• Simplifying with Kids
    SIMPLE LIVING

    Simplifying With Kids

    Runner up post title was: How to Simplify When Your Daughter is a Sentimental Hoarder (hmm, that actually sounds like me when I was growing up).

    One thing I’ve learned in the last few years is: I don’t need better organizing systems, I need less stuff.

    That revelation was huge and ever so helpful for me and since then I have found myself constantly looking around my house for things that I no longer use or like. I have found that I would rather own less stuff than spend the time and effort into always cleaning it up and having it take up space.

    My biggest challenge in all of this has been my daughter’s room. She has been very sentimental with everything in addition to being a hoarder of all things paper and cardboard for as long as I can remember. But even though she loves to hold on to her stuff, I’ve known for a long time and she’s recently realized that she does so much better with less. Maybe it’s her highly sensitive personality, or maybe it’s the fact that less options really are better, but too many toys (especially in her room) really overwhelms her.

    We’ve been making an effort to simplify her room and her stuff in the last few months and I thought I’d share somethings that have been working for us.

    Minimalism With Kids - How to Simplify With Kids

    01. rotate toys

    This is not something I want to do forever, by the time each of my kids are ten I hope to be done with this. In my mind it is not a long term solution, nor is it the ideal one, but for now it is a compromise. We have one bin of general toys to rotate (if they want one out of the bin they have to choose one to put in) and then two smaller bins of specific toys (one has Playmobil and the other Jared’s retro Micro Machines) that we pull out when the kids ask and then put away once they are done playing with them.

    02. put smaller toys and insignificant papers and junk in a time out

    There are times where I will stash smaller, junky toys (like those from fast food restaurants) and put them in a box out of sight and if they aren’t asked for over the period of a few weeks I’ll either toss or donate them. The same thing goes for some of those insignificant papers (like my receipts) that seem to build up in my daughter’s room.

    03. sell or donate toys

    It was actually when Raeca had the idea to have a garage sale last fall that she started to be okay with getting rid of some of her toys, once she realized she could make some money from selling her stuff and potentially buy other things she wanted more she got really excited.

    We had our garage sale this last weekend and she bought a new (used) bike with some of the money from her toys and earnings from her lemonade stand. After the sale was over she was okay with donating the toys that didn’t sell, so we boxed them up right away and brought them to the thrift store.

    04. photograph papers & other items

    Part of Raeca’s fears is that she will forget certain photos she drew or stories she wrote so I’ve recently started to photograph her best work with my phone and immediately upload it to an art & memorabilia album I made in our photo storage on the cloud (we have Amazon Prime and use their unlimited photo storage). This also works well for clothes or toys she has grown out of but doesn’t want to forget.

    All of this is fairly pointless if we don’t start limiting the number of toys that come into our home. Personally we don’t do well with a strict one in one out rule, I like it in theory but it just doesn’t work for us. It is something we are working on, I’ll keep you updated and I’d love to hear anything you do with your family in regards to limiting the toys that come in.

  • A Simplified Birthday Bucket List
    GOALS,  LIFE,  SIMPLE LIVING

    A SIMPLIFIED BIRTHDAY LIST

    For the past few years I’ve created an annual bucket list around my birthday with items that I’d like to accomplish or attempt before my next birthday comes around. I’ve corresponded the number on the list with the number I am turning; last year I turned twenty-nine so I created a list of twenty-nine things to do while I was twenty-nine (easy enough, right?).

    This has served me well for the last few years but this time I knew I wanted something different, something simpler.

    For the past couple of years I have been a journey of learning (and often re-learning) how to live a more simple life and this year I knew I wanted that bleed over into my annual birthday list. I didn’t want to create a list that was full of “fillers” just so I could get thirty items.

    This year I want to live with more intention and I want my list to show it.

    I decided that this year I would simplify my birthday list by asking myself one question for every item I contemplated putting on my list, if I couldn’t answer the question, the item didn’t get put on my list. If you receive my monthly(ish) newsletter you will have found out last weekend that the one question I am asking myself is:

    how can I honor God in this?

    This one question has ruled out a number of different items I considered putting on my list and has helped me to get a vision and really focus on this upcoming year and decade of my life.

    I ended up coming away with only five items on my list, and while I am going to share them here I’m not actually going to share my answers to my question of how I can honor God in each item. Some of them will be easy enough to figure out and that’s fine but some I just didn’t care to share right now.

    With that in mind these are the items I have on this years list:

    01. practice my craft – for me this means doing lots of writing, taking lots of pictures and continuing to learn how to tell stories through both.

    02. live intentionally – I want to be present in the now, not always wishing for the future, I want to be intentional with the possessions I have as well as the events on my schedule. I want to make sure that every item I have in my home has a purpose, if I am living with more than I need than it ends up just being a distraction and I want to ask myself, could I sell this item and use the money in a better way?

    03. homeschool my kids – I am still kind of shocked that we will be homeschooling this next year, five years ago I never would have believed it and yet here we (almost) are. I want to focus on character building with my children as well as the academics, the act of homeschooling fits very well with our family values and I plan on breaking that down in a future post.

    04. use our home as a gathering place – this has been a process over the last few years, and one that I want to continue, and as our backyard gets a little closer to completion I am looking forward to being able to host people back there.

    05. travel – this year Jared and I have plans to finally go on our 10/30 trip (this year is our tenth anniversary and we both turn thirty), we have zero ideas where we are going yet but I would love for the opportunity to help out a mission organization in some way wherever it is we end up going (I’d especially love it if I could help out with photography & storytelling in some way).

    And that’s it! Just a simplified bucket list for my year, I’m hoping the simplicity of the list will help me to keep each of these ideas at the forefront of my mind throughout the year.

  • SIMPLE LIVING

    Things I No Longer Buy – Resulting in Cheaper, Greener Living

    When Jared and I first got married life was crazy busy, for the first few years I was in university full-time (including the summers), I worked full-time in the summer and began and ran my photography business (think: weddings nearly every weekend).

    I think that plays a large part in why we didn’t eat very healthy or shop very green. That kind of living was never on my radar, I just didn’t have the mental capacity to fit it in there.

    In the last few years life has really slowed down for me. I took maternity leave with Raeca and then worked as a substitute teacher, teaching very very part-time for a few years and haven’t worked since the beginning of last winter (minus a few family photo sessions) in order to spend time at home bonding with Ephraim and figuring out our life as a family of four.

    Recently I was thinking about some stuff that we used to buy on a regular basis that we no longer purchase, and don’t even miss. I thought it might be a useful list for some others out there who are looking to live a little simpler.

    KITCHEN & FOOD

    napkins – I grew up in a family that had paper napkins at every meal, so it was a little weird at first not to use them, but we use cotton cloths for the kids (and I usually end up using it too), and some how Jared just eats so neatly he never needs anything.

    taco seasoning – I just make my own, using this recipe. I love that I can control the salt and the heat, I’m hoping to slowly increase the heat as soon as the kids can start handling spicier foods.

    granola bars – we make our own of these too. That way we get to make sure they are gluten free and get to say good bye to most of the preservatives. I’ve been using this recipe for years (it’s simple but you can always add in whatever extras you want).

    yogurt – okay, so I’ve only made this once so far (using this recipe) but I totally see myself never buying yogurt again. First, by making your own you control the ingredients and second, it’s so much cheaper! I don’t know how much yogurt is everywhere else but a small tub of the stuff we like is usually $3.50 regular price and with this recipe I’ve been able to fill one of those tubs for only $1.00-$1.50.

    CLEANING

    window cleaner – I bought a Norwex window cloth the summer after we were married and never used window cleaner again. I love, love Norwex (no, I don’t sell it or get anything for saying that, it’s just the truth). All you need is their window cloth and water, and bam, it’s completely streak free; windows, mirrors, stainless steel sinks . . . (I even using it for cleaning my glasses, it works the best!)

    cleaning spray – just a mix of water and vinegar (and essential oils if you want) and voila, you’ve got an all purpose cleaning spray. I put mine in an old Windex spray bottle since I don’t have any use for it (I do 2 cups water and 1 cup of vinegar then 10-20 drops of essential oils).

    BATHROOM & BEAUTY

    shaving cream – I said adios to shaving cream some time last year, I just use coconut oil instead, I find it works better and makes my legs feel smoother and more moisturized afterwards, plus it’s better for the environment!

    conditioner – I’m still using a slight amount of vinegar mixed with water in a spray bottle (here is my “recipe”). I don’t notice a difference from using this mix to using conditioner, so why not go with the cheaper and greener method.

    hand soap – I make my own foaming hand soap for one of our bathrooms, the only reason I don’t for the other one is because I don’t have another foaming soap pump/bottle. I should really get one and then I’ll make it for both bathrooms.

    deodorant – I’m almost a year into using my homemade deodorant. I’ve found so far that one recipe lasts me about six months! That’s crazy! It’s so cheap and so much better for your body too. 
    Also, just a side note, this deodorant has been fun to talk to with a few people, there are some who believe they would stink too bad to attempt this recipe, and let me tell you, I was one of those people! I had used anti-perspirants for years and years and in hot days in the summer would often have to put it on twice. That being said, switching to a natural deodorant like mine will probably give you a transition period where you don’t smell that great, it’s just your body getting rid of all the nastiness anti-perspirant has been keeping in for all those years. It was about a week of transition for me and then afterwards I noticed I sweat a lot less and didn’t smell. There are still some hot days in summer where I’ll put it on twice but at least I know I’m not putting cancer-causing chemicals into my body any more!

    tissues – I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m pretty sure there is a Kleenex Conspiracy going on, conspiracy aside we just got lazy and stopped buying tissues and have gotten used to using toilet paper instead. Or if you want to go old school you could always try bringing back the hankie. 🙂 (Or not.)

    face wash – I recently got the Norwex body cloths, so all I need at night or in the morning to wash my face are one of their cloths and some water. I love that I don’t need to keep buying products, these cloths will last me forever.

    hairspray – I just simply don’t use hairspray, it never seemed to work in my hair anyway, so why waste the money.

    I might have missed a few things, but I think that’s the bulk of it.

    A few things I’ve tried to stop buying and make instead that didn’t work for me include laundry detergent and shampoo.

    A few things I want to stop buying and try making myself: toothpaste, toilet bowl cleaner (and really every chemical cleaner for greener living) . . . and I’m sure there’s more.

    I’d love to hear from you, what do you not buy?
    (And do you do without or do you make your own?)

    P.S. Check out more of my posts about living with less, like less possessions and less spending.

  • SIMPLE LIVING

    Living a Life of Less | Space

    Simple Living Less Space

    I can’t believe we’ve been living in the basement suite we are renting for three weeks already! Time is really flying, and it won’t be much longer until we are in our house! Even though I am looking forward to being back in our own place I have not actually disliked this in-between stage. To be honest, I’ve actually enjoyed the smaller space we are living in. Sure it’s annoying that I can’t get rid of the wet dog smell and inconvenient that we couldn’t bring our own furniture in and therefore have some of it stored at my parent’s place as well as my in-law’s but there are actually quite a few benefits to living in a smaller space.

    Before I share what I’ve been liking about this place I have a pretty exciting announcement to make!

    I think it’s been pretty apparent to most of you who are regular readers that simple living and the whole idea of living with less have been a huge part of my life these last few months. Awhile ago I was planning out my monthly blogging schedule and I realized I just had too many simple living ideas to share and not enough days to share them all. So, I decided to launch a blog dedicated to simple living! Today is launch day for The Simple Kind of Life, I’d love for you to head over and check it out. I have dreams for that to be a place where a number of people will contribute ideas for living with less as well as sharing their real life stories. I’m still looking for some people who would like to write for The Simple Kind of Life on a monthly basis, if that’s up your alley let me know.

    Okay, back to the idea of living with less space, I know it’s only been a few weeks but here are my favorite things about the smaller space so far:

    LESS TO CLEAN
    It’s a lot easier to convince myself to vacuum when there is only about 900sq and it’s all on one level. Plus, one bathroom as opposed to the three we were used to before, yeah, cleaning one toilet is a lot better.

    LESS STAIRS
    This is one thing all three of us were looking forward to! Our previous place was a two-storey that had all the bedrooms upstairs, plus the ceilings in the main level were high which means anytime we wanted to go upstairs from the main floor we had to climb all 16 stairs, and if you are a forgetful person like me that means you had to do that multiple times because half the time by the time you reached the top you forgot why you even came up!

    YOU ARE LESS LIKELY TO LOSE SOMEONE
    Okay, so you won’t lose people in most houses but when I was an au pair in England back when I was 18 the family I worked for had a huge house and the man would often stand in the middle of the house and call for his wife because it was so big and he didn’t want to wander from room to room to find out where she was. Right now if I’m standing in the kitchen/dinning room/living room area and I’m looking for Raeca I know she’s got to be in the bathroom or one of the bedrooms, no yelling needed.

    I THINK MORE ABOUT MY PURCHASES
    Since we don’t have a lot of space to store stuff right now I really think hard before buying something that will take up more space, or I use the one-for-one rule. If I’m going to buy an item, like the set of 6 dinner plates I picked up at the thrift store for a total of $1.50 the other day, I get rid of that many items, well, in reality, I got rid of 8 plates, so even better!.

    THE REALIZATION THAT WE DON’T NEED SO MUCH STUFF
    We packed up and are storing a lot of our stuff while we are here and I’m realizing we don’t really miss any of it. We’ve actually continued to purge some of the items we do have with us here, items we are finding we don’t need to keep, and bonus: it will make the move even easier in a few weeks!

    WE TAKE MORE TIME TO DO STUFF
    After creating my life vision statement I realized I really value doing things over buying/having things. While we’ve been here we take almost every advantage to get out of the house and enjoy the last bit of summer because it’s easier to feel cooped up in a small space, especially when you don’t get any outdoor living space.

    Have you lived in smaller spaces before?
    What would you say the advantages are?

    Remember, most of my simple living posts from now on will be posted over at The Simple Kind of Life so be sure to stop by!

    Linking up with Oak+Oats

  • BOOKS,  SIMPLE LIVING

    Living a Life of Less | Great Reads

    In the last few months I’ve been taking out quite a few books on the topic of living with less and I thought I would share some of my favorites today.

    Also, just a side note: With all this talk of living with less and all the purging of possessions I’ve done in the last eight months I thought I had been doing so well. Until, that is, we actually started to pack up our belongings to move. Where is all this stuff coming from?! I thought I had been doing so good! I guess LWL really is a journey that we will forever be on.

    Okay, now on to the books . . .

    Seven by Jen Hatmaker
    This is the book that really started the whole thing so of course it is going to be on the top of the list. You can read a little more about what I thought about the book here.

    Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider
    I am so glad to have had this book recommended to me, I loved it. It is a must read. There are definitely similarities between this one and Seven. Tsh focused on five areas instead of seven: food, work, education, travel and entertainment. Her book is more of a memoir than a call to action but I couldn’t help but feel more motivated after reading it. My only complaint is that the cover photo is a stock photo and not one of her actual blue bike, it seems wrong to me (yes, I’m aware you now know how crazy I am), once I was able to get that out of my head I was totally into the book.

    Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider
    After reading Notes from a Blue Bike I had to check out this book by Tsh. I haven’t completed it yet but it’s been good so far. This is really a how-to book. It helps you create your family’s purpose statement and takes you through each room in the house to declutter and organize.

    Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
    This book primarily focuses on making a point of understanding where your food comes from. I personally love the idea of eating food that has been grown locally but that means saying goodbye to bananas and grapes (and a lot of other things) forever. Oh, and do you know what we grow aplenty in Saskatchewan? Wheat. The one thing 2/3 of our family can’t eat. So the book seems a little far fetched for the regular Joe to actually be able to do but I like the idea of it. I’ve definitely been looking at labels a lot more as I’ve been buying groceries (the other day I picked grapes from the USA over ones from Mexico, so that’s something, right?!).

    Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson 
    This is really an extremist take on reducing, reusing and recycling. I’m not ready to forgo the garbage can just yet but there are some very practical tips throughout the book that I was able to use in my own life (like reusable produce bags).

    Living More with Less by Doris Janzen Longacre
    I haven’t had a chance to crack this one open yet but I’ve heard some good reviews on it so after I finish Organized Simplicity this is next up on my list.

    Have you read any of these books? What did you think about them?
    Do you have any other books on this subject that you would recommend?

     

  • SIMPLE LIVING

    Living a Life of Less | Waste

    We have come to the last official post in the living with less series. Before I dive into today’s post, I just want to thank each and everyone of you who has been following this series and leaving comments and sending me messages about it. It is obvious that many of you are also feeling the need to live a life of less and I am so thankful that this has been a place where you have felt like you can share a bit of your journey with me.

    While this may be the end of this series, next week I will be branching off and I plan on reserving one day a week to share all kinds of posts about living a simpler life (topics like budgeting, simple meals, making money stretch, ways to save, green cleaning, green beauty recipes, and so many more!). 

    For now let’s talk about waste. 🙂

    Growing up I was never really a green kind of person. I pretty much never recycled and definitely didn’t think about the environment much. Basically, I took what we had for granted, thinking that kind of stuff was only for special people. It wasn’t until a few years ago (mainly in the last year) that I’ve realized it’s a spiritual issue. God gave this land to us to take care of, and I know I definitely was not doing my part to take care of it.

    In the last six months I’ve really become aware of how much waste we produce. The following are some ways I am currently trying to reduce waste (it is definitely not an exhaustive list and I’ll be sharing more ideas in upcoming weeks).

    Compost
    This is something we started just eleven months ago and now I’m kind of obsessed. Let me start by saying that the dirt in our yard is awful (you dig a few inches down and you are immediately into clay), so I love the idea of taking things that I was going to throw away and instead turning them into beautiful dirt for my garden! I’m not going to get into the logistics of composting, there is so much information available online.
    Also, a bit of a side note, if you find yourself throwing fruits and veggies into your regular garbage thinking it will compost in the landfill; stop now. From what I read the conditions in the landfill do not allow these items to breakdown, so bite the bullet and set yourself up with a compost (if at all possible).

    our beautiful compost bin, it’s actually full, we need another one

    Reuse
    Before you recycle that item, think to yourself, Self, could I reuse this? To get the most life out of an item reuse it before you recycle it.

    Double Sided Printing
    If at all possible I like to make sure I double side my printing to save paper. If we have paper that we’ve printed on only one side or we got some junk mail in that has a blank side I stick it in the cupboard for Raeca to write on or for those times I need to quickly jot something down.

    Wrap Gifts in Newspaper or Fabric
    Save that newspaper (especially the comics), fabric scraps and even old cereal boxes and use them for wrapping gifts. Or if you get a lot of gift bags, keep them and use them for the next time you have a gift to giveaway (just make sure you remove the tag if there is one written in).

    Replace Plastic Containers with Glass or Stainless Steel
    Lately I’ve been saving every glass jar I can find, empty spaghetti sauce, apple sauce and pizza sauce jars are my friends. I’m using them for storing all sorts of dry goods.

    coconut, chia seeds and raisins
    just a few of the glass jars I’ve been saving for my dry goods

    Recycle
    If you no longer have a use for an item and it can be recycled, please recycle it.

    Buy in Bulk/Don’t Buy Individually Packaged Items
    Ooh, if there is one thing I can’t stand it’s individually packaged items.  Between juice boxes, yogurt, fruit snacks, mini chocolate bars (who actually eats just one?), goldfish crackers, raisins, etc, you can pretty much buy anything individually packaged. But not only are you paying a premium for the extra packaging, you are making a lot more waste. So don’t do it. And buy in bulk whenever possible, it will definitely reduce some plastic waste.

    Use Cloth Napkins and Cloths Instead of Paper Towel
    We’ve been doing this for a few months now (I use these for wiping up spills and as napkins for Raeca). Actually, we still have some paper towel left but since we’ve been using cloth we rarely ever use the paper towel, we haven’t even gone through a whole roll in the last two months since the only times I’ve been using it have been for really, really dirty messes.

    Use Reusable Shopping Bags and Produce Bags and Reuse Plastic Bags
    Thankfully this is so easy to do now. Reusable shopping bags are so easily accessible and I love my produce bags (I use these ones). My town just got a Co-op, which I’m extra excited about because I just realized that they give me $0.03 a bag for each reusable bag I use, so over time it might actually pay for my bags. And if there is a day where I forget my bags or I didn’t bring enough and end up needing some plastic bags I make sure to reuse them (usually as garbage bags).

    Conserve Water
    When we move I hope to purchase a decent rain barrel but right now I just have a little bin out collecting a little bit of rain water for me to water my little garden with. I also make sure to conserve water as much as possible inside the house and am trying to instill that into Raeca as well.

    Bike Whenever Possible
    Cutting back on gas is fairly hard to do where I live (because it’s a big province and everything is spaced out). The one thing I’ve been trying to do this summer is to bike whenever possible. I put Raeca into the bike trailer behind me and we bike the 5km to and from the library once or twice a week, we also bike to the grocery store, farmer’s market and everywhere else we need to go in our town. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to do this in winter but I’m trying to take advantage of the warm weather while I can.

    I’m sure I missed some stuff but that is a general idea on some ways we cut back on waste in our home. Reducing our waste has actually made me feel like a better caretaker of my family and the earth that God has given us to take care of.

    I’d love to hear from you!
    How do you cut back on waste?
    Also, are there any simple living post topics that you would like to see in the future?

    Other posts on living with less:
    FOOD | SPENDING | CLOTHING | POSSESSIONS | MEDIA | STRESS & COMMITMENTS
    you can also check out some inspiration and the entire series here.

    Affiliate links have been used in this post, but trust me, I’m only recommending products I use and love.

    P.S. Today is Fake Friday in our house (what we call it when Jared has Friday off) so for fun today you can get my regular ad space for half price! Just use the code: FAKEFRIDAY

    Linking up with Casey Leigh.

     

    AMY @ LOVELY DOES IT

    Lovely Does It is a lifestyle blog that basically tells my story as a newlywed wife, living an adventure with my husband currently based in Alaska.  I love to write about our everyday adventures, our joys, the things we are learning, and photos of our beautiful backdrop.  It’s a place for me to document our lives and to remember to treasure the little things that can easily get buried in the middle of all the big things. 

    FOLLOW AMY:
    BLOG | INSTAGRAM | BLOGLOVIN’
    MEG @ RIVERS AND ROADS

    Rivers and Roads was created as a space that values community and authenticity. I hope you always feel welcome, encouraged and inspired when you drop by for a visit. I want this blog to be a space where we can all grow together in community as we reach out and invite others to join the journey. Whether you are a blogger, a small business or shop owner, an obsessive DIYer, an adventure seeker, a Disney lover, a chaser of everyday moments, an ambitious creative, or a talented dreamer, this place is for you! 

    FOLLOW MEG:
    BLOG | INSTAGRAM | FACEBOOK

  • SIMPLE LIVING

    Living a Life of Less | Stress & Commitments

    A few years ago I found myself over committed, stressed out, burnt out and tired out. I felt the burn out coming on for awhile but I didn’t know what to do. Well, I did know what to do, it was time to drop some extra curricular activities, but what? Pretty much everything we had going on were good Christian activities: leading youth, leading Bible Study, VBS each summer, volunteering with immigrants, and various other church and outreach activities.

    It wasn’t until one day that it hit me. I was sitting in my van (yes, I drive a mini van), after checking out yet another youth group that I was thinking of volunteering with, and I realized that in order to come help out and be a light to these children I was needing to leave my own child in the care of someone else. And that just seemed wrong.

  • SIMPLE LIVING

    Living a Life of Less | Media

    As a blogger and all round social media lover, this is definitely an area that can be a struggle. I feel like I’ve learned a lot in this area over the last while, but I know that I’m still not where I want to be with this.

    The following list shares some of the things that I am wanting/trying to do to have less media in my life, I can’t say it works out perfectly every day because it sure doesn’t!

  • SIMPLE LIVING

    Living a Life of Less | Possessions

    This segment, living a life of less possessions goes hand in hand with so many other areas, especially clothing and spending.

    If we were being honest I think most of us would admit to having way more than we actually need. How much of our stuff do we actually use on a daily or regular basis? I went on a major rampage at the beginning of the year and simplified our possessions a lot, but I still find more stuff that we never actually use.

    Simplifying possessions can be hard but what I have found to be even harder is to keep it that way. I need to make a conscious effort to make sure I don’t just replace all the stuff I just got rid of.

    I’ve found life to be quite a bit easier since getting rid of so much, previously I was (unknowingly) wasting so much time cleaning and organizing things I didn’t even use. Now that it’s gone I no longer have to think about it or organize it! Yay!

    I think part of limiting the amount of possessions you own is making sure you purchase good quality items. I’d rather have five things that are going to last me a long time than twenty things I’ll have to keep replacing. Unfortunately this mindset is completely new to me. We still have a lot of items that I hope to eventually replace with better quality pieces in the future. This goes for clothing, furniture, small kitchen appliances and cookware, toys, etc.

    Speaking of toys . . . this is one of the hardest parts for me. Raeca has been so good at getting rid of so many of her toys and putting lots of others away for now, but her birthday is just a few months away and I’m already cringing at the idea of all the stuff she is going to get. The truth is, she has a great imagination and can play for a long time with just a grocery store receipt, and I think that’s awesome, but it just makes me wonder why we buy children so many toys. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think all toys are bad or anything, but I’m trying to expose her to ones that are a) going to last b) aren’t plastic and don’t have batteries and c) help her to use her imagination. I’ve got a couple of toys in mind that I’d like to purchase for her, we recently got her this and this which she has been loving and I like the idea of getting her this and this.

    I think the idea of keeping possessions to a minimum will be a life long journey since we will always be purchasing something. I’m just glad I’m starting to learn the art of less now as opposed to another ten or twenty years down the road.

    How do you keep your possessions to a minimum?

    Other posts on living with less:
    FOOD | SPENDING | CLOTHING | MEDIA | STRESS & COMMITMENTS | WASTE
    you can also check out some inspiration and the entire series here.

    JENNA @ DEAREST LOVE

    My little lifestyle blog is where you will find faith-inspired posts, DIYs, wedding photos, recipes, and random musings. I believe that dreams should be chased, fresh baked goods should be enjoyed often, and lives should be creatively lived. 

    FOLLOW JENNA:
    BLOG | BLOGLOVIN’ | PINTEREST

  • SIMPLE LIVING

    Living a Life of Less | Some Inspiration

    I’ve been loving sharing this series with you and my own personal journey to live a life of less. I have a vision in my head of where I am striving to be, I’m definitely not there yet but I’m working towards it and I think that’s what matters. Today I thought it would be fun to share some ladies that I follow online that I find really inspirational as I try to live a life of less. I follow all of these ladies on Instagram and most of their blogs as well.

    I’ve found that some of the criteria I’ve unconsciously put on people I follow on Instagram are: a) mothers b) homeschoolers c) eating real food d) growing their own food e) living in small spaces f) take gorgeous photos. Most of these ladies don’t fit into everyone of those categories, but definitely most of them. I think it should be obvious, but in case it’s not, all photos under their names are from their Instagram feeds, go and follow these inspiring ladies, you won’t be disappointed!

    KRISTIN ROGERS

    A homeschooling mom living in SoCal Kristin’s life always looks so adorable. I love the cozy corner they have decorated in their backyard, it would perfect for The Hospitality Project. Watching the photos of her girls together always makes me secretly (and apparently, not-so-secretly) hope we get referred a girl. Also, obviously I adore her guitar wall, it’s what inspired us to do the same last year. Other things I love about her: their home is only about 800 sq ft, if I remember correctly, so they make sure to keep their stuff to a minimum, oh and they have a chicken, enough said.

    find Kristin: INSTAGRAM | HOMESCHOOL BLOG

    OH DEAR DREA

    Drea’s feed is always popping with bright colors and patterns, I’m not 100% sure I could live with all the patterns she has going on (I may be a little too OCD) but I love looking at photos of them! It has inspired me to look for some patterned cloth napkins and placemats though, I’ll start slow. 🙂 Her daughter, Marlowe, is adorable and the same age as Raeca, and I love how they keep her toys to a minimum and don’t let the house fill with a bunch of useless items. She is currently writing a cookbook, it’s a plant-based cookbook and I’m already adding it to my mental wishlist if for no other reason than to look at her photos! My favorite post of hers is How to Have A Great Life Without Spending a Lot of Money, so many great ideas in there! Oh, and they also have an amazing outdoor space as well, I love their raised garden beds and their entertaining space.

    find Drea: INSTAGRAM | BLOG

    CARISSA GRAHAM

    Carissa’s husband recently went back to school which resulted in them moving to a 650 sq ft apartment. I can’t imagine living in such a small space with two children and yet I’d love to try! She home schools her children and takes them outside a lot (how long can you really stay inside a tiny apartment?). She has some great posts on her blog about downsizing and living with less.

    find Carissa: INSTAGRAM | PERSONAL BLOG

    ASHLEY ANN / UNDER THE SYCAMORE

    Ashley Ann is inspiration on so many levels, I’ve been following her for years and she never fails to surprise me. With five children (and homeschooling the school aged ones) it never ceases to amaze me how much she gets done in a day! Her family is currently on a month long road trip with their trailer, which they’ve so nicely redone.

    find Ashley Ann: INSTAGRAM | BLOG

    JOY PROUTY

    First of all, Joy’s children are probably the most adorably dressed children ever. I’m sure if I ever tried to dress Raeca up in vintage dresses it would be a comical sight, but her girls can pull it off well! Between homeschooling and travelling all over the US while photographing weddings and families and teaching photography workshops there is never a dull moment on her feed. Last year they sold most of their possessions and travelled the US in their trailer for the year, I’m pretty sure Jared is concerned that I will have us doing the same if I keep following her (he has legitimate reason to be concerned, I think it sounds like fun).

    find Joy: INSTAGRAM | BLOG

    MARY BETH / ANNAPOLIS & COMPANY

    Mary Beth is the creator of #theeverydayproject a hashtag I use all.the.time. If you ever need to find some people to follow on Instagram just start searching through that tag. I love how she gets her children involved in cooking and following along with all of their adventures. Her journey has been such a beautiful one to follow.

    find Mary Beth: INSTAGRAM | BLOG

    You can find me on Instagram here.

    Other posts on living with less:
    FOOD | SPENDING | CLOTHING | POSSESSIONS | MEDIA | STRESS & COMMITMENTS | WASTE
    and the entire series here

    Is there any one on social media who inspires you to live more simply?

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