Do you ever have those days? You know, the ones where the shine of life appears to have become a little duller. Maybe you had an exciting thing happen in recent past and now you have the blues? Maybe everything just seems to be going wrong?
We’ve all been there. We all know that times can be hard. Sometimes we wonder why we even bother. While the weight of the world can feel like it’s crushing us from the inside out, it’s easy to feel discouraged and defeated. With the enormity of all the terrible things that happen in our world every day, it can sometimes feel like there is no light left in this world.
But it is in those moments of despair, those lonesome, despondent moments that we need to remember one universal truth: Life is simply beautiful.
Now I must disclose that I didn’t always have this view of life. For it wasn’t until my late twenties that I started to perceive life’s inconsistencies less as obstacles and more as abstract art waiting to be molded into place. That beauty, like lives greatest moments, doesn’t just come into existence, it’s perceived, dreamed, and actualized into being. While beauty exists everywhere, it’s only when you stop viewing life by its absences, but rather as mess waiting to be colorfully perfected, does it come into practical, useful focus.
And ready for an even most revolutionary idea? Any of life’s messes can become art. But only the beholder, your own beautiful self, can become the perfection you seek to see in the world simply by changing your own attitude and approach to how you see the world. It was this idea, of choosing how to view the world around me, that made the hard times nothing short of magic in the making. And now the older I get, the more I seek out the life-draining minutia of life, so I can turn the scraps of yesteryear into the beauty of my tomorrows.
For weeks, I have wanted to create a post to serve as a reminder, to myself and others, as to why we should all not only fall back in love with the upcoming season but life itself.
For anyone who is currently questioning their existence and meaning. For anyone on the verge of giving up. For those feeling mentally, physically, spiritually, and financially exhausted, I present to you an alternative, tangible view-my 40 favorite reasons that I believe that the life that we lead is truly beautiful:
1) Waking up each morning — you are here, you are alive, and this day was made for the taking.
2) The face of someone you love — there is nothing better than seeing all that you love each day.
3) Having something to do — Purpose, no matter how small, makes life meaningful.
4) Nature — A gentle breeze, falling leaves, the perfection of the animal kingdom.
5) Music — it lifts your soul and every life needs its own soundtrack.
6) A warm embrace — Hugging increases your sense of humanity, and feels great, too!
7) Exercise — Moving your body makes can make all the difference in this world.
8) Kindness — Taking a moment to do one small thing for someone else can make this world even more amazing.
9) Taking a stand — Stand up for something you believe in. Use your voice.
10) Love — loving a person, job, book, or hobby. Fill yourself up with your passions brings joy to the soul.
11) Miracles- They happen every day, and humanity is at the forefront of this movement!
12) Potential- We have all done amazing things and have the potential to do so again today!
13) Invention- Necessity is the mother of invention, and we all possess the knowledge to creative awesome things.
14) Fearlessness- No matter what faces us, people can sit up and say ‘bring it on’. We are all winners.
15) Hard Work- It makes us stronger and anything you put enough effort into, you can achieve.
16) Love is Everlasting- Love has no expiration date, and how awesome is that?
17) Insanity can Spark Joy- Sometimes we can just laugh at how much fun we are. Life, you so crazy…
18) Never Saying Can’t- Everyday is an opportunity to say I can. And what’s more beautiful than that?
19) We are all heroes- You don’t have to fly to save the day. Sometimes all it takes is a smile from a stranger.
20) Anyone can change the world- Can a person become a movement? Sure. Ever heard of Mahatma Gandhi?
21) Conviction- Every one of us has the power to make the world better. With enough conviction, it can happen.
22) Perspective- Our world lets us change our view by changing where we stand, and that’s a beautiful thing.
23) Dreams- We live in a world where a child’s wish can become reality. And we are all someone’s child.
24) Treats make life sweeter-Sometimes nothing beats just enjoying what we’ve got, or an ice cream cone!
25) Comebacks rock- You might have been dealt a blow, but you live in a world where comebacks happen daily.
26) Your life is amazing- Just the fact that you’re here is beautiful. You were created. You truly are a miracle.
27) Our universe is huge- In a universe as mind-bogglingly huge as ours, there’s space for a lot of beauty. A lot.
28) Friends- A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met yet, no matter who they are. How beautiful is that?
29) Confidence- We are capable of anything we want, as long as we believe we can.
30) Winning happens- No matter how many times you lose, you still sometimes win.
31) Being awestruck- Sometimes there’s a moment the world is so beautiful, we can’t even speak. That’s awesome.
32) The right thing- People sometimes help others for no other reason than it’s what you’re supposed to do.
33) Nothing can stop you- You. Are. Awesome. Go out there and be awesome no matter what happens.
34) Every day is new- Life is just a long series of beautiful second chances.
35) Time- Time changes perspectives and given enough time… anything can happen.
36) You are unconditionally loved- No matter who you are, someone loves you. People care for you. You are loved.
37) Even scary things are beautiful- Things that scare us are just character building exercises in the making.
38) Hope- When people get you down, never forget we are all capable of awesome things. Like hope.
39) Searching- Beauty, it’s out there. We know we just have to find it. Luckily it’s everywhere we look.
40) Anything is possible- No matter what, we can do literally anything. And that’s the most awesome thing of all!
So, folks, that’s my current list of reasons I feel this world is beautiful. Reasons why I should want to smile throughout my day. I’m not giving you a smattering of platitudes, but a myriad of reasons I wholeheartedly believe to be true. When we allow ourselves to not be intimidated by those things that are not working in our lives and refocus our energies on obtainable goals, we can all find something to be truly grateful for.
While we may feel that these moments of beauty might not be in our own life at the moment, just looking outside and becoming emerged in the somethings beyond ourselves, we can all start to appreciate the wonders of the world. Perhaps even the goodness in other people’s lives. It is that perspective that can bring a smile to our faces and hope to our hearts.
As yesterday marked a new season, I find myself in a small moment of self-reflection. And just for a second, I beginning to lament about the inadequacies in my life. However, when I turned my focus away from work and towards my home office window, my panoramic of perspective changed. I saw the forming of a sunset, my family taking our dogs out to the front lawn, the falling of leaves, our neighbors car pulling into their driveway signaling their safe journey home from work, and in the background, I heard the sound of our electric pressure cooker coming off of steam, letting me know that a hearty, life-giving meal, was in my not-so-distant future. My small corner of the world seemed ever so beautiful again.
While it is important to have an awareness of the world and to be an engaged member of the global community, an encouraging force of advocacy, and a voice for against tides of tragedy and rage, we must all never loose sight of what’s truly most important. That to thrive in life means being open to finding the beauty in your particular here and now. The way the birds call to the world when they wake, the way the wind rustles through the Autumnal trees, the warmth of your bed at night, your lover’s warm embrace, the food on your table, and the security of having a place to call home.
Reminding yourself that life is beautiful helps to not only improve the quality of your life, but it also helps you to make small, proactive changes in our world simply by bettering our personal attitudes and opinions of others. Even this morning, as I wake up later than expected, drowsier than necessary, and appearing less put together than I would wish, I still feel that life, my life and yours, is utterly amazing and that is why I feel life is beautiful.
And if you’re anything like me, and you enjoy sporting your beliefs on your person, you are in luck! The shirt I’m wearing today, the Cents of Style Life Is Beautiful Tee, is currently on sale for only $15.95, with free shipping when you use promotional code LIFEIS1 at checkout. And it would be reminiscent of me not to mention that this sale runs through 9/25/16!
So friends remember: Be brave, be connected, be present. And to always remember that life really is beautiful.
Here’s to you,
Please note, this post contains my personal affiliate links. Thank you.
Good morning, savvy savers. Happy final day of Summer! As its the final day of the season, I wanted to share with you all a project I finished this past weekend, my Fall 2016 & Winter 2017 Capsule Wardrobe.
Just a few things to know about the creation of this capsule:
- This capsule contains only 33-pieces.
- This is a plus size capsule, but each piece could easily translate to a smaller, more petite capsule.
- I no longer work in a corporate setting. As I’ve transitioned to fully working from my home office earlier this year. My capsule no longer includes clothes and accessories for a casual office setting.
- I live in the deep south, which makes for mild, breezy falls, and minimal winter seasons.
- Each item in my post will work with at least three other items.
- I don’t follow an arbitrary numbers rule for my capsule wardrobe but instead, focuses staples.
- Jewelry, including my necklaces, earrings, and wedding bands, are not counted in my capsule.
- I will not be carrying a bag or tote this season, and will instead be taking my money envelope/clutch with me this coming season.
- Also not included: two pairs of prescription glasses, a travel umbrella, and my various canvas totes for the library, groceries, and the weekend farmers market.
My current capsule wardrobe is built upon basic, year-round minimalist staples, all staples which remain in my closet year round. So each season I only need to add a few more pieces to make for room for seasonally-appropriate outfits. This particular season’s capsule relies heavily on three quality pairs of denim pants and numerous scarves, many of which are handmade.
Also, while I am continuing my healthy living journey with PCOS, and in the process of losing more weight, I am looking to wear loose, simple layers that allow me to feel comfortable but yet still allow me to accentuate my style with seasonal, stunning color. I will be wearing all casual attire this season, including meetings, church functions, community activities, date nights with my husband, and the like.
This capsule reflects my current minimalist lifestyle and my plus size frame. For me, minimalism is a concept that can work with any size and with any personal style. This capsule and my personal stance on minimalism reflect’s just that, that in my current season of life, I am a work in progress. I love who I am. The beautiful woman who proudly wears a size 16. This capsule reflects my personal taste alone and is meant to only give others an idea of what may work for their own minimalist capsule wardrobe.
So, without further ado here are my capsule wardrobe pieces:
- Basic white tank top.
- Basic white tee.
- Basic Black tee.
- Cents of Style Life is Beautiful tee.
- Basic White Poplin Dress Shirt.
- Tan Cashmere Sweater.
- Grey Tunic Sweater Dress.
- Green Crochet Cacoon Sweater.
- Blue Plaid Blanket Scarf.
- Wool Orange Plaid Fringe Scarf.
- Yellow Crochet Scarf.
- Green Crochet Button Scarf.
- Red crochet Scarf.
- Grey and Beige Net and Fringe Scarf.
- Tan Crochet Beret.
- Cream Crochet Boot Cuffs.
- Cuffed Ripped Jeans.
- Tuxedo Dress Jeans.
- Dark Rinse Jeans.
- Brown Fleece-Lined Tights.
- Black Fleece-Lined Tights.
- Grey Fleece Jacket.
- Dark Rinse Denim Jacket.
- Red Wool Pea Coat.
- Black Rider Boots.
- Brown Rider Boots.
- Grey Cowboy Boots.
- Black Low-Rise Cowboy Boots.
- Cognac Combat Boots.
- Grey Slouch Boots.
- Brown Clogs.
- Black Mary Jane’s.
- Red Suede Mocassins.
So, that’s it, folks! There is my capsule wardrobe for the several months. I am super excited by its simplicity and comfort. I am also looking forward to a more simplified, relaxed capsule this coming season. These pieces reflect lifestyle. minimalism is quality. The fewer pieces you own, the more often they will be worn. Not only that, you want a piece to last more than one or two seasons, you want to build a life wardrobe.
Overall, the one thing I tried to focus on in terms of this capsule, and minimalist clothing capsules, is quality. Each piece in this capsule will last more than one or two seasons. This is more than a seasonal capsule, this is part of my life wardrobe. These pieces are easy to launder at home. These pieces bring joy to my life and ease to my mornings. These pieces are frump-free and fabulous. And in terms of a capsule wardrobe, are all I could ask for.
So, you may be thinking as to how you can start your own capsule wardrobe for this coming Fall and Winter, and I’ve also got a few tips for you as well:
1. Clean Out Your Wardrobe: You knew this was coming, right? There is no better way to evaluate everything you own, than going through your wardrobe methodically, piece by piece, season by season. Be sure to donate any piece that does not currently fit comfortably and reflects your true style.
2. Take A Style Inventory: Create a list of all pieces you have and are going to keep while going through your wardrobe. Identify key investment pieces you need and budget for them, including shoes, knits, coats, and bags.
3. Research Twice, Purchase Once: Go online and look at your favourite web stores, Pinterest, and Polyvore, and view their latest autumn/winter collections. See what styles and trends will fit your current tastes, and budget only for pieces you will wear for years to come.
4. Make a Style Inspiration Board: Use Pinterest to curate your favourite style inspirations and to figure out what you want your overall look to be for the season.
5. Reflect on Your Lifestyle: The perfect wardrobe should not only reflect your personal style, but also your lifestyle. Make sure your capsule reflects your lifestyle and not the life of others.
6. Show Your True Colors: A true capsule wardrobe should contain a majority neutral colors,a palette of blacks, greys, whites, and nudes, which allow to mix and match all your staple pieces dozens of ways in each season.
7. Quality Over Quantity: Ideally, a small wardrobe should consist of high-quality key pieces and low-cost essentials. This allows your personal style to shine. While trends may come and go, a great sense of style is timeless.
8. Seasonal Updates: All season trend items should be purchased in moderation. It is still acceptable to buy a few trendy pieces to carry your core wardrobe through each season and to give your wardrobe a refreshing lift, such as graphic prints and stripe varieties.
9. Buy Only What You Love: Careful consideration of what you need beforehand to prevent impulse buys and overspending. You should love everything you buy and each piece should compliment your style and be able to be carried through to next year.
10. Focus on Go-To Looks: Be sure to spend time putting together as many different outfits as you can for every scenario. Pay attention to detail like accessories and styling. Snapping pictures of your outfits can help laying out your clothes for the next morning all the easier.
So, everyone, I hope this post will be a good reference in helping you to establish an affordable, easy stylish wardrobe this Fall and Winter. I encourage you all to look into creating your own version of the capsule wardrobe as well.
Here’s to being comfortable in all your own clothes,
When it comes to cleaning, there always seems to be a bit of a hassle involved. Cleaning out a shed is no exception. For when a shed is really messy, it can not only be difficult to decide the best way to organize your space, but may over time, infringe on your ability to complete projects, quickly attend to household emergency repairs, put up holiday decor, or to seasonally garden and landscape your home’s outdoor property.
Even as a minimalist, my home’s shed was one of the hardest spaces in my home to organize. You see, by nature, I’m a saver, and my shed is where I logically thought to store all of the items I envisioned needing to keep our home in good repair. I felt that every extra hose, cable, bolt, nut, and screw, while not being used presently, would be used in the near future. In the attempt to be become a good steward of my home, I abused the purpose of my shed, a building intended to store only what my home needed at present, into an out of sight, out of mind wasteland for holiday decor, gardening gadgets, and building materials far past their prime.
Though there were many times I walked into the shed and put it into my good intentions memory bank to clean and organize this space, rarely did this manifest into action. While I could easily blame time, circumstance, and familiar obligations for my lack of shed cleanliness, the truth remains: I did not clean out my shed because I was okay with allowing this area of my home to become a catchall for items and projects that no longer reflected my family’s lifestyle or added value to my life. That I didn’t want to be confronted by all of the items I had accumulated over the past six years, in hopes of impressing others or to emulate the talents and aspirations of others successes on Pinterest I had once admired.
But the issues of my shed grew much deeper than simply a messy shed. I knew that my examining my shed, I would have to examine myself as well. That I didn’t want to delve deeper into understanding why I would spend thousands of dollars on countless gadgets and cords each year when my shed was already overrun with a myriad of these same unused items already. I didn’t want to reflect on the fact that for every misstep in my life, business, and marriage, I bought new, unused holiday decor to mask my unhappiness in other areas of my life. Why would have known that such a small space could contain so much, figuratively or otherwise? This past weekend I finally dug deep and spent two days peeling back the layers of my shed’s overgrowth, in more ways than one.
So, here are a few things I learned while cleaning out my shed, as a minimalist:
Start with a resolution of change: When I made this seasonal resolution earlier last week to clean out my shed, it was initially processed as a way to expand my minimalism post on my blog. Another check on the old editorial calendar, if you will. But the closer the day came to actually cleaning out my shed, the more excuses as to not completing this task began to creep up. I had to make a resolution to not simply organize my space this year, in hopes of just making it through another holiday season, but to create long-lasting progress for everyone in my family. This wasn’t simply a Halloween through Christmas decluttering project, this needed to be a dedicated block of time for reducing the items we owned as a family, just like the de-owning we completed on the inside rooms of our home.
Create boundaries: I married my best friend. A man who takes pleasure in providing not just my needs, but my overall wants as well. And it is because of his desire to be a giver, that my husband has never liked to say no to any requests I made for holiday decor, gardening tools, and even for power tools I suggested he buy not only for his own projects but for my collective inspiration du jour. Your’s truly, on the other hand, was never willing to put a spending or spatial limit on my whimsical wants lists and often went to the store with the knowledge that no matter what new fangled item I could amass, my shed could accommodate it’s long-term storage needs.
So for this reason in year’s past, my husband and I would purchase new storage bins to accommodate all of my growing collections of holiday decor each and every Black Friday. The downside? Not only was this a passive-aggressive was for me to spend frivolously and emotionally manipulate my husband into buying me expensive craft store finds while I professed the need to daily live on a budget, but our shed contained dozens of tubs of plastic, overpriced holiday decor, of which most never saw the light of day. This was simply wasteful consumption, and we were not happier by any means as a result.
So, this past weekend my husband and I went through our holiday decor. I made a lot of due apologies to my husband, and my husband vowed to financially keep me more accountable for my holiday decor accumulation and spending. We each then made a pact to keep only the items that truly sparked joy, could not be replaced, and helped us celebrate the holidays each year. We also made a rule to only decorate for Harvest and Holiday moving forward. No longer would decorate for Halloween, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Saint Patrick’s day, Mardi Gras, Cinco de Mayo, Spring, Thanksgiving, and the like. Decor would be limited the holidays that brought us the most joy as a family. Decor would be limited to the places that its presence would bring us the most enjoyment, on our mantle, entry area, and front porch.
Another new change? No longer would we place holiday lights along the length of our roof this December, in hopes of mimicking our neighbors, or to be featured in our local newspaper. Instead, our lights will reflect a more simple, more dignified porch-scape. This change will help us to lower our power consumption, be more tailored to our tastes, and would not express the desires of our neighbors and passersby, but what we as a family wanted to see during this and future holiday seasons. This small change will help us to be able to take minutes rather than hours to put up, take down, and store holiday decor this coming season.
My husband and I also made a pact to keep all of these items confined to four large, sustainable bamboo wooden trunks, and to not purchase any new holiday decor, even if it is on sale after the holidays, for three years. We hope that this time will help us truly dig deeper and see with each passing season what items we treasure and what items we can donate to others. We created holiday spending and accumulation boundaries. We believe that this boundary will help us economically, emotionally, and environmentally more conscious as well.
Understanding that organizing my shed only caused more clutter: Normally when doing a massive cleaning of a shed, the first thing you would typically do is to find all the things you can throw away, and then reorganizing the remaining items. The idea that future cleaning and organizing endeavors will go more smoothly if you’ve gotten rid of a few things you don’t need today. This past weekend we decided to take clearing out our shed t the next level.
In hopes of creating a more minimal and cathartic shed space, we removed every item from our shed. Each item was placed in out carport, and all organizational items, bins, totes, and baskets were removed and immediately taken to donation. Without the crutch of plastic totes to help us organize our belongings, we could no longer shuffle items, or organize them. e painstakingly went through each and every item, and within a few hours over half was taken away to donations as well. All remaining items were placed on hooks on the walls, placed in the four wooden trunks, separated by holiday, or openly stored for immediate use. Items that needed repair were repaired and made ready for use as well. It was so freeing to no longer see walls upon walls of plastic storage bins. I also gained another bit of perspective, organizing, especially with
As we painstakingly went through each and every item, we began to see how by removing the access we could clearly start to see all of the better more lasting investments we had purchased for our home. We were more prepared for home ownership than we had previously thought. At this point, all remaining items were placed on hooks on the walls, placed in the four wooden trunks, separated by holiday, or openly stored for immediate use. Items that needed repair were repaired and made ready for use as well. It was so freeing to no longer see walls upon walls of plastic storage bins. I also gained another bit of perspective, organizing, especially with plastic totes and bins, is simply a fancier term for hoarding.
Safety should be maintained: When we started sorting through our shed we started to notice how many chemicals we owned as a family. From spray paints to varnishes, our shed has slowly over time turned into a nuclear power station. So one of the first things we did was figure out what chemicals we no longer needed, pulled them to the side, boxed them up, and went online to see what agencies would help us properly dispose of these unneeded and dangerous agents in our shed. Everything from expired cleaners, old paint, and dried up liquid items were removed. Cleaning out our shed made our home a lot safer for this coming season and on.
Recycle first: In many homes, sheds are where recyclables that may have piled up. From newspapers kept for painting projects and fire pit starters, to plastic bins and jugs, all of these items should be recycled when no longer in usage.
Make everything within reach: One of our big projects this past weekend was to make everything within our shed accessible for immediate use. So once everything that needed to be discarded was removed, we started to place items we knew we needed to keep back into our shed in an orderly manner. We placed items we needed for this coming season on lower shelves, and items from the next gardening season on higher shelves. We made sure to only use shelves my husband could reach without having to access a ladder. Accessibility also meant ease of use, so these same shelves new mason jars for housing bird seed, grass seed, and plant food. And when it came time to place our tools back in our shed, we placed small, galvanized metal hooks all along a single wall and hung each tool. Hidden tools are unused tools. We sought to create more usefulness in our shed. Each tool in our shed is now used or is a necessity item in our home shed. Should we need a specialty tool for a future project, we will borrow or rent tools instead.
So, in just nine and a half short hours later, our shed was transformed from an emotional and economic deluge into a minimal, useful space. I can only imagine how much nicer the holiday season will feel when we will no longer face tripping over anything in the shed. But what I know to be true right now is that cleaning our my shed helped me grow as a person and be a more responsible steward to our home, a better wife, a strong person, and a more savvy saver in the process.
But with all of this said, what does this mean for you? With the gardening season soon at an end and the holiday season being just around the corner, this is a great time to not only clean out your shed before the chaos of the holiday’s but to help bless other families with as well. And the best part? By minimizing your shed’s possessions, come next spring, you won’t have any excuses to get your gardening and Spring cleaning started early. You’ll be more than ready. You can create a more prepared home today, cost-free.
So, savvy savers? Do you have any plans for decluttering projects this coming season? I’d love to hear about it below.
Here’s to more minimal sheds,
Hello again, savvy savers! Looking out of my kitchen windows I can currently see that the leaves from my beautiful Maple and Pecan trees are starting to fall. The hot, humid days of summer are giving way to crisp, cool, throw-an-extra-blanket-on-the-bed nights days. And this change could not come soon enough for me!
What’s worse, if you feel like your allergies are starting sooner this year, it’s because they are. Ultimately, climate change, and the resulting higher temperatures and increasing carbon dioxide, allow pollen-producing plants to live longer and to produce more and more mega-potent pollen. And this year, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology announced that the season will extend through November, rather than ending in September, as in years past.
Savvy savers, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer for 4 more weeks. For lately I have started on a new natural allergy fighting path and have found that there in fact foods you eat that can help stifle your sniffling, watery eyes, and general malaise, including my favorite Fall Soup, Sweet Potato Soup with Thyme.
So, why sweet potatoes? For starters, this seasonal favorite is one of nature’s top edible antihistamines, contains large amounts of use, soluble vitamin C, and quercetin (a powerful flavonoid, sometimes called bioflavonoid). Additionally, sweet potatoes are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, acids that help to reduce allergy symptoms.
In addition to sweet potatoes, this soup utilizes the natural healing properties of thyme. This ancient herb is known for its ability in treating congestion. Thyme is also useful for helping to clear stuffy noses, coughing, sinus infections, hay fever symptoms, and allergy-induced headaches as well.
So here’s how I make this awesome allergy fighting soup:
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon Fresh thyme (dried can be substituted as needed)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.
- Next, add onions to your oil, and sauté until golden and translucent.
- Now, pour in the broth and bring to boil over medium-high heat; 2-4 minutes.
- Add sweet potatoes and ginger.
- Be sure to reduce your pans heat to medium-low.
- Simmer this blend until your sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a fork (about 20 to 25 minutes).
- Purée soup in a blender or immersible hand blender, and blend until smooth.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Top with fresh thyme and serve hot.
I encourage you all to try this awesome soup to help you with your and your families allergy this coming season.
Here’s to your health,
Hello again, savvy savers! Looking out of my kitchen windows I can currently see that the leaves from my beautiful Maple and Pecan trees are starting to fall. The hot, humid days of summer are giving way to crisp, cool, throw-an-extra-blanket-on-the-bed nights days (unless you live in Mississippi where we have a true Indian Summer and humidity may again rear its ugly head). And this change could not come soon enough for me! I love Fall, the sights, the smells, the food, the holidays,
I love Fall, the sights, the smells, the food, the holidays, and my favorite, anything pumpkin spice flavored!
Mind you, there is one exception to my list of fall favorites, my seasonal fall allergies. Now if you’re anything like me, this time of year your ragweed and allergy may have you running indoors, preventing you from seeing and experiencing all that is great this time of year.
If you feel like your allergies are starting sooner this year, don’t feel alone, because they are.
Ultimately, climate change, and the resulting higher temperatures fluctuation, paired with global increases to carbon dioxide levels, allow pollen-producing plants to live longer and to produce more and more mega-potent pollen. And this year, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology announced that the season will extend through November, rather than ending at the end of September as it normally does.
Savvy savers, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer for 4 more weeks. For lately I have started on a new natural allergy fighting path and have found that there in fact foods you eat (and again should not eat) can help stifle your sniffling, watery eyes, and general malaise.
What’s more awesome is that the foods that are particularly helpful in fighting allergies are seasonal food options, currently available now from your farmers’ market and super-centers, at reduced, stock-up and Blanche-me-now pricing! So now is the time to hit the market for these nine fabulous, frugal, fresh finds!
1) BROCCOLI: This dinner staple serves two purposes in fighting your allergy symptoms. It’s high in allergy-relieving Vitamin C, and it’s a member of the crucifer family, plants that have been shown to clear out blocked-up sinuses. Researchers from Johns Hopkins have found about 500 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C a day can ease allergy symptoms, and just 1 cup of raw broccoli packs about 80 mg.
2) KALE: This superfood contains another awesome form of vitamin A which is thought to improve allergy symptoms. A number of studies have shown that people with low vitamin A stores are more likely to have asthma and allergy problems. And as savvy savers, why often see savings app deals on Kale weekly, making this an affordable, natural option this season.
3) COLLARD GREENS: In full disclosure, I must admit that I love collard greens! As a southerner, it’s a staple in out home, especially in the fall, and for New Year’s Day meals! However, if your nose is being hijacked by hay fever, serving collard greens weekly can help!. Their phytochemical content eases allergy issues. The darker the leaves, the higher the carotenoid content. A twice weekly serving of these affordable greens can truly help!
4) ONIONS AND GARLIC: Onions and garlic are packed with quercetin, which is a natural antihistamine, and helps quell inflammation in your system, which helps stem the side effects associated with allergic inflammation, such as stuffy noses and watery eyes. Consider couponing to score free frozen onions and garlic, awesome for quick stir fry meals, and sandwiches this fall!
5) PUMPKINS: This visually appealing fall staple, is rich in allergy-fighting carotenoids, the form of vitamin A, which helps the body to better ward off allergies. There are hundreds of ways to consume this festive beauty, including coffees, bread, soups, stews, pies, and much more!
6) CARROTS: This carotenoid powerhouse contain lots of healthy beta-carotene, to help ward off your ragweed drudgery. Consider throwing carrot sticks in for lunches, or trying glazed carrots with dinners.
7) CELERY: Celery is full of vitamin C, making it an affordable allergy tool. But did you also know that celery can also help high blood pressure and chronic pain? Consumed raw or cooked, you will benefit from this veggie, without losing access to its nutrients. And don’t ignore the leaves; chop those up for use in soups and stews to get their vitamin C content, as well!
8) STINGING NETTLE: This affordable herb helps stifle the inflammation, as contains histamine, the chemical your body produces during an allergic reaction, so by taking this herb, you can help your body acquire tolerance to seasonal allergies.
9) CRANBERRIES: This seasonal beauty is a powerful tool in terms of antioxidant fighting. This fruit can be your new go-to to fight free radicals. A bonus? Cranberries, to its role in the synthesis of collagen, can help keep you looking younger too! Savvy savers know, this coming season will many BOGO deals for fresh, dried, and frozen cranberries.
I hope these tips can help you naturally fight your fall seasonal allergies too!
Here’s to your health,
Good morning, savvy savers! With Autumn just around the corner, it’s time to conquer those end of season deep-cleaning chores that help you and your family enjoy a clean and comfortable home this winter.
Personally, I love seasonal cleaning- it helps me prepare for the upcoming holiday season in a non-chaotic, orderly, and somewhat fun manner. And what better way to usher in the upcoming fall season than a clean, orderly home? With this in mind, I want to share with you all how I break down my own season chores as part of my Fall Cleaning Chore Checklist.
- Clean and store patio furniture, umbrellas, kid’s summer toys.
- If you own a pool: Drain the pool, if applicable. Close it up for the year.
- Check caulk around windows and doors.
- Inspect external doors and garage doors for gaps which can cause drafts.
- Wash exterior windows.
- Check outdoor trim and touch-up paint as needed.
- Install insulating covers on exterior spigots.
- Check outdoor trim and touch-up paint as needed.
- Clean out outdoor lighting. Replace bulbs as needed.
- Check gutters and downspouts.
- Have chimneys and flues inspected and cleaned if necessary.
Shed & Garage:
- Inspect external doors and garage doors for gaps which can cause drafts.
- Wash exterior windows.
- Drain and store all garden hoses.
- Store flower pots; plastic pots will need to be cleaned, emptied, bleached, and air dried.
- Terracotta pots should be sun-sanitized, stacked, and stored on their sides.
- Sew grass seeds, as needed.
- Purchase bird seed, and keep feeders stocked for the winter.
Canned goods: Canned goods cannot be allowed to freeze. When canned goods freeze, they stand the chance of cans bulging, which can cause the seam and lid failure, which can cause food-borne illnesses, not to mention to fail, changes in product texture, flavor, nutrient factors, and product color. Most canned goods are packed in a solution of salt or sugar, which lowers their freezing point, but canned goods should not be stored below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Before temperatures freeze, this season, move canned food indoors.
Insecticides: Products in foam-based product cans should be stored in warmer climates.
Soft Drinks, Coking Oils, and Cleaners: Freezing can have adverse effects on liquids such as soda, cooking oil, soap or detergent. Basements are a great place to store these goods. Frozen detergents and cooking oils can be brought back to room temperature by placing them in trash bags, at room temperature, and then storing accordingly.
Dried Foods: Foods that are dehydrated or freeze-dried will actually last longer in the cold since there is no water in them to freeze, or can be frozen in deep freezes! This also applied for flower and plant seeds.
Paper Products: Household goods, such as paper towels, can be kept in cooler climates in your home. This could also be a great time to donate disposable, one-time use goods to local food pantries or shelters and invest in more zero waste methods for your home!
Produce: Some produce such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and apples will actually keep longer stored in bins in cooler climates or sheds. If you use this method, be sure to check produce weekly, and with any sign of aging the produce should be composed immediately. This is especially true for potatoes, which can emit deadly gasses if left to rot for several months.
- Wash all windows with glass cleaner and wipe down with a microfiber cloth.
- A handy tip? Clean windows on a cloudy day so you can better see any streaks left while cleaning.
- Vacuum all canvas, cotton, upholstery, and fabric blinds with a low setting and a brush attachment.
- Vacuum and spot clean upholstered furniture and cushions.
- Vacuum baseboards and corners well.
- Clean out and vacuum vents.
- Vinyl shades can be wiped down with a dampened microfiber cloth.
- Dust, wash, rinse, and dry painted or wood-paneled walls.
- Clean ceiling-mounted light fixtures.
- Dust your electronics. Start with your CPUs, handheld devices, and phones. Make sure to clean and wipe down the keyboard, and dust off the monitor with a microfiber cloth.
- Wipe down the kitchen cupboards.
- Dust off the refrigerator condenser coil.
- Look over your wooden floors. Fill scratches.
- Wash down walls with a mild astringent or cleaner, and dry with a dust mop.
- Spruce up your computer. Defrag and recycle all unused files.
- Straighten up your closets.
- Create a capsule wardrobe.
- Clear kitchen counters of all appliances not used within the last week. Donate as needed.
- Organize kitchen cabinets, paying particular attention to baking supplies, pans, and equipment.
- Straighten-up the linen closet. Air out and declutter blankets, down comforters, and flannel sheets.
- Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Replace the furnace filter.
- Turn mattresses to equalize wear.
- Launder or clean all bedding: mattress pads, pillows, duvets, blankets, comforters.
- Clean all humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and diffusers.
- Drain sediment from hot water heaters.
Allergy Hot Spot Chores:
- Clean blades of ceiling fans.
- Sort and clean any extra zones such as linen closets, utility closets, and office spaces.
- Be sure to use bathroom fans and clean up any standing water immediately.
- Scrub any visible mold from surfaces with detergent and water, and completely dry.
- Keep your home humidity levels at or around sixty percent.
- Remove pet allergens by vacuuming frequently and washing upholstery, including your pet’s bed.
- Diffuse daily.
- When mowing and gardening, be sure to wear gloves and a N95 particulate pollen mask (Centers for Disease Control (CDC) NIOSH rated), and to avoid touching your eyes, and be sure to wash your hands, hair and clothing once you go back indoors.
Keep in mind, deep cleaning your home from top to bottom will essentially take several days. Do not attempt to clean your entire home in a day, or a weekend for that matter. Take a week, break off chores into chunks, utilize your family for aid and resource, and give yourself the grace of time and consideration of your everyday life when completing this expansive list. Also, you can get a head start by changing your air filters every three months and using filters with a MERV rating of 11 or 12.
My biggest tip? Be sure to vacuum regularly to get rid of dust mites. Use a cyclonic vacuum, which spins dust and dirt away from the floor, or a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. And as always, be sure to wash bedding and stuffed animals weekly.
Moreover, consider this when devising a fall cleaning schedule:
- Are you the kind of person who wants to do a little every day?
- Would you rather tackle it all at once so that you don’t have to think about it for the rest of the week?
- Do you work full time or are you home during the day?
- Do you have young children at home whose chores can be incorporated into this system?
As there is no one “right way” to keep house, and so no universal cleaning schedule that will fit every household’s needs. Just sit down, take an hour, and create a system that will work best for you. Being prepared for the cooped-up winter months ahead is the long-term goals, so by adding a few small, obtainable cleaning goals a day is the way to go! This is a challenge to make your home as healthy as it is steadfast this coming season.
And if you are looking to see how I organize my year round cleaning schedule, you can also take a look at my general year-round printable list, too!
So, savvy savers… do you have any tried and true methods for cleaning around your home this time of year! I’d love to hear about them below.
Here’s to cleaner homes this Fall,
Recently a neighbors clothes dryer died and in passing, she casually mentioned to me, “I don’t know how you do this every day!” And by this, she meant air drying all our laundry outdoors on our patio lines. My simple to answer: Gladly.
You see, our family purposely and intentionally does not own a dryer. This is despite living in one of the most humid states in the union, Mississippi. A state where we go from wet, gloomy early Spring days, to humid, hazy days of Summer, straight into hurricane season each Fall. Even with this in mind, I still feel that air drying our clothing is completely manageable, and I dare say I personally find it liberating to be dryer-free.
Mind you, this was not always the case. When we moved into our house five years ago, we celebrated our move by purchasing a brand new washer and dryer set. An expensive set with all the bells and whistles. This set was both a source of pride for my husband and myself as we were able to purchase the set debt-free with cash. We loved our washer and dryer. This was of course until a year ago, when in the course of a later Spring thunderstorm, our washer and dryer set was rendered useless due to a rogue electric current a mere six days after our set’s extended warranty expired. A week later, and after two repairmen informed us that our set would cost more to repair than replace, my husband and I were devastated and without a washer or a dryer.
The bright side to this defeatist moment? It was at that time I started my journey into minimalism, so when it came time to price out a new set it dawned on me to think small, smaller, and smallest when it came to buying major household appliances.
After much research, my husband and I settled on a small compact Haier washer, a washer that can be tucked away into a cabinet, closet, or cupboard. A washer whose gray water could be harvested to water our flower beds, and was also energy saving, which would help us decrease our overall carbon footprint and lower our energy consumption bills, and could be housed indoors in our small galley kitchen.
This did leave us with one issue. What about a dryer? While our washer did have a compact dryer available from Haier, it was not a matching unit and cost one and would cost one and a half times the cost of our washer. So we simply opted to not buy the dryer. We socked the money into our savings account we had previously budgeted for a dryer and decided to put up an outdoor drying line instead. Our idea? Should we ever change our minds we could always buy the dryer down the road. And a year later that day has yet to come.
Let’s also consider one of the other great reasons we opted to not purchase a new dryer, pure economics. Let’s run the numbers a bit to find out. According to the National Energy Commission, the average dryer uses 3.3-kilowatt hours of energy and estimates an average of 11 cents per kilowatt hour. And as an average load of clothes takes about 45 minutes in the dryer to complete, this makes each load of laundry $0.36 per load, per day to dry. A cost of $131.40 per year, assuming you only dry one load of laundry per day This figure does not include both peak and non-peak hours that dryers remain plugged in while not in use.
Not having a dryer saved us more than $262.80 the first year alone, which completely reimbursed our family the cost of our washing machine. This was a zero waste victory if I do say so myself.
Not owning a dryer also helped me to sharpen my homemaking skills as well. For the first few seasons of now owning a dryer, I learned new methods for keeping my laundry piles tamed. For example, in knowing that it takes two days to dry heavier fabrics such as denim to fully dry, should a family member need that item of clothing, I would simply need to allow enough time for drying that item. As my husband needs denim pants each week for Dress-Down Friday’s, I wash his denim on Tuesday’s to ensure they are always ready to be prepped for Friday mornings on Thursday nights.
I also found that I no longer needed to wash towels, hand towels, robes, or bed sheets daily, and could instead opt for weekly washing. By this same token, heavier cool-weather layering pieces such as winter sweaters, blazers, and scarves can be worn three or more times before needing to be washed. And as for quilts, these linens would only need to be laundered seasonally in lieu of each month. With the exception of bath mats and reusable kitchen towels, very little household laundry needed to be washed daily.
I quickly came to realize that living sans a dryer, and the overall concept of zero waste laundering is more about time management skills and planning, and not on energy dependency.
So you may be thinking how do I actually dry everything? Well, as previously mentioned we do have an outdoor 3-segment clothes line. To construct our lines, we used a bundled laundry cord purchased from our local hardware store for under $10.00, attached it to a board on one side of our patio and the other side of the patio to a previously unused patio swing bracket, using six large eyelet screw hooks. Bearing in mind that each line measures 24-feet long, and when using the three lines for a laundry session, I can fit nine loads of clothes out to dry.
Bearing in mind that each line measures 24-feet long, and when using the three lines for a laundry session, I can fit nine loads of clothes out to dry. Each line is very sturdy, and monthly my husband readjusts the lines for me to make sure they stay taught.
Now in the Wintertime, or during periods of rainy weather, I dry clothes indoors. We have two drying racks. One rack is a standard, wooden accordion rack and the other a taller umbrella rack. These racks work well, and when opened up fully take up only six square feet of floor space, and when adjusted down store neatly in a closet.
When I need to dry indoors, I place my clothing racks in my dining room or storage room, both rooms with large windows, and the placed clothing is generally dry the same day I wash. For my husband’s work shirts or any item that needs to hang to dry, I put them on hangers and hang them from the arch of our dining room. They also dry the same day as well.
For our family, one full load will take up one drying rack with the addition of shirts hanging on the arch, so I always make a point of washing one or two small loads of laundry daily to keep laundry piles at a minimum. Hanging clothing this way also helps to all but eliminate the need for ironing these items as well which is a huge bonus!
Another reason I love not having a dryer? Sun bleaching! Since becoming a minimalist with a zero waste household, eliminating toxic chemicals from our home is always a top priority in my book. As a result, I have replaced chlorine bleach, color-safe bleach, and oxygen-based laundry additives with vinegar and baking soda laundry bombs for white loads. I have found that this method works well, but for extra bacteria-killing and brightening power, nothing beats the sun. Just leaving my reusable kitchen towels on the line for a few hours in the sun leaves them not only smelling fresh but looking their best as well!
And what’s my favorite reason for not owning a dryer? Not owning a dryer gives me intentional periods of peace during my day. For when I’m hanging out my laundry, especially in the crispness of the Fall, I am able to leave the confines of my home office. I’m also to walk outdoors, fell the warmth of the sun on my skin, soak up a few minutes of natural, life-affirming vitamin k, and take time out of my day to just breath in nature. Just those modest ten minutes in nature are renewing to my entire being.
So I say all that to say this: Not owning a dryer helps us as a family lead a more sustainable, budget-friendly, peace-filled life. We are able to live a fuller live with fewer major appliances, lower our carbon footprint, and have fewer personal streams of consciousness and productivity interrupted by the buzz of an ended dryer cycle. I am one step closer to mastering my minutes. And that brings me nothing but joy!
So everyone, do you or someone you know hang their laundry out to dry? Please feel free to share any tips for better drying or managing the family laundry with us all as well.
Here’s to more sustainable homes and lives,