Woo hoo! A Kitchen Accomplishment! (Sorta, kinda)

I actually have found that I’ve missed writing these last few days (I was whipping out things left and right there for awhile). I went out of town with family last week and have been a little off schedule-wise since. But, I’m ready to get back into minimalizing and hit it hard in the coming days!

So what’s on my agenda, you may ask? THE KITCHEN.

I’ll admit that I’ve done pieces of the kitchen prior to the start of blogging. It was the first place I really tackled since it was one of the places that bothered me most.

Why did it bother me? I realized some time ago that I spent an extraordinary amount of time maintaining the kitchen – meaning, I wasn’t cooking or doing something productive – I was cleaning. Cleaning the pots and pans, cleaning the dishes, waiting for the dishwasher to finish so I could empty it and fill it again… it was a never ending cycle. One that I hated immensely – and I’m positive it hated me, too.

It was actually the one place in the house that finally drove me to take this journey. I didn’t want to spend time behind the sink while my kids played, or begged for me to play with them.

The problem is that I have accumulated a LOT of kitchen items, which makes it easy to just use another pot or pan, or grab another plate, versus quickly washing the dish you’d just used. This led to an accumulation of dirty dishes which needed to be cleaned, and clutter in the cabinets so, when I actually did do the dishes, I hated putting them away or finding a spot for them.

(I have to admit that I don’t think my cabinets were that bad. I’ve seen worse but to me, they were cluttered and suffocating.)

The kitchen is a big place, though, and more than I can get done in one day while my littles are running wild. So I decided to do the dishes/pots&pans part today which will make the most improvement.

When I first did the kitchen, I kind of sifted through and picked things to stay and go. I have two impressive boxes full of stuff that has been ousted already, mostly cups and plates/bowls. This happened a few weeks ago and i’m happy to say that none of it has found its way back into my kitchen 🙂 Annnnd none of it will, really. I’m still wavering on whether I want to store some extra plates for company or not… *shrugs* a thought for another day.

I wasn’t happy with the results long-term, though. Firstly, because I didn’t get rid of enough. Secondly… well, actually, it’s all about the firstly. I didn’t cull enough (I barely touched the pots and pans and baking dishes) and I am still faced with my cabinets feeling blah. They’re not cluttered, they’re just not cohesive and, again, it’s not all used/useful so it bugs me.

My approach this time versus my first go is a little different. Instead of sifting through, I’m pulling it ALL out, focusing on the pots/pans/baking dishes. It’ll all get set on the kitchen table so it’s accessible if needed but not put away somewhere.

The plan is this: if it’s still sitting there after a week, it gets packed up and put in the garage for hold over and eventually garage sale. I’ll make a few exceptions I think but for the most part, since I cook so often, if I don’t use something in a week, it’s probably not going to get used.

Also, everything I use has to be washed after each use to avoid unnecessary doubling/tripling. (Fun observation – I bet there are a lot of things that are doubled in your kitchen! For example, I have FOUR cutting boards. When will I ever need four freaking cutting boards? It just encourages me to grab a clean one instead of washing the one I just finished with.)

Super excited about this since my cabinets are lovely and empty 🙂

Here’s a picture of my table:

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And what all of my lower, and some of the upper, cabinets look like now:

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Obviously they won’t stay empty. They’ll be filled with items that get pulled from the table as they’re used. I’ll post an update next week on what got saved and what the cabinets end up looking like. Stay tuned for that 🙂 Annnd, up next, I’ll be doing the drawers, followed by food stuffs.

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Living Room – Part I

The living room was slotted to be my first major ‘getting minimal’ room. It’s the heart of the house and where, as a family, we spend the majority of our time. It should come as no surprise that this room was also packed pretty tightly with couches, and toys, and organizing bins (I have a problem with these, remember?) and just random junk. Dirty laundry from kitchen towels and kids clothing piled up in a corner while the diapers in my cloth diapering ottoman spilled out everywhere, often making it hard to tell which were clean and which were dirty – gross, right?!

So, being such a big project, I didn’t expect to get it all done in one day, hence the Part I on this posting. My goal for the first haul was to declutter in a “big” way. This meant getting rid of some couches. I don’t have a before picture of the couches (bad beginner blogger!) but this is similar to what our couch configuration looked like, except on one end there was a chaise lounger and the ottoman seemed much bigger in our living space.

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This couch was ideal when we bought it a few years back for a few reasons. The space on it was nice and seemed necessary when we had two teenagers living with us, and a new baby.

Now, though? We live in a totally different house, and the appeal of the large couch and large ottoman is gone. Honestly, I HATED our living room and this transition into reducing the couches has been happening for the last few months. First, the ottoman went once our small baby started rolling. Then, the small couch, so all we have left is one long couch.

I thought the one couch would drive me nuts but it’s been really nice and the room is so much more open. We’ve been striving to sit on the floor more so this was a perfect solution to aid in that as well. I did keep my two floor pillows, which you’ll see in the after picture.

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That piano got put in a hold over pile and the swing is getting garage saled. The swing was nice for the handful of times that my little one used it but it’s one of those baby items that I deemed unnecessary. More of that in a series of posts I’m working on for baby showers and gifting. Also, the TV cabinet is on my Part II project list.

The other “big” thing in this room was the toy population. I couldn’t fix that the way I wanted to today so instead I found a small bucket and put my infants toys in there for the day. Anything else got moved to the playroom for now to be taken care of in another project. The one bucket has made clean-up quick and easy. PLUS my little one loves to take things out of the bucket so it keeps her occupied for far longer than you’d think. Win-win.

Also, I realized that I can’t do much about the laundry at this point, except vow to keep up with it. We don’t use paper towels often so most of the basket in the living room is kitchen towels. The other part to the basket is my kids clothes. Both of these things will be addressed in the coming weeks and the laundry sitch will address itself (hopefully).

Anywho, keeping in mind there’s still some stuff to do, here is the AFTER picture for Living Room Part I.

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(And there’s another “after” picture at the top of this post)

I won’t say these were easy fixes. It took A LOT for me to get rid of the couches. They’re still here, technically, since they’re to be garage saled, but the idea that I’m actually going to break up the set of couches and get rid of them?! Hard to swallow. Especially when my family came over and all they could talk about was why I’d removed the couch. To them, it seemed stupid and unnecessary. To me, while difficult, it feels so freeing.

So, moral of the story…? Don’t be attached to your furniture. It’s just a thing and yes, you probably spent money on that thing, and so it’s hard to get rid of it, but even if you just move it temporarily to test the waters, I assure you that you’ll love it.

The First Step

After the obvious (deciding to just DO THIS!), I had a hard time figuring out what my first step should be. I mean, I have an entire house to tackle and it all seems so… overwhelming? I took a much needed baby step yesterday but I need more direction on where my goal is taking me.

So, my first step in all of this, is two fold.

The first part is to break down what needs to be minimalized (apparently that’s not a word? But minimality is a word, and I had to look it up, both for the meaning and proper pronunciation) and in what order I want to do it in. I want the first few items to be fulfilling and obvious, since I figure at some point I’ll need the encouragement to keep going.

The second part is to create a rough time line on when I want to have all this stuff done. Now, my time line might not be your time line since currently i’m a stay-at-home mom. Whether that means I’ll go faster than you, or you’ll go faster than me, I dunno. It just means it probably won’t be the same.

So, in case you were wondering, here’s my list, in order:

  • Living Room
  • Kitchen
  • Craft/Overflow room
  • Pantry
  • Kids Crap (playroom, toy buckets)
  • My closet
  • My bedroom/bathroom
  • Kids rooms
  • Laundry room

I’m sure this will get added to, and there’s several places around the house that aren’t explicitly included in this list that will get taken care of along the way.

Now, for a timeline. As outlined in my other post, The Plan, the goal is to have a garage sale when i’m done with the clearing out phase. This way I can make a little money and make sure my items aren’t wasted and that they’re going to a new home (which, for some of my things, is important to me).

Ahem, so, the timeline… pulling this out of the air, let’s say October 4th. A month to clear out the house, a month to hold over, and then a solid Saturday to sell it all and donate the remainder.

Ship it. Up first, the Living Room. My view from the couch (this was before I cleared the Junk Bowls away).

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My Dirty Little Secret (aka Junk Bowls)

Hello, my name is Brittany Hollister and I have a problem. Well, not really a problem, per say, but it totally depends on who you ask. My husband would concur that this is indeed a problem. My minimalistic side would agree it’s a problem. What is this faux semi kinda problem? Junk bowls.

Yes, junk bowls are the bane of my existence. They started as a way of “organizing” all the little crap in my house. Oh, I could write a whole post on the trap of organizationing.. Maybe I will one day. Back to junk bowls: on one hand, I love them. On the other, they’re tiny little black holes that eat all of the small items in my house, making anything that goes into them unusable and inaccessible forever, or close to it.

Today I’ve been feeling cramped by my house. I look around and see a bunch of cluttery type things that need to be taken care of but it’s all overwhelming when I have two tiny people that are clinging to me and needing mommy. So I tried to find the ONE thing that would make a difference in my living space and it was glaringly obvious that my junk bowls had to go…

In case you’re doubting whether this is a real thing, the above picture is of two junk bowls that reside only a short foot from each other on the counter.

These are troublesome to my husband and I since we currently use this counter as standing work stations when we do laptop shiz at night, and it’s in your direct field of vision when in the living room. Plus, just by being there, that area becomes a dumping ground for all things small and uncategorized. But, there’s more… In my living room/kitchen I have 5 junk bowls (that are filled or mostly so). FIVE! So today my goal is to tackle the junk bowls. And not just move the junk around and add another bowl so it seems managed – my MO thus far. I want no junk.

I realized, though, that there was a theme to the junk bowls as I was sorting so instead of just doing away with them, I brought the number down to two, and gave them purpose.

Instead of 5 junk bowls, I have 2 purpose bowls. One is electronic stuff (headphones, charging cables, stuff like that). See?

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(The bowl in this location was overflowing and was often spread everywhere by my tiny child).

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Not even half full. Lovely!

The other bowl is a daily use type bowl. It has a blacklight (we have scorpions and with kids, we scan the house regularly with this light), finger nail clippers, keys, etc. I kept this bowl because these things don’t really have a home, and are used often. But if it becomes a junk bowl then I’ll have to reevaluate. See how nice and clear the counter is? Aaaand this bowl only has like 5 things in it.

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I feel pretty fantastic that I got rid of 3 things full of junk, and the remaining two receptacles have purpose. A baby step, but a positive one 🙂

So what was up with all the junk? Well, half of it I threw away since it was truly junk. The rest made it’s way back to its home, or found a new one in the two bowls. It amazes me what was in there… packing tape, essential oils, a hairbrush… Anyway, I feel proud of my little accomplishment and urge you to take a baby step like this as you start (or continue) your journey to minimalism.

Have a great day!

How I’ll Execute


Today is the perfect writing day. It’s overcast, and gloomy, which, where I live, is super duper rare. So I figured i’d share with you, internet land, my general plan on Getting Minimal.

Getting Minimal is a great idea, and I’m stoked for it. It’s hard to actually think of how this will all play out, though. I mean, I have a decent amount of stuff and i’m fairly attached emotionally to some of it. So going into this, I need to have a plan. A solid plan. A plan I can’t deviate from. A SUPER PLAN! Muahahaha.

This is what I came up with (and if i’m being honest, i’ll probably go awry somewhere, but i’m assuring myself right here and now that it’s okay).

 

Part I – Clearing Out

In this step i’ll be going through the house and clearing it systematically of things. Stuff will go into one of three piles: Storage, Hold Over, and Keep. Also, no new stuff in the house with the exception of food.

Storage will be reserved for things that are invaluable, or I deem worth saving. If it is not some priceless family heirloom that has a curse upon it for whomever throws it away, i’ll be putting a date of one year away on it. If it’s still in storage at one year, that stuff needs to be reevaluated.

Hold Over is stuff that i’m not completely sure I want to get rid of. The litmus test will be if it is used within 30 days of being put into Hold Over (which will basically be a box in my garage). If it’s still there after 30 days, it gets garage saled or donated. The end.

And Keep, well, that’s obvious. But for each area my criteria will be slightly different, so I’ll hash that out individually when the time comes. However, the general will be that it has to be useful and used, often.

This phase will last for two months, one month to go through everything, and another for Hold Over. For me, this puts me at October 4th for a hard Garage Sale date.

 

Part II – Keep It Up & Keep It Going

This step is after the garage sale/ mass donation, when the dust has settled slightly and living minimal has started to feel more natural. In this step, there’s still no new stuff allowed in the house except for the approved list, which I’ll allow to be revised in the beginning.

Things still need to be reduced even further so during this phase, the plan is to go through the house AGAIN, this time with a fine toothed comb to weed out what was either too difficult to do the first time, or maybe something that got missed.

I’m putting this phase for two months. so beginning of December – just in time for the holidays! Ugh. I’ll figure that part out later.

 

Part III – Maintain

Okay, so this will be the true test of minimalism: maintenance. This step is theoretically going to last forever. Here’s my one rule: if something new comes into the house, something old needs to go. This goes for all things from toys to kitchenware.

 

So that’s the rough plan. Whatcha think? Too general, too vague? That’s my concern, but I guess we’ll see what happens once things get moving (which, spoilers, they are!).

 

The “Getting Minimal” Backstory

Have you ever felt claustrophobic in your own home? … took a look around and felt frustrated with the crap on the counter, or the toys cluttering up the floor, or the piles of dishes that seem never ending?

Do you feel bogged down and overwhelmed with trying to keep your space organized?

I feel you… and I’ve felt this exact way for way too long. My plan is to do something about it and this blog is to document my journey.

You see, in my early twenties, I found myself firmly ensconced in the typical American lifestyle, where keeping up with the Jones’s was a daily occurrence. My now husband and I moved every year into new rental homes that were bigger and more expensive than the last. We felt our worth reflected in those homes, I admit. Whether or not we could always afford that bigger house, or the lifestyle that followed them, was irrelevant. We continued like this for years – filling the bigger house with more things and, consequentially, spending more money than we truthfully had on material possessions that didn’t really make us happy.

It wasn’t until after i’d had my second child that I came to realize that my affinity for things was not only hurting our pocketbook, and my relationship with my husband (who wanted to jump on the minimalism bandwagon far before I was ready), but it was also hindering my happiness. I constantly focused on the mess in the house, or how I was going to decorate a certain area, or how I was going to organize that closet…

Then we moved and the entire process sucked. Majorly. I had a two year old and two month old to keep up with, my husband was working full time, and it fell to me to pack up the majority of our house. And rightly so, since most of the crap we had to pack was mine.

I got rid of a lot of stuff, and loved that I’d downsized. But it still wasn’t enough because I immediately felt weighed down by our possessions after we’d moved. However, having just gotten rid of a lot, I didn’t want to purge again, so I tried to make it work.

That’s where this blog enters in. I’m at the point where I’m ready to admit that I have too much stuff. It’s not because I don’t have space for it (our house could theoretically hold it all comfortably), it’s because these things are controlling my life and stealing my happiness.

If this sounds like you, in any way, shape, or form, then stay tuned for the evolution of, well, me, as I turn away from the average lifestyle of stuff=happiness and turn toward the reduction of the consumerism that has run rampant in my life.

Peace out.