Tuesday, December 31, 2013

International Green Minimalist - Best of 2013

New Year's Eve is one of those times of reflection as well as excitement for a fresh start.  Since January 1st, 2013 my husband and I adopted a simpler lifestyle, traveled, completed our masters degrees, moved across the ocean for a 2nd time and started our careers.  All these things came with challenges, but we cannot wait to see where 2014 takes us.  I have enjoyed sharing my thoughts on minimalism, green living and travel with all of you and I look forward to continuing this amazing journey.

In this spirit of reflection I would like to feature the top 5 most popular posts from 2013:

Moving Overseas - The Minimalist Attempt


I hope this helps energize and motivate you as you enter the new year!  Happy 2014! I will see you there!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Paper Clutter Solution - 2nd try

Finding an effective paper filing system that works is tough.  Before our second move this year we did an overhaul of our paper clutter in Paper Clutter - It happens to us all.  After 5 months living in our new home back in the US, we found that the paper clutter was out of control once again!

 "Enough!" I declared! Time to try something different.

First steps:

1) Identify the problem:

Flat surfaces in the house were becoming a dumping ground for paper clutter and going unchecked for too long.
Unsorted piles made it difficult to determine what needed filing.
We were losing track of important documents.

2) Create categories of paper that come through the home:

Bills to be paid
Other documents needing attention
Junk Mail
Paid bills, pay stubs

3) Create a filing system:

I had files and bought a simple and cheap file stand for the desk.  I labeled each file according to our categories.

4) Create rules:

No papers are allowed to be put on a flat surface in the house, all papers when brought in need to be filed in the appropriate file folder.  Once a week we will go through the folders for documents needing attention and then will file documents that must be kept in an accordion binder.  This way, the folders will not overflow, we will know where to find the documents we need, and Junk Mail will be tossed once a week into the recycling.

As with all decluttering solutions, it is important to find one that works for you and your family's lifestyle.  The best way is to keep trying new ways if old ways are not working, be honest with yourself about why something isn't working, and make sure your solutions play to your strengths.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Revising a Minimalist Wardrobe

I ran into a dilemma recently as a minimalist.  I needed new clothes.  And I mean it, I actually NEEDED new clothing.  Entering a professional full time job, I needed to have appropriate clothing to actually look and feel...well...professional.  Most of my adult life has been spent in the military, college or abroad in countries where the culture is much more casual than here in the US.  But with my goal of fitting all my clothing into ONE suitcase, how could I possibly go buy more clothing?

After standing in front of my minimal wardrobe for a while, I came up with a plan. I do need to buy some key items to fit my new role in the workplace, however, I do not need to double my wardrobe in the process. So here are the steps I took:

1) I made a definition of what I want my wardrobe to look like:  I want to have a mature, stylish and professional wardrobe that can easily go from the office to hanging out with friends with minimal changes.  

2) I donated anything in my wardrobe that does not fit that definition.

3) I started shopping with purpose. I made a short list of items that I needed and stuck to the list. I needed dress pants, dress flats, a pencil skirt and a few button down shirts.  Anything extra I wanted to buy I had to think of an item I could give away in exchange.

So far this method has been working for me and my wardrobe is not growing, just changing to better fit a new phase in life.  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

My Mental Clutter

Searching for a job is not easy.  When we moved back to the states in July I gave myself 4 days to get organized and then dove head first into job applications.  I had started the search while abroad, but orchestrating the move took most of my time and energy.  By September I was getting frustrated and a bit down on myself but I also enjoyed the flexibility of time and the ability to take on different projects.  I worked on my blog, created a small business, Your Simple Home and volunteered my time at a local elementary school and programming on the college campus where we live.  But as they say, when it rains, it pours, and soon I found myself with two part time jobs.  I was elated to start working and thoroughly enjoyed both workplaces.  However, I found that my mind couldn't stop working.  I tried to create a schedule between the two jobs and to focus on each one individually, but it was difficult!  To feel on top of things at both places I would check email at home and even work on projects.  My blog fell by the way side, as did my business and had no time to volunteer.  I was overwhelmed, stressed and felt like I was constantly running a marathon.  Luckily, I will be starting full time with one of the jobs this Monday and this should help me clear some of my mental clutter and my hectic schedule.  While going full time will increase my projects and responsibilities at work, I will have one office to go to, one supervisor and one set of staff with which to work.  I will be able to have a more steady schedule and focus more and relax more while at work and not be as worried about forgetting or missing a critical detail.

While I have focused a lot on minimizing my things, I now will be able to turn to simplifying my schedule and my mind.  I am hoping that I can move forward with my blog, and pick up a few new clients with Your Simple Home as well as get re-involved with volunteering in the community.  But, moving forward, I will choose more carefully which extracurriculars to take on and make sure I leave time for family, friends and myself.  My goal is to feel calm, serene and simplified from within.

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Minimalist in Black Friday Madness

There is nothing like Black Friday to bring a minimalist back to her blog! It has been a while since my last post as I found myself in the midst of 3 jobs and a very cluttered schedule, more on that soon!  

My husband and I made it home for a long weekend full of get-together-s and meals with family and friends.  I had no intention of setting foot in a store at any point during the weekend, let alone Black Friday.  There was nothing that I really wanted, and nothing that we really needed.  Little did I realize, however, that a restaurant that a friend asked us to meet her at that Friday morning was at a...dum dum duuuuuuummmmmm........MALL.  

While the crowd wasn't rowdy, the parking situation was horrendous and we ended up resorting to valet parking for $4 (normally would never do this, but it saved us a BIG headache).  We ate brunch, the company was amazing, and then we walked around with our friends for an hour.  In each store I found my eyes drifting to slashed prices and an abundance of merchandise.  I picked up many items and highly considered purchasing.  But, something stopped me each time.  Something didn't feel right.  The crowds of people, the anxiousness in the air, the extremely long lines....this wasn't the way I wanted to shop.  I didn't want to buy things just because they were on sale, I have all I need.  I have plenty of clothes, I haven't been restricted in what I can make in my kitchen, and my home is simply decorated and doesn't need anything more.  I managed each time I got sucked into the Black Friday Madness, to pull myself back out again.  At the end of the day, my Black Friday was extremely successful: I celebrated a friend's engagement, saw two childhood friends and their growing families and had a wonderful dinner with family and friends and celebrated Hannukah.  Any deal I would have found that day would not have compared to that!

I hope all my readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday weekend filled with good food, friends and family.  Please share your memories from the past weekend in the comments! I want to hear all the fun stories!