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Boo to all of you!  Pardon my impromptu bloggy break last week, but I was tackling a few of my own scary bits of business, but I got the wheels back on the bus and should be back on track.

Here we are at the end of another month and at the beginning of the busiest, most stressful and most joyous time of the year.  For most of us, there is nothing normal about the next two months and I hope to make it a little bit less hectic.

During this month of October, I challenged you (and myself) to tackle some of the things that scare you the most…the stumbling blocks in your way to being able to DO MORE living.  November will be all about giving thanks for the blessing in our lives and letting go of the piddly, trivial issues that rob us of the gratitude and joy that makes this season so important.

Be safe tonight as you take you ghosts and goblins…or spies and baseball players, out for some fun.

See you Wednesday!

DO NOT Go forth and simplify today…have FUN!!

Holly

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If you are a people pleaser like me, saying  “no” doesn’t come easy.   Bring a dish to Sunday supper?  Sure.  Sit on a school committee?  Ok.  Be the homeroom mom?  Add it to the list.  A lunch date with a friend?  Yum!  Drive the sports carpool?  Whew….Alrighty.

At first glance, these things appear worth while.  We all want to support our church and our children and all the activities they bring with them, but I am willing to bet that your calendar has gotten over booked more than once over the last few years.

One of the main things that makes Out of the Crayon Box different from the other organizational methods and websites out there is the emphasis on balance.  Sure, OOTCB is full of tips and tricks and encouragement for keeping an organized, clean home, but it goes a step beyond most of the other programs I’ve looked into.

One might have a pristine, sparkling neat home, but the daily schedule is crammed with busy-ness.  Wonderful things, to be sure, but a packed calendar with the most righteous of things creates an imbalance.  Someone or something inevitably gets pushed by the wayside.

By embracing the DO MORE idea, one can actually do more.  It’s ok…more than ok…to say no to a few things.  Don’t turn into a hermit, but take a hard look at your schedule and see what you can clear off to bring more balance into it.  Take an inventory of your family priorities and do what is important and joyful.

Our busy times ebb and flow.  When you see the calendar getting all marked up, take a deep breath.  Declutter the activities.  Organize them so they are easy to see and keep track of.  Maintain the calendar on at least a weekly basis so it doesn’t get away from you.  Observe the goings on of you household…are you busy for busy sake or doing things that really mean something.  REFRAIN…don’t be afraid to say “no” (and I would add that if you are the one asking, give the person you are asking permission to say “no”).  Finally, sit back and enjoy the time you free up through the balance you have achieved!

Go Forth and Simplfy…you schedule, that is!

Holly

So….yeah. Halloween is approaching and here at OOTCB, we decided to go with it and make the theme of the blogs all about overcoming fear. Genius, I know! I’ve talked a little bit about the fears that hold us back from living the life we are meant to lead and how our homes often reflect that fear. I’ve talked about the scary tasks I’ve taken on and how to keep them from being so scary in the future. But today, my friends, I want to talk about perhaps the scariest things of all.

Are you ready?

I awoke this morning and in the midst of the morning fog, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, I saw the horror. At first I thought it wasn’t real. After all I hadn’t put in my contacts and if you know me, you know I am BLIND with out them. I quickly put my contacts in and took a second look….and I jumped back. Well almost. I certainly did say “Ew!” out loud and shrink back a bit. It was….It was…

The switch plate for the light!!! Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

Ok, so I’m being a bit dramatic, but seriously people, I don’t ever pay attention to the switch plates around my house. Do you? I just flip the lights on at off with out even a sideways look. But today, the one in the master bath caught my eye. The grime, the finger prints, the blech of it all!!! Then I went into the bathroom my daughter uses. It is also the bathroom my husband uses as he goes back and forth while working in his cars in the garage….the plate was disgusting. A little grease mixed with a little tempra paint mixed with dirt covered it.

Thankfully, all it took was 30 seconds with a cleaning wipe at each switch plate took care of the situation, I may or may not have had to use my fingernail to scratch off a couple of stubborn spots.

This is something that will go straight to the top of my cleaning chart for each room in the house. I can’t believe such an obvious spot has been so negleted for so long.

No more…no more.

Have a great day!!! Go Forth and Simplify!
Holly

As much as I enjoy writing this blog and as much as I am learning and applying the OOTCB techniques in my own life, I long for the miracle organization method that keeps my house clean and organized for good.   Once and for all.  Unfortunately keeping house is an on going, never-ending thing.  If I took a poll, I bet I wouldn’t be alone in this wish.  What I am learning is that embracing the rhythm and routine of DO MORE makes it be much less overwhelming and usually very satisfying.

As I OBSERVE the way our house gets clean and then cluttered again, it is the paper that winds its way into our house that commands a great deal of time and attention…specifically the art work created by one, very prolific 7-year-old.

That girl can draw and draw and draw and draw!!!  I am glad it is a passion of hers, but she will make a few lines on a page and discard it in a bit lumpy pile.  Very little of it is worthy of keeping.  They are mostly simple sketches…many of them obviously drawings she felt she “messed up” on.  But a few are real gems and worthy of keeping if only to be a sweet reminder someday of what a 7-year-old thought a princess or a pair of BFF’s looked like.

It’s hard to have her help me sort through all the papers of her own art work.  She thinks it is all worth keeping.  She worked hard on them, after all!  What we do is sit down and decide, before we sort, how many pictures we should keep for her portfolio.  I have a special drawer in her art station for the keepers and we recycle the rest.  The keepers will get scanned into the computer and the originals recycled as well, but long after the importance has worn off (pg. 57 OOTCB)  Knowing the pictures are stored and safe make it easy for her to let go of the physical pages.  There are several pieces of work from her art classes in school and summer camps that get special attention on the walls of our house.  We all have enjoyed watching her progression as an artist and because she is so prolific, we have plenty to share.

Let the scanner be your best friend…it’s not just for the bills.

Now…Go Forth and Simplify!

Holly

 

Mopping the floor.  There I said it.  Whip me.  Beat me.  Throw me to the wolves, but please don’t make me mop the floors.

In the book, Out of the Crayon Box (get your copy here http://www.outofthecrayonbox.com/Shop_.html), sweeping and mopping the floor is the last step in the Top Down cleaning  and the Tornado cleaning approach.  Tackling the floors last allows the them to collect all the muck and dust and debris from all the other cleaning that’s going on.  It makes total sense, but it is the task that I hate the most.

When my sister and I were kids, I would always dust fold the laundry and she would always do the floors.  A fine arrangement if you ask me.  Unfortunately she doesn’t live with me anymore. Boo!!

Now that my daughter is getting old enough to help out and learn the OOTCB ways of home maintenance I am grooming her to embrace the floor cleaning.  So far, so good.  Tomorrow I will bust out the squirt bottle of floor cleaner and the mop and let her go to town!

What chore gives you the heebie-jeebies?  Maybe we can do a chore swap…I’ll come do any number of chores for you if you come clean my floor for me!  Sounds like a good deal to me :)’

Go Forth and Simplify!

Holly

 

Halloween/Harvest Season kicks off the holiday season and is the first time I really try to do any sort of decorating, and I didn’t even really embrace it until really just last year.  I have always decorated for Christmas, but Fall decor has been a bit intimidating…dare I say SCARY?

Part of my delay in decorating for this season is that we didn’t decorate much for Fall as kids.  We went all out at Christmas, but our mom put out only a small table scape for Fall.  It was fine because we lived in the country and had big open windows so we saw Autumn unfold all around us, but here in the city, in the middle of a neighborhood, there is a different feel and it makes me want to dress up my home a bit more. Another part of not embracing the Fall decor until recently is the expense of it all.  Decorations add up fast and I am reluctant to purchase things with out a clear vision.  I finally feel like I got a good picture this year and I like what I’ve come up.

The biggest issue I have with holiday decor is storage space (Surprise!).  Where do I put it all when the holiday has come and gone?  I have  decent attic space to keep a few boxes of decorations, but at the moment there is a 1965 Mustang parked in the garage right under the attic access.  I hear you saying, “Why, Holly…just back the car out of the way.”  Oh, Dear reader, I wish I could.  I wish I could.  Currently the car has the hood up and all manner of wires and parts scattered about the garage.  This is a post for another day….

I digress…What I mean to say is that storage for holiday decorations is, Ahem, limited.  Most of my Halloween/Fall decorations fit into one plastic storage container that resides under a desk with a table-cloth.  It’s not so bad…it has a place and is out of sight.  I’m not taking up any of that prime storage space we talk about in the book (pg 109 http://www.outofthecrayonbox.com/Shop_.html)

Since my Fall decorations have now expanded to two tubs, I have been graciously given a small space in the garage this year in which to store my Fall decor when it’s all over.

As you decorate for Fall…take a look at what you have and how much space it takes to store it all.  Do you really need all that stuff?  Is some of it getting a little tired looking?  Has your style changed?   Take this opportunity to DECLUTTER your decor and really OBSERVE and REFINE your look this Fall.  Challenge yourself to shop your home and repurpose items.  Challenge yourself to do more with less.  Above all, avoid letting the boxes of decorations take up valuable storage space.  Keep it all inbalance.

If you are the Halloween version of the Grizwolds…have fun and make sure you have a good plan for storing all your fun stuff so it doesn’t haunt your house all year long.

Go forth and simplify!

Holly

A big thank you to everyone for indulging me last Wednesday.  I hope that my journey somehow speaks to you as you work to create your own simple life.  Many of you are much farther down that road than I and I want to you feel free to weigh in with your own tales if success and how you overcame road blocks you encountered along the way.

Now back to our regularly scheduled tips and tricks and a story of something REALLY scary:

The Car (insert screechy, Psycho knife music here)…

Oh, my car!  It is perhaps the scariest of all the places in my life.  I have yet to master the art of keeping a clean car, but now that I have embraced the strategies set out by Out of the Crayon Box, I am confident that it will be a much better place.

Now that I have kids I can attribute the clutter and grunge to them. Pre-kids, the car was icky because I was just so busy teaching and coaching.  Add to the mix that my car is my office now since our new job keeps Mike and I very mobile.  Yeah!  That’s it.  What ever my lame excuse is, the problem is the same.  Clutter that keeps the vehicle from being clean.

On Wednesday I tackled the clutter.  I got an empty laundry basket and pulled out all the stuff that belonged in the house.  The pack-n-play went back under Ford’s crib.  The cups went to the dish washer and all the paper work from the jobs we completed and hadn’t been transferred to home office files came in. Then I drove to the car wash and pulled up to the trash cans and vacuum cleaners.

Here is scary part I was talking about.  I threw out the big stuff.  Cups, napkins, etc.  Then….I looked under the seats in the back (insert your best horror movie scream)!!!  Hair clips, markers with no lids, parts of little toys and crumbs…THE CRUMBS!!  Out they went.  $2.25 in quarters and 15 minutes later I had a nicely vacuumed vehicle.  A quick dash through the car wash got the outside decently clean.

I drove home and spent another 10 minutes with some car cleaner spray and paper towels and wiped down all the surfaces…doors, dash and seats.

The car looked pretty darn good!

As you have learned, OOTCB is all about helping people cut the clutter and providing a great maintenance system that doesn’t take very long.

So…from now on I have a specific maintenance plan in place.  When I gas up I will throw out all trash. I”ll even take a look under the seats to prevent the scary build up of kids junk under there.  I will keep a car care kit in the back…nothing fancy.  Just some spray and paper towels and about every other gas up I’ll do a quick wipe down of the console and dash.  I was amazed at how little time that took and how big an impact it created.

I’m not so scared of my car anymore.  This experience was proof to me that the OOTCB strategies apply anywhere anytime in any place.

Need a refresher on the basics of DO MORE?  Go get a copy of the book…It will make a difference.  I promise!  Here’s the link http://www.outofthecrayonbox.com/Shop_.html

Go forth and simplify!

Holly