Book review: “The joy of living with less” by Francine Jay

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I have just finished my second book on minimalism and it has been helpful, as well as inspirational in my process of decluttering and minimising. Francine Jay walks us through four main sections in her book, starting with philosophy in part 1, continuing with part 2 where she presents her Stremaline method for decluttering. In part 3, she guides us through room by room, giving us useful tips on how and where to start, and what to be aware of in the various rooms. She introduces us to the aspects of lifestyle connected to simplifying our lives in part 4.

In part 1, she walks us through a lot of the thoughts and expectations around things, where especially two of the subchapters got to me: “You are not what you own” (Part one: chapter 2) and  “The Joy of enough” (Part one: chapter 9). I think it’s easy to feel that we need more things, newer things and a bigger house to accommodate all these things in society today, as images of how we “should” live our lives often appear in social media and are orchestrated by advertisers. In addition, I have tended to keep things that I feel say something about who I am (or at least, who I want to be, or in some cases, who I used to be). After starting the process of minimizing, I still want to buy new things and keep my old things, however, I feel that I now reflect more about the things I buy and I want everything I buy to last a long time and to have a purpose.

The streamline technique which is introduced in part 2 is extremely helpful when decluttering. Before I read this book, I followed these steps to a certain degree as I think many of these steps are natural in a decluttering procerss, but I have become more aware of the various ways of organising and of where clutter “lives”. Streamline stands for Start over, Trash/treasure/transfer, Reason for each item, Everything in its place, All surfaces clear, Modules, Limits, If one comes in, one goes out, Narrow down and Everyday maintenance. I will not go into detail into these, some are probably self-explanatory, however, I have discovered that I have tended to cheat on the first point; Start over. Sometimes, when I have decluttered a shelf, or some drawers, I have not taken everything out. It does really make a difference, when you do Start over.

Another point which I found useful from this book are the Modules. I have organised some of our things, to a certain degree into modules before, but I have become more aware of this after reading the book. Furthermore, the Outbox is a brilliant concept as well. You place an outbox somewhere in the house to encourage family members to get rid of things. I have for a longer period of time kept an outbox to myself, but I think it will be interesting to see if other family members will make use of it as well.

If you want to go on a decluttering journey or simply minimise your everyday somewhat, I definitely recommend this book. It is easy to read and you can easily jump to the points relevant to you, if needed.

I feel inspired by reading books on minimalism and decluttering. Do you have any books or articles or blogs you would recommend, please share, as I love to learn more.

Lots of love,

Kari

April is here – let’s get into “decluttering mode”

We had a lovely time up in the mountains on our cabin and I forgot all about decluttering and everyday life, and it was marvellous. In addition, the weather gods were in a good mood ☀️

However, now it is time to get back in business and get started on my April action plan.

On my first Trash and transfer Tuesday I went to the recycling station with glass jars and metal boxes. I meant to transfer some clothes as well, but I am a bit behind on work, so had to prioritise that, which made me feel a bit unmotivated on the decluttering front.

However, I have given away the dresser which was on my list and I am planning on giving away the white shirts and black suit tomorrow (and I will perhaps see if I can find time to have a look at the kids clothes this evening). So though my first Trash and transfer Tuesday was not as spectacular as I had expected it to be (haha), I have gotten started on my plan and I will try to get into “decluttering mode” again. I always find it a bit hard to get back into it after being away and coming back, as there are always more of the usual chores to attend to when returning from holiday. However, I have complete one task and at least it is something.

  • Give away white shirts and black suit (planned to give to theatre group)
  • The kids’ clothes: purge / donate
  • Winter clothes – make a box to go to attic
  • Get rid of 3 items which I find hard to say goodbye to
  • Sell black coat and skirt (mine)
  • Purge toys downstairs
  • Get rid of dresser upstairs (give away)
  • Dissemble linen closet and get rid of it
  • Declutter / remove at least one box under the bed
  • Start organising hobby cupboard downstairs

I hope you have had a good holiday! Have you started a spring clean / decluttering plan?

Lots of love,

Kari

Action plan April: decluttering

pexels-photo-938044.jpegThis is my action plan to continue to declutter in April. I am a BIG fan of lists and suggestions on how to declutter, especially lists which will get you through a lot of decluttering in for instance 30 days. However, I’ve come to realise that we rarely manage to carry out lists like this, as we spend a lot of weekends away.

However, I do think that making a plan and having a list to cross off will help me out in the process of decluttering. Part of what I find most difficult is getting rid of furniture and larger items, and in general getting things out of the house.

The picture I have chosen for this blog post, illustrates how I feel about my home these days. Overly stuffed with things, which shouldn’t be here. However, that WILL change.

To get more things out of the house, I will rename Tuesday Trash and Transfer Tuesday. On Tuesdays, I will try to gather clothes, trash and other things that needs to be moved out of the house to recycling points, second hand shops etc and actually take the time to get these things there.

In addition I want to sort out the following:

  1. Give away white shirts and black suit (planned to give to theatre group)
  2. The kids’ clothes: purge / donate
  3. Winter clothes – make a box to go to attic
  4. Get rid of 3 items which I find hard to say goodbye to
  5. Sell black coat and skirt (mine)
  6. Purge toys downstairs
  7. Get rid of dresser upstairs (give away)
  8. Dissemble linen closet and get rid of it
  9. Declutter / remove at least one box under the bed
  10. Start organising hobby cupboard downstairs

Furthermore, I am considering getting rid of more dressers, or wedding china (or parts of it) and I dream of tearing down my kitchen cupboards. However, this is the more challenging tasks, which I don’t think will be realistic to complete in April. But if I manage more than on the list above, that will definitely be a bonus.

Have you got an action plan for your decluttering?

I will try to post some updates on the progress as I start.

Lots of love,

Kari

“Organisers”

I don’t manage to declutter large areas these days, but I did go through one organiser with pockets, looking like this.

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I suppose these are made to help us organise things – but I apparently cannot use them correctly. I found all the items below in this one organiser, in addition to a bunch of clothes which I did not take any pictures of 😳

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Clothes, toys (and bath toys), hair product and lice shampoo and a first aid kit. All of these items have designated places and have been put in their places.

I’m left with an empty organiser and I’m wondering whether or not I should put it back up.

Part of this process of decluttering, is changing where we keep things and how many things we have. The more we get rid of – the less storage we need, which is wonderful. However, it takes time to get rid of things, and to get the things we don’t want, out of our house.

I am aiming at creating a Plan of action for April, when it comes to decluttering. More on this in my next post.

Have you taken the time to declutter anything lately?

Lots of love,

Kari

How I use my bullet journal to declutter my mind

In order to stay on top of everything I have to do (or not do), I use a traveler notebook as a  bullet journal.

If you are not familiar with the concept bullet journaling, I strongly recommend that you get familiar with it, as this type of planning has changed my life and helped me “declutter” my mind. Go check out the official website of bullet journaling, by the creator Ryder Carrol. Basically, you need a notebook and a pen. Ryder Carrol, I’m forever grateful that you shared your idea with us!

In using bullet journaling, I plan my days, weeks and months. I like to sit down, before a new week begins (or a new month), to plan out the week, to check if there is anything in particular I have to remember that week (or month). This gives me an overview of the upcoming events, and also of the available time we got to our disposal to plan new events.

For my monthly log and weekly log, I have bought travellers notebook inserts with prints, but I know a lot of people like to make their own outlines.

I use a blank insert where I write out my daily logs (as in the picture).

I do not plan all days, and how many details I include vary from day to day. If I am really stressed out about a lot of things happening a day, I plan more detailed, and I may include tasks such as “shower”, “breakfast”, “get mail” etc. It is not as if I wouldn’t remember these tasks without having written them down, however, when I write them down in my journal I feel I can stop going over the next day in my mind over and over again, because I know I have everything on paper in my bullet journal. Furthermore, I LOVE crossing off items on lists, I feel that I accomplish great things in doing this (haha), so this motivates me to carry out the tasks in my journal.

Before I started using a bullet journal in my daily planning, I would try to “remember” everything I needed to remember, and I ended up forgetting a lot, which lead to a lot of frustration and stress. In addition, it was difficult to “declutter” unimportant tasks from my mind, and to notice if I was spending too much time thinking about unnecessary tasks (or worrying about these) . After I started jotting down tasks I wish to do, I now can quickly see when a task is ignored and not carried out, and I can weed these tasks out of my system, and out of my life. For example, I put down several weeks in a row that I should clean the floors upstairs. This task rarely got carried out and it didn’t bother me that it didn’t happen (I dust and vacuum the floors), so I stopped putting this up as a weekly task as this is a task which is carried out more rarely. So instead of thinking about this task and becoming increasingly stressed out about yet another task not completed, I realised I could eliminate it. And I have managed to do this with several tasks which I spent a lot of time and energy thinking thinking about.

In addition, I include a sleep tracker and a habit tracker in my weekly log. Since I like crossing off items off lists, I have developed several positive habits (taking my vitamins, eating breakfast before I leave the house for work etc).

What do you do to declutter your mind? Do you plan out your days?

Lots of love,

Kari

Skype in the classroom

This will be a teacher related post, as I am always trying to find new and exiting ways for my lessons.

As a language teacher, I have many times thought that it would be wonderful if there had only been a place online, where teachers could find each other and get in touch, across country borders. Then I attended Bett 2018 and it turns out that such a place exists and it is called Skype in the classroom.

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So I have embarked on a journey, in order to try out Skype in the classroom, in my Spanish lessons to begin with. Using Skype in the classroom will give my students an opportunity to speak in real life with students from other countries, with people who are native speakers of the language they are learning. When speaking IRL, my students will be forced to use the language they have learnt at school, in a different manner than they would in the classroom. In addition, they will also meet people of this culture, which I hope will give them more insight into why language learning is useful.

I signed up on their webpage, and started doing courses and learning about Skype in the classroom and they have got five ways of using Skype in the classroom.

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Explained briefly, virtual field trips are when your class is taken on a “field trip” through Skype by an expert on a certain area, a biologist, a historian etc. Skype lessons are teachers or experts, who give lessons to your class through Skype. Skype collaboration is when teachers and their students collaborate with other teachers and students around the world, either one time or several times, using Skype. Mystery Skype allows a class to Skype with another class in the world, but not knowing where they are from. The classes ask each other yes/no questions to find out and the first one who finds out, has won. Guest speakers can be, for example authors, who speak about a book they have written.

All of the five ways of using Skype in the classroom sounded fascinating, but I decided to focus on Skype collaboration. I did some of the required courses and filled in a form to get my request on the Skype in the Classroom platform.

My Spanish students are positive towards doing Skype in the classroom with another class and I am currently awaiting a reply from some teachers to see if this will be possible (time schedules etc have to be sorted out and changed in some cases to make these meetings happen).

I will give a short presentation at a teacher meet up that we will set up later in March, but if anyone is interested, I could make a “how to” blog post on Skype in the Classroom.

I’m looking forward to trying this out and I can see myself using Skype in the classroom actively from next school year.

Have you tried Skype in the classroom? I’d love to hear your experiences with it and how your worked with it.

Lots of love,

Kari

Trying out our lavvo

This will be my first post on outdoor activities, where I will share with you mye experience setting up a lavvo.

A while back, we bought a lavvo, initially intended to use to spend nights outdoor. However, I needed an activity to do with the kids one day, so I thought, why not set up the lavvo and have lunch in it?

(If you don’t know what a lavvo is, it is a type of tent used by the Sami people in Norway. It could probably be compared with the tipi of the Native Americans.)

I did some research on how to set it up (YouTube), packed my backpack and an hour and half after, we were on our way. We had to walk 1,5 km to get to the field where I wanted to set it up, which is a bit of a distance for my 3-year-old. But he managed it with enough pauses:)

These are the steps I followed to set up the lavvo.

  1. Give kids some snacks
  2. Unpack the lavvo
  3. Lay out the lavvo on the field
  4. Fasten the tent pegs in the ground (or snow and ice in my case) – looking like this (next bullet).
  5. Than comes the tricky part, putting in the tent pole. This is a pole made up of four parts and it comes easily apart. We failed the first time, but this was due to the tent pegs not being properly fasten in the snow.
  6. And voila!

We made lunch (rice pudding) and played around the lavvo, before it elegantly collapsed due to the snow and ice melting around the pegs. However, I saw this coming and had manage to take out all our things.

A few things I learnt from this trip:

  1. There is actually something called snow tent (lavvo) pegs – may have to try this next time.
  2. Bring coffee next time (we spent 5 hours outdoors)
  3. Bring a carrier in case the 3 year old refuses to walk – he is heavy to carry without.
  4. If setting up lavvo in milder weather (0 degrees Celsius), cover up pegs with snow or other things to keep them in place.

We will definitely use the lavvo again, as it enabled us to stay outside a long time, and it was fun having shelter. We want to try to sleep outside a night as well, and when we do, I will give you an update.

I cannot wait for spring to come, with less snow and ice and a warmer weather. I really want to take my bicycle out again soon. What outdoor activities do you like to do?

Lots of love,

Kari