God, frugality, multi tasking, and coffee.

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I’m sitting here listening to my great music on my free Pandora online as I write up a blog piece and sip my afternoon cup of coffee.  I have bread rising on the kitchen counter and a pot of beans simmering on the stove.  Laundry is washing itself in the garage and my kids are playing well in the living room.  Yes, my desk is actually in the kitchen…kind of in between the dining area and kitchen.  It’s a small house and this is where I feel the most inspired, right next to the baking and brewing.

I was out late last night.  My friends took me to a Joel Osteen convention at Sacramento’s new Golden 1 center.  It was three hours of inspiring music and motivation.  I wound up with a child in El Salvador by the time it was done.  Joel’s family partners with the worldwide project and part of that is adopting a child from another country and paying a sum monthly so this child can have the basics we all take for granted: clean water, food, education, medicine.

My heart aches for the world, however, I found that since I started donating monthly to a handful of local and global organizations that are reputable and doing great works…I sleep a bit better.  I also have to remind myself that God created this world, all us humans, and He knows what He is doing even if don’t.  I have control issues.  I’m working on it.

But this isn’t a blog about the world or Joel.  This is about being a homemaker and having it all work in your favor so you, as a mother and homemaker, may thrive to the fullest.  Amen!!

Three things:  God, a great budget (and no debt), the skill of multi-tasking.  These three things will make homemaking much easier and give you more time and peace.  Coffee or strong tea is the magic elixir that will inspire you to get these things done.

So, what does that look like to bring it all together?

I like to start my mornings off with my coffee and a little Joyce Meyer and reading a bit from my Bible.  I swear by it.  A bit of time with God and some reflection on all the good things in your life, the blessings, and gifts, and you’ve set yourself up for a good day ahead.

Multi-tasking is simply running the vacuum while the dough rises on the kitchen counter or writing a blog while running the washing machine.  I clean the bathroom sink and toilette when the kids are in the tub for bath time.  I fold laundry and watch a show on TV.  I read something educational or inspiring while on the tread climber.  Go work in the garden when you children are in the yard so you are keeping an eye on them and getting a little weeding done.  Listen to educational/inspiring CD’s while cleaning house.  I find seminars on YouTube for free and listen while I mop the floor or do dishes.  Cook several things at once and then freeze half of it saving future days of cooking.

You can even get a little crazy and do a ton of task all in one day and then have a few days to just read, write, and play!

For example, I will do all my major house cleaning, laundry and almost a weeks work of cooking and baking in one day.  I do this when I’m trying to really focus on a book or want to just play and get some reading done.

Here’s the thing, you can have a clean, tidy, delightful home, plenty of home cooking, and take excellent care of the family without a lot of effort if you get smart about your work.

Downsizing and decluttering help.  That’s on other blogs of mine under “cleaning and organizing”.

Now the frugal part.  It is very wise to create a household budget.  Know exactly what you have coming in monetarily and exactly how much is going out.  You will need paper, pencil, statements, and a calculator.  You’ll also need my Queen of Penny Pinching book.  If you have more going out then coming in you must start cutting, cutting, and cutting.  Cut out the cable, cut down the phone plans, cut down on utilities, cut the grocery allotment in half.  There are so many things you can do to cut cost and save money.

Another great tip is to learn to spend nothing beyond the rent/mortgage, utilities, and groceries.  This is hard at first but with practice and some creative imaginings you can do it.  Make it into a game.  Find out just how many things you can do and have for free!

  • TV can be some great entertainment and it can be free.
  • I have read some bestsellers from the library…free!
  • Parks, long walks, beaches, and forest…free!
  • Movie night at home, also free.
  • Rearranging the living room for a new look and for free.
  • Starting a blog.  Free at first or super cheap if you want to post it on all sites such as twitter and Facebook.
  • Write and publish a book.  Absolutely free.  I have great advice on this on old blogs.
  • Do some crafting.
  • Have a chat on the phone and coffee.
  • Look of Freecycle and Free on Craigslist.

I could go on but I have some chores to get back to.  If you want a ton of tips and detailed ways to cut cost, save bags of money, get out of debt fast, and master the frugal life, get Queen of Penny Pinching or Dirt Poor and Lovin’ It!  I have so many books out there to teach anyone how to make a buck stretch and make it fun.  And all my books are .99 cents!  How can you beat that!

Brew up some tea or coffee and skim through my blogs for all kinds of tips and inspiration!

Queen of Penny Pinching: Getting Out of Debt and Saving Money Fast by [Singh, Kate]Dirt Poor and Lovin' It!: Learning to live on minimum wage painlessly by [Singh, Kate]The Funky and Frugal Housewife: Making a Good Family Life on Very Little by [Singh, Mrs. Kate]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A day of uncluttering.

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I talk about uncluttering a lot.  A lot!  In my books, in my blogs.  I love uncluttering.  While I love my home cozy and busy with bright colors, pillows, rugs, plants, candles…I am not into the extra.  We have a small cottage and a couple messes and voila!  The place looks crazy and unkempt.  Less clutter means a more clean and tidy home, more organization and less time “looking” for things.

It’s hard to go through and box things up for the thrift store.  It’s hard to let go of stuff.  We think, “I’ll use this later.” or “I can wear this to clean in.” How about the famous, “Oh this is a great project down the road.”  For example, I had stacks of magazines.  I was saving them for making a collage or dream board.  I had this idea for years…still hadn’t done it.  As I held that huge stack in my arms and my brain tried to convince me that we could still make this dream board, I still had dreams right?  But the other side of my brain showed up with that look, hands on the hips, and a long, tired sigh.  “Have you made that dream board in the 3 years you have had this stack?” “Well no, but I can…I can do it later today…or tomorrow might be better.”  I stuttered nervously.  “Really?  Are you really going to make this thing?  Be honest.”  I shook my head and the pile went into the box.    Then I went into the kitchen and found my stack of VegTimes magazines.  “Now these are great magazines with all kinds of inspiration and recipes, places to order vegetarian stuff!”  The convincing argument I felt.  My hardcore cleaning brain said, “In the five years you have had those magazines you have not cracked them open once!  Besides you just started eating Paleo.”  They went in the box.

There were books that I fought for.  I thought that I could keep them for my guest to read.  This is funny because my guest don’t visit to read my books.  I hadn’t read some of these books…ever.   Then there was stuff I had kept that didn’t feel good.  I have photos or books or things given to me that actually upset me for whatever reason, perhaps unpleasant memories or a relationship ended…or the topic is not a joy maker.  Doesn’t matter, I don’t feel good…gone!

We can get rid of things simply because they don’t feel good.  Yes, we can send that object to the thrift store just because it doesn’t make us happy!  My goal is to only have what makes me happy surrounding me.  I want to look around and smile from the inside out.  I also want my home to feel fresh and spacious.  This is a challenge for 860 square feet of home.

Another mind game I play is this; when I find it hard to let something go that I really don’t need or use, but I’m just having issues parting with, I think about the people out there who would love this item and really use it.  The boys had a train set that was just a mess all the time and the boys didn’t play with it in the 2 years they had it right there.  They would just strew it all over and it was this plastic construction junk set.  I boxed it up and put it outside.  I was sitting at the table when a woman and her friend drove up in their souped up car.  It was obvious that money was probably scarce.  When she looked over the box filled with the set and tracks she was so happy, she commented to her friend that her son was going to love this.  I cried.  This boy was going to be thrilled with this huge gift and he was going to be playing with it all night.  He probably didn’t get many gifts between birthdays and Christmas.  I remember that every time I have an “issue” with giving things away.  I am gifting another who may need it more than I.

Today I really got in there deep and my home is feeling good.  I have more to do, but I’ve run out of steam and Bali will be home soon.  The first two boxes were picked up already from travelers (I put my stuff on the street and it goes fast), but if I put something out now, Bali will see and inspect.  I’ve already had to argue with myself, I have no energy to argue with him too.

Many blessings!

 

Adding some spice…to your housecleaning.

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Oh, that housecleaning!  I love it sometimes when I need some good therapy.  I scrub and organize and throw junk out (or recycle to the thrift…I’m sustainable) and think about what issue is at hand, I talk to myself, I’m my best therapist.  Then I’m done and I have a sparkling cottage and a soothed soul.

As a homemaker, it’s the same old same old day in and day out.  I like to write articles on cleaning and getting reinspired now and then because it’s what I need myself.  I just finished Outwitting Housework by Nancy Rosenberg.  I got some new ideas and cleaning products.

I am an advocate for making homemade, nontoxic cleaning products, especially with youngster and pets around.  However, either I’m not using them properly or mixing them right, but they just aren’t doing the trick in some areas and I’m too lazy to make things like furniture polish.  My floors are looking dull, my furniture is lackluster, and my bathroom needs to be sterilized.

I’m on a Zero spending challenge, but I can justify anything if I feel I really need it.  I needed new cleaning products.  I created a loophole in the contract for spending outside the main staples.  I needed these products to do some research on how to become a better housekeeper.  I’m writing another book and I can’t just suggest cleaning products if I don’t use them myself…right?

I am trying out Mr. Clean (with Gain scent) all purpose cleaner, lemon oil furniture polish, Lavender and Chamomile plugins, along with some of my old Fabuloso all purpose cleaner (because it cleans great and smells fabuloso).

I was so excited to try it all out that I went to Winco at 8:00 am this morning, rushed home and cleaned.  Yes, of course, I had my coffee and music going.  I was very happy with the products and the smells.  I still need something different for the floors though.  They are that fake wood and I just need to look online for a homemade oily something rather to polish them up.  I hear some women say they use just water.  I don’t think this could be true unless you live in a magical kingdom where floors clean and polish themselves and paws and feet walk on air, never making actual contact with the floors.

I’ve given this advice in previous articles, but I’m going to give the list again for a refresher:

  1. You must start first thing in the morning when you and the day are fresh and filled with energy.
  2. You must brew coffee…and then drink it.  One cup before to warm up and a cup as you go.
  3. You must listen to really fun, fast music loud.
  4. Go from room to room.  Don’t be scattered.  Start in the kitchen, living room, bathrooms, and end in the bedrooms.
  5. Get children to help if they are old enough.  Delegate chores.
  6. Start by picking up all the mess and laundry.
  7. Dust and tidy.  Wash counters and sinks.
  8. Then you vacuum and mop.
  9. Sweep outside patios and stoops and stairs so debris isn’t tracked in.
  10. Wash all the laundry on this day throughout the day.  Start the first load when you start the work.  Pile it all on the bed of couch where the TV is.
  11. When all done, make a snack and ice water and sit on the bed, put on a good movie and tackle the laundry.

Yay!  You’re done!  I do it all in one day.  The rest of the week is maintenance.  Do the maintenance early in the day with coffee mug in hand also.  Start with a made bed and emptying dishwasher while waiting for coffee to brew.  End the day with a clean kitchen, you’ll enjoy your mornings so much more.

Refer to my uncluttering blog.  This will save hours of cleaning.

Blessings!

What life looks like as a housewife and writer on a tight budget. And my first night out in 6 years.

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Last night I went out by myself to the movies.  The latest Starwars; Rogue One.  I will first say that I loved it!  I’m more the Hallmark romance and mystery type but this was filled with characters that I grew to love by the end of the film (I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen it yet).  The humor was good, the action was just the right balance of shoot ’em up and blow ’em up with the intense climax building music and actually story.  I was even able to keep up.  Usually, I get very confused from the first 5 minutes of sci-fi movies.  I was thrilled to be in an actual theater.  I went rogue myself on the concession stand and I gorged on $7 dollar popcorn, $5 dollar soda, and milk duds (by the time I came to that item I could no longer look at the prices).  I was sick with a headache when I got home and it was the best time I’ve had since my youthful party days.

I haven’t been to a film by myself in 6 years.  I did see a couple cartoon movies with the family 4 years ago.  That just doesn’t count.  Out of all the things I miss desperately I realized that it was going to the theater and watching a good movie on a huge screen with loud music.  Many friends suggest date night but I really just want a night away from everyone and everything that cries, complains, barks, or meows.  I want to not be clutched, clawed, nursed, and needed for just a few hours a week.

My family is used to me being around all the time.  I create an oasis for them.  A heaven on earth.  The boys and I are together so much that they have never experienced more than a few hours apart from me.  When I’ve tried to take time before the children cry, the husband panics.  However, recently I felt like I was losing my charm and etiquette.  I was getting irritable often, I felt I was experiencing the first bouts of writers block, and I felt tired at the mere thought of cleaning.  I knew it was time to create a “me date”.  I told my husband the new plan.  I would shop ALONE on Sunday mornings.  And I was going to start going to the movie now and then.

I failed already at the shopping alone gig as I relented to my eldest son coming with me.  That was fine as he listens and helps and I have fun with him.  It’s the little one that gets a little wild and the two of them together makes me into a yelling shrew.

Then I let my husband know that I was going to the movies that evening.  He said, “But you already went out?”  I wanted to get loose it on him but he had helped me clean the house on his own volition and when I had thanked him he said, “What? You do this everyday.”  So, he had earned a lot of points earlier that day.  I just ask him to really hear what he was saying.  Going grocery shopping was not a “day out”.  And then I gleefully skipped out the door.

When I returned home the children had a lecture for me.  My oldest sometimes tells me stories of when he was my father.  I think he may have been in a past life because he lectures me like only an old man can.  He had checked out the dining room window through the evening, waiting for me to return and when I didn’t he handed my husband the phone and requested that Bali call me and tell me it was time to come home and when I did return home I could barely get in the door from the throng of children and dogs, husband and cat. Arjan (the eldest) informed me that from now on we would just put movies on his computer and I would not go out anymore.  Ah, but it’s good for them to miss me now and again.  I received more kisses and cuddles that night.  I plan to do it again soon.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware that I have a magical life.  I spend my days at home with my boys and dogs and cat.  I drink coffee and write in my pajamas until noon or embarrassingly beyond.  I play at the park and take long walks in our neighborhood dragging the red wagon filled with boys and dinosaurs and snacks.  I live in a small house so cleaning is a quick process made better with coffee and music and a set timer for extra excitement.  I write all morning sometimes.  My little guys play well together and are pretty self-entertained.

However, there are times that I feel exhausted just rising in the morning.  Why?  Well, sometimes it’s just my personal quest for healing and spiritual growth that are tiring…in a good way.  Then there is that constant energy and weight of people wanting you and needing something from you all day and all night.  If it isn’t a child needing  a snack, a dispute to resolve over stolen tractors and crayon, a dog that wants a walk or biscuit, a cat that wants out, the baby of the family that wants to nurse all day, a house that needs to be cleaned daily because there are pounds of dog hair and sand from the sand box, a hot meal that needs to be made in time for the husband, the washing of dishes for the 10th time, bread to be baked, baths to be had, a trip to the library and park, 6 baskets of laundry to fold and put away before the boys start using the folded laundry as an obstacle course, a book to be proofread and worked on…and that is why I love my coffee.  God bless God for giving this planet coffee beans!

So, it’s all fun and good unless you haven’t had a  break in 5 years.  I haven’t.  I have no family, no mother or mother-in-law to alleviate the nonstop parenting.  Some women have a grandparent to drop the kids off when they shop or go out.  I have only a husband who works 60 hours a week and needs a break too.  We are new to the area still and I don’t trust anyone to babysit yet.

What I have learned to do is make pockets of time for myself throughout the days.  There are no weekends and no clocking out.  This job is almost round the clock shifts depending on if you nurse or anyone gets sick.  I find lots of time to read good books and write novellas.  I find times to watch a sitcom (30 minutes is about the limit for uninterrupted time and that is pushing it), to have a chat on the phone and a cup of coffee with the sunrise at the kitchen table.

Writing made the most sense.  I wanted to make some extra money and connect to the world.  I needed to engage my brain and have some fun outside of PBS cartoons and making cities out of blocks.  I needed a career but didn’t want to leave my children or quit my favorite job of housewife and mother.  Writing is free and can be done at home.  You make your own hours.  If you are at all decent you will eventually make a little money.  I write self-help and household books and a few months ago I created a pen name and alter ego writer personality.  I have a little authors site on amazon for my new self and a fancy new name.  I write fiction under that disguise and it’s fun because I feel more free.  Not that I’m writing erotica or smut, there are already millions covering that field.  No, it’s just freeing.  I don’t have the energy to create twitter and blog sites for this other gal.  She will have to sell herself through her stories.  May the force be with her!

Blogging will never make me money but it’s fun and therapy.  I love writing blogs that I think will inspire another person to do better things in their life or see their life differently.  We all need motivation.  It’s also a great way to talk about all the things your friends could care less about.

But now for the frugal portion of this blog; we have taken on a new challenge as of this year.  We have decided to start the home hunting.  We have been preapproved for a meager $200K.  For todays market in California that is like asking someone to buy a new car with some purse change.  I’m very curious to see what the Universe comes up with.

In the meantime, we have buckled down even more on the saving and not spending.  That movie is probably my last hurrah in a long while.  However, the kids at the concession stand hooked me up with a discount rewards card and Tuesdays are half off with half off popcorn all day and night!  My movie days may not be over.

I have some friends that are on hard times and have gone on food stamps for the first time in their lives.  For those who have lived well for decades, hard times are traumatic.  The wife is figuring it out though and sounding a bit perkier these days.  I’ve decided that we will join them and live off the same grocery budget.  They are allocated $349 a month for a family of four.  I’m not sure what people do for toiletries when they are really hard up.  I’m going to figure it out.

WinCo is where we will shop and there will be no more dinners out at the parking lot of Taco Bells dollar menu.  We are already pretty frugal and we don’t go out to eat because dining with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old simply sucks.  The parking lot at Taco Bell was our fancy diner after grocery shopping.  I already cook from scratch making my own bread and yogurt but I’ve been getting lazy lately.

You may laugh at some of the tips I give but I swear it stretches things and saves a lot in the end.  I add water to the dish soap and when the shampoo is almost gone I fill it up with water and make bubble bath for the boys.  I add grounds to the old grounds the day before using less coffee grounds and reusing the filter.  By making my own bread I spend a dollar a loaf instead of the $5 for our organic Dave’s Killer Bread.  By making yogurt I save another $4 dollars a container of organic yogurt.  Right there I’ve saved around $60 a month.  Maybe more if I calculate the filters and coffee but that is too much work and math.

Eating for under $400 can be done even with a sizable family.  However, you will have to buy in bulk and on sales.  You will have to learn to cook from scratch.  Growing your own food and planting fruit and berry trees and bushes help.  Walking everywhere to save on gas and get fit.  Oh, there are so many things.  You’ll have to buy one of my pocket gems for .99 cents.  I am trying to buy a house after all right?

Dirt Poor and Lovin’ It! is popular but short.  Queen of Penny Pinching is detailed for those of you families on one income and/or getting out of debt.  The Lazy and Cheap Housewife or The Funky and Frugal Housewife talks all about running a home, recipes for making your own yogurt, homemade convenience foods, and household cleaners.  These books are becoming popular and that is a good thing because it’s just enough for my coffee habit and a new book cover now and then.  They are fun and motivating and if you don’t like them, hey, you’re only out .99 cents.

Dirt Poor and Lovin' It!: Learning to live on minimum wage painlessly by [Singh, Kate]The Funky and Frugal Housewife: Making a Good Family Life on Very Little by [Singh, Mrs. Kate]Queen of Penny Pinching: Living a Royal, Spiritual and Joyful LIfe on Pennies by [Singh, Kate]The Lazy and Cheap Housewife by [Singh, Kate]

 

 

The magic of cleaning, uncluttering, and tidying.

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I have been reading this delightful little book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  She is a professional tidy upper.  She has a waiting list of clients that is months long.  I agree with almost  (almost) everything she says about cleaning out that house.

She talks about the magic and transformation that comes with cleaning out the clutter.  Now, I’m going  to go on my own little inspirational speech and recommendations for doing such work quickly and easily, but I have gotten a lot of new little ideas from our new friend Marie.

WHY DECLUTTER 

Clutter makes our homes look like shit.  We are embarrassed to have people over.  Clutter confuses us, it wastes hours to “find” that shirt or that paper.  It holds us back and it holds us down.  It keeps us in a holding pattern.  We are always busy “getting to that pile” or “organizing that room”.

We could be outside playing or taking  a long walk listening to the bird’s chatter.  We could be pondering a new career and starting the steps to study and learn about that career.  But instead we are sitting in a room immobilized by the filth and clutter (I know this may be extreme) and we are trying to motivate to finally tackle it…and we sit and stare.  We’ve done this for months.

MAKE A DATE

No more!  You set a day aside.  Marie Kondo calls it a “special event”.  I agree.  Don’t drag this silliness out for days, months, a year.  We need to see immediate and huge results to get inspired and make lasting changes.  We also need to NOT give ourselves time to think.  We need to DO!  Clear your calendar for a weekend or just a day sister (or brother), we are going in!!!

  1. Get a friend that is hardcore and will rip that old 80’s sweater from your claws if she needs to.  Someone that is a neat freak and will get in there and help load those bags up and keep you moving.  Less talk, more action, less sentiment, more detachment.
  2. Start early, brew a big pot of coffee (you’ll need it), turn up the radio (not too loud, the neighbors are still sleeping).
  3. Have piles, bags, boxes.  There will be the give away pile.  This stuff goes to thrift stores, dog shelters and people shelters.  The next is garbage, stuff no one will want.  Next is stuff that can be salvaged with sewing and such (but only if you are REALLY going to do it.  If you have been saying you were going to do it for months…forget it!  You had your chance)
  4. You are only going to keep what you love and brings you a smile, joy, happiness…you get it.  Start with big stuff and go down to small.  Furniture first, throw pillows, rugs, wall hangings.  Then move to books, DVD’s, CD’s.  Then clothes, linens, towels.
  5. Now you go the cabinets  and then the drawers in the bathrooms and last the kitchen.  Get rid of all expired medicines and old make-up, lotions and such.
  6. For the kitchen,  you get rid of old foods and seasonings, expired stuff, and even foods your family doesn’t eat.  The food bank will welcome you.
  7. Now clean out your desk and computer.  File everything.  Go to the store and buy files if you need to.
  8. Last is the sentimental stuff.  Photos and mementos.  Don’t keep junk and don’t keep photos you don’t like of yourself or that make you sad.  Don’t keep photos of the back of someone’s head or 50 pictures of the desert.

When you want to hesitate, think about all the people, children, and dogs out there that really could use this stuff and will be so grateful for all the blankets, clothes, toys, and food that you are just stuffing in closets and  drawers.

Make the uncluttering  huge and extreme.  You won’t go into shock.  You will actually sit back and feel like you can breathe for the first time in ages.  You will be able to enjoy all the clothes you forgot you had because they were buried with all the junky clothes.  You’ll start using new spices because they are no longer hidden behind the old herbs you never used.  You’ll read the books you forgot behind the stack of old textbooks from college.

You will also be able to move forward in your life and do things you want to do.  Clutter and filth have such a big impact on us.  We don’t realize it until we clear it out and do a good scrubbing.  It’s therapeutic.  The Bible talks about cleanliness.  The Bible is all about getting our minds right and righting our lives. When we clean we reset our thoughts.  We work through life’s issues as we scrub and take out the garbage.

With our house clean, spacious, and in order we can think clearly and we are motivated to do other things.

I have done huge decluttering.  One of the biggest was when my mother past.  She was a packrat (not as bad as the Buried Alive people, but bad).  If my mother had only allowed the clearing and cleaning out,she would have enjoyed such a great house while she was living.  The difference it made to her house was astounding.

People are comforted surrounded by their  belongings.  I get it.  I’m not extreme and I love my things.  You can have cozy things and colorful delights filling your home but do away with clutter and messiness.  It’s a balance and I believe the biggest advice that I got from Marie Kondo was to keep only what makes you happy.  When you are surrounded by what brings you joy in your home, you are more likely to go out and find more of what brings you joy in this world.

I have a new book on the way that goes into all this and more on creating an amazing home and life for the family.  Stay tuned!

 

 

 

.99 cents to a new life.

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Here comes New Years and a boat load of lists on what we hope to accomplish, changes we would like to make to improve our well-being and life.  We all know the old saying, “you reap what you sow.”  The choices we make this very day will have a ripple effect on into the future.  Some of us will actually make some positive changes and stick with them.  Some of us will only dream.  Some decisions we make or actions may only take a few minutes but may cause huge and detrimental effects for years to come.  Scary to think about isn’t it?

On the other side of that, some choices we make today will have amazing results in the years to come.  For example; getting sober, choosing to take up walking daily, going vegan or paleo for health reasons, consulting a credit counselor to tackle the debt…all these will improve your future.

I have done it all.  I got myself in debt over night (it seemed) and paid every penny back by working hard to get out of debt for years.  I wasted years partying and having bad habits and then cleaned up my act.  I’m much healthier than I have ever been after years of being a junk food junky.  I have turned myself inside out and healed on deep levels to go from depressed with a sad life to happy, cheerful, and having a full life.  I have learned how to make my desires come to fruition and I have gone from atheist to a spiritual quest.

I have done years of research, studying, reading, searching.  I have reinvented myself time and time again.  My life today is nothing like it was even 10 years ago.  I have overcome addictions, depression, a rotten childhood, and my own self-sabotage.

Today my life is wholesome and family oriented.  It is filled with goodness.

Last summer I was driven and inspired to write several books filled with how to’s and motivation on everything from getting sober, getting out of debt, to homemaking, and going on your own spiritual journey to remake your life anew.

I love these books because they are written in the way I wished I had found some advice books when I was searching for help and guidance.  I had to search high and low and piece together my own routines and methods toward a better life.

Homemaking and budgeting are two of my favorite topics being that it is my life today.  Years ago I wrote a book on sobriety and how to get through the first year.  I also have covered topics along the path of finding joy in everyday life.

I loved writing these books.  I was motivated to help others live good lives and to learn how to start right where they are with what they have.  I wanted to write books that skipped the blah, blah, blah that fills up so many pages and gets right to the good stuff.  I wanted my books to get a person so excited about reinventing themselves or recreating their homes that they would brew that coffee and get started the minute they finished reading the last chapter.

I had all my books at less than a latte (except one), however, one of my friends said to me the other day, “these books sound like what so many people need but can’t afford to buy.”  I realize that this may be true and that many people are in fear right now with a new president, foreshadowings of markets crashing and bubbles bursting.  People are nervous about money and so many need the help and guidance.  So many people need to re-learn simplicity, frugality, and a thrifty lifestyle.

I went into my books last night and reduced all of them, except one, down to .99 cents.  I also give away ebooks all the time and there is plenty of tried and true advice on my blog.

Here is my amazon link for my author’s site listing all of my books.  I hope that there is something there for all who look and a hope to inspire and motivate everyone!

https://www.amazon.com/Kate-Singh/e/B018FNFDSM/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Queen of Penny Pinching: Living a Royal, Spiritual and Joyful LIfe on Pennies by [Singh, Kate]The Funky and Frugal Housewife: Making a Good Family Life on Very Little by [Singh, Mrs. Kate]The Joy and Work of Manifesting a Good Life: Remaking Your Life Through Manifesting by [Singh, Kate]

A Brand New Life: Healing Yourself by [Singh, Kate]Queen Housewife: A Guide For The New Housewife by [Singh, Kate]

 

Creating Zen like homemaking.

 

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I have been on a cleaning and clearing out phase I don’t quite understand.  I’m not sure what I’m preparing for…maybe a surprise guest?  How exciting! I’ve been on some cleaning benders before, but not like this.  I’ve been on some missions to get rid of junk…and not like this.  I feel like I put big bags and boxes on the curb every other day.  Yet my house still has plenty of stuff!  It’s as though my stuff is breeding when I’m not around and making more stuff.

I have found that reducing the clutter on a huge level vastly improves the look of the home and ease of cleaning.  I live in a small cottage in town with two boys, two large dogs, and a cat…and husband (he works so much, he’s really not making much mess).  As you can imagine, I clean daily.  Why?  Because I have hairballs flying about and two boys that can make the rooms look like there was a seismic earthquake.  I love a clean and tidy home and I find that I can’t even think about writing a blog with a sink full of dishes.

So, how do I keep a nice home and allow everyone to actually live and play in it?  After all, as one wise mother said, “our home is not a museum”.  I want everyone to have a good time.

I am downsizing to the basics.  My home still looks lovely, charming, and cozy, but it is simple now.  I have given away everything that doesn’t bring me happiness to look upon.  I have gifted others with everything from clothes, toys, cookbooks, and chachka that I don’t use, wear, or the boys don’t play with.  It’s hard at times because I am giving of things I spent good money on.  I just had to have it at the time and here I am looking at the cookbook or dress and having to be honest about not wearing it or using it once in over a year.

Marie Kondo is famous for her uncluttering advice and assistance.  She gets booked months in advance.  What I love from her advice and used for myself were two things; make decluttering a “special event” and book a day to do a huge, major job.  She believes, and I agree, that if we don’t make big changes fast and see huge results immediately we are likely to lose steam and revert back to old ways.  Now, after the major declutter, it can take a few more times until you have done it all.  She advises that you keep going until that day comes that it just clicks for you…or just feels perfect and done.

Other tips for uncluttering is asking yourself if something feels good, makes you happy, looks lovely on you or in your home.  Ask yourself if you have actually used a thing since you got it.  I had some cookbooks that cost a pretty penny and were great books.  Never used them once, never even cracked them open.  I finally gave them to others that would enjoy them.  I set them free and made someone happy too.

When I think about letting go of a thing, I think to myself, “I will let this go and my intention is that someone finds it that would really love it or that it gets in the hands of a person and make their life better”.  I gift others and it makes it easy.

Now my home feels good.  I arrange and decorate with what I have.  I rearrange my rooms to create warmth and breathing room.  I then clean like a son of a gun (never understood that saying).  I have been washing walls and doors, baseboards, washing out the frig and organizing every cabinet and cupboard.  I am not normally this intense.  I thank the house for being so lovely and I give thanks that I have a delightful home.  I play music, I brew coffee, I pray, sing, and meditate as I wash and fold.  I step back at the end of the day and admire what I’ve created.

I don’t know that this is really Zen like, but I remember watching a documentary on Tibetan monks.  I loved the rhythm of their days.  Their days are all very ritualistic.  They pray, meditate, wash floors, eat together, pray, meditate, sweep the steps outside the temple, work in the gardens, everything has its time and place.  Ritual and ceremony can be created daily and it is good for the soul, good for the home, and family.  Children need schedules and rituals, pets do, we do.  It gives a rhythm and peace, it creates a feeling of knowing and being solid when things outside the home and in the world may be chaos.  Wars can be looming, but in your home, there is a candle glowing on the stove and tea steeping for your afternoon tea and biscuit time (yes, this is not just for the British).

I rise early and brew coffee (green tea is not for me sorry, that is the unZen like part).  I have my kitchen table in front of a large window facing tree lined streets.  I light a candle and sit before my laptop and write my blogs and books.  When the children rise I make breakfast, change a diaper, dress children.  We chat and eat together, usually one or both help me with fixing the morning meal and setting the table.  There is music or PBS.

The rest of the day is made up of chores, cooking, cleaning, laundry (the boys play and help).  I may pack all kinds of healthy food and snacks and we will venture off to our favorite park that is nestled in the trees and by a duck pond.  We play, make new friends, eat, feed the ducks, and then either head to the store for grocery shopping, the library, or straight home.

Once home we all wash-up hands and faces and feet from all the play at the park.  There is lot’s of ice water, a lite snack, maybe a small movie and rest on pillows.  I will prepare dinner and pack my husband’s lunch for the next day.  I usually cook a large meal and it serves as dinner and his lunch, along with lunch for us the next day.

We eat very healthily and I try to cook only two times a day or only one is the goal.  Breakfast can be fruit, yogurt, or oatmeal, eggs.  Lunch and snacks are veggies, fruit, yogurt, homemade granola bars, dips, nuts, seeds, raisins, crackers, cheese, olives, popcorn, pb and j sandwich.  Dinner is a meat or meat substitute, beans, tons of veggies, salads, brown rice, rice pasta, squashes or potatoes.  Not all these at once of course, but from this list.  I sometimes make a big meal in the early part of the day so it serves as lunch and dinner later.  My husband’s lunch comes from this as does leftovers.  We have no issue with leftovers and what I cook usually taste even better the next day.  Things like stews, soups, beans…they get better with marinating.

I talk about this often in my blogs, but to the new visitors, I have downsized my home and yard to make life easier.  We save hundreds now on rent and utilities and we spend very little time on cleaning and yard maintenance.  We love our tiny cottage and we spend a lot of time in it.  We also moved into town so we can walk everywhere and save on gas, wear, and tear on the car and the environment.

My advice is to make life as easy as possible.  Downsize, simplify in every area…this is even important with appointments and scheduling activities.  There is no need for all this craziness I see with the kids in 50 million classes and groups.  Pick the best, the most favorite, the things that make all of you really happy, get rid of the rest.

Create a daily schedule that flows and gives everyone a sense of the day and how it will go.  Be flexible.  Cut cost and make a household budget.  Live within your means.  Get rid of all the stress.  Find your happiness.

Many Blessings!

Queen Housewife and Mama on a Budget: An Abundant Family Life on a Tiny Budget by [Singh, Kate]