Archive for April 2014

Excess. It can happen to dogs too.

A client of mine recently told me that her husband was making the family dog de-clutter his bones and toys. My client was appalled. I was cheering him on. :) I told her that there was nothing wrong with a dog having a capsule bone collection. In the end, Jack kept the largest bones and let the smaller ones go. Good dog!

So even dogs have excess just like us humans. When I think of excess generally one thing comes to mind: clothing, particularly for Americans. Last week, I mentioned the talk I gave recently about simplifying. Another key area that I addressed was the capsule wardrobe. So I thought I would post a few points here about it. I'm sure I've already mentioned them here and here but I like to say, there's always room for fresh revelation from the Holy Spirit in any area or on any topic no matter how much you have heard it before.

De-cluttering my wardrobe was the first step on my minimalist journey and it set the stage for everything else that I did in my home. It believe it's the most powerful thing you can do for yourself and it's the starting point for clearing the excess from your homes and lives.

Here is what a capsule wardrobe will do for you:

- It gives you peace
- It removes stress
- It frees up space in your closet
- It removes materialism and self-focus

3 key points:

1. Have a few pieces that you love and wear - We wear 20% of our clothing 80% of the time because we will always gravitate towards those pieces that we feel beautiful and stylish in. The number one key to this is knowing your colors. The colors that are most flattering for your skin tone and hair color. You will find that this book is dead on 99% of the time. Remember, you can generally go up or down a shade.

2. Buy classic investment pieces and cheap trendy - I recommend to my clients to buy the highest quality that they can afford within their budget and lifestyle. There are certain items that I'm willing to pay more money for like pants but not shirts. My pants seem to last a lot longer for me but my shirts not so much probably from the wear and tear of toddlers pulling on them. I like to buy trendier pieces at discount prices as they generally don't last past a season or two.

3. De-clutter your wardrobe and use numbers to slim down your items - I've discovered that I only need two sets of pajamas, the same through summer and winter (I'm cold natured at night). I also only need one swimsuit, one sunhat and one cover up. Experiment and determine what's right for you.

You can't go wrong with a capsule wardrobe. You're in charge and if you find you need an additional item then just buy it. But here's a warning: once you start dressing this way, you won't be able to stop. Freedom is addictive. :)

Simplifying dinner time

I recently spoke to a group of young women gathered in a friend's home for a weekly bible study. The topic was simplifying. I covered three areas: clothing (capsule wardrobe), routines and finances. One of the most flexible and easy ways to gain control in the area of finances is to make a menu plan. A menu plan is your road map to a less stressful dinnertime and week.

Here's what a menu plan can do for you:

- reduces stress at dinnertime
- makes shopping easier
- reduces food waste
- saves money

There are any number of printable templates floating around on the Internet so I won't bother posting some here. Or you can just keep it really non-fancy like I do, and just take a pad and pencil and just draw your own columns for the days of the week and three main meals.

I think it's important to plan out breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a special snack or dessert. It certainly would be a downer to get up in the morning, start making waffles only to realize that you didn't have enough eggs. That's why it's important to include breakfast too. Each meal takes ingredients. I realize this is not new information, however I think people have forgotten how important this tool is in their domestic tool belt.

Here are my steps to making a menu:

1. I start first with my calendar. Are there any meals that are already provided in the upcoming week, say a church potluck or date night at a restaurant? Then I schedule those meals first in the meal plan.

2. Cook once, eat twice. I always try to pick recipes where there are enough leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.

3. Once meals and snacks are planned out, I go block by block of my menu plan adding the ingredients for each dish to the backside of my menu plan so nothing is forgotten.  I like to shop with mine in case I'm in the store wondering why I'm buying a can of adobo chilies.

4. I keep a menu plan started in my junk drawer so as the week goes by and we run out of a staple (for us, that's raisins, oatmeal, honey, etc.), either Steve or I can add it to the list because we both know where it is.

5. Post my plan on the fridge where everyone can see it. Not only does this help to clarify any confusion about what people are eating, what times and what days, but it helps the other spouse to know what they need to do in regards to starting dinner prep one night if necessary. For example, if my plan says spaghetti and I'm working late afternoon and stuck in traffic, then my husband knows to go to the freezer and pull out a jar of spaghetti sauce and start boiling the noodles.

Planning a menu can generally take around 30 minutes but it's so worth it in the end. Happy planning!

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