Downsizing to reduce clutter and to live a more joyful life!

February 12, 2018

A few years ago my boyfriend and I started a Project Downsize in an effort to reduce the visual noise and outright clutter in our space. We wanted our home to be a reflection of the creative and easy lifestyle we desire to live.

As someone who constantly fights the battle between a home that feels cozy and filled with all the things I love (verging on hoarding) and a home that feels neat, tidy and organized, this was a challenge for me and all of my motivation quickly melted back into the couch. The timing also coincided with a full year of stagnant energy. If you lived through 2017... I'm sure you felt it too.

Viva, Project Downsize! 2018 edition.

These days we are feeling much more "unstuck" and quickly picking up speed on manifesting a few of our dreams. The original Project Downsize surrounded comfortable living in our current home, however, this time around we are shooting for a new dream. Ultimately, our goal is to live for a period of time in a tiny house or park model home on a 5 acre partially wooded lot while we build a small home that is tailored to us. Around it will bloom a herbal and vegetarian homestead (not vegan, because...chickens), a family, and creative spaces for both of us. A studio for me and a woodworking/auto shop for Will. A simpler life full of rich experiences.

It is becoming much more common these days to seek a simpler way to live, even if it doesn't involve "going tiny". I think on some level we are all looking to define ourselves by something other than our 9-5 career and enjoy this one magical life in a way that is meaningful by our own standards and not just the societal norm. Some may think we are crazy, but that's's our own kind of crazy.

The timeline for this project is to be "complete" by the end of Summer 2018. By complete, I simply mean that we will have all of our belongings pared down and ready for a tiny living lifestyle even if we aren't ready to move yet. With the exception of some furniture to sell and maybe some keepsakes to store, by September 1st we want to be ready to pack up and go.

Here's what is on the project list so far...
  • Go through ALL clothes and list anything that hasn't been worn in a year for sale 
  • Go through All accessories and list items no longer worn for sale 
  • Sell all kitchen appliances that are no longer used or are in need of an upgrade
  • Go through shoes and sell any that are no longer worn but gently used 
  • Develop a capsule wardrobe (and determine if any key pieces are still needed)
  • Remove all boxes from the attic and go through them. Box keepsakes up for storage
  • Clear out the guest bedroom closet and use it only to store the items that are for sale
  • Scan all important documents and store on an external drive and on dropbox
  • Donate all books that I have read or no longer desire to read to the free library
  • Clean out and dismantle the storage shed in the backyard
  • Organize my computer and dropbox files and delete anything no longer needed
  • Pare down any items that we have more than one version of...pick the favorite. 
  • Make a list of all furniture that will go with us and which items will be sold/given
  • In June, hold a garage sale and give away or donate all items that did not sell
We've gotten a headstart on a few things...
  • We've upgraded to an Instant Pot, so the crock pot was given away
  • Will has sold a lot of his team jackets and miscellaneous gear that he no longer uses
  • We fixed the furnace so the radiant heater is off to a new home
  • Several clothing items have already been listed for sale on ebay and offer up
  • I'm finally getting around to listing several thrifted items from storage in my etsy shop

With downsizing and planning for a homestead comes a desire to reduce waste and learn how to make a lot of your own food and consumables. I'll be posting more soon about the simple changes we are making and skills we are learning in preparation for a homestead lifestyle. 

I can already tell this is going to be an amazing yet trying process. When I feel resistance I will try and focus on the freedom we will feel in the end when we are surrounded by only the things we truly enjoy and the clothes we feel good in. It sounds like heaven!

We are hoping to inspire others through this process, so I will be writing posts about our progress and about the reasons we are choosing to adjust our lifestyle. Even if you don't have a desire to go tiny, I hope you will join us in sifting through the items or emotions that may be holding you back from the lifestyle you desire, or even to learn a few new skills you have been meaning to add to your repertoire. Please use #ProjectDownsize2018 to share what you are up to. We would love to see and share.

Ok, that's it for now! We'll see you soon with an update.

DIY: Essential Oil Scented Tea Lights

May 24, 2017

Lately, I've been experimenting with blending essential oils searching for the perfect scent to freshen up our home. Lavender, Eucalyptus, Lemon is my go to blend, especially when I'm in clean-the-house mode. But the blends in this yoga & meditation pack are becoming a close second.

Most of the time, I will blend oils together in our essential oil diffuser and the house smells amazing! But I've been longing to make a few candles using my favorite scents that I can bring with me when I travel or even give as a gift. That's when I remembered a DIY trick I once saw for adding botanical decorations to tea light candles. What if I could melt tea light candles and add my own scents? And right then, a new DIY idea was born.

Here are tips for how to create simple scented tea lights using your favorite blend of essential oils.

Step 1

Preheat oven to the lowest setting. My oven was set on warming at 175 degrees.

Step 2

Place a few tea lights on a foil covered cookie sheet and pop them in the oven for 10 minutes.

Step 3

Prep your mix of essential oils.

I made four different candles by using a few pre-made blends (12 drops each), my own mix of lavender and lemon (6 drops each), and eucalyptus and lemon (8 drops and 4 drops). You can make them all the same scent or mix them up.

Step 4:
Check on the tea lights to see if they have melted. If not fully melted, give them a few more minutes in the oven.

Step 5

Remove from the oven and add 10-15 drops of essential oils to the melted wax.

Be careful not to wiggle the tray around too much or the wax will spill out of the aluminum holders. If a little bit of wax escapes it's not a big deal, but it will make the tea lights stick to the aluminum foil after the wax dries. Simply peel off the foil and wipe away the excess wax.

Step 6

Use a toothpick to gently stir the essential oils in. The wick will become loose once the wax is melted, so be careful not to move it too far out of place. 

(Side note: On my first attempt, I added food coloring to try and tint the candles, but the water based food coloring did not mix with the wax and I ended up with little pockets of food coloring at the bottom of the candles. It became quite a mess once the wax dried and the food coloring leaked out from the aluminum holder. There may be another way to add color, such as melting crayon shavings into the wax, but take it from coloring is not the way to go.)

Step 7

Let the wax cool and become solid again. If you are working with more than one scent, keep your essential oils nearby to keep track. 

(Note: For the safety of those precious essential oils, do not place bottles on the baking sheet while it is still warm.)

Step 8

Write the scent of the candle on the bottom or side of the aluminum shell in sharpie. Then light and enjoy! 

I chose to light the lavender and lemon candle first and it was heavenly! I used 12 drops (6 of each) in this candle and the scent was powerful without being overwhelming. 

Depending on the essential oil, the wax may dry to be white or tinted. A few of my candles ended up with a yellowish color and some roughness to the top. Other candles dried white and smooth. If you start to see bubbles or indents forming, consider smoothing the top of the candle as the wax dries. You can also cover any roughness on the top of the candle by adding botanical elements such as lavender buds, bits of cedar or pine, cinnamon stick, or even glitter. Select your decorations according to the essential oil scent.  

And there you have it! A simple way to add natural essential oil scents to a plain old tea light.  I hope you enjoy making some of your own signature scents or giving a few away as gifts. And please share your scent recipes in the comments below! 

Celebrate Creative Beginnings Month

May 2, 2017

Did you know, the month of May is Creative Beginnings Month? I haven't found much information regarding the origins of this celebration, but it sounds like a wonderful way to motivate some creative energy. There's no better time to start that new craft project you've been dreaming about, finish one that has been lingering in a between-the-creative-urges state, or share your creative passions or your new etsy shop with the world.

While there are a lot of makers out there who are fortunate enough to use their creativity daily and earn a living, the majority of us see creative projects as a hobby or luxury and sometimes tend to let life get in the way.  If you identify with the latter, why not use this month as a challenge to nurture your creative spirit and enjoy dreaming up and creating something new? The creative process can enhance how you engage with other aspects of your life, including a boost of satisfaction and confidence from completing a project or learning a new skill. I for one, love the feeling I get when an idea or inspiration plucked from my mind comes to life.

The reality is, you can do and create almost anything. Sometimes it just takes the courage to get out of your comfort zone and see what happens. There may be times when you create something that doesn't quite turn out the way you had pictured it in your mind, but that is perfectly OK and for the most part expected. Not only did you try, you did what you set out to created. Sometimes it's enough just to create something once, but if you choose you can do it over and over again until you have refined the process and end up with your perfect result. Either way, you will find satisfaction in knowing that you tried or you may even surprise yourself and create something you are profoundly proud of or maybe learn a valuable new skill. Why not find out?!

One easy way to come up with a creative project idea is to sit down and set a timer for 3 minutes. Quickly jot down all list of all of the creative things that you like to do or would like to learn how to do. Would you like to take a pottery class, write a poem, learn a new recipe, or play the piano? Whatever comes to mind, write it down. No judgment or worry about your skill level for now. When the timer goes off, read through your list and select a few ideas that you can begin immediately without buying additional supplies or signing up for a class. Then pick one and start today or even wait until tomorrow and see what continues to call you.

If you are interested in learning a new skill, Craftsy has classes for beginners and intermediates covering almost every crafty skill you can think of. There is seriously something for everyone and some classes are available for as little as $10. Some of my favorites are Professional Yarn Dyeing at Home, Metalsmithing At Home, and Creative Weaving Techniques.

Whatever your skill level, you most likely can begin right where you are with the tools and knowledge that you have. Just let the creative process meet you there. However, if the idea you have involves heavy machinery, fire, heavy duty adhesives or sharp objects, it is always best to sign up for a 101 class or professional guidance until you learn the basics and important safety measures. For intensive projects, invest in the building blocks and then see if your creative curiosity carries your forward.

For those of you looking for inspiration for your list or a few simple and free project DIYs, here is a list of 31 creative project ideas to choose from. Or one idea for every day of the month of May!

  1. Paint smooth stones with words or designs
  2. Try free writing a story, poem, or journal entry
  3. Relief paint botanical art
  4. Draw a mandala
  5. Make a leather tassel for a necklace or key chain
  6. Find new music and make a playlist
  7. Paint a mug with sharpies
  8. Make a flower arrangement
  9. Create candles from crayons
  10. Knit a scarf or hat
  11. Try a new recipe
  12. Make a concrete stool or faux concrete planter
  13. Make a succulent wreath or tea cup planter
  14. Paint with watercolors
  15. Make a yarn wall hanging
  16. Create abstract art with paper scraps
  17. Learn to fold origami
  18. Decorate pillows with embroidery, paint, or yarn.
  19. Paint a sweatshirt or t-shirt with watercolor designs
  20. Make simple raw stone earrings
  21. Weave a rag rug or a pot holder
  22. Sew an apron out of salvaged clothes
  23. Infuse simple syrups or olive oils
  24. Make kombucha or switchel
  25. Sew sachets and fill with lavender
  26. Embroider your pet's collar
  27. Try your hand at calligraphy or hand lettering
  28. Blend herbal bath bags or fizzy bath bombs
  29. Make a bird feeder or wind chime 
  30. Make a simple jewelry organizer, or two
  31. Draw patterns on leggings or shirt sleeves with a bleach pen

If you have little ones at home, many of these ideas are kid-friendly and group projects are encouraged! You could also take a jar and fill it will all of the ideas from your creative project list and pull one idea out any time you need some inspiration. I see a few on this list I can't wait to try!

If you have a DIY you would like to add to this list or share the results of your project, please comment below. Otherwise, have some fun this May and let your creative spirit soar.

Project Downsize - Update 1

October 19, 2016

Update #1: 

I've made some pretty good progress on clearing out the clutter, but there is still a long way to go. I have a few stacks of miscellaneous items that keep moving between rooms and piles. I have unearthed about 6 empty notebooks, 5 unused journals, and books I forgot I owned and haven't yet read. We've taken about 3 trips to goodwill, made a stack of things to sell, and you can finally see the floor in the guest bedroom! With every load donated and box broken down I feel lighter on my feet and stand up straighter. 

Here's what has been finished so far...

  • 2 boxes of clothes donated which freed up 2 of 4 Rubbermaid bins full of off-season, unused and ill fitting clothes.
  • 1 box of shoes donated and a few gently used pairs ready to sell. 
  • Organized all craft supplies by project type. I even have room left in the closet for more!
  • 1 large bag of books ready to sell. The rest will be read and then donated. I won't NEED to visit a bookstore for a VERY long time...but I still might go to peruse the shelves. :)
  • Kitchen and laundry room cabinets organized and unused items donated. We now have a pantry for bulk goods!
  • Organize laundry room storage cabinets
  • Go through pantry, toss expired items and donate non-perishable goods
  • Organize the hall closet
So far I have found that I most likely have anything tool, type of paper or craft supply that I will ever need...or at least something to make what I need. Items that I have been hanging on to for sentimental value are not so sentimental I must have filled the void those items once held. Many of the keepsakes and artwork I have been drawn to over the years are consistent with my style today. And it feels really good to get rid of clothes that no longer fit and remind you of what you once looked like or felt like. It feels much better to embrace who I am and the style I have today. 

I'm looking forward to an organized home and maybe making a little extra money from the items marked for sale. I hope that all of the items donated find a good home as someone else's treasure. They were loved while they were here and are now free to bring joy elsewhere. 

Now, on to the next task! 

    Hey, Monday...

    October 17, 2016

    Cozy up with a cup of coffee and take a moment to notice the fall colors and layers of texture circling around you. There is inspiration here. There is energy to be harnessed and transformed into something special to carry you through the darker days of winter. Use it to fuel the warm flame glowing within your soul. Picture it growing brighter and flowing out of your fingertips and onto the canvas.

    Today I will let inspiration flow and get carried away with creativity. I will surrender to the light within and paint with bright flourescent love. I will find ways to capture my art and carry it with me long after all of the leaves have turned.

    Project Downsize - 2016 Fall Edition

    October 4, 2016

    Who says decluttering and deep cleaning is only for the Spring? As Fall sets in, I am craving cozy nights at home, and spending more time indoors means living up close and personal with the clutter that has accumulated over the last year...not to mention all of the extra clothes, books, crafting supplies, and knick knacks moved over from my previous apartment. There are boxes that have yet to be unpacked, items stored away after the move that haven't been looked at again since, and an obscene amount of clothing that is rarely if ever worn. It's time to get down right brutal and cut the fat.

    So...this October, I am challenging myself to purge it all in my own Project Downsize. I started a few years ago in my tiny apartment just to make some room for me to live there as well. This time, it's not just about getting rid of clutter. It is about creating a home that reflects the lifestyle that we want to live going forward into 2017. It's about freeing up space for creativity and comfort to flow. It's about being happy and fulfilled humans in our humble abode.

    Here's what is on the project list so far...

    • Go through ALL clothes and donate anything that doesn't fit or hasn't been worn in a year. 
    • Go through ALL accessories and sell/donate everything that is no longer worn.
    • Go through shoes and donate any that haven't been worn in a year. 
    • Sell or donate all appliances that are no longer used or had/need an upgrade
    • Go through all boxes in the attic and repack anything to be kept in labeled totes. 
    • Clear out the guest bedroom. Paint and redecorate with only items that bring calm & joy
    • Clear out the guest bedroom closet and use only 1/2 of the closet for seasonal clothing, keepsakes, and gift wrapping supplies. The rest should be open for guest use. 
    • Clean out the bathroom vanity and toss any old or empty products. 
    • Clear out the office closet and only put back in crafting items I will use. Donate the rest. 
    • Organize the office and make space for creative projects and yoga/meditation. 
    • Go through the boxes of books and organize into Read/Donate/Sell.
    • Organize computer files and delete anything no longer needed. 
    • Scan important documents into electronic format and store in a secure location
    • Clean out personal email inbox and unsubscribe from newsletters 
    • Decorate the bedroom. Add new sheets. Organize, update nightstands. Organize dresser.
    • Build a bookcase/door for the entry closet and decorate. 
    • When everything above is done...have the professionals come and clean! 

    I've gotten a headstart on a few things over the last few weeks.

    • Organize laundry room, including storage cabinets
    • Go through pantry, toss expired items, and donate any non-perishable goods. 
    • Organize the hall linen closet. 

    As you can see I have ALOT to do! With 16 items and only 4 weeks, I better get busy and see how far I get during October. I'll be using my bullet journal to track progress and plan on sharing before/afters & lessons learned here along the way. 

    It's going to feel SO good when this is done and our house is organized and clean! All the physical baggage will be gone and  I will be ready for anything!  If you would like to join me with your own organization or decluttering project, use #projectdownsize2016 to tag your posts on social media. 

    I feel lighter already! 

    Hey, Monday...

    October 3, 2016

    It's time to make room for the next big thing. Over the last several months you have let go of beliefs and mentalities that no longer serve you. You are being true to you. Now it is time to ask yourself what you really want your life to look like? What, if anything, and who do you want to take with you journey? Paint the picture and manifest that reality for yourself. Create a life you love.


    Today, I will take the challenge and set up my current space (physical and mental) to make room for a divinely designed life. I will open myself up to the ideas and plans which are meant to move me forward and aligned with the lifestyle I desire.

    Hey, Monday...

    August 22, 2016

    They say we should bloom where we are planted. That we should stop waiting for our life to be better or somehow different before we chase our dreams. Stop waiting to lose weight before we dance. Stop waiting to take a class before we write. Stop waiting to learn a new skill before we build. Stop waiting. Why are we so afraid to chase our own desires? Why are we hesitant to live what we love? 

    Today, stop waiting for the conditions to be just right and take that first step. Bloom where you are planted with perennial force. Set up shop. Create some space. Take a leap. Do whatever it takes to simply begin. And remember that after you open yourself up, you will bloom in new and exciting ways year after year. You will learn the skills you need to continue. You will grow in unexpected ways. You may be even surprised by what you find. This is only the beginning. 

    p.s. Along the way, remember to spread the seeds of adventure and growth to those around you so that they may bloom too. You have the joy and beauty within you to inspire others.