Getting organized: Making life easier for the start of the school year

Both the girls and I have started back to school for this fall. While our school year is off to a pretty good start, there are some things I think we could improve upon. For instance, we have let our organization slide just a bit and it is beginning to frustrate me.

I have always been a pretty organized person, yet lately I am focused on just how messy our fridge, closets and mudroom have become. I am spending this week trying to get back on track. I would like to share some of my best organizing tips with you all in the process.

1. Fridge organization

You can read all about this one here. Organizing your fridge doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. And you’d be shocked how much time it could save you.

2. Organize your closets

Organized closets may seem impossible to achieve…but they aren’t! You can read this post here.

3. Purge what you don’t need

There are many benefits to paring down your home- even though it’s sometimes difficult, you will be much less stressed. Read all about it here.

4. Getting organized cheaply

Organizing doesn’t have to be expensive- read how to do it cheaply here.

Have a wonderful day! Please comment below and add your favorite organizational tips.

Simplify: tips for a happier and healthier life

Simplify: tips for a happier and healthier life

Simplify tips

At my house, we have really been thinking about simplifying areas of our lives, but what lately, I keep coming back to one recurring thought. What about simplifying our lives in general? There are so many things we do that add stress to our lives, and we don’t even realize it.

Before we changed the name and niche of this blog to Lumber in my Minivan, it was called “Organized and Simplified.” Most of the time, my life is anything BUT simplified. I am the world’s worst for trying to do too much, and it’s something I need to work on.

In addition to maintaining this blog, I also work full time, raise two lovely but lively little girls, and schlep my kids to dance class three nights a week, as they are competitive dancers. Add their schoolwork to the mix, along with keeping house and church, and, well…you get the picture.

In order to simplify my life, I am doing some things differently. I am far from done experimenting, and I am definitely open to suggestions. Please feel free to comment below and add any more tips- I’d love to hear from you!!

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  1. Know your priorities, and choose them wisely.

I am guilty of often trying to do too much in one day. I often try to do so much, that quantity takes over quality, and I end up doing a lot of things, but not necessarily doing them WELL. If you’re like me, I get stressed out by a lengthy to-do list. Just because you have a lot to do, doesn’t mean you need to do it all at once, or even in the same day. Give yourself permission not to be perfect. It’s OK- no one else is, either.

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2. Read more, watch TV less

I am trying to make an effort to read more than I have been. I love reading, but I usually have no time for it, until summer or spring break. I have been taking at least 15 minutes a night to read something, and a few minutes during lunch to read my daily devotional.

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3. Less phones!

Hooo boy, is this an area that I need to work on!! My family has been making a concentrated effort to put down the cell phones and just be present. Turn off your social media notifications, and allow yourself only a little cell phone time each day.  Being constantly tied to your phone stresses you out and makes it difficult to concentrate on other things.

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4. Declutter your spaces by getting rid of what you don’t need.

A cluttered space is stressful and makes it hard to relax. A light, airy, decluttered space is a space where you can get comfortable and relax.

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5. Focus on the present, not the future

Focus on what you’re doing right now, and what you need right now. Don’t worry too much about the future, as you can’t do anything to change the future. Worry about the future when it gets here. For now, enjoy where you are.

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6. Don’t overcommit- you can say no, and you should say no. No one can do everything- it is perfectly OK to turn down tasks if you feel overwhelmed.

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7. Don’t multitask- singletask when ever you can, to sharpen focus and effectiveness. Trying to focus on too much at once is like a computer browser with too many open tabs. Your brain runs more slowly and less effectively when you are trying to do too much at once. Focus singularly and you can focus more easily.

 

I hope you have enjoyed these tips for simplifying your life. Please comment below to share any additional tips you might have.

 

Have a great weekend!

Five Friday Favorites: our favorite apps for staying organized in the new year

Most of us enjoy being organized, and others of us want to be more organized. Some of us fit into both of those categories. Better organization and a more simplified life is at your fingertips…look no further than your smartphone.

There are a few apps that have proven indispensable to our family and I’d like to share them with you.

1. Cozi family organizer (free, premium version available)

Do you have two or more children with several activities on the calendar? Do you struggle to plan meals, keep track of schedules and to-do lists? Cozi is for you!! We use it to catalog recipes, share shopping lists and keep track of schedules via the calendar feature. Each week, it emails all members of your family the events for the week.

2. Spotify Family

I was already a Spotify Premium user and I originally tried to share my account with family. This worked great until we all wanted to listen to something different at the same time. For less than $20, you can have up to five members on one account…not much more than one Spotify Premium account. We also take advantage of their under 12 account, where you can block explicit content and see what your kid listens to.

3. Poshmark

Are you cleaning out closets for the new year and getting rid of outgrown clothing? Make a few extra bucks by selling those clothes on Poshmark. You can also save a few bucks by purchasing gently used clothing for your fast- growing littles. We do!

4. My Macros

Take charge of your diet and fitness by keeping track of your daily food intake with My Macros! I have used this app for about a year and a half now and I love how easy it is to track my calories, fats, carbs and proteins. I highly recommend it.

5. Instacart

No time to grocery shop? Uncomfortable going into the grocery store? Give Instacart a try! I have been making a weekly grocery cart, adding to it throughout the week, and finalizing my order when it’s finished. Then, I arrange a pickup time, drive to the store, and pick up my order. I pay online so my stuff is already paid for when I get there, and they even load it for me. It saves me so much time.

What apps do you use to keep your family, food and fitness on track? Comment below!

In the Kitchen with Lumber in my Minivan: Classic Hot Chocolate

My kids love hot chocolate but with coronavirus on the rise again and with two small children, we are staying home. Did you know you can make delicious hot chocolate from things you already have in your cabinet?

All you need is Hershey’s cocoa, salt, sugar, hot water, milk and vanilla extract.

To make the cocoa, simply bring four cups of your choice of milk to a boil. I am dairy free, so I opt for almond milk. Stir in 1/4 cup of Hershey’s cocoa and add a small amount of salt. Then, add 1/2 cup of sugar and stir. Next, add 1/3 cup of hot water and 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Bring it all to a boil.

My girls love to add whipped cream and sprinkles to their hot chocolate to fancy it up.

E approves of this hot chocolate.
And little A loves it, too!

Now that the weather is colder, make yourself some hot chocolate.

Home Improvement: Things To Consider When Planning Projects

Home Improvement: Things To Consider When Planning Projects

We’ve been blogging here for a good five years now, and in that time, we’ve had a lot of questions from readers. One question we’re often asked is this: “You all seem to always be doing something to your house. How do you do so much?” Today I’d like to share how we prioritize our projects.

1. Do projects a little at a time

We just did a small remodel of our master bathroom. We replaced mirrors, hardware and light fixtures. We eventually plan to replace the bathtub and surround and flooring as well, but it simply isn’t in the budget right now. So we started with the cheapest, easiest items on our “master bath to-do list” and we completed those.

2. Find cheaper options for the things you want to do

We love carriage house garage doors, but we neither need nor want to buy a $2,000 garage door at the moment… so we took to Amazon and ordered faux Coach house door hardware and a faux window kit for $50. We spent far less money something that looks like the real deal.

3. If you can DIY it, do it.

Custom closets are expensive, but my dad and I built this closet organizer ourselves for $100. It only took one day and it was a fairly simple project. We saved a lot of money by doing it ourselves AND it was a lot of fun.

4. Before you do any part of the project, ask yourself these questions:

1. Who will it benefit?

If it’s something that will benefit everyone in the home, bump the project up higher on your to do list.

2. Can I do the project in phases, or must I do it all at once?

If a project must be done all at once, but it’s small, it’s probably OK to raise it on your list. If it’s a big project and you can’t do it in phases, it’s probably expensive and should be lower on your priority list.

3. Do I need to do it, or just want to?

Projects that you want to do, no matter how much you want to do them, are never as important as the projects you need to do.

5. Save money for the things you can’t afford right now

Even if you can’t afford the things you want at the moment, save money until you have what you need.

How do you all prioritize projects?

Have a wonderful weekend.