February 8th – “Get your household together and have a last-minute purge today.”

When life gets busy, it often gets messy. This weekend, my friends and I are celebrating Galentine’s Day and I am so glad that I’m not hosting it at my place. My house is a wreck. I didn’t have the energy for a big purge, but I did manage to get rid of a few things.

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I’ve been collecting these egg cartons for a few months. I save them for a friend who gets fresh eggs from her mom’s farm. I could give them to her every week when I see her, but of course, I don’t do things the easy or logical way. Should’ve, would’ve, could’ve but didn’t!

It didn’t take up very much space in the garage, but now that the cartons are gone, it’s amazing how great I feel! I invested so much energy thinking about them when I didn’t have to at all. Who knew that one simple act could make such a difference?

Well, I sort of did (intellectually anyway), but I don’t always do what’s good for me. I know I’m not alone! How many times have you told yourself that you want to read more, eat less, exercise more, or try harder? I have said this to myself countless times, yet that list of doesn’t seem to get shorter. I’m good one day and terrible the next!

However, all is not lost. I just need to remember that habits may be difficult to create, but certainly not as impossible as I make them out to be in my head.

For tips, check out this article: Why We Don’t Do The Things We Know Are Good For Us.

December 8th – “The work of your hands will take center stage today.”

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A friend lent me her copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, so I spent the last 24 hours using my hands to tidy up my house.

Having a clean and organized environment is super important because it helps me be more productive and calm. When I start a new project, I like to take time to clean and rearrange my space to suit the particularly assignment at hand. Every project deserves its own environment for creativity to flow.

Don’t get me wrong, my work space doesn’t stay cleaned the entire time. In fact, it progressively gets messier as I get into what I’m doing. That’s okay! It’s actually good because it means that I’m really focused and not distracted anymore! Hooray!

I’m starting a new writing project, so it’s the perfect time to put my hands to work by cleaning.

The tip I followed from Kondo’s book was to clean and organize by category, not by room. This makes sense because it’s faster to do one type of chore, rather than switch gears by doing a variety of chores. For example, cleaning the kitchen entails: washing dishes, mopping floor, organizing cupboards, wiping down surfaces, and cleaning the refrigerator. That takes hours and I usually lose steam before I can finish the job! It’s much more efficient to do all the dishes in one shot. That means gathering up all the mugs that I have lying around in my living room, work space, and kitchen. Done!

Cleaning by category is also more pragmatic than cleaning by room. If you have guests coming over, would you prefer to only have your living room cleaned, or all the floors in your house vacuumed? Perhaps you will be more convinced if I give you a more extreme example:

My indoor/outdoor cat, who usually does his business outside, likes to poo in the house when it’s raining. He doesn’t like getting wet in the rain, so he leaves surprises for us all over the house. Would I rather clean my bedroom (where I’ve cleaned up some of the cat poo) and have poo lying around in my living room and kitchen OR clean up all the cat poo from every room? I think you’ll agree that it is way better to NOT have cat poo in ANY room, than have a clean bedroom!

After cleaning up the cat poo, I focused on two things:

  1. Laundry
  2. Papers and Books

Laundry was easy because it’s something that I do every other day. I gathered up clothes from my car, the bedroom, the hallway, living room, and even kitchen.

I did the same with my books and papers. This process was a little harder, but more interesting because I had to go through the items more carefully to see what could be recycled, donated, or re-shelved. It was amazing how many half-filled notebooks, scraps of paper, junk mail, and books I had lying around.

Here are some before and after photos of my entry way:

In my mess, I rediscovered one of my favorite books. A Language Older Than Words is a memoir by Derrick Jensen. It’s amazing how he’s able to weave personal struggles and politics into a story that every day readers can appreciate. I particularly recommend this book if you want to understand the dynamics of violence.

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October 25th – “You’ll have the desire to make a fresh start in your life.”

dsc06897My life is a mess. I mean that in every possible way.

The best way to start fresh is to get rid of all the old stuff that isn’t relevant to my current life anymore. This includes people, thoughts, and things. The first two are hard, so I decided to start with the last.

Things are easy for me remove because I’m not as attached to material goods as I am to ideas and people. I cleared off my desk and made room on the shelf for new books. I’m saving the closet for next week, so the next purge was the refrigerator.

I have had a few dozen apples sitting in my refrigerator for over 2 months. It hasn’t done anyone harm by occupying the bottom drawer, but it has become another thing on my “to do” list that hasn’t been addressed. Every few days, I expend mental energy thinking about how I’m going to cook these apples, but haven’t gotten around to making it a priority. Today, I put an end to it.

I have a long list of baked goods I want to make that don’t involve apples so I decided to do find another use for them.

First, I made apple sauce. All you have to do is chop them up and boil them until they’re soft.

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Then you mash them with a fork or a potato masher. That’s it!

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Then, I made dried apple chips. This was also super easy. I sliced the apples, threw them on a pan with parchment paper, and baked them for about 2 hours in the oven at 230 degrees. For extra flavor, cinnamon is a good addition.

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My apple problem has been solved! I’m ready for my next challenge!

September 25th – is good day for “decorating the home,” and “completing unfinished work early in the day.”

Today’s horoscope is taken from a Chinese zodiac reading. If you’re unfamiliar with zodiacs, you are not alone!

Zodiacs and horoscopes are similar in that they are both determined by when you were born. There are many differences between the two forms, but one of the key traits is that zodiacs are defined by your BIRTH YEAR (of the lunar calendar), whereas horoscopes are based on your BIRTH MONTH (of the Gregorian/Solar/American calendar). If you want to learn more, I found this website useful.

What I like about zodiac readings is that there is often a good time to clean/decorate your house. Today was such a day! Lucky me! Well…it could have been, had I started earlier in the day as it instructed me to!

I TRIED to finish a cabinet project for my bathroom. I bought a used cabinet from Goodwill about a month ago in hopes to transform it from a dull brown to a vibrant red I would love. I started sanding it a few weeks again, but haven’t touched it since. Unfortunately, I didn’t wake up early enough and by the time I was ready to get to work, it was already a 97 degrees, way too hot to do anything but eat ice cream on the couch.

Instead, I cleaned and rearranged my workspace, both of which were long overdue. The before and after might not look very impressive, but I sure feel different in this space!

For me, decorating also means putting up some new paintings. I worked on these two bulldogs tonight. They still need more work, but I think it’s a good start!

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I plan on sending these to a friend who lives a couple of states over. The paintings are inspired by his two French bulldogs, so I think he’ll appreciate them.  Meanwhile, I can enjoy them in my space for another few days.