Tackle The Junk… Tips From A Reformed “Hoarder”

Tips to tackle the junk

I think I spent my childhood and teen years preparing for an audition for the TV show Hoarders… I saved EVERYTHING. Why? I’m not sure, I think I was trying to hold onto things as if I got rid of it it would disappear from my life. Control freak much? One year, there was a tearful garage sale when I discovered that my precious My Little Ponies were on the table for sale. It was not pretty. While I am much better at letting go of my things, it is still a struggle. Can you relate?

This past weekend I cleaned my closet. I love clothes, purses, and shoes so my closet can get a bit hectic. Pair that with bags and boxes of VHS tapes, burned CDs, art supplies, miscellaneous computer cables, art projects, and cards from loved ones, I had/have a big collection.

How do I get past my need to save everything?

  1. Recognize that you are not your stuff – Things are tangible representations the fun we had at a concert or on vacation. The ticket stub is just a piece of paper. Pictures can be preserved but best in an album, scrapbook, or on your computer (with a back up in a safe place). I know I don’t look at photos when they are in an unorganized box. You are not your stuff, it’s ok to let it go.
  2. Someone else can use it – Really. Donate old clothes so someone else can wear them, donate work and dress clothes to Dress for Success. An organization that provides professional attire for disadvantaged women. Set up a yard sale with neighbors or join eBay. Big items such as furniture can be sold on craig’s list or donated to Good Will. I find it much easier to part with something when I know that someone else can put it to good use. That makes me happy.
  3. Organize it – If you have stuff, organize it. When you get like things side by side you can prioritize what to keep. If you have 3 white sweaters, look at them together and try them on at the same time. Now you can decide what to keep and what to donate. Keep what looks great on you and nothing less. The only exception is if it is a functional item which serves a real purpose. A thick, heavy sweater for a cold blustery day is good to keep on hand. I know I really only need one of these.
  4. Scrapbook it – My girlfriend, Amanda, is a scrapbooking queen, I’m jealous of her dedication to it. She puts all of her pictures and memories in a book together. Having it all in one place helps to relive the memories. If you have all of your memories in one place, all of the extra stuff isn’t necessary.
  5. Stop it before it starts – The best junk to get rid of is the junk you don’t take home. A few years ago I made a resolution to only collect Christmas ornaments as vacation souvenirs. They’re small, and seasonal. So far it’s working. I try not to take papers or books from concerts and shows. I try to only buy clothes that I really like, fit me well, and look to be durable. Big sales are great but if I buy something I do not love, it will not be worn. And then I’m just wasting money.

Do any of these tips help you feel better about getting rid of things in your closet? Here’s one last tip if parting ways with your beloved stuff is too much to bear.

  • Make a Transition Box – Sort out the things you want to keep but haven’t used in a while. If you feel that you must keep this stuff but don’t have a need now for it, commit to putting it in a box for 6 months to 1 year. If you need it, take it out to use it but if you do not need or use the items in your box within your specified time period, you take that box and give it to Good Will. Say goodbye to the stuff and hope it has a long happy life with its new owners who can use it.

Does that help? It helps subside the anxious feeling I get when I think about parting with things. I know that if I don’t use it by the time the next season rolls around I probably won’t use it. And if I do want to keep it, I will find a way to use it.

Do you have a hard time parting with your things? Please share your tips below. I’d love to hear your ideas. Check back on Thursday when I share the process I went through when cleaning out my closet. I find that having a system is so so helpful.

Freezer Cooking… Everybody’s Doing It

photo credit: alsis35 via photopin cc

photo credit: alsis35 via photopin cc

The common theme I find around the internet is that people have too much going on in their lives and not enough time to cook and make good food for themselves and their families. The answer to this problem is  freezer cooking.

I remember hearing stories from a friend’s Grandma. She would go to the market the day of and buy the foods she needed for the night’s meal. All of the ingredients were fresh and each night you could have whatever you’d like for dinner. How awesome is fresh baked bread?  It’s not that way anymore, we don’t have time. Some people shop once a month or once a month.

Freezer cooking is a way to get back to eating healthy, real foods each night while still having time to live your life.

The idea is to dedicate a day to cooking meals for the week or month and packaging them in the freezer and easily bake/cook/reheat each day.

There are plenty of recipes that I have shared that can be easily frozen. Including  football chili, eggplant and orzo bake, minestrone soup, freezer waffles, pancakes, lemon raspberry muffins, cinnamon bread, apple butter, crepes, any cookies or bread items. Check out the recipe list for ideas.

I always make two pans of lasagna and freeze one for another day. And while I don’t consider myself an expert with freezer cooking, I found a few links to help you get started if you want to give it a try.

Other Helpful Links for Freezer Cooking:

Money Saving Mom regularly posts about freezer cooking. Read some of her recipes and freezer ideas here.

Happy Herbivore also shared a story on her site about eating veg on a busy schedule. Read ideas in the post here.

Ring Around the Rosies – I came across this series on Pinterest. It looks like a great series to get started.

If you’re freezing homemade bread, slice it first and toast or thaw the pieces as you need them.

Do you use your freezer for meals? How do you eat healthy with a busy schedule? I’d love to hear your ideas and tips, please share in the comments below.

How To Get Off Track

Image copyright KunPaoCajun.

Normally my How To posts are positive but today I’m mixing things up and instead of a recipe for success… this is a recipe for failure.

How to Get Off Track:

  1. Don’t Plan The Week – Failure to make plans for the week gets you off to a bad start.
  2. Skip Food Shopping on the Weekend – Starting the week off with an empty fridge is a big risk for failure. Cookies and sweets are always around.
  3. Don’t workout on Monday – You will make exercise excuses on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
  4. Watch Lots of TV – Why spend time doing something productive when you can procrastinate?
  5. Stay Up Late – You don’t need sleep!
  6. Spend Money Buying Lunch – Spending extra money on on extra calories.
  7. Skip Your Chores – Let the work pile up, do it another day.

Do you have anything add to this list? Having a successful week you’ve got to do a lot of things right. For me, messing up one or two things can set out a snowball effect for the week! I hope you have a productive day!

How to Save Time, Money, and Still Eat Healthfully

Image copyright adactio.

Here’s how, pick one day to prep food. Yes, it’s work but if you do it right you’ll eat well for the week and save yourself money. Win and win!

I am guilty of doing it too. I will buy tons of fresh fruits and veggies and then the next day look at the refrigerator and think “ugh. what is there to eat?”. Anyone else guilty? So to make an effort to eat up the good for you veggies and stay away from the super easy to unwrap and grab empty carbs here’s the plan.

Chop up carrots and celery – Don’t buy baby carrots, they’re OVER priced. Baby carrots are regular sized carrots that have been cut up for you. Buy yourself a big bag of carrots, like buggs bunny would enjoy, peel and chop them into sticks. Work on your knife skills and watch your fingers. 🙂 Now you will have carrots to snack on instead of chips. They’re in the fridge and easy to access. Put them in a cute plastic container and have dip readily available. Hummus is a fantastic partner to the carrot stick and healthy too. Here’s another tip, set the container out on the table in front of people. They will snack on them if they’re there.

Let’s go one step further. Since you have the knife out, slice up 2 more carrots and celery and put them in a bin for soup. Slice up more and toss them on top of your salad. If you chop up all of your veggies in one day all you need to do the next day or so is toss it in the crock pot. They will keep for the week and you’ll be good to go on the go.

Make a Big Salad – Ever buy romaine lettuce only to find it a week later in the vegetable drawer browning? Me too. On chopping day, break out the lettuce of your choice (the greener the better). Tear or chop into bite size pieces, rinse, and place in the largest glass bowl you have. Now we’re going to top that with our chopped carrots, chopped celery, and sliced red onions. Be mindful of cucumbers and tomatoes, I find that these veggies are best added before serving as they can become… well… mushy. Slice up day of or a day or two before and toss them on with your homemade croutons and top with this Italian dressing. The bowl will be empty by the end of the week.

Tackle the Onions – Get ready to cry. On chopping day we’re not only slicing up a red onion for our big salad, we’re also chopping yellow onions for soup. The knife is out and the cutting board is ready to go, so chop onions for vegetable soup, quesadillas, or lentil casserole. If your recipe calls for garlic, toss it in with the same container with the onions.

Prep the Fruit – Buying a whole pineapple vs. pre-sliced is much more cost effective but that’s if you take the time to cut the pineapple and put it in a nice bowl. If you take your breakfast on the go, arrange homemade fruit cups with individual serving sizes. Get crazy and toss in frozen blueberries too. They will thaw by morning and add flavor variety and antioxidants. Added bonus, you now have fruit ready to make a quick smoothie for breakfast!

Pick the Package – Getting everything to go is easy when you organize it in the right containers. Toss carrots, celery, onions, and garlic in a container. Now it’s ready to go into the crock pot in the morning, adding 2 minutes to your morning to combine the prepared ingredients but saving so much time when you walk in the door and have a meal prepared. Put snacky foods in a container together and put it in an easy to reach spot (read: eye level).

Other foods you can prep in advance: mushrooms, peppers, potatoes.

Give it a try and let me know how it works out for you!

How to Get Out of a Rut

Image copyright pmorgan67.

Sometimes the repetitive everyday gets us stuck in the same path and can be monotonous. Baseball players find themselves in slumps, writers have writer’s block, we all get stuck in a rut from time to time. I wanted to share a few ideas on how to get yourself out of a rut and experiencing the fun things of life.

  1. Mix up your workout – When I’m in a fitness rut I will buy a new workout DVD or try something new. Join a group or a new class.
  2. Try a new routine – Over the course of a week try different things; drive a different way to work, drink a new or different coffee, mix up your morning routine, try a new meal. You get the idea.
  3. If you’re feeling overwhelmed – Tackle the small tasks first. Start small and work your way up.
  4. Call up a friend – Talk with someone who you haven’t talked to in a while. Remember old times or talk about new plans. Sometimes the people in your immediate proximity can contribute to the everyday routine. Not that they’re bad, but it helps to mix it up.
  5. Work on a vision board – If it helps Oprah, it will help you. 🙂
  6. Make a list – I’m a list making fool. Uses lists to evaluate your goals and objectives and get your priorities in order.
  7. Splurge – Do something you wouldn’t normally do (of course, within economical limits). Find something fun to do, get your nails done, take dance lessons, have a nice dinner out. Enjoy yourself.
  8. Challenge yourself – Set at challenge for a week or for a month. A new found dedication and purpose can break you out of your rut.
  9. Use photos – Look at photos of your life over the years, look back on old times and rekindle the things you lost contact with. Did you like art in college? Try your hand at water colors or colored pencils.

Please note: This article is not about depression. If you have a medical condition, please consult a doctor. This article and all LAL articles are intended for helpful tips, not medical advice.