Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sometimes More is More

I firmly believe in all things in moderation. Including moderation. In my opinion, the best time to be moderate on your moderation is Christmas. I love nothing more than a tree packed with ornaments, too many lights on the front porch, and indulging in an extra treat here and there. There is a reason that this time of year is called THE HOLIDAYS! All of those other holidays come and go so quickly, but this is a whole season of joy. Why not load your iPod with Christmas music and play it too loud?  Who says its silly to let your kitten treat the Christmas tree like his personal cat toy? Eat a little cookie dough and brownie batter, I won't say a word! Christmas comes once a year, and its over before you know it. 

So you can KISS (keep it simple stupid) for the rest of the year, but you have my permission to go a little crazy for the Holidays! 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Just Because Your Mother is Coming...

It's that time of year again. It's getting colder, the holiday shopping is in full swing, your pants are all too tight from the constant treats, and oh, yeah...your mother is coming to visit!

Maybe its not your mother. Maybe its your friends or siblings, perhaps you are hosting a Christmas party, or possibly, your (gasp) in-laws are coming. For me, this is the time of year when I walk around the house with a critical eye and start thinking about buying shiny new stuff to replace the stuff that was perfectly good for the past eleven months.

Case in point: when my parents visit, they sleep in my bed (because my "guest bed" is an aerobed on the floor and my mom's knees don't handle that well). This week I bought a memory foam mattress topper (which is AWESOME!) that I had been planning to buy but specifically thought it would be nice for when my folks arrive. Fine. Next I started thinking that I should buy some new fitted sheets with a thicker pocket to hold the mattress topper better. Then I got to thinking that the guest bed duvet really needs replacing. And so on.  As if my check card really needs more use at this time of year.

When I wrote about having a deadline party, I told you that having house guests really compels me to buckle down and get things done around the house. I do tend to be more productive with a deadline, but  I can easily get carried away with what needs to be done to make the house "presentable." I have been sleeping on the same sheets for months now, and they have been just fine all along. Knowing that visitors are coming does not change anything.

Bottom line is that our mothers love us, ratty sheets and all. Our party guests are much more concerned with the company, food, and beverages than with the price point of our sofas.  I can't give you much advice about in-laws, except to say that your very complex relationship will probably not be affected by whether you purchase new dishes or not.

So this year I am resolving to keep the Monsters in my brain from getting out of hand by not buying anything for the house that I was not already planning to get.

I read a passage by Erma Bombeck a long time ago, in which she reflected at the end of her life on what she would have done differently. She wrote, "I would have eaten popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace." (for the whole passage click here: http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/11882.Erma_Bombeck) When I am looking around my house thinking that my dining room chairs are not that nice and my living room rug needs to be replaced, I try to remember that quote. At the end of the day your stuff doesn't make a nice holiday memory- you do that with yourself and the people you love. Or are related to anyway.

So goodbye for now and don't forget to KISS (keep it simple stupid)!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On Overpacking

I read a guest post on Zen Habits today  about traveling lightly. The author, Francine Jay, explained that she learned of the joy of traveling lightly, and then applied those principles to her life in general, thereby becoming Miss Minimalist in the blogsphere.

My problem is that I hate travelling lightly. I would rather lug an inappropriately large suitcase up the steps of the New York subway in the rain(and I have!) than open my bag and not have something I want. I have tried many times to restrict the amount of luggage I carry and each and every time I regret not having something that I left behind because it didn't fit in the suitcase. I never bring more than I can carry myself (a point of pride for this single girl), but I still carry a bag full of spares,back ups, and just-in-cases.

What I am learning from all of these blogs and books on simplifying is that I'm just not a minimalist. I crave simplicity and less clutter, but I still like to have stuff. I want Christmas decorations and too many shoes and enough matching glasses to serve everyone that comes over. The important part of this realization is that I don't even want to be a minimalist. I could sell all of my stuff and take two backpacks to Australia (a la Baker and his wife from Man vs Debt), or quit my job and move to Guam (like Leo Babauta), or live in an 86 square foot house (as in the Tiny House movement), but these are not really my goals. For me, simplicity means living within my financial means, not getting too weighed down by my possessions, and knowing where stuff is in my house. Simplicity also means focusing on my own goals and not getting too bogged down on what others are doing. Ironically, this is Leo's advice in The Simple Guide to the Minimalist Life.  For me, it is truly about needing a simple guide to a great life- or actually just taking the time to realize that I already know how to do it!

If you are reading this blog, you are probably seeking simplicity in your life also. What does simple mean to you? Is is a large suitcase full of possibilities, a tiny backpack that you can sling over your shoulder, or perhaps skipping the trip altogether and having a relaxing staycation? I would love to hear!

Until then, KISS (keep it simple stupid)!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Deadline Party

If your dining room table is cluttered, your bathroom is getting a little grubby, and there is a huge pile of stuff waiting to be taken to the thrift store, there is only one good solution: it's time to throw a party.

Having a party is a really great way to create a deadline for getting things done around the house. Decide what needs to be done to make your house presentable for company, estimate a reasonable amount of time to get it done, and invite people over shortly after that timeframe. This gives you a reason to get things finished and also an enjoyable reward for when you're done.

I'm going pretty simple this weekend and having a few friends come over to watch football tomorrow afternoon. I planned a little get together because I have been such a lazy housekeeper recently- I have been cleaning parts of the house here and there as needed, but have not had the entire house clean all at once for a long time.

I also have some other home improvements that I want to accomplish by the time my parents visit for Christmas. I am having the furniture and rugs steam cleaned next week, and am hoping to replace the counter tops in the kitchen by the time Saint Nick comes around. I will also need to clear the guest room of things waiting to be donated or sold, and somehow make some room in the guest room closet (which is now the most moster-ridden closet in the house).

The issue is not that my parents would judge me for having old counters, a messy guest room, and sofas with a mild whiff of dog, but that I'm much happier to share my home with others when it is looking its best.

On a related note, I made my first Ebay sale yesterday! A big thanks to Baker from Man vs Debt, who wrote this great guest post on Zen Habits about selling things on Ebay: http://zenhabits.net/ebay-guide/. If you are a little intimidated by the whole process (like I was), let Baker help you get started!
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