Decluttering My Life. My Journey towards Minimalism

When I bought my house I prided myself on how I kept things so neat and orderly. I am not a neat freak by any stretch but I loved coming home and it looking like it was staged for HGTV.  I was constantly finding little decorations or accent pieces to style the home with, trying to create this updated farmhouse look.  You might remember pictures in earlier posts.

However time goes on and I found myself acquiring more and more pieces to decorate this house with.  Eventually I started filling my closets and drawers with the excess. Nothing crazy, but as with everyone’s homes, over time things just pile up and you quickly shove them here and there when people come over and you need to do a quick clean. But there they stay.

After Liam was born the house took on a whole new look. TOYS! TINY CLOTHES! TINY SOCKS! AND TINY SHOES! ……everywhere!

When I was pregnant I told myself I will not allow my house to be taken hostage by hundreds of stuffed animals, trucks, cars, balls, and little figurines that you have no idea which toy they originally went to.

However when I look around my house now I realized I completely lost the battle. The playroom is lined around the whole perimeter of the room with endless amounts of toys. And my son is only 1….

The realization hit me like a slap on the face;  this is only going to get worse. There are more birthdays, Christmas’s, random “hey you were good today” presents that were going to come and I am not ready for it.

I knew I needed to make a change and it had to start with me.  I cannot force my husband or baby boy to take on this new lifestyle if I am not leading by example. I am reading the book “Clutter Free with Kids” by Joshua Becker – Brilliant! Read it if you get the chance!  He starts out telling a story of how he was doing his annual spring cleaning in his garage and while pulling out bin after bin of belongings he and his wife have acquired over the years, his five year old son, who was helping for all of 5 minutes, found a bat and ball and asked if he could go play in the backyard.  Three hours later he stopped cleaning and saw his son was playing with that same bat and ball the entire time his father had his head buried in boxes.  He had the realization that if he wasn’t cleaning and reorganizing all of this stuff then he could have been spending those precious three hours with his son in the back yard.

That story hit home with me.  Liam is so small right now and with my husband and I working full time jobs, plus our photography on the side, by the time we pick him up from my mother’s house and get him home, fed, bathed and play for 30 minutes or so, it is 7:30 and time for him to go to bed.  When I stop to think about it, in the grand scheme of things, I really don’t spend much time with him at all.  Weekends are precious to me for making up that time with him, but they are also filled with constant running around, food shopping and cleaning that was neglected during the week.  I started to reflect on the author’s story and understand that if I didn’t have the endless amounts of laundry, and constant “tidying up” or reorganizing then I am free to spend more of those special moments with my son.

So it was time for a change!  Earlier this week after Liam was put to bed and sound asleep, I got to work.  I went to the 2-3 junk drawers we have in  our kitchen  that have become the “catch all” for when we are not sure where to put something but have to get it out of sight.  I emptied the drawers on floor with a garbage bag and box next to me.  Trash was thrown out and things that things that someone else could use was put in the box to be donated or sold at our yard sale we will have early next month.

I was forced to pick out the  things that I truly cared about keeping.  I was putting a value on those items. I was forced to ask myself “Do I need this? Or  do I just want  this?”

It was liberating! I felt I could breathe again! Not to be dramatic, but honestly it felt amazing to take this step towards a minimalistic lifestyle that I now craved. Less stuff meant more time. And time is what we all wish we had more of.  After the kitchen I moved to the bathroom where I did the same process with the endless amounts of crap that accumulated under the sink (I am pretty sure floor cleaner from 2001 doesn’t work the same as it did 15 years ago….GONE)

Striving to live with less is so exhilarating to me.  Less laundry, less cleaning, less money spent on things we don’t actually NEED and more put towards the things that make us happy, like family camping trips and vacations….. the possibilities are endless.

Next I plan on tackling my closet…. That will be a whole other battle…..stay tuned….

Matter of Love is Here!


One of my favorite people on this plantet is launching her very own jewelry line today! I could not be more proud of this girl and I know she will go far with her talents! I love businesses with a purpose. Businesses that also want to make a difference in the lives of their customers. Kelsey is doing just that. Love and compassion has such an amazing ripple affect and if we took the time to show each other how much we cared, this world could be a much different place. I sat down with my good friend Kelsey to candidly talk about her new venture and to get a sneak peak at some of her new peices. Everything is handmade and everything is made with love. Be sure to check out Matter of Loves’s website listed below along with some our favorites from her collection.

How did the name matter of love come about?
Honestly, I don’t know. It just came to me. I want the pieces I make to be a physical representation of the love we feel and share with each other. It’s not just a piece of jewelry, it’s a reminder to think about our words and actions and to choose kindness, compassion, and love. I think the name encapsulates that sentiment.

When did you start making jewelry?
Well I started making some pieces with polymer clay a few years ago, and I loved the freedom of expression it allowed me, but I’ve always been more of a silver gal. So, last year I took a metalsmithing class to learn how to work with precious metals.

What style do you find your self gravitating to?
What style don’t I gravitate to? This has been an ever-evolving process for me and I’m finding myself pulled in so many new directions of design. Overall, I’d say I am still super attracted to geometric shapes and anything cosmic-y.

Where can we find you?
www.MatterOfLoveJewelry.com or you can find me on facebook, instagram, twitter, and pinterest.

You have traveled to several places and seen various cultures, have those experiences influenced your style at all?
I think so. Maybe not directly (except when I use my coveted beads form Ghana), but in general, I think travelling has really broadened my worldview and helped me to be more accepting and understanding of my fellow humans. It’s really humbling to be the outsider. To have to adapt to a completely different reality and rely on the kindness of others to help you. I think it’s made me actively try to find a common denominator with people, to connect in some way so I like to use different languages and cultural symbols to express love because I hope the sentiment can act as a universality to link us together as humans.

What do you hope to accomplish?
I just hope to be a positive energy in the world. I want my work to represent the person I am and the things I’m passionate about.

How do you plan to use matter of love to “pay it forward”?
I sincerely hope that my jewelry causes a ripple effect of love. I hope recipients feel their own self-worth and recognize their own potential to make a positive impact on the world. Also, profits from any of the pieces with Arabic writing are donated to the International Rescue Commitee, Inc. to help aid refugees displaced throughout the world.

 

Here is just a few of Kelsey’s amazing pieces! For more and to order your own check out her website today!

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Meet the Women of Three B’s Finderys

Even though photography is my part time job I still consider myself a small business owner and love connecting with others who share the passion to create work doing what they love and what makes them happy. Whether it be full or part time or perhaps just a weekend hobby, making that time to do things that spark a fire in your soul and excitement in your bones is one of the key factors in living a full life.  So I am always supporting those to take the chance just like I did.

Recently I sat down to speak with the women of Three B’s Finderys and talk about what inspired them to create this new venture for themselves and learn a little more about what they do.  Not only are they a ton of fun to be around but are all super talented in different ways which help make this dynamic trio unstoppable.

Meet Jen, Lori and Danielle….

What Exactly Is the Three B’s?

Jen: We are Danielle Dippel, Lori Campbell, and Jennifer Domaracki … and we are “Three B’s Finderys.” Our mission is to make the old and discarded, new again. We showcase the beauty in things that have seen their time. With some vision, elbow grease, and lots of love we will give reclaimed objects an encore.

How did the three B’s come about?

Lori: We realized that we all have different skills and together would make a good combination for this type of business.

Jen: Good things come in threes!

Danielle: … and prevent ties for decision making!

What inspired the name?

Lori: There are three of us, hence Three  –   The B is a secret and cannot be revealed  –  Finderys is a word that Danielle’s daughter uses for her treasures so it just flowed together.

Danielle: Friday night started with the Three B’s but we knew we needed more, by Sunday it was done!

How did you all meet?

Lori: We all live in the same lake community. I live across the street from Danielle and Jen is just a few blocks away, which is very convenient.

Jen: Yes —  beautiful, New Jersey. These ladies are part of our “lake family.”

Danielle: Different times but the same beautiful place.

Who came up with this vision?

Lori: Danielle discussed the idea with us one night and by the next morning we had a name and Three B’s Finderys was born.

Jen: Danielle has the gift of finding awesome treasures. Together, we all had different ideas about what to do with them.

Danielle: I could tell each of us would add a certain artistic characteristic that couldn’t be duplicated.

Where do you find your inspiration for the pieces?

Lori: So far we have been very lucky to find things that we all like for one reason or another.  We then figure out what to do to make the item into something different. Some of the items kind of tell you what they should be.

Jen: Treasures absolutely tell you what they want to be. You may have an idea of something that you want to try, but the item dictates the outcome. I once took home two window panes to work on. I had some ideas for what I wanted to do. I was almost embarrassed to tell the B’s the next day, “the windows want to be (this) instead.” Danielle got so excited, screaming “that’s what I am talking about!” It may sounds a little out there, but in some way or another, the item “tells us” what it wants to be.

Danielle: We have a certain criteria of things that we know we can make better.  We find it first, figure out later —

Where can we find you?

Lori: On Facebook and Instagram

Jen: … and Pinterest as well! A blog of our adventures is to come.

Danielle: Hopefully our own website soon.

What do you hope to accomplish?

Lori: We hope to restore beauty in things before they make their way to a landfill.  We also hope to bring happiness to the people who buy from us.  It is a great joy when someone buys something that you made and tells you how much happiness it brings them.

Danielle: We hope to accomplish one of kind pieces from unusual materials, not to be found anywhere else.

Jen: I hope that we can continue to create items that people “need to have” — those that they are happy to display in their home. We seek out tools and materials that are made in the USA. That is important to us. We love to take unwanted items and find a new and unique use for them.

What is your favorite piece yet?

Lori: I would have to say the first pallet shelf that we made.  It started out as a wine rack and when we realized we didn’t have the right amount of wood to make it we just changed course and it became a shelf.  I would say it was a defining moment in how we work together.  We laughed and learned a lot that day.

Danielle: Yeah I’m not good at picking favorites.

Jen: I agree with Lori — our very first completed project. It just needed to be done! We talked so much about how and when. We just needed to get busy. Every working day is a learning experience with these ladies. It’s not boring stuff, I’ll say that!

 

Want more of the Three B’s?? Check them out on Facebook by clicking on the link below!

https://www.facebook.com/ThreeBsFinderys/?fref=ts

 

Here are a few of their favorites:

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Ultimate Little Boy’s Playroom

This was one of my favorite projects to do in our house.  Originally this was our third bedroom which Chad and I were using as an office.  When we found out we were going to have Liam I immediately started planning his dream playroom.  I started looking at local garage sales over the summer for fun pieces and came across a BRAND NEW in the box teepee for just $20! I knew I wanted this to be the focal point of the room.  I am anxiously awaiting for the days where he crawls inside to read a book or dream up some amazing adventure of his own.  If you remember an earlier post with the old wooden desk  and chair I found a thrift store, I placed that between to big windows to provide lots of natural light for arts and crafts.

I knew I wanted a magnet station for when he got a little older as well so I used a baking sheet and purchased some heavy duty velcro at Wal-Mart and hung it on the wall next to some other fun toys.  My mother in law purchased the cube storage station at Home Depot which was perfect to hide all those little odds and ends.  I don’t want to wish time away, and I understand completely when other parents tell me to cherish every moment because the fly by…but I admit it is hard for me not get excited for when Liam is a little older, to go running into his special room yelling for his mommy to come join him.  For right now he crawls all over the room as the natural explorer that he is.

Enjoy!

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The Dexter Family

It was so nice to catch up with my high school friend Lauren and finally get to meet her wonderful family!  Their children were awesome, and as with most photo shoots with young children, we start off a little shy and by the end I am rolling around in the leaves with them! I had  great time and I hope to hang out with this wonderful family again! Maybe a future play date with Liam!?! 🙂

Enjoy!

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The Halls

If I am ever needing a good laugh or a pick me up I am calling this family.  Their lightheartedness and positive outlook on life is contagious and is clearly passed down to their radiantly shining daughter Sara.  If you want to witness the pure, simplistic joy of a 4 year old, take them to the playground and let them loose!  I had such a wonderful time with this family and admit they were the first to squeeze into a tunnel for one of my favorite shots of the day!  Can’t wait to hang out again!

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Meet Shay

Shay was such a sweetheart! Not only was she feeling under the weather but it was bitterly cold during our shoot and she hung in there like a champ!  Towards the end we used everyone’s favorite persuation…. FOOD!, to get the last few smiles in but she did great and I hope to work with this wonderful family again!

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JP + Krystal Engaged

I had a phenomenal time with this adorable couple!  We didn’t let the MULTIPLE children’s birthday parties taking place at each location we intended to shoot at get in the way of us having a good time. 🙂 Their fun, free spirits will take them far in the world and I wish them nothing but love and happiness as they enter this new and exciting chapter in their lives.  Congratulations JP and Krystal!

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Halfway There!

It is hard to believe my little nugget is 6 months old! There is no exaggeration when others tell you to enjoy every moment for it’s gone in flash.  Watching him grow, learn, explore, and master new skills everyday truly emphasizes the miracle of life.  As fast as time is going and as much as I miss him falling asleep on my chest during his naps, I anxiously wait for him to crawl towards me for the first time, or take his first steps with his arms stretched out.  For now and always I will be there to catch him.

Happy 6 months Liam!

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Rustic Farm Table for Ten Please!

Even before the rustic farm style decor became super trendy, I was always obsessed with having a long wooden table underneath a draping tree in my back yard.  Who wouldn’t  want to spend a warm summer evening, together with friends and family, eating good food and creating great memories, all surrounding a beautiful wooden piece of art?!  It’s even better when you don’t have to spend over $1,000 for it!  After our deck was completed we knew that the table was the next task on the list.  It would be the statement and the game changer for how our outdoor space functions.  There are an incredible amount of DIY plans available online for your own farm table however the plans we found on Ana-White.com seemed to be exactly what Chad and I were looking for.  Here is the link if you are interested:

http://ana-white.com/2012/11/plans/farmhouse-table-updated-pocket-hole-plans

Some of the wood we purchased new but the top is the real show stopper.  A friend of ours lives next door to a man who just happened to be ripping out the old floor boards in this attic, which may I mention, were over 100 years old!!  We knew that would be the perfect wood to use on the top of the table, as well as a great piece of history.  He was more than willing to give us a few boards and Chad with our friend Don went to work!  We stained and Poly’d several times so it would hold up to the outdoor elements and purchased black metal side chairs we found for a great price at Wayfair’s end of the summer sale.  Next, we strung up string lights draped through the cherry blossom tree and we are ready to party! The table is 10 ft long and fits 10 people very comfortably.  Who’s hungry?!

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