Archive for November 2013

Finding free space

I've been thinking this week about free space. It all started because out of sheer desperation for a break, we removed our table with lamp from our living room. This is our only table and lamp mind you, but we were constantly pulling our toddler away from it and since he is one of the most persistent children that I have personally ever met, I decided to just give up the battle and store it in my husband's office/guest room for the time being. And now all I can think about is this awesome free space. This whole corner of our house that is no longer taken up by an object is now just a blank canvas. And to be honest, it ministers to me. All that free space somehow just soothes my soul in a way. My mind is so visually stimulated by stuff, objects, items... that when I remove them, it ushers in peace to my soul.

Since moving into our home, Steve will remark during my de-cluttering rampages, why don't we just store it? We have all this available storage "free space" so why not use it? To which I reply, just because we have the "free space", doesn't mean that we need to fill it. But we do that so often in our lives. Not only with things, but with our time and activities. Lately, I have been re-prioritizing in my life and looking for ways to cut back. I'm one of those people who if given the chance, will jam pack our days with lunches, appointments, errands, things to do... and if I'm not careful, I become burnt out. So I'm looking for that free space. And since I know it doesn't just happen, I have to physically remove something in order to create it, I'm examining my schedule to see what areas do I need to remove so that I can bring some order and peace into my life.

For some, it may be removing one extra box of Christmas decorations this year, for others it could mean taking the extra time over the holidays to finally clear out that garage that's been looming over you, or for some it might mean removing some appointments from your calendar this season. Whatever it looks like for you, I encourage you to create the free space. It will feel good when you do.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my fabulous Chic Planner subscribers. I would love to hear, where do you need to create free space this season?

How I'm reducing waste this week

A few weeks ago, I wrote about reducing our waste inspired by Bea Johnson. After a few weeks of focused thought on ways and areas in our home that could be further reduced, I'm listing what I have observed. I do have some friends that are concerned that I'm becoming a little too "crunchy." If you could see me in my designer skinny jeans and leopard print ballet flats, then I think we could all agree I'm not anywhere close to that.

This stewardship mindset that has continued to evolve in me started with minimizing and simplifying my things and my life. The rewards of this however not only benefit me and my peace of mind but there are considerable sustainable rewards to our environment as well. And I will be the first to admit that I never connected the two when I started, but I for sure see their relation now. When we stop buying clutter and start looking for ways to be happier with less or with what we currently own, then we are choosing to reduce our waste and the earth's resources. Bea Johnson frequently quotes on her blog that shopping is voting. I like that.

As with any new mindset and habit you adopt, it's best to start small and work in small chunks of time. For example, it can be easy to get overwhelmed when de-cluttering, so many times I advise my clients to work only for 15 minutes a day on each room so as not to burn out. Since I have been considering the ways that our home could become closer to zero-waste, I am focusing on areas of the home one at a time to incorporate my strategies so that I don't become overwhelmed. All of a sudden my eyes have become opened to how much trash and waste that my family generates a week and I'm not very proud of it. So here are my small discoveries. I've been focusing on the bathroom to start my process.

- I have realized that by using multiple hair products on my fine hair, that the products aren't helping and possibly weighing my hair down more. So I have ditched 3 products and am only using hairspray.
- Replaced toothpaste with baking soda which is a green cleaner as well.
- I threw out some old jewelry cleaner and won't be purchasing anymore. I only need an scrubber brush and some baking soda to clean my diamond jewelry or mild soap.
- Instead of buying refill hand soap that comes in a plastic container, I'm using a bar soap from the farmer's market that doesn't come with any wrapping and have switched to castile soap which has lots of cleaning uses.
- I threw out all of my nail varnishes. They are old and stinky. I'm not planning to replace at this time which means no nail polish on my hands or toes.
- I found some old plastic clips and headbands that I'm donating to the thrift store.
- Got rid of my old nail file and using a stainless one instead that I already own.
- Consolidated stainless steel grooming equipment down to only the essentials. Between my husband and I, there were several duplicate tweezers and fingernail clippers. We only need one pair.

This is a small list to just get us started but it has been fun to focus on the bathroom the past few weeks, mulling over in my mind ways to reduce waste in that room. In the meantime, my husband started a composting bin and plans to write about his experience with that in the coming weeks.

Have you been intrigued about the concept of zero waste? I would love to hear your thoughts on it. 


More purple than I expected


(I’m back from my hiatus. :) This is a guest post from my kind and patient husband, Steve.)

To the spouses out there that don’t get this whole minimalism/zero waste thing, I understand. It’s been a journey for me, too. I was really excited when Laura Gail started her business because I knew it would be an outlet for her, and I would hopefully have fewer conversations beginning with questions like “are you sure you need two combs in your toiletry basket?”

When it comes to running our household, we come at it from different priorities. I don’t like to buy things we don’t need, but I really don’t like getting rid of things we ended up needing later (spoiler alert: this almost never happens). I want to be mindful of the environment, but if our budget depended on it, I’m prepared to pass out chainsaws to cut down the rainforest. I’ve illustrated that in the following graphic; some of her top household priorities in the pink circle and mine in the blue. I threatened all week to include a Venn-diagram in this post and I’m not about to back down now!

These two circles overlap to form the “purple” section. In following our priorities and keeping an open mind (happy wife, happy life), I’ve been surprised that at the end of the day, there’s a lot more purple than I expected. Her desire to have less stuff and clutter in our house leads to more analysis prior to making purchases – which in turn ensures that we get good use out of the things we buy. What’s good for the environment can be good for the wallet. A recent example is that we just started composting our table scraps, vegetable/fruit peels, etc. Great for the environment, but it’s also going to produce some great (free) soil enrichment to help us grow better vegetables next year in our garden (that I won’t have to buy at the grocery store).

If you’re the one dragging your feet on this minimalist journey, keep an open mind. You may be surprised to find more in it for you than you thought. If your spouse won’t get on board, keep nagging all the time. Just kidding; be patient and take time to understand what your spouse’s priorities are and you’ll be better equipped to make your own Venn-diagram. There may be more purple than you expect.

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