Monthly Archives: May 2012

2012 in 2012 Update: May

 “…I think we head into the hard stuff now. The amount of things I can easily throw away is diminishing, as we’re at a point where lots of the easy-to-spot useless crap is gone. I haven’t been a hoarder for a long, long time, so I’m going to have to start making decisions – real decisions – about things soon.”

— Me. (2012 in 2012 Update – March)

Um, no. Turns out that’s not quite right.

Interestingly, the more I clean out, simplify and declutter, the easier it gets to say goodbye to things. Even things I had been holding on to for sentimental reasons. Silly reasons. Emotional reasons.

I started with my wardrobe.

Which led me to Isla’s bedroom. Which led me to the craft cabinet. Which led me to the huge shelving unit where I keep the packaging supplies, jewellery-making equipment and materials from my now-defunct jewellery label, Trove. Which led me to an enormous breakthrough.

I haven’t used this stuff in over two years. The very sight of it, the very thought of using it makes me feel physically sick. (I burnt out in a major, major way trying to run that business.) Yet, up until now, I couldn’t bear to throw it away. Because to do that would be a failure.

I would think of all the time, effort and money that went into the business, and I couldn’t throw it away.

I told myself it didn’t bother me. Having it in our spare room was OK, because it’s better to store it for god-knows-what-reasons than to wastefully chuck it in the bin.

But, do you know what? It really was bothering me. Because those things we hold on to, that are difficult to let go of, but that we really don’t want – those things are a weight on our shoulders.

So I bit the bullet. Recycled what I could, threw away the rest and said goodbye to the guilt. I just let it go. And walking back inside afterwards, I felt lighter. Freer. Stronger.

Here is what else we cleared out from our home over May:

Items Donated or Given Away:

  • my clothes x 33
  • bags x 4
  • drink bottles (unused) x 2
  • promotional backpack x 1
  • magazines x 8 (given to local coffee shop)
  • jewellery x 6
  • jewellery making supplies x 359

Items Thrown Away (Beyond Repair or Use):

  • my clothes x 11
  • broken toys/games missing pieces x 25
  • shoes x 4
  • accessories x 2
  • magazines/seed catalogues x 6
  • random, miscellaneous crap x 21
  • packaging from my old jewellery label, Trove x 251
  • jewellery-making supplies x 132

Total = 865

Add that to the 716 already gone and we’re at a total of 1581 pieces of clutter – gone. 67% folks!

I feel lighter with every box of crap I say goodbye to. Quite literally. I feel lighter and brighter and clearer. It’s an awesome feeling.

You can follow my 2012 in 2012 Declutter Challenge progress here, as I keep ridding our home and our lives of the crap that weighs us down.

Do you own things that you don’t even want? What would it take for you say goodbye to them for good?

The Myth of Work/Life Balance

we will be just fine
{via Words Over Pixels}

Work/life balance. We’re told it’s the holy grail of leading a happy life.

But if you’re a stay at home parent, how exactly are you supposed to differentiate “work” from “life”? On more than one (thousand) occasions, I have said to Sparky in utter frustration:

– “You’re lucky – at least you get to leave work!”

– “My days don’t end. My job is never done!”

– “I don’t get weekends or sick leave!”

While a lot of this is simply me being a bitch exhaustion and emotional fatigue (particularly if I haven’t had any alone time recently) a lot of it also has to do with the idea that everything needs to be perfectly balanced. That we need to perfectly manage the needs of everyone in our life, every day. And that anything less is a failure.

But I am here to tell you that work/life balance is bullshit. It’s a complete myth. And you should forget about achieving it, because you won’t.

Instead, we need to learn to tilt.* To willingly throw things out of balance. And, importantly, we need to learn to be OK with that.

Actually, we need to learn to embrace it.

(*Borrowing the term from Nicole from Planning with Kids.)

If you look at balance as something you need to achieve every day, you simply won’t be able to do it. Because each day brings different challenges, different tasks, different needs from your family.

Some days:

  • your kids will be happy to play independently – tilt towards catching up on tasks around the house.
  • your kids will be sick, or needy, or plain grumpy, meaning you can’t get anything done except the very basics. Tilt towards supporting the kids and being extra mindful of what’s going on for them.
  • your partner will be under added pressure at work. Tilt towards lessening the load on them at home.
  • you will need to recharge. Tilt towards being kind to yourself and letting go of the things that don’t help with that.

Do you see what I mean?

Instead of battling to find balance every day, try and create it over a month. Or a year.


How Do You Do That? Create Balance in Life?

Ask yourself, what are your priorities in life?

  • caring for your kids, physically and emotionally?
  • supporting your partner?
  • being there for your family when they need you?
  • maintaining social relationships with friends?
  • working or creating to nourish yourself?
  • looking after your own health and well being?
  • finding contentment in life?
  • creating a home that is calm, warm and open to all those you love?

Then, one-by-one, think about how you have given each of those priorities time, effort and attention over the past six months.

Do they stack up? Do you feel confident that, over this period of time, you are balancing them all as well as possible? Are there any areas that don’t get enough from you? Can you see times where you consistently tilt the wrong way?

Keep in mind, you are the only one who can decide what this balance looks and feels like for you.

But if you keep your priorities in mind, you will find that tilting and adjusting your time and efforts will help you find a much better balance, than if you try to balance it all each and every day.

Do you think there is such a thing as good work/life balance? How do you try to achieve it in your life?

Just One Thing

slow your life (aka sunset at byron bay)
{sunset at Byron Bay.}


You have a to-do list, don’t you? A seemingly endless list of things that need to get done around the house? On top of all the day-to-day jobs?

In our house, it’s about 3 pages long and growing. The top three things listed:

  • rearrange TV/play room
  • paint Toby’s new bedroom
  • move Toby into new bedroom

You know, nothing major. Pfft.

Every weekend we feel the weight of that list. The pressure to use our spare time to get stuff done. Work on those projects. Tie up loose ends. And while there is definitely a time and place for getting stuck into your work and being productive super human beings, there also needs to be time for rest and simple contentment.

So this weekend, I’m setting a challenge:


Choose one thing from your list, and do that. (Hint: Make it a small thing.)

It will be on top of your other obligations – housework, social events, kids’ sport, etc. But instead of having the weight of the entire list on your shoulders, you will have just one thing. And when you do it, you celebrate the win. Cross it off that list with gusto. Do an NFL-style touchdown-victory-dance-thing. Preferably involving mime.

And be content.

Next weekend may be different. You may need to work your arse off and get stuff done. But this weekend, work on just that one thing.

What will your one thing be? Is it small or large? Easy or challenging?

We’ll be rearranging the furniture in the TV/play room. It may not be the smallest job on the list, but the celebration at the end will be epic. Because it’s a job that’s been hanging over us and pissing us off for months. So this weekend, it’s goin’ down.

Have a wonderful, content, fun weekend, folks. Truly.


How to Clean Your Toilet Without Chemicals

minimalist bathroom via freshome
{via Freshome}

Cleaning the toilets is no-one’s idea of a good time. But it has to be done. Otherwise the neighbours will talk. Your friends will talk. Your toilet will breed life forms of its own that, if left long enough, will learn to talk.

You’ll need:

  • Borax (you can buy this at your supermarket, in the cleaning aisle. It comes in powdered form and, while natural, I wouldn’t let your kids or pets eat it.)
  • White vinegar in a spray bottle
  • Clean, damp Chux cloth
  • Clean, dry cloth (microfibre cloths are great for this – reusable, washable and they polish at the same time)
  • Rubber gloves (very optional – I never use them but if you’re squeamish about putting your hands in the toilet, then grab yourself a reusable pair)

1. Flush your toilet so that the sides of the bowl are wet.

2. Sprinkle the sides of the bowl liberally with the borax powder

3. Spray the inside of the bowl with vinegar, making sure to thoroughly wet the borax.

4. Spray the rest of the toilet with the vinegar. (It is antibacterial – acting as a very effective cleaner for the entire toilet suite.)

5. Leave for 15 minutes or while you clean the rest of the bathroom.

6. Using a damp, clean cloth, wipe over the toilet itself. Any marks should lift straight off once the vinegar has done its magic. Wipe clean the seat and the rim of the bowl.

7. Then, using the same cloth, give the inside of the bowl a quick scrub, being sure to reach under the rim. Finish by scrubbing the bottom of the bowl well. The borax settles there and acts as a scrubbing agent.

8. Use your clean, dry microfibre cloth (or old tea towel) to dry off the toilet.

This will leave the toilet sparkly, fresh smelling (the vinegar smell doesn’t linger) and just as clean as any supermarket-bought toilet cleaner. With the added benefits of being cheap, homemade and green!

Am I weird for not using gloves to clean the toilet? Do you use gloves? Or a hazmat suit?

10 Steps to an Organised Kitchen

Today I’m participating in the Ultimate Blog Swap. You’ll find me posting over at Clean, Smart, Simple Style about 3 Simple Steps to Create a Slow Home. And I’m excited to welcome Kacey Bess from The Well-Rounded Home to Slow Your Home:}

Hi y’all! (Yes, we Texans really do say y’all.) I’m so excited to be participating in the Life Your Way Ultimate Blog Swap and hanging out with all you cool people here at Slow Your Home. I just love Brooke’s slow living philosophy. I’m a recovering multitasking busyholic, and I can tell you that the lifestyle changes I’m now making to slow my home are feeling great.

As Brooke will probably attest to, one of the ways you can live life more simply is by getting–and staying–organized. Whether you’re already an organizing pro or organization is totally not your thing, that’s ok because I’m here with a few tips to help turn us all into organizing ninjas. To get you started, here are 10 Steps to an Organized Kitchen.

Aside from the bathroom, your kitchen is probably the most visited room in your house–especially if you have kids. So, since you spend so much time there, it’s only right that you give it a little organizing love.

1. Get a game plan. What are you using your kitchen for? Is it just for cooking, or is it also the homework/home office/eating spot too? Once you know how you’re using it, you can start thinking through the most efficient ways to place everything. As you’re thinking this through, just remember the next step.

2. It’s ok to start from scratch. No, I’m not talking about gutting your kitchen. However, sometimes it’s easier to organize a room when you take everything out first and forget about how you’ve always had it. I didn’t get satisfied with how my pantry was laid out until I finally took everything out and started over. It was a pain, but it’s so much easier to get to our food now.

3. Use what you have. Instead of putting off organizing your kitchen until you have the perfect set of whatever—containers, folders, labels, etc., go “shopping” at home. It’s probably loaded with things you could use. Here are just a few examples:

Unused office supplies can be used to corral your kitchen utensils

Mismatched food storage containers can be used to hold seasonings or baby bottle parts.

4. Go label crazy. Labels are an organizers best friend. They let you know right off, what’s stored where. Right now, I’m totally into vinyl chalkboard labels. You can cut them into any shape you wan; plus, they’re reusable and removable.

Here’s another great labeling idea courtesy of Martha Stewart for those of you that freeze a lot of leftovers are other foods (download the template). I’m just trying to figure out why I never thought of this.

5. Say no to the junk drawer. I may lose some of you on this one, but I say the junk drawer is completely unnecessary. There’s a saying that goes, “a place for everything and everything in its place.” If you take a few minutes to find a real home for all those random items, you just might be able to find them when you need them.

Junk Drawer
Source: Shelly Chadderton via Flickr

6. Purge. It’s so much easier to stay organized when you don’t have so much stuff. Our kitchen was full of unused kitchen gadgets that we’d received for our wedding and food items that no one wanted to eat. Instead of keeping things for the sake of keeping them, go through and figure out what you really use, then let go of the rest. You could put them on eBay, donate to a charitable organization or pass them on to friends and family.

7. Hang a bulletin board. Bulletin board area a great way to organize important information in a central location–especially if the kitchen ends up being the command center of your home. Use them to post your family’s calendar, the weekly dinner schedule, grocery lists, class homework, etc.

8. Break out the baskets – Not only are baskets functional, but they’ll help make your kitchen look more streamlined and pretty. You can often find good deals on baskets at local thrift or crafting stores. I have them all over our home.

9. Don’t forget the refrigerator/freezer. Before you go grocery shopping take a few minutes to go through your refrigerator and freezer to throw out any old food or expired items. Cleaning out all the unusable items will make it easier to take inventory of what you need to buy. Don’t forget tip #4–label those freezer bags.

10. Do a little bit at a time. A lot of us suffer from overloaded schedules as it is, so if you can’t imagine adding one more thing to your plate, I say doing a little organization is better than nothing. I’m a big fan of the 15-minute clock. The idea is that you set aside 15 minutes each day to work on organizing your kitchen. You’ll be surprised at just how much you can accomplish when you’re focused on working for a set amount of time.

I hope you find these tips useful and hope you flood Brooke with all kinds of kitchen before-and-afters. While I focused on the kitchen, these tips would work for just about everyone room in your home. Happy organizing!

Visit Life Your Way to see all of the Ultimate Blog Swap participants!