corners

i’m a big fan of empty spaces. sometimes when people post photos of a space where a bookshelf once stood, or a corner that looks bare and ask others “what should i put here??” i want to respond with: n o t h i n g

leave it be. i don’t understand the desire to fill every blank wall or empty space with…stuff.

i will however say, that if you’re trying to declutter, it is so much easier to begin with just a corner. one corner at a time. make that corner something of beauty that brings you joy when you glance at it, rather than stress. make many little “corners” that bring you peace. if you start with just one small area, the task is far less daunting. and just like when your clothes start fitting better during a diet; it’s motivating to see small victories. the goal is to make your entire home fill you with happiness. get rid of the visual clutter. the things that you physically see that don’t make you calm. this little corner is off my kitchen and family room. and it’s such a peaceful little corner.Screenshot_20170912-152851

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dining room + clean spaces

our dining room is one of my favorite rooms in our house. every single item in this room is beautiful and brings me joy. i think this is one of the truest examples of the quote:

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i take so much pride in the things we bring into our home. the truth is, this room is easy to keep clean, because it brings me joy and is beautiful to me.

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in general, flat empty surfaces attract clutter. but when something brings you a high level of joy, it’s really easy to keep the mess away. this is a vibe i’m aiming to spread throughout my entire house. i want all of the areas of our home to make me as happy as our dining room.

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prime day!

i’m turning 30 in four days.

some people fear the big 3-0, but i’m choosing to embrace it, and i’m choosing to make some lifestyle changes while i’m at it. one of the things that is becoming really important to me, is becoming less wasteful. as a family of seven, our trash can fills really quickly. we definitely recycle everything we can – but there are a lot of areas of non-recyclables that we can cut down on. i’d like to make the next chapter of my life more purposeful in as many areas as i can. as a household, we are going solar. we’re really excited to get our panels installed so that we can make our footprint a little bit smaller. living in the desert, there is no reason we shouldn’t be utilizing the sun.

as far as cutting down on waste, we plan to start shopping in the bulk bin section of our local stores. as most of you probably know, the bulk section provides disposable plastic bags. plastic bags aren’t recyclable, so i’ve been collecting glass jars to use instead. as long as you pre-weigh your jars and write the weight on the bottom, the cashiers will have no problem adjusting the tare. i’d also like to purchase some resuable mesh produce bags and resuable shopping bags for grocery trips.

making small adjustments a little bit at a time, as our budget allows of course, will really help me achieve our goal of becoming a family that produces less waste.

here are some of the items i found that make an intentional impact on my goals, while i was surfing amazon during today’s prime day:

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potty talk

first of all. bathrooms are so gross. i just can’t.

i absolutely hate bathrooms. i hate dirty toilets. i hate counters. i hate the floors. i hate everything about them. its so much surface area to keep clean. this is where my 12 year old step daughter comes in. i pay her to deep clean all three of our bathrooms, twice a month. let’s be honest. it’s a worthy splurge.

one thing we don’t have, is a million bathroom things. we are pretty low maintenance people, and this is the one room i have things that i don’t use often – or at all. but i feel like, as a woman – i need to own. the face stuff on my counter has never been used. seriously. it’s purely for looks. #vain

also – i do own a hair brush, but i have no idea where it is at the moment. #mombun

first is jordyne’s bathroom. she has minimal storage space, and as an almost 13 year old girl, she has quite a bit of bathroom stuff. which is fine, she keeps it really well organized. little baskets are super helpful. i get them for her at the dollar store. here we go:

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as you can see, we buy razors in bulk lol. now onto the other kids bathroom. this next bathroom is shared by janie, lilly, trey, and jackson. although most of them use adam and i’s bathroom almost exclusively, and this one is super neglected. they do have a rug, but it’s in the washing machine. it matches the shower curtain – use your imagination…the freaking succulent still has it’s target clearance tag #decorfail :

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and onto the master bath. the video game controller (which i found, by the way, when i opened the cabinet to take this picture, lol) i’m pretty sure i hid from trey like 3 months ago in order for him to do chores. it’s still there, so…

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well there you have it. the places people love to snoop! nothing real exciting at all. if you’re wondering how you can pair down your bathroom “stuff”, i’d suggest to start by going through and tossing anything old and expired. anything that doesn’t bring you immense happiness. anything practically empty. and anything that can be easily replaced if you regret tossing it.

lately

everything’s felt pretty overwhelming to me lately. do you ever go through phases of life like that? where things just feel impossible to keep up with. it’s like keeping up with the jones’, except it’s keeping up with myself. when kids and life are just throwing things at you from all sides. example: we’ve been pulling clothes from the clean pile in the laundry room, instead of from our closets. weekends are usually when i play catch up after busy weeks –  but even our weekends have been jam packed. it’s nothing bad though. the kids and i went to mexico last weekend, and this weekend we are off to a local resort for a staycation. work hard, play hard, amiright?

anyways, i have had zero energy to blog, so i’m just going to share some pictures from mexico. those chubby sandy toes are everything.

kitchen accountability

our kitchen is such a random room, because when we moved in, this was the room that needed things first…. so we just sort of, put things anywhere. this post will definitely help hold me accountable for moving things around and making it purposeful, because right now it is a very confusing mass of drawers and cabinets (some of which are still empty lol).

the cabinets and drawers that we do use, bring really good mind to living with less though. and we are a normal family living and breathing up in here, so some things are in the dishwasher, which is why for instance, there is only one colorful bowl in the plate cabinet. the other is dirty. please also use your blinders to block out the finger prints and smears on the cabinets. they show every smudge.

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first i’d like to point out our tupperware situation. some people (not naming names – but not because i dont want to be rude, just because it would take forrrrever to name them all), hoard tupperware. they have all the tupper, and like, half the ware. nothing matches. nothing fits. and also, how many fucking leftovers are you storing, linda?! we use MAX, three tupperwares at a time. ever. as a family of seven. i’ve seen some tupperware cabinets (yes, entire cabinets dedicated to storing plastic leftover containers), that make me twitch. anyways, here is ours. and also our cups..again, some are in the dishwasher or being used:

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anyways, our tupperware shares a cabinet with medicine (seems safe?), cups, spices/cooking things, and small cooking appliances. i dont cook, so this cabinet is only useful for me for the meds, and the cups.

our pantry is a super weird shape. like an L. but you can’t really access the _ part very easily. we are normal american plastic bag hoarders. we have at least 234,546 of them. the george foreman stays in here, mop and broom usually actually don’t stay in here because that is kind of gross and odd, but i was too lazy to move them. i like to keep similar things in cute bins. one is for baking stuff, another is breakfasty stuff (and ramen lol, because again – this isn’t about perfection). another is carbs. like tortillas and bread. its basically organized, and again…pretty minimal.

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it’s so much easier just being able to glance at what we have. some of you are probably like GASP where are all the crackers and stuff? short answer: we don’t buy crackers and stuff. long answer: because the kids will eat it all in like 1 day, and then we are like, “where did all our money go and why don’t we have any fucking food?” we stick to meats and veggies, along with dairy products like cheese. no, not string cheese. for some reason that falls into the lets eat it all right now because its sooo cool even though we aren’t even hungry! 

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okay so we have 9 drawers, and i’m only going to post pictures of three. the other 6 currently hold important paperwork such as home warranties, appliance warranties, adam’s mining documents, and everything else that we need to go through and put in an actual filing system, rather than the kitchen. i’ll also add some pictures of the counters and just how we arrange stuff. no, they are not always clean. not even most of the time. but it is so easy to do the dishes and put stuff away because unlike people who have 340 cups, and 560 plates, we have just as many as we need. because of this, we don’t wait until we have 300 dirty cups piled up to do the dishes. we have to do them all.the.time. and there are so few of them that it’s a piece of cake.

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the left-of-the-stove-counter situation:

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the ridiculous woven basket/mother of pearl basket i found at goodwill:

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the silverware sitch. so many utensils….

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the knife drawer. the less things on the counter – the better. no knife block.

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another random drawer – the most organized of random drawers. + cute boho woven things to set hot pots on.

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sugar, flower, tea, ground coffee, alexa, jackie’s glasses, and some paperwork on the fridge for work. and the cutest mothers day card ever:

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kitchens can get really messy and overwhelming, really quickly. i think keeping this room minimal is one of the keys to keeping us at peace. we have a very large island and when things pile on it, our minds are just so distracted. i hope you all see the importance of really truly only keeping the things you absolutely use or need, and not feeling bad about letting go of the things that cause you constant frustration or take up too much space in your area or minds.

one of these is calming to look at. the other is a cluster. the cluster is always going to happen. no matter if you’re a family of seven or a family of three. the key isn’t avoiding the cluster completely. the key is having controllable cluster that doesn’t take ten years to clean up. if you don’t own a shit load of stuff, you never have a shit load to clean up.

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mornings

adam leaves for work before any of us wake up – so mornings with the littles are all on me. right now i’m just talking about janie and jackie. i wake myself up at about 530am and wake janie (5yrs old) up at like 5:31am while i’m on my way to the kitchen. she’s a morning person and is my number 1 champ. mvp. hero. give that girl an award. she is so sick of me because in my head i need to be like “go go go go go hair hair teeth teeth clothes clothes HURRY”, but i swear to god you guys…if i get this girl up and remind her to brush her hair after she gets dressed, she literally rolls her eyes and tells me ‘i know, blair”. the other day she LITERALLY told me “do you seriously think i’d forget to brush my teeth? today is my pool party at grans *insert another eye roll*”. my mornings would be so much harder with any other kid. she is great. gets up and goes. jackie on the other hand….is 4.5yrs old and i don’t even bother to wake him because he is such a beast, and to be honest, i’m kind of scared of him haha. he sleeps deeply, so i literally get him dressed in his sleep, flopping him all around like a rag doll. stuffing arms and legs through holes and putting his shoes and glasses on. then i go get myself ready and pick jackson up(he still isn’t awake lol), janie follows behind, and we are off to make our drop offs. they go to different places during the day because jackie’s daycare has a really long wait list at the moment, but janie starts kinder in the fall so only a few more weeks like this.

i know you’re all like – wow. for 5 kids that’s a pretty easy morning routine. and it is. i’m only responsible for 2 of 5. the school our kids go to has really late hours, and adam and i, plus the two littles are long gone before they wake up. they get themselves awake, ready for school, and out the door on their own. our mornings require zero fight. it’s glorious. and yes, i know we are lucky in this regard.

remember how i mentioned the other day that plenty of weird shit happens in our house? well…this morning i went into jackie’s room to get him clean clothes. this is what i found:

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chores

this is a topic that i could potentially spend a lot of time on, so get comfy.

when our families collided in the same home, i knew that it was going to be really important to stay on top of the house, or else it would get really overwhelming, really fast. i had an image in my mind of the way i wanted our home to be. i wanted the older kids to have friends stop by unannounced, to feel pride in their spaces, and to try to keep clutter at an all time low.

*about an hour after i had jackie wipe off the fridge, i went to open it and he told me, “don’t touch the doors, you’ll get your finger prints all over them”

for the past several years, the kids have had zero household responsibility. there was a long period of time where it was important that they didn’t immediately hate my guts, and i really wanted the kids to focus on getting to know each other, learning to play together, and just enjoying our new blended situation. in my mind, there was no time to interrupt their current job (of acclimating), to make them do chores.

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when we built our new home, i knew the kids were ready. i had much higher expectations of how i wanted our home to run, and i began enlisting their help. usually, when i get home from work i start cleaning before i even sit down. the only reason i do that is because if i sit down – i know i wont get up and do it later. so my day to day involves me walking in, setting my things down, unloading the dishwasher, putting all the pillows back on the sofa (who throws those things off, anyway?!), folding blankets, sweeping the kitchen, etc.

i digress.

so i figured the kids were ready to help me out, and i had this big plan in my head all worked out and rehearsed because i was sure i had ruined them by letting them have a chore free ride for so long. i got home, i sat down at the dining room table, called the kids around me and told them that i know this is going to be different than their usual afternoon, but that i was feeling really anxious about having to “do it all”, and that i really needed their help. i made it clear that mama was about to lose her mind, and if there was whining, and if they made it harder for me, i’d have to be “admitted”. naturally they asked me what that meant, so i proceeded to scare the shit out of them and touch lightly on mental illness lol, and those kids got up and cleaned my damn house.

so, that was really the first time they had been given chores from me, and that was a few months ago. i think by not making them do chores, but while also simultaneously keeping their spaces free of clutter, and clean, they came to accept in their minds what, or how spaces should be in our home. they are so willing to help me now. i still do the majority of all chores, because a part of me really enjoys it. I clean the kids rooms (although trey has recently been taking over that chore in jackie and his room, and he does a really great job…making bunkbeds is hard, though). i guess my point is, i didn’t create spoiled useless monsters by doing everything for them for so long. instead, i created kids who understand the importance of keeping their rooms and oue home clean, and they see and understand the purpose and benefit of keeping things neat.

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again – not perfect. things like baseboards and bathroom sinks and toilets and bathtubs….those are things i find myself not having the time or energy to do. i was recently planning on hiring someone to come twice monthly to do those deep cleaning things that escape me, but Jordyne said I could pay her half what i’d pay a maid, and every other week she would spend two hours deep cleaning things. we already started this arrangement and so far it’s going great. i dont pay allowance for the normal chores that the kids help me with now, like dishes, cleaning their rooms, etc. because those are just part of helping out the household.

fun idea for keeping floors clean: have each kid take a turn sweeping. One right after another. the last kid (so the 5th) to sweep, is bound to get whatever kids 1-4 missed! it also stops the fighting…like “why do i have to sweep but so and so never does?” you get to sweep! and you get to sweep! and you get to sweep! and you get to sweep! annnnd you get to sweep! 

in an effort to motivate, however…i did recently write down jobs on random days on our family calendar, with the title of a job, and amount it is worth. things like dusting, picking up dog poop, cleaning the bar stools, sweeping the front entry way outside the front door, cleaning the back sliding door window that the dogs rub their noses on, etc. all of these things need to get done regularly, so the more motivation the better.

*full disclosure: adam works outside every day, and its hot AF where we live. it’s soon to be 120f outside, and his only job during the summer is to stay alive. even so, he grocery shops, cooks all meals, plays with the kids, maintains vehicles, handles trash, landscaping, garage, and a ton of other things. he always offers to help with the inside, but as an act of service to him, it’s my choice to let him relax when he gets home. i understand other people might not agree with that, but i will happily wash his clothes and scrub his plate.