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Project Declutter Complete!

I know I haven’t blogged in a while, but I’ve been keeping up with the project! After 30 minutes (minimum) of decluttering per day, I didn’t always feel like spending another half hour blogging about it.

Today was the culmination of the project with our garage sale. Despite the unseasonably cold temperatures, we sold over half the items we set out. At 2 p.m., we set the leftovers on the curb, and by 4 p.m., it was ALL GONE! We were excited that we didn’t have to haul it all away.

The Declutter Like a Mother Challenge has taught me so much. I’ve made a vow to be much more conscious of what I bring into the house. I’ve decided not to do any browsing or window shopping for stuff (whether in person or online). I’ll only seek out things when I actually need them. And I’ll practice a one in, one out rule.

My mood is so much better without the clutter in my life. I’ve learned to appreciate what I have and remember that many others aren’t as fortunate.  Watching 4 sweet little girls squeal in excitement as they found treasures in the give away pile made this 3-week process so worth it! I’ve decided to start a permanent “donate” pile in the house, so I can place items that I no longer need and pass it on when I fill up a box.

Nicholas and Aladdin loved meeting new people today at the sale. Nicholas kept saying, “MORE PEOPLE!” as new customers arrived. Aladdin was the official greeter and met people at the curb. A lot of folks said he was a sweet and friendly boy and they wanted to take him home! I was able to have some nice conversations with some the friendliest people in the Midwest today. It made me realize once again that the relationships you have are exponentially more important than the tangible objects you own. Thanks for following my journey!

 

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Blue Apron Vs. Me

This weekend I’m planning to replicate three Blue Apron meals myself. Tonight, I bought the ingredients, hoping to spend less than I would have through Blue Apron.

Blue Apron meals for two people cost $10 per serving (slightly cheaper for the family box). So it’s typically $60 for 3 meals for us.

Tonight I spent about $40 for the ingredients, but I left some items out for one of the following reasons:

  • I already had some things on hand
  • My grocery store didn’t have some items (8 out of 33 items were unavailable)
  • I had to substitute certain items that I couldn’t find or were too expensive (buying mascarpone AND creme fraiche was too much)

Some items I bought were more quantity than what I needed (hoisin sauce, gochujang, mascarpone, etc). I now have to think about how to use up the rest of these items before they spoil.

I was able to measure out exact amounts on certain produce and bulk bin dried goods. But cheese would have been a major expense had I not already had some on hand. One recipe required 1 ounce of piave cheese. The specialty cheese counter doesn’t sell cheese in that small amount. I substituted some asiago I already had.

In addition to money, I spent a lot of time planning the menu, researching ingredients and substitutions, writing the grocery list, and shopping. The total time for all this was about 4 hours.

So, in conclusion, it’s definitely cheaper to buy your own ingredients. But if convenience, less food waste, fresher and fancier ingredients is important to you, Blue Apron is still a good deal.

I plan on continuing to use the Blue Apron service a couple times a month, but I’m proud of myself for being able to replicate some fancy meals on my own!14945582984481339488494.jpg

Hello Fresh Review

Last weekend we tried the meal kit delivery service from Hello Fresh. Since we already tried Blue Apron, it’s only natural that I compared the two services as I evaluated Hello Fresh.  The meals we ordered were Meatless Spaghetti Bolognese, Greek Flatbread Pizzas, and Sweet Potato Curry (all vegetarian obviously).

Here’s my review:

Pros:

  • Produce was very fresh
  • Recipes were simple and easy to follow
  • Meals were flavorful
  • Portions were generous

Cons:

  • Ingredients were simple and easily bought at my local store
  • Recipes were not very unique and could easily be replicated with a little shopping and planning
  • Delivery arrived late in the day and ice pack was almost completely thawed (I know this could be UPS’s fault, but it was still frustrating)
  • Expensive for the types of simple ingredients in the meals

HELLO FRESH VS. BLUE APRON VERDICT

Blue Apron wins! In my opinion, Blue Apron was much better than Hello Fresh. The ingredients and recipes from Blue Apron are gourmet or fancy compared to the simple ones from Hello Fresh. When we cook on the weekends, we like trying new and exciting dishes, not the more boring simpler type we’ve been cooking during the week. Blue Apron has forced me to try ingredients and flavor combinations that I would otherwise avoid, like fresh mint on risotto (which was delicious)! Blue Apron uses FedEx and their package arrives by or before noon in our area. The ice packs are solid as rocks upon arrival.

Next weekend we’re attempting to make some gourmet meals ourselves and gather our own fancy ingredients from the store. The goal is to spend less than $60 on 3 gourmet meals for two people. I’m wanting to see if it’s worth it to purchase the ingredients myself rather than use a service. I’ll report back soon with an update! Happy cooking!

PS: I still have some free meal Blue Apron promo codes to give away if anyone wants one.

Day 4 – Closets

Today, I began the closet decluttering. I took yesterday off because I had already finished all the bathrooms. I decided to devote my 30 minutes to the closet in the office first. I felt it was the middle ground: not too easy, not too difficult. I gathered a gallon Ziploc full of expired meds, random odds and ends, some books, and owner’s manuals for some things we no longer have. The rest of the office will still need to be worked on, but this was a great start.

Each time I declutter an area, I have a great sense of accomplishment and a little stress melts away. I look at the areas of the house I haven’t tackled yet and I’m already sorting through things in my head knowing I can pare down. I can’t wait until the whole house is complete! The goal for tomorrow is the linen closet and coat closet. Wish me luck!

Day 2 – Bathrooms Complete!

I decluttered our other two bathrooms today. The upstairs guest bath houses extra toiletries that we can’t fit in the master bathroom. It becomes a mess rather quickly, despite categorized bins I have put in place. It didn’t take too long to sort through things in there. It was also exciting to go through Nicholas’s bath toys. The tub is much less cluttered now!

I wasn’t supposed to start closets until Thursday, but I might tackle the office closet tomorrow. We’ll see!

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Before

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After

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Before

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After

Day 1 – Master Bathroom

So today I tackled decluttering the master bathroom. It makes complete sense to start your decluttering in the bathrooms because there’s no emotional attachment to the things stored there.

In less than 30 minutes, I tossed out half – used lotions, old makeup, random unnecessary toiletries, an extra hairbrush, and a few odds and ends.

This was probably the easiest space to declutter, but I’m looking forward to tackling the other bathrooms tomorrow and Wednesday!

Besides physical decluttering, it’s important to deal with virtual clutter, too. So over the weekend, I spent some time unsubscribing to all my junk e-mail. I went from receiving probably 30 e-mails a day to only about 5! It feels liberating!

Tip of the day: Only keep one of each item: one lotion, one shampoo, one conditioner, etc. This will streamline your routine!

 

So it begins – Decluttering

I’ve always been an organizer. If I could do it professionally, I would. The problem is eventually I have become overrun with stuff and organizing isn’t fun anymore. It becomes overwhelming.

As a child, I was surrounded by clutter. It was normal for me. My house was overrun with toys, clothes, and general clutter. When I first moved out, I didn’t take much with me to my small apartment. I enjoyed being forced to be a minimalist simply because of lack of space. But for the past ten years since getting married, moving to bigger and bigger places, taking teaching jobs, having a baby, and opening a home daycare, I’ve accumulated too much stuff! Despite minor decluttering every couple of months, clutter still seems to be overtaking the house.

So I’m starting a 30-day challenge to declutter my life. I’m blogging about it so I have some accountability.  Here’s the challenge I joined: http://alliecasazza.com/declutter-like-a-mother

The challenge begins May 1, but I may get a head start tomorrow. Join me if you want. It’s free! Happy decluttering!