Our Basement Apartment: A family of six in 700 square feet

We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of being in our new house and looking back on these pictures from our “transitional housing,” I hardly remember the 8 month season in my parent’s basement.

Quite frankly, at the ages of 31 and 32 we didn’t expect to be cramming ourselves into my parent’s unused, lowest level for a year. When we moved into our town home two years prior, we knew that it would just be for a season. Our goal was to get out of debt and then to buy our forever home in the country.

That was the plan.

What I didn’t expect was for my husband to come with this idea (OUT OF THE BLUE) to make a stop back at my parent’s in between selling our town home and buying forever home.

My Third (& Final) Stitch Fix

The goal with my wardrobe is simple: I want it to be thoughtless.

I want to walk to my closet in the morning and know within 15 seconds what I’m going to wear for the day.

With this said, I still want to look nice, respectable and for my clothes to look current.

What I don’t want:

  • anything that I don’t feel comfortable in or that is uncomfortable to wear
  • to have to try on multiple outfits in the morning
  • clothes that are high maintenance to launder (like hand wash or dry clean only)
  • to feel guilty about items I’ve purchased and never worn

Last summer I had three dressy tops and a handful of casual t-shirts and tank tops. I had two pairs of dress bottoms and a few pairs of shorts. Plus one denim dress:

A week in my sister’s minimal home

Admittedly, one of the barriers keeping my husband Tom and I from going on a “real” vacation was child care. With four kids ages 2, 3, 5 and 7, it isn’t for the faint of heart. My newly married, twin sister Diana and husband Princeton accepted the challenge graciously and stayed at our house with the kids for the week.

Here is what Diana had to say about her experience in our minimal home:

When my sister and her husband left for Hawaii (the first real vacation since their honeymoon), and left us with their four kids (ages 2 – 7), my new husband and I felt oddly confident.

While well-meaning friends and family jested “I bet you’ll never have kids now,” we experienced an invisible order and quiet calm that kept the world turning for 7 nights and 8 days.

A Dream Come True

Through the magic of Facebook we’ve seen just about every friend and family member go on some sort of awesome (usually tropical) vacation in the nine years since we’ve been married.

And while we are happy for them (mostly ;) its always a reminder that we don’t “get” to do that.

Instead we’ve used our money to pay for a house flip that flopped, a business loan for a business that didn’t succeed, student loans, hospital bills and day to day life so that I could stay home with our kids.

Not glamorous stuff, but we know that whether we’ve gone on fancy vacations or not we are blessed and VERY fortunate.

But, I still sometimes looked enviously at other’s vacation pictures.

How I Store & Organize Kid’s Clothes

It still strikes me at times, that our problem is excess when the majority of the world lives with so much less. Even my mom never had this problem of WAY too many kid’s clothes.

So let’s not be too hard on ourselves if our kids grow before they have a chance to wear things we bought  or if we sometimes go overboard at the Target clearance rack or garage sales. And lets also extend grace to our well meaning friends and family who contribute to this “problem.”

We’re all working to figure this out.

How much clothing do kids really need anyway?

My First Stitch Fix Experience

(This ISN’T a sponsored post!) Early on in my minimalist journey I pared down my wardrobe to the essentials. I created a “capsule wardrobe” intuitively before it became a fad ;) A few basic bottoms and a handful of versatile tops and I was content mixing and matching.

Now, as I’ve entered the professional world once again, this approach still works, although I’ve found myself desiring a slightly more trendy wardrobe. I’ve often thought that it would be nice to mix in a few current pieces each season.

Today we bought our dream home.

It still feels a little surreal actually.

Being a farm girl from Minnesota, my dream home is probably slightly different than most, but when we were handed the keys to this little white farm house on 11 acres, I was overjoyed.

You see, I’ve driven by this property my whole life. Located just down the road from my parent’s farm, I always admired the tidy yard and red barns.

But, with the price of farm land soaring in our area, we didn’t think we’d actually be able to buy a farm.

Simplifying Toys: The time (& sanity) saving trick for sorting all of your kids’ toys in an hour

We all know we should purge our kids' toys--but it is ALOT of work! Here is a trick to get it all done in an hour!

Look familiar? (To me the funniest part is my husband’s dirty clothes on the right mixed in with everything else!)

For me, one of the most daunting minimizing tasks was simplifying and purging the kids toys. With four kids it felt like there were toys everywhere…we tried to keep them contained to the family room, but inevitably they would get drug into the kitchen, and my office and into their bedrooms…and we moms only have so much energy to correct our kids in a day, so that rule was often neglected.

But when I finally decided enough was enough, I came up with a battle plan: I was going to decide which type of toys we were keeping and EVERYTHING else went.

Simplifying Toys: Which ones made the cut

Children’s toys can be one of the most daunting areas of simplifying life.

Our kids love each and every one (just ask them!), we’ve invested good money into them, and almost certainly, as soon as we get rid of any they ask where it is and break down because it was their favorite.

Sigh.

But…it has to be done, because we all know that they don’t actually need as many toys as they have and the clutter is causing stress in our homes.