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April Mixed Bag: Month of Motivation

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April always feels like we’ve crested the summit of a long, gray winter/spring and are now rolling downhill toward summer. Even though my kids are done with school, my husband is in education and thus we are still slaves to the school year calendar. That means we head out of town for a week in April every year. Once we return it’s as if summer is just around the corner, which usually brings a burst of April motivation to any number of projects. In this month’s Mixed Bag I’m covering my Easter Wins & Losses, the importance of your photos, and an important system to adopt in your home. Welcome to April and please enjoy!

Easter Wins and Losses

When we are home for Easter I always host a brunch. Any time I host a holiday I take down a short diary afterwards, noting what went well and what was a fail. It’s a way to make small improvements the next time I host – here are my learnings from this year’s feast.

Wins – I usually do a strata or egg casserole but this year I opted for this lovely breakfast cup recipe from Half Baked Harvest. It was easy and delicious and got great reviews from my guests. I was excited for the recipe because I got to use my new ceramic muffin tins from Caraway. You know I am a sucker for things that are beautiful AND functional ❤️ These tins replaced the nasty cheap ones I had forever and I LOVE them! My other win was my tablescape, a celebration of pink!

Now for the losses, ugh I had three! The first was my attempt at Hot Cross Buns – if Paul Hollywood was judging he would have roasted them for being ‘under-proved’ and ‘over-baked.’ They stubbornly refused to rise despite THREE proving opportunities.

Loss number two was my KitchenAid mixer (RIP), which conked out while kneading the bun dough and could not be revived. That will be an expensive replacement but a necessary one, my mixer is one of my most often-used small appliances.

Bringing up the rear was the loss of one of my wedding china dinner plates, which broke when I knocked a crystal goblet onto it. I was not initially worried. Since I discovered Replacements.com I rest confidently in the knowledge that I can replace anything that breaks. Alas, dinner plates in my (discontinued) Villeroy & Boch pattern are not currently in stock. But I’ve put my dinner plate on my Wish List and I’m hopeful one will come available at some point! My learnings include the need to pre-practice something complicated that I haven’t done before (the buns), KitchenAid mixers are fantastic but don’t actually last forever and Replacements.com is a great resource but no guarantees they will have what you need when you need it.

Put the Focus on Photos

focus time and effort to organize your family photos

I work with so many people who have saved so many items that have sentimental value to them. They are worried that in letting go of these items they are losing the memories associated with them. Thus, they have boxes and bins filled with clothing, artwork, toys, schoolwork plus even furniture items taking up a large percentage of storage space in their homes. As we begin to go through all of their boxes and bins I can’t help thinking to myself that their effort and money would be much better spent organizing their photos. Photos capture not just the people but the clothes, the furniture and the toys in action. They are so much easier to access than boxes in an attic and they take up way less space.

Most people’s photos are scattered around in various locations: hard drives, cloud storage, memory cards, computers, CDs, the list goes on. If you can corral all of those photos and organize them in one spot you have a library you can access easily and a way to interact with your memories any time you are feeling nostalgic.  It’s so much better than digging through boxes and bins, even when they are labeled and organized. So think about organizing your photos instead of keeping an attic, basement or storage unit full of nostalgia – it’s a much better use of your resources! If you are feeling April motivation to organize your photos check out my Photo Organizing Services – I’m happy to help!

Smart System: Reusable Bags

Bringing paper bags home from the store breeds clutter

Do you use reusable bags for your grocery shopping? Or do you have a house full of reusable bags AND paper bags that come home with you from the store each week? Setting up a system for reusable bags really helps to cut down on clutter in your home by removing friction from the process of using them, thus ensuring you keep the appropriate amount, you actually use the ones you keep and you avoid the weekly influx of paper bags into your home.

So how do you set up a system? It’s pretty simple, just two criteria: a designated home for reusable bags that is convenient to your kitchen OR your car.  That’s it.

First, gather all of the reusable bags from the far corners of your home. Keep the best 5 or 6 and toss the rest. Now, make room somewhere either in your kitchen (like a low drawer or a large basket in the pantry) or in your car to serve as the designated home for the bags. Pick a place that lies in the path of your shopping routine. It should be a place that is convenient for grabbing the bags on your way out and putting them back when you’re finished unloading. You may have to make room for the bags by displacing something else – that’s okay. 

Now put the system into action by using the bag stash a few times in the row – get it into your mental muscle memory where it’s more likely to become a habit. Now you have successfully rid yourself of the clutter of unused reusable bags AND are preventing more paper bag clutter from entering your home.

Use the motivating power of April to reflect on Wins and Learnings, prioritize your photo memories and implement a clutter-busting system in your home.

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