31 Days to Live With Less Printable

Here’s a printable 31 Day to Live With Less challenge checklist.  Enjoy!

You can open it here (or click the image below).  The image is only a partial list, when you open it print it’s the full list.

31 Days to Live With Less

Setting Priorities

Setting priorities

I’ve often heard that you can’t chase two rabbits at the same time.  I believe that statement because I’ve found it to hold true in my life time and time again.  Whatever I chase has my full attention.  Out of necessity other things have to fall to the back burner.

There are countless books written on the topic of goal setting, intentional living, boundaries, and priorities.  Why are these so popular?  I think the answer is a simple one.  We find ourselves putting aside the important things in life for the urgent.  It’s easy to do.  Everyone does it.  How to we stop doing it?  If I knew I’d be a best selling author.  I just want to encourage you to take a minute and evaluate your life…and dream about how you’d like it to be.

Stop to savor the good things like:

  • – How your dog runs up to greet you when you come home.
  • – How nice it is to hug your children/grandchildren.
  • – How it feels to rest after a long day.
  • – How you…

I can’t fill in the blanks for your life but I hope you can think of enjoyable moments in your life right now.

Now think about the things you would like to see different:

  • – Do you want to be closer to your parents?
  • – Have a better relationship with your kids?
  • – Carve out time to have meaningful conversations over coffee?
  • – Reach this work goal, fitness goal, reading goal, or…

I think once we have our big picture goals/priorities we can hone in on how to put them into action.  It’s like painting a mural.  You don’t start with a little paint brush painting the details of a flower.  No, you’d start with a big brush painting the sky and the ground.  Only after you have the foundation can you come in and add the details.  If you add the details first…the urgent things, then you won’t have time or energy to squeeze in the important things, the things you’ll remember 30 years from now.

Set down as a family and decide what’s important for your family.  Giving to others?  Worshiping God?  Physical fitness?  Music lessons?  Environmental issues?  Clean eating?

Look over your list and prioritize them.

If your son doesn’t love soccer as much as you think he should maybe think about not signing him up for the team this year.

If you want to prioritize giving to others write down ways you as a family can give to others.  The holidays are full of opportunities to practice this.

If you want to be more physically active as a family plan out a month’s worth of activities you could do together that would be fun and wouldn’t feel like exercise.

Our family is reevaluating a lot right now.  Our family has too many irons in the fire so to speak.  We’re chasing quite a few rabbits and making little progress on each one.

A few of our priorities include:

  • – Worshiping God at church/family devotions
  • – Volunteering locally
  • – Downsizing our belongings to live simpler
  • – Giving to others
  • – Intentionally building the relationships we have
  • – Building relationships with each other – family nights out, date nights
  • – Reading books as a family and individually

The list goes on and on but these few priorities help build the frame work of what we want life to look like.  We’re pulling back on volunteering a bit while we focus more on downsizing our belongings…which is going on simultaneously with our move to a new house.  Speaking of downsizing, if you would like to live with less you should join me in my 31 Days to Live With Less Challenge – there’s $200 up for grabs!  But only do that if living minimally is a priority to you.

When you find your priorities and live by them, you’ll be happier!

5 Ways To Bring The Great Outdoors Inside

Ways to Bring the Outdoors Inside

Spending time outdoors is incredibly good for the body; this should come as no surprise. It’s relaxing, and getting a little bit of sun and fresh air can brighten one’s mood.

But sometimes, spending a lot of time outside just can’t happen. Perhaps your job requires you sitting inside on your computer for several hours on end, or maybe it’s simply too hot to be outside without sweating up a storm.

Fortunately, there are simple and inexpensive ways to bring the great outdoors inside, and reap some of the same relaxing benefits.

Find plants for inside your home

Some people (namely those who don’t have much of a green thumb) are put off by the idea of trying to keep a plant alive inside their home. A refreshingly beautiful plant can truly breathe life into a home, but a dying plant can make an incredible mess that just isn’t worth the hassle in the long run. Fortunately, there are plenty of houseplants that don’t require radical knowledge of greenery to maintain, like grape ivy and the snake plant.

So pick a few locations in your home that would look best with added shrubbery­ perhaps a windowless bathroom or a barren corner in a living room. Besides the fact that plants can make your house look and feel cozier, they can also help purify your air, and who wouldn’t want that?

Open those windows

Opening windows is the easiest way to bring the great outdoors inside, but with summertime heat still going strong, cutting off the air conditioning may not sound all that pleasing. Consider installing an attic fan if you’re concerned with cooling off your home, but would like to cut down on your electricity bill. When installed correctly, an attic fan can pull in an immense amount of air, allowing you to keep your windows open without sweating to death.

Also, if you’re going to open up your windows, make sure you have efficient window screens, or you’ll find yourself with a bug problem and a little more nature inside your home than you originally bargained for.

DIY your space the au naturel way

Why go buy a wooden mirror when you can make one yourself? Find an inexpensive mirror from a thrift store or antique store, and gather some materials from around your house, like sticks, leaves, and pinecones. Glue your findings around the mirror, and you’ve got yourself a cute and cost­efficient way to bring the great outdoors into your home. If you live in a place where driftwood is aplenty, utilize it. Hang a piece of driftwood from the ceiling, and then hang light fixtures from the driftwood. It’ll be a unique piece for you to enjoy without having to spend too much money.

Bring sounds of the outdoors into your home

Are those nature sounds CDs a little cheesy? Maybe. But don’t knock it until you try it. Incorporating sounds of singing birds or chirping grasshoppers can be surprisingly soothing for days that you want to sit inside reading a good book or for when you and your friends are sitting around the living room sipping wine.

If you have a Roku player, you can pull up Pandora, select a nature sounds playlist, and stream it directly through your television. But if you want to be more discreet about it, you can play a nature sounds CD on a CD player hidden behind some furniture.

Install natural flooring

Bring nature indoors by getting rid of your drab, stain-soaking carpet, and opting for natural flooring like bamboo. Bamboo flooring can liven up a space, and there are plenty of options to choose from. But the best part? There’s no need to feel bad about installing bamboo flooring, because bamboo can produce new shoots without the need for replanting. This way, you’re not destroying nature for the sake of making your home look nice. Bamboo can also be used in a number of other ways, from bamboo shades that still let in some natural light or tall bamboo sticks in a large porcelain vase in the corner of a common room.

Once you have your home feeling nice and cozy, sit back and enjoy it. Maybe even light a nature ­scented candle or two.

Front Porch Inspiration

Front Porch Inspiration

1. Beautiful fall decor (Roubinek.net)
2. Welcoming front porch with plant (FractionatedLiving.com)
3. Front porch with Halloween decorations (Roubinek.net)
4. Beautiful set of stacked pumpkins (Roubinek.net)

Today’s post is a quick encouragement to make the front of your house welcoming to those who come in.  Take a broom, a rag, some cleaning spray, and your front porch will look ship shape in no time.  Add a few plants or holiday decor and you’re good to go.  Don’t over think it but make sure you, well, think about it. 🙂

4 Ways to Create an Inviting Entryway

Ways to Create an Inviting Entryway

For the next few days I want to discuss the first thing people notice when they come to your home – your porch and entryway.

Today, let’s briefly discuss your entryway. What does it look like?  Is it warm and welcoming or is there a pile of shoes you must first hurdle to come inside?  Is it a cluttered mess or neat and tidy?

Mine, unfortunately, is more toward the cluttered side and it drives me crazy.  It’s the place where there is always a tree coat about to topple over with coats (even in the summer), a few pairs of shoes, at least one box that came in the mail, and probably a few misplaced toys that somehow made their home on the unopened packages.  I’m tired of it and I’m ready to change that!

An entryway is one of the first things people look at when they come to a home.  It sets the tone for their visit and whether we like it or not, people do judge a book by it’s cover.  Let’s make that cover an inviting and hospitable one!

I’ve cut down on the coats, cleared the shoes, opened the package and whisked the box off to our recycling bin, and returned the toys to their rightful homes.  That was a quick 5-10 minute job.  In the near future, I want to paint our front door….and if I can convince my husband to help out one Saturday, I’d love to paint our entryway.  We’ve held off on painting it because it leads to our stairwell which is insanely high and we could never paint it by ourselves.  But that’s another story.  Besides a fresh coat of paint, I need to find a permanent shoe storage solution.  I want to keep the majority of our shoes upstairs in our closets and the ones we wear regularly I would like to stay downstairs.  I’ll be on the look out for a cute table with doors at the bottom where we could store shoes out of sight.

I’ve been toying with the idea of taking our shoes off when we come in the house?  Do you do that?  I’ve never done it before but as much as I dislike dirty floors I think I might give it a try.  Plus, this way it will be easy to keep track of my toddler’s shoes and the floor will be a little bit cleaner for my little boy who is army crawling his way around.

4 Ways to Create an Inviting Entryway:

  • Clear – Clear the clutter.  Toss, donate, or find a home for everything in your entryway.
  • Clean – Clean your entryway floors, walls, & windows.  If it’s something you’ll see when you first walk in your home, wipe it down.
  • Collect – Create a place to collect your items that need to be stored in the entryway.  Find a basket for shoes, a hook for keys, a rack for coats, etc.
  • Color – Color your space.  Add a coat of paint or maybe a few picture frames to make your front entryway welcoming.

My challenge to you today is, take a look at your entryway and see if it’s inviting.  Does it say, “Welcome, we’re glad you’re here?”  If not, what are some simple changes you can make?  If you’re unsure, decluttering and cleaning is a great place to start.

Family Purpose Statement


Family Purpose Statement

This is going to sound negative but it’s not meant to.  You can’t do it all.  You can’t and I can’t either.  We can’t be everything to all people, all the time.  We each have a finite amount of time, energy, resources, and ability.  While it seems like a great goal to try and do everything, it’s not practical.  You can’t do everything and do it well.  No one who has ever lived has been able to do everything so it’s okay to let yourself off the hook.  You don’t have to be the first.

Take a few minutes each day this week and try to determine what’s important (notice I didn’t say urgent) in your life.  I know that I stay busy every day and far too often I’m left at the end of the day and I look back and can’t see that I’ve done much.  We spend so much energy on the urgent little things like phone calls and emails that we push those things that are really important to us to the back burner without even realizing it.

I want to challenge you to create a purpose statement for you and your family.  This should be a simple statement or two about the purpose of your family.  What do you want your family to be purposeful in doing?

Here are a few questions to help spur your thinking:

If we had a free day together how would we enjoy spending it together?

What is the purpose of our home?

What are the priorities that we value as a family?

How is our family unique?

In ten years I want our family to be…

There is no right or wrong way to write your statement.  Just keep it simple, fairly general, and timeless.  Let your purpose statement reflect who you are as a family.  A family’s purpose statement can help you when you’re second guessing your decisions.

If you’d like to share your family’s purpose statement with me I’d love to hear it!  I would share mine but I don’t want to sway anyone’s creativity in one direction.

Desire to Create a Haven

Create a Haven

This series, Creating a Haven, kind of has me discouraged before I even start.  Do you want to know why?  It’s because my home doesn’t always feel like a haven.  Sometimes it feels like a messy pig sty.  To be totally transparent, it feels like that now.  My living room has toys that are out of place, my kitchen has dirty dishes in the sink, and I’m pretty sure I have clothes sitting in the wash that I forgot to transfer to the dryer yesterday.

My house isn’t perfect.  Far from it actually.

So you’re probably wondering why am I writing about this topic, for 31 days no less.

The answer is easy.

Because I want to create a haven.  I want it to be a place where my husband can come home and feel at rest.  I want it to be a retreat from the world.  I want it to feel cozy and not chaotic.

One of my deepest desires is for my home to become a haven.  A calm among the storm if you will.  This is why I write and I hope you’ll join me in this journey this month as I try to create a haven.

Just keep in mind this is the journaling of someone attempting the task along side you and not from one who has been there and done that.  We can learn as we go, right?

Creating a Haven

Starting today and lasting through the month of October, I’ll be participating in The Nester’s 31 Days series.  Each day I’ll share a little bit about Creating a Haven.  I hope you’ll join me in this journey!

Create a Haven

P.S.  I only have 20-30 minutes to write a day so there will be no editing or even reading over it before I publish.  This is my raw writing.  Please don’t judge too harshly. : )

Day 1 – Desire to Create a Haven

Day 2 – 3 Reasons I Want to Create a Haven

Day 3 –

Day 4 –

Day 5 –

Day 6 – Family Purpose Statement

Day 7 –

Day 8 – 4 Ways to Create an Inviting Entryway

Day 9 –

Day 10 – Front Porch Inspiration