Scamp 5th Wheel BEFORE and AFTER

I've been meaning to write up a tour post, of sorts, and share our space with you all. I also meant to take more photos as well as offer some "before" shots. Well, this may not be the big "reveal" that design shows have gotten us all accustomed to, but I hope it works. ;)

SCAMP "BEFORE"

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As you can see from the before photos, it was very dated and heavy oak and plaid. Some may be into that look, but we wanted to modernize and freshen up the look. See what we did below!

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So that's the big tour! It's not always the clean (ummm....maybe never), but I hope you enjoyed a peek inside. Here's a quick rundown of the updates we did:

UPDATES

  • painted all of the cabinets white and sealed with poly
  • new knobs
  • new latex cushions with hand sewn (by yours truly) organic Two Sisters Ecotextiles fabric covers
  • added a wool mattress to the loft
  • new tires and wheels
  • a deep clean

That's it! Never underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint and clean floors.

Would you remodel a travel trailer or have you ever? Did you live to tell the tale? :) Share below!

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We Finally Staged and Listed Our Small House!

Earlier this fall, Kirk and I agreed that we would list the house by our daughter's birthday and then celebrate by heading to Madison, Wisconsin for the weekend. We somehow pulled it off (which made me an even bigger believer in the power of our thoughts and intentions) and the house got listed TODAY. Whoop whoop!

I'm not going to share the actual listing, but I thought I would share some of the photos that my dear photographer friend, Jillian Pancini, took of the house. She's basically a rockstar and if you live in Chicagoland or Michiana, you should totally hit her up for some photos.

So just a word about these photos. The little brick house is very staged. We removed lots of toys, furniture, and anything personal, so keep that in mind. This is not how we actually lived in the space. I'll write a post soon about all of the things we've decluttered in anticipation of hitting the road, so subscribe and keep an eye out for that post! And if you want to see how it looked when we first bought it, head here.

Without further ado, our 675 sq. foot house in all its glory:

LIVING ROOM


OUR BEDROOM


KIDS BEDROOM


BATHROOM


KITCHEN

Hope you enjoyed our tour of our little house! It's been a great run over the (nearly) two years of ownership, and we filled those walls to the brim with memories. Time to move on to our next adventure!

 

The Unexpected Benefits of Creating a Toy Library

Written By: Kate

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Our two daughters have recently gotten into the habit of creating "nests." The nest building began with them dragging piles of stuff--blankets, stuffed animals, play food, and even sometimes clothes from the dirty laundry pile--into the middle of the living room. And as quick as I could turn my back to make a cup of tea, the nest would be made, and the living room rug gone under the pile of debris.

On one hand, I found this nest making fascinating, and I didn't want to discourage their creative behavior. On the other hand, it was driving the minimalist in me nuts! We tried to encourage the girls to contain their nest making to their bedroom, but to no avail.

What I found so frustrating about this daily ritual of theirs is how it would cause a domino effect with their other belongings. Without fail, the two would lose interest in the "nest" and begin dragging out every other toy they collectively owned. Once that was complete, they would begin to fight or complain about being bored.

To be honest, these are the times I secretly wished we had a playroom that I could just shut the door on and forget. Every night before bed we would try to clean-up the mess, but really this just meant that the piles ended up on their very small bedroom floor. I knew the girls were frustrated with the toy clutter and not knowing where or how to put it all away. I get it--messes are overwhelming!

Kirk and I decided to test out a toy library for our home. Are you familiar with this concept? Kim John Payne in Simplicity Parenting recommends rotating toys and keeping the majority out of sight and reach as a way to encourage creative play while developing a calmer environment for children.

What did we have to lose?

So we re-arranged their bedroom and removed ALL the toys. I bought a metal storage rack from Target that we placed in our basement to store the toy library. Then the only toys we put back in their bedroom were a few favorite stuffed animals, a dollhouse, and the girls' hobby horses. That's it.

The girls were happy to try the toy library because the concept of "one in, one out" is so ingrained from our weekly library trips. They understand that to get more library books, we must return what we have at home.  So we applied the same logic and rules to our home toy library.

What are the benefits?

Peaceful Environment | Our home is under 700 square feet; it's small for a family of (nearly) 5! The daily nest-building was frustrating for all of us because it interrupted their play flow, and it was an eye-sore for Kirk and I. When you live small, you cannot simply close doors on a mess, you must deal with it daily.

But now? Our home feels more peaceful without all of the toy clutter. Our living room is no longer the play room, but a welcoming space for all of us to enjoy. If you're living small, boundaries like this are an absolute must. But I bet the same would be true of larger homes; living rooms are for all and not just the kiddos.

Less Cleaning | With less toy clutter has come less cleaning. Instead of fighting with the kids to get them to put away ALL of the toys, they now only have a few with which to contend. Each toy has a special place to be stored, so the girls can quickly put away their toys. It's less stressful for all of us AND allows more time for play.

We've often told the girls that the reason we practice minimalism as a family is because we value experiences and time together over cleaning. Rather than spend a bulk of our days cleaning-up unnecessary messes, we're setting boundaries and putting systems in place to encourage good habits.

Engaged Play | And my favorite benefit of this all? Seeing my two girls engage in sustained play with a few favorite toys. Their "nest" making before seemed frantic; it was an effort to see something to completion, and then they didn't know what to do with it. So they would then abandon the mess. But now? I'm writing as the girls play "ballet class" on the floor with two dolls. No fighting, no piles of clutter, just two kids experiencing the joy of simple play.  

We're a few weeks now into this experiment, and I see no reason to stop now. The girls are happier with this system and with the new boundaries. And now I can make a cup of tea, without fear of finding a pile of stuff taking over my living room either!

What's your favorite way to deal with toy clutter in your home?

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2016 Annual Review and 2017 Intentions: Good-Bye Hustle, Hello Quiet

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As I look forward to the start of 2017, I am also very aware of the mistakes and triumphs of this past year. And as I took some time these past few weeks to truly reflect, I saw certain patterns emerge and also identified a slightly different course for this new year. Here are my thoughts on 2016 along with how I'll be changing directions in 2017:

Home |  In late spring we bought a house and moved into it toward the end of the summer. Buying this house was a huge step toward our family's values, namely living small and frugally. Instead of buying what the bank told us we could afford, we bought well below our means.

And these walls are definitely feeling like home even if it's not as organized as I would like. So my goal for the first few months of 2017 is to declutter, organize, and prepare our home to welcome our newest addition later this spring.

I'm also cutting myself some slack on how my home looks even if it's not picture perfect or design mag worthy. Even minimalists feel the pressure to have--if fewer things--still all the right things. I'm over all of that and content with my grandma chic style because it makes this home ours.

Travel | We traveled a significant amount in 2016. Despite making a major purchase (house) and completing a full-gut renovation of the bathroom, we still traveled a total of a month over the course of the year. And while I am grateful for the experiences we had, our schedule was overflowing this year. I actually missed having lazy days on the beach, but we were too busy with traveling to other places and working on our house to enjoy where we live.

We sold our Casita for a myriad of reasons, many of which may make their way into a post someday. Owning the Casita created this sense of pressure to use it; it's a costly possession, and we didn't want it gathering dust in the backyard. But I will say for now that I feel a sense of relief that we'll be staying local this year. We may take a trip in 2017 to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary, but it will be simple and affordable.

Finances | We spent SO MUCH money in 2016. A mind-boggling amount went toward the down payment on the house, renovation costs, and buying new household items to replace the ones we got rid of.

We also prioritized travel and a good portion of our extraneous funds went toward trips in the Casita. While I am grateful we had the money to spend on our house and travels, we saved almost nothing and made little progress on old debts.

So 2017 is going to be a shake-up year: selling the Casita will free up some major funds. We already cut our grocery bill by about 40% over the last few months and will continue to eat frugally in 2017. And although Kirk is quitting the hospital and a salaried position to work freelance, there is a possibility of making more. Or making less. Either way, our reduced spending will make the transition easier. We'll kick off January by joining the Frugalwoods' Uber Frugal Month Challenge (so, you know, don't ask me to go shopping or anything.)

We already paid off the birth center and midwifery services bill (thank you Samaritan Ministries!*), and we will also be paying our 4Runner off a year early in February. I knew it was dumb when we took a car loan out on it (our first car loan, ever!) and I don't plan to make that mistake twice. Once it's paid off we'll divert that monthly payment to a savings account and save up for the next vehicle.

Work | Oh, work. What a wild, overwhelming, exciting, and time-consuming year of work it was! 2016 was definitely my year of hustle as I worked to grow Cohesive Home. Not a day went by that I didn't work on it in some capacity, whether that was writing emails, writing and recording podcasts, creating content for Instagram and the blog, meetings with Melissa, and writing a column for Metro Family Magazine.

Part of the issue is that I also teach 4 sections of university-level humanities online each semester (and 1-2 during the summer.) It was difficult to find time for all of my "jobs" without completely ignoring my kids, my husband, and my home.

And while I am grateful for the experience, I also realized I am not cut out for hustle. Yes, there are so many amazing, entrepreneurial women out there who are able to balance growing a business with growing a family. I am not one of those people. And I am done.

So in 2017, I will be drastically cutting back on my role in Cohesive Home. I've made some changes to my online courses to simplify my work tasks, and I will direct my energy toward my home, my family, and my own well-being. I also finished writing my first children's chapter book, and my goal is to secure a publishing contract by the end of 2017.

Family | Finding myself unexpectedly pregnant has been such a divine blessing. It allowed me to shift my self-centered focus on work back toward my family and growing this little baby. And I've already started cutting extra responsibilities from my life, so that I can be engaged and connected when little one joins us.

I want to be fully present with my girls and the new baby, to have time to sit in stillness and enjoy each day for what it is instead of fretting about what I'm not accomplishing. Instead of non-stop hustle, I am creating space for peace and stillness. I'm longing for that respite and realize that I am the only person capable of making that change actually happen.

My oldest daughter will be in "first grade" next year; I want to deepen our home-school study together and create space for more learning opportunities while connecting more fully with her. And my younger daughter is nearing three years old, and I desire more one-on-one time with her through imaginative play, reading books, and cuddling.

And finally, my husband: he gamely supported me during the "Year of Cohesive Home" and now I want to support him in his dreams. So I will be taking a step back to create space for him to make big things happen.

My family is everything to me and my absolute priority. Time to actually live out what I value instead of just talking about it. And if you read all of this, THANK YOU!

What are your 2017 intentions and goals? Would love to hear in the comments!

* We're members of Samaritan Ministries, a Christian health cost sharing organization. We absolutely LOVE it. I could wax poetic about my love of this organization all day, so email me if you have questions about it. And if you join, let them know I sent you!

 

A Quiet Christmas and Look Toward 2017

20161226_113536 Our December was hectic and overflowing with my daughter's involvement in the Nutcracker and Kirk transitioning to a new job. Last week I turned in my grades for my online humanities courses and hid my laptop. 2016 had been a year of too much technology, constant digital connection, and limited face to face interactions of the kind that sustain and renew.

Our Christmas was quiet and slow. The girls are still at an age where they are unaware of all of the toys available during the holiday shopping season. We didn't step foot in any big box stores at all in November and December, and we tend to avoid the toy aisle as a long-standing practice. It's not that we are anti-toys, but prefer to influence our kids rather than marketers.

Of course, the girls pored over the Nova Natural catalog and had a few requests. We simplified Christmas to a few categories (which may change next year), and the girls each received:

  1. something to read
  2. something to wear
  3. something to play with
  4. a family experience

Since we talked about this ahead of time, there were no tears or disappointment, and I think they both really loved everything they discovered under the tree. We also stayed on budget and didn't experience the normal holiday pressure to over-consume at the expense of our finances. Rather than focus on material things, we focused on time with family and quiet time together at home. We cooked magic muffins (our own recipe), local pastured bacon, and gluten-free sticky buns topped off with virgin mimosas (for the girls and I; Kirk had the real thing), went to church, and attended my nephew's first birthday party.

As we look forward to 2017, I am envisioning a simpler year filled with deeper connections and a continued movement toward our dreams. Part of our transitioning to a simpler life is selling our Casita as we prepare for the birth of our next baby in late spring of 2017. I'll talk more about why we're selling the Casita and if that means we're done traveling in my next post about my plans and intentions for 2017.

Hope your holidays were peaceful and a time to reflect in preparation for the coming new year!

 

Living Simply and Frugally at Home

apples As I mentioned yesterday, we're working really hard to shift our income sources to activities and work that align with our values. Rather than depend on one employer to supply an entire income, we're creating multiple income source while also reducing our lifestyle expenses.

As I dive deeper into the realm of frugal and simple living, I'm realizing how much the small choices we make at home and out and about impact our bottom line. To put it in very basic terms, are the purchases we make worth the per hour working cost? If my husband has to work 2 days' worth of hours to pay for something is it worth it? Freedom comes at a cost and often it's in the check-out line.

So here's a few ways that I'm reducing our expenses while also creating a lifestyle and home that supports our plans for the near future:

Reducing Household Waste: This might seem like an odd initial step, but stay with me. When we throw away old or uneaten food, we're throwing away the money and energy it took to purchase it in the first place. When we throw away a bunch of packaged food wrappers, it also means I spent a pretty penny on convenience to feed my family. On the flip side, when I make my own sourdough bread (which is pretty damn good) or make a crock-pot full of yogurt from a gallon of local milk, not only is the quality better, but the cost much cheaper. Less trash in the landfill, more money in our pockets.

Do Without: Rather than run out and buy something when I discover a possible "need," I'm waiting. It takes some major self-control for me to not hop on Amazon and ship the best option in two days. So I disconnected my payment form on Amazon and other places where I shop online too often. I'm making lists before I head to a store and passing up impulse purchases. I'm not perfect at it, but when I visualize the end goal of saving money, it makes it that much easier.

Recycle and Reuse What We Already Own: Another step I've taken toward reducing our household costs is to dig around at our house or to ask others if they're giving away an extra {fill-in-the-blank.} We're about to switch the girls back into bunk-beds (which we already own, with mattresses, thank goodness) to make space in their room for a crib. And as much as I would LOVE to crack out on redesigning their room with new bedding and all that jazz, I'm forcing myself to source bedding from our house that can be re-purposed. Could an oversized comforter be split in two to make individual blankets for their beds? Could I sew something out of leftover fabric? Instead of buying pretty jars to hold our bulk items I'm recycling empty bottles and jars from our home. My gal, Melissa Risenhoover, taught me that Bonne Maman jam jars are perfect drinking glasses, so I began to buy that brand to slowly build up our drinking glass collection. The more uses I can get out of a single item, the less it costs in the end.

Make Like My Grandma: Finally, the last step I'm taking is to cook as many meals as possible at home and to prep snacks to prevent eating out. My grandma had a whole pantry stocked with canned and preserved foods that she had grown or made herself. I'm purchasing supplies in bulk from the local bulk store and keeping often-used items always in stock. I have a rotating menu of meals I regularly and quickly cook, and I keep it simple. As much as I am an absolute foodie, I stick to what works, is healthy, and also cost-effective for my family. Those "special unicorn" meals are always in rotation.

We also plan to plant a garden next spring and grow as many vegetables as possible as well as revive some of our old habits like making sauerkraut and kombucha on a regular basis. It takes time to add these habits into our lives, but the end result will be a healthier family and (I hope) a bigger savings account.

I would LOVE to hear how you live simply and frugally while also adding value to your life. Share in the comments or message me on Instagram!

 

Gatherings | Our Summertime Visit with the Risenhoovers

Do you have a gal pal that you talk to more than your family? Melissa Risenhoover is kinda my BFF and the mama that I turn to for advice, support, and lots of belly laughs. She's got my back, and I have hers, and oh, we also happen to be business partners for Cohesive Home. So earlier this spring she asked if she and her fam could spend their summer VACA with us in Indiana. My response? OF COURSE.

At the time we didn't own a house and lived with my parents. But we definitely weren't going to turn down a visit from our old neighbors from OKC. (Did you catch that? We all used to live on the same block in a post-war neighborhood nestled between the twin temptations of Target and Whole Foods.)

So back to their visit: they arrived on a Thursday, and we spent the weekend visiting the beach, getting ice cream, and hanging at the park.

Friday we play at the playground across the street from our house, walked around our small downtown, and ate lots of ice cream.

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Saturday we made a huge round of eggs for everyone for breakfast.  Melissa and I actually got ready so we could take new headshots for Cohesive Home while at the farmers' market. Then we packed up our market basket and tablecloth so we could have a picnic in the park.

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Did you know there is such a thing as organic and dye-free cotton candy? Well, there is, and it is AWESOME. I may have bought a 1/2 lb. of dark chocolate sea salt caramels. And totally don't regret it.

We also stocked up on our favorite locally roasted, fair-trade and organic coffee. It is so delish.

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My husband, Kirk, watched the kiddos so that Brandon could take photos of us on the lawn. I don't have any to share with you (yet!), but I'm pretty sure people thought Melissa and I were having our engagement photos taken. #BFFS.

And did I mention my husband is a saint for chasing 5 kids around?

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Melissa and I knocked out some Cohesive Home-work in the afternoon, then ran to the local Italian deli to stock up on beach picnic fare. It was so hard to limit ourselves because everything looked amazing.

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We drove over into Michigan and let the kids play in the sand + surf while we toasted to the weekend with wine.wp-1472054568405.jpg

 

We watched the sunset from the beachside playground and let the kids burn off steam before heading back home. The weather was absolutely perfect, high-70s and sunny.

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Sunday we mostly hung out on the front porch drinking coffee and watching the kids draw on the sidewalk with chalk and make fairy houses in the neighbor's flower bushes. Don't worry--she didn't mind.

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wp-1472054553854.jpgWe had such an AMAZING time with the Risenhoovers! We weren't sure what it would be like to have 9 people staying in a 675 square foot little house, but it actually went so well. I think the key to entertaining in a small house is keeping your expectations low and your home welcoming. More on entertaining in small spaces in a later post.

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But for now, let me just say you don't need to give up entertaining when you move into a tiny or small home. We all feel so much closer as friends having had this experience together!

We're looking forward to more gatherings with their family, hopefully exploring a new location together. And now that they left, we're getting back into the swing of things and settling back into our home just the four of us.

Until next time.......

Small Home Design: The Before Photos

20160503_093549When we first made an offer on our house several months ago, I began dreaming and planning the tiny rooms. How could we make room for all of our favorite activities in a house not much bigger than a studio apartment? Home is greater than the sum of the rooms or the sizes of them; these walls hold the collection of our memories being made as we interact in the space. In other words? We make our home, not the other way around. Size doesn't matter with the right perspective and willingness to apply ingenuity to designing a small house.

A few points about this house: it is designed like a square cut in fourths; the two bedrooms occupy the back two squares, and the living spaces are in the front. The living room is about 13'x15' and will need to serve many purposes: dining room, living room, library, homeschooling space, and playroom. Although we do have a large basement, we do not have plans at this time to finish it out for extra room.

Our lives expand to fill available space, and I am not in a rush to add more space to be filled to the brim. We'll find satisfaction in the small spaces available for the time being.

And a few more words on how we plan to design our home: I am not a designer, nor will I pretend to be. This writing space won't turn into a decorating blog either. I am, however, drawn to certain textiles, patterns, and types of furniture. We are trying to pay cash for everything we buy for this house, which admittedly is difficult. The challenge of working with what we have, while valuing what we can purchase is making the process of creating a home much more enjoyable. When the temptation to design a home that reflects the latest trends is cautiously ignored, the result is a home that feels more like us. At least that is the goal.

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The Hall Closet (View from Living Room)

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And that is it; four rooms total, 675 square feet, and beautiful potential. As we work on the house, I'll add additional posts for the curious few. I have often searched the internet for other families living in small (but not tiny) homes, and it can be difficult to find other families choosing to live simply.

One Year Later....

20160704_191516Nearly one year ago in May 2015, we sold our 1950s one-story ranch in Oklahoma City and moved north with only the slightest idea of what we were doing. We had some specific ideas, a handful of dreams, and a short-term plan. My husband Kirk didn't even have a job yet! We took a huge leap to change our lives and this is the outcome (so far): Original dream: to travel and explore the country full-time in a travel trailer, preferably an Airstream.

Outcome: we bought a Casita Freedom Deluxe travel trailer, and we have plans to visit Yosemite, Sequoia National Park, Joshua Tree, and the Grand Canyon this summer as well as a few places in Michigan. We are working toward traveling 3-6 months a year by the end of 2017.20160626_101827

Original dream: build a small (but not tiny) house in our small beachside community that we could live in when we're not traveling and rent out when we are.

Outcome: next week we close on a 675 square foot brick cottage in our beach community that is walking distance to everything (more on that in another post) and will make a perfect AirBNB rental when we're traveling. It is small, exactly what we need, and won't derail our future plans but actually make them more likely.DSCF1357

Original dream: to write a children's chapter book by the end of 2015.

Outcome: I am just a handful of chapters away from being finished, with the bulk of the work behind me. Although I'm behind on my original schedule, I'm still happy with my progress. I'm hoping to finish it up by the end of June 2016.

Processed with VSCOVerdict? Our plans haven't turned out exactly how we envisioned when we pulled out of our Oklahoma City driveway with a 6'x12' Uhaul, but so much better. We have a more thorough grasp of what we actually want for our lives, what we value deeply, and how to get there. No one EVER said that change is easy or that you can get everything you want. But I do believe that the harder we work at it and continue to strive for our dreams, the closer we get.

There are so many small moving parts beneath the surface, but isn't that the case for everyone? There is so much we want to do, so much we want to see! But we'll get there. And I'm guessing if you're reading this, you're striving to change your life too, to find your adventure and fulfill it. Keep reaching for it! It can be a long path, but sometimes the path is just as enjoyable as the outcome.

More next week on the new house. I cannot wait to share pics and our plans for our unconventional, but happy little house!

 

How We Fit Everything We Own in a 6'x12' UHaul Trailer

wpid-imag4217.jpg When I think of all of the steps it took to plan and prepare for this move, nothing was more daunting than setting a goal of pulling our belongings in a tiny trailer. It was an audacious goal, and we changed our minds several times over this past spring. Price-wise, we weren't saving much money going this route. But as is often the case in life:

money doesn't matter nearly as much as staying true to our values and challenging ourselves to dig deeper into a life rich in experiences, light on stuff.

Our 4Runner came to us with a brand new and very strong hitch installed; all we had to do was pull the trigger and reserve a moving trailer rather than a truck. This is how we condensed 10 years of adult living, the belongings of 4 people, and the accumulations of things spread across 1300 square feet into a 72 square foot trailer.

MINIMIZE: We started the minimizing process years ago, but became truly ruthless last fall. I would routinely go through drawers, closets, and surfaces in our house looking for things we no longer loved, cherished, or used. If it wasn't something we used 80% of the time and fairly often, we got rid of it. Kirk and I sat down one night with a notepad and made a list of every item that each of us loved and insisted on keeping. The list was small, much smaller than I would have expected--probably a dozen things total. That list was our guiding light through the process, and it kept us on track.

CONDENSE: I then began condensing the things we needed to keep. I like having some physical paper copies--tax documents, personal papers, etc.--but I was able to condense a file cabinet into a small plastic file box. I took a 15 lb box of paper to Office Depot and let them shred it for me. It was totally worth the $0.99/lb price to have all of that magically gone. I also went through all of our old physical photos and kept the best, getting rid of duplicates, fuzzy, and unimportant photos. We still kept family photos albums, however. I'm not a diehard "100 items" minimalist, you know. Finally, we also reduced collections of items, such as keeping only 4 coffee mugs instead of 15, 1 large box of favorite toys instead of a closet's worth, and reducing our large book collection to the absolute favorites and life-changers.

CAPSULE: We also went through every person's wardrobe and created the beginnings of a capsule wardrobe. We were able to reduce the girls' clothing from a full closet's worth to 1/4 of that same closet. Each girl has a week's worth of everyday dresses/tops and leggings/shorts, 1-2 church dresses, a couple pairs pajamas, and 2 pairs of shoes. More on kid's capsule wardrobes in a later post. Kirk and I also reduced our wardrobes so small that we were able to fit all of our clothes across two small suitcases. I sold our best clothes to a nice consignment store, and we donated the rest (local foster agency for the kids stuff and Goodwill for ours.) We are still refining our capsule wardrobes, but so far it has been an amazing thing for how we feel about ourselves, and it has reduced our laundry load significantly.

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SELL: We also made a list of every item to sell with the dollar amount we thought it was worth. This goal encouraged us to find a home for each item and to make some extra cash to help with the move. I made a private Instagram account and let all of our friends know that we would be having a virtual garage sale. With only 35 or so followers, we managed to sell about 90% of the stuff on our list for asking price or close to it. We also sold a few items on Craigslist, but I try to avoid that route if I can. Finally, we took all of our extra books to HalfPrice Books to sell. Some of the things we sold were: furniture, a refrigerator, decor, kids toys, and lawn care items.

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  • DONATE: I also put free items on the Instagram account and got rid of a lot of stuff that way. The rest we bagged up and took car load after car load to Goodwill. We donated house repair items, such as brand new paint or caulk, to the Habitat for Humanity Restore.
  • TRASH: Finally, we had about two city trash cans worth of stuff to throw away. I absolutely hate throwing anything away that can be used because 1) it is so wasteful and 2)it is a reminder how careless and flippant we can be about money and material possessions.

In the end, we did have to make some last minute calls on a few items, such as our daughters' Learning Tower (which we do hope to buy another one, if we can find it on Craigslist), highchairs, and a cute end table. But the most precious and important items were securely inside the trailer; nothing irreplaceable was sold or trashed.

So what did we learn from this process?

It is far better to do without an item than to buy something that is cheaply made, will not last, and must be thrown away. We learned that as minimalist as we think we are, we still own a lot, more than so many other people around the world do. This experience opened our eyes even more to how our culture views so much "stuff" as necessity instead of the luxury that it is. Finally, as we pulled away from our aging house with only our favorite things along for the journey, we realized what freedom there is in letting go, in saying that people and experiences are more important than things, and in embracing the uncertainty of an unidentifiable future.

Have you undertaken any massive streamlining? What did you gain from the experience?

The Best Laid Plans | A Streamlined Life June Update

image Hanging out at the beach, trips to the marina, hoofing it everywhere and trying new restaurants, stores, trails, you name it: we are loving the new place and loving the fun (ok, and sometimes stress) that comes with exploring and adapting to a new lifestyle. Although they both struggled with the big change initially, both girls are thriving in the fresh air and are crazy about all of the new sights and sounds of a northern beach town.

As many of you know, our plan has been (for at least 90% of the time; I do change my mind periodically, but have held fairly fast to this idea for about a year now) to live part of the year with my parents and spend the other half (3/4, whatever) traveling the US while Kirk takes contract speech pathology jobs. We've been hunting for an Airstream to call home because I am infatuated (obsessed?) with them, the quality is superb, they're just plain cool looking, and they really are a space we could visualize living in for months at a time. Within a few days of moving here, we even touched base with a sales rep at Airstream of Chicago and were flirting with the idea of committing. Eeek!

But...Kirk could not find that first travel SLP job. Nada. At least not without commuting 1.5-2 hours one way daily, which is just something we aren't willing to do. Although we have money in savings, we don't want to blow through that while he looks for the next job. He had two recruiters working to find something, but it just wasn't happening. We could have technically moved somewhere else for the first rotation, but he has to apply for his license in each state individually, which can take upwards of a month to process. While we were in OKC, he applied for a full-time permanent position at a research hospital up here. Really, it was simply meant to be the back-up plan. Well, he interviewed Thursday, and before we could even digest how it went, they sent over a contract and a really impressive offer.

What to do?

We discussed all day: our goals, short-term and long-term, our plans for the future, and our family mission statement. Kirk was really impressed with the facility and his possible role in it. And the offer was just too good to be true. How do you turn something like that down when there is nothing else remotely available?

So we are accepting that maybe God has another plan for us (for now.) My brother was also diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin's lymphoma recently, and so we are grateful to be here, for him. We plan to stay put for the next year, but to maintain our desire for adventure with lots of 3 day weekends, day hikes, and in general, exploring the myriad of outdoor opportunities that make up this area. No, it's not Airstreaming, but I also know that God has a direction in mind, and it might be something we simply cannot visualize now.

Coming up, I'll share what we've been up to over the past week.