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Ktgrok

Minimal Mom youtube and other minimalist musings

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I started watching her and Joshua Becker after seeing this thread and I'm inspired too. I took a couple boxes of stuff to Goodwill today. I have a question for those of you who like nothing on your counters. where do you keep your fruit? Specifically apples, oranges, and bananas? I have always had them out on the counter. It's the way I grew up. But is there another choice? Do you put them in the pantry? It feels weird to me, but I guess I can get used to it... I really like the feeling of the counters being totally clean.

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6 minutes ago, TABmom said:

I started watching her and Joshua Becker after seeing this thread and I'm inspired too. I took a couple boxes of stuff to Goodwill today. I have a question for those of you who like nothing on your counters. where do you keep your fruit? Specifically apples, oranges, and bananas? I have always had them out on the counter. It's the way I grew up. But is there another choice? Do you put them in the pantry? It feels weird to me, but I guess I can get used to it... I really like the feeling of the counters being totally clean.

I keep fruit on the kitchen table.  It works well and keeps my counters clean (i like my counters totally clean too).

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25 minutes ago, TABmom said:

I started watching her and Joshua Becker after seeing this thread and I'm inspired too. I took a couple boxes of stuff to Goodwill today. I have a question for those of you who like nothing on your counters. where do you keep your fruit? Specifically apples, oranges, and bananas? I have always had them out on the counter. It's the way I grew up. But is there another choice? Do you put them in the pantry? It feels weird to me, but I guess I can get used to it... I really like the feeling of the counters being totally clean.

I was wondering this as well. Right now I have only a few bananas, they are on top of a stack of decorative cutting boards my husband got me for Christmas last year. 

Having totally clear counters isn't going to happen for me - between the toaster, the electric kettle, the keurig, the nespresso, the stand mixer, and the instant pot - all of which are used daily other than the stand mixer and it is used at least a few times a week - I can't see getting those out of a cabinet daily or multiple times a a day even if I had room to store them. 

I did get all all the rest off other than one plaque I love and the butter dish...not sure what to do with that. 

I know that sounds like a lot on the counters, but I did put away the zillion vitamins, spices, drink mixes, etc etc. So getting there!

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I have the fruit bowl as the centerpiece on the table if I don't have flowers.  I put it on the buffet if I do have flowers.

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Just now, Katy said:

I have the fruit bowl as the centerpiece on the table if I don't have flowers.  I put it on the buffet if I do have flowers.

I really like this idea. right now I have a two year old who would eat one bite out of everything, so it has to be out of reach, but soon that will be a good option. I do keep apples in the fridge, but bananas and tomatoes are out. 

I have started putting potatoes in the pantry though. 

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On 11/20/2019 at 6:50 AM, wintermom said:

I was just challenged by my hair dresser that I was a hoarder. I will take that label and raise it to "disorganized hoarder" who was raised by parents who lived through very hard times on farms in the Canadian prairies and kept all useful and non-useful stuff "just in case."  There is both nature and nurture in my hoarding tendencies.  Plus my dh never wants to move (or throw anything out). How do I work around these obstacles? 😉

I think the only reason our house can fit all of us people and stuff is that dh and I are "frugal" and too cheap (poor) to buy loads of stuff. Thank goodness for this or we'd have to buy another house for our collected stuff.

Do you want clear space more than you want that stuff?  Or organized space?

Because if so, that's something to look forward to.

The equating of getting rid of stuff with morality, though, is just about as flawed as the equating of keeping stuff with morality.  It's just stuff.  Maybe useful, maybe not.

If you're looking for a technique, something that works for me is to set a timer for a relatively short period of time, like maybe 15 minutes.  During that time I either work on getting rid of stuff, work on putting things where they belong, or organize one small area, like a shelf or an end table.  I find that I can do anything for 15-20 minutes, and it's surprising how those short bursts add up when I do it several times per day.

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I love her channel, but find her style a bit extreme. To each their own, lol. It will be interesting to see what happens when/if they start homeschooling next year. I'm guessing it will look a lot like her friend/fellow minimalist youtuber, Darci Isabella. HINT: if you want to see what true minimalism looks like for a large homeschool family, check out her channel. I could never go to the extremes that she does, but it's interesting to watch!

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9 hours ago, TABmom said:

I started watching her and Joshua Becker after seeing this thread and I'm inspired too. I took a couple boxes of stuff to Goodwill today. I have a question for those of you who like nothing on your counters. where do you keep your fruit? Specifically apples, oranges, and bananas? I have always had them out on the counter. It's the way I grew up. But is there another choice? Do you put them in the pantry? It feels weird to me, but I guess I can get used to it... I really like the feeling of the counters being totally clean.

Balance function with form.
I like my counters to be totally clean, but I accept that they need to function for me as counters, which means I keep a handful of things on there to keep my kitchen feeling warm and inviting:
-coffee pot
-small wine rack (filled from the larger one downstairs, so we always have a red, white, and dessert wine handy)
-spoon rest
-cooking implements (so I don't go back and forth in a drawer all night)
-basic flavorings: salt, pepper, olive oil - all in a little open box together
-recipe holder
-double decker fruit bowl
-compost bowl

It would not work for me to put fruit in a pantry.  Food that is seen is eaten.  Food that is hidden spoils.

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6 hours ago, Sugarfoot said:

I love her channel, but find her style a bit extreme. To each their own, lol. It will be interesting to see what happens when/if they start homeschooling next year. I'm guessing it will look a lot like her friend/fellow minimalist youtuber, Darci Isabella. HINT: if you want to see what true minimalism looks like for a large homeschool family, check out her channel. I could never go to the extremes that she does, but it's interesting to watch!

Yeah, I do find some of it too extreme, but at the same time I keep remembering that she has stuff in the basement/outbuildings - so it isn't as extreme as it seems. I don't have a basement to stick stuff in, or a shed, etc. So yeah, I'll have more sometimes stuff in my kitchen, because she stores her less used but still keeping stuff in the basement. 

1 hour ago, HomeAgain said:

Balance function with form.
 

right. As someone said upthread, I need to remember that there is a difference between the minimalist design style and minimalism as a mentality of having less stuff to manage/deal with. Paring down to what I actually use on a daily basis is the latter. Hiding it in a cabinet just to LOOK like less, but not actually BE less, and then adding to the time/effort it takes to cook is the former. I do get that clear counters are easier to keep decluttered, and to wipe down, but given space/needs taking out my toaster 3 times a day and putting it back away isn't going to be more minimalist in anything but looks. 

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3 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

Yeah, I do find some of it too extreme, but at the same time I keep remembering that she has stuff in the basement/outbuildings - so it isn't as extreme as it seems. I don't have a basement to stick stuff in, or a shed, etc. So yeah, I'll have more sometimes stuff in my kitchen, because she stores her less used but still keeping stuff in the basement. 

right. As someone said upthread, I need to remember that there is a difference between the minimalist design style and minimalism as a mentality of having less stuff to manage/deal with. Paring down to what I actually use on a daily basis is the latter. Hiding it in a cabinet just to LOOK like less, but not actually BE less, and then adding to the time/effort it takes to cook is the former. I do get that clear counters are easier to keep decluttered, and to wipe down, but given space/needs taking out my toaster 3 times a day and putting it back away isn't going to be more minimalist in anything but looks. 


Right.  Minimalism applies to habit as well as stuff.  I'm not going to create more work for myself because I want the appearance of less.  I want more time to do other things, which means creating a functional household.  😄  Interestingly, my toaster does live in a cupboard.  We only use it 1-2 times a week, so decided it didn't need counter space devoted to it.  Same with my mixer, although this time of year it'll stay out until we're done baking.

Minimalism should be about taking pride and joy in what you have.  If something is not useful to you or brings you joy, then it's time to get rid of it. I have been gifted lovely yarns from friends and family.  Unfortunately, not all were getting used, due to lack of inspiration or time.  Last summer I culled my collection and gave two large bags to a friend.  She found more joy in them than I had been, and has used them for her projects since.  There's no point in me storing something that is better served as a useful tool for someone else.  At the same time, it really needs to be more of a habit moving forward instead of looking backward.  It needs to be a conscious decision about bringing things in the house, and not so much of getting rid of stuff for the sake of getting rid of stuff., does that make sense?  I used to work a thrift store.  The amount of STUFF that comes in this time of year is astounding, and then homes are filled with more stuff in order to buy for the holidays.  It's maddening.  And half the stuff goes to the dump because it's honestly stuff no-one wants anyway.  I'm afraid with this minimalism trend it's going to cause people to cycle in a few years to buying what they got rid of, getting rid of more, buying what they got rid of..it's just more important to set a mindframe going forward and slowly looking at what you have already, not chucking a lot now and then continuing habits later.

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1 hour ago, Ktgrok said:

Yeah, I do find some of it too extreme, but at the same time I keep remembering that she has stuff in the basement/outbuildings - so it isn't as extreme as it seems. I don't have a basement to stick stuff in, or a shed, etc. So yeah, I'll have more sometimes stuff in my kitchen, because she stores her less used but still keeping stuff in the basement. 

right. As someone said upthread, I need to remember that there is a difference between the minimalist design style and minimalism as a mentality of having less stuff to manage/deal with. Paring down to what I actually use on a daily basis is the latter. Hiding it in a cabinet just to LOOK like less, but not actually BE less, and then adding to the time/effort it takes to cook is the former. I do get that clear counters are easier to keep decluttered, and to wipe down, but given space/needs taking out my toaster 3 times a day and putting it back away isn't going to be more minimalist in anything but looks. 

One day, my daughter was watching a video with me where they were outside. DD said, "That doesn't look very minimal!" 🙂  No it doesn't. They do have a lot of stuff stored away outside the house. Not having any kind of basement, shed, etc, is a whole different thing 😉 If you've never seen Darci Isasbella's channel, it's interesting to see the extreme minimalist look in a house with 10 children. She once mentioned that her husband didn't like to see their homeschool books/materials out and about. That would never fly here. 😉 

You're completely right about hiding things like often-used appliances away. I do not want to lift my Kitchen Aid mixer out of a lower cabinet every time I need it just to have a clear space on the counter where it usually sits. It would be different if I were in a tiny Japanese apartment or something, where I literally had only the space under the mixer. 

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Remember that minimalism is about identifying things you really care about and need, giving them a place of prominence/accessibility/top priority, and thankfully passing on to others the things you don't care about or need.  How much that adds up to for each individual will be different.  For some people, it really will be very little and for others it will be significantly more. 

I love that there are so many different examples of minimalism, even the ones that go to extremes.  It's a reminder that everyone is different, and each stage of life is different. Different is a good thing and many examples of different are good for us all.  I like having a big grab bag of ideas and considerations I wouldn't have thought of on my own.  I can pick and choose from them as needed and put other in my back pocket to pull out should I need them in the future.

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My recent project has been to clean out our files and shred old papers. I’ll be hearing the shredder in my sleep. 

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On 11/18/2019 at 7:14 PM, prairiewindmomma said:

 

Why does Christmas need to be hyperfocused on gift giving? 

I am asking sincerely.

I wish as a culture we could move away from the consumerism.

Yeah, if it were up to me Christmas would be a lot more like Thanksgiving: family time, fun, food, celebration, and a Christmas Eve service.

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48 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

Remember that minimalism is about identifying things you really care about and need, giving them a place of prominence/accessibility/top priority, and thankfully passing on to others the things you don't care about or need.  How much that adds up to for each individual will be different.  For some people, it really will be very little and for others it will be significantly more. 

I love that there are so many different examples of minimalism, even the ones that go to extremes.  It's a reminder that everyone is different, and each stage of life is different. Different is a good thing and many examples of different are good for us all.  I like having a big grab bag of ideas and considerations I wouldn't have thought of on my own.  I can pick and choose from them as needed and put other in my back pocket to pull out should I need them in the future.

yes! And some of the blogs, especially it seems by men, especially single men, are by people that maybe don't love and use a lot of kitchen stuff. Or need the convenience of a big stand mixer if they usually are cooking for one person, or just eating some salami and cheese, lol. 

I am very much trying to remember that this is about focusing on what I like, and making space to focus on those things. I like my coffee and espresso, lol. So those things "bring me joy" AND are used daily. So no way am I hiding them away. 

But, the many spices that I had balanced on the top edge of the stove range? Maybe a bit more convenient to have them right there, but they were awful looking AND they kept me from EVER wiping down that area as it was too much of a hassle to move a dozen spice containers. Now they are in a bin in the front of the cabinet right be the stove. Not a big deal to grab that bin and set it on the counter while cooking, then put it back. Looks better and I have been wiping down the top of the stove after cooking 🙂

And the vitamins/medicines/etc that took up about 2 sq ft of counter top did the same  - looked awful and made it impossible to wipe that area down. Now the medications we don't use daily got moved to the pantry where they go, and the vitamins are in a pull out drawer. I made room for them there by getting rid of a bunch of stuff - like coffee filters to a coffee maker I also got rid of (made bad coffee and I have the keurig, french press, and aero press so not going to ever use it). 

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Well, my husband has flat out said, "your minimalism is not touching my christmas." 

So, yeah. Baby steps, lol. 

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What have I done!!!!!

And in all this, I don't see my roasting pan ANYWHERE. Um, what on earth happened to my roasting pan??? Good thing I'm seeing this now, before I tried to cook a turkey on Thursday! I found the rack that goes in it, in the laundry area, but not the pan itself. Going to check and see if I put it in the garage for some odd reason? Like, a project of some sort? Already checked the backyard, lol. 

Meanwhile, I have three blenders. Which is dumb. But one is big enough for making pina coladas which we do every summer. One is strong enough to make green smoothies. One is a personal size one my husband used to use daily but now uses only rarely. Although, actually, i don't see the container for that one so maybe that one is going. 

Oh, and I didn't buy that massive amount of paper plates and napkins - the napkins are from a conference DH did and he bought the plates to be helpful. Um, yeah...dude, too many. And I don't think they are the kind I like anyway. 

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IMG_5752 2.JPG

Edited by Ktgrok
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I have watched the Minimal Mom youtube channel for many months. I found her explanations and processes very helpful. She is, however, extreme and controlling, so I’m getting a bit turned off. 

I try to learn from all of the different methods out there because they have all helped.

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4 minutes ago, Ktgrok said:

But, the many spices that I had balanced on the top edge of the stove range? Maybe a bit more convenient to have them right there, but they were awful looking AND they kept me from EVER wiping down that area as it was too much of a hassle to move a dozen spice containers. Now they are in a bin in the front of the cabinet right be the stove. Not a big deal to grab that bin and set it on the counter while cooking, then put it back. Looks better and I have been wiping down the top of the stove after cooking 🙂

 

Not being able to wipe kitchen space down makes me crazy. It's astonishing how much crud can accumulate.

We have a lot of spices because we're foodies and I cook.  I complained to my husband about my spice storage frustrations.  He found me a black labeled lids and burnished silver wall mounted version that I love. I like how it looks with the rest of my kitchen items, so it looks nice on the wall. I don't see it at amazon now, but it's this type of design:
https://www.amazon.com/Prodyne-Acrylic-Bottle-Spice-White/dp/B000KFSLMO/ref=sr_1_200?keywords=wall+spice+rack&qid=1574699392&sr=8-200

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3 hours ago, Ktgrok said:

Yeah, I do find some of it too extreme, but at the same time I keep remembering that she has stuff in the basement/outbuildings - so it isn't as extreme as it seems. I don't have a basement to stick stuff in, or a shed, etc. So yeah, I'll have more sometimes stuff in my kitchen, because she stores her less used but still keeping stuff in the basement. 

right. As someone said upthread, I need to remember that there is a difference between the minimalist design style and minimalism as a mentality of having less stuff to manage/deal with. Paring down to what I actually use on a daily basis is the latter. Hiding it in a cabinet just to LOOK like less, but not actually BE less, and then adding to the time/effort it takes to cook is the former. I do get that clear counters are easier to keep decluttered, and to wipe down, but given space/needs taking out my toaster 3 times a day and putting it back away isn't going to be more minimalist in anything but looks. 

 

This isn't a cheap way to do it, but when you need/want to replace your microwave you can get a microwave/toaster oven/convection oven combo.  We just did it. The stove, dishwasher, and fridge weren't working well in our new home, and since they needed to be replaced and because Home Depot allowed sale stacking I opted to upgrade the microwave too.  Now I can get rid of several things, including the air fryer.  i haven't used it as a toaster oven yet, but the air fryer function works really well for sweet potato fries.

20 minutes ago, Fifiruth said:

I have watched the Minimal Mom youtube channel for many months. I found her explanations and processes very helpful. She is, however, extreme and controlling, so I’m getting a bit turned off. 

I try to learn from all of the different methods out there because they have all helped.

 

The most helpful one to me has been Dana K White's Decluttering at the Speed of Light audio book.  She knows JUST how to get through to my creative/always have 15 projects type of brain.  I'd heard people on YouTube talk about decluttering my fantasy selves, but I never REALLY got it until I listened to that book.  I absolutely recommend the audio version, so you can listen while decluttering.  It's so motivating.

15 minutes ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

Not being able to wipe kitchen space down makes me crazy. It's astonishing how much crud can accumulate.

We have a lot of spices because we're foodies and I cook.  I complained to my husband about my spice storage frustrations.  He found me a black labeled lids and burnished silver wall mounted version that I love. I like how it looks with the rest of my kitchen items, so it looks nice on the wall. I don't see it at amazon now, but it's this type of design:
https://www.amazon.com/Prodyne-Acrylic-Bottle-Spice-White/dp/B000KFSLMO/ref=sr_1_200?keywords=wall+spice+rack&qid=1574699392&sr=8-200

 

I just added one of these to my new kitchen.  I mean the kitchen is almost 20 years old, but I added the insert to an existing drawer in the kitchen of our new (to us) house.  So great!

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006GSOVDW/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

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part of the issue is it is the kids that make toast, as a snack, so it has to be where they can reach it and use it. The microwave is an over the stove thing that only the 9 yr old can reach, and she has to use a stool to do it. So not sure that would really solve the issue. 

Definitely it throws a monkey wrench in things to have to figure out what I need to keep away from the 2 yr old, what needs to be accessible to the other kids, etc etc. 

Right now I'm trying to figure out where to put the coffee. I had been storing the keurig pods in glass mason jars on an open shelf, and had the keurig and espresso machine under that shelf for a bit of a coffee station. Except that's the lowest counter so now the toaster lives there for the kids to be able to reach. And the keurig started growing mold from being too near the light from the window. So it is across the kitchen. So the coffee looks sort of silly there. 

HBQS+UOuTEyRQ7+3uptWRw.jpg

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I started pulled out my Thanksgiving stuff and have been thinning some things out of my kitchen. The drawer wasn’t shutting properly and after removing a few unneeded things we are back to happiness. I have no idea how we ended up with three pizza cutters.

 

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Better! That was a LOT of work! 

Oh, and somehow I missed the "adulting" memo about how you are supposed to pull out the drawer under the stove and clean under there now and then. I don't think I EVER have and wow....that was gross. 

It will take me a while to remember where I put things I think, but everything is better organized and I have another few boxes for goodwill and more bags of trash. 

(the little turkeys were made today, amidst the chaos, with many tears and frustration so they earned a spot on display)

 

 

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The turkeys are adorable!

thanks for this thread.  I have taken several carloads to St Vincent de Paul, and many old paint cans to our recycling.  Feels good to purge!

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On 11/18/2019 at 6:14 PM, prairiewindmomma said:

The four gifts rule is crazy in large households. That would be 24 new items in the house! 

Why does Christmas need to be hyperfocused on gift giving? 

24 new items sounds like a lot, but is it really a lot for a child to get one shirt, one toy, one book, and one pair of shoes that they needed anyway? That doesn't sound hyper focused on gift giving to me. Do you give your kids less than that, or do y'all not do Christmas gifts? I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea of kids not getting way more than one book per year, lol. And honestly, toys as well, but I justify the books as a life necessity. 

I've see some parents who do one big gift for all the kids, like a trampoline, which is a cool idea if you have a good mix of ages and interests. 

On 11/24/2019 at 8:42 PM, Ktgrok said:

ooh looks like maybe I can keep the tomatoes in the fridge! https://www.seriouseats.com/2014/09/why-you-should-refrigerate-tomatoes.html

No. I didn't read the link, but refrigerating tomatoes is a crime against nature. 

On 11/25/2019 at 12:15 AM, Sugarfoot said:

I love her channel, but find her style a bit extreme.  

And youtube channels and instagram accounts are not reality any more than 'reality tv' shows are. You are seeing what they want you to see. 

On 11/25/2019 at 10:28 AM, Ktgrok said:

Well, my husband has flat out said, "your minimalism is not touching my christmas." 

😄

Edited by katilac
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Still thinking about kids and Christmas gifts. There are some fun things that wouldn't add anything to the house long-term. You could do food treats, like candy or cereal. I have a picture of myself at about 6, clutching a box of sugary cereal and gazing at it lovingly, lol. A coupon for an outing or a special privilege (staying up late, choosing the movie for movie night). Seeds to plant in the garden.

I definitely struggle with the idea that one toy and one book is an extravagant Christmas, lol. I don't count the something they need, bc if they need it they're getting it anyway, or the something to wear, bc presumably you're just choosing that day to give them a clothing item they also need. 

You certainly don't need to give them a lot, but a little creativity goes a long way. I think some parents (not anyone on this thread, I've been googling) can be a little unfair about expecting kids to embrace minimalism, just because they've decided to make a big change. If your family has always been very low-key about holidays and gifts, that's different. 

 

 

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On 11/25/2019 at 12:02 PM, Katy said:

just added one of these to my new kitchen.  I mean the kitchen is almost 20 years old, but I added the insert to an existing drawer in the kitchen of our new (to us) house.  So great!

 

I love my spices in a drawer!  Similar to this but I bought these at ikea.  I think I needed 3 or 4 for my drawer.  They were $3.99 each in store and are great. Variera Inserts for Spice Jars 

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my mom has a spice drawer like that and I'm totally jealous. I only have two shallow drawers like that - one has my silverware and one has kitchen tools like a can opener, pie server, etc. 

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16 hours ago, katilac said:

 

24 new items sounds like a lot, but is it really a lot for a child to get one shirt, one toy, one book, and one pair of shoes that they needed anyway? That doesn't sound hyper focused on gift giving to me. Do you give your kids less than that, or do y'all not do Christmas gifts? I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea of kids not getting way more than one book per year, lol. And honestly, toys as well, but I justify the books as a life necessity. 

I’m enjoying this thread, but I wanted to address this question. We do get our children one Christmas gift per year, plus consumable stocking stuffers. They still get plenty. They have two sets of grandparents, one set gets them each a single gift, the other set a boatload random stuff, almost like they divided their budget per child amongst a variety of things, in hopes of something being a home run. They have a great aunt that gets them each a nice gift. And they have six aunts and uncles that will, at times, give Christmas gifts. They get plenty. If we tried to do 4 or 5 gifts per child, we’d be broke and overwhelmed. I am thankful for our extended family, and understand the 4 or 5 gift per kid thing in a situation where there wasn’t extended family like ours.

Plus birthdays, don’t forget they get gifts at that day too, so it’s not like our children only ever get one gift from their parents per year.....

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I have several friends with large families ranging from 5-13 kids. They often give their kids gifts that are experiences and family gifts like a trampoline, board games, concert tickets, outdoor play sets, Disneyland/Snowskiing trip, dance/music/martial arts lessons for the year, annual zoo passes, family camping equipment, book series for family library, pets, consumables like favorite treats, etc.  Remember, it doesn't have to come in a box to be fantastic gift that results in life long memories.

And always keep in mind that plenty of people have local extended family members who are also giving the kids gifts.  We used to have 4 generations on 3 sides of the family  complete with 3 sets of grandparents, 2 sets of great-grandparents, 5 aunt/uncle sets, and other various relatives within an hour or our house giving all the kids gifts every year. It was an insane amount of stuff and we only gave our kids a couple of items during those peak volume years.  When people make decisions about scaling down, whether it's overall volume or tight budgetary considerations or whatever, they're doing it for a reason, even if you don't happen to know the reason.

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4 hours ago, SamanthaCarter said:

We do get our children one Christmas gift per year, plus consumable stocking stuffers. They still get plenty.  

 

1 hour ago, Homeschool Mom in AZ said:

And always keep in mind that plenty of people have local extended family members who are also giving the kids gifts.  

 

Oh, I agree that the presents don't have to come from parents or Santa, but the post I responded to was talking about the 'something you want' rule still resulting in too many things coming into the house. All I said was that I didn't think it was going overboard for a kid to get one pair of shoes they needed anyway, one shirt they probably also needed, one book, and one toy. Assuming the kid likes to read, that's only two gifts they actually want, lol. I didn't say word one about additional gifts or who should purchase them.

I admit the only reason I didn't do this myself was because I wanted that typical Christmas morning experience of the kids waking us up too early and racing to the living room to open their gifts. They would still have gotten plenty from others if I only gave them one or two things, but I wanted them to be excited at my house, lol.  

 

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I'm going to try to don my flame-proof suit and dig into my above comment a bit deeper. 

I think as a general culture, we tend to be a culture of excess and we tend to be focused on consuming more than on creating/producing/caring for others. Right? All of the ads pushing those emotional buttons are all over print and media right now. Instagram is blowing up with people and their Christmas decorations. Most people's notion of a happy Christmas is indeed that of a tree with piles of presents underneath and that frenzied running to see presents in the morning. We say that that is giving kids "happy memories".

We went through the excess of presents coming in phase. Grandparents, aunts/uncles, etc. all felt that they had to give a lot. And, they gave what they wanted to give. So, we were pitching a lot of the ugly dollar store junk in the trash. Or auntie that loved barbies when she was a kid gave barbies to my girls year after year so that when we went to downsize four years ago, we had over 40 barbies in the Barbie bin.  We had the complete Little People village--3 farms, the school, dollhouses, and so on.  We had three bins of Thomas trains. And so forth. Just EXCESS.  We donated a lot of things to the local family homeless shelter that had opened a new facility for small children.  But a lot ended up in the trash. And that is a serious gut check.

We moved to TX several years ago, and downsized.  We finally had our "own" holidays and began to kind of separate holidays from gift-giving.  Our kids got clothing when they needed it.  After selling or donating 6000 books, we used the library a lot more.  We stopped buying most books; when we get books, it's because we went to an author signing.  We buy a few things digitally, but we allow the library to own books and store them and care for them, and we have actually really liked this. We still have about 800 books in our home, but they are hardback favorites or curricula-tied books. We started to have experiences instead. And, we found that we really liked that also.  The kids can pick up their room in 20 minutes (if motivated) and a lot of the fights over housekeeping and stuff just stopped.  The kids also love having capsule wardrobes. Everything became so much more manageable with less stuff.  

We relocated again a couple of years ago.  We moved to a HCOL area and again downsized our stuff. Money is tighter here by far (but dh is no longer traveling full time) and so the holidays have been constrained in gift giving but not in spirit.  Some of my kids are in public school and many of their schoolmates are in multi-generational households because housing is so expensive here. Their schools run food pantries and clothing closets. We got emails yesterday that the demand is so high that they can't keep up....and are especially concerned because there has been more requests for food to bridge over the winter holidays. In the summer, our city runs a free meal program, but there isn't a program for the two week winter break.  So, kids are going to go hungry.  As I'm typing this, I also got an email with a location for a homeless shelter for families that is opening up extra beds because of severe weather going on.  Rent has gone up about 10% in the last two years, and some of my kids' classmates couch surf as families at the homes of their friends and extended family....but sometimes there are gaps.

We have always had a family culture of giving. And we come from families that believe similarly.  We donate 10% of our income, we give beyond that financially when we can, and we donate a lot of service hours to our community......between our family members last week it was probably 20 service hours. I am embarrassed to share all of this, because we don't do it for praise or attention, but because we very much put action to our beliefs that the people around us are our brothers and sisters.  I want to give this context to help people understand that my kids have asked that we go shopping and buy groceries for those food pantries rather than get them stuff. Because they have what they need. And they truly have a strong sense of gratitude that they will have warm beds, the clothes that they want and need, and stocking full of goodies.  We will get them each a present that is something they need and we will have a couple of fun experiences for our holidays.  But, honestly, we all feel a little disgusted with the idea of having piles of presents under the tree while their classmates are struggling. 

What would be different in our world if the ideal form of Christmas was not piles of presents under our Christmas tree? 

 

 

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As a slightly different aside, to the comment that you are giving needed clothing items at Christmas.... my parents did this growing up. I would need longer pants in October, and the pants would arrive in December, wrapped under the tree.  What I took away from that was that it was more important to my parents to have piles of presents wrapped under the tree, to give a sense of abundance to their Christmas, than it was for me to have my needs met in October, November, and December. 

My ds almost 14 grew four inches this fall. I just replaced his entire wardrobe. (Again, I might add.)  If I were to wrap those pants & shirts as presents, he would either be getting more than his siblings (never a recipe for happiness in a large family), he would be getting a disproportionate share of clothing > fun stuff (also not a recipe for happiness), or I would be buying equal amounts of stuff for his siblings (which doesn't make for a happy budget).  

I think so often we really don't stop to *think* about what we're doing.....about what kind of messages we're sending.

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I think there can be both a culture of giving gifts to loved one and a culture of serving. Our tradition is that the first gifts of the year are always for charity of some sort - angel tree or something in that vein. We don't buy anything for ourselves or our family until after that - that is the top part of our budget - our "first fruits" as it were. The kids know this and enjoy picking out those gifts so much! 

But they also love picking out gifts for their siblings, and their cousins, etc. And there is nothing wrong with that. And they do like getting gifts as well - mostly because they are not dollar store trinkets they don't want, but thought out gifts that show the person who gave it knows them and thought hard about what to get them. 

Now, does that mean it is also good to have kids so overwhelmed they end up in tears refusing to open anymore? No, of course not. But gifts on Christmas, as a general idea, doesn't have to mean unthinking consumerism and gifts for the sake of excess. 

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So..bit of an update. 

I don't KNOW that it has anything to do with us paring down the toys, decluttering the kids' room, and all the work I did decluttering the kitchen, but my kids' christmas wish list this year is VASTLY different than years past. 

Gone are long long lists of a million name brand trinkets they found while pouring over the toy catalogs. 

Instead?

cookbook

tool bench (real work bench to do real work)

skates

bikes

books (WHAT?!?!!? Be still my heart!)

Clothes

stuff to make youtube videos

and ONE name brand toy (Mi Bro) that we actually already have one of and it gets a ton of play time with my kids - one kid asked for the new upgraded version. And given all three are sharing one of them, a second is not unreasonable and it is small enough it won't take up much room. 

 

Y'all - this is a TOTAL departure from the lists we normally get from them. Seriously. I can't help but think that this is partly from them doing that work, seeing what all the "stuff" takes in terms of space/time/energy, etc. I'm' really really impressed. 

Now, to try to scale back on the Christmas decor....I've got boxes vomiting up Christmas cheer in my living room, lol. One thing I'm doing this year that I started last year is boxing up some of the regular decor to make room, rather than shoving to fit it in! But also this year I'm not going to think it all HAS to go out. We will choose what we love, and store or get rid of the rest. 

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8 hours ago, Ktgrok said:

Now, to try to scale back on the Christmas decor....I've got boxes vomiting up Christmas cheer in my living room, lol. One thing I'm doing this year that I started last year is boxing up some of the regular decor to make room, rather than shoving to fit it in! But also this year I'm not going to think it all HAS to go out. We will choose what we love, and store or get rid of the rest. 

Still following you K!  Got down our Christmas boxes today and the kids and I are setting aside the decor/ornaments we don’t like or use.  Some for the trash.  Some for donating.  I hope you keep adding to the thread over time since it’s helping a lot on my end 😂

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I went through our Christmas things last year, though really it was over a few years.  It was so nice to have everything be special.  And it took us 30 minutes to decorate (not including getting the tree out of the attic and putting it together) and that was a really good amount of time for everyone to do it together and have a good time.  
 

We are still going to get some candy canes for the tree.  And I got a poinsettia today but I am taking it to church tomorrow.  

And then I have promised not to buy anything.  We are preparing to move so — it is the right thing.  But I’m not a huge fan.  

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On 11/18/2019 at 4:14 PM, prairiewindmomma said:

Why does Christmas need to be hyperfocused on gift giving? 

I am asking sincerely.

I wish as a culture we could move away from the consumerism.

 

We might could.  

With internet it’s easier to start a movement than it used to be.

hash tag NoConsumerStuffForGiftsChristmas  idea but something catchier  than that 

stores and retailers would hate it probably 

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Speaking of gifts, my sister suggested we go in on a smart thermostat for my mom for christmas. I guess my sister has one, and my mom - who babysits my sister's kids a few days a week - got used to it and now keeps trying to order her own thermostat around verbally, forgetting she doesn't have one too. So that's a useful gift that won't cause clutter 🙂  In addition I'm going to make some jams/spread/edilbe stuff that she can serve to guests as she does a lot of hosting. 

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I'd love to give and receive experience/consumable gifts but none of our relatives considers those to be "real" gifts. They want to give kiddo A Thing In A Box That Can Be Wrapped And Then Unwrapped. They won't just give one gift, either.  My in-laws gift buying strategy is to get the biggest number of wrappable gifts for their budget.  They don't think "What kiddo would like?"  They think "How many things can I get for $50? I can get 10 $5 things and then kiddo will think I'm awesome for giving him so many things!"  They sometimes buy multiples of the same thing and are offended and confused when I say "Thanks. We'll share the extras with friends".  I mean, what in the world is kiddo to do with 6 identical blue 6 inch rulers? A dozen party-favor boxes of crayons? A dozen yo-yos? These were real "Valentine's Day Gifts" they gave kiddo one year. 

I resent junk like that coming into my home because I have to put in work to get it back *out* of my home. I really wish they'd get him one nice thing instead of 6-10 junky little things. Or give him a book!  The kid asks for books every year, and every year both sides of the family look stricken.  "That's not a real gift".  YES IT IS!!! 

I have come to realize I have some mild EF issues and I definitely function better with less "stuff" in my home.  Too much stuff means I can't think straight.  Husband is the type of person that wants to keep everything "in case of emergency".  I can't think of an emergency situation that requires old shoes or strings of burned out Christmas lights, but I guess we're prepared when that day comes. 😠 

Edited by MissLemon
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Your kids' Christmas list sound very similar to our thinking here, @Ktgrok.  Our kids don't tend to make lists, but youngest ds really wants a lego set.  Oldest ds is getting it for him. 🙂 For the rest, dh and I looked at the catalogs and Black Friday sales and just decided.......no.  Just no.  We didn't want any of that stuff in our house.  I think we did stumble on two gifts for oldest ds that were on sale on Saturday: luggage and a sweater.  Which sound like odd gifts, but he's going to find good use of both this year.  He's also getting flannel sheets, lol, because every adult needs a set if they live in cold weather!

We're getting very close to a "two gifts during a family trip" stage, which I am all for.  Dh and I are strongly considering taking youngest ds on Christmas trips like a ski resort in NH and making that, plus a Santa gift and a book, the entire holiday.  His friends' families are moving in the same direction.  The day after Christmas this year one of his friends is headed up to a cabin by a lake so they can have a week of uninterrupted family time: no phones, no tv, just skating and snow and together time.

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Coming in to share our progress as well:

Last week, we did the big kid-rooms-declutter.  We do this just before summer and again just before Advent.  My oldest decluttered his stuff ENTIRELY on his own this year, including making hard decisions on his own.  My youngest also did a great job of saying "donate" to pretty much everything I was hoping to clear out.  From the boys' room also came 2 grocery bags of paper recycling.  They spent about 2.5 hours on their room.  The girls' room took them about 6 hours total.  My younger dd needed quite a bit of help with hard decisions, as her default was to keep everything.  But when asking if she honestly felt she would need it again, she was able to declutter a ton.  All three big kids have a lot of art and science projects.  I told them they were welcome to keep them if they liked the display and had room, put them in the basement to think about, or scrap them if they thought chances were good they would never want them back from the basement.  They did a great job of scrapping a ton and saving a few.  The girls have a lot of assembled lego kits that take up lots of room, but the problem is, they actually play with them a ton.  😂  So we made space for the ones that were intact, and pulled the broken ones apart and added to the family lego box.  From the girls' room: 5 bags of paper recycling.  LOL.  My kids are paper-hoarders!  

Our decorations went up today, in our nicely decluttered living room!  

We have four small counter spaces in the kitchen.  One holds my knife block, olive oil, s&p, and grocery list.  Another holds the coffee stuff and water kettle.  The other two are completely bare!  Woohoo!  I've been keeping the kitchen this way ever since reading about Mystie Winkler's Countertop of Sanity.  Seeing my clean countertop makes me so happy!  And my friends know about my CoS and heckle me if there is anything on it when they come over.  

I'm a middle-road person for Christmas.  This is the first year my kids asked if it was possible for the grandparents to give money instead of a gift, and after checking with my parents, everyone was ok with it.  The big kids will invest into their hobbies, which is great.  We got each kid a largish and a smallish fun gift, but kept to our budget.  Their uncle will get them another "fun" item from their lists.  For the gifts we offer, they are all project-based, so they will keep the kids busy, hopefully for a long time.  I don't think "no gifts" is an option that will ever appeal to me.  But I can see us moving towards experience gifts and investment into hobbies as time goes by, and I like that.  We can't afford certain things like regular pottery lessons or model airplane parts, but the kids can afford them by budgeting birthday and Christmas money and earning a little money on the side.   

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I have a small stack of artwork the kids wanted to keep, and yesterday we were at Michael's and I picked up an artist portfolio case big enough to store that plus their small trifold boards with their Egypt history projects. It even holds easily the stupid 12 x 18 finger-paint paper! Was priced at $15 and I had a 25% off coupon so I grabbed it. Otherwise the plan was to get a couple big poly envelopes like you use for mailing large documents to store the stuff in. I may get those at the end of the school year and put everything in there that we keep and label with the year/child. 

Rearranged some school stuff this weekend as well, moving some things from rubbermaid type bins to magazine holders to take up less space. What I liked about the bins was that each subject was contained - one would hold the workbook or notebook, a small dry erase board, a little bin of crayons/pencil/dry erase marker/etc. The idea was the kid could grab the bin and have everything they need. But...there is no room in our school area to have two bins at a time open with their lids out, etc as the kids worked. And stuff never got put back all the way so instead of a pencil in each bin there were no pencils. Now each child has a pencil box with their stuff rather than stuff in each subject bin. The only thing annoying me is that 3 ring binders don't fit in the magazine holders. Oh well. 

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1 hour ago, Ktgrok said:

I have a small stack of artwork the kids wanted to keep, and yesterday we were at Michael's and I picked up an artist portfolio case big enough to store that plus their small trifold boards with their Egypt history projects. It even holds easily the stupid 12 x 18 finger-paint paper! Was priced at $15 and I had a 25% off coupon so I grabbed it. Otherwise the plan was to get a couple big poly envelopes like you use for mailing large documents to store the stuff in. I may get those at the end of the school year and put everything in there that we keep and label with the year/child. 

Rearranged some school stuff this weekend as well, moving some things from rubbermaid type bins to magazine holders to take up less space. What I liked about the bins was that each subject was contained - one would hold the workbook or notebook, a small dry erase board, a little bin of crayons/pencil/dry erase marker/etc. The idea was the kid could grab the bin and have everything they need. But...there is no room in our school area to have two bins at a time open with their lids out, etc as the kids worked. And stuff never got put back all the way so instead of a pencil in each bin there were no pencils. Now each child has a pencil box with their stuff rather than stuff in each subject bin. The only thing annoying me is that 3 ring binders don't fit in the magazine holders. Oh well. 

 

Ha!  I've been through both of those iterations and still evolving!  We've got a communal school pens/pencils box now, and God protect the child I see scrounging in that box outside of school work!  

Still making good progress.  Discovered my DH's stash of espresso mugs, spread over three cupboards, obviously.  There are 13 of them.  He is the only person who drinks espresso and hasn't had one in at least two years as he now prefers a larger coffee.  Sigh.  I'll make him choose his favorites when he gets home.  😂   He's worse than the kids!

 

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14 hours ago, MissLemon said:

I'd love to give and receive experience/consumable gifts but none of our relatives considers those to be "real" gifts. They want to give kiddo A Thing In A Box That Can Be Wrapped And Then Unwrapped. They won't just give one gift, either.  My in-laws gift buying strategy is to get the biggest number of wrappable gifts for their budget.  They don't think "What kiddo would like?"  They think "How many things can I get for $50? I can get 10 $5 things and then kiddo will think I'm awesome for giving him so many things!"  They sometimes buy multiples of the same thing and are offended and confused when I say "Thanks. We'll share the extras with friends".  I mean, what in the world is kiddo to do with 6 identical blue 6 inch rulers? A dozen party-favor boxes of crayons? A dozen yo-yos? These were real "Valentine's Day Gifts" they gave kiddo one year. 

I resent junk like that coming into my home because I have to put in work to get it back *out* of my home. I really wish they'd get him one nice thing instead of 6-10 junky little things. Or give him a book!  The kid asks for books every year, and every year both sides of the family look stricken.  "That's not a real gift".  YES IT IS!!!

We have the same in-laws. Well, mine are not as much dollar store givers as random tourist trinkets from their travels junk. (Probably made in China anyway!). Now that the kids have ideas about what’s a well chosen gift and dropped a few unguarded comments, My in-laws now give them $20 cash for their birthday. They’ve GOT to know how little that buys, right? I wish they’d ask me. They never do. 

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2 minutes ago, SamanthaCarter said:

We have the same in-laws. Well, mine are not as much dollar store givers as random tourist trinkets from their travels junk. (Probably made in China anyway!). Now that the kids have ideas about what’s a well chosen gift and dropped a few unguarded comments, My in-laws now give them $20 cash for their birthday. They’ve GOT to know how little that buys, right? I wish they’d ask me. They never do. 

 

They may not know. My dad and my in-laws are very out of touch with what things cost or what kids like. 

Last year, the in-laws gave kiddo a board book..  Kiddo was *ten*.  We are far, far past board books and they know this.  I was so stunned when he opened it in front of everyone.  Kiddo said very loudly that he felt upset about the board book, and MIL and aunt-in-law squirmed with embarrassment.  I didn't even try to reign in kiddo's attitude about it; I just let the adults sit there are feel embarrassed and told kiddo we would go by the book store to get him a "real" book.  It was a weird, thoughtless "gift". Not even a "oops, we mixed up the tags! That was for your baby cousin!" explanation.  They meant it for him.  I have no idea what to make of that.   

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7 hours ago, Monica_in_Switzerland said:

 

Ha!  I've been through both of those iterations and still evolving!  We've got a communal school pens/pencils box now, and God protect the child I see scrounging in that box outside of school work!  

Still making good progress.  Discovered my DH's stash of espresso mugs, spread over three cupboards, obviously.  There are 13 of them.  He is the only person who drinks espresso and hasn't had one in at least two years as he now prefers a larger coffee.  Sigh.  I'll make him choose his favorites when he gets home.  😂   He's worse than the kids!

 

Lol, i donated my set of 5 espresso cups this past week, lol. I never use them either. I drink Americanos, not straight espresso shots. 

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