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!

Talk to you soon,


Ways to Celebrate Easter

posted by: Kelly Murphy-Briley

How do you celebrate Easter?  There are many things you can buy. The Dollar Tree has many little things to put in an Easter basket. You can buy all kinds of stuff like nail polish, fake nails, soaps, bottles of perfume and bath wash, bubbles, plastic eggs, candy, stickers,– and the list goes on!

But all that “cheap” stuff from the Dollar Tree or Dollar section items comes at a cost.  Most of it is China-made, and I don’t know how that supports our American economy-which if you haven’t heard- could use some support!

I have another idea…. How about NOT buying Bunny Ears headbands, or plastic grass to go in the basket, or a basket?

  If you have to buy something, just buy one thing, or maybe even create something special for your special somebunny, like a special bracelet, or some earrings. Pick one thing that person would really use.

How about a quality chocolate bar or bag. Something that will help the endangered species, or is fair trade. Yes,  it is more expensive than the cheap chocolate you can buy at the dollar tree, but it is better for you, and actually helps somebunny (or maybe even a tiger)!

Or how about just spending time with your someone doing something he or she enjoys? Whether it is your child or your significant other,  quantity time can lead to quality time.  I have a daughter with whom I spend lots of time, and I find the more we are together, the deeper our conversations go.

Here are some ideas on how to do that:

Go for a hike.

Go for a walk or browse historic or new places.

Have an Easter egg hunt!

Grab a bite to eat.

Go to a movie.

Check out a museum.

Go to a church worship service, or a sunrise service.

Watch a movie together.  (And moms, that means you actually sit down and watch the movie, too, rather than serve everyone popcorn, drinks, etc.  Do buffet style snacking, and let everyone help with food prep, and allow other to serve themselves.)

REMEMBER….YOU are the best Easter present! Your time and love you spread to your family and friends, is the BEST way to celebrate!!!!

Talk about Easter and what it means to you. It is about more than just bunnies, Peeps, and chocolate, and dying eggs or filling eggs with candy to many of us.  Share your childhood memories, with your friends and family about how you celebrated as a kid.

Instead of buying more consumable items, how about leaving your footprint on your kids (not literally) and loved ones, rather than the Earth! Try spending time with them, instead.

This is the perfect opportunity to share about your beliefs and why you celebrate Easter.  For me,  it’s about Jesus‘ sacrifice, and His triumph over death.  And while I am thankful for Him on a daily basis, Easter is a special time or nation as designated to celebrate nationally, so I am going to celebrate!   Whether you share Christian beliefs, or not, it is a great conversation-starter for discussing spirituality.

What do you feel? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments!

 Happy Easter!

10 Ideas for a Thrifty Valentine’s Day

     Finding ways to enjoy your time with your Valentine a bit more challenging in this economy?  But don’t worry. It’s not impossible, and I have some ideas on how to make that happen. Read on.

  • Find a spot where you can watch the sun rise or set–together.  This could be outside the city, close to water, or someplace with a nice view.       And if you love stargazing, like me, find a place away from city lights, so the beauty of the constellations are as bright as possible.     Or, try a different approach… Often, you can find a group in your area with free observation times. College campuses sometime offer special observation times, and often have high-powered telescopes usually unavailable to the casual star-gazer.( If the weather is too cold for that, and you live near or in the Memphis, the Pink Palace’s Sharpe planetarium , offers incredibly educational shows using the Gallium technology in a 130-seat domed theater. The superb sound system helps provide projections of visual images, star maps and patterns which are projected on the ceiling.  Check ahead for times before your actual date, by heading over to their website. As the website says, the programs are a “treat for the eyes and ears,” and are all for under $5. That is a treat!  Here is the website … 
  • See a matinee. Try either @ a very nice movie theatre, or go to an evening movie @ the ‘thrifty’ theatre in your town. You might still be able to afford a bite to eat afterward, because of the lower cost.
  • Browse thrift stores or flea markets for inexpensive items with good bones.   Who knows, you might find something that would suit your space better than what you own, and that you absolutely love.   (Mimalism doesn’t necessarily mean you can only have a bed and a toothbrush, but that you don’t have stuff just to have stuff.  Just remember that if something comes in to your house, something else should go out.)     
  • Enjoy a coffeehouse or bookstore.  Often musicians or poetry readers entertain in these places. You can simply listen, or browse the reading sections while you listen. Your choice.
  • Visit a museum or zoo. Check locally to see the days they are free, or less expensive. Those days may not fall on Valentine’s Day, but part of showing love is about year round ways of showing appreciation, right?  
  • Ride the trolley, or the city bus. This is fairly inexpensive way to see places you might not have yet seen from a different perspective of being in the driver’s seat. You also might see places in your town you rarely frequent or have never been. 
  • If there is an amphitheatre in or near your area, you can often listen to bands having practice sessions. This is usually free, and a great way to enjoy spending time together. 
  • And if you want to stay in…..Make  a quick dessert together. If you are like me, I don’t consider an entire evening of cooking a fun thing, but choosing a quick treat makes it doable.  Starting with organic strawberries, and topping them with organic whipped cream is a quick and delicious way to spend some time with each other.  Using organic whipped cream, which comes in those cute little cartons at the Whole Foods store, is the way to go. It will take only 5 minutes to whip the cream, with a hand mixer, and the sugar is already included. Whip just until the cream peaks and then dip the strawberries in. Top it off with a sprinkle of cinnamon and you have an organic yet simple treat which is somewhat healthy. Yes, you had whipped cream but at least it was organic!  Plus, if you want really fast cleanup you can just get a can of whipped topping, too.
  • Share the gift of music with your Valentine. If cooking isn’t what you call soothing, get out all the music you haven’t heard in a while, without turning on the TV.  Music can take you back to wonderful places, and this can spark more conversation!  Don’t turn on the TV. Too distracting.   Oh, and did you find some CDs you don’t just love anymore? Put them in the Goodwill pile with that something you are donating, (since you found that cool thingy from the thrift store/flea market.)
  • Last but not least: Write a letter or a poem to each other.  While the internet is a fantastic communication tool, there is something about a handwritten note on a piece of paper you can touch with your fingers.  Use candy hearts to write sentences if you want. They are cute and tasty!  Or on a more serious note….Start it with 10 things I love about you are… If you are more romantically inclined try…. How do I love thee, let me count the ways…. Either way, it is a tangible way to express your love and affection with your Valentine.    

Here’s hoping your Valentine’s Day is thrifty and beautiful!  I hope you will show some love by leaving comments sharing your own ideas. You can also share this post with others on Facebook or Twitter!   


As Valentine’s Day approaches, I thought I would share some tips I found while purging through some old newspaper articles, especially for the gals.  Keep these tidbits in mind when you meet or begin dating your guys.  These tips, adapted from an old newspaper article, were sent in to the Ann Landers advice column, and written to a daughter from her parents:

  • You will probably find Mr. Right in a grocery store, at church, or through a friend, not bar. 
  • If he is married, seperated, or his wife “doesn’t understand him” that spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E. It might as well be plastered on his forehead. 
  • If he tries to borrow money from you, or tries to move in, be careful. He may a con artist.
  • If his family doesn’t like him and avoids him, maybe you should too. They may know something you don’t.
  • Check out his car to see if it is clean, serviceable, and insured.
  • If he has children, decide now if you want to marry them too, because that is the way it will be. Be aware that they are a direct link to the ex-spouse.
  • You don’t need a man to complete you. You choose the man—-don’t let him choose you. Be selective. 
  •  No one has the power to make you happier than the right person, or more miserable than the wrong one.
  • Find someone who shares the same kind of humor as you, and who makes you laugh. It will make the good times better and the bad times less difficult.
  • If you want several children and plan to stay@ home and raise them, choose a man whose skills and education will put him in a high salary category.
  • If you want a career, don’t marry a man who hates his job. He will resent the time and attention you give yours. 
  • Two red flags:  Does he have a short fuse or a hot temper? Is he hung up on his mother? These are 2 negatives that inevitably get worse after marriage. Both can be disastrous.
  • Don’t get married(or stay in a bad relationship) because you are afraid to be alone. No woman is more alone than one whose husband or significant other pays no attention to her.
  • No matter how wonderful his other qualities may be, do not marry a man who has threatened , humiliated, or hit you.  In fact, don’t go out with him a second time. Such a man is hazardous to your emotional and physical health and should be avoided.
  • Pay attention to how he treats his mother, and to how his father treats his mother. Chances are good that he will treat you the same way.

Happy Valentine’s Day!!

Minimalist Presents for Teachers


As I was blogsurfing today, I noticed much of the talk in February, is what to get your child’s or children’s teachers for Valentine Day. Most of the ideas were at least twenty dollars or higher. Much of them had apples on them, and were trinkets, or food.  Having been a teacher for many years, I wanted to weigh in on the subject.  

Tip 1.  Most teachers don’t need any more stuff.  We would rather you encourage or help your child (or children) in writing a note telling how he or she likes the class, or whys he or she appreciates being in the class.  As I think back to all the ‘things’ I have received over the years, the things I haven’t been able to part with are the handwritten notes, and pictures I have received, and the memories for that matter. 

Tip 2. Invite the son or daughter’s teacher over for dinner. Now that is a yummy way to show the love. It may take a bit of maneuvering, since teachers spend lots of evening time on lesson planning in the evenings, but it will be a lovely memory for your child and your family for years to come.

Tip 3.  Make some homemade treat with your child to give to the teacher.  Funny story. I remember one time I got a tin of brownies from a kindergarten student which were really delicious!  The next time I saw him,  I gave him the ultimate compliment and asked him if he would see if his mother would share the recipe with me. So ..the next day he  prouldly walked in with it. There was the recipe –cut from the back of the Kroger cake mix. He was so happy as he handed me the card, that I had to smile to myself, while thinking  what a wise woman his mother was! You see, as a kindergartener he didn’t read enough to realize…..that the fabulous dessert was a brownie mix. He told me he and his mom had made the brownies together. I know it made him very happy that I was happy, and enjoyed the brownies.And my guess is, he didn’t realize until later, how great a gift that was.  Not only did his teacher(me) love the gift, he also received the give of time from his mother! 

Tip 4. Please, please, please, don’t give any apple stuff! Most teaches have TONS of it, and we are over it!  Unless you are going to give a gift of a bag of organic apples, I mean.  Do we really need to buy any more trinket junk out of the -Made in-China section in Target and support the child labor over there?  I don’t think so. 

So, it may take a little more creativity, but I hope some of these tips have been helpful. The gift of time and appreciation is the BEST gift of all!  More  ways to be thrifty in your gift-giving coming next week!

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