New at Decluttering and Minimalism? Start with this.

Hello everybody!

It has been a while since I have written for you. I apologies for the long delay.
I have been busy with life. But the funnest part of my days (Other than the time spending with my family), has been the time I spent helping people to declutter and simplify.

I see overwhelmed and stressed out people. I see tired parent who are spending hours organizing their children's closets and never get anywhere. I see huge stress about laundry. Piles of clothes everywhere and stores like Organize it, packed with people buying organizational items. I see people asking for help to get rid of stuff.

And yet!!! I see stores packed with people buying, buying and buying!!! I see Black Friday!!! Packed malls and parking lots. I see long lines at Disney store and Apple Store.

This is a never ending cycle of buying, spending, getting over whelmed, organizing and discarding. It looks like a never ending story.

 My post today is about the Overwhemed part of the story. This post is for the burnt out people that don't know where to start. This post is important since many people have asked me over and over again.
"Where do I start?"
"How do I start?"
"What can I do to not get overwhelmed?"

After many years of decluttering and helping others doing it,  I created one simple system. A simple system which is easily applicable for everybody. I call it "The Half rule".

To me, decluttering is just like peeling an onion. I disagree with the drastic and huge change many people recommend. I disagree with the mentality of removeing everything and tossing and trashing everything which is not bringing you joy? I believe it is not sustainable, too stressful and mostly not
doable. I also believe such a drastic change might create a sense of emptiness and a void and also might make people give up and feel overwhelmed. I have even heard people regretting getting rid of stuff like that.

So, here is my simple solution to clutter problems.

Let's get back to the Onion! I my opinion, everybody's possessions are like an onion. You will need to peel one layer at a time. Slowly and calmly. Over time, you peel layers and shave your Onion till you are left with what you really want to see.

If you are just starting, your Onion is big and full of layers, I recommend you to start with the half rule.

The half rule

1. Start with Categorizing. Grab a piece of paper and write down the category of items you need to work on. For example,
     . kids room
     . Kitchen
     . Your own stuff
     . Garage
     . .....
2. Now create subcategories for each. For example,
     . Kids room. . Toys
                          . Clothes
                          . Shoes
                          . Books.
     . Your own stuff
                           . Shoes
                           . Long sleeve shirts
                           . Short sleeve shirts
                           . Dresses
                           . Skirts
                            . .........
3. Gather everything. I mean every single thing belonging to that subcategory and gather them in one spot. For example gather all your kids shoes, Every one of them in the middle of your living room. Fist see how many shoes they have and try to see the reality of how many items you had purchased! If they are more than you need, for example if you have more than 3-4 shoes, start the half rule.

4. Start making two piles. For every one you keep, one needs to go in to the Go pile. One in the right to keep. One in the left to go. Keep doing this till everything is divided in to  two piles.

5. Immediately put all the GO pile in bags and remove from your living room. Put them in a garage or patio or spare room.

6. Now put the Keep half nicely and neatly where you want them. :)

7. You can either go to the next category and do two to three of them before you get to the GO pile, or you can get to the GO pile immediately.

8. From the GO pile, quickly decide what you want to do about them. The easiest is to donate everything. In that case, get them out of your home immediately. But if you want to sell some items, you need to get to that soon. Take pictures and post on line. Or have a separate area for your future garage sale. But under no circumstances bring anything back from that pile.

9. Repeat the same with this same category every six months or so till your quantity gets to where you want it to be. I personally love numbers. I believe that kids need only 2-3 pair of shoes. 8-10 Tshirts. 8-10 pants (my son gets them dirty constantly). But you can choose what your number you want to be and keep peeling layers and half the total number till you get there.

You can do that with every category. For example Books. Your own pants, shirts, shoes, dresses, suites, tools, kitchen gadgets...... Even have subcategories like forks, spoons, cups, or socks , jewelery, purses..... Use your own judgment and create your own categories.

Once you get to a comfortable number and you truly need everything you have and can't let anything go, you can slow down. Congratulations! You are officially on your road towards the freedom of owning less.

How many layers can you peel from your Onion?

Over 50 Things we stopped buying and never missed. Oh the beautiful savings!

I keep hearing that becoming a Minimalist is only for rich people and it is expensive to become a Minimalist!

Honestly, I have never heard a good or solid argument for this comment. But here is an example of how Minimalism can save you money.

Lots of money actually!

Bellow,is a list of things we had stopped buying years ago and never missed them.

  1. Television cable. ------------> Netflix and Amazon prime
  2. Gas for my car. ---------------> Plug-in Electric
  3. Oil change for my car.---------------------> Plug-in Electric car
  4. Paper towels.-------------> Stack of 20 kitchen washable towels for drying hands and dishes
  5. Disposable wipes--------> Micro fibers.
  6. Garbage bags--------------> Barely create garbage. Directly in to recycle bin, compost bin and garbage bin. I have three small buckets, one for each in my kitchen and once they are full, I dump everything in the big garbage bins. (But have some bio bags in hand just in case.)
  7. Any kind of ziplock bags.-----------> Reusable fabric pencil bags with zipper. Also Pyrex dishes.
  8. Aluminum foils -----------> Not needed. Either use Pyrex dishes or cover plates with clean napkins. 
  9. Tupperware. -------------------> see this post
  10. Plastic wraps.------------------> Not needed Pyrex dishes. Flour cloth. Napkins
  11. Sponges ------------------------> hand made crochet from recycled yarn. lasts many years and I just wash them with our laundry.
  12. Dish washing liquid-----------> Eco Friendly Multi purpose cleaner
  13. Surface cleaner-----------------> Diluted multi purpose cleaner or vinegar. ( Used for bathtub, kitchen.......)
  14. Coffee filter -------------------> French press
  15. Bottled water ------------------> Tap water in reusable containers. 
  16. Hand lotion in kitchen--------> Gentle dish detergent. Olive oil if needed 
  17. Jet dry dish washer rinse-----> White Vinegar.
  18. Disposable plates, cups, utensils ...------> Small jars for party drinks. Plates and utenciles reusable.
  19. Disposable napkins------------> Fabric home made napkins. Only have one pack handy for picky guests. 
  20. Disposable aluminum containers------> Big Pyrex dishes
  21. Salad dressings.----------------> Olive oil and rice vinegar purchased from bulk store in my own jars.
  22. Yoghurt. ------------------------> Home made
  23. Tissues --------------------------> Only have a home made handkerchief made out of old Tshirts for my kid with allergies. Rest of us don't need it. Don't even remember what would we be using it for! 
  24. Books -----------------> Library and on line blogs. 
  25. CD, DVD -------------> Pandora and Netflix.
  26. Toys -------------------> Once a year for Christmas. One Big toy only. The Birthday party is our gift by itself.
  27. Clothes ---------------> once a year or so. Only if we truly need something. (Consumerism and buying cheap clothing and fast fashion is horrible for the environment.)
  28. Fabric softener-------> Not needed. Haven't used for many years and no one noticed. 
  29. Drier sheets-----------> Not needed
  30. Face wipes, make up removers, eye make up removers wipe..... ------ > wash with soap and wash cloth. Olive oil. Or coconut oil to remove make up. Don't wear too much make up any ways. 
  31. Cotton rounds--------> Home made and reusable. 
  32. Shower gel------------> Soap
  33. Exfoliator and scrubs for body.-----------------> Natural Loofah or a wash cloth
  34. Hair masks and treatments-----------------------> Olive oil and conditioner
  35. Face scrubs ----------------------------------------> Baking Soda
  36. Tooth Paste-----------------------------------------> Home made
  37. Mouth wash.---------------------------------------->  No need
  38. Different lotions for different parts of body. Foot lotion, hand lotion, cellulitis, dark spots, skin brighter.ETC, ETC....!!! --------> Home made lotion. Coconut butter+Shea butter+ bees wax+ water+ jojoba oil. Or just put some oil on right after shower and you are done. 
  39. Different make ups --------------->  See this post
  40. Colognes and perfumes ---------->  Only have one perfume and only use it on special occasions. Lasts two years. It is in my Christmas list every other year. 
  41. Face mask, cleanser, toner, tanner, black head remover. Etc......... ----------> Soap. Lemon juice. coconut and olive oil. Peroxide for acne. Baking soda.
  42. Hand sanitizers --------------------> Not needed.
  43. Candles. Still have from old days. ------> But not really needed. Used once awhile. 
  44. Bath foams, salts, fizzer........ -------------> Not needed. Preferring quick showers due to Drought. 
  45. Seosonal decorations ----------------> see this post.
  46. Air freshener -------------------------->  natural or not needed. 
  47. Office supplies.------------------------> We are paperless.
  48. Printer ink -----------------------------> refill.
  49. Extra Shoes ---------------------------> maybe once per year for each family member only as needed. (Fast fashion is damaging to environment)
  50. Latest gadgets and electronics.--------------> still working on my husband on that. But he is doing much better :) 
I am sure there is more. But honestly, many more items I see in other people's houses that I don't buy, need nor have.

It is kind of hard to know what you don't buy if you never bought them. For example different laundry detergents for dark and light and white and wool .........

Laundry perfumes!!!!!  ....... I never even knew they do exist!!!  (What a waste of money!) 

Did, NOT buying these items changed our quality of life? You bet it did! 

-A LOT Less clutter (Visually, Mentally and Emotionally).
-Less wasting time window shopping and browzing.
-Less stress due to things finishing and being low on something. (" I need to run! We need fabric softness and I can't do laundry!" A friend once said ).
-Less spending.
-Less time at stores ( We are usually In and Out).
-Less junk to organize and deal with.

 Yes. All these Less'es deeply changed the quality of our lives.

Think about it. 

What are YOU not buying and not missing?


I noticed that my computer hadn't saved my proof reading and this post was packed with mistakes. Please accept my apology.

While I am correcting the problem, I may as well add few more items.

Hee hee hee.

Here there are.

51.  Vacuum cleaner bags ------------------------>Roomba and a hand held vacuum. Just emptying the canister directly in the garbage bin does it.
51.  Any specialty tools, like various peeler, Apple cutter, Garlic crusher, Olive oil mister...........
52.  Most school supplies. Pens and other items-------------------------------> We have enough from old days to last us years to come. (Don't even know where all these pencils and pens are coming from)
53.  Extra clothing -----------------------------> We buy about once a year or so and only what we need.
54.  Microwave. Haven't had one for years.
55.  Individually packaged snacks.
56.  House decorations.----------> We have only two paintings which we have had for over 15 years.
57.  Unwanted gifts for friends -------------------> Beer, Wine, Food, eatables, Flowers, Gift card (Everybody has more than enough stuff in their houses. More incoming items for them are not the best gifts)
58.  Jewelry (Custom or real)---------------------> I have had few favorites that I love for years. Nothing new coming in
59. Nail polish ------------------> Have had a couple for years now.
60. Last but not least!!!!! Anything other than strict necessary. Includes Extra Glasses, Extra Sun Glasses, Multiple different drinking and coffee cups and glasses, Serving dishes, Fancy looking anything, Duplicate of anything and anything that needs to be advertised to be sold.

Can't even imagine how hectic my life would have been if I had been buying those stuff.

Thank you everybody for reading. Please think about your own shopping habits.

Get rid of your closet clutter fast.

Here you see ALL my pants. Including shorts.
Once people hear that we live a minimalistic life, after the surprised look and curious talks, the first thing they start talking and complaining about, is their closet.
(almost every single time).

Our closets have become one of our biggest sources of stress. No matter how much we buy, or how many times we organize, or how many visits we pay to the organizational stores and buy bins and boxes to organize our closets, we manage to get overwhelmed by it in no time. Closet organizing , have become one of those giant tasks that we tend to procrastinate and postpone. Sometimes, they even manage to become as big of a headache as doing taxes ! But the difference is, we can postpone doing the taxes and not look at it at all. But with our closets, we see it Every Single Day. It stresses us out every day and is one of those chores that will bother us every single time we need to decide and choose something to wear. Oh, and at the end, almost all of us, have nothing to wear. Don't we?

To declutter your closet, the rules Here will help you tremendously. But if you don't have much time to dedicate and are feeling overwhelmed by the clutter, keep reading.

Here are some simple tips to get rid of your closet clutter very fast and very easy.

1. Imagine you are going out of town and need to pack for the next three weeks. Start the job with this mind set and get to work.

2. Bring some big boxes or suitcases.

3. Categorize! Categorize! Categorize! I can not emphasize enough in the importance of categorization in doing ANY task. A big task, could easily become manageable and doable with categorization. In the case of your closet, I suggest you to focus on only one category each time you get the chance to spend even only few minutes. For example, focus on pants and only pants first. Nothing else. Gather all your pants from everywhere (don't forget the ones in laundry basket) and place them all on your bed.  Now, fast, separate the work pants, jeans, shorts... . At the end, work on jeans only. Then get to the work pants and finally to the shorts and so on and so fort.

4. Separate the clothes you would need for your next three weeks. For that, use the following rules. Do you love them? Do they fit? Do they match the rest of your wardrobe? Are they comfortable to wear? Are they warm enough or cool enough for the season?

5. Do that for each category. Jeans, Shirts, Sweaters, Blouses... Place your next three weeks choices on the bed and the rest in a big bag, box or suitcase.

6. Once your closet is empty and everything is separated and categorized, start hanging and placing the next three weeks clothes you chose, back in to your closet nicely and organized, based on their categories.

7. Remove the storage boxes or suitcases out of site. You can always get to those later, one at a time.

8. Ideally, place the extra clothes in the boxes based on categories as well. This way, for example, you can get to the pant first and decide what you want to keep and what you want to let go without opening any more boxes. This, by itself, is breaking down your future decluttering task. (You can even remove those boxes and bring them straight to the consignment store and never look back if you are ready for this)

9. Congratulations!!! You took the first and the biggest step to building a minimalistic closet.

10. Focus on keeping your closet clutter free by using these very important rules.

Hope this helps.

Tagged as: Green living. De-cluttering. Clutter busting. Minimalism. Eco friendly. Minimalistic closet. Minimalist. Organized closet. Organize.

Such a beautiful day!

Such a beautiful day!

Today we traveled to San Francisco by BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) so my husband can help me learn the direction to my new part time job in the city.
There were two beautiful incidents that I thought worth sharing with you wonderful people.

First, after taking a bus and the BART and some more walking, I learnt the directions to my work and after that, we visited a store. My husband needed to do some shopping there. Our son (now 7 years old!) found a balloon left over from the store's marketing event and before we knew it, both our kids were tossing it to each other and playing. When we finished shopping, our son was allowed to keep the balloon.

We started a long walk outside on the sidewalk. My energetic son started playing outside on the wide sidewalk in a windy/breezy San Francisco weather. He kept hitting the balloon and running after it. A sharp and strong wind suddenly started and lifted his balloon up and away. We all ran after it.

Suddenly four to five passerby people started running after his balloon to catch it for him. The wind was playing with all of us blowing it farther and higher. People of all ages and genders were jumping up and down trying to catch it. Their happy childish faces were priceless. Our son couldn't stop laughing from happiness. The wind was pretty playful and kept moving the balloon farther away up and down. Before we knew it, there were almost 6-8 grown up people jumping up and down laughing and trying to catch the balloon for our son.

Every time one caught it and handed it to our son, he let go of it again laughing and some new people starting to run after it. He did this for a while and laughed from the bottom of his beautiful little heart.

The laughter, the kindness, the playfulness and the care of all those grown up, yet childish people, was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I felt a deep happiness in my heart for being blessed with seeing such a beautiful scene.

Now, the second incident!

We walked for a long time to get to the Mall with few stops for our kids to see some stores. By the time we got there, it was passed 7:00 PM and the Mall was closed. We forgot that the Mall closes at seven on Sundays. Also my husband admitted, he walks the same distance a lot faster without the kids. So he miscalculated the timing.

We had plans to use a bus from our home and the BART(AKA metro) to go to San Francisco and the Bus only to come back home, so I learn where to find both stations. We started walking towards the Bus terminals. Again it proved to be a very long walk and our children were getting hungry and grumpy. Unfortunately, we didn't bring anything to eat with us. Suddenly our son saw the sign of a McDonald's from far and got super excited about it.
I know. I know. A horrible thing to do to feed hungry kids junk food. But none of us had the heart to pass next to one with our kids being so hungry knowing it is hardly a possibility we could find anything open at this hour of around 8:00 PM. Plus, hunger can cause big time grumpiness for both kids and grown ups, you know!

So we entered the McDonald's and ordered some food. Sat down and started eating. Our moods lifted immediately.

On a big long tall table close to us, a group of young people were leaving and a homeless looking dirty man stopped them on their way out and asked to dig in, in to their trays looking for some leftovers. He found few fries here and there and ate them fast and sat back at his table waiting. I saw this scene and it broke my heart to see someone this hungry seating across us. Told my husband about it and we started talking about buying him a meal.

Suddenly , I noticed the guy got up fast and grabbed a forgotten phone charger from the big table. Looked like someone from that big group that just left, had forgotten it.

I started describing to my husband what I saw, because his back was towards that big table. At that second, a young man ran in the store looking around desperately and asking the two girls seating on another table about a phone charger. Once he made an eye contact with me, I pointed to the homeless guy believing he had the young man's forgotten charger.

"What?" He asked.
"Looks like you lost your charger. That gentleman seating over there just found one and grabbed it. It might be yours." I said feeling sorry for the guy.
"No. I didn't loose my charger. I just need one desperately. Do you have any?" He said.
"Sorry. We don't carry one. But check with that guy there. I believe he might have one." I said.
"Thank you." He said going to the homeless man asking about a charger. The man showed him his new found treasure and it was a match!!! Yes. The charger matched his phone!!!
"I sell it to you for $5" the homeless man said.
"Yes. Yes. I will buy it from you. Here is $5" The phone charger seeker said very happily and paid him $5 cash. Got the charger and on his way running out, he looked at us and said " Thank you!!! You guys are life savers. I really needed that charger. It was an emergency" I nodded and smiled and he left.

The homeless guy went as fast as he could and stayed in the line to buy food. Few minutes later, he came back very happy with a proud look on his face along with a plain burger. He sat on the big table, eating, counting the rest of his money over and over while happily watching TV.

This scene, not sure what to call it, serendipity? mercy of a higher power? the law of attraction? Was a scene that truly brightened our hearts. Seeing those two very happy faces, was definitely priceless. As long as we were still there, no one came looking for a forgotten phone charger. We just hoped the person that forgot the charger, has a backup one.

What an awesome day!!!

What are some of the little perfect magical moments in your days? If you like to share them with us, we truly appreciate it.