Category Archives: Minimalist Projects

Thoughts on minimalism and how I try to apply it to my life, includes projects and related articles.

3 Things I Learned My First Year Blogging

To celebrate this blog’s 1st birthday, I’ve put together a list of the three things I learned my first year blogging.

1. I love working in my garden. YES, I stress out about what to plant, when to plant, and what bugs might eat the plants…BUT, I also love sketching new plans in my marble notebook, seeing buds peep out from the soil, harvesting lettuce for a salad, and sharing my “crops” with my sister. Starting my garden last Spring took a lot of time, but the whole process was so rewarding. I learned I really love to garden.

These first daffodils of 2015 peek out, despite the snow flurries today.  Spring must be near!
These first daffodils of 2015 peek out, despite the snow flurries today. Spring must be near!

2. I love trying to be a minimalist.  My house is filled with 16 years of stuff that I’ve bought, saved, or inherited. This past year, I started small with my closet. From there, I shredded old bills, letters, and kids’ school paperwork from several years. I’ve thrown away most of the “one-day-I’ll-fix-this” junk in my garage. My basement and garage are still filled, but it’s easier deciding what to toss. More importantly, I avoid bringing new junk into the house. I hope to show you the progress I make with my basement this summer.

3. I love taking time for myself again. When the kids were younger, I read their books, watched their shows, and planned their activities. Now that they are more independent, I love spending time on me. Cliché, I know.  But it’s really fun. I read (and finish) books. I watch scary or adult shows. We’re busier than ever, but now I feel good about making time for myself…and I feel healthy.

So…would I have done all of this anyway, without a blog? Possibly. But writing about my projects motivates me to actually follow through with them.

With each post, I get braver. This blog is scary to maintain. I easily talk myself out of new posts. There’s always that voice that whispers, “who cares???” I am constantly worried that something will crash and that the blog will just vanish into thin air.

But still, here we are, one year later.

As the blog grows, I will share better photos — thanks to the things I will learn from a photography class I’m taking.

Bojangles (March 2015) - the photography teacher says to get down to the level of my subject.
Bojangles (March 2015) – the photography teacher says to get down to the level of my subject.

I will also try to improve my writing using the tools that I’ve learned from this mini-course called, “Define Your Blog Voice,” by Daniela Uslan.  It’s quite a leap for me to join a facebook group and get feedback from strangers.

A special shout out goes to my sister, mom, husband, and kids who indulge me by reading and commenting on all my posts. I am also thankful for my readers who occasionally drop in to say hello.

Happy Birthday to www.cozintransit.com! Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts with me!

2015 Projects

Happy New Year! I am eager to share my first projects of 2015!

In my continued quest to get rid of stuff around the house, I found Peter Walsh‘s project 31Days2GetOrganized. I know I didn’t finish 30DaysofThanks. But these are 10-minute exercises that seem doable. Day 2 required removing items that don’t belong in the Master Bedroom. I dragged out a box of books, magazines from my side table, and a large bin of summer clothes. The exercise took less than half an hour.

I am also working on missions from the FlyLady. This week we are in the kitchen. Today’s mission was to throw out any plastic containers that were stained, broken, or didn’t have a match. I find it easier to do one simple task rather than to tackle a whole room at once.

On the fitness front, I’ve decided to cancel my gym membership and start a realistic workout plan at home. I am committing to 30 minutes a day on the treadmill.

To motivate myself, I am researching these two races:

The Color Run – 5K on May 23rd in Queens. A race where people splash you with color? I am going to see if I can put together a team to run with me. No pressure, just lots of fun. Right up my alley.

Diva Race – 5K on October 4 in Eisenhower Park. This race requires some running, but with a feather boa! How fun is that? Plus it’s later in the year and I’ll be really fit by then!

I am thinking of signing up for a photography class at the local community college. I’ve been taking some photos for the church website and I want to see how I can improve the pictures or better work my camera.

Here are some writers who help me stay motivated:

* My sister recommended Mastin Kipp and his posts about love and loving yourself. I follow him on Twitter and it’s like a daily dose of love and positivity.

* I’ve been a fan of Rachel Anne Ridge’s “Home Sanctuary” for a while. Her last post talked about 2015 being the “year to stop being afraid.” I always back off when I think that something bad might happen. As a result, there’s no progress. I want this to change in 2015.

* I’ve mentioned Courtney Carver before in my Project 333 post.  She inspires, encourages, and motivates me with her posts on minimalism.

Last year, I sadly said goodbye to an uncle, two good neighbors, and some really kind people in my church. On a happier note, I was able to attend a fabulous wedding and reunite with old friends, celebrate my 20th anniversary, and share special occasions with my family and friends.

Life is so precious. This will be the year I stand up to my fears. But instead of planning, and worrying, I will just start by starting.

I am looking forward to sharing my projects and hearing from you in 2015.

Let’s have a healthy, happy new year!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to my readers!

It’s too late to write a post about how I struggled with minimalism and shopping for gifts. I wanted to write about my favorite ornaments and the stories that go along with them. And of course there’s a “year in review” draft sitting here, too.

But, as I wait for my coconut custard pie to come out of the oven, I know there is no time for any of that.

The new year always brings hope and excitement of what is still to come. Thanks for still hanging around.

Wishing you all a happy new year filled with blessings, peace, and joy!

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30 Days of Thanks

I’m usually grateful. Sometimes I get distracted.

Last week, a good friend told me that she just organized ALL her cabinets,  and I completely lost it. Wait. The meltdown wasn’t so sudden. A few weeks back (right after Halloween), the same friend and I were talking about Christmas lists. That’s when my anxiety level started rising.

A den project has made my house (more) chaotic. Boxes of books, photo albums, picture frames, and gadgets have been stacked in my living room, garage, and basement since September. Instead of digging through the boxes for office supplies, I just run out to get more.

I am a minimalist’s nightmare.

Do the boxes really need to be unpacked? Can I just donate everything? Better yet, can everything just go in the garbage?

I lose sight of how really blessed I am when I have these conversations.

I’m working on 30 Days of Thanks to help me focus. It’s a simple daily reminder to give thanks. Here are my pictures on Instagram.

I am also working on the exercises from this book,  “Simpler: Declutter Your Life and Focus on What’s Most Important,” by Mike Burns.  What’s most important…to me?  Family and experiences are more important than managing all these boxes, books and stuff that I’ve accumulated. I have to do a better job focusing.

As Thanksgiving nears, I remind myself to be thankful for where I am right now. I am thankful for a house. I am thankful that I am still in good physical and mental health to clean up my junk . I am thankful for a supportive family that can adapt to the chaos. And, of course, I’m thankful for my readers who are with me on this journey.

Please share your tips on how you stay focused on what’s important to you.

 

Project 333 – First Day (April – June)

Today, April 1st, kicks off the next season of Project 333, an experiment in simplifying our closets to save time, energy and money for the more important things in life.

Here is my closet for the next 3 months:

The items hanging are my pieces for Project 333 (April - June).
The items hanging are my pieces for Project 333 (April – June).

I am happy to report that I was able to toss some clothes and donate this pile.  

These items did not make the cut and were tossed or donated.
These items did not make the cut and were tossed or donated.

This time, I was able to include my pants and jeans in the count.  I still have not been able to pare down my tshirts, shoes, and purses.

Here is the one piece that gave me the most difficulty:

1.  Sonics tshirt given to me by brother-in-law --  Dallas, Jr.
Sonics tshirt given to me by brother-in-law — Dallas, Jr.

This Seattle Sonics tshirt was given to me for my birthday by my brother-in-law, Dallas, in 1995.   I had a huge crush on Shawn Kemp, whose dunks and energy lit up any arena.  Even though the tshirt is ripped at the logo and has been accidentally bleached, I keep it because it’s the last gift Dallas gave me, before he passed away suddenly in 1998.  Kemp has long retired.  The Seattle Sonics are now the Oklahoma City Thunder.  And yet, every time I do a purge, I always end up putting this tshirt back in my drawer.  How could I throw out this precious memory of Dallas? I know it’s not the item but the memory that is dear…but I’m not yet ready.

This Project 333 is not for the weak.  How did you do on your first day?  Did you have some sentimental clothes that you couldn’t part with?  

If you haven’t started, it’s not too late.  Just jump in.  Click here for the rules.  Click here to see an example of Courtney Carver‘s list.

Share your success or hiccups with us…

 

Project 333

Could you live for 3 months with 33 pieces of clothing?  Before you exit out, let me give you the elevator pitch of Project 333.

Picture paring down your wardrobe to 33 items, then using these items for 3 months.  Underwear, pajamas, workout clothes are all exempt from the number.  That’s the short version.  

My slogan for the year, Lean in 2014, led me to Courtney Carver‘s Project 333.  I did some more googling and Pinterest searches and found there are hundreds of people who are successfully participating in this project.

So, in January, I cleared out my closet to 33 pieces BUT kept everything that was in my drawers and other closets (my jeans, tshirts, sweaters, purses, shoes, and coats).

So what DID I actually clear out?  First to go, anything that restrictred my breathing or accentuated my muffin top.  Next, blouses, suits, dresses, and items that always seemed to get put back in the closet after trying them on.  Last,  duplicates — sometimes triplicates — (black slacks, black blouses, denim shirts, etc.).

Something amazing happened these past 3 months:  it was actually easier to get dressed in the morning.  Everything in my closet fit and I liked wearing them.  Interestingly enough, I also found that I dressed less in tshirts and sweats (which is often my uniform).

I am actually looking forward to the next session that starts on April 1st.  But, as I learned in a marketing class once, I’m a laggard (slow to enter the market, dislikes change, etc).  So, I probably still won’t be able to go ALL in.  However, I will actively work on the drawers and other closets to see what else I can put away (or donate).

I posted this early so that you guys can look into the project or your closets to see if you want to join me.  WHO IS IN?    

Decluttering Projects

My dad spent summer afternoons working in my basement.  I’d bring him a snack with a glass of water, and he would shake his head and say, “Where’d you get all this sh*t?”  Still, he methodically broke down Amazon.com boxes, put the kids’ outgrown clothes in bins, and made things neat again.

When he died eight years ago, my world fell apart.  Yes, there was the deep sorrow of losing my beloved father…but now what?  Who would keep my junk in order?

My husband’s early attempts at throwing stuff out always played out like a scene from that show “Hoarders.”  I would start fidgeting then eventually screaming, “Don’t touch my stuff!”

I’ve found some useful sites that have kept me afloat.  By following the simple routines and missions of the Flylady, I was able to invite company to the house again.   I dabbled in Feng Shui, but it seemed too hokey and I never really knew if I charted the areas of my house right.

Last summer, the family did a “10 x 5 project,”  courtesy of the Happy Family Movement blog.  We gathered 10 things (per person) for 5 days and then donated or tossed the stuff we collected.   A painless project with great results.

I am currently trying this “40 Bags in 40 Days” project for Lent.   In theory, I work in one specific area each day and get rid of one bag of stuff per day for 40 days.  I started off strong–making a list of the 40 areas that I would cover, tying up stacks of saved Travel & Leisure and O magazines, throwing out old travel pamphlets from scrapbooks never started, and bagging outgrown clothes and shoes.  To be honest, I haven’t been working every day, but I’m trying.

I think my dad would be proud of the progress I’m making.

So tell me, how do you manage the clutter in your house?  What blogs or sites do you follow?  Help motivate me with your ideas.

 

Minimalism

I’ve spent almost 16 years filling my house with stuff — gifts, the kids’ artwork, clothes on sale, gadgets, paperwork, appliance manuals, books, and junk.

I’ve tried Feng Shui, the FlyLady, and monthly donations to Big Brothers/Big Sisters…and yet the stuff always seems to come back.

Recently, I’ve subscribed to a few “Minimalist” blogs.  The theory is that the less stuff we have, the less stuff we are responsible for and, therefore, can live freer, happier lives.

Anyway, I’m going to see how much of the house — specifically the basement and garage — I can empty out.

Have you heard of minimalism?  How do you apply it to your lives?  Have you recently cleared space in your house?  Inspire us with your success stories.

For a much more detailed explanation, go here:  http://www.becomingminimalist.com