Simplify Saturday

If you've ever taken steps to simplify your life or home, then you know that it's not just a one time deal. It's an on-going that takes diligence and commitment to maintain. There are lots of little tricks that you can implement to make it easier for you. In our family, one of the things we try to do weekly is a purge of our "extra stuff". I've nicknamed it "Simplify Saturday". You could pick your own catchy name. Like "Thrifty Thursday" or "I Want Less Wednesday". :)

Every Saturday, we get out grocery bags and we walk around the RV and grab stuff that we are not actively using or something that we know someone else will use more than us. Most of it comes from our closets. It's amazing how few clothes a person actually wears on a daily basis from their wardrobe. You have to be brutally honest with yourself and only keep the clothes that fit these criteria:

  • I wear this on a weekly or monthly basis.
  • This makes me feel beautiful.
  • I have to wear this for work.

Yep. That's it. Get rid of the rest. If you don't LOVE it, it's gone. If it doesn't fit you very well, it's gone. You will feel a bird. If it helps you, you can say Bella's mantra out loud as you go: "I can give more stuff away if I just try harder".  In fact, just today she told me that she really doesn't like hanging clothes up and she wanted to give most of her clothes away so she just had a few things to put away. I was all for that. So she went through and gave away another bag full...on top of the bag she already did yesterday! I love this girl. She's hard core.

To make it even easier, I've now implemented a giveaway drawer. Everything we come across during the week that we want to giveaway goes in that drawer. Out of sight, out of mind. Even items that we think we MIGHT want to get rid of go in this drawer. On Saturday, we go through it one more time and the drawer gets emptied into a bag with the rest of the stuff. Many people have another version of this...and it's just a box by the back door. That way, you see it when you're walking out and you remember to take it to Goodwill or your thrift store of choice.

Keeping clutter at a minimum is the key to a less chaotic home. Clutter saps your energy! It makes you feel overwhelmed. When your home is uncluttered, so is your mind. Live clutter free and be happy.

Happy simplifying!

Kindle Adoration

kindle outside When we were on the road last time, I am pretty sure the right side of the RV was grossly over the weight limit. That's where all of my books were stored. This time around, I came up with a solution! Let me introduce you to my new favorite space saving, lightweight, environmentally friendly KINDLE!

I first heard about the Kindle on Jess's blog...she was raving about it and I thought it was a fun idea, but I didn't think about it any further. Then I saw another person raving about theirs online. Then I did an informal Facebook poll and was overwhelmed at the number of people who had a Kindle and LOVED it. I was hooked.

kindle inside

I researched A LOT and found that although there are several electronic book reading options out there, the Kindle was the most popular. I did think about waiting for the Nook, but I'm impatient (it's not released yet). When Apple releases one in the future...I'll be all over that one. :) Anyhoo...I talked with Matt and we both agreed that the Kindle would be a smart option for someone who is on the road full time.

I ordered it. It arrived. I fell in love.

Here is why:

It looks cool...and I like to look cool. :) How can you not love that green cover? Oh my word. Love it. No seriously, the Kindle just really has a nice feel to it. It holds well in your hand, with or without a case. I prefer the case because with kids, I worry about it getting stomped upon. It's also a little easier to hold while I'm nursing at night, because the flap blocks my book light from Lucy's eyes (yes, book light...there is no back light to prevent eye strain).

Accessibility. I can read anywhere...anytime...and have MANY different books with me at one time. Up to 1500, in fact! :) I can also read major newspapers from around the world, magazines, and blogs. I mostly stick with the books, but I do enjoy reading single issues of the newspaper once in a while. I love that when we are away from the RV, I don't have to load my bag with 2-3 books that I am reading at the time. I just grab my Kindle and go. AND, I know that if I need to, I could download a new book from Amazon in less than 1 minute (literally). Everything is delivered wirelessly on a cell signal (already set up and included when it arrives).

Good for mama. I think Kindles are great for the mama crowd. There are no paper books to get strawberries smashed into, pages ripped out of, or thrown in the pool. Only an expensive electronic device to ruin. ha. That's why I bought the extended warranty, which allows for one (and one only) replacement Kindle if you break it.

I've fallen in love with reading again. I've always been a reader. I love transporting myself to another time and place through a book. But, since having kids, I can't remember the last time I FINISHED a book. Completely. To the last page. Since receiving my Kindle, I've finished three books (Tales of a Female Nomad , The Help and Unschooling: A Lifestyle of Learning...all of which I LOVED! The Help was amazing). While on the road, we can't check books out from the library (usually) it's so fun to be able to read all of these new books.

I'm reading books I wouldn't normally read. Now I'm starting to sound like a commercial for Amazon :) They don't pay me I promise! I love the option to "sample" books on the Kindle. You can search through the Amazon website and if something looks interesting, with just one click, it will magically appear on your Kindle via wireless delivery. You can read a chapter or two of the book, and then decide if you want to buy the rest. So great. This feature is also a tool to help keep a list of books you want to read in the future.

Many of you are purists when it comes to your never ending obsession with books and reading. You wouldn't even think about replacing that hardback in your hands with an electronic device. I'm not going to argue with you :) I too love the feel of a real book in my hands. I love the smell and the familiar feel of it after you've been reading it for awhile. And let's not forget the power of books as an "object" in your home. They serve as decoration and conversation starters. I love looking at other people's books on their can learn a lot about a person that way! :) Some of my favorite books could never be replaced by a Kindle version (i.e. The Material World, Hungry Planet, etc).

However, the Kindle serves a very specific purpose for me...and that is to allow me to have an abundance of books with me on the road without taking up space. And as an added bonus, it happens to be environmentally friendly because I'm not out buying paper books.

There are only a few downsides to the Kindle in my opinion. They are pretty expensive. And I've found that it's really easy to rack up the dollars when it's so simple to buy books (for ONLY $9.99!) :) But that's it. I haven't found much that I don't like.

And now you're wondering, what is on Sara's Kindle? Well, let me tell you what I'm reading and sampling right now :)

Tell me your favorite books...I love a good page-turner, one that I just can't put down! What should I read next?

The Compact Revisited

When I committed to The Compact in October of 2006, I had no idea how radically it would change my life. I set out on a mission to simply stop buying new stuff...but instead the experiment changed my entire view of our consumerism-obsessed culture, marketing, wants vs. needs, giving vs. selling, the poor...the list goes on and on. While I did not complete the entire year of Compacting by my "rules"... I will be forever changed by this experience. I have blogged in the past about my journey, but here are some effects of The Compact that are still with me today:

  • I LOVE buying used. It's almost physically painful for me to buy things new/full retail cost. I could spend hours and hours at Goodwill...especially if I have a list of things I've been looking for. The thrill of the hunt is so fun. Whenever we need something, whether it be RV related, clothing, kitchen gadgets...we always turn to eBay, Craigslist, or Goodwill first before ever looking for it new. I would have to say that this ONE THING has been the biggest change for us.
  • I've become appalled at the price of things...and have started to realize the crazy profit companies make on our purchases because we are just too lazy to search out the alternative. My current pair of jeans (yes I only have one pair) were 99 cents at Goodwill. Matt found them for me in the men's section and said "here honey...these will be cute on you". I LOVE them! And now, when I go in and I'm browsing the jeans, a tag for $3.99 seems ludicrous! Ha ha! How dare they think they can charge $3.99! :) This also happens when I've been to too many garage sales...I get used to the LOW prices and it's hard to go back to eBay or consignment stores after that!
  • I started to give a lot more stuff away. I think that when you come to the realization that it's the STUFF that is bogging you down emotionally, mentally, and just want to get rid of it! So I got very good at filling boxes and going to Goodwill. Is there anything that feels better than handing over boxes of stuff that has been cluttering your home to the Goodwill attendant in the back of the store? I love it...a natural high!
  • Handmade gifts are where it's at...if it's a handmade/recycled/found object art gift, even better! I think it was during my Compacting days that I discovered Etsy. Oh my goodness. How can you not love Etsy?!
  • I am so much more sensitive to the marketing teams whose main goal is to make me feel like my current state of being is not good enough. They want me to want something. They scheme all day long on the by putting "want creators" on TV, internet, billboards, junk's rampant.
  • Because I am more sensitive to these things...I can hardly stand to set foot in a mall. The bright lights, the busyness, the insane amounts of money being exchanged. It's overload.
  • I can now walk into a Target or any other store and actually only buy what I went in for. Prior to The Compact, I almost felt like a zombie as I walked out of Target...wondering what just happened in there! Last night, we went as a family to buy a few items that we've had on our list for weeks. And it felt so good to come out with just a few things on the receipt.
  • Now that Bella is at the age where she can understand purchasing, money, wants, has become more time consuming to go into stores because I need to discuss everything with her as we go. She amazes me with her self-control though. When we walk by the $1 section in Target, she likes to stop and look, but is not thrown into a frenzy if we decide not to get something there. We talk through it and it becomes a teaching moment about consumerism, money, and priorities. We talk about whether or not we need it...does she already have something similar in the RV? And if we were to get that item, would she be willing to give something else in her toy box away to make room for it? Young minds are hungry for teaching...I try as hard as I can to teach her things that aren't in a normal school syllabus! :) Of course, it's pretty rare that we even go to Target, so I think this is the key to success. Keep children focused on the abundance they DO have...not what they don't have. Gratitude breeds contentment.
  • And oh what JOY will come if we can learn contentment! Pray for it...Christ wants to give it to you!

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13 (New Living Translation)

I would LOVE to hear from all of you who have committed to The Compact at any time (and for any length of time). Let us know how you felt about it and how it has stuck with you even after you were officially "done".

Photo credit: Flickr/Creative Commons: ATIS547