How to Simplify Christmas..

It has begun… all the Christmas hoopla. I’m hearing people begin to stress about what they will get others for Christmas, and I want to share a link I have read from some of my favorite blogs.

But first I just wanted to throw in my 2 cents. Please don’t get caught up in the spending frenzy! Black Friday is over, but let this be a time to reflect on your life and what you want to accomplish in the upcoming year.

While others are talking about what to buy, why not think about what you can give away to Goodwill or the Salvation Army?

On a personal note, I am going to go through ALL my Christmas decor and streamline it. I’m keeping only the ornaments and accessories I really love, while trying to remember this… just because I have always had it doesn’t mean I HAVE to keep it!

As for gift-giving, I am trying to think of ways to show thankfulness for the person, through experience, or assistance, not stuff.  For example, I have a friend who can’t vacuum because of back problems, so I can “gift” her by vacuuming for her for the holidays.

I hope this encourages you in ways to simplify your Christmas, and enjoy the season and your friends and loved ones!  Moving toward minimalism is an ongoing and hopefully a never-ending process!

Here’s a link by Joshua Becker that helped me greatly in getting a new perspective about it all! www.becomingminimalist.com

Talk to you soon,
Kelly

Minimalist Birthday Ideas

Post by: Kelly

After a few months of hiatus, I am back, and as always, with a child with a January birthday….. right on the heels of Christmas … it’s time to research and plan an inexpensive January birthday.   Since her birthday isn’t in December 2012, (which, since the world is coming to an end then, I would be off the hook, right?) but is in  January 2012, I have to come up with some really cool but cheap birthday ideas.

Here are some ways I plan to do it:

  1. Have the party @ home
  2. Bake and decorate the cake myself
  3. Make the frosting
  4. Think of  eco-friendly decorations
  5. Self-design our own invitations/ thank you cards,  or reuse some we have
  6. Purchase only 1 birthday present

First,  I will have the party at home. Here are some suggestions on what I did

  • Straighten up the house. Don’t clean until after the party, ! Yes, you heard me. It took me a way too many years to figure this out.
  •  Remove anything you think might get broken with a group of children around.
  • Keep the list short. Gone are those days of inviting 20 people, so you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. A handful of great friends will be the focus, rather than acquaintances.
  • Bake the cake, or make the cupcakes. A cake mix is a buck, rather than the $15-20 it would cost to have it done. (Even with making the frosting myself, it is still cheaper.)  Oh, and I probably already have the ingredients, and could even do that part without purchasing the mix! (Ohh, and I could save myself a dollar! Woo hoo!)  Using parchment paper makes the pan easier to clean, by the way.
  • Making the frosting is easy, just butter and confectioners sugar and vanilla-done. The time-consuming part is beating it with the beaters which takes about 5 minutes.
  • For decorating the top of the cake, I will use food coloring and sugar, my child wants cupcakes, but if she wants a cake,  my idea is to use a pic of her favorite band, and go to Baskin Robbins, and ask them to print the picture on sugar paper. That will cost about $5. Then I can put that on the top of the cake and frost around it. If you decide to use this idea, be certain to call around about a week ahead to make sure they will do this in your area. Anyone that does birthday cakes could do this, try grocery stores, TCBY, Dairy Queen, and Baskin Robbins as  possibilities.
  • Decorations. For the all ages, let your child decorate with some paper and make posters. It gives he or she some tangible way to be involved! I let mine help with making the frosting and the cake if she chooses.
  • Invitations/Thanks you notes  . I have a thousand note cards already, and stickers, since I scrapbook. So… I am going to let my child design her own birthday invitations, and with a handful of five friends, that’s .44 cents X 5, and a trip to the post office to buy the stamps.  Yes, we could send emails, or texts, but to us, that is a bit too impersonal.  As far as thank you notes, yes,  she will write them. If your child is in 1st grade up, I think that is doable with a bit of help, if younger, you can help and let he/she sign her name or add a picture.  And again, we will use the note cards we  already have.
  • When you make the frosting or the cake, remember it is possible to do that a day ahead if you are that organized. Just sayin’ it is POSSIBLE, even if I usually don’t.
  • Buy only 1 present for your child.  Desperate times call for desperate measures, don’t you agree,  so remember your child will not die if she or he only receives 1 present!  And if your child murmurs,   and if this applies, remind her/him  he or she  just had a Christmas, or Hanukkah holiday, hello!  And it is highly likely she/he will receive a gift from at least one of  the friends who come to the party. And by present,  I mean anything from a night together, with undivided attention, to an item she/he really wants, ex. an iTunes card, etc.  Oh, and don’t forget if something comes in that it’s okay to encourage something to go out.

That’s my thoughts for now, I have gotta go do some planning! I will let you know how it goes!

Happy Thoughts!

Being Thankful

Post by : Kelly Murphy

I would like to wish you, my readers a very a happy Thanksgiving. My wish and prayer for you is that you enjoy your time with family and friends.  Thanksgiving should be a time when we all share our feelings of thankfulness with friends and family.

The best way to get through it is find those you love, and who bring you joy. If it’s family, count yourself lucky, if it’s not, spend time with those who give you joy, and make you laugh.

If you are spending time with family who don’t bring you joy, and if it feels more like a trial, be as kind as possible, and try to keep the negativism to a minimum. Spend some time with them, and then go have some fun!

Remember that the first Thanksgiving was very diverse, with Native Americans, as well as Pilgrims. Be the one, who invites someone else to your Thanksgiving table if you become aware of someone who has no place to go.   I have been on both ends of that spectrum, and have loved being the one to invite someone over who had no family in town, and have also been the recipient of someone’s hospitality, and both aspects can be blessings.  Thankfulness comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. 

When you invite someone into your home, it is a gift you give, and a gift you receive. Someone has taken the time to share his or her precious holiday time with me, and then having also been the recipient, someone took the time to offer his or her home to me as a gift of friendship. 
I hope this Thanksgiving finds you thankful for the many freedoms we experience in America, and I hope that-even with a lagging economy here in America, you will find joy in living in a democracy, and in your family and friends. Every moment you spend with your family and friends, you leave a legacy of the gift of your time. And it is not stuff that ultimately brings us happiness but each other. wherever you are-enjoy that you are alive!

Think about what is really important. To me,  it’s a comfort knowing I am loved, and that I can show love to others.  If you are one who doesn’t feel that way, know that God is always there for you, and loves and cares for us!

Happy Thanksgiving 2011~

God bless all of you!

Tips for a better mood

Poster: Kelly Murphy

Hey folks,

I know I am not the only one who goes through life with “stuff” happening, so I thought I’d share some of my ways to get in a better mood. So often getting in a better mood starts with me. Here are  some thoughts and things I do to feel better, and get out of the funk!

1.  Shower and dress. Ya may feel like it, but getting dressed, (and not just wearing those comfy sweats), does help!

2. Don’t use the word “depressed” since it’s negative and depressing!

3. Brainstorm and make a list of the problem and solutions. 

4. Develop a timeline, even if it’s a tentative one, on accomplishing these goals.

5. Make the changes you can, as soon as you can!

6. Activate!!  Being active helps get the endorphins flowing, which simultaneously creates a better mood!

7. Eat right! I know you have heard this a thousand times but it’s true…Eat some veggies, and put some good food in you! No binging, or starving, but eat balanced meals. Drink lots of water, and cut back on the sugar and caffeine.

8. Socialize!  Having friends over, or making new ones, always lifts a mood!

9. Control your thoughts and self-talk.    Think good things, not …”I am so stupid!” but ” Oh well, everyone makes mistakes, even me!” 

10. Get busy.  Now, think of something you have been needing to do… like finish that scrapbook page, or sorting through those papers. Work on it 30 minutes and take a break, but get started!

What has been your experience?  How do you get yourself out of a bad mood?

I hope these ideas will help you, and if you like what you read, or not, please share your comments! You can contact me through this blog, or @ akellygal@yahoo.com.

Now… who wants to go to dinner?

Minimalist Mood

Minimalist Mood.

Minimalist Mood

Post by: Kelly Murphy

I have been in a minimalist mood to blog, lately. In other words, I have been too tired to blog, and just trying to get through doing the minimum.  Have any of you ever felt like that? 
And sometimes that is ok, if it is all that you can do.  Right now, that’s all I can do. I am so tired of waiting….  waiting on things to change, waiting on things to be different, waiting, waiting. Waiting on a divorce to be finalized to get on with my life. Always waiting. 

Right now, I just need to ‘be still and let God be God.” There’s a song by Steven Curtis Chapman, with lyrics that say….”God is God, and I am not.” That is my new mantra that I am trying to repeat to myself when I feel myself begin to stress about having to wait. 

 Here are a few things that have helped me get through my last four months of crap.

~a little activity daily. Walking is pretty inexpensive with a good pair of walking shoes, and the benefits on the heart and the booty are enormous. (I’d rather have enormous health benefits than an enormous booty, wouldn’t you?)

~deep breathing, and relaxation techniques. And as I take a few deep breaths, I find that it really does help. After 4 deep breaths I can actually feel my heart rate slow down. Try it!

~prayer. From short to long, they all help

There. That’s my top 3. 

In the long run, what truly matters is how we handle our fears, frustrations, and stress  in the midst of the waiting.  Finding healthy ways to keep busy has helped me when I feel anxiety. 

So if life has thrown you some curves lately, as mine has me, try some rejuvenation to get out of that minimalist mood!

Musings Of A Tiny House Lover

I have been fascinated by tiny houses for awhile, now, but am not totally convinced I could live in one. If you missed my confession several months ago, I filled a 24-foot truck, and am now storing most of what was in it in Mom’s garage-(something I haven’t done in 30 years.)

So, while I am hoping to gain lots of great information through my research, I just don’t know if I have the guts to do it

First off, it may not happen for a few years-the tiny house thing. So much has to be done in preparation to live in a tiny house.

One of  the biggest prerequisites I can see,  is simply not simple…get rid of some stuff.  I know that of the items I have, some might not fit my tiny space, without it feeling cluttered, and I hate wall-to-wall furniture. So, after 25 years of owning, and regular re-upolstering my antique couch, I may have to consider replacing it with a couch that can work double duty as a sleeping sofa, since it is 6 feet wide. It just may not work fit in my future tiny living room.

I also have 5 dressers, and an armoire which may be able to be incorporated into my tiny house, one for the bathroom sink, and another possibly as kitchen island, one as a side table, and the other 2 as dressers.

The stipulation of a tiny space containing practical storage is universal knowledge. And if I move in one, I would also want an easy-to-clean design.  For example, those pretty wicker baskets may look cool, but if they have don’t have lids, then whatever things are inside them get dusty, and I would have to vacuum them regularly, and wash everything inside. That doesn’t help me, so I would want a type container-like a lidded plastic storage container. It could quickly be dusted, without dragging out the vacuum cleaner. I like that idea. 

 
The floors would have to have a high gloss, because I love that look, and that makes for easy cleaning with any vacuum, and a Swiffer.
Also, I want 2 doors in my tiny house, and  privacy in the lofts. The two doors I would want for safety sake.  And as for the loft privacy, I don’t want to be able to see inside the loft bedroom, from the living room. I am thinking about some type of  frosted plexiglass, with sliding doors.  I have a teenager who desires her privacy, and has informed me she doesn’t want her “entire conversations overheard”, whether she has friends over or is talking on the phone. So, I need a creative way to deal with this issue. 
And as for the stairs. I would need either stairs or a ladder, or stairs and  a ladder. I like the spiral staircase idea or stairs with storage under them, but I don’t want to take up too much space with a staircase, and would want to be able to have some storage under the staircase. I don’t have any idea how to do all that.

As for the kitchen, I don’t need a large oven, just one big enough, with two shelves, which is wide enough to hold a cookie sheet and a 9 1/2 by 11 pan. I like those kitchen combos I see, but I doubt if I could afford one. I’d LOVE to find a small vintage one, but who knows if that could happen. The kitchen combos with sink, stove, and faucet are neat, but really expensive. They could cost as much as an entire tiny house!  
I would love to use repurposed items, and keep the house as “green” as possible, too. I mean, doesn’t that make great sense to use salvaged materials?!  I would just have to find them. 
As for time, I have no idea how long it would take to build one, since it would depend on my builder’s schedule. I could do some of the painting to save some money, since I have experience with that.

I would also want a storm shelter very near the tiny house, and if I could build a trap door to get to it without going outside, I would prefer that.  I don’t know if that is even possible since most tiny houses are built on trailers. I have even considered buying a storage container to use as a storm cellar.

I’d love to hear your ideas.. Have you seen any nifty storage ideas in a cabin, or on TV? Let me know!!!

And… if you like what you read share this with your friends!

 Any ideas or feedback on this let me know.

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