Decluttering Our Entertainment Stand

We took our next step toward minimalism this week. We decided it was time to clean out and off our entertainment center. It has 2 shelves and 2 cabinets with a shelf inside each one. The large top was covered! Not only was our television there but so were many things that didn’t really belong. We had a video game console and set of small speakers on top that simply needed to go onto one of the shelves. We had set them there because we didn’t want to run the cords then. They have been there for a year because once they were there we stopped thinking about it. There were also DVD and game cases that weren’t put away because the cabinets were so full of stuff that they were hard to put away. Papers that had been left there over time. We really had become clutter blind.

I started by cleaning off the top of the stand. Going through every item to decide if we still needed/wanted it. If the answer was yes, then I had to decide if it belongs in this area or elsewhere. I assigned four categories: Keep in this area, Keep in another area, Donate/Sell, and Trash. Next, I cleared off the shelves and set up our most used/loved electronics. The top shelf now holds a PlayStation, a camera docking station, and a set of 2 small speakers that I connect to my phone while cleaning. The bottom shelf now holds our cable/DVR box and a Wii.

The cabinets were stuffed full of DVDs, video games, cords, controllers, CDs, and random junk. I was a little surprised by how much stuff I pulled out! Here’s a picture taken during the process.

I really wish I would have taken a before shot but I forgot. The top shelf of the left cabinet is home to a DVD storage binder that holds kids/family movies and another full of CDs that my husband is not ready to part with. I am currently debating on buying another of these to hold the remainder of the DVDs, games, and CDs that we want to keep. On one hand they take up less space than the individual cases but I think that they allow us to feel it is acceptable to keep more because it takes up less space. I also decided to keep our daughter’s memory books on this shelf. I have been trying to find a place to keep these that they will be safe but that we have easy access to them. I will do a separate post about these books sometime soon. They are amazing! The bottom shelf of the left cabinet houses my daughter’s headphones and the cords that we needed to keep that are not in daily use. The top shelf of the right cabinet now contains DVD’s and a couple of video games. The bottom shelf is home to video games and controllers.

This area is so much easier for us to use now. We got rid of 2 boxes of stuff not including trash. A ton of this was DVDs and TV series that we no longer watch. It looks so much nicer! It gives me the boost to start working on decluttering and minimizing other areas of our home.

Here’s the finished product:

Distraction Kills Dreams

My social media fast experience went amazingly well.  It made me realize a few things about my life. It has been months and I believe that the impact of this challenge on me may be bigger than I ever thought.  I honestly didn’t know if I could do it.  It started off hard for the first few days but became easier with each day that passed.  I didn’t realize that social media had become a mindless addiction until I was forcing myself to live without it.  I also didn’t realize how much of my day that I was losing to it without even making a conscious choice.  I had no idea how much time I waste on silly things that do not really matter and are not bringing me any closer to my goals.  I decided to go through every aspect of my life and take some time to decide if I wanted to continue to choose to include that in my life.  It was a long tedious job.  It took me some time to return to this site which was not my original plan but it had to be carefully considered as well.  I have decided to continue with this site because it is part of the life I see for myself and I truly enjoy it.  I love having a creative outlet.  While I did use Instagram and twitter, my Facebook feed was my number one offender.  I have returned to using social media.  I now set limits for myself and make a conscious choice about what time I spend on it.  I no longer allow myself to stare hypnotized at my screen for hours scrolling through my feed.

Until I took away the distractions I did not notice how unhappy I was becoming.  I didn’t know how bored and boring I had become.  I was honestly very shocked by this.  I had always been the person who was doing something.  I had many hobbies just a few years ago.  Had the mindless noise of social media and television really drowned out all of my hobbies?  What I had done was pick up a few unhealthy ways to appease myself including being envious of other people on Facebook and Instagram, playing video and computer games, and watching more television than I have my entire life.  I had become addicted to technology.  I never expected it but it happened.  By facing my addiction to social media I opened the flood gates.  I had been mindlessly hopping from distraction to distraction.  I had successfully removed anything and everything that provoked deep thought from my personal life.  But why?  That was when I started to become aware of my unhappiness.  I have all these dreams and I was not doing anything to get closer to achieving them.  In fact, I had found ways to avoid even thinking about them in any realistic way.  The distractions I had become addicted to were killing my dreams.  The distractions make it so much easier to ignore them.

Ok, I’m going to get super honest here.  I am afraid that if I try my hardest, really give it my all, that it will not be enough.  I am simultaneously afraid that it will be enough and my entire life will change.  You always hear of these people who achieved their dreams and their whole life changed.  They always seem happier but still…Change is scary too.  What if I get what I think I want and it is not what I thought it would be?  What if I fail miserably and then I lose the beauty of the dream?  Is this what stops most people from attempting to live their dreams?

If I want to change something in my life I have to take the action to do so.  I figured out that if I put my mind to it I could take steps to get closer to that crazy dream life I desire.  My dreams are a little different but they are mine.  I am willing to put in the time and effort to achieve my dreams.  I am also willing to finally face my fears.

5 Things To Purge From Your Kitchen

It is amazing to see the amount of stuff that accumulates in the kitchen.  The kitchen really is the center of many homes.  The kitchen was a huge undertaking during my personal journey toward simplifying my home.  If you are on a similar journey or just want to take a few small steps towards less clutter, these 5 things are a good place to start.

  1. Tame the Tupperware Beast – We have all heard it a million times but it’s time to finally do something about it.  The loads of mismatched lids and containers need your attention.  This surprisingly did not take as long as I thought it would.  Start by removing your favorite ones.  The ones you use weekly that are in good shape with fitting lids can go immediately to the keep pile.  Next start matching up lids and containers.  Throw away anything without a match.  Now trash anything that is discolored, cracked, or has an ill-fitting lid.  The last step is the hardest, decide how many you actually need out of the containers left.  This number varies based on the family.  Consider how often you eat leftovers, what sizes work best for your family, and what logically fits in the space provided.  Do you only use them once or twice a year?  Could you use a freezer bag for those times instead?  If you had to buy new ones tomorrow, would you purchase these items again?  Wash the ones that you have decided to keep and organize into a larger container that fits in your cabinet.  This keeps them from going everywhere inside your cabinets.
  2. Some of These Things are not like the Others – It is amazing how much stuff ends up in crazy places.  This happens even more often when you have children.  This can be time-consuming to handle but the extra work space in your kitchen is worth it.  The weirdest thing we found was a decorative ink pen from Disney World inside a punch bowl.  We relocated the ink pen to the desk and got rid of the punch bowl.  We obviously hadn’t been using it, lol.
  3. Food, Food, and more Food – Take a day to pull everything from your pantry, cabinets, or anywhere else you keep non-refrigerated food.  Check expiration dates and throw out everything expired to start.  Go through everything else with honesty.  Have anything in there that you will not eat?  We got rid of a bag of candy our girls were never going to eat.  They still had tons of Halloween candy hanging around in the pantry.  To make getting rid of those things easier either give them to somebody who you know will eat them or donate them.  Next go through your refrigerator and freezer doing the same thing.  Now make a meal plan including all of your food.  Depending on the amount of stuff that was harboring in your kitchen you may save a ton of money on groceries in the next couple weeks.
  4. Weird appliances – We all have them.  I received the majority of mine as gifts but my husband is also responsible for bringing some of the odd items in.  I made sure that my whole family was gathered around the table as we went through things.  I set the small appliances on the table one by one asking if anybody truly used this product.  The answers were shocking to all of us.  There were some things that we all thought somebody else wanted and they didn’t use it at all.
  5. Bags – Do you have a huge pile of bags in your kitchen…maybe under your kitchen sink?  Only keep the amount of grocery bags that you will actually use and recycle the rest.  Do you use reusable grocery bags?  Shouldn’t they be in your car instead of your kitchen?

When you are done, take the time to organize what is left.  There are many options available to keep the things that you use orderly.

A Year Without Cable!

It’s officially been a year without cable! Wow, time really flies by! In all honesty we don’t miss it at all. We missed it for about a month and then it was like we never had it to begin with. It’s funny that we thought we would miss it but in reality I’m much happier without it. We spend more time together, reading, and outdoors. It’s amazing how distracted our lives truly were and it’s sad that we never realized it until the distraction was gone. This was also quite a financial gain as well. We used to spend around $80 a month on cable. In the last year we have saved $960! I also know my kids better, have learned a couple of new skills, and surprisingly it lowered the overall family stress level. Now I’m not saying that during finals I was not stressed but overall our home life is calmer.