What do you do to simplify your life? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 12:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My life needed some simplify-ing. Here's some of the things that I've done:

*packed up all the dishes except what we need to get through one meal (keeps the dishes from pileing up, and I keep the extras in a box for when company comes over)

*eighty-sixed the TV

*started making cold-brewed coffee (makes a concentrate coffee that I add water to and stick in the microwave in the morning) It's yummy! I've heard its the way they make coffee in Peru.

*cook for the entire week on Sunday

*packed up all my clothes except what I need for one week (who cares if people see me in the same thing each week )

*got some no-iron clothing. these are items I can pick up from a crumpled ball on the floor and wear! (not that I would EVER do that.....)

I've also started relentlessly throwing stuff away. I figure less stuff means less mess, which means less time cleaning!


So what have you done that makes your life easier? I'd love to hear some stories/suggestions!

TIA!

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#2 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 12:17 AM
 
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Wow mama! Color me IMPRESSED!!!!! I wish I were that dedicated to simplifying! I am a major thrower-outer, though, so that helps a lot. You sound like you are serious!

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#3 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 12:23 AM
 
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That IS impressive! Wow!

For me, the best thing that I can do is meal plan. It saves me so much time. I usually make a menu once a week, and then grocery shop for that menu. I keep it flexible so that I can swap things around if I want/need to.

Most of my belongings are in storage right now, so I don't really have much to simplify as far as that goes. We also recently packed up a lot of our kitchen because there was so much clutter, and it's really surprising how much stuff we packed up that we don't miss.
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#4 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 12:24 AM
 
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Please tell me how you do the cold brew coffee.
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#5 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 12:29 AM
 
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Planning on doing the dishes thing this week!!!

One of the things that simplifies our life is the fact that we don't use shampoo, conditioner, much soap, or store-bought cleaners. Instead we use apple cider vinegar rinse or baking soda rinse for our hair and to clean our bodies ... and baking soda or distilled vinegar (or a frothy combination of the two) to wash most other things: clothes, dishes, counters, floors, etc. etc. etc, to clear clogged drains, to deodorize, etc. etc. etc.

We're going to buy a chest freezer soon so that I can buy things when they're a great bargain and stock up and also so I can quadruple recipes and store lots of meals in the freezer. My goal is to get up to cooking a month's worth of food over a period of 2-3 days, so most of our "cooking" the rest of the month is reheating things in the oven!

I'm starting to keep track, in a notebook, of all my "life would be so much simpler if...." thoughts, so that I can follow through on them!

I'm currently working on simplifying our lives a lot more, so I'm looking forward to responses!

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#6 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 12:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Basically, you put the coffee grounds in cold water, and let them seep in the fridge for about 12 hours (or longer - I usually leave 'em in overnight). Then you strain out the grounds, pour some of the cofffe concentrate in a cup, dilute it with some water, and nuke it! The left-over concentrate can stay in the fridge for quite a while. So instead of making a pot of coffee every morning, I can make some coffee concentrate once a week.

I'm really bad about measuring, so I'll try and find the actually recipe for you! My basic 'recipe' is to add the amount that I would use to make one pot of coffee to a medium-to-large sized travel mug, and fill the mug with water. You can vary the amount of coffee-to-water depending on how much concentrate you want to make (and how strong you like your coffee).

The upside to cold-brewed coffee is the coffee is less acidic and bitter (yum!).

Let me know what you think!

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#7 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 12:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mom2threenurslings
One of the things that simplifies our life is the fact that we don't use shampoo, conditioner, much soap, or store-bought cleaners. Instead we use apple cider vinegar rinse or baking soda rinse for our hair and to clean our bodies ... and baking soda or distilled vinegar (or a frothy combination of the two) to wash most other things: clothes, dishes, counters, floors, etc. etc. etc, to clear clogged drains, to deodorize, etc. etc. etc.
That's cool! Do you have anymore info? I'd love to try it!

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#8 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 12:47 AM
 
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I am currently on a simplifying trend as well. It all started with the basement purge...and I am almost finished there. We are donating, selling, gifting or otherwise getting rid of tons of stuff that was in our basement. I've also gone through the closets and did a major purge, although it's hard for me to purge the kids clothes too much since DD2 will grow into DD1s hand-me-downs...and we are planning on a number 3, insha'Allah.

Once I have the basement done, I am purging the kitchen. I will move everything out except for what we need on a day-to-day basis...specialty dishes and crockery will go into the basement until needed. I'll be moving DDs craft supplies into one of the cupboards freed up from the purge.

I've also done a purge on toys and will probably do another one soon.

I also do meal planning and try to schedule my cleaning tasks. Certain things get cleaned on certain days. We approach are cooking several ways. We have a great source for oven-ready products that we take advantage of. We've also considered having some more time consuming meal items catered (we did this after DD1 was born and MIL left). I am also cooking and batch freezing.

I've also cut back on activities. Instead of trying to do several. DD1 is only in one activity...she had a choice of several and chose which ONE she wanted to do...that way I didn't have to run everyday of the week.

There are probably a few other things...but that's all that comes to mind. My main goal is to drastically reduce the clutter in our lives...I feel so oppressed by it at times. I think once the clutter is gone I will have more time to relax and enjoy my family.

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#9 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 01:00 AM
 
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you are all coming up with some really awesome ideas--I think the cold brew coffee alone might be a lifesaver. Think it would work with just adding hot water from the teapot?

forgive me if I just act like a big idea sponge for now

eta:

does this seem to be about the same ratios as you use for your cold brew coffee? And you just soak it in a regular container, right? Then pour it through a filter?
http://www.biogro.us/toddy.html

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#10 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 01:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unreal
you are all coming up with some really awesome ideas--I think the cold brew coffee alone might be a lifesaver. Think it would work with just adding hot water from the teapot?

It should work. I think that's actually the way it's done in Peru. I wonder if it would get the coffee warm enough? Let me know what happens!

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#11 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 01:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unreal

does this seem to be about the same ratios as you use for your cold brew coffee? And you just soak it in a regular container, right? Then pour it through a filter?
http://www.biogro.us/toddy.html

That's the Toddy! The original article I read on cold-brewing mentioned it! Totally cool that you found this website!

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#12 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 01:43 AM
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wow. i love some of these ideas, esp the one of using baking soda/vinegar for cleaning. we have been trying the same thing in the hopes of experiencing less stress and more togetherness. here are some other things that we have done:

- for sheets, towels, etc. i keep just enough to change the bed once. if i buy a new thing, i donate an older one to charity.

- for clothes, we keep only those items of clothing that have been worn in the past year. the way dh worked out the system is that you put the clothes on one side as you wear then wash them. after a certain point, stuff you have not worn is all pushed to the other side and can be donated.

- we ask our families and friends not to give us gew gaws or decorations. if they still do after that request, we figure that they've been fairly warned that the items will be given to charity. of course, i am still having some trouble letting go of some old gew gaws left over from childhood, etc.

my biggest thing is that if we buy one thing then something else has got to go.

thanks for the ideas! i'll be hoping for more.
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#13 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 01:45 AM
 
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Thank you for the link. I might order it. I get so sick of making pot after pot of coffee (I hate "old" coffee, so i am foerever making fresh).

~Lisa
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#14 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 01:49 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tug
i am still having some trouble letting go of some old gew gaws left over from childhood, etc.
.

what in the heck is a gew gaw?
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#15 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 01:55 AM
 
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We don't subscribe to cable or newspaper, just one magazine.

We only have one set of dishes.

I clean out my clothes closet every season, and only own enough clothes for each season to last about a week until I do laundry again. Have two nice outfits and that's it.

I hang all of our clothes on hangers so we can see exactly what we have that's clean. The only things that are allowed to be put in the dresser are socks, underclothes, and gym shorts. Even PJ's are hung up. Makes laundry so much easier to handle!

Cloth diaper!! No midnight runs to the store to get Pampers.

We have two bathrooms but only use one, so we only have one to clean.

We have three bedrooms (one is technically an office) but we are making our girls share a room until they hit puberty. If they have too many toys to fit into their room in an organized fashion then they just have too many toys and some need to be culled. (The baby still sleeps in our room but all her stuff is in the girls' room)

Dh takes the bus to work most days to save gas and wear and tear on the car.

If we take a road trip, I feel that we make things simpler by renting a car rather than driving our own. If it breaks down we don't have to worry, the rental company can just givs us another one (also saves wear and tear on our own car).

I usually cook one dish for dinner that has all the major food groups in it so I don't have to cook multiple dishes. Crock pots are the best!

I sometimes cook double so I can put half in the deep freeze and not cook on some other day when I don't feel like it.

We have a futon on the floor as our bed right now-- don't have to worry about kids falling out, and hey, it's cheap.

I have a wheeled laundry sorter with three hanging nets in it. About twice a day I throw stuff in the baskets according to what room they belong it. When I get to a room to empty the basket, I scan that room and find stuff that belongs in the *other* rooms's baskets. One circuit of the house usually gets it pretty picked up. On laundry days I use it to sort clean laundry by person and that makes it easy to keep doing lots of loads and put it all away at the end.

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#16 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 11:31 AM
 
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I've developed morning, noon, and night routines to help me keep on top of things. I've broken the chores up and assigned certain days for them, like basement on Wednesdays, decluttering/closets on Mon, etc. Same for activities -- Mon is groceries/errands, Tues is library, etc. I do a few loads of laundry in the morning, hang them at morning snack time, take down & fold after supper, and put away at bedtime.

We purchased some plastic bins for toys, craft supplies, school stuff, animal stuff, etc. Also a few shelving units. We're basically making sure there's a place for everything. Been getting rid of things we don't need.

I have a meal plan. I've simplified things there -- lots of soups in the winter, salads and sandwiches in the summer -- and I buy things in bulk to avoid running out. We have a goal to have a year's supply of food and other necessities on hand in case of emergencies. We don't have nearly that much yet, but we have enough that in the past when dh has been done school for the summer and not found a job for a month or two, we only had to buy things like milk, cheese, and fresh fruit. We had the stuff to make bread on hand, frozen meat, dry pasta, things to make sauces, peanut butter, jams, etc. on hand. I do the same with toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap (the advantage there is that if I have a kid I need to entertain in the bathroom while I shower, he can stack soap ), laundry detergent, etc. I still have to go out and buy things fairly regularly since I can't afford a year's supply all at once, but then I can wait until things are on sale and there's never a pressing need to go get something *now* because we've run out. Cloth diapers, cloth pads, etc. are simplifying as well -- when Miriam was born, we did have to buy dipes since we had no covers small enough, but they were so $$$, I was thankful to have cloth for my toddler and myself.

Dh does all of our banking and bill payments online, so much easier. I do as much communicating as I can via email.

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#17 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 03:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LisainCalifornia
what in the heck is a gew gaw?
a gew gaw is a decorative thing with no use. a tshatshke. a knick knack.
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#18 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 03:27 PM
 
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Oh yes the dishes thing is such a huge help! We somehow ended up with massive amounts of plastic cups this summer. I've got no clue but they are outta here and into the recycling bin or thrift. Hubby and I switched rooms with dd last night (we took the smaller room because we are going for joint custody of hubby's daughter and the girls will share a room when all is said and done) and it got a lot of stuff out we didn't need that I didn't even realize we had. It's all gone and it feels great.

Junk papers don't even come into the house if at all possible.

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#19 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 03:45 PM
 
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Not that this method is feasible for everyone, but I had lived for 6 years and amassed stuff (I am 24 so I moved out to go to college out of state). And I mean stuff!!!! I had 6 couches, 2 desks, several beds, a few dressers, MANY small tables, TONS of chairs, FOUR closests of MY clothing, about 75 pairs of shoes, 10 coats and more.

I cannot pass up a bargain for furniture, housewares, clothes, books, anything. So I sold it ALL. Except for knitting stuff, important, crucial books, some clothes (the basics, all solid colors, all matching, all timeless classic pieces I can wear for years to come. NO more trendy pieces that fall apart in a week or that I wear 2 times, this means tube tops :LOL) and my son's books and playsilks. I got rid of it ALL. I mean all dishes, glasses, furniture, everything. And now I am starting over, buying key pieces and living on the bare necessities...

Like those 12 sippy cups? Sure, 2 maybe 3 suffice. My dinner service for 12? Ummm, try 6 now! My 67, 000 glasses--down to 8. It has been a major awakening for me to see how much crap I had.

I also eliminated ALL detergents and cleaning supplies and switched to baking soda and vinegar.

When I buy something, I really consider is it going to waste? WIll I reuse it often? Will it sit until I throw it into an overflowing landfill? DO I NEED IT? Can I get buy without it? And then I avoid it. It has been hard. I LOVE to thrift shop and hit yard sales, but really all I got was junk.

Toys are another huge thing. This has been big for us. I got rid of it ALL except for books and wooden puzzles. Everything. He has not missed it at all. I never buy plastic, and I only buy timeless stuff I know my DS will enjoy. I also never buy an commercial "characters" or toys that fall apart or are quickly forgotten. I buy metal and wooden toys. And when they break or pieces are LONG gone, they are given to Goodwill. I usually only buy cars, puzzles and books now. All my DS wants to do it "unlock" EVERYTHING anyway so he is busy with that and using his imagination which has proved to be wonderful.

Most important for me:
And I made myself realize everything I need I already have (DS, love, happiness, shelter--all my basic needs are met). The rest is just secondary.

These are great suggestions I have followed and have worked well for me...
Quote:
Originally Posted by UmmIlyas
*packed up all the dishes except what we need to get through one meal (keeps the dishes from pileing up, and I keep the extras in a box for when company comes over)

I've also started relentlessly throwing stuff away. I figure less stuff means less mess, which means less time cleaning!

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#20 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 03:55 PM
 
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ahhhh! So that's how you spell it - tshatshke!!! I've always wondered
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#21 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 04:11 PM
 
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Originally Posted by pioneermama
ahhhh! So that's how you spell it - tshatshke!!! I've always wondered

It is actually:
tchotchke

A variation chachka
Unless there is an alternative spelling.

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#22 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 04:44 PM
 
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gotcha it's tchotchke
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#23 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 06:29 PM
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from what i read, tchotchoke is the alternate and americanized spelling of the yiddish word tshatshke, from the polish dialectical "czaczka." i'm guessing that the polish word is a dialectical word for czastka (can't do the accent on the "a"). that word means a particle or a small part.

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#24 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 06:33 PM
 
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I have figured out that there are three chores that, if done, make absolutely everything else in life easier.

1) Keep all dishes clean and put away.
2) Keep all laundry clean and folded and put away.
3) Keep the main dining room table clean. Don't let clutter build on it.

If you focus on these three housekeeping chores, everything else in life falls into place a little better.
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#25 of 47 Old 09-26-2004, 07:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meco
.

I got rid of it ALL. I mean all dishes, glasses, furniture, everything. And now I am starting over, buying key pieces and living on the bare necessities...



I also eliminated ALL detergents and cleaning supplies and switched to baking soda and vinegar.

When I buy something, I really consider is it going to waste? WIll I reuse it often? Will it sit until I throw it into an overflowing landfill? DO I NEED IT? Can I get buy without it? And then I avoid it. It has been hard. I LOVE to thrift shop and hit yard sales, but really all I got was junk.

Most important for me:
And I made myself realize everything I need I already have (DS, love, happiness, shelter--all my basic needs are met). The rest is just secondary.

You're awsome! I've been tempted to do the same...

btw, our sons have the same name!

Anyone have a simple substitute for laundry detergent?

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#26 of 47 Old 09-27-2004, 01:03 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meowee
I have figured out that there are three chores that, if done, make absolutely everything else in life easier.

1) Keep all dishes clean and put away.
Could you come over to my house and explain this to my DH? :LOL
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#27 of 47 Old 09-27-2004, 02:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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#28 of 47 Old 09-27-2004, 03:13 PM
 
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What a great thread! I am absolutely into simplifying as well. I have found that if my house is messy, cluttered, etc. I feel really frazzled. When everything is clean & organized I am much more peaceful (my ultimate goal in life). We have limited space, so keeping things minimal is also a necessity. We do a lot of what the previous mamas have suggested, so I won't reitterate, but one other area that I found helpful in simplifying is w/socializing. I have learned to say no to invitations that will be more stressful than enjoyable, for whatever reason. Around the holidays, I no longer do the "guilt" visits which leave me & my family totally stressed. And speaking of holidays, we have cut gift giving (and receiving) way down.

Oh, and you mamas inspired me about meal planning/shopping. Shopping & cooking dinner is a major hassle for me, so I am going to try to get this area more together.

One last thought, I used to do a daily gratuity journal, where I'd list 5 things I was grateful for that day, and I always added to it on ways I simplified my life. For some reason, these two seemed to fit together for me. I ought to start again...

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#29 of 47 Old 09-27-2004, 03:57 PM
 
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I so need to get back on the decluttering bandwagon. Somehow this summer my house has filled up. We need another garage sale and Goodwill run (or three).

You ladies are quite inspiring!!
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#30 of 47 Old 09-27-2004, 05:05 PM
 
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Laundry detergent: we have soft water so true soap works well for us. We use peppermint Dr Bronner's for everything (bring our own bottle to the health food store & fill it) and use a TABLESPOON per load of wash We just keep a tablespoon by the washer, fill it & throw it in spoon and all. Then retrieve it as we put that load in the dryer.

OMG that coffee is GOOD! Our coffemaker busted last winter, and I hadn't been using it much anyway so we threw it out, but we still had some French roast beans in the fridge so I ground 'em & tried it. It is so smoooooth and nice. Best coffee I ever tasted. And here I'd thought we'd permanently dropped something from our grocery list. Bad Mothering mamas! Bad! :LOL
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