Author: Leah

Simple Pleasures: HONY

The last several months of our lives have been far more full than we’d normally like. All good things but all converging at the same time. Oops! We’ve had to really slow down other areas of our lives to make room. It is all quite temporary and certainly all our choice, but still it can be tricky to juggle sometimes. Maybe you know the feeling?

Simple pleasures have been so important to keep us going—family walks, lots of pool time and lazy mornings whenever possible. For me, one of those things is Humans of New York. Do you follow it? It really is the best thing happening on the internet these days.

(I know it might seem so odd to recommend checking social media for a simple pleasure, but in this case, I’ll gladly make the exception!) Here’s one of my favorites from HONY:

1185386_581460051928099_1383341450_n copy“When he was dying, I said: ‘Moe, how am I going to live without you?’
He answered: ‘Take the love you have for me, and spread it around.”

Some of the posts are funny, but most are so beautiful, touching and poignant. It is a daily must for me. Always reignites my faith in humanity.

Cleaning Stainless Steel: A Non-Toxic Solution

Cleaning stainless steel - non-toxic - olive oil

When transitioning to non-toxic cleaning products, a common complaint for the newly initiated is that they don’t work. Usually I find this is simply a result of using the wrong product. For example, stainless steel appliances require an easy but possibly surprising solution: olive oil. Really any oil will work, but I’d stick to organic olive or refined coconut. Just add a few drops to a rag, and then rub and polish into the stainless steel until the smears are gone. Add more oil and move around the surface until the job is complete. Super fast, and couldn’t be simpler. (And yes that is a cloth diaper cut in half—my favorite thing to use for rags!)

A Tip for Avoiding Piles

Garbage can

Piles. We all have them. They start as innocuous little stacks. They might even appear neat, at first. Good intentions are nearly always behind them. But piles are a slippery slope.

Part of having a place for everything (a mantra I firmly believe in) includes having a place for the discards. Oddly enough, the discards tend to make up a substantial portion of the clutter in people’s lives—they stick around much longer than intended. Luckily, there are some really easy solutions. For example:

Add a trash can. This basic necessity is very often absent from a cluttered room. When helping a client, I often find piles of paper merely waiting to be disposed of in a trash can … in another room. Adding a small trash can to most rooms makes a significant difference in deflecting clutter—especially in the foyer, office, laundry, and mudroom areas. (Recycling this paper would be even better, but let’s take baby steps …)

Relocate the laundry hamper. The most common reason dirty laundry piles up in the wrong place is that the hamper is either inaccessible or inconvenient (or both). Think about where it would be most useful to have your hamper—the location of the pile is usually a good hint—and then put the hamper there if you can.

Designate a bag for donations. I highly recommend always having a Goodwill bag at the ready. It is more likely to be filled and prevents the piles from happening elsewhere.

Put store returns in the car. A small basket in the trunk is great for holding items to be returned. Keep the item in its original bag along with the receipt, if you can.

Set aside clothes for consignment. I keep these items on hangers all together in the back of my closet. I make a trip to the consignment store at the start of each season. With the clothes already cleaned and corralled, it doesn’t feel like a big chore. Also, by separating them, I am not dealing with them every time I open my closet.

Bag children’s outgrown clothing. I have a bag in each child’s closet to hold clothes they outgrow, and I add to it frequently. Then, once a season, I move those clothes to the attic for long-term storage (until we decide whether or not to go for #3!) .

Corral presents for others. Designate one area where gifts are stored until they are given. Might seem a little too Type A, but I can’t tell you how often I unearth gifts meant for others while helping clients clean out. They couldn’t find the original gift so had to purchase another!

All of this comes down to convenience. If something is inconvenient, most people simply won’t do it. By providing these much needed collection points, the ease of putting things in the right place outweighs the temptation to let it pile up.

While these tips might seem fairly obvious, it is just like eating right, exercising daily and going to bed at a decent hour … Advice we hear routinely and yet we still struggle to do it sometimes. So hopefully this gentle reminder will help nudge you in the right direction.

An Alternative For Mother’s Day

Every Mother Countsfrom Every Mother Counts

All moms need a break, and Mother’s Day feels like an especially good time for an indulgence. All the dishes, the doctor appointments, the cleaning, the laundry, the cooking, the wild bath times, the putting away of all of the stuff. Again and again and again. It can make a lady crazy sometimes.

But you know who really needs a break? Moms without these things. Moms who don’t cook dinner because the pantry is bare. Moms who don’t make the beds because her family lives in a car. Moms in such remote villages there is no such thing as doctor visits. Moms without fresh water to clean their babies. These are the moms who really need Mother’s Day.

This May, I invite you to consider an alternative gift … and, bonus, it is also clutter free. Share with your family how blessed you already are, and ask them to support an organization that supports mothers on your behalf. There are so many good ones to choose from, but if you are looking for suggestions, here are some ideas:

National and International:
Sama Hope
Every Mother Counts
Save the Children
Unicef
Together Rising
Women’s Voices for the Earth

Jacksonville, Florida:
Community Connections
Hubbard House
Sulzbacher Center

You’re exhausted. I get it. Me too. But what a blessing to have this mountain of work ahead of us. From this angle, it is just about as good as it gets. (But hand-scribbled cards, peanut-butter-smeared kisses and a few minutes extra to sleep in … I’ll take these things on Mother’s Day, too.)

p.s. If you are at your wits’ end and now want to strangle me, I find this old post from Momastery/Huffington post always does the trick to pick me up :) If you are a mom, know a mom, have a mom, or have heard of moms, this article is a must-read.

An Abundance of Extras

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We will soon be moving to a new house, and with that comes a lot of planning. The new house has a fair amount of additional storage, and I was happily plotting where things would go … particularly in the closets. And that’s when I noticed a word excessively present in one area.

Extra.

In a hall closet, I was planning to put extra craft supplies, extra fabric, extra artwork & frames, extra lamps, extra blankets … and more. For someone who diligently avoids clutter, I had somehow nearly filled an entire closet with only extras. Yikes.

I was humbled. And embarrassed.

What am I saving these things for? Why the extras, particularly for such superfluous categories? To be fair, some of the things were genuinely saved for when we moved to a bigger house, which is now happening … Some of them … I don’t know.

I’ve got some sorting to do. If the extras are not pretty immediately employed in the new house, out they will go. And hopefully that closet will dwindle down to much less content.

We’ve all got stuff we can get rid of—even when we might think otherwise. What extras might you be holding on to?