There are so many ways to start creating a simpler life! From finances, to house cleaning, to simply how you perceive your surroundings, simplifying your life can be, well..., simple! Here are my five favorite ways to keep my life simpler every day! You might think some of them are sort of 'cheating' but I think they are genius because to me they just make sense. In fact, they make so much sense that you may already be doing some, if not all, of them already!
ONE: Car Keys - Nothing makes me crazier than misplacing the car keys. Whether I am home, at the store, or even at work, misplacing, or trying to locate the car keys is a annoying! Here's how I simplified this problem: a hook. What? Yup, a hook. Not just any hook, mind you. My hook is a brass round eye quick snap that is actually used for rope or chain and it can be found in just about any hardware department. I originally tried some hook clips that were specifically made for key rings, but they weren't heavy duty enough for the kind of life I lead. I just happened to spot this one in the hardware department several years ago, and well, the rest is history!
Heres why it works:
TWO: Crocs - Mine are faux, my husbands are real, but either works great! We each keep a pair of these right by the door on a multi-purpose tray (perfect for winter snow boots too!). This allows us to quickly slip them on to run the garbage out, put the chickens away, get the mail, pick vegetables, take the compost out, etc. No searching all over for shoes, and no wasted time having to tie them. It is so simple to slip them on and run right outside. I don't have to worry about stepping in mud or chicken poop with my good shoes because stepping in that stuff is exactly what these are for! When I come back in the door they immediately go right back on the tray, mud and all! Want to wash them? Simple, just hose them down. No stress, no worries. Notice the ones on the tray are lined for winter use? I have another pair in purple with no lining for the summer :-)
THREE: All Surfaces Clear - When the surfaces in your house are clear, your home looks, or appears, clean! When the house appears clean, you feel better and have no worries or stress about anyone suddenly visiting or stopping by. How is this accomplished? First, get rid of the knick-knacks that take up space (and collect dust) on tables, shelves, etc. Second, get rid of extra furniture and anything that takes up unnecessary floor space. The same goes for kitchen counters and the top of the refrigerator too! Less is more! The bottom line is that you should be able to easily wipe a rag across any surface in your home to dust, sweep, mop, and or vacuum any time you choose. You shouldn't have to clean, before you clean! This goes a long way towards making the house appear clean even if you haven't recently dusted or swept! Win-win:-)
FOUR: Make the Bed - I don't really mean make the bed, which if done correctly like in a motel room can take a long time to tuck in the sheets, blankets etc. I mean make the bed appear to be made, or made good enough. First, you need to have a nice headboard. It doesn't have to be expensive, and you can even make your own, but it is 'key' for this tip to work. Then get an oversized comforter or summer quilt and a few matching decorative pillows. Keep the comforter on the bed and use it. Yup, sleep with it every night and in the morning as soon as you get up for the day, straighten it out and throw the decorative pillows at the top by the headboard. It will look great and literally only take a few seconds to accomplish! So simple!
FIVE: Mail (not the 'e' kind) - The mail basically gets delivered every day but Sunday. Most of the time it is junk and bills. Not exactly a pleasant experience. How to simplify? Well, you could get a PO Box and only pick it up once a week, but this costs money. A better way is to just grab it, sort the junk and the bills, simply throw the junk right out and stick the rest in the 'bill basket.' Immediately. Don't let it sit around. Don't waste your time opening it. The 'bill basket' is simply a drawer in a wicker corner unit that I throw all the bills and other 'non-junk' mail into. Once a month when it's time to pay the bills, I go through it. That's when I file the papers that aren't bills but need to be saved (like EOB's) and sort through what bills do need to be paid. Yes, I only do bills once a month. I took the time to make all my bills due on or about the same day each month, and I sit down to pay them all about a week before they are due. It takes less than an hour of my time, on one day only, of each and every month! Thats about 12 hours a year to pay bills!
Did you like any of the tips above? Then stay tuned!
Our book "The ABC's of Creating A Simpler Life" is coming soon! It is chock full of tips from A to Z to help in creating your simpler life. There is something for everyone, no matter what stage of your life you are at or where you live.
After all, who doesn't want life to be simpler?
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Keep it simple my friends :-)
To Reuse or Not To Reuse?
Reusing an item means it is purchased specifically to be used for the same purpose over and over again. For example, a reusable water bottle can just be refilled every day for work. There are so many reusable items out there today that it can be almost dizzying to think about and to choose from! My advice is if it is simple to use and maintain, then go for it! Some reusable items are not simple and therefore may not work for you, and that is O.K. so long as you are consciously making informed decisions.
These reduce the need to buy something over and over again thereby eliminating or decreasing the amount of household waste! They save you money and help the Earth!
Take a look at this Reusable Pictorial Post!
Check out our other Recycling Posts:
And check out our Pinterest Boards:
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The Art of Repurposing
Repurposing - using an item in a way other than its original purpose. Can be called an art because sometimes it requires a lot of creativity to find a way to repurpose something!
A simple example is reusing Chinese food containers to store magic markers in. A super creative example is breaking up old cd's to create a mosaic design on furniture or other items. See what I mean? I never would have thought of that on my own! And check out those amazing fairy tale books by high school students above! Super creative :-)
Be careful about what you save to repurpose though! If you don't use it within a certain amount of time, it just takes up space and makes life more complicated! Either recycle it or give it away!
Some Creative Repurposing Ideas:
Watch this slide-show of repurposing possibilities!
Visit our page Household Waste for additional information
check out our Pinterest Boards for more great ideas:
Recycling (different ideas on what, how, and where to recycle)
Selling & Donating (find ideas and places to sell and donate all kinds of items!)
Repurposing (a plethora of unique and creative ideas...)
Reusable Items (includes many products you may not have heard of before!)
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Today recycling is a basic requirement just about anywhere you live. It can be annoying, but it is important and in some places there are actually penalties for not complying!
Depending upon where you live the rules are different. Where I live we need to separate our recyclables and put them out on different days. In other locations they have what is called "single stream recycling" where everything gets recycled together and separated elsewhere. This is in my opinion the best way and if you are lucky enough to live in a 'single stream' town then good for you!
Whether you live in a single stream town or an area that needs to be separated like me, read the series below to learn how to make the process as painless as possible. And remember, you are helping the Earth and future generations!
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My Favorite Skillet!
I seriously can't believe I am saying this: "I love my cast iron skillet." I really do, and believe me,I never thought I would ever even consider using cast iron!
Using cast iron was really sort of an accident for me. Cast iron is a pan that I have never even attempted to cook with. In fact, my go to pots and pans have always been stainless steel. But if you have ever had to sit and scrub and scrub and scrub to get a pan clean then you know what I mean when I say stainless can be a real pain in the $%#. I have also been through multiple skillets coated with teflon. I say multiple because never has a skillet lasted more than a year in my house before the teflon started to come off. Thats how often we use the skillet! More recently we were buying and using Green pans. They have a ceramic coating that is much healthier than using teflon and they did last a little longer. The big downside however was the price. Not cheap by any means and still needed to be replaced after a lot of use.
Cast iron was never an option for me. I didn't even consider it because I always thought it was cheap, horrible to cook on, and even more horrible to clean. I imagined needing to literally scrape eggs off the bottom of the pan and never really getting it clean....ever. So imagine my surprise when my daughter and future son-in-law cooked a meal for 8 people using ALL cast iron pans and I volunteered (unknowingly) to do the dishes! As soon as I saw what I had volunteered to wash I groaned and did my best to go at it with a smile on my face....only to find out how easy they all were to clean!! In fact, they were easier to clean than the Green pans I had at home which were supposed to be non-stick! After the simplicity of cleaning those cast iron pans that night, and eating amazing food that was perfectly cooked in them, I was 'sold' on how awesome cast iron can be!
I immediately purchased my first cast iron skillet and I have never looked back! I absolutely love cooking in the pan and am able to cook certain foods like steak and chicken indoors better than ever! I have since added more cast iron pans to my list of must have's for the future.
Here is a simple list of why I love my cast iron skillet so much:
Some of the cons:
Even the 'cons' aren't so bad!
And check out this video of a comparisson between this skillet and the Lodge seasoned classic skillet in action and the MUST HAVE Kitchen Tools video below it!
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Space Saving Tips for the Kitchen
Have a small kitchen? Are you limited on space for storage? Our kitchen is 9 x 7 and yes, that is pretty small for us (it is actually smaller because its really 5 x 3 attached to a 7 x 6 for a total square footage of 57 square feet)! It's because it is so small that we had to come up with some simple ways to make the limited space work the best for us!
Every one of the pictures below was taken in our little kitchen. Under the pictures is a list of all the ways we use to make the most of our minimal kitchen space! Maybe some will work for you :-)
Kitchen space saving ideas:
See more ideas on our Pinterest Home Organization Board!
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Do you have a messy bedroom or guest room in your home? Most people do for one reason or another. I happen to have several since my kids are slowly leaving the 'nest' their bedrooms have become a medley of their belongings and things that have been 'temporarily' stored in there over time. It is easy for this to get more carried away than anyone ever expected. One day when you're adding to the pile you actually stop and really look at it and you're like "Oh My Gosh! How on Earth did this happen?" If you're like me or my daughter whom this post is actually dedicated to, the thought of cleaning is overwhelming so you kind of just keep the door shut. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Well that only lasts for so long. Eventually, for whatever reason, you need something in there, or, like me, you actually have a need to use the room for something other than a bedroom so it's time to clean it!
We have our new online store starting up (coming soon) so with all the stuff piling up we really needed a room to keep everything together and organized. My daughter hasn't officially lived (or slept) in her bedroom for a few years so I mentioned to her that I really could use the space. She completely understood but is overwhelmed by the amount of stuff she has accumulated over the years. She asked me for help and I told her I could have it done in a day if she really wanted me too. I think she was afraid for me to do it without her, so she's been working on her room a little at a time (the picture above is a work in progress). But, naturally the fact that I said I could do it in one day is based on experience as I have accomplished this very task several times in the past and this, of course, is what inspired me to write this post! If you are disciplined and on task, you too can clean a messy room in one day and if you follow the step-by-step process it should be as simple and painless as possible!
So here we go....
The bottom line: get rid of as much stuff as you can. Less really is more! Less stuff to clean, manage, and take care of means less stress and more happiness :-)
Enjoy your clean room!
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Check our our Minimizing and Organizing pages and our Organization board on Pinterest for other ways to help simplify your life!
SIMPLE & MEANINGFUL WALL DECOR
Why hang some strangers art on the wall? Keep it simple and meaningful by using your children's art or even your own! What's better than surrounding yourself with yours, your children's, or your relatives creations?
I have been saving my kids artwork since they were in elementary school. I have switched different pictures for newer ones as the years went on and some have never come down! Some of the pictures were professionally matted and framed and other pictures I have framed myself. An inexpensive option for matting pictures is Michaels craft stores (they always have a coupon). Whether you frame them yourself or pay someone else to do it, having your childrens, yours, or another special family members pictures on your walls around you is priceless!
Here are a few of my favorites hanging throughout our home:
It feels wonderful to be surrounded by the creative projects of my children!
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Minimizing Your Seasonal Decorations
Love decorating for different holidays but discouraged by having too much stuff to decorate with? Does the thought of decorating make you tired before you begin? Are you running out of room to store all that stuff? Want to find a simpler way? Then it is time to minimize and organize! Less stuff = less stress so here's a simple way to minimize and organize all your seasonal and holiday decorations now.
Where to start?
What about the "Binless" Holidays?
These are the holidays you don't go all out for, but still want to acknowledge and celebrate.
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START A CHRISTMAS MEMORY TREE NOW!
It's the start of a new year so what better time than now to start a Christmas memory tree? A Christmas memory tree is a tree where each ornament has a specific memory associated with it. A few of our special family memory ornaments are shown in the picture above. As you can see they range from simple items like key-chains to exquisite glass ornaments. But each one has special memory associated with it that we share and remember together every year when we decorate the family tree for Christmas.
CHECK OUT OUR YOUTUBE VIDEO ABOUT
OUR MEMORY TREE:
OUR BLENDED FAMILY TRADITION!
Why We Started This Family Tradition
This is a second marriage for both my husband and myself. We each brought our own children into the marriage and we were trying to find ways to create special memories that would help to blend our two families together. I had already started some new memories and traditions with my children as a single mom, so it was easy to continue doing it as a blended family. Today, ten years later, it is still a yearly tradition for all of us to get together and even though the kids are 25, 23, and 20, we still laugh and talk about the memories as we decorate the tree. Sometimes we even get a little teary eyed over the ones that make us a little sad such as the memories of our family dog that passed away this past July. But one thing is for sure, he will never be forgotton!
This is also a great idea because it minimizes the junk around the house. Everyone is always buying nick-nacks on vacations and has favors from various weddings and parties. Get rid of all that stuff and choose the special ones to make into ornaments! The memories are small, they do not sit on a shelf collecting dust, and they will be used (and actually remembered) once a year!
How To Start A Memory Tree
1. Collect Items as Ornaments During the year -
Check out this little slide of a few of our special family ornaments:
2. Make it into an Ornament -
3. Write on the Ornaments -
4. Decorate the Tree with Memories -
Each year there will be more and more ornaments to add to the tree and the memories of all the things that you did will always be remembered :-) Above is a picture of our family the night that we decorated our tree for 2015. It's also another tradition to take a family picture in front of the tree after we decorate it and this years picture includes my daughters finance who we will now include in all our future memories!
It is never too late to start!
Start today and by Christmas you will have memories of the entire year to share!
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Hi there! I'm Kathie, the author behind Creating A Simpler Life blog. I'm excited to share our longterm projects (and planning) toward building our future retirement homestead in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. In the meantime I will be sharing all the other little things we do that are part of creating our simpler life!