Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Daily Minimalisting

I'm still here, and I'm still working toward minimalism, but my new opportunities in the shop are making life seem very full! Right now my living room is very full of clothes that need to be priced and inventoried, but I know I have a place to store them as soon as I am done with these tasks, so that's helpful.

I continue with the patterns I was creating, and I continue enjoying the physical space I made in the first half of this year. I don't know if I could have undertaken working at the resale shop without the new patterns I created this year.

I'm still menu planning. Having a schedule gives me peace of mind because I don't have to create a dinner plan in the afternoon, and I have everything I need for dinner.

The bar is (mostly) clear, the counters are clear, the chest freezer is still empty.

I love all the space I created, for storing children's clothes before they go to the shop. There is no world where storing them in the house would have been a workable solution for us!

I'm still selling on ebay. I'm not posting as much there, as I am not moving much out of the house (that time is spent on moving children's clothing around) but I am still getting things into the hands of people who want them.

This is what minimalism is: having a full life by clearing away the physical clutter that gets in the way.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Daily Declutter

Decluttering is harder when you aren't home as often! I haven't been adding much to the house (except clothes for the shop, but they have a definite path out), but I haven't been clearing out much either. However, school started this week for the kids, so we can't go on adventures like we have been, and I suddenly have been home to get things done.

I didn't get any concrete clutter out of the house, but I did get a lot of mental clutter cleared. I got through a long to-do list of people to call -- appointments to make or change, service calls to arrange. I had a wonderful experience with Best Buy's service department which reconciled my terrible experience with my Samsung washer. I will be able to sleep better tonight with fewer to-dos on my list, and I expect the days will be calmer as a result.

I have been reading Gretchen Rubin's Happier at Home again, and this passage really struck me:

Many aspects of my life contributed to my feeling of hurry. Time might seem to be a very separate issue from possessions, for example, but I'd noticed that after I tackled clutter, not only did our apartment seem more spacious and organized, I also felt less hurried, because I could find and stow things easily...I had a place for everything, with nothing superfluous in my way, which gave me a feeling of unhurried-ness and mastery of the space around me.

This mastery of space and time is an aspect of minimalism, and I appreciate it as I feel it flow. I am on the ebb right now, with the introduction of the shop I am running with my mother and sister, but I feel the tide of peace there, and I do get moments to really appreciate that peacefulness, more now than before I started this project.  Getting my mental clutter cleared out is one more way to grasp the peace I find through minimalism.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Daily Minimalisting

With the introduction of the shop, my daily routine has included a LOT more whopping and laundry. Loads and loads more laundry. But I'm getting it done, and getting it out to the free space in the shed (thanks, decluttering!) so family life has resumed more or less normally. No more walking around piles and bags and totes of children's clothes in the living room.

I made very cute (if I do say so) hat stands to display baby hats, using candlesticks and balls of fabric. I had a picture of the inspiration, but I can't find it to share with you. Used up rags I was going to donate and I didn't need to keep supplies on hand to create a "project." I'm thrilled that I was able to accomplish my intention without having to deliberately keep supplies on hand, as clutter most of the time.

Menu planning is still saving my life. I don't know how I lived for so long without doing this, and I feel like such a goof for saying that! But there you go. This is what I have come to.

The house is tidy and live-able, even after all the mess caused by the clothes for the shop. We celebrated my son's birthday, spent about an hour tidying up beforehand (vacuuming, making sure the bathroom was clean), then about the same amount of time tidying up afterwards (putting dishes in the dishwasher, storing leftover pizza). Minimalism really is contributing to the happiness of the family, making every-day and special occasions easier.

I still have work to do, but it's getting so much do the things I want to do. I just wanted to take a minute to appreciate how my changes have positively affected my life.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Daily Minimalist

I didn't get any decluttering accomplished, but I did do a load of laundry, and we've worked out our schedule for the coming year. My son's taking a class two nights a week, the same two nights my daughter will be taking her class. This is good, because we will largely be together the other nights, but getting dinner on the table, and cleaned up afterwards, will be more challenging than in years past. Still. if we have a plan, we're half-way done.

Speaking of plans, I am glad to be back on my menu plan. Tonight we're just having veg and bread for dinner, but we've got a plan, and that's a good thing.

The kids (with motivation in the form of ice cream bribery) came up with their own plan for washing up every night once school starts. It's not the plan that I would have written, but then, I'm neither washing dishes nor did I need to negotiate a solution, so I'm being quiet on that score and serving up ice cream. I'm telling myself that negotiating a solution is a beneficial skill for the kids as well, so it was just good parenting.

As for the shop: we opened my mom's children's resale shop Saturday, and I am please with our success. I would, of course, be thrilled if we had made twice as much money, but we had a pretty constant stream of people in the shop, some buying and some selling. It gave us a great opportunity to learn how everything works (cash register, credit card machine, people bringing in clothes for sell-back) and we enjoyed meeting the people. We're hoping to have a Grand opening later (with cake) once we have the kinks worked out. But I do think we are successful so far.

On that note, my daughter and I went with her friend and her friend's mother to shop for back-to-school clothes at the thrift shop. The girls found plenty of clothes (that their mothers approved!) for a minimal amount of money, and they had a blast showing off their outfits to one another -- and coveting what the other girl found. They're planning to share a couple of outfits with each other, and nothing is too revealing for girls their age, so I'm happy with our results.

In all, although I didn't clear anything out, I don't think I made the clutter around here worse, and I know my mental clutter will benefit from having a plan.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Still Here

We're opening the shop tomorrow! It's been a busy couple of weeks, getting things reorganized (so we can find things), getting the shop clean, and buying more children's clothing to sell.

Oh. My. Goodness. I have been doing so much buying. I shopped at the bins (the Goodwill Outlet). I shopped at garage sales. I shopped at thrift store. I bought So. Much. Stuff. Then I came home and washed it, and folded it, and left it in a big box in my living room, so we can enjoy a big messy box before I take the clothes up to my mom's and the shop.

So, the house is messy. I've been doing a LOT of shopping. Things are piled up. Have I lost everything I worked for so far in my walk toward minimalism? Not really.

I haven't bought much for myself. I got a wool sweater for myself and my husband (we share that sort of thing), a new tablecloth that I might be regretting, napkins for school lunches and a lovely Trader Joes canvas shopping bag. That's it for me, out of bags and bags of things I've brought home, and many more bags worth of things I've sorted through.

My routines are mostly holding up. (Not as much with the laundry routine -- people in my house have run out of clothes, but only the once. Even though I wash laundry almost every day.) I'm going grocery shopping today, I have my list and I'll finish my menu before I head out the door. I do have the storage space, which I'm using for one large item right now, to store clothing in the shed instead of in the living room. I just need to make that last step work.

I'm sorry summer is over (or about over. My husband's back at school, but the kids aren't) but I know it will be easier to slip into a routine when we aren't rushing off to the beach at a moment's notice. Not that I wouldn't put up with a certain amount of chaos in order to have that eternal summer. But I'm looking at the bright side.

So, what I really wanted to do is check in so you'd know I'm still here, still writing, and hoping to be back on a regular basis starting Monday. (I'll get some work done around the house, and let you know how the opening went.)

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Shop

I'm still pretty surprised to find myself the (partial) owner of a children's resale shop. In a lot of ways I've been preparing for this since my son was born, 15 years ago. I've always stockpiled hand-me-downs, and thrift-shopped for clothes for him (and later his sister). I had an elaborate storage and inventory system to avoid overbuying, and the moment someone grew out of clothes (like, a half hour before we were supposed to go see Nutcracker) I could pop out to the shed, pull out new clothes of an appropriate size, and we were ready to go.

The shop will be like that, but on a grander scale. When we run low on size 4 boys shirts, I hope to pop back into the storeroom and resupply, easy-peasy. But seriously, a month ago, none of us had any idea of opening a shop!

So this past week has been pretty crazy, and the coming week looks like it will be pretty full as well. I need to go back to the Goodwill Outlet ("the bins") and rescue more clothes from the waste stream, and bring them back into use as an alternative to people buying new. We have washing, and reorganizing, and building, and cleaning to do in the shop. My house would really love it if I spent a little time here, maybe washing some of our own clothes. But we'll see.

My efforts at minimalisting have definitely paid off in the last couple weeks. My wonderful husband was able to go grocery shopping for me, and I have a menu plan for this week. I'll be able to feed my family, thanks to my husband and the plan. We're not tripping over debris, due to the decluttering, and I am hopeful that the mounds of dog hair that are developing in the corners will be swept away today before they coalesce into spontaneous puppies (they're getting pretty big!).

So, hopefully I will be more present online after this week, but I am really grateful for the change that has occurred over the last six months or so. I can move forward with this new endeavor (with my mother and sister) because of the changes I have made over the last year. Hopefully I will be able to continue both the shop and minimalisting after the store opens Saturday!

Friday, August 4, 2017

A Trip to the Goodwill Outlet

Oh my goodness, people! I have never!

I went down to the Goodwill Outlet to pick up gently used children's clothes for my mom's shop. (She got the shop! We're opening in about a week, in time for back-to-school, but just barely.) I had no idea what I was doing, and due to our proximity to the border, most of the people there came across from Mexico to shop. Thus, I think I was the only English speaker there, and most of the employees gave instructions in Spanish, so that was different for me. I felt like a fish out of water, but everyone was very nice to me, and took care of me (somehow they could tell I was clueless) and I got inside to do my shopping.

I noticed that everyone was very patient with me, and helpful to me despite the fact that I did not speak the language everyone else spoke. I wonder speculate about how the situation would have been different with one Spanish speaker in a crowd of English speakers.

There was So. Much. Stuff. We were each assigned a six-foot high bin, like they receive goods into at the donation station. We were packed into a small building, sorting through clothes (and other textiles), throwing the "good" stuff into a sorting tote, and the rest went onto the floor. I should have taken pictures, but I was too overwhelmed. After we emptied our tote, we'd put our clothes back in the bin and move onto another bin. Over and over, for two hours.

Eventually, I believe the remnants are sold at auction but I didn't confirm that.

I could not believe how much our city throws out, on a daily basis. This facility is open every day, with this much stuff available every day! And Goodwill is only one charity shop, among several, in one large city in one corner of our country. As I was pawing through the piles and bins, I couldn't get over how much people were throwing out, and how much people keep buying new.

Most of the goods were in good shape, and good quality. For my mom's shop I purchased children's clothes from Carters, Children's Place, Gap, Gymboree and other quality children's manufacturers. I am glad I can bring a lot of these clothes (some probably never worn) back into use, and away from the waste stream. And I'm glad Goodwill makes these items available. But it saddens me that we, as a nation, buy so much new, and throw so much away.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Daily Declutter: Mom Was Right

I'm not proud of this. Last week I started mending a few items with my sewing machine, but then the kids' friends came over and I left the project out. And ever since, it's been sitting there, looking messy and taunting me with things undone.

So last night, after the kids were in bed (when I'm usually just a blob on the couch with a book) I finished making produce bags for shopping. They aren't perfect, but they are done! (I don't know where shopping bags go, but they do wander off!) After a week of looking at the pile of fabric, sewing machine and other debris, I'm done! Everything is tidied away!

I also finished up a spool of pumpkin orange thread (I don't make much in pumpkin orange) and threw that spool away. It felt surprisingly good to finish that off. (I do use the weird colors of thread for things that don't matter. I use the "normal" colors for altering my daughter's clothes, and things like that.)

I also packed up a bunch of sales on ebay and shipped them off. I used all reused boxes, or I created shipping boxes out of used boxes. I now have a lot fewer boxes sitting around, and I have a lot less clutter waiting for homes.

If I had just finished a week ago (as my mother taught me) I wouldn't have been taunted my undone projects all week -- and I would have felt calmer and less cluttered all week. Maybe I'll learn my lesson now. I think I'll go make my bed.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Why do I not do the things I know I should do?

I had to run to the grocery yesterday, Again. This is the third time since Thursday (I had to shift my shopping day for my husband's birthday.) I had worked out a system, and it was working well. I made a menu, then made my grocery list from my menu and I didn't spend multiple days grocery shopping.

Why did I stop? What made me decide that coming up with a menu was harder than running back to the store over and over?

I know this isn't unique behavior. I haven't found a place to put the hand-me-down clothes I'm going to offer a family at church. So they sit on the bar -- my Flat Space of Clutter -- until next Sunday. Unless I forget, because I've gotten used to seeing clutter in the kitchen.

I have shopping bags lying around -- those are my husband's fault. No, really. I bought things for him at Home Depot, and he didn't do something with them. Like leave them on the workbench in the garage on the way in the house. Oh, wait, that was me again.

The house has been slowly getting cluttery again, with boxes for ebay and bags from the (multiple trips to the) store. Things that need to go to my mom. Clothes the kids need to decide upon.

I know what I need to do, but what keeps me from doing it? It's getting really bad; the house is feeling uncomfortable to me, but I have been successfully escaping the house to do fun things, so I don't dwell on the clutter. Do I need to reduce the amount of fun in order to focus on the house? That's not the sort of balance I'm looking for. But I do need to figure out what has lead me away from the order that we all prefer, and in so little time!

I know I can do this. I know I can maintain a peaceful, ordered home and spend time going out to the aquarium, the movies, the river walk, the beach. I need a shift in focus or order, and I need to follow the routines I have created for myself. I need to follow the routines even if they are hard because my life is better off if I do so.

Like I tell my kids, you don't have to want to, but you have to.