Monday, October 31, 2011

Tiny Task #1: Purge Cookbooks

So, my first Tiny Task on my road to simplification & getting rid of stuff is to purge my cookbooks. I haven't touched most of the cookbooks on my kitchen cabinet shelf in years! Most of my recipes I get online and I save the ones we like in a binder organized by category. I ended up keeping 13 cookbooks, my binder, and my recipe card box. This still seems like a lot to me, so I may end up purging it even more in the future. I was able to put 15 cookbooks in my donate pile. I can't believe I had 28 cookbooks! Crazy! Here's what my cabinet looks like now:

The top shelf has our lunch boxes and aluminum foil (which is huge - won't fit in my drawer!). Middle shelf now houses all 13 cookbooks, the cookbook stand, recipe card box and I now have a nice easy place to set my binder down on (it won't fit right side up on the shelf.) I used to have to struggle to get that thing in the cabinet - no more! The bottom shelf houses all of my coffee & tea necessities.

I shared about my cookbook purging on my Facebook page & had a few friends share their great ideas & what they are doing with their cookbooks. I am amazed at the creative ideas these ladies shared! Here are some of them & some ideas of how to simplify your cookbook stash:

1) Donate to your local library or thrift store.
2) Find friends that would use them.
3) Post them on Freecycle.
4) List them on to make some extra cash!
5) If you've got a lot of hand written, favorite, or family recipes in a box or binder and you'd like to put them in a nice format, check out Tastebook! You can make your own customized cookbook & make it look so pretty!
6) Check out to swap books! This is for all kinds of books!

So, Tiny Task #1 is complete! I am donating my cookbooks to a local Thrift Store run by the National Charity League, Fibber McGee's.

I've been trying to think of how I am going to apply the 100 Thing Challenge to my own simplifying. I've decided that I am going to keep track of how many things I am getting rid of. In the last few years I have donated a ton of items to the thrift store, library, charity sales, and even sold things through a consignment service, and had a garage sale. Just the other day I dropped off 5 boxes of baby stuff to be sold at my MOPS Sale coming up in December. I wish I would have started with counting all of that stuff - I'm sure the numbers would be breathtaking! But, I'm starting today with the following list of what is currently in my donation box. It will be fun to see how high I get even though I've already gotten rid of a lot!

Stuff I've Gotten Rid Of:
1 piece of Christmas Decor
15 cookbooks
1 photo album
1 calculator
TOTAL = 18

10/31/11 Menu Plan Monday: Underwood Farms CSA Small Box

Small Box

1 bunch Tatsoi
1 bunch Bok Choy
1 Celery
1 pound Blue Lake Beans
1 Red Leaf Lettuce
3 Bi-color Corn
1 Fennel Bulb
1 pound Summer Squash
1 Cherokee Tomato
1 bunch Kale
1 bunch French Radish

*I will be reserving some Lettuce & Tomato for sandwiches, and using the Celery, Kale & Fennel for snacks.

I absolutely love Fennel! 1 bulb is never enough so I may need to get some more. Here's a wonderfully tasty recipe: Roasted Fennel with Parmesan

Easy Kale Chip Recipe

Tuesday, November 1st
Salad made with Red Leaf Lettuce, 1 Corn, Tomato, Radish
Baked Fish

Wednesday, November 2nd

(I have a much needed Mom's Night Out Planned! Needed an easy night!)
Leftover Salad
Trader Joe's Frozen Pizza

Thursday, November 3rd
Summer Squash with Turmeric Butter
Stir Fried Tofu & Quinoa

Friday, November 4th

Browned Butter Pasta with Tatsoi
Grilled Chicken

Saturday, November 5th
Eat Out!

Sunday, November 6th
Beef Stew (using the Blue Lake Beans)

Monday, November 7th

Sesame Stir-Fried Bok Choy
Sausage of your choice (I'm using the vegetarian sausage)
Brown Rice

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The "100 Thing Challenge" & Tiny Tasks

Hello! I just finished reading the book "100 Thing Challenge" by Dave Bruno. I got the Kindle edition for my iPod touch.

I naturally love books about organization & simplification - it's my nature! I can honestly say Dave took a journey I think we should all consider, at least in some form. He purged his stuff down to 100 things and lived with only 100 things for 1 year. I don't think 100 is the goal for all of us (and neither does he) but if we set some kind of specific goal to live with less I believe it would have a profound impact on our lives. I won't give too much of the book away - there were details covered such as how he defined the 100 things (he has a family of 5, so some definitions were clearly necessary!), revelations he got from the experience & great insights on American-style consumerism. I'll be sharing with you this week some of my aha's and paring down projects I am undergoing as a result of being inspired by Dave. He also offers some great insights on his Blog and the 100 Thing Challenge Facebook Page.

I'll admit being inspired to downsize can also be a bit overwhelming. In the past BK (Before Kids), I would go after a project with gusto on a weeknight or weekend, get it done & feel quite accomplished. Now, in order to accomplish my projects, it takes more planning, more patience, and some creativity to see them through. It also takes longer than I'd usually like, but that's something I'm getting used to as the result of the blessing of having a family. In order to not overwhelm myself, I've decided to break up my simplification projects into "Tiny Tasks." This term is not something I came up with. I got it from Geralin Thomas, a fellow Professional Organizer whom you may have seen on an episode of "Hoarders." On her Facebook page she occasionally posts great Tiny Tasks for the day - little organization projects or tasks that can make a big difference. I love them! I think those of us who just don't have hours upon hours like we would like to have to focus on such projects should view our "Tiny Tasks" as our way to see things through. They won't be overwhelming, and we can still get a sense of accomplishment.

For a long time I've known that simplifying my household & paring stuff down helps a ton with housework, efficiency & being able to focus on more meaningful experiences & quality time spent with loved ones. Heck, I even was quoted by Peter Walsh in his book "Lighten Up" on the subject! Here's my quote from page 24:
"Dear Peter, Going from two incomes to one was and still is quite a transition. However, we've been able to handle that transition quite well. We've gotten rid of many extra expenses, I buy used baby gear and clothes when I can, I cut coupons, use cloth diapers, and we're always looking for what else we can cut out. I have discovered that there is something very freeing in my spirit when I live a simpler life. I am finding that with less stuff, only the essentials and stuff that is really important to me, it's a lot easier to clean my house and I actually am less stressed and able to spend more quality time with my family. It has made me reflect on times when life was simpler, too. We don't need extra storage garages or more stuff piled in the garage: we just need to honor and support our life with what matters most, and what matters most is not the stuff clogging up my closet!"

However, I have been struggling so much to see things through because of my busy life. I think things got a little bit more out of control when my daughter was born. Adding a second child put a lot of stuff on the back burner, and for good reason! Stuff has piled up yet again & stuff is all over the place. It's been very frustrating! So, let's start getting back on track with some Tiny Tasks and take steps on this journey together.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bra Recycling!

This is a bit of an odd post, but I figure I can't be the only woman out there experiencing this! I had 2 kids in 2 years. My weight & bra size has fluctuated quite a bit! Today I got measured and bought a new bra in my new size. It is so comfortable! Amazing how some of the littlest things in life can make quite a positive difference in how we feel. I have a bunch of bras in my closet in varying sizes, but really only end up wearing about 3 different kinds. Being the unclutterer that I am, I know I need to get rid of the old ones. But what do you do with them? I figure, who really wants a used bra from a thrift shop? Some of the bras have lost elasticity so even a shelter or similar organization may not actually end up using it because of the condition it's in. So do I throw the more beat up bras in the trash? That seems like such a waste. This led me to an online search and I found some great solutions!

First, for the ones in good condition, go ahead and donate them. It looks like Goodwill and other similar organizations do have sections for bras. I came across a few other options too.

This organization takes bra donations and ships them throughout the world wherever there is a need.

This blog has some pretty creative things to do with old bras - everything from making lavender sachets out of them to Freecycling them and even making an iPod pocket onto your sports bra!

Apparently the stretchy material is also good for making doll clothes.

So, we've got a lot of options here! I know one thing for sure - I will not be keeping them in the "what if I lose the weight & they fit one day" pile. I already have too many clothes put away in that pile which is another subject in itself!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

10/4/11 Underwood Farms CSA: Taking a break for 2 weeks! + Recipe Websites

Hi Everyone!

I have some busy family stuff going on for the next 2 weeks, so I will be taking a break from menu planning for the Underwood Farms CSA Box contents. I will resume in late October. Thanks!

In the mean time, here are some of my favorite recipe sites.