i said No to something i needed

Or perhaps more accurately, “needed.”

The cheap set of pots and pans we bought to set up house nearly seven years ago were at the very end of their life. We ditched them all and immediately bought two replacements – a sauce pot and a large frying pan with lid. I kept a short list of other items we deemed necessary, planning to watch sales and slowly acquire them.

Previously we had a smaller frying pan that we used a lot so it seemed like an obvious item to add to the list. I had already selected its replacement and earlier this week I found it on sale! I picked it up, I turned it over, I admired it again. It really is very nice – the Little Brother to our big pan. Then I put it back and walked away.

I realized in all those months that we didn’t have the small pan, I never once missed it. I never found myself with the bigger pan in use, panicking because I couldn’t finish a meal. We used the smaller pan because it was there, but it was never actually necessary. FullSizeRender

The big pan is a workhorse – 12 inches in diameter with deep sides, a lid, and second handle. It gets washed multiple times a day as we use it for almost every meal. We’re very careful to treat it well because it is the only one we have.

What else is on my List? Do really Need it or do I “need” it?

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i need a smaller dresser

Also known as, I Konmaried my wardrobe and learned how to fold properly. 

We downsized our clothing considerably a few months ago, but without free time to try out her recommended folding method, the keeps just got shoved back into our closet and dresser. The door and drawers shut without bribery or coercion so I considered it a win. 

I finished reading Spark Joy yesterday and decided to try this magical folding method. I honestly didn’t have great expectations because I consider myself reasonably good at folding and organization, but it really was as good as promised! Everything is visible when the drawer is open and the required storage space was reduced considerably. 

I’ve always been indifferent to our dresser. It was a freebie, and while perfectly functional, it is very large and very heavy. I’m excited to hunt for another piece that better suits our needs and space! 

  

Empty drawers! 

Middle and left belong to the husband, the right belongs to me. His work calls for grubby, notafraidtorollinsawdust clothing so naturally he owns more items than I do. 

My favourite drawers. Because that is now a thing. 

Jeans are hard to fold much smaller and Carharts are just multiple layers of misery. Since we have the space, I didn’t force it. 

 
The closet, just to provide a full picture of our wardrobes. 

Yes, he wears a lot of plaid. He works in the lumber industry so he comes by it honestly. 

We were each wearing an outfit and had 4-5 items in the laundry so this is a realistic picture of our dresser and closet on an average day. We have a few more shoes in a hall closet, but not many. I think we have reached the click with our wardrobes. There are a few items we’d each like to upgrade, but the amount is perfect. Now it’s all about maintenance.

the accidental habit of cleaning

It seemed that every new year, every month, every Sunday night I would vow to keep my kitchen clean.  I wanted to wake up to bare counters, not start my day staring at yesterday’s crumbs and dirty dishes. It never stuck.

Until it did.

I wasn’t actively trying to make Super Clean Kitchen a habit, but I noticed a few weeks ago that my kitchen was always clutter and crumb free when I woke up. Since my husband often works until midnight, barely glancing at the kitchen before he pours himself in bed, and since I am fairly certain there are not magic cleaning fairies that visit my house nightly, the change must have come from me.

Why was I suddenly washing those dishes right after supper and carefully putting away the pots and pans before I went to bed? The change was a result of two things – 1) drastically reducing the amount of stuff in our cupboards, and 2) storing nothing on the counters.

We have slowly reduced the number of plates, bowls, and cups that we own and while we’re not quite down to one set per person, we definitely don’t have two sets each so something has to get washed before the next meal. If we only own six plates and four bowls and four cups, the dirty dish pile can never be so deep that it feels daunting. I will never miss the days when we owned so much that even an overloaded dishwasher wasn’t enough to clear the counter.

My second secret is just a continuation towards having less – completely clear flat surfaces. As more and more space opened up in concealed storage I realized I didn’t need to keep a utensil holder on the counter when there was a half empty drawer right next to the stove. The butter doesn’t need to sit out when there is a perfect spot next to the glasses. I don’t need a spoon rest on the stove that’s primary purpose is decoration.

Now when I glance in the kitchen and see something on the counter, I know it is out of place. And given that everything has a place in a drawer or a cupboard it’s quite easy to return the offender to its home.

I waited a bit before making a proclamation. I wanted to see if this was a short lived trend or a long term habit. It’s been four weeks and the counters are still clean when I wake up. In this house it seems the joy of tidying flows nicely into the joy of cleaning.

done

I cannot describe to you the elation I felt twenty-four hours ago as my classmates and I walked out of our classroom for the last time. We are done. Five hours a day, five days a week, for five months with an hour and a half of commuting each day. It was the fastest way to get to the end, but oh boy was it exhausting at times. All thirty of us, with our prof, had a celebratory lunch before we dispersed to our homes. It was a wonderful end to a great chapter in my life.

This morning I submitted my application and now we wait. While it would be nice to land a job quickly, I am almost hoping for a week or two of down time. I could use the rest, both mentally and physically, and I have a long list of house projects I would love to tackle. That is why I chose this career path after all – where ‘full time’ is only thirty hours a week and vacation days are plentiful. I needed to balance my career with my family, I need to be successful at home so I could be successful at work.

Now off to the first task – sorting, organizing, recycling the mountain of papers that have accumulated in the past five months.

restructuring my career plans

One year ago I was sitting down with my boss planning my re-entry to the workforce after being away on maternity leave for 53 weeks. Some major changes were on the horizon for the job I once loved and while it seemed a daunting task to undertake immediately upon my return, I launched into it headfirst.

I nearly broke my neck.

The location changed. My job description changed. My hours changed. I hated it. I spent six months trying to make it work, trying to make it mesh with my young family, but I was failing both places. I was always exhausted and no one was getting the best of me, least of all my one year old son.

I like working. I find a lot of joy and fulfillment in my professional endeavours so, although the option to be a stay at home mom was available, I began looking at new career options. My criteria was long and specific, but several conversations with friends lead me back to the same idea – working with vulnerable and struggling students in an education setting.

Conveniently, I needed only a new certification to qualify for this job and there are a lot of openings for this position in my area so it seemed like a safe bet. One local college offered the required courses in a condensed five month full time program so that’s what I’ve been doing since September.

Tomorrow, I graduate!

I suppose then I need to set out and land myself one of these promised jobs to make the career change complete, but just finishing the certification is a great accomplishment. I went back to school full time, transitioned my son to a new daycare, supported my husband in his own career ambitions, and everyone is thriving. This alone was the goal. I needed to find balance for myself and my family and I did it.

spark joy

image

This arrived yesterday! I’m already halfway through and so excited to finish. It is a great companion to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and came at the perfect time. I’ll have a bit of free time after I graduate in two days (!!!) so every corner of the house is getting scrutinized again.

Stuff beware.

the actual shedding of stuff

My relationship with stuff has ebbed and flowed, but I’ve always leaned towards the less is more philosophy. Part of it was necessity – moving frequently for a few years, living in small spaces – but mostly I just don’t like clutter. I dont like to look at it and I don’t like to clean it so I try to avoid it.

About a year ago, not coincidently as my infant was becoming a mobile toddler, I began to loathe stuff. The excess that clogged up our small apartment and stole what little brain space I had left. I went through our house indiscriminately donating or selling anything that met my wrath. It was a successful endeavour – we had $1000 in our pocket and 4-5 trunkloads less in our house. Housework was easier and my brain was at peace.

Then I heard murmurings of a new book. I knew immediately that I would love it, but it was still a few months before I picked up a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It did not disappoint. With renewed energy, I went through our apartment again. I begged my husband to read it. We went through everything together once more. I wondered, after yet another trip to the thrift store, if we had anything left to get rid of.

But I still didn’t feel the ‘click’ that Marie Kondo promised. I knew we could live with less. Several months of evaluating how we live, what we use, what our priorities are and we’ve eliminated even more. It seems that every time we get close to that click our threshold drops again. Just tonight the kitchen was relieved of another boxful of its contents.

Minimalism has permeated every aspect of our lives and the journey it will take us on is still unknown. I’d love to open up the  cupboards, both literal and proverbial, in our home and share how we live and how our lives are changing.