Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Resolve that I Needed

Sometimes my mind wanders back to the way things were.  I start to feel a bit flush with cash and I start to think of all of the things I could spend it on.  I could really use some new shoes, a new pair of jeans, a cookbook, Brighton would really like that toy.... you get the picture.

And then sometimes I get that little wink that says, "You're moving in the right direction."  It's that little boost that re-energizes me along our path of simple living.

I went out for tea last night with some of the other mom's from Tristan's scout tribes.  One of the ladies asked me, "So how is the packing coming?" and I responded saying how surprised I was at how little we actually had.  For a family of five, our possessions really do not amount to much.  After the year of purging that I've had, we're down to a very reasonable (though not exactly minimalist) level of "stuff".  I said that we now only had two boxes of books for adults, two for the kids, and the kids were down to under two weeks worth of clothing.  This statement was met with shock, and honestly a bit of horror.  "Oh I could NEVER have that little!.... We love reading too much.... My daughter could easily has 1500 books, she reads a ton every week!  My daughter's walk in closet is stuffed full!"  To which my reply is always to visit the library, borrow from friends, it's okay to get rid of things, there will always be more around the corner, etc etc.  But I find it often falls on deaf ears.  And that's okay.

I have gotten to the point where I don't feel the need to justify my choices.  I am only responsible to my family, no one else's.  I have a duty, along with my husband, to make the choices that are right for ME and MY kids.  We are happier and calmer when there is less stuff, less mess, and less choice.  I think it was the boost that I needed this week!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Today I am...

- Baking banana bread to use up the last of the over ripe bananas I have stashed in the freezer
- Making a batch of baked potato soup in the crock pot.  There is nothing better than soup at using up odds & ends.
- Finally tackling the ironing pile that has taken over my utility room
- Not going to go to sleep until I have finished ALL of the laundry piles
- Packing up my sewing supplies and looking forward to having my own sewing room in the new house
- Dreaming of painting my kitchen table a sweet buttery yellow
- Sorting through the stacks of paper that seem to multiple on my desk
- Anxiously awaiting this upcoming move!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Renting in a Buyers Market

I apologize for my rather length absence, I do have a good excuse though!  We have been consumed with searching for the perfect home to move to, and it proved to be quite a difficult task.  You see I live in a city where it's very uncommon for families to rent, there is an obsession here with being a home owner.  In fact you are rather looked down on as a second class citizen in these parts.  Saying you're a renter, is almost like muttering a dirty word under your breath.

Our local newspaper actually wrote an article about it a couple of weeks back:
Calgary renters rebelling against the 'cult of home ownership'

We knew all of this going into the rental search, but what we didn't realize is what it would mean to us in our home search.  What it translated to from landlords was an awful amount of suspicion about why we wanted to rent.  Some rental applications made me feel like a criminal, wanting credit checks, reports, pay stubs, work references, personal references, credit card numbers WITH expiry dates.... I was surprised they didn't ask for a blood sample and blood testing by the end of it all.

We looked at many houses:  some were too big (who wants to clean and heat 2200 square feet?), some didn't have any storage space, some were on busy roads, some had no amenities in the area and would require a car to go anywhere.  We learned after moving to our current home that in the end the house is not the most important thing, the location of the house is what matters.

So what did we decide on?  In the end we went for a small house with great storage, on a quiet street, with a peaceful backyard with a fenced in vegetable garden and mature lilac bushes.  We can walk to the local rec centre and are just around the corner from the local school.  The landlords are a nice older couple who just retired and are moving to Washington to live with their daughter and her family.

This is our little beauty (only 1060 square feet!)

We take possession in less than four weeks, so if I'm not very consistent on blogging you'll have to forgive me.  I will definitely keep you posted on our moving, downsizing, and simplifying journey.  Each step we take that brings us closer to moving is a huge weight off my shoulders.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Goal Update

We are starting to come out of the fog of almost 2 weeks of sickness, and boy am I glad!  I've managed to accomplish some of the goals I set out, and am trying to get back on track to finish up what still needs to be done and plan for the next week.

So how did my no-spend week go?  Well it ended up being not quite a no-spend week.  I caved and bought some clothes for Brighton on e-bay.  I did feel some guilt about the purchase, but honestly it was a decent deal at $75 shipped for a Hanna Andersson quilted baby jacket, dress with diaper cover, shirt, pants, hat, and hair bows.  Actually it included another jacket as well, but the seller relisted it and will give me some money back on the sale.  Not bad - now other than shoes and a couple of summer hats I can definitely say Brighton is set for clothing for the spring and summer.  Other than that slip up, the rest of the week went okay.  I washed both of our vehicles ($12), and did take the kids to McDonald's ($10).  But overall it was pretty good considering all of my spending was another $100.

Sell $50 worth of "stuff".  As of today, I'm up to $75 for the month of February.  I want to keep a running tally and see how much we can raise!  Last month we sold approximately $225 worth of stuff.  I'm loving it!  I also have a van full of donations to drop off.

Declutter living room, bedroom, and baking shelf in garage. Not done yet.  I have a few more things to clear out of the living room, the bedroom I only accomplished my side table (which is now nearly completely empty), and I will finish the baking shelf today and post a picture.

I'm going to hold off of posting any more specific goals for the rest of this week, and give myself some breathing room to clear out some of the things I need to sell and finish up the decluttering projects I've already started.

I did it!  I finished the baking shelf today, and I managed to purge more than I anticipated.

Here's the before:

And the after... much better!

I purged a huge bag of plastic cups we bought for my son's first birthday party (he turns 6 in June!), a cast iron frying pan, an extra loaf pan, extra muffin pan, plastic party trays, chocolate fondue pot, metal pie dish, glass punch bowl, and a few other little odds and ends.  I'm feeling quite accomplished now!

I still need to tackle this mess though:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Simple Pleasures

I have been dealing with sick children for over a week now, and am starting to feel a bit care worn.  It's always humbling to be the caregiver, to know that someone is relying on you completely to meet their needs and ease their pain.  It's not a time where you can put yourself first or worry about your own needs and wants.  It's exhausting and rewarding all at the same time.  And it makes you appreciate those little steps that we all take to keep our own sanity in tact.

I really, really love silence.  I don't think I quite appreciated  how much I love silence until I had three very loud children come into my life.  Now I relish in it.  I love nothing more than to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea by the fire.  It's restorative.

Which is why I have gotten into the habit of waking up at 4:30am, so that I can shower, and sit quietly with a cup of coffee before the hectic pulse of the day begins.  Right now everything is still, everything is quiet.  It's just me, the cats, and a cup of coffee.  Bliss!

(until you hear the footsteps of a four year old coming down the stairs... apparently it is time for the day to begin)