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. You may not feel like it, but getting dressed, (and not just by 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 tentative) 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!

Could You Live In A Tiny House?

Post by: Kelly Murphy

Due to recent life changes, I’m seriously pondering the above question-Could you (as in me) live in a tiny house? Okay, of all the questions I’m considering, here’s the first ……..

HOW TINY ARE WE TALKING?
I recently downsized from a home of 1308 square feet, which housed 3 people, a cat, and a dog, to… a one room studio @ my mom’s-which houses 2 people, and a cat and a dog.
So, I have moments that I think, “I can’t wait to move into  my own space,” and then other times I say, “If we can live like this then a tiny house would be a piece of cake!” So, my biggest question is.. what is the least and most square footage I can stand?  This isn’t a question I have answered for myself, yet.  In the tiny house movement there is such variety in square footage.   So, I plan to research that aspect and move on to the next question, which is…

WHERE DO I PUT MY TINY HOUSE?
This is another very important question? If I did have one, where would it go? Would I be able to rent some land on which to put my tiny house or would I have to buy land? Or do I have land, or do I know someone who has some land that I could rent, monthly? (I have a friend who lives on someone’s vacation property-which has an old house, and his presence gives them comfort. So, he inhabits the property, and does some renovations on the home-in his spare time, and they pay his utilities.)  This is a nice setup for him, but I haven’t found a gig like that yet.)
If I had a friend I thoroughly trusted, there could be a possibility of co-purchasing land. Sharing land with a like-minded individual could be very rewarding, and could be an awesome arrangement, but since I am new to the area,  trusted friends are in short supply. So, moving on to the next question…..
WHAT DOES A TINY HOUSE COST?
There are lots of builders out there, but I think in researching the cost, the location of the builder and his warehouse (and shipping costs)  must be considered. Depending on the budget of the project, most builders charge per mile for shipping, so, I plan to do some research on how much per mile.  I will get back to you on that. As far as Arkansas builders, I know of one who provides free shipping within 300 miles, of the area code, which could make a huge difference on shipping costs.  Upon my last communication with this particular builder, the initial “set up” for the house on wheels-which many tiny houses have, is free. After that, there is a charge, so I would need to find out how much that would be also.
And what is the cost of the  actual house? A ballpark figure is between $15,000-$90,000. So some specifics to what plan and what kind mist be researcjed/  The plans for a tiny house are fairly inexpensive, but…. the building of a tiny house is where the expenses can begin to mount. 
HOW TO GET STARTED? 
The way I plan to get started is by collecting pictures of different aspects of  houses that I like.  By that I mean, anything I have always wanted in a house, I will put in my ‘Idea File’.  An example is this… I have always wanted a spiral staircase. I don’t know if that is even feasible for my  tiny house plan, but I want to ask.   
A friend suggested I sketch out some plans on what I want to put where, so I think that is a good idea. I am no David Bromstead though, I can’t make those beautiful sketches of rooms like he does, but I could try to put something down, on paper, since I am specifically thinking of ideas for small spaces.
So, I will let you know what I find out in my research, but in the meantime….what about you? Is there anything you have always wanted to have in a house but never had, or something you had in a house that you had/have and you hate?   I’d love to hear your ideas!  Leave a comment, or email me!

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