A Simplified Life. Chapter 6.

This is one of those chapters that I read at the right time. I’ve put down A Simplified Life for the last couple of weeks while we are wedding planning and moving and when I picked it back up this week the next chapter in line for me was:, which is focused on loving, serving those we love, and finding simplicity in relationships. Titled Simplified Hospitality, I definitely got the most out of the concept of serving your immediate family in ways they love. (I should point out, as I did on instagram this week, that Emily Ley makes it very clear the difference between “serving” and being “subservient,” thank you very much.)

It was a touching chapter for me, especially for the way she encourages readers to find ways to love your children how they specifically need to be loved. I’ve been working through some of this with Henry lately but couldn’t quite put it together just what that meant and this chapter said it all for me perfectly.


Henry is a home-body who loves one-on-one interaction and strives for praise whether it’s at home or school. He is sweet and sensitive and I’m learning to focus more on the simple ways we show love through action.

For us, this looks like cooking dinner together. That’s a hard one for me because I’m not a great cook and don’t really particularly love to cook. But Henry does. He loves to be in the kitchen and wants to help with every.little.detail. I would rather throw it all together while he’s watching tv, (or order take-out and watch tv with him for that matter) but I know at the end of the day he will remember us cooking together and the love he feels in the kitchen more than anything else. So one of my more recent goals has been to cook more together.

This also looks like showcasing and celebrating his artwork. Henry loves to draw more than he loves just about any other activity. But he particularly loves when you celebrate what he has done. That’s why one of my next tasks is to create a place to display his artwork in our new home. I’ve been searching Pinterest for ideas and trying to find the right space, and think I’ve nailed it down. I want to give his hard work the recognition it deserves and lately it’s slipped through the cracks.
Emily Ley talks in this chapter about learning your child’s “love language” just as you would your spouse or best friends. It’s a simple concept that is easy to overlook but one that is so important and meaningful right now. While I don’t know a ton about love languages I know this–one of his is definitely quality time together, which seems like an obvious but for me it’s now focused on defining what quality means most to him.

Art and Such.

I’ve put organizing on hold for a few days (okay a few weeks) while we’ve been getting back into the swing of scheduling and working full days and homework is replacing snow-cream-making.

And everyone getting sick.

Can it be spring already?

Ok, moving on…What I have started doing, though, is really thinking about what additional items will be needed to purchase to help with the actual organizing. Remember, Emily Ley says no purchasing until the process is complete and I’m starting to see why. At this point, in my office/craft/storage/whatever room, I so far have about 5 baskets/containers of various sizes and shapes that have been emptied and I need to determine what to do with them next.

Here is one item I’m coveting now to buy later:

This leads me to what has truly taken over my thoughts and focus: storing pictures and Henry’s art.
This has long been one of the most overwhelming things for me to figure out–how to store/print pictures in a way that allows me to actually keep and see what I’m saving. I back everything up in google so I don’t have to worry about losing pictures. But, I’m awful about actually printing them. I am ashamed to say I think the only printed pictures in our house are ones that have been given as gifts.

So, I am coming up with three areas of focus:

  1. Printed pictures/art to frame.
  2. Printed pictures to keep in book form.
  3. Storing artwork and grade-keepsakes.


I have tried multiple ways of printing out and storing pictures and it just hasn’t worked. I found FreePrints, which mails 89 4X6 prints to you each month for only the cost of shipping. So I have about 400 4X6’s in lovely FreePrints boxes that I haven’t even opened to sort and scrapbook. I broke down and gave in to a photo book from SnapFish. Emily Ley does a “Year Book” for her family and that seemed the be the most appropriate option for us. I uploaded about 350 pictures, put them into very simple templates online, and submitted using a 70% off coupon. It took me a little while to get it the way I wanted but I didn’t use their themes or include any writing in the book so it really could have been quite a bit more time-consuming.

I absolutely love it. Henry loves looking through it. And while I thought it would feel a little empty without descriptions, with all the colors and good-feelings, we haven’t missed them at all.
Secondly, Chris hung frames that I love in the hallway to make the place feel more home-y and they look awesome. I printed a few replacement pics and switched them out just as soon as picking them up from Target  about two weeks later.
While you may be reading and thinking this is entirely too obvious, it has taken me a long time to get to this point and realize 1) I’m not a scrapbook-er 2) If it takes longer than an hour, I probably won’t do it.
Lastly, I have decided to take Becky Higgin’s suggestion on storing children’s artwork in this article:
And, eventually, I’d like to begin photographing Henry’s artwork like this: https://beckyhiggins.com/tips-for-photographing-childrens-artwork/
I had to print both articles to take in all the information. I’m telling you–this is new territory for me and I’m taking them as the professors they are and not stepping out of their suggestions.

But, overall, this has been very nice and very simple.

The Capsule Wardrobe

I cheated a little bit and moved on to Chapter 2: Simplified Style in Emily Ley’s A Simplified Life. I’m no where near the whole-house decluttering she’s making do in Chapter 1 but I did get to my closet and felt it would be a good idea to mix a little—cleaning out the closet has to also mean cleaning out the clothes.

The idea of the capsule wardrobe is a little overwhelming because it simplifies your clothes to an extreme. Another blogger I follow, Kelle Hampton, wrote about her recent experience with this concept here: Creating a Capsule Wardrobe and I immediately related. She’s much more bold in her choices than I am, but I feel on the same page as she does in approaching the concept as a whole.

At this point I haven’t actually removed more than about three or four pieces from my wardrobe. I did, however, take everything down, put it into piles, and hang it back up in order of item. This helped a ton in itself and gave my very patient fiance a full 1/2 of the closet instead of the 1/4 he was currently working with.

What I couldn’t quite wrap my head around was the concept of 37 items–until I went to pinterest. There seem to be some discrepancies here about what that actually means. Most people, though, say it’s per season, and with four seasons, that’s about 148 pieces of clothes all together (although I’m sure some overlap).

Here’s what I’m looking at now:

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Source: https://www.therefinery.ca/refined/wardrobe-capsule.html
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Source no longer available.

What I do appreciate about Emily Ley’s chapter, is the belief in choosing a few key, well made pieces and not buying simply because something’s on sale. I would argue, though, that the two are not entirely separate of themselves. I grew up with a single mom on a social worker’s budget who knew how to make a dollar spread. She shopped for us almost exclusively at goodwill but always bought top brands that were made and tailored well. This is still one of my favorite things to do–goodwill shop and text my friends bragging relentlessly about all the clothes I am finding at a fraction of the cost. Ann Taylor dress for $6? Yes, please.

That being said I am also incredibly guilty of buying a shirt that I kind-of like from Target because it’s marked down to $8.99 or the skirt that’s 20% on cartwheel.

And when you shop like this—goodwill randomly finding awesome pieces and target for clearance, and then every once in a while buying an outfit at full price, it makes for a hodgepodge of a closet that can sometimes be awesome and sometimes be very frustrating.

Basically I have a ton of clothes and nothing to wear.

In Chapter 2, Emily asks you to define your signature style and, with a few exceptions, to stick with it. I was discussing this with my friend and it definitely seems to be one of the most challenging points. We also discussed the frustration of what do we do when we purge those clothes? Go on a shopping spree of all well-made perfectly selected wardrobe pieces? Emily Ley does not advise this (remember–no shopping yet.) 

What I’ve decided to do before throwing away all of my clothes, is to create a pinterest board with outfits I love and would wear daily. I actually have a few from the past but I think it’s going to be better/easier to start fresh.

I’ll be posting these here: My Capsule Wardrobe Pinterest Page

My goal moving forward is to take it slow, remove wardrobe pieces I know don’t fit, either me or the style I “define” and then eventually start adding pieces back in. And then go shopping!

At Goodwill. Because even with this challenge, I can’t justify spending $40 on a shirt just yet.

With that thought in mind I decided to make a goodwill run-through to break up this snow day. I spent $35 and bought the following: (I know, I know, it’s cheating. Sorry, not sorry.)

  • Gap Perfect Bootcut Jeans like these:
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    Source: Gap
  • Sweetheart (no brand) jeans
  • Banana Republic Yellow Cardigan (original retail $60)
  • Screen Shot 2018-01-20 at 8.13.18 AM
    Source: Poshmark
  • Ann Taylor Purple Cardigan
  • JM Collection Gray long Cardigan ($60 original retail from Macy’s)
  • Screen Shot 2018-01-20 at 8.16.17 AM
    Source: Macy’s
  • Talbots Green Lace Blouse–This exact shirt: (yes, that says $89.00!)

    Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 12.47.26 PM
    Source: Poshmark
  • Lands End pink and blue striped shirt
  • Gap color block white and gray sweater

That’s EIGHT items for less than one of these would cost full price at the store. However, I made certain to only buy clothes that fit me and my ideal style. (There was an adorable dress for $5.00 that wouldn’t zip and I almost bought it anyway–you know, in case I lose 10 pounds and it zips then?)

Day 18 the Simplicity Challenge was this “Ruthlessly clean out your closet.” This is still a little overwhelming because of the what will I wear?!? fears. But I may be able to tackle it sooner rather than later now that I’ve had my Goodwill-shopping-works reminder.

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Here are a few more articles on a simplified/capsule wardrobe from Emily Ley:

Simplified Style Wardrobe Essentials

Investing in your Wardrobe

Chris has *mentioned* that ideally I would be getting rid of at least 8 pieces to bring these new ones in. And I plan to tackle it…soon…


Pain Points/Command Center

Today’s challenge on Emily Ley’s instagram #simplicitychallenge2018 is to identify “pain points.” These are defined as stress triggers that occur daily–her example: kids not finding their shoes in the morning and solving this by putting a basket of kids shoes near the door.

My first instinct would be school lunches. I’ve been packing Henry’s lunch more regularly recently and while it’s generally super simple, it seems we are scrambling in the morning to get it done. I do like the idea of a lunch box drawer (where general lunch box stuff is stored for easy access) but I’m not quite done with drawers/kitchen in general so this may be a part of the process that has to wait until I have the next “pain point” figured out: the command center.
I love the idea of a command center. And when you look on pinterest there are some beautiful ones:
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Source: https://www.hobbylobby.com/Home-Decor-Frames/c/3?utm_source=Pinterest&utm_medium=Buyer_Donna_Home_Accents&utm_campaign=Family_Command_Center
And any of these from DesignerTrapped.com and her article on The Best Family Command Center: 
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Those are all perfect for people with the actual space to have it. (Note to self: Next house needs command center room.)
At the present moment, we just do not. At least we don’t have space that we would really want to use for that and space that would actually look semi-decent organized at the same time.
What we do have, though, is an *almost* empty kitchen cabinet. (Don’t worry, Chris, I won’t be de-cluttering any State mugs.)
In my head our final product will look something like this from The unOriginal mom:


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Source: https://www.unoriginalmom.com/
That will require a little more planning on my part. But will definitely be the ultimate goal at the end of this process.

Simplified Living–It’s a start.

I’ve tried for years to de-clutter and embrace a simpler way of living–less stuff, less clutter, less stress, less worry, less. And yet almost daily I find myself struggling with actually making that a consistent way of life. I hold on to papers, I buy cute trinkets at the dollar spot, I hoard.
With 2018 properly underway, I am bringing the simplicity goal to the forefront of any resolution and seeking out the experts.
I follow quite a few bloggers and one in particular, Emily Ley, has dedicated her career, and a good part of her life, to simple living. Creator of The Simplified Planner, Emily Ley’s goal is to help you create a life of simplicity through intentional living. And she just happened to write a book about it.
A Simplified Life: Tactical Tools for Intentional Living is my first read/research for 2018.
But here’s my disclaimer: while I am searching for a path for 2018 through the guidance and advice and life experiences of others, I also know that this particular lifestyle has to fit me and my home and my fiance and my six year old.

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I like to blog in the sense that it allows me to reflect on, and hopefully remember, what I’m studying. So that’s what I’m hoping to create–a blog of my journey to a more simplified life. Or maybe I just miss my lit reviews from grad school a little too much.