October 25, 2014

CREATING CALM

 
Believe it or not, we homemakers really do make our homes feel like a home.  It took me a while to figure this out, be we do.  Our special super power is to make our homes feel like cozy havens, even if they have ugly carpet or bad wall paper.  We can do this and the thing is, nobody else will do it for us.  Sometimes when we've been busy and out running errands all day, we just need to come home and create some calm in our little bubble.  There's certain things that help us create this magic thing called calm.  Candles, soft music, or fresh sheets might be a few. 
 

How to create calm in our homes

 
Do an emergency clean for nobody but ourselves.  Sometimes I do this if everything just seems out of sorts.  I'll do an emergency clean for no one but me...and my family too of course.  If I can set my timer and clean for even 15 minutes, everything feels a little better.
 
I always light a candle if I want to create a calmer feeling in my home.  I've been obsessed with Bath and Body Works this fall.  They have great sales and coupons and their candles are my favorite.  Filling your home with fresh balsam or spiced pumpkin can even a calm so quick. 
 
Turn everything off: TV's, computers, music, whatever else is on...turn it off.  To me, nothing creates a chaotic feeling more than blaring cartoons or loud music when it just needs to chill out. 
 
Turn on some calm.  I love to play piano music or something soft like Norah Jones radio when I want everyone to take it down a notch. 
 
At night, turn OFF the overhead lighting and turn ON the warm fuzzy lamp light.  I have such a fetish about good lighting.  Overhead lights drive me crazy...yes, the opposite of calm.  The warm lamplight makes everything more relaxing. 
 
If you're alone, run yourself a bath.  Take your time and enjoy a warm bath.  I promise you will emerge in a calmer state.
 
Declare a quiet time.  On days when everyone is really crazy and not caring at all about the calm thing, I will either send them all outside to play or send them each to separate corners to read by themselves.  I usually give them a time limit and have them stay that way till the time is up. They will usually come out of their quiet time a lot more calm.
 
 
Next time everything feels out of sorts, create some calm in your home.  Only you can do this.  Kids? Not so calm.  Yes, mama, only you can create this. :)
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This post is part of a 31-day series on simplifying our homes and schools. 
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October 24, 2014

SIMPLE HOLIDAYS: CREATING A HOLIDAY PLANNER

 
I'm almost afraid to say this out loud, but yes, the holiday season is upon us.  How did that happen so fast??  With Halloween in a week, Thanksgiving will be here SOON after.  I wanted to share something with you that I've used for a long time to help me keep things straight around the holidays: my holiday planner.  It sounds so much more official than it really is, but let me share with you anyway.
 

Creating a holiday planner

 All you need is a binder and some dividers really.  A holiday planner is a place where you can store your menus, recipes, magazine articles and whatever else you need to hang onto.  It' all in one place so you know where to look when you need to find something.  I did a little nerdy video showing you mine so you can get an idea of what your planer could look like.  It doesn't have to be perfect, just functional.
 
 



 
 


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October 23, 2014

SIMPLE HOME DECOR


 
 
This is the time of year we're pulling out our fall décor totes and our Christmas totes and sprucing our homes up all pretty for the holidays and the changes of seasons.  Probably not as much these days, but in the past, I would get really stressed over all the work that decorating, especially Christmas decorating entailed.  It took a long time!
 
Here's the thing about keeping your home décor simple: so much of what we're storing, we don't even like anymore.  We keep putting it out because we always have.  It's ok to let some things go, create more space in our homes, and have more blank space on our surfaces this holiday season. 
 

Sticking with simple décor

 
Go through your decorations and toss
If you don't love it, get rid of it.  There's no reason to keep storing something you hate.  Even if it was a gift, sometimes someone else would love it and really use it.  Keeping stuff in boxes isn't worth the headache of all the stuff accumulating.
 
Figure out your true style
Some things in your storage totes might not even be your style.  What is your style though?  Do you even know?  Sometimes I wonder about it myself.  Go through your Pinterest boards and look for similarities.  Does what you currently own match your style?  If not, start over and find things that fit your style.
 
Use nature
I love using branches and things from outside to decorate inside.  It's free, it's beautiful, and it adds so much interest to your home décor.
 
Keep open spaces
Not every surface needs to be covered with something. You can leave a wall blank for a while until you find just the right thing to hang there.  I love having cleared off spaces in my home.  It's like a pocket to breathe!
 
This year when you're dragging out your totes of pretty things, evaluate what you love, like, or don't like at all.  Get rid of the latter, think about the second, and set out the loved pieces to enjoy.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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October 22, 2014

SIMPLE NATURE STUDY


 

I love nature study.  I've always said here the change of seasons is so inspiring to me and there's nothing better than to be out in it, studying it quietly and closely.  As much as I love nature study, sometimes it's hard to fit it in to a school schedule so today, let's talk about nature study and how I've really simplified it to make it work for us.
 
Sometimes I see other bloggers or Instagrammers creating these amazing nature journals or doing these elaborate nature studies and I know this is something we just cannot do right now.  We love to study nature though, so where's the happy medium? Simplicity in your nature study.
 
We don't use a ton of guides or extras.  I try to do nature study about once per week and basically it looks like this:
 
 
We go outside together and I tell them things to look for: signs of fall, mushrooms, feathers, different leaves, etc.  And they collect.
 
Then we gather everything together and look at each other's finds. 
 
Sometimes we will bring these in and sketch them and sometimes we'll just talk about what we found. 
 
 
It's not fancy at all, but that's not the point.  We're taking time to explore nature together, to slow down and notice things.  The kids usually notice even more when they're drawing too. 
 
If you don't feel comfortable doing your own thing, pick a themed book to give you more direction.  My favorite's are Shining Dawn's NatureExplorers.  They are so great for busy moms who want a simple nature study.  Some of my suggestions are Constant Conifers for winter and Fruits and Nuts for fall.  Another fun idea is Creative Nature Walks.  So many great ideas for simple nature walks.
 
Have fun with nature study this week and don't make it too complicated.
 
 
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This post is part of a 31-day series on simplifying our homes and schools. 
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October 21, 2014

COPING WITH STRESS


As much as we simplify our lives, sometimes there's nothing we can do to avoid seasons of stress.  Deadlines, colds, poison ivy, planning, holidays, and so much more has racked my brain with stress.  I'm trying to figure out how to cope and juggle all this stuff because the next few weeks look equally as stressful.  It's ok.  We will get through it, but I'm also a seeker of quality.  If we're going to endure this season of stress and busyness together, I want to emerge on the other side with some sort of dignity, not looking like I just went through a whirlwind. 

I sat down on Sunday and made a list of everything that's going on in the next several weeks; parties, plans to make, appointments, projects to finish, deadlines to make.  After my big list was done I grabbed my calendar and started making a list on every day.  Yes, every day for several weeks I wrote down one or two things from that huge list until every item was placed into a date.  Now, to just follow the plan. I feel so much better already!

While I was working on my master plan, I asked on IG what people do to cope with stress.  I got some great answers, here's some of them:

  • Work out and stretch
  • Use music to either pump you up to get a bunch done, or calm you down when you need it
  • Set reminders on your phone
  • Make lists! (this one was repeated a lot! great minds think alike ;))
  • Remember to laugh
  • Cut down on anything that's not necessary during the busy season
  • Schedule times for rest
  • Focus on one day at a time
  • Make a daily list of "need to do" and "would like to do" this will help to prioritize your list of to-do's
  • Keep meals really simple
  • Eliminate on-line time
  • Talking it through with a friend
  • Stay away from time robbers like Facebook and Pinterest
  • Let go of the little things that don't matter as much
  • Have a quiet hour every afternoon
  • Have a dinner plan in place
  • Focus on the task at hand and not a whole month's worth of projects
  • Write things on your list you've already done--it feels so good to cross it off!
  • Get up way before the kids and go to bed when they do.  You need sleep!
This year I have started a new daily read.  Every morning I try to get up early and read Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach.  I love how she thinks.  Her ideas of SIMPLE abundance ring to true to my life.  A few days ago she was talking about how we all suffer from stress at certain points, but if there was a woman who didn't, she'd probably offer you the following advice.  I loved it too much not to share.  This is what a completely stress-free woman would tell you what to do:

"Cultivate gratitude.
Carve out an hour a day for solitude.
Begin and end the day with prayer, meditation, reflection.
Keep it simple.
Keep your house picked up.
Don't overschedule.
Strive for realistic deadlines.
Never make a promise you can't keep.
Allow an extra half hour for everything you do.
Create quiet surroundings at home and at work.
Go to bed at nine o'clock twice a week.
Always carry something interesting to read.
Breathe-deeply and often.
Move-walk, dance, run, find a sport you enjoy.
Drink pure spring water.  Lots of it.
Eat only when hungry.
If it's not delicious, don't eat it.
Be instead of do.
Set aside one day a week for rest and renewal.
Laugh more often.
Luxuriate in your senses.
Always opt for comfort.
If you don't love it, live without it.
Let Mother Nature nurture.
Don't answer the phone during dinner.
Stop trying to please everybody.
Starting pleasing yourself.
Stay away from negative people.
Don't squander precious resources: time, creative energy, emotion.
Nurture friendships.
Don't be afraid of your passion.
Approach problems as challenges.
Honor your aspirations.
Set achievable goals.
Surrender expectations.
Savor beauty.
Create boundaries.
For every "yes," let there be a "no."
Don't worry, be happy.
Remember, happiness is a living emotion.
Exchange security for serenity.
Care for your soul.
Cherish your dreams.
Express love every day.
Search for your authentic self until you find her."

-Susan Ban Breathnach
Simple Abundance

 I think there's something from that list we can all learn from today.  Carry on, friends--stress free.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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This post is part of a 31-day series on simplifying our homes and schools. 
To read from the beginning of this series, click here:
 
http://www.aliciahutchinson.com/p/home-school-simplified.html


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