One At a Time

Quick note: The title of this post is much more fun if you read it as though you were in this Key & Peele sketch

The tiny step for today was setting up a Google spreadsheet for my husband and I to write down our expenditures. We have tried a couple of budgeting programs in the past, but thought it might be a good idea to start simply (and free). I think the practice of logging what we spend will be eye-opening in itself, before we even look at broader categories and goals. To start, we’re just committing ourselves to tracking for one month. If that works, then we’ll do another, etc. 

That was today’s step, but I feel like I did so much more and could be getting carried away. Surprise! It’s tough for me to pace myself when I feel like I am on a roll. I collected some articles that I will read and post about later–part of a bigger idea I’ve been rolling around for a few days. 

I also re-read a favorite post, one that actually makes me happy and excited: “56 Things to Do Instead of Spending Money” from And Then We Saved. I love that suggestion #2 is “build a fort,” and that #40 is “wash all your linens.” For whatever reason, I find this list to be a good reminder of things that bring me joy and some peace. I plan to read it often. It also made me wonder if I might enjoy using some of my massive yarn stash to knit hats and scarves to be donated to those who need them. Fun + free + a good thing to do. 

Lastly, a Facebook friend of mine posted an intriguing article about keeping a bullet journal. I am definitely interested–so neat, so personal!–but as I’m trying to de-clutter already, I could easily see my mind/emotions getting further cluttered by trying too many disciplines at once. Keeping that idea in my pocket, though. 

So yes, one baby step a day can seem limiting on some days, and impossible on the others. I must trust that it all works just a bit like therapy–if that baby step I’m passing by today is important, it will be back later. 

Back On the Horse

So I made it four consecutive days before missing one? It’s like Lent, right–I get to skip the Sundays? I digress…

Yesterday I “pushed the easy button” for a potluck brunch at church. As much as I love to cook, elaborate preparations are not really a thing that happens in our house these days. So I hard boiled a dozen eggs, packed a pretty bowl and called it a covered dish. I struggle sometimes with the line between simple and half-assed, but when I’m honest about it, it’s usually me doing the judging, not others. 

I also had a moment yesterday when I thought I was going to lose my shit over the house being a disaster (thought not because the house was a disaster). So today it was back to basics–washing the dishes, putting the toys up and making the bed before the end of the night. When all else fails, do what you know works. 

And I’m happy to report that I made it in and out of Target today with only two purchases that weren’t absolute needs. I had a 50% off coupon for the first, and the second was a new scrub brush for my shower. Anything I can do to incent myself when it comes to that particular household chore is worth it. 

Inside the Box

Today I went to the dollar store and picked out a couple of containers to store items I had reorganized yesterday. It’s easy for this to fall into the category of “moving clutter around,” but these are regularly used items that had been sitting out in the living room (example: a pile of bibs living on the back of an armchair) and that are now neatly stowed in a cabinet. 

Later in the day, I was being a little tough on myself, thinking this didn’t qualify as today’s baby step, and I looked for something else. I read an article, to supplement my “less than” action, but I’m not even going to link to it here because I found it overly long, broad, vague and cliche. 

Maybe the article sowed some seeds that will sprout at a later time, or maybe not. The whole internal experience drove home the word I want to keep in mind for 2017. Not three words. Just one, though with several meanings.

Enough. 

When talking about baby steps, one tiny action is, indeed, enough. It does not need to be something to write home about (or write a blog about). It just needs to be what it is. Enough. 

As 2016 comes to a close, I want to take one more moment to be thankful. It has been one amazing and mind-blowing year. Happy New Year!

Plug n’ Play Meal Planning

Today I reorganized my kitchen cabinets. But that wasn’t my daily step–the cabinets were a project that had been on the list for a while, especially now that my son is eating more foods and his things are needing more space in the kitchen.  But as a part of this process, I did set out a box to set aside donations, and I’m finally able to let go of some things (ahem, yogurt maker) that I’ve held onto for too long and moved too many times. 

Today’s daily step toward simplicity was not far removed from the kitchen, however. Today I simplified my meal planning by setting up a schedule. Meal planning helps my family to eat a little more healthy and spend a lot less money on food, but coming up with the weekly menu can get a bit daunting, especially when you’re trying to take sales, coupons and rebate apps into account. 

My new generic meal schedule means I know what type of meal we will have on which nights, and then before I do the grocery shopping, I can plug in the appropriate recipes based on that week’s deals. Take a look:


We started the Sunday night pot of soup thing a couple of months back and have been greatly enjoying that. I’m pretty excited to give this a try because it takes some of the decisions out of the process without removing too much choice or flexibility. 

Bon appetit!

Step #1: Write It Down

For my first day, I took the suggestion of this article suggesting “7 Tiny Steps for the Beginning Minimalist,” and I wrote down my reasons for wanting to live more simply. Like really wrote it down, with a pen and paper. 

Here are some of the highlights of what I hope to find through simple living:

  • More time to spend with my family
  • The easy feeling of living in an uncluttered space
  • Financial savings
  • The freedom to make more sustainable choices, and to waste less
  • Greater appreciation for the things that bring me joy

As a follow-up, I should mention that I always have a lot of surplus energy at the beginning of a project or practice, and that this energy inevitably slows to a drip in the following weeks. In order to keep some momentum without burning out, I am allowing myself to collect articles, but not to plan anything beyond what tomorrow’s baby step will be. This brings some of the fun anticipation I crave, but minimizes the all-or-nothing stakes that often get in my way. 

The Thing About Artists

Paintbrushes by aidanmorgan, via FlickrThere’s this thing I envy about artists, but it might not be what you think.

Sure, I’m often jealous of their ability to create something beautiful and appealing to the senses, and the way the thing they picture in their mind somehow comes out through their fingers or eyes or mouths looking pretty much like the original.

There certainly have been times I wished I could pull off some of their wardrobe choices. And who wouldn’t want an excuse to browse brushes, paints, pens, instruments, fibers, papers, glazes and tools. Or to feel the medium under your hands or hear the music through your headset and know that the sculpture is emerging from the proverbial marble.

No, the thing that really gets me about artists–especially, I would imagine, those with some level of formal experience–is their ability to stand up in front of people and to articulate the abstract ideas, themes and emotions that went into their work, to explain their process and to own their decisions without the hemming and hawing and self-doubt that most of us exhibit when we’re accepting a compliment on our shoes.

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