 4-day old baby needed a wipe warmer. Did anyone have one?

Wait, I thought. We have one! Perfectly good condition and sitting unused on a shelf in Javi’s closet. 

The next day, Javi and I dropped it off at her house while we were out running errands. (Most people pick things up, but if you just had a baby I’m definitely going to deliver it to you!)

It felt great! Helping someone, making a friendly connection and getting rid of something I didn’t need?

This is so my thing.

ManagingtheEveryday From then on, I’ve been hooked.

We’ve given away things to so many different people that I’ve lost count.  We’ve also asked for and received things too: Streamers for Javi’s upcoming birthday party and an awesome wooden xylophone we gave him for Christmas. 

To A Loving Home

ManagingtheEveryday BNP has also been a great Goodwill-alternative.

I believe in only donating quality stuff (no junk! this is not the dump!) to Goodwill and other charity shops, but sometimes there are special-to-me items that I want to go to a loving home.

For example, this vintage mail sorter I received when my Great-Grandma died.

I loved it, but wasn’t using it (other than to collect coupons that I never used.) I posted it to the group and ended up having to do a drawing to decide who to give it to.

I know it is being treated with respect and appreciation, not piled up with other random items on a Goodwill shelf, hoping someone will find it. 

Find A Group!

Ready to find and join a group? Go here for the list! 

No group in your area? Click here for the info on how to start one in your community!

Hello 2015!

ManagingtheEverydayHello2015
Welcome 2015 and a fresh start!

We just got back from a fun holiday vacation visiting Juan’s family in Acapulco, Mexico. I miss the sunshine and warmth already, but I’m also super excited to finally start 2015. Let’s do this!

This year we intend to challenge our habits, simplify our everyday lives and focus on consuming less. (You know, just a few easy goals…nothing big. Ha.)

What this will look like for us:

Whole 30

ManagingtheEverydayJavi1The only member of our family allowed to eat cake for the next 30 days. 

To start off, Juan and I are going to do a Whole 30 (!) starting today, January 8th.

This means 30 days of eating whole foods and cutting out all sugar, processed foods, alcohol, grains, seed oils, soy, legumes and dairy. 

We’ve both been feeling tired and sluggish and are hopeful that changing the way we fuel our bodies will give us more energy and help us identify any foods that don’t agree with us.

I’ve been getting ready by reading It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig and collecting recipe ideas here on Pinterest. 

I’m excited to do it and also scared because I know giving up our normal isn’t going to be easy. 

KonMari-ing Our Home

ManagingtheEverydayJavi2Not to worry…Dinosaurio is safe. 

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed that decluttering and living well with less are some of my favorite topics.

So it’s little wonder that I absolutely LOVED The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. She is one of “my people”.

I’ve already started tidying up our home using the KonMari method and am loving the results so far. I’m excited to share more in future posts.

Buy Nothing New Year

ManagingtheEverydayJavi’s “Buy Nothing” xylophone. 

We are also embarking on a Buy Nothing New year. Yes. I said YEAR. This means:

NO to Buying New Stuff.
YES to Borrowing, Trading, or Buying Used.

Unlike our No Spend Month, where we limited how much we spent, the focus will be HOW we acquire things. There will be some exceptions (because I know you are wondering about underwear, right?).

Buy Nothing New doesn’t apply to:

  • food & beverages
  • basic personal care items (no second-hand toothbrushes)
  • medicine
  • basic cleaning products (although I do plan on making some)
  • underwear & socks
  • services (hair cuts, mechanics, tailoring, dry cleaning, plumbers, etc.)
  • gas
  • airfare
  • recreational services (zoo & museum admissions, etc.)

Why Buy Nothing New for a Year?

To appreciate & enjoy what we have.
To consume less.
To save money.
To save time.

So there you have it – some things I’ll be writing about in 2015.

It’s going to be a good year!

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My New iPhone: The Boringest Brick on the Block

photo: Gonzalo Baeza H

A few weeks ago, an interesting article showed up in my Facebook feed.

The author wrote about his experience of removing all “infinite” apps on his iPhone: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, even email and the web browser. Basically, if it was a doorway to endless information – it was gone. 

I’m all about simplifying and getting rid of things, but this scared me a little. 

And the fact that it scared me? That scared me even more. 

Gone, Gone, Gone 

6421424935_0b6f8d06ab_zphoto: Thomas Kohler

Scared, but kind of excited, I picked up my phone and deleted Facebook. 

Next, I deleted a bunch of random apps: Yelp, TripAdvisor, YouTube, an airport map app that I’ve only used once. 

I got rid of Feedly. (And the pressure to keep up with multiple blogs.)

I decided to keep all photography related apps: Instagram, VSCOcam and other photo editing apps that I actually use. (I have been known to accidentally refer to my phone – in all seriousness – as my camera.)

I kept Pinterest, but disabled all notifications and tucked it away in a folder. (While writing this, I realized that I barely look at it now and deleted it as well.)

How to Save 100% on Things You Didn’t Know You Wanted to Buy 

2179579524_35f56b8e16_zphoto: Rick Harris

After deleting a few more apps and organizing the ones I had left, my mind turned to my email…

I get dozens of new emails everyday. Mostly “deals”.

Usually, I have no idea that the thing they want to sell me is something I might like or need. Until I see it. Then it sounds like a great idea! (Am I right?)

So I sat on the couch and unsubscribed myself from everything I could.

I reasoned that when I needed something, I would shop for it and if there was a deal? Great! If not, I’d either wait or pay full price (and survive).

After all this purging, I felt really cool and immediately went to share about it on Facebook. 

And then I remembered that I had uninstalled that app. Ha. 

Old habits die hard.

How It’s Been

2706012890_66f11120d4_z
photo: Lauren Garza

It’s been over two weeks now. I like to think I’ve been more attentive and a lot less distracted. 

I still check Facebook more than I would like during the day on my laptop, but since I don’t take the laptop with me everywhere I go it’s been much better. 

The other day, Juan was looking at my phone and said “Wow, babe. Your phone is really boring…It’s great!” 

He’s right. And I’m learning to be OK with boredom. 

I still don’t like boredom, but now I can’t easily escape from it. Instead, I have to get creative and come up with something else to do in real life

Like paint the hallway. Make dinner. Play with Javi.

It’s a good thing. 

Goodbye Mr. Cello

Managing the Everyday: Goodbye Mr. Cello

So…if you have followed this blog for a while, you might remember how I gave away my wedding dress.

You might also remember that I said I was going to donate my cello?

Well, that was 2 YEARS ago. 

As of 11am this morning, Mr. Cello has finally left the building!

It now safely in the hands of Scott Gelband, the Executive Director of Seattle Music Partners – a nonprofit that runs free weekly after-school music instruction and mentoring to underserved elementary school students in our neighborhood. 

Managing the Everyday: Goodbye Mr. Cello

When I first started playing the cello in elementary school, it wasn’t because I loved it. It was because it was free.

Money was tight and there was no extra money for instrument rentals. Thankfully, the school had cellos that students could use (maybe because they were more cumbersome than violins or violas? I don’t know)…So the cello it was!

I played from sixth grade all the way through high school. I even joined a string quartet and made money playing at weddings. After graduation, I played sporadically and bought my own cello.

Over time, I played it less and less. Soon it started collecting dust. 

Managing the Everyday: Goodbye Mr. CelloI remembered back when I was about 12 and overheard a family friend mention how she used to play the cello but hadn’t touched it in years. It was under her bed. 

It was summertime and that year I didn’t have a cello to use. I had recently started playing and loved it.

Hearing that someone had a perfectly good cello under their bed while I loved playing, but didn’t have an instrument to use, really made an impression on me. 

I wanted to ask her to let me borrow it. But I was shy. Instead, made a firm decision to never let that be me.

Back then, I thought that meant that I wouldn’t let my cello gather dust. I would play forever!

But that didn’t happen. Instead it meant that I gave my once beloved cello away. 

I think 12-year old me would be cool with that. 

Do you have an instrument collecting dust?

Free up space in your life & spread the love (& music). 

 

Too Much Stuff? Start a Fire

Managing the Everyday: Too Much Stuff? Start a FireEarlier this month, I collected all the things in our apartment that 1) didn’t have a home and 2) we weren’t sure what to do with. 

Looking at that big pile on the living room floor, I immediately felt overwhelmed.

Managing the Everyday: Start a Fire

These were things that had been “undecided” for years. Things we had moved from home to home, not really because they were used or needed, but because we either felt bad about getting rid of them, thought they might be useful someday or just weren’t sure what to do with them. 

They were the things that at the end of every move, just got dropped into a box to be dealt with “later”. 

Managing the Everyday: Start a Fire

I decided to play the “Fire!” game:

Imagine your home is on fire. Which items would you save? 

I picked out a couple childhood trinkets, but for the most part I found myself wishing that there actually was a fire so I didn’t have to think about what to do with these things or feel obligated to carry them around with me any longer. 

And then it hit me. I could make my own fire. 

Managing the Everyday: Start a Fire

Now, to be fair, I didn’t start a fire inside our apartment. 

But I did label our kitchen trash can a “Burn Barrel”. 

Anything I wished would just get swallowed up in flames so I didn’t have to make decisions about it anymore, went in the can (or the recycling/Goodwill box if more appropriate). 

Juan and I helped each other by tossing things into the “flames” when the other person wanted something gone, but felt bad about it. Juan may have felt bad about tossing a college memento, but I didn’t. He helped toss some of my items too.

At the end of the day, the pile was smaller and I felt free. 

So, so free.

Is it time for you to start a fire? 

Do You Have Unclaimed Property?

Managing the Everyday: Do you have unclaimed property?

A couple weeks ago, Juan’s old roommate texted him to say that an official looking letter from the State of Washington Department of Revenue had arrived for him.

Inside was an Unclaimed Property Claim Form that said the state was holding $157.68 from an old gym membership that Juan had cancelled and then forgotten about years ago. 

Why did they have it?

If a business owes you money, but can’t track you down, they have to turn it over to the state as unclaimed property. Rebates, refunds, wages, etc. all end up here.

How do you get it?

You do have to prove that you are the correct person. If you have moved, this means digging up something with your old address on it.

We’ve filed a claim online and will get a check in the mail sometime within the next 90 days.

Not bad for money you didn’t know existed.

Do I have Unclaimed Property?

If you live – or have lived – in Washington State, you can go here to see if you have any unclaimed property.

Have you changed your name? Remember to check under your previous name as well. 

Don’t live in Washington or want to check another state? Go here

Have fun searching for yourself and people you know!

No Spend Month: Week #1 Recap

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week #1

We’ve successfully completed Week #1 of No Spend Month!

The first week wasn’t too difficult (which is good, because we’ve got a few more…)

We missed eating out, but enjoyed finally having a plan for what we were going to eat. Plans save so much time.

Dinner was usually ready when Juan came home and we always knew what we were having for lunch the next day. 

The Numbers

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week #1

We’ve spent a total of $146.75:

$95.29 on Groceries (for last week & this week)
$26.30 on Dining Out
$21.89 on a new Wireless Router (reliable internet being a modern “necessity”)
$3.27 to watch a past episode of my new favorite show. (I debated this for 2 days

We have $503.25 left!

The Eats

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month Week #1

It definitely helped that we started the month off with some things in the freezer.

We finished off a bunch of frozen enchiladas and used ingredients we already had to make Coconut Ginger Chicken

I baked brownies and blueberry banana bread muffins, made a quiche, roasted a chicken and made chicken stock. 

We still have everything for Panko Breaded Halibut and Pot Roast – two things on the menu this week. I’m also planning to make a Chicken, Veggie & Quinoa soup with the delicious homemade chicken stock. 

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month: Week #1

Yesterday, we went out for lunch (!).

We spent $26.30 on yummy Mexican food and came home with leftovers. After lunch, we went to Gas Works Park and shared a bottle of Coca Cola while watching the sailboats and float planes on Lake Union. 

Observations so far…

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Week #1

We’ve spent more time outside in the evenings & weekends. Instead of going to a coffee shop, we’ve been filling our water bottles and taking snacks and a blanket to the park. 

We make some pretty awesome meals. Sometimes I like to think about how much I would pay at a restaurant for one of our homemade meals. It’s fun.

Our home is lighter. Instead of buying new things for our home, I’ve been decluttering. We took several boxes of things to Goodwill, Best Buy (great for misc. electronics recycling) and the Hazardous Household Waste site (lightbulbs & batteries). 

Note: This post contains an affiliate link. Thank you for supporting this blog! :)

Natural Spider Repellent Spray

Managing the Everyday: Natural Spider Repellent Spray

Yesterday morning I was in the kitchen when I saw it. A GIANT spider. Eating another spider of similar size. Bleh. 

Juan was here so I put a mason jar over it until he was able to relocate it outside. (If I was by myself, that thing would be DEAD. Juan is nicer than me.)

We like to use natural products – especially now that we have a little guy rolling around the house – so I’m going on defense with a fresh bottle of natural homemade spider repellent. 

Does it work?

Spiders smell through their feet (who knew?) so that explains why this is so unpleasant for them. I used this at our last place and it seemed to work well.

The best testimonial, however, was when we saw a spider actually flee our home, running a straight line to the front door while avoiding the areas where we had sprayed. 

Managing the Everyday: Natural Spider Repellent

Because images of actual spiders give me the heebeegeebees. 

Natural Spider Repellent Spray

  • Fill a spray bottle with warm water. 
  • Add a few drops of lemon essential oil: I usually use 3-5 drops per 8oz of water. (Hate citrus? Try peppermint)
  • Shake & Spray.

Pay special attention to window sills, doorways and other entry points. Dark corners, under kitchen counters and little nooks are also prime spider spots.

Note: Oils can stain, so be sure to spot test before use if you are concerned.

An Important Note about Cats

Managing the Everyday: Natural Spider Repellent Spray

I’ve read that essential oils can be harmful for cats. I do not have a cat nor am I qualified to say whether or not this diluted spray is safe to use around them.

I can tell you that after what I’ve read, if we had a cat I would 1) remove the cat from the room 2) ventilate during & after spraying 3) avoid spraying areas where the cat liked to hang out (around it’s bed, etc.) and 4) only let the cat back in after the spray had dried. 

For more about cats & essential oils, see here

Note: This post contains an affiliate link. Thank you for supporting this blog!

No Spend Month: Day 1

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Day #1

No Spend Month is officially here!

Today I took stock of the freezer, fridge & pantry and made a list of things to make this week:

  • Coconut Ginger Chicken Curry & Rice
  • Pot Roast with Mashed Potatoes
  • Panko Halibut & Chips
  • Roasted Chicken & Salad
  • Chilaquiles
  • Quiche
  • Blueberry Banana Bread Muffins
  • Brownies

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Day #1

We packed up Javi in the stroller and walked to our local QFC & Trader Joes to pick up the missing ingredients and some basics like milk, fruit & eggs.

We spent $48 (exactly!) on groceries. Even though we always shop with a list, we often add a few extras here and there. It felt weird not grabbing whatever looked good.

We bought some grapes & bananas for ourselves and one organic pear – for Javi. I thought to myself, yep this is parenthood: We will eat the 19 cent bananas while we give our son the 89 cent pear. 

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Day #1

Although there haven’t been any real challenges yet, we have already been questioning the price we pay for things.

This morning, I accidentally knocked over the coffee grinder and beans spilled all over the countertop & floor. Our lovely coffee beans from the fancy roaster around the corner. 

Managing the Everyday: No Spend Month, Day 1

Juan heard me exclaim and ran to see what was wrong. As he helped me clean up the beans, I told him how we couldn’t afford to waste them.

How much are they?” he asked. 

14 dollars per bag.

$14?!!?!?!?! Are you serious?” 

Funny enough, when we go out to a coffee shop we often spend even more than that for 2 lattes and a pastry without thinking anything of it.

I think this challenge is going to be good for us. 

$602 dollars left.