2.20.2018

40 Bags in 40 Days {2018}

Valentine's Day was the 1st day of Lent, which meant for me, it was the first day of doing a 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge.
  The idea of 40 Bags in 40 Days is that during Lent (40 days) rid your house of 40 bags of "stuff".
This "stuff" can be things you don't use... junk, clothes you don't need/wear, clutter, old toys, garbage, etc.

To me, Lent is a time of prayer, self-reflection, sacrifice, self-control and renewal.
To me, a good home de-cluttering can go hand in hand with the Lenten season, just like our houses/blogs may look put together on the outside, on the inside we are a mess and need an intervention & de-cluttering ourselves.

In 2012 when I did 40 Bags in 40 Days for Lent, I gave AWAY 24 bags of stuff to Goodwill.
I threw AWAY 28 bags of stuff.
That is 52 bags of stuff we didn't use, need or wasted.

  In 2013 when I did 40 Bags in 40 days, 
I gave away 18 Bags of stuff to Goodwill.
I threw AWAY 26 bags of stuff.
That is 44 bags of stuff we didn't use, need or wasted.
 In 2014, I "kind of" did 40 Bags in 40 Days.
I didn't finish my list (oops) but I did give away 12 bags to Goodwill and threw away 14 bags of stuff that we didn't use, need or wasted.
In 2017, I also "kind of" did 40 Bags in 40 days. I didn't finish my list, but I was able to donate over 20 bags to the Goodwill and I threw away 17 bags of stuff that we didn't use, need or that was expired.


4 years doing this project we have gotten rid over 150 bags of STUFF (aka "CRAP")
 
EWWWW.

I learned a lot the years I did this project.
I always keep my house pretty clutter free, but doing this project makes me realize we still have a lot of stuff we just don't need.
 I realized how much CRAP we have.
I realized how MUCH we have.
It has made me think about what I buy & what I bring into our house.
I ask myself, "Do we need this?" or
"Is there room for this?"
It has drastically changed my thinking, and for that I am thankful.
But, I am still a work in progress.

And, YES....I am doing this project again this year because there is a lot more stuff I know I can clean out, donate & get rid of.

Here is my 2018 List of areas to clean out:




This printable was created for me a couple years ago by a blog reader, Jenny.
You can download it HERE.
This is my 4th time doing 40 Bags in 40 Days, so I have learned some tips & tricks along the way. 
I thought I would share them again in this post because this project can be overwhelming.

1. Use Black Trash Bags
When you use white or see through trash bags, your children will be able to see what you are throwing away. When my girls have seen some of their things in the white trash bags that are sitting in the garage waiting to be thrown out, they start rummaging through the bags. They cry and want to keep their things because they have "changed" their mind about giving it away. (Or, they have seen things of theirs that I have snuck in the giveaway bag) 

So, take my advice...Use black trash bags.

2. Use 2 bags per section.
This is a super simple tip. 
For every section that I clean out, I have 2 bags. 
One is for trash, one is for giveaway. 

3.  Take EVERYTHING OUT & only put back what you want to keep.
When you are cleaning out an area, take EVERYTHING out.
For example, when I clean out my pantry of shame, I take EVERY SINGLE thing out of the pantry and put it in my hallway. It is a DISASTER. (I do big areas like this at night when my kids are in bed)
Sometimes, things will get worse before they get better!
This was my pantry last year. Here is the "Before"
I literally took out EVERY SINGLE thing and put it in my hallway.
I had a huge bag for trash/expired items.
I had another bag of food to donate.
When I took everything out, that meant I had a clean slate when I put things back on the shelves.
Here was the After:
The reason I tell you to take everything out is so that you start with a clean slate.
When you take everything out of the area, you can be very conscious about what you put back in that area. You can organize and re-arrange things when you have a blank slate.
So, even though it might make a HUGE massive mess by taking everything out, it will be so much more organized.
I also do this when I clean out my closet.
I literally take out EVERY SINGLE item of clothing and dump it on my bed.
Only put back things you actually wear,  need & use.
 
 4. Once you have taken everything out, Wipe Down & Clean the area.  
This goes along with tip #3. As you clear out each area, then wipe it down with a clorox/lysol wipe, windex, paper towel, etc.
 If you are clearing out stuff & organizing it, you don't want to put it back on a dirty shelf. Take the few minutes and wipe down your areas!
Nothing better than starting with a clean slate!

5. Closet hangers
I think I saw this tip on Oprah 10 years ago.
When you clean out your closet and put clothes back, hang them up with the hooks facing you.
Once you wear the item, you can hang it up the correct way.
Every 3-4 months, you can look at your closet and see if there are more things you should get rid of because you never wear them. After a year, everything that is still facing the wrong way needs to be donated! If you haven't worn a clothing item in a year, it's not worth keeping! Get rid of it!
I do this with the girls clothes also and if they haven't worn something in 6 months, it gets donated!

6.   Get the bags out of your house
As soon as you clean out an area, immediately get the bags out of your house! 
Put the trash bags straight into the trash.
Take the donate bags and put them in your car so you can donate them.
Just get them out of your house!!!
(If they are out of your house, the less chance your kids will go through the bags and if you get them out of your house, the less chance YOU will change your mind about getting rid of something)

7.    Have a "Holding Area"
Our kids have lots of toys. Between Grandparents, Christmas & Birthdays, our kids have tons of "things" Kevin and I clean out their toys (without them knowing) Sometimes, when we clean out some of their toys, we put it in a black trash bag, but then put it in our shed for 1-2 months before giving it away.
This way, if they ask where that toy is, then we can give it back to them.
95% of the time, they never even notice the toy is gone.
Out of sight, out of mind.
If they don't ask for it within 2 months...BUH-BYE.

8. Donate your Items!
Many people have asked me where I donate all my bags to.
I donate to a variety of places.
About once a month, we get a flyer in the mail from some sort of charity letting us know they will be having a truck in our area and that they will collecting donations, just put your items on the curb & attach the postcard to your donations. 
This makes it SO easy to donate! 
For those bags, we just keep them in a corner of our garage and then set them on the curb in the morning. 
This is how we learned about tip #1....put the donations black bags.
Several times, we would have the girls things on the curb and in the morning as they were leaving for school, they would see their stuff on the curb and totally freak out. Not a fun way to start the day! 

I have also gotten bags like this in our mailbox:

I also donate to the Thrift Store in our town. We also have a Goodwill about 10 minutes away, so I will donate items to them as well. 

You could list your items on Free Cycle or sell them on Craigs List, but I don't have time for that! I don't want money for my things, I just want them out of my house and I will happily donate them. If you donate to places like Goodwill, the Cancer Society, they will often leave you a donation slip that you can use for tax write offs. I save all of my donation receipts so that I know the dates I donated and what items I donated.

And, now Amazon and Stitch Fix will let you re-use the boxes they sent you items in and you can mail donated/giveaway clothes to them for FREE and Amazon or Stitch Fix will donate them to Goodwill.
Read more about it HERE.
How awesome is that?

9. Have your kids help you with 40 Bags in 40 Days.
This is a tricky one. 
I am still trying to navigate this.
Most areas I clean out without my kids (when they are in bed) because they would just be in the way if I had them help me clean out the kitchen cabinets, etc.
And, most times I clean out their toys/clothes/books without them because I know they have a hard time getting rid of stuff.
One of our kids is a hoarder, so it can be total drama when we clean out their things so sometimes it is just easier to clean out their stuff when they around because I don't want to deal with the meltdown/drama/tears.
BUT, I have realized that I need to teach them at a young age that it is good to give away things they don't need because there are a lot of people & kids who aren't as fortunate as them and it is good to give away things.
I want my kids to be generous and give things away that they don't need, so sometimes I have them help. They feel more at peace & relaxed in their rooms when it is organized and put away


10.  Clean out 1 area at a time & take it 1 day at a time.
If you don't finish by Easter.....that's okay! Give yourself grace.
Lent is actually 47 days long (for some reason they don't count the Sundays in the 40 days)
So, you really have 47 days to clean out 40 bags.
Just try and do 1 section a day. 
Some sections (like my kitchen junk drawer) only take me 10 minutes to clean out.
Some sections (like our closets) will take 1-2 hours.
Don't try and do 5 sections in a day. You will burn yourself out.
2012 was the first year I did 40 Bags in 40 Days and it took the longest because there was just so much stuff. 
I didn't finish it until August...a few days before Luke was born! 
It took me 5 months, not 40 days! (Not to make excuses, but I was pregnant with Luke and barfing everyday) But, I gave myself grace! It's okay I didn't finish by Easter, the point is I finished!

In 2013,  I finished in June. But, hey! I finished. That is what counts.

In 2014, I never finished my list 40 bags in 40 days.  FAIL. No excuses. Just a fail. I got about half of them done.

In 2017, I never finished my list either, but I did get most of them done & a lot of things donated.


This year for 2018, my goal is to finish by Easter (since my areas are not nearly as cluttered and the girls are in school until 3 so I have time each day before they get home)
But, if it takes me longer than Easter...that is okay!
Just get started....and take it one day at a time :)
Stick with it...who cares if it takes you 4 months instead of 40 days?
The point is to rid your home of clutter.


So, there you have it...my 10 tips for doing 40 Bags in 40 Days.
I am sure I am missing other tips, so if you have any other tips, please leave them in the comments below!

If you don't have a lot of "stuff" then you can do a scaled down challenge. You get 1 black trash bag & get rid of 1 thing per day for 40 days and then donate it. I saw this idea on Pinterest.
 This is something your kids could do in their rooms during Lent.


Like in years past, I will update so you can see my progress (and my filth) Ha!

I've got my list ready, I've my bags ready.

Take a Deep Breath.
You can do this.
LESS is MORE.
Let's get rid of STUFF.
 Are you in?

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2.15.2018

Instant Pot Chicken Fajita Soup

 It's no secret that I am in love with my  Instant Pot.
I got it a year and a half ago & it was love at first sight.
I haven't used my Crock Pot since I got my  Instant Pot.
I used to use my Crock Pot once a week. I use my Instant Pot 2-3 times a week.
I AM OBSESSED.
A couple of weeks ago, I was cleaning out the fridge & I had some bell peppers I needed to use. I was actually going to make my Chicken Fajita recipe in my Instant Pot, but I didn't have tortillas or have time to go to the store, so I looked around my pantry decided that I would make a Chicken Fajita Soup instead. I totally winged it &  it turned out great, so I knew I had to blog it for you. Plus, it's very healthy!!!
Here is what you need:
- 1 bag of frozen chicken breast tenderloins (or frozen chicken breasts)
- 1 box of Chicken Broth
- 2 cans of Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
- TWO packets of Fajita Seasoning
- Bell Peppers (I used 1 red, 1 yellow, 1 orange & 1 green)
- 1 onion, diced (I use the pre-diced ones because I'm lazy & dicing onions makes my eyes water too much)

Directions:
Dump entire package of frozen chicken breast tenderloins & carton of Chicken Broth into Instant Pot:
Dice up your bell peppers:
Place Bell Peppers, Diced Onions, Diced Tomatoes (don't drain) and Fajita seasoning mixes into Instant Pot:
Then put the lid on your Instant Pot turn the knob to SEALING:
Cook for 15 minutes on High Pressure:
When it is done cooking, let it naturally release pressure for 10-15 minutes. Then you can manually let it out & it will look like this:
Use a fork to shred the chicken....the chicken will be falling apart. So tender.
Give everything a big stir & now you can serve it! 
 We like to garnish it with sliced avocado, shredded cheese & sour cream.
It also tastes so good with some tortilla chips. We love scoops.
This soup is so refreshing because of the bell peppers. It's a light soup, but it's filing.
Delicious, full of flavor & healthy!
YUM!

If you don't have an Instant Pot yet (Seriously...what are you waiting for...go buy one!!)
You can make this mixture in your Crock Pot....follow the directions, but cook on low for 5-6 hours or on high for 3-4 hours.
We devoured this soup & hope you love it as much as we do!

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2.12.2018

10 on 10 :: February 2018

10 pictures on the 10th day of the month!
{Document a snapshot of your life & find beauty among the ordinary things in your day!}
The 10th was Saturday, so here is a sneak peek of our day.
Originally, we had plans to go to Tahoe this weekend, but because it was in the 60's in Tahoe all last week & most of the snow that was there melted, we decided to stay home & enjoy a weekend at home. Good thing we stayed home, our weekend ended up being packed! 
We woke up Saturday morning earlier than usual because Kate's Girl Scout troop was having a Girl Scout cookie booth at 8am. (I usually like sleeping in past 8 am on Saturdays)
 Kevin dropped her off and I stayed in bed drinking coffee & watching the Olympics. This is one of my favorite mugs...a student got it for me. You can get them {HERE}
I also read a little bit of my book....gotta love Mary Higgins Clark.

Made my light & fluffy pancakes for breakfast & made them into heart shapes.

Added some sprinkles because sprinkles make everything better :)

 Our Valentine decorations are simple...a heart garland on the fireplace (I also have one in our kitchen) and a LOVE sign.
It was such a beautiful day...75 degrees, so it was lunch outside. Still drinking my coffee :) I had 2 fried eggs, some toast & some kale.
  I used Everything but the Bagel seasoning from Trader Joe's on my eggs. SO good!

 The kids played outside for a bit & Kevin was on a mountain bike ride...the weather has been so warm that the trees think it is Spring.

 Check out the blooms...so pretty, but so much pollen!

After Kevin got home from mountain biking, I headed on a 4 mile run. I started running again last week. I hadn't gone running in over 5 months!!!
 It feels good to be running again, even though I am way out of shape. UGH.

 I had a destination for my run...I ran to where my sister had a booth set up for World Vision's 6k.
In March, we doing a 6k for Water. The average distance a child in Africa walks for water each day is 3.7 miles...a 6k. Every year for the past few years we have done this 6k as a family. 

Luke is playing T-Ball this Spring, so we bought him his first official glove.
He is so excited to play.


Afternoon snack....Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Avocado smoothie.
Recipe {HERE}


Our church has a Saturday Night Church service. We love it.

 It's more casual & it means we can have slow Sunday mornings as a family.

This past weekend at church, Gary Haugen the founder of IJM was the speaker.
IJM stands for International Justice Mission...you can read about this awesome organization {HERE}


After church, we had dinner & watched more Olympics!
For dinner I made Insant Pot Korean Beef. Recipe {HERE}
Since the Olympics are in Korea, I thought I would make a Korean meal for the first weekend of the Olympics.
The next 2 weeks, I will make meals that incorporate other countries who have a lot of Winter Olympians. I will have some Italian dishes, Chinese meals, Danish & German dishes. 
You know I love a theme ;)

So, there you have it...my 10 on 10 for February.
Hope you had a great weekend!

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