A Chance to Change

It’s time to stop rationalizing why we keep all of the junk in our homes. In order to say “I don’t need that anymore,” you have to get organized from the inside out.

Maybe you like stuff around you because you had chaos around you as a child. Or maybe the clutter on the outside reflects how jumbled up you feel in your heart and mind.

Give yourself the very wonderful gift of change. Even if this scares you a little bit…keep moving forward. You’ll see great results.

As you work toward making your home a refuge and a sanctuary, you’ll notice how much more calm you feel inside. It works the other way too. If you take time to pray, be silent, and become peaceful in your heart, you’ll want your surroundings to match.

Do You Really Need It?

Our old habits of buying unneeded stuff must be conquered. Advertisements, stores, and even friends and neighbors tell you that you need this and you need that! But those who want to simplify and live life in rich ways have to stand up and be counted—you really don’t need that.

De-cluttering is simply stating “I don’t need that” as you go from room to room. When this becomes your fight song, it makes it so much easier to cut back on all the excess that causes clutter.

Try it in a room today. Look at that collection of baskets you have that gathers more dust than compliments. Sort through them as you repeat your new song of simplicity. Yes, keep a couple, but be sure you keep ones that are truly useful and get rid of the umpteen ones that are not.

Go to your clothes closet. Ask yourself, “What haven’t I worn in months?” Why hang on to something that needs to be hung up in an already full closet?

Sell? Donate? Toss Out?

Uncluttering your home doesn’t mean that you throw everything in the trash. In fact there are several other good alternatives.

Here are a few:

-have a garage sale

-donate items to a worthy organization that helps the needy

-donate to your church’s needs

-give to needy friends you know

-package items up and send useful ones to a missionary supported by your church

-advertise on eBay

The items you don’t need could be the items others are hoping to have and use. The best form of recycling turns a waste of space into an opportunity,

Breaking Down the Big Ones

Don’t look at the whole mess, but break the big tasks down into smaller tasks. That way you aren’t overwhelmed with what you see. Psychologically, a small part is easier to assimilate than the whole.

For example, start with one room at a time. Then focus on one corner at a time. Look at small projects within that area. The most blatant projects are often the “procrastination piles”—the items, papers, or projects that accumulate in corners and on dressers, chairs, or any surface area for that matter!

You intend to get to these eventually so you leave them out in the open, but soon they are not visual reminders—only eye sores.

Tackle these. Decide which projects should still happen, which could be tossed, which are outdated, and which could be delegated. Small steps will transform your home in big ways.

Simple Secrets

*Make the inside of your refrigerator a feast for the eye. Use see-through through containers for fruit. A bouquet of parsley in a small glass adds a fresh touch. Even a small bowl of flowers can bless the eye of anyone looking for a snack.

*After baking an apple pie, set it on the counter to cool-and perfume fume the house. Try piling some fresh apples next to it for a delightful “before and after” look.

*Serve your butter in a white pottery crock. Whip it with an equal amount of olive oil to reduce calories and stretch the butter. It will fluff up beautifully.

*Freeze grapes and roll them in granulated sugar. Store in a glass bowl or on a pretty plate and toss in a salad or use as a garnish.

*For a creative surprise, serve breakfast for dinner. Our family loves waffles with toppings of fruit, nuts, coconut, raisins, jam, maple syrup, and yogurt.

*Store foods in ways that allow them to be decorative as well as useful. Display fruit in a basket or special bowl on the kitchen table or drain board. Stack potatoes and onions in a basket and use it to enliven an out-of-the way corner of your counter or floor.

*Break the iceberg lettuce habit when it comes to salad. Combine spinach, leaf lettuce, romaine, or red-tip lettuce together with bean sprouts, mushrooms, red onion rings, and your favorite dressing for a fresher, healthier salad. Or try adding red cabbage and a sprinkle of goat cheese or freshly grated Parmesan.

*Garlic adds great flavor to many dishes and is very healthful. Add it to soups, chicken, roasts, and Crock-Pot meals. Try hanging fresh garlic on a rope in your kitchen-and use it.

*Popovers and other quick breads let you put fresh bread on the table in a hurry. Or stir up a batch of blueberry or cranberry muffins for a sweet and colorful bread treat.

*Next time you make buttered toast, sprinkle on some cinnamon and sugar. An old idea, but when was the last time you did it?

*Put your olive oil and wine vinegar in pretty decanters by your stove. I like to make a seasoned olive oil by combining two dried red peppers (the long, thin kind), the seeds from two more red peppers, one tablespoon each of rosemary and thyme, and four cloves of garlic in a quart jar and covering with olive oil. Or just put a few cloves of garlic in a glass bottle and fill with oil.

*Add one-half teaspoon ground cinnamon and a pinch of ground cloves to your coffee grounds next time you brew. Drink out of your favorite cup and saucer and enjoy the fresh flavor and smell.

*Use a pepper mill and grind your own pepper fresh at the table.

*On a slow afternoon, put on soft music and browse through your favorite recipe book for ideas and inspiration.

*Set aside a Saturday morning to learn how to use one of those appliances stored away in a low cabinet. Are you secretly afraid of your pressure cooker? Have you never cooked anything but frozen dinners in your microwave? Has your food processor gathered dust since you bought it? Take the time to find out what these helpers can do-and then decide whether you really require their services. You may be surprised by what goes and what stays.

*Hang a basket or two-or thirty!-from the ceiling beam or over a wall in the kitchen or breakfast room.

*”Dejunk” your kitchen 15 minutes at a time. The room will look more spacious, and you’ll be more inspired to spend time there.

*Help a child plant some seeds in a small container and place it in your kitchen window to sprout.

*Buy a meat thermometer. You’ll use it often.

*Instead of buying regular applesauce, buy apples. A bowl of homemade made applesauce with a sprinkle of cinnamon is a healthful, easy-to-make to-make snack or dessert.

*Instead of putting the catsup bottle on the table, serve catsup in a little crock with a spoon. And don’t forget to recycle the bottle.

*Take time today to smell the roses-and the soup!

Happy Tenth Day of Christmas! “The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin…If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.” – Pope Pius XI

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