The De-clutter Queen

For years now I’ve been a fan of Julie Morgenstern. She writes books about getting organized and time management and about work. Something about her philosophy really clicks with me. Well somehow I missed that she has  new book out call SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life: A Four-Step Guide to Getting Unstuck.

This is exactly the kind of advice I need right now since I am still stalled on getting rid of 100 things. Here’s a short video she has related to the book:

So I’ll definitely be checking this out. I only wish it came on the Kindle since I’m trying to have less stuff! Oh well.

getting back on the horse

I was in Pueblo this week which was greatly relaxing and nice, however, not good on the ‘ol diet. As mostly everyone in the world knows- it’s hard to stay on a diet for longer than a week- well for me longer than a week. Most people probably have more staying power. Pueblo is like diet kyrptanite, filled with local restaurants that do not even come on the website I’ve been using to track my diet progress. Not to mention, the food is delicious. Best food place- no joke. And it’s fattening. So needless to say. my diet was a little blown this week. I also didn’t work out on Thursday or Friday (while I was in pueblo).

The key, in my opinion, to actually obtaining my goals is to not just give up when my diet is blown a little bit, or when I skip a work out or whatever else I’m making progress with. I think it’s my nature to be like “Well I already blew that, time to just go back to the way things were”. So today, I am getting back on the horse or whatever the analogy is for continuing my health regiment despite my minor fails. It will be hard now that I’ve had a taste of the easy life .

HGTV Therapy

So this week has not been my best. Work was heavy, and I spent three nights this week on the computer doing design work. Let’s just say that my household suffered. Dishes piled up, the coffee table got junked up with stuff, the carpets need some serious vacuuming, and the cat box….well lets not go there.

So I wake up this morning, feeling hungover from the Olympic Opening Ceremony and late night chatting with some friends. I stumble out of bed, get dressed and cleaned up, and I come down stairs to assess the damage. It looks way worse in the daylight. Which is sort of a sad statement in it’s own right. I haven’t seem my home in the daylight since last Sunday.

I am so tempted to get into my big chair and ignore it all, but I know that just won’t cut it and I’ll be miserable. So I did what I tend to do when this happens. I turned it over to HGTV to be inspired!

HGTV on Saturday mornings is all about home improvement, which is perfect for me. I need to see other people up and active to make their homes a better place to live in (or sell as the case may be for some programs). So I subject myself (such a terrible thing, ;-)) to watching as much HGTV as I can on Saturdays to get me going. Everyone in my house is the better for it!

Now I could write a whole other post about the other kind of therapy I get from HGTV, but I’ll just say that watching all those episodes of House Hunters and Property Virgins, makes me get serious about my financial situation so I can one day buy my own place too.

Thanks HGTV!

Clutter Struggles

Okay, so I’m all about this clutter challenge to get rid of 100 things, and I know I can do it. What I really need to do is to go into the depths of my drawers and closets and truly purge the crap that means nothing to me.

I know that, so why don’t I do that?

Well so far my decluttering efforts have been focused not on those easy spots but on hard stuff.

For example, I thought that I could make some money from some of my scrapbooking supplies. I pulled together some pretty awesome Creative Memories stuff that sells very well on eBay. I went as far to take pictures and write descriptions. But then I couldn’t pull the trigger. These things in particular are retired 12×12 pages and retired 12×12 albums.

Well, I chickened out at the last minute because it didn’t feel right. And I’m actually kind of glad I did. My desire to make money from my stuff was outweighing my ability to think logically about what I should get rid of. So I held back and thought about what exactly I was doing. The white 12×12 pages can still be used with all of my old 12×12 paper. And I almost sold the 12×12 coverset that I have been saving to put my already made, just need journaling, Ireland pages. That was a close one!

What I did realize is that I will never use 12×12 black pages. They just aren’t my thing and are left over from when I was a consultant. So after some much thoughtful consideration, that is what I put on eBay.

E-Bay February 2010

So maybe I’m starting with the big stuff, and I need to focus on just the trash around my house. Build my way up to the stuff to donate, and then the stuff to sell…if I want to.

Overcoming the guilt

One of my fears when we decided to start this blog was that I would feel guilty for not always working in life improvement mode. This was a big issue for me, because that is usually how I tend to fail. So I had to decide if I could go forward with a project like this at all.

I decided that yes, this project would be great, and that by doing it  I couldn’t make myself feel bad if I took a day off, or two, or three. The changes that I’m making through this process are supposed to stick and I believe that they will, but I can’t always be working toward my goals. I’ve got to have a break, and this weekend I did just that.

Instead of working toward huge goals, I went into maintenance mode, which is key to make these good habits stick. So while I did plenty of lounging around, I also kept my kitchen clean and I did laundry. I even cleaned out my pajama drawers (while putting away clean pajamas) to add to my give away box. The beautiful thing about this was that it was easy to do. I obviously see the connection between keeping clean and organized all week long and how easy it is to clean up on the weekend. No need for the huge marathon cleaning session.

So yeah, I have no guilt about lounging this weekend. It felt great and was so necessary after a long week!

Confession time though — Of course I didn’t just sit around and watch TV. I’ve always got to have something going on at the same time, so I created a new photography watermark for my pictures, new export settings for LightRoom and new action sets for Photoshop. If I could only really relax, that would be awesome.

My toothbrush never lets me down.

Smokers have bad teeth. College students have bad teeth. I have to be honest with you, I often only brush once a day. Gross huh? I don’t know why. It’s one of my most embarrassing habits, and now that I’m a non-smoker, one of my grossest. I’m trying to get better about this. Not get the pre-bedtime lazies. I used to brush twice a day (I know you should really brush three times) and floss pretty much daily. I’m back to flossing and getting better with the  brushing. I’m basically a dentists worst nightmare. To be fair, most of my friends only brush once. No joke. Sorry to call him out on this one- but even my boyfriend Johnny only brushes once a day. So it’s not only me.

It’s a habit I formed in the dorms, when I’d be too lazy to walk down the hall- and by down the hall I mean pretty far down a long hall- to brush my teeth at night. It also didn’t help that freshmen year of college I hit my alcoholic peak of drinking mostly every night. Freshmen year I also gained the freshmen ten. All around, freshmen year was when it all went wrong for me. But, it’s now technically my senior year (I graduated a semester early) – no more excuses.

I’m doing a favor for my poor teeth and doing crest white strips daily. After seven years of smoking and making my teeth yucky it’s the least I can do for them. Quitting smoking is great because it gives you a reason to thoroughly clean out everything- teeth included. I hope that my teeth go less from looking like this:

yellow teeth

An exaggeration. not my real teeth. but you get the picture

And more to looking like this:

white teeth

I have a gap between my two front teeth 😦 they will never be this perf.

In honor of good dental hygiene here is an absolute favorite of mine from Yo Gabba Gabba.

Working out. takin names.

Part of my new years’ resolution was to get in shape. I have to be particularly careful about gaining weight because of the whole not smoking sitch- I haven’t smoked in a month basically, I’ve sneaked a few, but I’m pretty much done smoking. I’ve been trying to work out as much as possible because not only will it help me keep unwanted weight off but it will be great relief.

I always go through periods of working out and then just quit. It’s quite hard to keep up the routine. I do this often- get really into doing something and then just crash and burn. Part of this project is to actually maintain healthy habits. So, this week I’ve been working out. It’s been really really nice actually. My normal workout regiment is 30 minutes of cardio work, either on a stair-master or an elliptical machine and then some weight work. Of course the highlight of doing this is getting to listen to copious amounts of Lady Gaga. Music is the key to a good work out. I spend a lot of time perfecting my work out play lists. This time around my play list may just be good enough to keep me going to the gym.

Part of my new fitness regiment is to change my diet. I’ve been using this website to track all of the calories I eat a day. It’s like weight watchers but free! First of all, you input all of your info like weight/height/age/activity level and how much weight you want to lose or gain. It tells you exactly how many calories a day you have to eat to obtain said goal. I set my goal at losing two pounds per week, set my activity level at sedentary, and the site said I need to eat only 989 calories a day! Hard! 989 calories are easily spent. For instance, A subway sandwich is 450 calories, plus chips which are usually 120 calories, and a cookie (can’t forget the cookie!) is like 200 calories. That puts you at 770 calories! Not a lot left for the rest of the day. Luckily, you also track whatever you did. Did you know taking a shower burns 60 calories?  The calories you burn are added to your allotment. It actually hasn’t been to hard so far. I can eat basically what I want but I do have to make smart choices. For instance, getting the Baked Lays at Subway as opposed to my n0rmal Sunchips saves me 100 calories. Getting a value sized fry at Burger King saves me 200 calories from getting my normal medium. As with most things in weight loss, it’s about exercising and not going crazy with food. Eating until your full and no more.

Now, obviously, I have a severe obsession with fast food- we’ll save that for a later blog post.

Vision Boards

Almost two years ago I learned about vision boards from my friend Amanda. Very simple concept and exercise with the potential for a huge life impact.

Here’s the idea: create vision boards, however you see fit that represent your ideal life and your ideal world. Your vision boards will activate the law of attraction, as theorized in books and concepts like The Secret.

When I decided to make my own vision boards, I sat and meditated on what I wanted for myself, my surroundings, and our world. It just flowed right out. Then I went through my magazines and cut out images, words, and phrases that matched up with those desires.

I created four boards.

1. Self, body, love
2. Home, lifestyle
3. Wealth, career
4. World, community

And placed them strategically in my kitchen.

The result has been pretty great so far. I don’t have tons of empirical evidence to prove that they work, but I just feel it. The constant visual reminder of my goals and the things that I want somehow pushes me in those four areas. There have been advances in lots of ares such as travel and money, some advances in cooking, and even in my personal relationships and self confidence.

I highly recommend this project. If anything, it’s fun to feel like a kid again and make collages from magazine pictures.

If you already have vision boards, how is it working for you?

It's that special time of year

Tax time!

Okay, I know a lot of people hate tax time and I don’t blame them. First, paying taxes is never fun, even though it goes toward making our country a better place. Second, the preparation is annoying, and the filing, and the math, all icky.

For me, I personally like it because I get a decent refund. People hate to hear this, understandably, but I like to remind them that I fork over at least a quarter of my pay check each month. So it’s not like I don’t pay my very fare share.

Anyway, let’s not debate taxes, let’s talk about strategies to prepare them.

I personally love love love TurboTax online. If you have the ability to prepare and file your own taxes, I highly recommend this service. I’ve been using it for about five or six years now and even used it when I had a side business. I love how straight forward it is and how well it guides me. I personally cannot deal with filling out the forms on my own. I’m way too freaked out that I’m messing it up and that the IRS is going to hunt me down and cart me off to jail. I know that I’m such small potatoes that that would never happen, but still…I’m a lawyer’s daughter and I am forever trained to pay very close attention to paperwork.

My taxes are done and that makes me feel like a big girl.

February 2010

Do you have any tax advice to share, or a program you like to use?

D to the CLUTTER: 100 things update

We’ve heard from a few people that they are IN!

Remember, the rules are to get rid of 100 things by February 28.

And as we’re realizing, it’s a lot easier than we thought it would be.

  • Marissa cleaned out her closet and donated tons of old clothes. She believes she got her 100.
  • Rochelle only cleaned out her entertainment center and found 17 things to donate, and three things to return to friends. So this little challenge is also helping Rochelle improve her personal relationships as well 🙂
  • Amanda, another participant, has rocked this challenge inside and out on her own accord. This past weekend, she collected over 225 things to donate and there’s much more where that came from and much more to come as she continues to prepare for a big move and for a new baby.
  • Sheila is just getting started and excited!
January 2010

Less crap in Rochelle's entertainment center! Malarky is a terrible game...and Bounce was such a disappointment. Also..."After Sex" is a lame romantic comedy, so don't get be getting any dirty ideas!

We’re still looking for more participants, so shoot us an e-mail (sisters@thesimplesisters.com) or leave a comment.