My Small Tornado

My Small Tornado

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Update on 40 Bags Challenge

A week and a half ago I did a post on the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge that was starting March 5th. I was excited and filled with optimism and ready to go. So where am I now with this challenge? I did my best to take before and after shots of most of the spaces, but some days I ended up cleaning a spot unintentionally and didn’t take a before picture. Here are a few of them:

My bedroom dresser

My laundry room folding station

My baking cupboard
As I got rid of the clutter, one bag at a time – or one recycling bin full at a time – I started to feel like I could breath again. I don’t know why or how I got into the mentality of needing everything and having to have triplicates of some things in case I ran out. I mean, who needs three boxes of hummingbird food? I don’t even go through ONE during the summer!! Why was I hanging on to all these things that were just taking up space and money and stressing me out?  When had physical objects become so important to me? I would buy so much food on my grocery trip and then a third of it would go to waste. Why? In case we needed it during the week? I am fortunate to live in a town full of twenty-four hour convenience stores. We have a twenty four hour pharmacy, a twenty-four hour grocery store – why was I using my home as a place to store things?
And as surfaces slowly started to reappear, I started reevaluating the space inside me. Had I allowed my heart to become cluttered with all sorts of unnecessary baggage? Was I holding on to things that were causing me stress? Holding on to grudges towards other people? Using up that precious space for negative things and things that don’t matter, rather than the things that are important?
This challenge has become so much more than one about physical surroundings. It has made me start to evaluate my emotional and spiritual baggage as well. It’s been a transformative experience for me. How about you? If you’ve taken part of this challenge as well, how have you found it has changed you?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Day 1 - Forty Bags Challenge

Day One of 40 Bags in 40 Days is complete!! I woke up this morning excited to start my first day of decluttering. The state of my hutch has been driving me crazy but I didn’t want to jump the gun and declutter it before this challenge started so it felt good to jump in with both feet today.  I started out by emptying everything but the books out of the hutch, then I wiped it down with a damp cloth. I sorted through the books and took out a stack of them to donate to the local Value Village. All the other stuff that had been in there got dumped on my bed so that I could sort through it more easily.

You know what I found the hardest? Putting things away with intention - not just changing them places. Normally, when I would de-clutter an area, I would just move all the crap from one place to an other. So instead of being in my hutch, it would be on my dresser. Instead of being on my dresser it would go into the junk drawer. Today, after I sorted through everything and filled my “bag” (there was a lot of paper goods, so I ended up filling the recycling bin more than anything else) I started to put away the rest of the stuff and I was so tempted to just stack it somewhere. But I didn’t. And it felt good. When the project was complete, I didn’t have a pile of crap in a different place to deal with. It was just... clean. Hooray! So once more, here is the before picture:

and here is the after picture:

Not too shabby, eh?

I think what I’m going to find hard about this project is staying focused on the one space for that day and not “squirreling”. Have you seen the movie “Up!”? Remember how the dogs would be talking or doing something and then all of a sudden they would say “Squirrel!” and get totally distracted? That’s usually how I am when I tidy up. I start in one area and then slowly just drift from space to space and by the end of the day I’m totally exhausted and haven’t actually completely cleaned any one area. This project will help me stay on the one area until it’s done and it will force me to pace myself and not totally exhaust myself in one week trying to get everything done.

The other nice thing about this is that since it’s only a small project each day, it’s completely possible to do it with a toddler running around. And the “big one’s” on my list will just be reserved for Saturdays so that my husband will be around to either occupy the kids, or help me out. See? Win-win!

And here is a bonus cleaning tip that has absolutely nothing to do with the post above. The range hood above my oven is old and disgusting. I’ve tried cleaning it with several different things and nothing seems to work. I tried a magic eraser and it just shredded. Frustrating. Anyhow, I found a tip the other day that said to use “Spray and Wash” laundry stain remover. I just sprayed it on, left it there for a few minutes and wiped it off. Magic. Seriously. Go try it. You’ll thank me.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

40 Bags in 40 Days

The wonderful thing about places like Facebook is that sometimes, completely accidentally, I stumble across something that is just what I need.  The other day something popped up on my newsfeed called 40 Bags in 40 Days. The premise of this project is to pick 40 areas of my home that need de-cluttering or organizing. Each day I clean and then subsequently toss one bag of stuff that I no longer need. The size/type of the bag is not important - it's the idea that I'm getting rid of garbage and stuff that is not necessary and freeing up space in my home. Our house is not big, so it gets cluttered very quickly and starts to feel really claustrophobic - especially in the winter when I can't spend the whole day outside and pretend that the clutter doesn't exist.

The woman organizing it has a blog called White House Black Shutters and apparently she has done this since 2011. She provides a printable worksheet to help you map out the 40 areas in your house that you want to "decrappify" (her word, not mine - but I love it!) and they even have a Facebook support group. How cool is that!? I have a tendency to start things really enthusiastically and then slowly lose my drive and quit. Having a group of people going through the same thing that can support one another is such a good idea and a great way to keep people motivated.

Free Printable from White House Black Shutters
Yesterday, I spent the morning washing the walls in my living room, hallway and kitchen. My boys thought it would be a good idea to colour on the walls with pen. When I started washing the spots they had redecorated I started seeing how dirty the rest of the walls were and just kept going. I don't think I've done that since I've had kids. I mean, I've spot cleaned areas that were dirty, but I hadn't done everything top to bottom in one shot in a long long time. And by the time I was done, I realized that even though I had spent about two hours cleaning something that the average person wouldn't notice, I still had this amazing feeling of accomplishment and… freshness. I can only imagine how much better I'll feel after I finish this.

The challenge starts tomorrow on March 5th. Each Sunday is given to you as a day off from decluttering. I'm itching to jump right in and start today, but I think I'm going to use it to make my game plan. I have a few ideas of where I need to start. I think location 1 will be our great big hutch that has turned into a catch-all for junk we don't want sitting around on the table. It's so bad that trying to get a recipe book out of the back requires ninja skills if I don't want to cause a full on avalanche.

Ground Zero - The Hutch
This forty day challenge has potential to roll over into other areas of my life too. I started thinking that after I finished this decluttering challenge, I might attempt a 40 day deep cleaning challenge. Imagine how easy it will be to clean without having to move all the clutter around? Will you join me in this? Take the challenge and see what happens!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

One Hundred and Eleven to One Hundred and Twenty

111.  Waking up to sound of Isaac yelling at the top of his lungs: "I LOVE YOU!!!"
112.  A prayer for a friend, answered.
113.  My mother in law offering to take Mac for a sleepover out of the blue.
114.  A leisurely belated birthday dinner with a friend I haven't spent much time with lately.
115.  Making brownies with Mac
116.  Mac announcing he likes the green stuff in his fried rice - it was kale. SCORE.
117.  The way Isaac cuddles up to me between my arms when we read a book together
118.  My day to sleep in. Bliss!
119.  Finding and watching old movies of Mac when he was the age Isaac is now.
120.  Walking into Isaac's room and getting to snap a picture of him sleeping and looking so innocent and cute.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Premature Sowing

Do you sow prematurely?

The older I get the more I hate winter. Or maybe it has to do with having little kids that aren't built to tolerate extended periods of -40C weather and be cooped up inside. So they fight. The little one screams at ear piercing, window shattering decibels and the older one (who provokes him to scream to see if he'll get in trouble) then cries and says that his ears hurt. There isn't enough coffee in the world.  And when they aren't fighting, they are devising ideas to try together that would make Evel Knievel shake his head and say "Dude, that's too crazy". So this winter has seemed like the Eternal Winter in Narnia to me. What's scary is I think I'm turning into the white witch. At least, I bet my kids would say that I am.

The point of that little rant was to try to communicate just how done I am with winter. So in a fit of desperation, Mac and I planted some seeds. It was partly to find something new and interesting to do with him to keep him from turning feral, and partly because I was going to go absolutely insane if I didn't see something green growing somewhere other than in the used milk cup that the kids keep thinking is funny to hide.  I used self control and only planted some pumpkin seeds, pansies and nasturtiums. At this point, I have to tell you that we can't actually plant seeds in the ground here until mid June if we're trying to avoid frost. It snowed in July here once. Seriously. Well, immediately after I planted them, there was no sun for a week. Of course.

But I've been nursing those little babies and now the pumpkins are up and out and need to be transplanted into bigger pots and the pansies and nasturtium are finally peeking through. Of course now I have to try to keep them all alive until the summer.


I'll probably start the rest of my seeds at the end of March or beginning of April. It's taking all of my self control not to plant everything right this minute. I've ordered the majority of my seeds from Heritage Harvest Seeds which I've never dealt with before, so I'm anxious to see how they do.

How about you? Do you ever get so desperate that you plant things unreasonably early because you just want to see something grow?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

One Hundred and One to One Hundred and Ten

101. Isaac saying "I Love You" to me at bedtime for the first time without me having to say it first
102. Mac getting a good report card
103. Building Lego houses with Mac and listening to his names for different pieces: a "twoer", a "Three-er" an "eight-boater"…
104. My orchid starting to bloom
105. Making bread with Isaac and watching him pound the dough
106. My new favourite breakfast
107. Kissy faced smooches
108. Finishing a long overdue project
109. Starting a new workout routine and watching the kids take part enthusiastically
110. Fresh bread

Friday, February 14, 2014


I was thinking today about Valentines Day and how it can be full of anticipation, excitement and fun plans. But for some people it's sad and lonely, full of memories of people who are gone, relationships that are over, people that are far away or yearning for "someone, someday".

I used to have such an expectation of this day. The flowers, the candy, the meaningful card with witty but touching Hallmark remarks, the romantic supper out. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with enjoying those things, but what about all the people who don't have a significant other? What's in it for them?

It made me shift my focus. Instead of making today all about my relationship with my husband, I decided to make it a day to celebrate love in general. Because there's so much more in life than romantic love.

There's the joy you get from being together with family and feeling the security of their love…

The love when you meet your children for the first time…

Between a grandparent and their grandchildren and great grandchildren…

The heart-filling overflowing kind of love you feel when your kids are being silly and you get to join in the fun…

There's the unconditional love you feel from furry family members, both real and… real to the kids…

Between friends who share experiences that draw them closer…

First girlfriends…

Brothers (when they stop fighting for 30 seconds)…

The love of a God that is so powerful, He made this for us…

And the love you feel in those imperfect, ordinary, everyday moments that make you stop and think "How did I get so lucky?"…

Happy Valentine's Day. Do you feel the love?